The Canadian government's new Hong Kong immigration initiative is a start, but isn't a humanitarian policy, says the president of Canada-Hong Kong Link.
The Canadian government's new Hong Kong immigration initiative is a start, but isn't a humanitarian policy, says the president of Canada-Hong Kong Link.
China's embassy in the Philippines has denounced the United States for "creating chaos" in Asia, after a visiting White House envoy backed countries in disputes with China and accused Beijing of using military pressure to further its interests. During a trip to Manila on Monday, national security adviser Robert O'Brien underscored the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and told the Philippines and Vietnam, countries both locked in maritime rows with China, that "we've got your back". "It shows that his visit to this region is not to promote regional peace and stability, but to create chaos in the region in order to seek selfish interests of the U.S.," the embassy said in a statement issued late Monday.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday vowed to defend the democratic island's sovereignty with the construction of a new fleet of domestically-developed submarines, a key project supported by the United States to counter neighbouring China. Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has been for years working to revamp its submarine force, some of which date back to World War Two, and is no match for China's fleet, which includes vessels capable of launching nuclear weapons. At a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a new submarine fleet in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, Tsai called the move a "historic milestone" for Taiwan's defensive capabilities after overcoming "various challenges and doubts".
Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said."We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible."Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the "exciting" technology would have multiple benefits.Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn't much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work."It's going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask," she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta's mechanical engineering department, said Rubino's innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
The staff tested positive last week and Maxwell was checked for the virus on Nov. 18 using a rapid test which was negative, the prosecutors said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan. Maxwell was placed in quarantine at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for 14 days, said the letter. Maxwell has not shown any symptoms of COVID-19 and will be tested again at the end of her two-week quarantine.
High school students defy pandemic, discover joys of voice acting while making animated film version of 'Romeo & Juliet' after original plans to stage a traditional performance this fall were scuttled by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis (Nov. 24)
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Miss Vickie's Canada says some of its potato chips that were part of a recall in Eastern Canada earlier this month due to possible glass contamination were inadvertently shipped west. The company says the chips were only shipped to retail customers in Alberta, Brandon, Man., and Moose Jaw, Sask, and that it's working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to co-ordinate a voluntary recall. It says 630 bags are involved, and they have very specific "guaranteed fresh" dates and "manufacturing codes." Consumers who have purchased the chips should not eat them and are urged to throw them out or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. At the beginning of November, Miss Vickie's recalled some chips sold online and in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada due to what it said was "isolated reports of the presence of a small piece of glass found at the bottom of the bag." The CFIA says on its website there have been reported injuries associated with the products. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020. The Canadian Press
Residents were given proper notice of a vote to remove Fort Simpson's liquor purchasing restrictions, according to N.W.T. finance minister Caroline Wawzonek. MLA for Nahendeh Shane Thompson – also a minister – posted to Facebook on Monday regarding concerns constituents had raised about the plebiscite held on November 12. Specifically, the post related to concerns about how much public notice was provided leading up to the vote and how to contact the official in charge of it. Residents ultimately voted overwhelmingly in favour of lifting alcohol restrictions in the community. Of 730 eligible voters, 240 cast a ballot and 175 of those were in favour of removing restrictions. The Department of Finance, which oversees liquor regulations in the N.W.T., is now in the process of implementing the result, which may take several weeks. Thompson's post relayed a message he had received from Wawzonek addressing concerns. “Based on all of the information I have received to date, I am confident in the integrity of the plebiscite held in the village of Fort Simpson,” Wawzonek's message to Thompson reads. Wawzonek states some residents who attend school away from Fort Simpson believe they did not receive adequate notice of the plebiscite. She concludes, however, that there was sufficient notice within the village, on Facebook, and through the media in the weeks and months before the vote. She adds returning officer Tammie Cazon fulfilled her duties in the Local Authorities Elections Act by providing public notice of the plebiscite, including details on how and where to vote. Wawzonek says Cazon met legislative requirements by posting public notices in five locations – the bank, the Northern store, the Unity store, the Nahanni Inn and Pandaville restaurant. “It is not the responsibility of the returning officer to locate and notify every resident of the community who may not be currently living in the community. That would be an impossible task," Wawzonek writes. "Voters bear some of the responsibility for informing themselves about how to exercise their democratic right to vote.” The final concern regards the returning officer’s email address and confusion about how to reach Cazon. Wawzonek again asserts faith in the process, saying her department confirmed with Cazon only one email address was distributed for voters to use. Proxy voting was an option in the plebiscite but, according to Wawzonek, Cazon did not receive any emails related to proxy voting. The community of Fort Simpson requested the plebiscite after a petition with more than 150 signatures from residents was turned in to the village council late last year, asking for action to try to remove the restrictions. Restrictions are set to be lifted in the coming weeks, though an exact date has not been set. Once the regulations are changed and restrictions lifted, the village is still bound to pandemic-related alcohol restrictions, which limit customers to a maximum of $200 per day at any liquor store in the territory and six mickeys (375-ml bottles) of spirits in a 24-hour period.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
B.C.'s health-care workers are pleading with the public to heed health orders while bracing for difficult working conditions as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise.On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced there were another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days and 17 more deaths.This comes just over two weeks after restrictions were initially put in place in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities, and a few days after those restrictions were extended to cover the entire province. Christine Sorensen, president of the B.C. Nurses' Union, says nurses are frustrated when they see people continue to gather in groups and not follow the guidelines because that increases transmission and puts additional pressure on the health-care system."It puts greater demands on the staff that also fairly tired, looking for a bit of a rest and a break and really not seeing anything coming in the next few months, particularly with the holiday season coming and people wanting to mix and mingle with their friends and family," Sorensen said. Dr. Kathleen Ross, the president of Doctors of B.C., says the prospect of burnout is looming closer for many front line health-care workers. "Many of us are afraid to go home for fear of infecting our loved ones and many more of us drop our clothes at the door and run to the shower before we even greet our family," said Ross. "We're adjusting to the new normal ... but of course we cannot expect that surge capacity to last forever."And both Ross and Sorensen point out it is not just front line health-care workers shouldering the burden, but additional staff like cleaning crews and maintenance workers who keep the whole health-care system operational."There are lots of unsung heroes in the system, not just in the emergency rooms where there are doctors and nurses taking care of our most acutely ill," Sorensen said. Sorensen says she worries the spike in cases could escalate to point where essential health-care workers are kept on the job even if they've been exposed."[I'm] very concerned [about that]. Nurses are dedicated and they do want to continue working, but if we get enough nurses exposed or sick, we won't have enough nurses to deliver healthcare," she said. Ross says this is a crucial moment."If everyone does their part, if we all step forward and follow the public health guidelines as they have been laid out, then we'll get there. But we have to do it all together."
A B.C. surgeon who called his preteen patient a "loose woman" during an appointment has been fined and reprimanded by his professional regulator.Dr. Bruce Taro Yoneda, an orthopedic surgeon based in Victoria, has admitted that he "engaged in unprofessional conduct by using sexualized language during a surgical consult," according to a public notice posted Friday by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.Yoneda also acknowledged telling the same young patient he would give her a "lube job," and admitted he did not give her a full explanation before he began questioning her about her menstrual cycle.The college's inquiry committee, which investigates complaints against doctors, "was critical of the registrant's admitted conduct and concluded that his use of inappropriate language displayed a lack of insight," the notice says.As part of a consent agreement with the college, Yoneda has been fined $7,500, received a formal reprimand and has had his registration as a doctor transferred to "conditional" status. He's also agreed to take courses in clinical communication and professionalism.
An opposition lawmaker called on Tuesday for Malaysia to outlaw online hate speech, accusing authorities of downplaying the gravity of an issue highlighted by a Reuters investigation into abuse on Facebook of Rohingya refugees and undocumented migrants. Citing the Reuters report on rising xenophobia online in Malaysia in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, lawmaker Chan Foong Hin asked the Communications and Multimedia Ministry last week to state its plans to combat such hate speech.
VANCOUVER — An Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. Maxwell Johnson's complaint says both he and his 12-year-old granddaughter were detained last December by Vancouver police officers when they tried to open an account at the Bank of Montreal using their Indigenous status cards.His complaint alleges that the bank called 911 over an identification issue because they are Indigenous, while it accuses the police of racial profiling that led to their detention and the use of handcuffs. Johnson released details of the human rights complaint in a news release issued on the website of the Heiltsuk First Nation. He and his granddaughter are members of the First Nation in Bella Bella.He said in an interview on Monday that the incident has led to a resurgence in his panic and anxiety attacks."It's affected me quite a bit," Johnson said. "When this happened to us, my anxiety just went through the roof. I started counselling again. It's affected my motivation, my thought process, quite a bit of stuff."Johnson is seeking compensation and wants a public apology from the Vancouver Police Board, the police department and the bank. Const. Tania Visintin of the Vancouver Police Department said in a statement that the circumstances are regrettable and that the actions of the responding officers are being investigated by the Office of Police Complaints Commissioner.The department is also reviewing its policy for future situations with a report to be submitted to the police board, she said. The Bank of Montreal said in a statement that it "deeply regrets the situation that took place in Vancouver in December 2019 involving Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter."The bank apologized again and said it was "humbled and honoured" to be invited by the Heiltsuk Nation to participate in a healing ceremony for the Johnson family in Bella Bella. Since then, it has established an Indigenous advisory council and conducted cultural training for bank staff."We continue to seek ways to ensure we are doing better for our Indigenous customers," the statement says.Johnson questioned the actions of police, particularly why officers placed him and his granddaughter in handcuffs if they were only being detained."It was so hard when we were detained. We had to prove who we were and where we came from," he said. "It gets so tiring trying to prove who you are as a First Nations person."Marilyn Slett, the chief councillor of the Heiltsuk First Nation, said her community wants to see changes in the way the Bank of Montreal and the Vancouver Police Department handle Indigenous issues."We're a long ways away from reconciliation when these types of things happen to our people when they're trying to open up a bank account," she said in an interview. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Janet Yellen is in line for another top economic policy job — just in time to confront yet another crisis.Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden's apparent choice for treasury secretary, served on the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee during the 2008-2009 financial crisis that nearly toppled the banking system.She became Fed chair in 2014 when the economy was still recovering from the devastating Great Recession. In the late 1990s, she was President Bill Clinton's top economic adviser during the Asian financial crisis.And now, according to a person familiar with Biden's transition plans, she has been chosen to lead Treasury with the economy in the grip of a surging viral epidemic. The spike in virus cases is intensifying pressure on companies and individuals, with fear growing that the economy could suffer a “double-dip” recession as states and cities reimpose restrictions on businesses.Yet many longtime observers of the U.S. economy see Yellen as ideally suited for the role.“She is extraordinarily talented,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at auditing firm Grant Thornton. “She is the right person at this challenging time. She has worked every crisis."If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its nearly 232 years. She would inherit an economy with still-high unemployment, escalating threats to small businesses and signs that consumers are retrenching as the worsening pandemic restricts or discourages spending.Most economists say that the distribution of an effective vaccine will likely reinvigorate growth next year. Yet they warn that any sustained recovery will also hinge on whether Congress can agree soon on a sizable aid package to carry the economy through what Biden has said will be a “dark winter” with the pandemic still out of control.Negotiations on additional government spending, though, have been stuck in Congress for months.Yellen has favoured further stimulus, including more money for state and local governments, which she has said need “substantial support” to avoid further job cuts. Rescue aid for states has been a major sticking point in congressional negotiations.Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income and a former senior Fed and Treasury official, said that Yellen could effectively use the “bully pulpit” during what are likely to be difficult negotiations with Senate Republicans."Yellen," Sheets said, “has a unique ability ... to communicate about economics and economic policies in terms that resonate with individuals.”She will also have the opportunity to work with Fed Chair Jerome Powell, with whom Yellen enjoys a close relationship after having worked together at the Fed, to restart several emergency lending programs. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that the programs will expire, as scheduled, at the end of this year — a decision that critics warn will unnecessarily hamstring the Fed.Powell objected to the Treasury's move, though he agreed to return money that Congress had authorized to backstop the lending.The most likely credit programs to be renewed, economists say, would be one that supported states and cities and a second, the Main Street Lending program, that targeted small and mid-sized businesses.Neither program has made very many loans. But just the understanding that those backstops existed lent confidence to the financial markets. Economists say Yellen could allow Powell to offer more generous terms to increase the programs' use.The 74-year-old Yellen, long a path-breaking figure in the male-dominated economics field, was the first woman to serve as Fed chair, from 2014 to 2018.“She is an icon,” said Stephanie Aaronson, a vice-president at the Brookings Institution and a former top economist at the Fed. “Having a female chair meant a lot to a lot of people.”Yellen was known as a highly prepared, sometimes demanding but down-to-earth manager who was popular with the Fed's staff.“I have never met anyone who has worked for or with Janet who has an unkind word to say about her," said Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist. "She is the kind of person who uplifts her staff.”Under Yellen's tenure, the central bank began a seminal shift of its policy focus away from fighting inflation, which has been quiescent for decades, to trying to maximize employment, the second of its two mandates. That process culminated this summer when Powell announced that the Fed planned to keep rates ultra-low for a time even after inflation has topped the central bank's 2% annual target level, rather than raising rates pre-emptively.As Fed chair, Yellen won praise for her attention to disadvantaged groups, including the long-term unemployed, at a time when financial inequalities were widening across the economy. She made numerous visits to employment training centres to spotlight the need for training programs to equip people for good jobs.During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, transcripts of the Fed's meetings show that Yellen was more prescient than most other Fed officials about the potential for a deep recession and weak recovery afterward.Yellen is well-known on Capitol Hill after years of testifying as Fed chair to Senate committees about the economy and interest rate policy. During those years, she frequently clashed with Republican lawmakers who accused her of keeping rates too low for too long after the 2008 financial crisis. Some of them charged that Yellen and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, had elevated the risk of runaway inflation and asset bubbles that could destabilize financial markets.None of those fears came to pass. On the contrary, under Bernanke and Yellen — and later, under Powell — the Fed's more difficult challenge became raising inflation merely to the Fed's annual 2% target level. It has yet to do so consistently.Yellen, a Democrat, had served only one four-year term as Fed chair when President Donald Trump decided to replace her with Powell, a Republican, despite Yellen’s desire to serve another term. That move broke a four-decade tradition of presidents allowing Fed chairs to serve at least two terms even if they had first been nominated by a president of the opposing party.After leaving the Fed, Yellen became a distinguished fellow in residence at the liberal Brookings Institution in Washington, signalling her continuing interest in financial policymaking.When she stepped down from the Fed in early 2018, Shawn Sebastian, co-director of the Fed-Up coalition, a collection of progressive groups, called Yellen's departure “a loss for working people across the country." He hailed her efforts to take on “economic inequality, racial disparities in the economy, the role of women in the workplace and the need for more diversity at the Fed.”Yet some progressives have also criticized Yellen for the Fed's December 2015 decision to raise its benchmark rate from near zero, where it had been pegged since late 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis. That rate hike, which caused a sharp increase in the value of the dollar, contributed to a slowdown in U.S. economic growth in 2016 and is now seen by many economists as having been premature.Yellen is married to George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist whom she met in a Fed cafeteria in 1977. They have one son, Robert, who is an economics professor.___AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.Christopher Rugaber And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
A Dene-Tahltan woman who lives in remote northern B.C. is sharing her birthing story — shining a light on the extra layer of complications faced by life-givers in rural areas. Jasmine Netsena is a successful musician who has travelled across North America for her award-winning career. After moving back to Fort Nelson First Nation from Edmonton, she thought she was settling down. But when she became pregnant with her second child, she was travelling more than ever — including booking the date she would give birth at a hospital a four hour drive away in Fort St. John, and being flown to Prince George for surgery in her third trimester. There is a hospital near where she lives in Fort Nelson, however the services there are limited. In cities, women who are facing complications during pregnancy can easily access care. But for women like Netsena in rural areas, there are less services and specialized medical care is often scarce. Netsena gave birth to a healthy baby in September. She was just a few months pregnant when she began to feel stomach pain that she later found out was an inflamed gallbladder. “I went into the hospital with abdominal pain and I felt like they didn’t take me that seriously, I was just sent home,” she says. "I felt like that was wrong because a pregnant woman with abdominal pain shouldn’t really be sent home especially when we’re so far from a hospital that would be able to take care of me.” The first two times she went to the hospital, she says, she was told that it was because of “gas” and that it was a normal part of pregnancy. Then it was discovered that she had gall stones and needed to go on a low-fat diet. It wasn’t until her third trimester that she says the doctor finally took her concerns seriously, and a simple blood test indicated it was her gallbladder, and she needed surgery to remove it. Not being able to undergo the procedure in Fort Nelson, Netsena was flown to hospital in Prince George for the surgery. Afterwards, she recovered for five weeks at home before driving 400 km to Fort St. John — where she waited to deliver her baby. Planned birth travel is the reality for women who are far away from care like Netsena, who travelled to be near the proper hospital a month prior to her due date, which is a typical time frame for birth trips. Netsena planned in advance to bring her daughter along and had a doula by her side, however her partner couldn’t be with her because of the distance. A spokesman from B.C. Northern Health did not respond to Netsena’s particular circumstance, but spoke generally about the challenges for pregnant women who live in remote areas of the region. Steve Raper says the health authority recognizes that travelling for maternal care can be disruptive and inconvenient, but “patient safety … must come first.” “Ideally, women would give birth as close to their family and community as possible — no matter where they live in the province,” he says. “Some communities, however, face challenges providing these services.” Those challenges, he says, include recruiting and retaining trained staff, a low need for maternal care services, or clinicians not being comfortable providing some services without higher-level supports such as surgeons on deck. “We also recognize that sometimes, babies arrive unexpectedly – and when this occurs, our physicians and staff are equipped to respond to an unplanned delivery at all Northern Health hospitals,” he added. It’s a challenge all mothers who live in remote areas must keep in mind, and especially affects Indigenous people as reserves are often located far from urban centres. But because living in cities can be challenging for other reasons, people like Netsena must weigh the pros and cons of both. Netsena, who is originally from Telegraph Creek, moved away from the reserve for a short time to obtain a degree in music at the University of Alberta. She packed up her life and moved to Edmonton in 2019 with her five-year-old daughter, but after the first semester she quickly realized she was not where she wanted to be. “The family-life balance and all that was just a lot for me to take, and also I just really questioned why I wanted to get my music degree,” she says. “I just wasn’t sure what I would do with it except teach and I wasn’t really feeling like teaching was my calling.” Netsena is a singer-songwriter, and taught herself how to play guitar. She won the SOCAN Foundation Indigenous Songwriters Award in 2018. Netsena took a step back to rethink what type of degree she wanted and figured that she didn’t necessarily need to move to the city to get a higher education with all the online options available nowadays. After enduring such a strenuous second pregnancy, Netsena is happy to be at home with her baby and the rest of her family. “With my first it went by so fast.” she says of her oldest daughter Sadeya. “I’m glad I have another baby. I’m just trying to really enjoy it because it’s going to be over before I know it.” She often sings to her newborn baby and so does her oldest daughter Sadeya. “They both have strong lungs,” Netsena laughs. Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced. Catherine Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
A B.C. man convicted of an online hate crime is facing strict new rules on his public expression after breaching his sentencing conditions.Arthur Topham, who ran a publication from his rural home near the central Interior city of Quesnel, was convicted in 2015 of communicating online statements that wilfully promoted hatred against Jewish people.As part of his sentence, Topham was forbidden from publishing or publicly posting information about "persons of Jewish religion or ethnic origin." But In October, a provincial court judge ruled Topham had breached that condition by creating new posts throughout 2018. Late last week, the judge sentenced Topham to a 30-day conditional sentence and three years probation for the breach, placing strict new conditions on Topham's public posts.For the next three years, Topham is forbidden from publishing or printing publicly any reference to or information about the Talmud, Zionism, Israel, and the Jewish religion, ethnicity or people.Topham is also forbidden from publicly posting the names of people he knows to be of Jewish origin. According to court documents, he will still be allowed to publicly name his wife and her family, but not to mention their ethnicity or origin. During his original trial, Topham told the court his wife is Jewish.In addition to the terms of his three-year probation, Topham will serve a 30-day conditional sentence, with a nightly curfew and a requirement to remain in B.C. He's also prohibited from having weapons, liquor, or alcohol."Justice has been served," said Ran Ukashi, National Director with B'nai Brith, a Jewish advocacy group that's been closely following the case."It serves as a deterrent for others, to realize there are consequences, there's a price to pay," said Ukashi."There are limits to … free speech and promoting hatred against identifiable groups is not on," he said."This person has been given opportunity after opportunity to not behave this way."A retired teacher now in his 70s, Topham was first charged in 2012. A website he produced featured frequent posts with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and demonized Jewish people, according to evidence at his trial.At his original trial in 2015, Topham's lawyer argued the posts were political satire, did not incite violence, and included materials that could easily be ordered on Amazon.Topham's case was the first hate crime prosecution in B.C. in almost a decade.It drew support from the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, which champions free speech, as well as from self-proclaimed "white nationalists," who attended Topham's jury trial in the Quesnel courthouse, 700 km northeast of Vancouver. Paul Fromm helped to fund Topham's defence and covered his trial through video blogs from Quesnel. Monika Schaefer, who served jail time in Germany for Holocaust denial, also attended court.
TORONTO — Long before the first snowflake has hit the ground in Toronto, Catherine Choi is already planning for the holiday season.It's the busiest sales period for her trio of Hanji Gift shops, but this time, they'll be closed.Lockdown restrictions that went into effect in Toronto and Peel Region on Monday have forced small businesses to close their brick-and-mortar locations while COVID-19 continues to spread.That means Choi will have to rely on curbside pickup and e-commerce to sell her array of cards, notebooks and other paper goods, but big box stores like Walmart and Costco will be allowed to stay open and offer the same products because they also stock essentials like groceries.It's a policy some small business owners worry could result in a slump in sales or worse: the death of their business and their own financial ruin."I stand behind public health officials because … they're making decisions to keep everybody safe, but it is frustrating that stores like Walmart and Loblaw are able to profit … during a time when small businesses are shutting down and it's not fair," Choi said"We're going to lose the foot traffic of people just going to Koreatown because there's so many cute little stores … and we have a lot of older customers who don't believe in online shopping."Choi's worries come as the country's largest organization of small businesses is calling on the Ontario government to allow all non-essential small retailers to open for in-store sales, but with very limited capacity.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents more than 110,000 small- and medium-sized companies, suggests the government could keep stores open and people safe by limiting the number of staff and customers at any given time, and encouraging shoppers to pre-book their visits."If it is dangerous to buy a book at an independent bookseller, why isn’t it dangerous at Costco?” questioned CFIB president Dan Kelly in a release.“The lockdown restrictions have created a massive unfair advantage for many big, multinational corporations."The CFIB called out Costco and Walmart specifically. Neither responded to a request for a comment.Hudson's Bay Co. kept its flagship Queen Street store in Toronto open on Monday. Despite the bulk of its products being non-essential, the company argued it sells essential items like food and appliances and has a Pusateri's grocery store.But the company sent The Canadian Press an email Monday evening saying that while choosing to stay open was "in line with the province's direction," it had decided to close the store.HBC President Iain Nairn told a virtual audience at a Retail Council of Canada event on Monday the lockdown is unfair e government hasn't made public any data showing COVID-19 is spreading at stores.Ontario premier Doug Ford's office referred requests for comment to the ministry of health, which said in an email that big box stores are impacted too because they have to limit capacity to 50 per cent. "To be clear, moving regions into a lockdown is not a measure this government takes lightly," a ministry spokesperson said in an email. "We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise if and when public health measures need to be adjusted."If the government doesn't change its policy, Kelly warns that many small businesses won't survive. The CFIB estimated earlier in the year that 160,000 businesses across the country may permanently close due to COVID-19. It believes that number could climb all the way to 225,000 if restrictions persist.When Ford introduced the lockdown policy on Friday, he pleaded for people to support small businesses.“Please shop local," he said. "If you are shopping online I know it can be easy to go with Amazon, but please remember you can get the exact same product from local stores."Ford also doubled the province's investment in small business supports to $600 million for personal protective equipment and other forms of relief.Chris Korwin-Kuzynski, the chairman of the Lakeshore Village BIA and a former city councillor, was disappointed by the advantages big box stores are getting through Ford's approach."There is a clear mistake there because some of the small businesses could continue to operate with staggered people coming in just like a Walmart does or a grocery store or a Canadian Tire," he said. "Why do they all get the business and then the small little people don't get the business?"Instead, small businesses have been left to contend with fewer shoppers, constantly changing restrictions and a struggle to shift operations online.Choi has spent much of her time lately getting new products onto Hanji's website and while her online business has seen a bump, it pales in comparison to what she'd be making if her stores were open.She misses the personal aspect of her business like gift wrapping items for customers, learning about who they are buying for and hearing about which products are their favourites. She's hopeful they'll keep supporting her despite the tough times and changes, but she's already accepted that this year will be "very different." — with files from Brett Bundale in Halifax and Anita Balakrishnan in Toronto.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
The latest updates from around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden’s pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a low-key, veteran foreign service officer, reflects the president-elect's intent to return to a more traditional role at the world body as well as offer an olive branch to a beleaguered diplomatic corps.If confirmed by the Senate, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, would be neither the first African American nor the first woman, nor even the first African American woman, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But she’s a groundbreaking diplomat nonetheless. Thomas-Greenfield joined the State Department more than three decades ago, when Black women were even more of a rarity in the U.S. diplomatic corps than they are today.That makes her the most experienced diplomat of the six people named by Biden for top national security positions on Monday. Her tenure at the State Department rivals that of previous U.N. ambassadors like Richard Holbrooke, John Negroponte and Thomas Pickering, all of them white men.Thomas-Greenfield's background positions her well to carry out Biden’s goal of returning the United States to a role as a leading force at the world body, after four years of an administration that has had little use for multilateralism or international organizations.“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place,” she said in a tweet Monday. “I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service – and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”Biden's office announced on Monday his intent to Thomas-Greenfield, who currently heads his transition team for the State Department, and for the job to retain its Cabinet-level rank.She is a 35-year veteran of the State Department who served as ambassador to Liberia, director general of the foreign service and top diplomat for Africa before being forced out during the early months of the Trump administration.While she won’t be the first African American to serve as America’s U.N. envoy — Andrew Young, who held the job during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, holds that distinction — Thomas-Greenfield’s selection is a signal to Biden supporters that his diversity message and plan to elevate career diplomats is not just lip service.Biden also named two white men, Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, to top positions in his administration — respectively, secretary of state and national security adviser, and so Thomas-Greenfield's appointment will offer a balance. Susan Rice, who was also under consideration to be secretary of state, was the first African American woman to hold the U.N. post, but she was not a career foreign service officer, though she held a senior State Department position in President Bill Clinton’s administration.Other than secretary of state, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is often the most high-profile foreign policy portfolio in a presidential administration. The influence of these ambassadors has waxed and waned depending on the nature of the president and secretary of state, but Democratic administrations have traditionally leaned more heavily on them than Republicans have.Thomas-Greenfield's immediate predecessors — all women — highlight that dichotomy: Rice, Samantha Power, Nikki Haley and Kelly Craft.When then-President-elect Barack Obama named Rice to the job after being elected in 2008 and announced that the position would return to the Cabinet after eight years during George W. Bush's administration, he did so at the same time as announcing that his Democratic primary rival, Hillary Clinton, would be his secretary of state.At the U.N., Rice was clearly influential in the Obama administration, and Power followed suit after she replaced Rice when Rice was named national security adviser, retaining Cabinet rank. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, won some plaudits during Trump's early years in office but was dogged by persistent reports of clashes with the president's first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Craft, by contrast, has played a far less-high profile role since taking over the U.N. job.Even before the transition made it public, Thomas-Greenfield’s expected nomination, along with that of Blinken's, was hailed by a number of former Democratic foreign policy appointees.Thomas-Greenfield “is a valued colleague and veteran diplomat who will restore US leadership and co-operation at the UN,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, for whose consulting company, Albright Stonebridge, the nominee now works.“This will be a phenomenal team,” said Power. “(They) bring decency, professionalism, judgment, and decades of foreign policy experience to these essential jobs. And America will be SO well served."Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — The winning ticket for a record-breaking 50/50 raffle held by the CFL's EE Football Team has been claimed.The team said in a release Monday that John Groff of Edmonton is taking home the winner's prize of $495,900 for the draw, which was held in honour of former EE Football Team and Edmonton Oilers locker-room attendant Joey Moss. The draw, which closed at $991,800 on Sunday, broke a record set by the team during a July 2017 game against the Ottawa Redblacks where $871,839 was raised.The remainder of the pot, minus administration fees, will go toward the Joey Moss Memorial Fund created by the Winnifred Stewart Association, a group that empowers people with disabilities. Moss, who was born with Down syndrome, passed away at the age of 57 this past October. No cause of death was given. He first became an attendant with the Oilers in 1984 before joining the Edmonton Football Team two years later, holding both positions for over 30 years. Moss was a favourite in Edmonton among fans and players. He was later given a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his contributions and achievements in 2012 and was later inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020The Canadian Press
A combination of little activity and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decision to give away, not rent, toys at Jasper's Toy Lending Library, located in the Anglican Church. The toys are free and donations are welcome too, and will go to Santa's Anonymous. "There hasn't been much activity taking out toys," said Melody Gaboury, who started the toy lending library with Anglican Church Reverend Andreas Sigrist, last fall. Donations came from Jasper parents, the church network in Edmonton and a store called Once Upon a Time, and the toys, games and costumes have been free to rent since then, on the condition they're returned clean. "The toy lending room wasn't as busy as I hoped," Gaboury said. "The main reason I wanted to do this is because children don't need it to come in a package to be special. “A new toy is a new toy, the plastic packaging isn't important. The fact is they get a new toy to play with. It's new to them. It doesn't need to be brand new.” Gaboury lives by example. She said there have been very few times when she has purchased new toys for her children. "Research has shown that if children have too many choices, they're not going to be as creative and use what they have, and get bored. It's just not necessary,” she said. "I told my kids we're going to start sharing our toys with the community.” The COVID pandemic has presented challenges in many forms including employment. With either loss of a job, or a reduced number of hours being worked, "There's going to be a lot of people who need Santa's Anonymous this year,” Gaboury said. "Instead of bringing toys to the thrift shop after Christmas, they can be dropped off before Christmas at the Anglican Church, by the office door. “Do it now, because people are going to need help." In the current stock of toys, Gaboury said there are a lot for children under the age of five, but not as many for kids older than five. The Toy Lending Library is accepting cleaned toys that are in complete sets and in good condition. All toys are disinfected after they are donated. Toys can be picked up on the same days the Jasper Food Recovery items are available: Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The initiative started on Nov. 19 and Gaboury said she is happy to report $50 has been donated already.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
WASHINGTON — The federal prison system will be among the first government agencies to receive the coronavirus vaccine, though initial allotments of the vaccine will be given to staff and not to inmates, even though sickened prisoners vastly outnumber sickened staff, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.Officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons have been instructing wardens and other staff members to prepare to receive the vaccine within weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. The people could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.The internal Bureau of Prisons documents, obtained by the AP, say initial allotments of the vaccine “will be reserved for staff.” It was not immediately clear how many doses would be made available to the Bureau of Prisons.As of Monday, there were 3,624 federal inmates and 1,225 Bureau of Prisons staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19.Since the first case was reported in March, 18,467 inmates and 1,736 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 141 federal inmates and two staff members have died.There have been more than 12 million cases in the U.S. and over 257,000 deaths. But prisons are a particular concern because social distancing is virtually nonexistent behind bars, inmates sleep in close quarters and share bathrooms with strangers. In the early days of the pandemic, prisoners and staff members said the Bureau of Prisons had run short of even the most basic supplies, like soap.The internal Bureau of Prisons records obtained by the AP also detail how the agency has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Trump administration’s vaccine program, known as “Operation Warp Speed,” to secure the vaccines. The documents say the administration’s initial distribution will include the federal prison system.Health officials have been warning for more than a decade about the dangers of epidemics for those incarcerated.Nearly 25% of all inmate cases and 30% of the staff cases have been reported within just the last month. Some staff members said they are apprehensive about receiving the vaccine because of what they feared was a lack of long-term testing and possible side effects.Though the virus is also rising in state prisons nationwide, any plans for administering doses in those prisons would be handled by the states.Government guidance has suggested that states should be ready to receive initial doses of the vaccine within weeks, though officials have said initial supplies of the vaccine will be scarce and rationed. While health care workers may be among those to receive initial doses, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, has said the general population can likely expect first doses of a vaccine starting in April.No vaccine has been approved by the Trump administration yet — a necessary step before any doses can be delivered. Pfizer formally asked U.S. regulators Friday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month.Advocates say the federal government should be doing more to ensure vulnerable, at-risk inmates have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.“If true, it’s a disgrace,” David Patton, the head of the federal defender office in New York, said of the Bureau of Prisons plan. “Prisoners are among the very highest-risk groups for contracting COVID-19. The conditions of confinement make social distancing and proper hygiene and sanitation nearly impossible. The government should certainly prioritize prison staff, but to not also prioritize the people incarcerated is irresponsible and inhumane.”The Bureau of Prisons has been accused of missteps and scattershot policies since the virus reached the U.S. earlier this year.An inspector general’s office report last week concluded that at one prison complex in Louisiana, which emerged as an early coronavirus hotspot, prison officials had failed to comply with federal health guidance and left inmates with the virus in their housing units for a week without being isolated. Staff members, advocates and inmates at other prisons around the country described a hodgepodge of coronavirus policies, being told by supervisors they don’t need to wear masks and having broken thermometers for temperature checks.A spokesman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Michael Balsamo And Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press