The Canadian government will introduce new legislation aimed at policing illegal online content, including forcing companies to remove it within 24 hours or face penalties.
The Canadian government will introduce new legislation aimed at policing illegal online content, including forcing companies to remove it within 24 hours or face penalties.
Officials in President Joe Biden's administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive on a Sunday call with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, some of whom pushed for a smaller plan targeting vaccine distribution. "It seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope," said Republican Senator Susan Collins, who was on the call with Brian Deese, director of the White House's National Economic Council, and other top Biden aides.
MONTREAL — Canada's chief public health officer says it's still too soon to know whether the recent downward trend in new COVID-19 cases will continue. Dr. Theresa Tam says there's been an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec but the disease is regaining steam elsewhere. She says it appears local health measures may be starting to pay off, but it's not clear whether they're strong and broad enough to continue to sustain progress. Some long-standing virus hot spots have made headway in lowering the number of new cases in recent weeks, but are still fighting outbreaks and flare-ups as they race to vaccinate vulnerable communities. The federal public safety minister announced today that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in 32 First Nations communities in northern Ontario. Quebec, meanwhile, reported a fifth straight decline in the number of hospitalizations as the health minister urged citizens to keep following health measures. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
MADRID — Atlético Madrid hasn't flinched in its quest to win the Spanish league title for the first time since 2014. Coming from behind for a second straight time, Atlético defeated Valencia 3-1 on Sunday to strengthen its hold on the league lead entering the second half of the season. Barcelona earlier picked up its second win in a row without the suspended Lionel Messi, defeating Elche 2-0 to regain third place. João Félix, Luis Suárez and Ángel Correa scored to give Atlético its seventh straight league win and a seven-point gap to second-place Real Madrid with a game in hand. Diego Simeone's team is 10 points ahead of Barcelona. Atlético had also needed to rally to win its previous league match, against Eibar. “We started behind again but this team always fights until the end and thankfully we ended with the victory,” Félix said. “We can't get too caught up with the lead that we have now. We have to stayed focused match after match.” Valencia opened the scoring with a beautiful curling long-range shot by Uros Racic in the 11th minute, but Félix equalized off a corner kick in the 23rd and Suárez put the hosts ahead with a well-placed low shot into the far corner in the 54th from a Félix pass. Correa sealed the victory by completing a cross from Marcos Llorente in the 72nd. Suárez, who netted a late winner against Eibar last weekend, is now one of the league’s leading scorers with 12 goals, along with Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri. Valencia, which was unbeaten in five matches in all competitions, stayed in 14th place. It has the same 20 points as Alavés, the first team inside the relegation zone after 20 matches. Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby had to be replaced early in the second half because of an apparent muscle injury. BARCELONA ON A ROLL Frenkie de Jong scored in the 39th and set up Riqui Puig’s 89th-minute goal to give Barcelona its fourth league win in a row as Messi served the second of his two-game suspension for hitting an opponent. The Catalan club moved a point in front of Sevilla, which on Saturday beat Cádiz 3-0. It was the first time Barcelona won four consecutive league matches this season, with all four victories coming in away matches. It hasn't lost in nine straight league games. “We've improved since the year started,” De Jong said. “We've only played away games in the league and won all of them. We are doing better.” De Jong scored into the open net after the Elche defence failed to fully clear a cross from Martin Braithwaite to Antoine Griezmann inside the area. The Dutch midfielder made a well-placed cross for Puig’s late header for his first-ever Spanish league goal. Marc-André Ter Stegen made a crucial foot-save to keep Barcelona ahead in the 56th after Elche forward Emiliano Rigoni entered the area in a one-on-one situation. The breakaway for the hosts was prompted after a blunder by Barcelona defender Óscar Mingueza, who gave the ball away near midfield. “It’s one of those plays that can make the difference in the match,” Elche defender Gonzalo Verdú said. “The goalkeeper made a tremendous save. A goal there could have changed the match.” Barcelona was coming off a 2-0 win over third-division club Cornellà in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, when Messi served the first match of his suspension for hitting an opponent in the team’s 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final on Jan. 17. Elche, winless in its last 13 league games, was second-to-last in the 20-team standings. CELTA HELD Celta Vigo was held 1-1 against Eibar to extend its winless streak to five matches in all competitions. It had lost four straight, including against third-division club Ibiza in the second round of the Copa del Rey. Its last league win was in December. Celta sits in ninth-place, while Eibar stayed 15th, not far from the relegation zone. OSASUNA WINS Osasuna snapped its own 13-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory over Granada. Ante Budimir scored a pair of first-half goals for the hosts, who hadn't won in the league since October. The win moved Osasuna out of the relegation zone, while Granada stayed in seventh place. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An alleged rebel commander from Central African Republic has been detained and turned over to the International Criminal Court by authorities in the troubled African nation, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the capital, Bangui, in 2013. The court announced the surrender of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, of the Seleka rebel group, on Sunday night. He was detained on a warrant issued by the court under seal in January 2019. Fighting raged in Bangui in 2013 between the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels, who seized power from then-President Francois Bozize, and a mainly Christian militia called the anti-Balaka. The violence left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more. The Hague-based court already has detained two alleged commanders of the anti-Balaka, Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, whose trial is scheduled to start next month. Said is the first suspect detained from the Seleka side of the conflict. A judge at the court who issued the arrest warrant found “reasonable grounds to believe that, from at least March 2013 until at least January 2014, a widespread and systematic attack was conducted by members of the Seleka against the civilian population and those perceived to be collectively responsible for, complicit with or supportive of the former Bozizé government and, later, of the Anti-Balaka," the court said in a statement. Said is charged with crimes including torture, persecution and enforced disappearances. The court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, welcomed the arrest. “As I have previously stated, my office will relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of atrocity crimes in the Central African Republic. Today is another manifestation of that commitment,” she said. The detention came with Central African Republic again in turmoil. On Friday, the government declared a 15-day nationwide state of emergency as a coalition of armed groups seeks to overthrow the newly reelected President Faustin-Archange Touadera. Mike Corder, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — A COVID-19 testing operation was underway at a jail north of Montreal on Sunday following an outbreak that has infected more than 60 people. A spokeswoman for the regional health board for the Laurentians said that, as of Saturday, 45 inmates and 17 workers had tested positive at the St-Jerome detention centre. Melanie Laroche said inmates in certain blocks of the provincially run facility were tested in the middle of last week, but officials decided on Friday to expand screening to the entire jail. She said testing of all the inmates wrapped up on Saturday, while employee testing is expected to be complete by Monday. "We are also continuing our investigation and our support in the implementation of health measures," she wrote in an email. The news came as the overall COVID-19 portrait in Quebec continued to trend in a positive direction, according to the province's health minister. Quebec reported 1,457 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 41 additional deaths linked to the virus. Hospitalizations declined for the fifth straight day, down by 56 to 1,327. Of those patients, 219 were in intensive care, an increase of three. Christian Dube said on Twitter that the numbers were "encouraging," but said Quebecers need to maintain their efforts to reduce cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has credited the recent drop in new COVID-19 infections to the nightly curfew which came into effect two weeks ago. The curfew, which is in place between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., was added to a number of other health orders imposed in recent weeks, including asking people to work from home, banning gatherings and shutting non-essential businesses. Montreal police said they'd intervened to break up more than 10 alleged illegal gatherings on Saturday after police heightened their presence in some boroughs to catch those breaking the rules. Patrols were stepped up in the Plateau-Mont-Royal and Outremont boroughs after police had to disperse three large gatherings at places of worship, including synagogues, on Friday night and Saturday morning. Two Jewish organizations, Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), issued a statement condemning the actions of "a small segment in the Hasidic community" involved in the gatherings in Outremont. "An assault on police officers is criminal and inexcusable, as is referring to them as Nazis," read the statement. The groups said the "organized Jewish community" has always supported the health regulations in place to fight COVID-19 and would continue to do so. A total of 253,633 Quebecers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 9,478 have died since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 24, 2021 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is confronting the political risk that comes with grand ambition. As one of his first acts, Biden offered a sweeping immigration overhaul last week that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. It would also codify provisions wiping out some of President Donald Trump's signature hard-line policies, including trying to end existing, protected legal status for many immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and crackdowns on asylum rules. It's precisely the type of measure that many Latino activists have longed for, particularly after the tough approach of the Trump era. But it must compete with Biden's other marquee legislative goals, including a $1.9 trillion plan to combat the coronavirus, an infrastructure package that promotes green energy initiatives and a “public option” to expand health insurance. In the best of circumstances, enacting such a broad range of legislation would be difficult. But in a narrowly divided Congress, it could be impossible. And that has Latinos, the nation's fastest growing voting bloc, worried that Biden and congressional leaders could cut deals that weaken the finished product too much — or fail to pass anything at all. “This cannot be a situation where simply a visionary bill — a message bill — gets sent to Congress and nothing happens with it,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for low-income immigrants. “There’s an expectation that they will deliver and that there is a mandate now for Biden to be unapologetically pro-immigrant and have a political imperative to do so, and the Democrats do as well.” If Latinos ultimately feel betrayed, the political consequences for Democrats could be long-lasting. The 2020 election provided several warning signs that, despite Democratic efforts to build a multiracial coalition, Latino support could be at risk. Biden already was viewed skeptically by some Latino activists for his association with former President Barack Obama, who was called the “deporter in chief” for the record number of immigrants who were removed from the country during his administration. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont defeated Biden in last year's Nevada caucuses and California primary, which served as early barometers of the Latino vote. In his race against Trump, Biden won the support of 63% of Latino voters compared with Trump's 35%, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide. But Trump narrowed the margin somewhat in some swing states such as Nevada and also got a bump from Latino men, 39% of whom backed him compared with 33% of Latino women. Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1996 to carry Arizona, in part because of strong grassroots backing from Mexican American groups opposed to strict GOP immigration policies going back decades. But he lost Florida by underperforming in its largest Hispanic county, Miami-Dade, where the Trump campaign's anti-socialism message resonated with Cuban- and some Venezuelan Americans. Biden also fell short in Texas even though running mate Kamala Harris devoted valuable, late campaign time there. The ticket lost some sparsely populated but heavily Mexican American counties along the Mexican border, where law enforcement agencies are major employers and the GOP's zero-tolerance immigration policy resonated. There were more warning signs for House Democrats, who lost four California seats and two in South Florida while failing to pick up any in Texas. Booming Hispanic populations reflected in new U.S. census figures may see Texas and Florida gain congressional districts before 2022's midterm elections, which could make correcting the problem all the more pressing for Democrats. The urgency isn't lost on Biden. He privately spent months telling immigration advocates that major overhauls would be at the top of his to-do list. As vice-president, he watched while the Obama administration used larger congressional majorities to speed passage of a financial crisis stimulus bill and its signature health care law while letting an immigration overhaul languish. “It means so much to us to have a new president propose bold, visionary immigration reform on Day 1. Not Day 2. Not Day 3. Not a year later,” said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, his chamber's lead sponsor of the Biden package. Menendez was part of a bipartisan immigration plan championed by the “Gang of Eight” senators that collapsed in 2013. Obama then resorted to executive action to offer legal status to millions of young immigrants. President George W. Bush also pushed an immigration package — with an eye toward boosting Latino support for Republicans before the 2008 election — only to see it fail in Congress. Menendez acknowledged that the latest bill will have to find at least 10 Republican senators' support to clear the 60-vote hurdle to reach the floor, and that he's “under no illusions" how difficult that will be. Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican from Florida, said Biden may find some GOP support but probably will have to settle for far less than what’s in his original proposal. “Many Republicans are worried about primary challenges,” Curbelo said, adding that Trump and his supporters’ championing of immigration crackdowns means there's “political peril there for Republicans.” But he also said Democrats could alienate some of their own base by appearing to prioritize the needs of people in the country illegally over those of struggling U.S. citizens and thus “appearing to overreach from the perspective of swing and independent voters.” Indeed, Democrats haven't always universally lined up behind an immigration overhaul, arguing that it could lead to an influx of cheap labour that hurts U.S. workers. Some of the party's senators joined Republicans in sinking Bush's bill. Still, Latinos haven't forgotten past immigration failures and have often blamed Democrats more than Republicans. Chuck Roca, head of Nuestro PAC, which spent $4 million on ads boosting Biden in Arizona, said that while Hispanics have traditionally tended to support Democrats, he has begun to see trends in the past decade where more are registering as independent or without party affiliation. Those voters can still be won back, he said, but only if Latinos see real change on major issues such as immigration “even if it's piecemeal.” “They have to get something done if they want to start to turn around the loss of Latino voters,” said Rocha, who headed Latino voter outreach for Sanders’ presidential campaign. “They have to do everything in their power now to get Latinos back.” ___ Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report. Will Weissert, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Sunday installed new heads of three federally funded international broadcasters after abruptly firing Donald Trump-appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Kelu Chao, the acting CEO of the agency, made the announcement after dismissing the previous directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks late Friday, just a month after they had been named to the posts. Daisy Sindelar will be acting head of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, replacing Ted Lipien until a permanent president is named. Bay Fang will return to her post as Radio Free Asia president, replacing Stephen Yates. Kelley Sullivan will become acting Middle East Broadcasting Networks president, replacing Victoria Coates. “I have great faith in these leaders in ensuring the highest standards of independent, objective, and professional journalism,” Chao said. The moves follow the forced resignation of Trump’s hand-picked agency head, Michael Pack, only two hours after Joe Biden took office as president on Wednesday. The director of the Voice of America and his deputy were soon removed and the chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting stepped down. Pack had been accused by Democrats and others of trying to turn VOA and the other networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines. Chao on Sunday also announced new corporate board directors for the three broadcasters, replacing the board directors named by Pack just days before his departure. The new directors are Karen Kornbluh, ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development under President Barack Obama, who will serve as chair; Ryan Crocker, who was an ambassador to Iraq, Syria and other countries; and PR executive Michael Kempner. “Now more than ever, U.S. international media must serve as an accurate, reliable source of news and information in places where illuminating truth is needed the most," Kornbluh said. The Associated Press
Sprinter Andre De Grasse, a double medallist at the 2019 world track and field championships, didn't qualify for the 60-metre final at the American Track League's season-opening meet on Sunday in Fayetteville, Ark. He was seventh of eight runners in his preliminary heat in 6.79 seconds but needed a top-three finish to advance. Nigeria's Divine Oduduru, the 2019 NCAA outdoor 100 champion, won the first heat in 6.70, followed by Omar McLeod in 6.73, the Arkansas alum from Jamaica and 2016 Olympic champion in 110 hurdles. American Demek Kemp was third, also in 6.73. De Grasse ran a 6.60 personal-best on Feb. 7, 2015 to win at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York City. Trayvon Bromell, his training partner in Florida, led a 1-2-3 sweep by the United States in the second heat on Sunday, stopping the clock in 6.58. Marvin Bracy and Brandon Carnes clocked 6.72 and 6.74, respectively. Like De Grasse, Great Britain's Adam Gemili — the 2019 world bronze medallist in the outdoor 100 — was seventh in his heat in 6.81. Andre Ewers was the seventh qualifier and American Teammate Chris Belcher was awarded the eighth and final spot as a wild card. Biggest test since 2019 worlds Bromell, who won world bronze in 2015, broke from the field early in the final to post a winning time of 6.48, beating Oduduru (6.65) and Ewers (6.67). The world and American record of 6.34 belongs to Christian Coleman, the reigning world outdoor 100 champion who was banned for two years last October and lost his chance to succeed Usain Bolt as the fastest man at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. De Grasse twice ran the 100 and 200 outdoors in Florida during the coronavirus pandemic last July and August but Sunday's field was considered stronger and his stiffest test since worlds in Doha, Qatar, where the Markham, Ont., sprinter ran a 2019 season-best 9.90 for bronze in the 100 and 19.95 in a silver-medal performance in the 200. WATCH | De Grasse runs 9.90 PB in 2019 world 100 final: De Grasse, 26, won three medals at his 2016 Olympic debut in Rio before a pair of right hamstring injuries disrupted each of the next two seasons before he rebounded strongly in 2019. Sunday's event, which drew some of the top North American track and field athletes, began a four-week series at the University of Arkansas. Other Canadian results: Sage Watson, women's 300 metres: 4th of 4 in section, 7th overall, 37.90 seconds Robin Bone, women's pole vault: No height (she didn't clear a bar) Ryan Crouser breaks world shot put record Olympic champion Ryan Crouser broke the world indoor shot put record on Sunday with a throw of 22.82 metres on his first attempt to break Randy Barnes' mark of 22.66 from Jan. 20, 1989. Crouser's record is pending ratification. The 28-year-old Crouser's heave went so far that it nearly landed out of the area designed for the competition. He also had another toss that went 22.70. "It's a pretty good start to 2021," Crouser said on ESPN. "I feel like there is more there." Crouser, who trains at Arkansas, will have a chance to break his own record next Sunday. "First meet, first throw … usually it's a rocky start. The consistency is pretty good," Crouser said on the network broadcast. "For me, it's a continuation to develop my throw. These are usually things I'd see in June or July." Crouser, who won world silver in 2019, is hoping to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is investigating whether an outbreak at a long-term care home in the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury is due to the variant first detected in the United Kingdom. At a news conference on Sunday, Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the health unit, said a person linked to the Bradford Valley Care Community has tested positive for the variant. Gardner said the person has had close contact with another individual who is a part of the outbreak at that home. Public Health Ontario Laboratory told the health unit about the positive case late Saturday. The health unit is now conducting more testing to determine if the COVID-19 variant has caused the outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community, and it is working with the home to implement public health measures to contain the spread. "What we are concerned about in this situation is the potential for that facility to actually be a U.K. variant outbreak. We need the laboratory confirmation to determine that. That is our concern at this time," Gardner told reporters on Sunday. The health unit said it is investigating "all other connections" to the person who tested positive. Gardner said the person has worked in a retail setting in Simcoe County that offered curbside pickup, and two COVID-19 cases are linked to this setting. He declined to name the retail setting and the exact location. The health unit doesn't believe the person had travelled abroad recently. As of Sunday, six residents out of 230 and three staff out of 260 at the home have tested positive for COVID-19, but there is no laboratory confirmation that they have the new strain of the virus. Gardner said he doesn't know when the tests will be completed. The outbreak at the home was declared on Jan. 14. News follows COVID-19 variant outbreak at Roberta Place The news comes after the health unit said the variant is behind a deadly outbreak at Roberta Place Long Term Care in Barrie, Ont., on Saturday. Genome sequencing on six COVID-19 samples from the home have been identified as the highly contagious variant. An outbreak at Roberta Place, first declared on Jan. 8, has resulted in the deaths of 40 residents and one essential caregiver as of Sunday. There are 127 resident and 86 staff cases of COVID-19 at Roberta Place. Six residents are also in hospital with the disease. One essential caregiver, three "external partners" and 42 household contacts of primary cases have tested positive for the virus. Laboratory notified health unit about 'variant of concern' Gardner said the health unit is seeking direction from Public Health Ontario on how many samples it needs from Bradford Valley Care Community to determine whether the outbreak is due to the variant. The samples would undergo genome sequencing. He said the health unit investigates all outbreaks in the region, and the laboratory notified the heath unit about the "variant of concern" when it discovered it. He said it was not linked to its investigation of the Roberta Place outbreak. "In fact, it was a finding that was fortuitous for us," Gardner said. "I think that it's important for people to take to heart the very real possibility that it is circulating in the community right now, if not from this cluster then from other sources," he said. "I think we need to behave as if it is circulating in the community." In a news release on Sunday, the health unit said the outbreak is "well under control at this time with a relatively low case count," but the possibility that it may be due to the variant must be assessed and managed. Dr. Andrea Moser, chief medical officer for Sienna Senior Living, which owns and operates the facility, said in the news release that staff members at the home are working to contain the outbreak. "We are being extremely vigilant in our monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and are taking all of the necessary steps to protect the safety of our residents and team members," Moser said. "We are working proactively with public health and community partners, as fighting the virus will require everyone's expertise and teamwork." Staff at home implementing measures to control outbreak Moser said case and contact measures are being undertaken, including: Extending the length of isolation for cases and close contacts. More readily identifying close contacts. Quarantining all household contacts of confirmed or probable cases as quickly as possible. The health unit said its staff vaccinated most of the residents in Bradford Valley Care Community on Jan. 15 as a protective measure against COVID-19. As of Jan. 16, all residents of long-term care homes in Simcoe Muskoka have been offered their first dose of immunization against COVID-19, the health unit added. Moser said about 60 per cent of staff members and 96 per cent of residents at Bradford Valley Care Community have received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. "We appreciate all the efforts from our partners in the community with the rollout of the vaccine and will continue working closely with them as additional doses are available for deployment," she said. WATCH | Coronavirus variant already spreading beyond Ont. care home:
A 31-year-old Regina woman is the latest person to be ticketed for breaching a public health order. Police got a complaint late Saturday morning that a woman was COVID-19-positive and not in isolation. Officers investigated and found her at a home on Buckingham Drive. After speaking to public health officials, they issued her a $2800 ticket. She's the twelfth person to be fined under the Public Health Act.
OTTAWA — Members of Parliament return to the House of Commons on Monday following a month-long break that was anything but restful to again face the ramification of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the threat of a possible election. One of the first orders of business will be for MPs to decide how Parliament will continue to function during the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether to let parliamentarians continue attending remotely and whether to adopt a new voting app for those who do. Those decisions come amid a much-changed situation as Ontario and Quebec remain under lockdown and stay-at-home orders following record-setting surges in new cases through much of the past month. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez’s office on Sunday said the Liberals had held “constructive” discussions with the other parties, and there were signs that the measure would be adopted without much fuss. Yet an agreement on the functioning of Parliament is likely to be the exception rather than the rule as opposition parties have indicated they plan to go hard at the government on a number of fronts — starting with its handling of the pandemic. The Liberals are expected to table new legislation this week aimed at preventing people who have travelled outside the country on non-essential business from being able to access up to $1,000 in federal sick-leave benefits to pay for their 14-day quarantine after returning. Yet delays in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to dominate the agenda, with opposition parties indicating they plan to press the Liberals for answers on why Canada is facing delays in the delivery and distribution of shots — and what Ottawa is doing about it. That includes the news last week that Canada would receive only a fraction of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations originally promised over the next few weeks, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Pfizer has promised to deliver 4 million doses by the end of March. Opposition parties have blamed the government for mishandling the rush to approve and buy vaccines, saying the Liberals have left Canada far behind other countries in terms of inoculating its citizens. Both NDP House Leader Peter Julian and Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong left the door open to parliamentary committee hearings into the government’s handling of the vaccination campaign — including what it is doing to get shots into arms faster. “Why are other countries ahead?” Julian said. “That's the question that the government will have to respond to. And we believe that the government needs to very clearly spell out their plan to accelerate the vaccine distribution across the country.” The government has said it is doing all it can to secure as many shots as possible, which includes signing contracts with multiple pharmaceutical companies to secure millions of doses over the past few months. “I spend ... every day working to ensure that we have earlier and earlier doses in this country for Canadians given the importance of this vaccination effort,” Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand told the CBC last week. The Conservatives are also expected to continue pushing the government to approve rapid tests for COVID-19 and increase federal assistance for small businesses, Chong added, noting that many are in danger of closing permanently during the second wave. “Our singular focus is on the pandemic because that’s what Canadians expect of us,” Chong said. The Bloc Quebecois has also called for more answers on vaccines while pushing for more support for seniors, while Julian indicated that the NDP will be pressing for the government to extend assistance to families and business past March while cracking down on profiteers. Yet looming in the background will be the ever-present threat of a snap election. While Trudeau has insisted the Liberals don’t want to send Canadians to the polls, opposition parties have alleged that is exactly what the government hopes to happen. Parliamentarians are also returning only days after Julie Payette resigned as governor general, which has raised questions about how she will be replaced — and how Trudeau selected her for the vice-regal job in the first place. The Liberals are also expected to face fresh accusations of abandoning Western Canada for not raising more of a ruckus over U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision upon taking office last week to pull the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline. Yet the Liberals aren’t the only ones jumping back into the fire as they return to Ottawa for the resumption of Parliament, as the Conservatives will be looking to turn the page on Derek Sloan’s ouster last week. The decision to kick the former Conservative leadership candidate from caucus for accepting a donation from white supremacist Paul Fromm capped a week in which Tory Leader Erin O’Toole sought to distance his party from far-right elements. That followed Liberal efforts to associate the Conservatives with the type of right-wing extremists who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., earlier this month at the urging of outgoing president Donald Trump. In an interview, O’Toole dismissed the idea that kicking Sloan from caucus has pitted him against one of the party's most powerful wings, social conservatives, whose support O'Toole courted during the leadership race last year in part by backing Sloan at the time. The Bloc Quebecois also returns facing allegations of using “coded language” for seemingly questioning new Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s fitness to serve in cabinet after having previously worked as head of the Canadian Arab Federation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. —With files from Stephanie Levitz. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
The Ontario government has decided that a provincial jail in Milton, Ont. will not accept new prisoners while it continues to fight a major COVID-19 outbreak. The solicitor-general's ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it will also put Maplehurst Correctional Complex into a "full lockdown" to curb spread of the virus. Greg Flood, spokesperson for the ministry, said the ministry will divert new admissions to other facilities with the help of police. Ninety inmates and 26 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the provincial jail, as of Sunday. "Given the evolving situation at MHCC the ministry is moving forward with a full lockdown of the facility to ensure isolation of inmates and reduce potential spread," Flood said. This decision comes after the union that represents correctional officers called for a halt to new admissions last week. Peter Figliola, president of Local 234 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said a suspension of new admissions is a positive move. "Diverting new admissions to other facilities not only prevents new admissions from being exposed to the current outbreak, it also allows us to free up areas so that we can cohort individuals and keep healthy inmates from being exposed," Figliola said. Figliola said the union has also called for staff to be assigned to only one area of the institution to prevent further spread of the virus. "These steps coupled with staff being given proper PPE over the course of their shift should help us stop the spread and get this outbreak under control," he said. Inmates who test positive for COVID-19 are put under "droplet precautions" and isolated from the rest of the inmates while they receive medical care, the ministry says. The ministry said, over the last number of months, it has made the following changes across all provincial correctional facilities: Testing all newly admitted inmates, with their consent. Housing all newly admitted inmates in a separate area from the general population for 14 days. Masks provided to inmates, if required. Providing personal protective equipment for all staff. Requiring all staff and visitors to always wear masks. Requiring temperature checks for staff and visitors. Working with local public health units to test inmates and staff as appropriate. Increased cleaning measures. The ministry said it is temporarily suspending any transfers of prisoners from Maplehurst to court and back again and will continue to use video and audio courts as required. Voluntary staff and inmate testing is continuing and staff who are confirmed positive have gone into isolation, Flood said. "We are also working to ensure that staff who may have been exposed are taking appropriate steps to isolate and reduce the risk of potential spread." "The ministry continues to work with its justice partners to reduce the number of individuals coming into custody across Ontario," Flood said. "These decisions are based on a number of factors to ensure community safety remains paramount."
HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS — Winnipeg's Heather McLean was fourth in a World Cup long-track speedskating event Sunday.McLean posted a time of 37.522 seconds in a women's 500-metre race, finishing just 0.11 seconds from winning a bronze medal. McLean won bronze Saturday over 500 metres.She also finished 11th in the 1,000-metre race Sunday.Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann was fifth in the women's 3,000-metre race in 3:59.437. Laurent Dubreuil, of Levis, Que., was 15th in a men's 500-metre race. His original racing counterpart, Russian Ruslan Murashov, lost control and slid into Dubreuil’s outside lane, forcing the Canadian to slow down and swerve to avoid a collision.Dubreuil was permitted a solo re-skate after but settled for the 15th-place finish. He was ninth in the 1,000-metre race (1:08.880).Toronto’s Jordan Belchos was seventh in the men's 5,000-metre race (6:18.054) while Calgary’s Gilmore Junio was ninth in the men’s 500 (34.816).This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
The Canadian NXIVM survivor is glad "The Vow" didn't make her "the next Carole Baskin."
Amy Willier, a Cree artisan and entrepreneur who championed her culture and community through her Calgary gallery, has died. The 37-year-old ran Moonstone Creation in Inglewood alongside her mother Yvonne Jobin for more than a decade. Melrene Saloy-Eaglespeaker, a close friend of Willier's, said anyone who walked into the pale pink building, marked with a medicine wheel sign at the corner of 10th Avenue and 12th Street S.E., would be met with a huge smile and an offer of a mug of tea, or a chance to sit and chat. "They're internationally known, award-winning … they're one of those stops you make when you come to Calgary," Saloy-Eaglespeaker said. "She was so knowledgeable on every item, every artist, where it came from. She just took so much pride in the store, of being able to represent over 75 local Indigenous artists and to be able to talk about each one so passionately." Friends say Willier's death was sudden, and the cause wasn't immediately known. On Sunday morning, bouquets of flowers and candles were placed in front of the shop's blue door in her memory. "She just touched so many people in our community, whether she was teaching classes, she was buying from artists, she was showcasing, she was speaking. She just did so many things and wore so many hats. She was well-respected," Saloy-Eaglespeaker said. "She was very kind and open and caring and probably the best person I'll ever know." Willier was born on Sucker Creek reserve in northern Alberta, and her family moved to Calgary when she was a young child. Her mother founded Moonstone Creation in 2009, and Saloy-Eaglespeaker said Willier, who has a background in marketing, saw the store as an opportunity to learn from Jobin while spending more time with her young son Colton. Nicole Robertson, another friend of Willier's, said the bond between the two women was strong, and Willier was on her way to assuming the role of Cree matriarch like her mother before her. She said everyone who walked into Moonstone felt welcome — and that was due to Willier and Jobin's warm spirits. "Amy was a teacher of our creative ways and looking at ways to be a bridge between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people," Robertson said. "She leaves behind a legacy of hope, of being a better human citizen, of our Indigenous teachings as a way of learning respect not only for each other, but for Mother Earth." Willier passed on knowledge wherever she could, teaching traditional crafts like how to intricately bead a tanned moose hide, tuft with caribou hair or craft drums. She had been scheduled to teach a virtual class on how to bead peyote-style on a feather with the University of Calgary on Wednesday. Robertson remembers seeing Willier speak after she received an award from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada in 2017. "[Her speech] was so beautiful and just so commanding of such a beautiful spirit, a woman, leader … she gave a lot to our community and I will forever be grateful for the time that she had with us," she said. Willier is survived by her mother, 13-year-old son Colton, and seven-year-old adopted nephew A.J.
LISBON, Portugal — Official results from Portugal’s presidential election Sunday gave a clear victory to the centre-right incumbent candidate, who was returned to office for a final five-year term. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa captured 62% of the vote, with 98% of districts reporting. He had widely been expected to win. In a stunning development, newly arrived right-wing populist André Ventura was in a close race for second place with Socialist candidate Ana Gomes, with both polling around 12%. Such a showing for Ventura would have been unthinkable until recently and will send a shudder through Portuguese politics. Four other candidates ran for head of state. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. Portugal’s president appeared poised to win a second term in office Sunday, in an election held amid a devastating COVID-19 surge that has made the European country the worst in the world for cases and deaths. An exit poll suggested that centre-right incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa captured 57-62% of the vote, which would send him for a final five-year term. Socialist candidate Ana Gomes came second with between 13-16%, the poll by the Portuguese Catholic University’s Polling Center for public broadcaster RTP suggested. In what would be a stunning result, newly arrived right-wing populist André Ventura came third with 9-12%, the poll indicated. His showing would have been unthinkable until recently. Four other candidates ran for president. The head of state in Portugal possesses no legislative powers, which are held by parliament and the government, but is an influential voice in the running of the country. The exit poll estimated the turnout at 45-50% — lower than in recent elections and apparently confirming concerns that some people would stay away for fear of becoming infected with COVID-19. Political leaders say that when the pandemic began to worsen there was no longer enough time to change the Portuguese Constitution to allow a postponement. Portugal has the world’s highest rates of new daily infections and deaths per 100,000 population, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, and its public health system is currently under huge strain. Rebelo de Sousa, 72, has long been viewed as the clear front-runner in the contest. He is an affable law professor and former television personality who as president has consistently had an approval rating of 60% or more. To win, a candidate must capture more than 50% of the vote. Rebelo de Sousa, a former leader of the centre-right Social Democratic Party, has worked closely with the centre-left minority Socialist government, supporting its pandemic efforts. He also has endeared himself to the Portuguese with his easygoing style. Photographs taken by passers-by of him in public places, such as one last year of him standing in line at a supermarket wearing sneakers and shorts, routinely go viral. With the country in lockdown, the election campaign featured none of the usual flag-waving rallies but restrictions on movement were lifted for polling day. Authorities increased the number of polling stations and allowed for early voting to reduce crowding on election day. In other precautions, voters were asked to bring their own pens and disinfectant to polling stations. Everyone voting wore a mask and kept a safe distance from each other. Prime Minister António Costa, in a tweet, urged people to turn out for the ballot, saying that “unprecedented planning” had gone into ensuring that the vote could take place safely. Portugal has 10.8 million registered voters, around 1.5 million of them living abroad. Every Portuguese president since 1976, when universal suffrage was introduced following the departure of a dictatorship, has been returned for a second term. No woman or member of an ethnic minority has ever held the post. Barry Hatton, The Associated Press
Regina police have confirmed a small protest took place outside the home of Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab on Saturday. In a news release, police said they arrived at the residence shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST. "Police monitored the situation and conducted an investigation until the protesters departed at approximately 3:30 p.m. Police will review the information gathered to determine if further action is required," the release reads, in part. Premier Scott Moe condemned the group's actions calling the protest "unacceptable, sickening and wrong." Moe said the Regina Police Service and the RCMP are both involved to make sure Shahab and his family are safe. He said the government is looking into long-term security options to protect Shahab and his relatives. Alec Couros, a professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina, said the protest took things to a personal level against Shahab and called it "incredibly disturbing." How did it come to this Couros said at this point, it's bigger than Dr. Shahab, but everything starts small. "This has been coming for a long time. This is related to QAnon, this is related to anti-masker protests that have happened. This is also related to the leadership or the lack thereof of our provincial system, our government, to provide clear and direct and concise information for the last ten months," he said. "If you fail to provide that direct and clear and concise information, you're somewhat responsible for what happens and what grows and is nurtured in that vacuum." There was much confusion in the beginning of the pandemic — and responsibility for that doesn't lie solely with the provincial government in Saskatchewan. Couros said inconsistent messages and what he called weak leadership at the World Health Organization contributed too. But once international advice became clearer, Saskatchewan didn't necessarily follow suit. Confusing messaging and inconsistent modelling of good pandemic behaviour can sow doubt in people who already distrust the government and media. The situation can become dire, Couros said. Protestors are 'idiots': Moe In his response to the protest, Premier Scott Moe used the word "idiots" to describe the people there. Couros said that shame or ridicule doesn't often work if you want people to engage in a dialogue with you and change their mind. "You can think of the parallel of, for those people who are trying to get loved ones out of a cult for instance, they try to leave some sort of connection, leave a door open," he said. "When you outright ridicule people, there's even less of a chance for these people to reconcile and to come closer to the truth." Other reaction There was a real outpouring of support for Shahab after the protest on Twitter. Several people condemned the protest and some used the hashtag #IStandWithShahab.
On ‘The West Block’ Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney says U.S. President Joe Biden’s move to axe the Keystone XL pipeline is a show of ‘disrespect’ to Canada.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Jonna Curtis and Hayley Mack scored in the shootout to earn the Minnesota Whitecaps a come-front-behind 6-5 win over the Toronto Six in National Women's Hockey League action Sunday. Minnesota (2-0) trailed 5-1 during the second period. Mikyla Grant-Mentis had the lone shootout goal for Toronto (0-1-1). Mack, Sydney Baldwin, Haylea Schmid, Audra Richards and Meaghan Pezon scored in regulation time for Minnesota. Breanne Wilson-Bennett scored twice for Toronto. Grant-Mentis, Lindsay Eastwood and Emily Fluke had the other goals. Eastwood opened the scoring at 8:03 of the first period on the man advantage. Grant made it a 2-0 contest at 10:06 before Wilson-Bennett added another power-play goal at 14:16. Baldwin replied on the power play at 17:36 for Minnesota but Wilson-Bennett restored Toronto's three-goal lead with another power-play goal at 7:29 of the second. Fluke made it 5-1 at 18:59 before Schmid and Mack scored 49 seconds apart before the end of the period to cut Toronto's advantage to 5-3. Richards made it 5-4 with a short-handed goal at 13:00 of the third period before Pezon tied the contest on the power play at 14:24. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Dentists, bus drivers and teachers are among the essential workers who are disappointed they won't be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia. B.C. rolled out its vaccination plan on Friday, revealing that after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized, shots will be given out according to age, with the oldest residents first in line. That means many people who have not been able to work from home during the pandemic, including grocery store workers, police officers and mail carriers, will have to wait to get the vaccine along with others in their age group. The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan strongly urging him to include dentists in Stage 2 of the vaccination plan, alongside family doctors and medical specialists. "Dentistry is an essential service. More importantly, dental care, including aerosol-generating dental procedures, are provided to patients who cannot wear a mask during treatment," said association president Dr. Anthony Nadolski in the letter. "B.C. dentists continue to do everything they can to ensure dental offices are safe for patients and staff. Early access to vaccines will ensure continued access to urgent and emergency dental care." Other agencies such as the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have included dentists and dental workers in Stage 2 along with doctors and specialists not directly involved in providing care to COVID-19 patients, Nadolski added. More recently, Ontario included dentistry in its second stage because dentists generally provide in-person care and many dental procedures are urgent and cannot be delayed, he said. The B.C. Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. The province initially suggested that people delivering essential services such as teachers, grocery store workers and those in law enforcement could be prioritized to get the vaccine. But when the finalized plan was released on Friday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said scientific evidence supports an age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19. Currently, hospital workers, Indigenous communities and long-term care home residents, staff and essential visitors are among those being vaccinated in Stage 1 of the plan. Stage 2 will begin in February and include people 80 and over, Indigenous seniors over 65, general practitioners and medical specialists. In April, the province will start vaccinating the general public according to five-year age groupings, starting with seniors aged 75 to 79 before moving on to those aged 70 to 74 and so on. However, Henry added that the approval of more vaccines may mean the province's plan could be revised to vaccinate essential workers between April and June. Metro Vancouver bus drivers are "very disappointed" they will not be prioritized while they risk their lives to provide transportation to the public, said Balbir Mann, president of Unifor Local 111. The union is calling on the provincial government to immediately change the plan and include transit operators in Stage 2. "We're basically frontline workers, taking people to work and grocery shopping. Our members are real heroes," said Mann. "They're putting their lives in front of this to help out the general public." Teachers are also disappointed there is no prioritization for front-line workers who have kept schools, public services and the economy open, said B.C. Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring. "However, the vaccine supply limit is beyond our control and those among us who are most vulnerable of death and serious illness must be vaccinated first," she said in a statement. Hopefully more vaccines are approved and the immunization strategy will be appropriately adjusted and accelerated, she said. Mooring added if teachers are not prioritized for vaccines, the government must take immediate action to improve safety measures in schools, including mandatory masks, better physical distancing and ventilation upgrades. "There is no denying that teachers are stressed, anxious and even afraid. We do not have the layers of protection in our schools that exist in other environments." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press