A newborn baby girl in Calgary was one of the youngest COVID-19 patients in Canada. The baby's parents, who also got sick, said the first weeks of her life were ones of worrying, waiting and finally, of relief.
A newborn baby girl in Calgary was one of the youngest COVID-19 patients in Canada. The baby's parents, who also got sick, said the first weeks of her life were ones of worrying, waiting and finally, of relief.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
SYDNEY — People travelling to Australia from most other countries will need to test negative for the coronavirus before they depart, as of Friday. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Thursday that he has signed orders that require international travellers to have a negative test within three days of leaving for Australia. All internationals passengers will also have to wear masks on their flights. New Zealand and a handful of Pacific Island countries are exempt from the new rules. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: Britain hits another record daily virus deaths. Ontario's leader asks Biden for 1 million vaccine shots due to Pfizer shortfall for Canada. India to start delivering Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to neighbouring countries. Expert panel says both China and the WHO should have acted faster to prevent the pandemic. Surging infections give Spain’s new emergency hospital in Madrid a chance for use. Italy ponders suing Pfizer for vaccine delays. __Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: TOKYO — Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. says it is using its refrigerator technology to develop special boxes for storing the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which must be kept at ultracold temperatures. The company said Thursday that samples will be ready in March, with a product to follow a month or two later. The box will use dry ice to maintain the temperature at the minus-70 degrees Celsius required for the Pfizer’s vaccine. It does not need to plug in. Japan’s government has deals with various drug companies, including one with Pfizer for enough vaccine to inoculate 72 million people this year. That is more than half the nation’s population. Japan is pushing a vaccine rollout after a surge in coronavirus cases, including a more than doubling of its pandemic death toll in the last three weeks to more than 4,600. ___ BEIJING — China is imposing some of its toughest travel restrictions yet as coronavirus cases surge in several northern provinces ahead of the Lunar New Year. Next month’s festival is the most important time of the year for family gatherings in China, and for many migrant workers it is often the only time they are able to return to their rural homes. This year, however, travellers must have a negative virus test within seven days of departure, and many local governments are ordering quarantines and other strict measures on travellers. A national health official had this message Wednesday for Chinese citizens: “Do not travel or have gatherings unless it’s necessary.” Officials are predicting Chinese will make 1.7 billion trips during the travel rush. That is down 40% from 2019. ___ MEXICO CITY — Mexico has had a second consecutive day of COVID-19 deaths surpassing 1,500. Officials reported 1,539 such deaths Wednesday, a day after 1,584 deaths were listed. There was also a near-record one-day rise in new virus cases of 20,548. Mexico has seen almost 1.69 million confirmed coronavirus infections and over 144,000 test-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19. With the country’s extremely low testing rate, official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000. Mexico City is the current epicenter of the pandemic in the country, and 89% of the capital’s hospital beds are in use. For the nation as a whole, 61% of hospital beds are filled. ___ TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s surgeon general is urging the federal government to increase allotments of coronavirus vaccine to states like his where large concentrations of seniors face the greatest risk of illness and death from COVID-19. But Dr. Scott Rivkees added Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that Floridians will eventually get their turns at vaccination. In his words, “The message is this: We will get to you.” It will be many months before all Floridians can be vaccinated. With 21.5 million people, Florida is the country’s third most populous state, and the state has vaccinated at least 1.1 million people so far. Since the pandemic began, the state has recorded about 1.6 million coronavirus cases and had more than 24,500 deaths — 83% of them 65 or older. ___ O’FALLON, Mo. -- Missouri's governor says the state plans to have mass vaccination sites by the end of the month in an effort to get more protection against the coronavirus to more people. Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday that he will activate the National Guard to help with new vaccination sites in each of the nine Missouri State Highway Patrol regions. Specific dates and locations for the sites were not announced. Each will be capable of administering up to 2,500 doses per day. The state also plans to send “targeted vaccination teams” to St. Louis and Kansas City, where they will work with clergy to help get vaccinations to “vulnerable populations” in the two cities. State officials say at least 250,000 Missourians have been vaccinated so far. The state’s initial doses have been for people such as health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and those at high-risk of serious illness. ___ FRANKFORT, Ky — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is warning his state that although it is ramping up its vaccination effort, demand continues to outpace supply. He says that “the supply that we’re going to get next week is already 30,000 doses underneath our ability of what we can put in someone’s arm in just a seven-day span.” As of Wednesday, Kentucky has administered around 60% of doses designated for its state immunization program and roughly a third of doses in the Long Term Care Facilities Program. While Kentuckians age 70 and up are now eligible for the vaccine, many are having to wait for more appointments to become available due to the limited supply. ___ LONDON — An arthritis drug tried in patients with severe COVID-19 showed no benefit in a study that was stopped early because of safety concerns. The study was published Wednesday in the British journal The BMJ. The drug tocilizumab hadn’t been recommended outside a clinical trial, but some less rigorous research had suggested it could help. The study found more deaths in patients who received the drug. The deaths were attributed to COVID-19 related breathing problems or organ failure. The drug is sold by Switzerland-based Roche as Actemra and RoActemra for treating rheumatoid arthritis and some other diseases. It lowers inflammation by tamping down a protein called interleukin-6 that’s often found in excess in COVID-19 patients. The study involving 129 patients at nine hospitals in Brazil found no benefit for those who got the arthritis drug along with standard care. Two weeks later, 11 patients who received the drug had died, against two in the other half who didn’t. ___ ATLANTA — Judges say Georgia’s court system could take years to dig out of a backlog of jury trials delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton told lawmakers during hearings Wednesday that it could take one to two years to catch up. Superior Court Judge Wade Padgett estimated it could be more like three years. Under state law, Melton has been renewing a declaration of judicial emergency every 30 days, limiting what court cases can happen in person. He says he’s eager to resume jury trials as soon as possible. For a period late last year, Melton allowed some jury trials to go ahead. But Melton says rising infection rates forced another shutdown. ___ SACRAMENTO — California reported its second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths Wednesday but also a dip in hospitalizations below 20,000 for the first time since Dec. 27. The California Department of Public Health has reported the total of 694 new deaths is second to the record 708 reported on Jan. 8. Hospitalizations stood at 19,979. California officials are pinning their hopes on President Joe Biden as they struggle to obtain coronavirus vaccines to curb a coronavirus surge that has packed hospitals and morgues. Doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been arriving haphazardly as they make their way from the source to counties, cities and hospitals. ___ COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health has said a pharmacy responsible for distributing the coronavirus vaccine to Ohio nursing homes failed to document storage temperatures for leftover shots, resulting in 890 doses being wasted. The agency said on Wednesday that it suspended SpecialtyRx in Columbus from the distribution system and ordered it not to administer any of the wasted doses. Officials said SpecialtyRx received an initial 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine late last year for distribution to eight nursing homes and had 890 leftover. The state said the company failed to properly record the minimum and maximum refrigerator and freezer temperatures for the leftover doses each day during transportation. Department spokesperson Melanie Amato said the doses are considered wasted because the monitoring wasn’t done properly. An official with New Jersey-based SpecialtyRx said Wednesday she wasn’t aware of the problem but promised a company response. ___ NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he expects the state to exhaust its supply of vaccine available to people receiving their first dose within two or three days. “What’s clear now is we’re going to be going from week to week and you will see a constant pattern of basically running out, waiting for the next week’s allocation, and then starting up again,” the Democrat said. He urged health care facilities to be careful not to schedule appointments to give away vaccine they haven’t been allocated yet, “because we don’t know what we’re going to get next week and we don’t know where we’re going to distribute it next week.” ___ OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health said Wednesday that it is seeking volunteers to help at vaccination sites in the state. The department’s Medical Reserve Corps said Wednesday that both medical and non-medical volunteers are needed to give vaccinations, handle registration and other tasks. The volunteers work at points of dispensing sites at more than 50 locations in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Oklahoma has administered 242,093 vaccinations, including 30,919 to people who have now received the required two doses of vaccine. The CDC reported the state has received 455,275 doses thus far. According to Johns Hopkins University, Oklahoma had the fourth highest number of new cases per capita in the nation Wednesday with 1,270 per 100,000 residents during the past two weeks. The health department reported 1,986 new cases Wednesday and 48 more deaths due to the virus. ___ TOPEKA, Kan. — The top health official in Kansas has told lawmakers that the state will likely see a small uptick in immediate supply of the COVID-19 vaccine with the change in presidential administrations. In a joint hearing Tuesday before Senate and House health panels, Dr. Lee Norman, head of the state health department, said he has been told the state will probably get a 1% or 2% increase in its vaccine supply in the short run. The federal government allocates vaccines to states based on population. Kansas, with its population of 3 million, receives 1% of the nation’s allocated vaccines, he said, adding that the state has at times been shorted as much as half of its anticipated supply. The state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout prioritizes health care workers and nursing homes in its first phase, which is almost complete. About a third of the state’s population will be covered in the second phase, which covers people ages 65 and older, those in congregate settings such as prisons, and high-contact critical workers. ___ MADRID — Spain’s government is resisting calls by regional health authorities to let them impose earlier curfews amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Spain’s hospitals are filling up again after a third rise in infections since the start of the pandemic. Another 464 people were reported dead on Wednesday, increasing the confirmed death toll to 54,637. Some regions want the government to allow a change of the curfew to 8 p.m., instead of the current 10 p.m. allowed under a state of emergency. Health Minister Salvador Illa says the ministry would “evaluate” the request, even though he insisted it wasn’t needed because of current measures. Spain registered another 41,000 cases on Wednesday in the midst of rolling out its vaccination program. Despite the recent hiccups in the shipments the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Spain broke 1 million vaccines administered on Wednesday. Spain has 2.4 million confirmed cases, eighth in the world. It has registered more than 54,000 deaths, 10th globally. ___ The Associated Press
TORONTO — A mouth-watering matchup featuring some of hockey's most gifted players fell far short of expectations Wednesday. And that suited the Oilers just fine. Leon Draisaitl scored the winner on a third-period power play as Edmonton defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on a night where two offensive juggernauts largely cancelled each other out. "Sometime the boring games are the most solid," Draisaitl said after burying his first of the season to help snap a two-game slide. "We were very solid for 60 minutes ... that's a huge win. "That's more the way we want to play." Kailer Yamamoto was credited with the opening goal for the Oilers (2-3-0), who were coming off consecutive home losses to the Montreal Canadiens, when the Leafs fumbled the puck into their own net in the first. Mikko Koskinen made 25 saves to get the win, while Josh Archibald scored into an empty net with 1:06 left in regulation. Auston Matthews replied for Toronto (3-2-0), which got 19 stops from Frederik Andersen. Correctly billed as a battle of superstars between Matthews and Oilers captain Connor McDavid, one of the only positives from a neutral's perspective was the fact no fans paid for tickets inside an empty Scotiabank Arena because of COVID-19 protocols. "I think both teams watched the pre-scout and were just trying to key in on the top guys," Matthews said. "It was a pretty uneventful game. Not really much going on. "Not really expected, but we've got to do a much better job creating." Edmonton and Toronto will go back at it again Friday in the second of nine North Division meetings between the clubs in the NHL's 56-game abbreviated schedule. Matthews said while the Leafs mostly contained McDavid and Draisaitl — no slouch himself as the reigning Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy winner — at 5 on 5, that shouldn't mean sacrificing their own offensive identity. "Obviously we key in on those two guys," said the Leafs centre, who spent some of the off-season training with McDavid in Arizona. "They're extremely dangerous — two of the top players in the world — but we can't get away from our game. We've got to go out there and play our game and try to produce offence. We've got to play to win, not play to contain two guys. "We were just too safe." Draisaitl snapped a 1-1 tie on the man advantage at 9:12 of the final period with Jake Muzzin in the penalty box for tripping when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' initial shot hit Edmonton's Jesse Puljujarvi in front. The goal snapped an 0-for-12 streak for a power play that led the league with a success rate of 29.5 per cent in 2019-20 before the season was halted by the pandemic. "Maybe that's the bounce that we needed," Draisaitl said. "Maybe that's one we deserved." Toronto wasn't able to do much in response before Archibald fired his first into an empty net. "We're frustrated with the way we started the season," Draisaitl added. "That's a very good team over there — very skilled, very dangerous. Letting up one goal against a team like that, that's always a success." Trailing 1-0 through 40 minutes, the Leafs evened things up at 6:44 of the third when Matthews outmuscled Zack Kassian in the corner before firing shortside for his second on Koskinen. Toronto once again dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, but was left with just 10 skaters up front when Joe Thornton took a hit from Archibald and headed to the locker room with what looked like an arm or wrist injury early in the period. Head coach Sheldon Keefe said post-game it appears the 41-year-old "will definitely miss some time." The Leafs came in feeling good about themselves after consecutive victories over the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets, while the Oilers were in a different frame of mind following those losses to Montreal to close out their four-game homestand to open the season. Playing its first road contest since March 5, Edmonton grabbed a 1-0 lead at 10:42 of the first on a strange own goal. After the Leafs couldn't get out of their zone, Yamamoto fed a pass from behind Andersen's net that Toronto winger Jimmy Vesey intercepted before accidentally firing a clearing attempt in off Muzzin for Yamamoto's second of the campaign. The Leafs held the Oilers to just three shots in the period, but Andersen had to be sharp with a pad save on Alex Chiasson late to keep the deficit at one. Edmonton's power play — which went 0 for 10 and gave up two short-handed goals in those losses to Montreal — got two chances in the second, but continued to struggle with former Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie quarterbacking the first unit in place of the injured Oskar Klefbom. Toronto blue-liner T.J. Brodie then blasted a one-timer late in the period that hit Koskinen, struck William Nylander in front and dribbled just wide. The Leafs got their second man advantage off that sequence when McDavid, who scored a highlight-reel goal that even brought Wayne Gretzky out of his seat to put a bow on Edmonton's 6-4 victory in Toronto last January, was whistled for hooking. Wayne Simmonds fired a shot looking for a tip from Mitch Marner that hit the post before Matthews flubbed one attempt and saw Koskinen snag another with his glove inside the empty rink. "It was a strange game," Keefe said. "It was the first game that felt like a game with no fans. "Being on the bench, it just felt like one of those nights where you try and get something going. We didn't feel like we ever really got there." Notes: Puljujarvi's assist on the winner was his first NHL point since Jan. 19, 2019, after spending all of last season in Finland. ... The Oilers head to Winnipeg for two following Friday's game before hosting the Leafs on Jan. 28 and 30. ... Toronto opens a four-game Alberta road trip Sunday and Tuesday in Calgary. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Workers trapped in a gold mine in China since Jan. 10 may have to wait another 15 days before they can be rescued because of a blockage on their intended escape route, officials said on Thursday. A total of 22 workers were trapped underground after an explosion at the Hushan mine in Qixia, a major gold-producing region under the administration of Yantai in Shandong province on the northeast coast. However, at least another 15 days may be needed to clear obstacles, Gong Haitao, deputy head of Yantai's propaganda department, told a news conference at the headquarters of the rescue operation.
Brooks RCMP say a fire at a grain elevator on Wednesday sent three workers to hospital. According to a release, RCMP responded at 1:34 p.m. to a fire at a grain elevator west of Brooks, near the JBS meat plant at Range Road 150 and Highway 1. The Brooks Fire Department, EMS and Fortis also responded to the incident. RCMP said three workers were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and asked the public to avoid the area. The fire department has remained on scene for fire suppression efforts. Alberta Occupational Health and Safety will be investigating the fire with Brooks RCMP.
WASHINGTON — The reminders of the siege were everywhere. On the very spot where President Joe Biden delivered his inaugural address, an insurrectionist mob had tried — and failed — to overturn his election just two weeks before. Nearby, at the Capitol's West Terrace doors, a police officer was brutally assaulted with a flagpole in a one of the siege's most chaotic moments. And from the podium, the starkest sight of all: a National Mall mostly empty, dotted with troops, the usual crowd of spectators replaced by a silent field of American flags. The Associated Press has the privilege of a seat on the inaugural platform every four years in a tradition dating as far back as anyone can remember. But there had never been a ceremony quite like this, in the still-fresh aftermath of a violent challenge to the peaceful transition of power that the inaugural is designed to celebrate. Solemn in purpose and demeanour, Biden did not work the room — not much, anyway. He was on a clock. At noon, he would become president. And at that moment, the Democratic-heavy crowd gave the new president hearty applause, with some of the House lawmakers in attendance audibly voicing relief. Unlike Trump's 2017 inauguration, which featured a speech that promised an end to decades of “American carnage," Biden returned again and again to a theme of national unity. “I thought that inaugural ceremony today was so filled with energy, spirit and love,” said Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, senator and a losing presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016. Performers included Lady Gaga, whose soaring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner" left some in the audience agape. Garth Brooks, a country superstar and Republican with a huge following in Trump strongholds, led the group in “Amazing Grace." The blue jean-clad Brooks, obviously elated, almost danced away, but not before greeting the new president and three ex-presidents — including an oops-I-almost-missed-you hug with former President George W. Bush. “He just said, ‘I love you guys,'" Clinton said, with a hearty laugh. “And we said, ‘We love you too, Garth.'" Republican Sen. James Lankford, from Brooks' native Oklahoma, said the message of grace is just what a riven nation needs. “He made time when he finished singing to then go personally greet every one of the former presidents there and give them a very non-socially distanced hug, to be able to touch base with everybody and to try to set an example for people to say, ‘Hey, let's figure out if we can actually extend some grace to each other during this time.'" Young poet laureate Amanda Gorman was beaming — under her mask — after receiving plaudits from Vice-President Kamala Harris, Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. “I was really nervous while I was doing it, so I'm kind of glad it's over," Gorman told The Associated Press. Given the reception she was getting from so many big names and important people, she said, “I'm smiling but you can't see it." Biden delivered his 21-minute address before a teleprompter in a stand of photographers. The teleprompter ensured a quick pace and gave Biden helpful hints such as a reminder to “build" to the finish. Biden had just a handful of small verbal stumbles and couldn’t resist adding an unscripted “folks” — a personal trademark — toward the end. Before the ceremony, a morning mist left the platform icy. The wind whipped throughout. There were just enough snow flurries to tell stories about. And by the end, the sun came out and shown brilliantly. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Thousands of people on both sides of the border watched history in the making on Wednesday as Kamala Harris became the first woman of colour to be vice-president of the United States. Longtime supporters of Harris, Shikha Hamilton and her daughter Avani, say they've been following Harris's journey to the White House since she ran for attorney general of California in 2010. "To see her take that oath, that moment, it was very emotional, very," Shikha said in an panel interview on CBC News Network. "It is a momentous occasion that it's hard to hold back tears," she told CBC's Ginella Massa. Avani considers herself as one of the many women of colour who have been inspired by Harris's accomplishments. Harris is of South Asian and Jamaican heritage. "I met her when I was a little girl and throughout my life I've had her to look up to," Avani said. "It's exciting to know that little girls now can see themselves in her … and know that they can dream big like she did." WATCH | Kamala Harris makes history: The Hamiltons had plans to attend the ceremony and watch Harris take her oath in person, however because of the pandemic, their tip was cancelled. Instead, like many others, Shikha and Avani watched the historic moment from their home in San Francisco. Avani admits she didn't really comprehend who Harris was, or the importance of her past positions as attorney general and senator, when she first met her in 2010. However, she said seeing someone that looked like her gave her the motivation that "anything is possible for a strong woman of colour." "She has definitely proven that … it doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, or that you're a woman." Shikha and Avani said they are looking forward to the next four years with Harris as vice-president and Biden as the new president of the United States. With Harris's background as a prosecutor, both Shika and Avani would like to see the new administration take on issues of police brutality, immigration and preventing gun violence. McGill University student Joanna Kanga said she breathed a sigh of relief as she watched President Joe Biden and Harris enter the White House on Wednesday. WATCH | Women of colour inspired by Kamala Harris: Kanga, who lives in Montreal, was part of the panel interview with the CBC on Wednesday to talk about Harris's significance to women of colour. She said she felt a connection with the new U.S. vice-president, knowing that Harris also used to live in Montreal. "It was almost like those tumultuous four years were finally over and we could go back to work and go back to a workplace that is more decent," she explained. She said although there might be a lot of pressure on Harris to set the standard high for those who will follow her footsteps, it was "incredibly inspiring" to see her ambition and drive for hard work. "She will have to prove herself and she will have to show to the world that women who look just like me and just like us ... can do it too."
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is stepping down at the end of June, ending an 11-year tenure in which the conference landed a transformational billion dollar television deal but struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure. Sports Business Journal first reported the news Wednesday night and a person with knowledge of what was being called a mutual decision between the 56-year-old Scott and university presidents who make up the league’s executive committee confirmed it to AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official statement from the conference was expected later Wednesday night. Scott’s current contract was set to expire June 2022, but he will not seek a new deal and instead finish out this academic to assist with the transition to his successor. Under Scott, the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 by adding Colorado and Utah to the conference in 2011 and created a football championship game. The additions helped the conference secure a 12-year $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN that set the standard in the college sports market at the time. Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
Five of six cats abandoned in a remote area on Pigeon Lake Road at Short Drive south of Bobcaygeon have been found and brought to the Lakefield Animal Welfare Society. On Monday morning, a local farmer and Bell Canada worker named Ryan were able to round up three of the cats — one of which is pregnant — according to LAWS manager Janet Evans. To help find the other three cats, volunteers with Operation Catnip was contacted, she said. “They’re a local organization that does trap, neuter and release (of feral cats),” Evans said. On Tuesday morning, the organization was able to capture a grey cat and, in the evening, they were able to catch an orange one. They were still out looking for the sixth one on Wednesday. Four of the five cats were found in good physical condition. The fifth cat had a bit of frostbite on one of its ears, she said. “We took them to the vet this morning and as it turns out only one of them was pregnant,” Evans said. “They’re all between three months to just over a year. They all know each other because when we reunited them here at LAWS, they just kind of sniffed each other. There was no reaction.” She said she doesn’t believe the cats were strays. “Only because if you were to look at a cat that is actually a stray or a feral at this time of the year, they’ve grown really thick coats and they usually look a little worse for wear and that’s because they’re always worried about where their next meal’s coming from or who’s going to eat them,” Evans said. “So, visually there’s a difference between a cat that’s just been dumped and one that has been living out there for quite some time.” Because of the current pandemic, she said it’s been difficult for some people with pets. “If they lose their job or they get laid off due to COVID, then other things come first in some situations and that’s when decisions have to be made,” Evans said. There are a number of organizations in the Peterborough region unwanted pets can be brought to as opposed to being abandoned or sold on Kijiji, she said. “There’s the Kawartha Lakes Humane Society, ARC, which is a smaller rescue in Lakefield, there’s ourselves, LAWS, and there’s also the Peterborough Humane Society,” Evans said. “Please, please do reach out to an organization. At least this way if you contact a shelter, you’re going to be confident that they’ll get vetted and be placed in a loving home.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Parks Canada issued a statement Wednesday that it is willing to meet with members of the Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation community who have put up a blockade to stop construction to replace the Burleigh Falls Dam. On Jan. 13, members of the first nation community established a blockade, putting a halt to the repair work being done to the dam — which is owned by Parks Canada — because no consultation was made with the nearby community prior to the start of construction. According to Parks Canada’s statement written by David Britton, director of Ontario Waterways, the dam at Lock 28 of the Trent-Severn Waterway is one dam in a chain of dams and an integral part of the water management structure of central Ontario. “Engineering inspections in recent years have identified the declining condition of the Burleigh Falls Dam. A significant void at the base of the dam undermines the dam’s structural integrity, and is cause for concern regarding both public safety, and the protection of properties and species, including an important Walleye fishery,” Britton wrote. “Concrete strength inspections have showed deterioration beyond what is deemed acceptable. These factors indicate that the dam is at or nearing the end of its useful life, and requires a major intervention. Parks Canada is proceeding with a full replacement of the dam, following the current phase of construction that will first stabilize the existing dam.” The protesters have said they do not dispute that the dam needs to be replaced but they wanted to be consulted before the construction began. Britton said the federal government is committed to working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationships with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership. “Parks Canada has offered to meet with the Kawartha Nishnawbe on the Burleigh Falls Dam replacement project both in 2016 and more recently to understand their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project. Parks Canada remains available to do so and hopes to connect in a meaningful way through this process,” Britton wrote. Parks Canada has met with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the first phase of the project and has arranged mitigation measures, including on-site monitors, to address their concerns, Britton added. “Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” he wrote. Originally the Trent-Severn Waterway had planned to rehabilitate the dam, but could not find a contractor that could do the work, so a decision was made to replace the dam. Parks Canada plans to complete the work by 2024. Kawartha Nishnawbe members could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney said that two aquaculture companies’ move to seek a judicial review of the federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Islands fish farms directly challenges reconciliation and Aboriginal rights of First Nations. Blaney said that the matter is now about the First Nations’ “inherent right to self government,” and added, “First Nations will have to intervene, since our Aboriginal rights are on the line here.” On Jan. 18 Mowi Canada West and Cermaq Canada applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the waters off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island by June 30, 2022. READ MORE: Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban Minister Jordan’s announcement on Dec. 17 was made after a months-long “nation-to-nation” consultation process with seven First Nations that hold title in the area – Homalco, Klahoose, K’ómoks, Kwaikah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations. A coalition of Indigenous groups and wild salmon advocates have been calling for fish farms to be removed from B.C. waters, arguing they threaten the health of wild salmon. The declining numbers of salmon – food fish for the First Nations – also had several cultural implications. Jordan’s decision to phase out the farms was welcomed by First Nations in the area who said that her decision gives salmon “an opportunity to come back.” However, aquaculture industry stakeholders and local mayors have been at the forefront of voicing dissatisfaction with the federal decision stating that it affects 1,500 jobs and the economy of Vancouver Island. READ MORE: Discovery Islands salmon farms on their way out Cermaq said in a statement Jan. 19 that their judicial review focuses only on the conduct of DFO and the Minister of Fisheries and that the companies respect the opinions and the rights of the First Nations in the Discovery Islands region. “Cermaq’s goal is to allow time for engagement with the local First Nations to examine opportunities to achieve mutually beneficial agreements,” read the statement. But Blaney said that these statements coming from the company are “hollow… just words, no action.” “If they (aquaculture industry) want to reinstate the farms they will have to consult with First Nations going all the way up to the end of the Fraser and every other person who gets impacted on the B.C. coast,” said Blaney and added that the First Nations have begun discussions about this matter with the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN). He also said that it was disappointing to see “unanimous support” coming from city halls to fish farms. Calling Minister Jordan’s decision a “bad” one, North Vancouver Island mayors raised concerns about the economic impact it would have in their jurisdictions. Some of the mayors expressed their support for fish farms and in a letter to the fisheries minister told her that they feel “disposable and discarded.” READ MORE:Campbell River city council unanimous in support of fish farms Blaney said that the reaction coming from them, “shows how little regard people have for First Nations,” and added that it’s “racism.” “They voted unanimously to overturn this decision saying that it was a ‘mistake’ and so does that mean my culture is a mistake? We passing on our culture to future generations, is that a mistakes? That’s what this challenge is. It goes right back to the kind of racism that our people have been subjected to throughout Canada.” Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
THULASENDRAPURAM, India — With chants of “Long live Kamala Harris,” fireworks and prayers, residents of a tiny Indian village celebrated her inauguration as U.S. vice-president. People flocked to the village and its Hindu temple in southern India, to watch Harris, who has ancestral roots in the village, take her oath of office on Wednesday in Washington. Groups of women in bright saris and men wearing white dhoti pants watched the inauguration live as reporters broadcast the villager's celebrations to millions of Indians. The villagers chanted “Long live Kamala Harris” while holding portraits of her and blasted off fireworks the moment she took the oath. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Harris becoming U.S. vice-president a “historic occasion. Looking forward to interacting with her to make India-USA relations more robust." Earlier, the villages adorned their temple with flowers, offering special prayers for Harris' success. Her maternal grandfather was born in the village of Thulasendrapuram, about 350 kilometres (215 miles) from the southern coastal city of Chennai “We are feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice-president of America,” said teacher Anukampa Madhavasimhan. At the prayer ceremony in Thulasendrapuram, the idol of Hindu deity Ayyanar, a form of Lord Shiva, was washed with milk and decked with flowers by a priest. Then the village reverberated with the sound firecrackers as people held up posters of Harris and clapped their hands. Harris made history Wednesday as the first Black, South Asian and female U.S. vice-president and what made her special for the village is is her Indian heritage. Harris' grandfather was born more than 100 years ago. Many decades later, he moved to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state. Harris’ late mother was also born in India, before moving to the U.S. to study at the University of California. She married a Jamaican man, and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for “lotus flower.” In several speeches, Harris has often spoken about her roots and how she was guided by the values of her Indian-born grandfather and mother. So when Joe Biden and Harris triumphed in the U.S. election last November, Thulasendrapuram became the centre of attention in entire India. Local politicians flocked to the village and young children carrying placards with photos of Harris ran along the dusty roads. Then and now, villagers set off firecrackers and distributed sweets and flowers as a religious offering. Posters and banners of Harris from November still adorn walls in the village and many hope she ascends to the presidency in 2024. Biden has skirted questions about whether he will seek reelection or retire. “For the next four years, if she supports India, she will be the president,” said G Manikandan, who has followed Harris politically and whose shop proudly displays a wall calendar with pictures of Biden and Harris. On Tuesday, an organization that promotes vegetarianism sent food packets for the village children as gifts to celebrate Harris’ success. In the capital New Delhi, there has been both excitement — and some concern — over Harris' ascent to the vice presidency. Modi had invested in President Donald Trump, who visited India in February last year. Modi’s many Hindu nationalist supporters also were upset with Harris when she expressed concern about Kashmir, the divided and disputed Muslim-majority region whose statehood India’s government revoked last year. Rishi Lekhi And Aijaz Rahi, The Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. — Two Florida men, including a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, were arrested Wednesday on charges of taking part in the siege of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, authorities said. Joseph Biggs, 37, was arrested in central Florida and faces charges of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, entering a restricted on the groups of the U.S. Capitol and disorderly conduct. According to an arrest affidavit, Biggs was part of a crowd on Jan. 6 that overwhelmed Capitol Police officers who were manning a metal barrier on the steps of the Capitol. The mob entered the building as lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden’s election win. Biggs appeared to be wearing a walkie-talkie during the storming of the Capitol, but he told FBI agents that he had no knowledge about the planning of the destructive riot and didn’t know who organized it, the affidavit said. Ahead of the riot, Biggs told followers of his on the social media app Parler to dress in black to resemble the far-left antifa movement, according to the affidavit. Biggs had organized a 2019 rally in Portland, Oregon, in which more than 1,000 far-right protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators faced off. The Proud Boys are a neofascist group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies. During a September presidential debate, Trump had urged them to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator. An online court docket did not indicate whether Biggs has an attorney who could comment. Jesus Rivera, 37, also was arrested Wednesday in Pensacola. He faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building, intent to impede government business, disorderly conduct and demonstrating in the Capitol buildings. Rivera uploaded a video to Facebook showing himself in the U.S. Capitol crypt, authorities said. The five-minute video ends with Rivera starting to climb out a window at the Capitol, according to an arrest affidavit. An online court docket also did not list an attorney for Rivera. The cases are being handled by federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia. More than a half-dozen other Floridians have been charged in relation to the Capitol assault. Associated Press, The Associated Press
One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton’s public school board is asking the province for pandemic pay for educators supporting students learning in the city’s schools. “Educational assistants and teachers are providing direct care and in-person instruction for students who are not able to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks or physically distancing,” Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) chair Dawn Danko wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The letter calls on the Ontario government to administer an additional payment for education workers who have been “attending in-person at a physical school” in Hamilton — many since Jan. 4 — “in recognition of the elevated risk to staff performing the essential work of supporting students with significant special needs during the lockdown and remote period.” Temporary pandemic pay was initiated by the Ontario government last spring to provide financial support offered to “eligible front line and support workers,” including health-care and long-term-care staff. The program ended in mid-August. As of Jan. 14, there were approximately 330 staff supporting students learning in-person at public schools in Hamilton. On Jan. 15, the Catholic board told The Spectator that approximately 360 educators were working in schools. Chair Pat Daly said the Catholic board, through the Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), has advocated for “additional funding and support” since March, but pandemic pay isn’t something that has been requested. Susan Lucek, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 527, which mainly represents educational assistants, said the HWDSB’s request is “a step in the right direction.” “We are happy that somebody is finally listening,” she said. But, Lucek said, pandemic pay isn’t enough to address members’ health and safety concerns. “Schools should be closed for everybody at this time,” Lucek said. “Everybody should be remote, even though it’s not ideal for parents, students or educators.” In an email to The Spectator, Daryl Jerome, president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), said the letter penned by Danko “was certainly welcomed.” “However, I would have hoped for more of an emphasis on just how unsafe our membership is when delivering curriculum to students who cannot social distance or wear masks and some who require hands-on supports,” he said, adding that approximately 80 members are currently working in schools. Not included in the request are principals, vice-principals, administrators and custodial staff. “They typically are a step removed, they’re not working directly with the students,” Danko told The Spectator. Danko said “it seemed that a focused request would likely be more successful.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Washington– This is the verbatim executive order killing the Keystone XL pipeline, again, assigned by newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden within his first hour in the Oval Office: “Sec. 6. Revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. (a) On March 29, 2019, the President granted to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. a Presidential permit (the “Permit”) to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada (the “Keystone XL pipeline”), subject to express conditions and potential revocation in the President’s sole discretion. The Permit is hereby revoked in accordance with Article 1(1) of the Permit. “(b) In 2015, following an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest. That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs. The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action. “(c) Climate change has had a growing effect on the U.S. economy, with climate-related costs increasing over the last 4 years. Extreme weather events and other climate-related effects have harmed the health, safety, and security of the American people and have increased the urgency for combatting climate change and accelerating the transition toward a clean energy economy. The world must be put on a sustainable climate pathway to protect Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts, and to create well-paying union jobs as part of the climate solution. “(d) The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest. The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever. The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Do you remember the first time you experienced snow? Check out this dog's priceless reaction!
International students who are on a co-op work term don't have to wait for their permit to begin their job placements, according to a new policy released earlier this week by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Students can start working while their applications for their co-op work permit are being processed. This is a special permit that allows international students to complete all work components related to their academic degree, including co-op terms, internships, and practicum. It is a separate permit that students have to apply for, in addition to their study permit, with which students are authorized to complete non-academic-related work. Amy Braye, the manager of the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, said students are now allowed to use the regular work hours allocation from their study permit for their co-op experience while they wait for approval for the special work permit. "Basically the regular work and the co-op work were always separate. And the government has said, listen, we're going to allow that students can use their regular work allotment for their co-op experience, if they want to, and if they can," said Braye. The new policy applies to students who are studying remotely in their home country as well. "In the past, if a student didn't have their co-op work permit, and they said, 'I'm living in China, but Nova Scotia Power wants to hire me, they are OK if I telecommute. Is that acceptable?' We would have advised that no, it's not acceptable," Braye said. But with the new policy, the answer is yes, she said. However, according to IRCC's website, it requires approval from both the institution and the employer. "Ultimately both the employer and the co-op program must be in agreement that the specific opportunity is suitable for remote work from outside of Canada and that the employer can support the student in their learning appropriately," said Janet Bryson, associate director of media relations and issues management at Dalhousie University. A standard study permit only grants students 20 hours per week of off-campus work experience. Students may work full-time off campus during an academic break. "It's still good for students. It means that they can work right towards their co-op, whereas before, they were just barred from working towards their co-op," Braye said. "It doesn't solve all of the problems, because they have to meet the co-op hours that they need." Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
REGINA — A former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has submitted paperwork with reasons why he should not be sent back to India when he gets out of prison. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is now waiting for the Canada Border Services Agency to write a report that will recommend whether he be allowed to stay in his adopted country or be deported. A grieving father of one of the hockey players killed will be waiting, too. Scott Thomas said he aches every day for his 18-year-old son, Evan, but submitted a letter in support of Sidhu. “I know for a fact that he’ll never drive a semi again. I know for a fact that if he could take back what happened that day he would in a heartbeat. He would trade places with any one of those boys," said Thomas. Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 2018 collision that killed 16 people and injured 13. Court was told that Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, had missed a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and driven into the path of the Broncos bus carrying players and staff to a junior hockey league playoff game. The lawyer for the then-30-year-old Sidhu noted during sentencing arguments that jail time would mean the commerce graduate wouldn't be allowed to stay in Canada, where he has lived since following his partner who had come over in 2013. A criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than six months makes a permanent resident ineligible to remain in the country. An immigration lawyer says Sidhu's bid has the makings of other cases where deportation was avoided. “ I do think this is one of those types of cases where (border services) could choose to exercise their discretion … given the exceptional circumstances," said Erica Olmstead, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, who's not representing Sidhu. But some other parents do not support Sidhu's attempt to stay in Canada.Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said he intends to send a letter to the Canada Border Services Agency asking for the deportation to go ahead. Joseph said he doesn't want the world to think that all of the families support Sidhu."I don't think the rules should be bent again for him to allow him to stay in the country," Joseph said. "I don't doubt that he lives with regret every single day. I'm not sure that his staying in Canada is best for him."Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband Tom have a constant reminder of the accident. Their son Ryan is paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the crash."I'm not in any way trying to be punitive but absolutely the law is the law and it's not special for anybody else," she said. "I wish I could be more forgiving but we never want this to happen again and there's got to be consequences. I do feel sorry for his family."Sidhu's lawyer, Michael Greene, acknowledges his client's crime had catastrophic consequences but his actions weren't malicious. Greene notes Sidhu wasn't impaired, has a low likelihood to reoffend, and deporting him would also mean deporting his wife. "This offence was more of a tragedy than it was a crime," Greene said Wednesday. He said he has been overwhelmed with letters in support of Sidhu, including from a retired judge, some of which he submitted to border services. “The main thing we’re up against is the perception that ... it would be offensive to the victims and their families and/or the Canadian public to allow him to stay given the magnitude of the tragedy.” “We want to show that ... the Canadian public is not hell-bent on giving him further punishment." Thomas said he's more concerned about regulations that allowed the inexperienced truck driver, three weeks on the job, to get behind the wheel. “We just always felt that the deportation part of it shouldn’t necessarily apply. He’s a broken man. He’s broken psychologically and spiritually, and to deport him now would just add to the suffering to him and his family." Thomas forgave Sidhu in court and has kept in touch with his wife, who shared their emails with her husband. Thomas realizes Sidhu's desire to remain in Canada is divisive. “There’ll be a lot of families that would never support this and there are going to be some that do, too.” Greene said support has come from some other Broncos families, but they asked to remain anonymous so as not to upset others. Olmstead said the deportation policy is there to protect Canada's security, but she has seen orders avoided when someone is guilty of a single offence as in Sidhu's case. "But on the other hand, you’ve got this terrible tragedy where there were so many victims." She explained that a border officer considers community connections and someone's chance of reoffending when writing a report, which could take months, and decides whether there are "exceptional circumstances" that would allow a person to remain in Canada. "It’s quite rare for people to not then still get referred for a removal order.” The Immigration and Refugee Board then holds a hearing to consider the report and is responsible for issuing any deportation order. A permanent resident can appeal the board's decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but not if a sentence, like Sidhu's, is longer than six months. “This is the end of the road for him," Olmstead said. Sidhu could seek a review before a Federal Court, but would first need to be granted leave to do so, she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 -- With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press