The COVID-19 pandemic has many Canadians anxious about planning too much in advance for 2021. So along with the annual New Year’s resolutions, there are plenty of hopes and fears.
The COVID-19 pandemic has many Canadians anxious about planning too much in advance for 2021. So along with the annual New Year’s resolutions, there are plenty of hopes and fears.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick was moved to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan as Premier Blaine Higgs warned Tuesday of even more severe measures if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. Health officials reported one new death and 31 new COVID-19 cases in the province Tuesday, with 21 of them in the Edmundston region, which entered the red level Monday. The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John zones were to join Edmundston as of midnight Tuesday. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, with masks and physical distancing. "We have had some success in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus across our province, and we have succeeded because we acted swiftly and decisively," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. "We haven't waited, as some other jurisdictions have done, until critical levels have been breached." Russell called the increase in cases across the province this month alarming. "The threat it poses to our health-care system and the well-being of our citizens cannot be ignored," she said. Russell said the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, and there have now been more than 1,000 cases since the pandemic began. Four hundred of those have been in the last 30 days. Russell said many of the new cases were spread through large social gatherings, such as parties and holiday gatherings around Christmas and New Year's. Higgs said the province will consider imposing more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. "We are not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," he said. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive, and we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." He said a continuing rise in case numbers could mean a return to a full lockdown as was in place in March, with schools closed and people staying home except to buy essential items. Higgs said the all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet again Thursday to discuss next steps. "Public health is currently working to determine exactly what a lockdown would look like if we need to take this additional step," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
La ville de Grande-Rivière et de nombreux acteurs de l’industrie de la pêche dénoncent l’inaction de Québec et d’Ottawa vis-à-vis un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement du port municipal. Amorcées à l’automne 2018, les démarches sont dans une impasse, ministères et gouvernements se renvoyant la balle, au désarroi des élus et des pêcheurs. «On ne demande pas la charité, on veut de l’équité», lance d’emblée le maire de Grande-Rivière, Gino Cyr. Depuis deux ans, son administration multiplie les démarches afin de faire approuver un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement de la municipalité, sans succès. D’un ministère à l’autre, «on se renvoie la balle», dénonce-t-il. Avec les années, les espaces disponibles dans les parcs de la péninsule gaspésienne se font de plus en plus rares. «Les bateaux sont toujours plus gros et les grands parcs de la région sont presque pleins. Le besoin est criant», explique le homardier et vice-président de l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière, Vincent Gallagher-Duguay. Aussi, un nombre grandissant de crabiers des provinces atlantiques viennent entreposer leurs bateaux dans les parcs gaspésiens. Les glaces se libérant plus rapidement du côté québécois, la pêche pourraiy débuter plus tôt. Ces embarcations, souvent plus grosses, ont priorité sur les petits homardiers, qui doivent se trouver d’autres endroits pour passer l’hiver. De nombreux acteurs locaux, allant des associations de pêcheurs jusqu’aux transformateurs, souhaitent donc voir apparaître de nouvelles places pour entreposer les homardiers, comme le demande la Ville de Grande-Rivière. Cette dernière a proposé aux différents ministères un projet qui ferait passer son parc d’hibernation à 48 places pour les petits bateaux. En plus d’ajouter des espaces d’entreposage, l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière souhaite installer une grue-portique ainsi qu’une rampe adaptée sur le site, rendant la mise à l’eau et l’hivernation des embarcations beaucoup plus sécuritaires. «En ce moment, on utilise une remorque archaïque, mal adaptée et dangereuse. En 2017, on a échappé un homardier avec cette remorque artisanale. Qui va prendre la responsabilité si un accident survient?», se demande le maire. La communauté met la main à la poche Le coût du projet, estimé à un peu plus de deux millions $, serait en partie assumé par la communauté, qui a déjà récolté 200 000$ en ce sens. Au moyen d’une contribution de leur part, les pêcheurs financeraient 300 000$ supplémentaires si le projet devait voir le jour. La municipalité souhaite que les gouvernements se partagent le reste de la facture, mais elle se bute à des barrières administratives. «Il n’y a pas de flexibilité dans les programmes. Après trois ans de démarches, le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) nous a ramenés à la case départ en faisant valoir la non-admissibilité du projet aux programmes et en renvoyant la responsabilité de ce dossier au MAPAQ qui n’a pas de programme pour soutenir ce genre de projets», dénonce le maire de la municipalité, dont l’économie est étroitement liée à la pêche. M. Cyr dénonce aussi la rigidité du Fonds des pêches du Québec. «La majeure partie des budgets sont toujours disponibles. Encore un exemple éloquent que ce dernier répond très peu aux besoins de l’industrie! Des changements de fond sont nécessaires rapidement». Des précédents sur la Côte-Nord et aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine Les acteurs locaux s’indignent surtout de la différence de traitement qu’a reçu leur projet si on le compare à d’autres installations similaires récemment financées à 100% par les gouvernements. Au cours des dernières années, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine et la Côte-Nord ont toutes deux vu des agrandissements dans leurs parcs d’hivernement, entièrement financés par les gouvernements via des décrets et des enveloppes dédiées. «Nous connaissons le traitement qu’ont reçu les projets des Îles et de la Côte-Nord : Nous sommes aussi des pêcheurs du Québec», conclut le vice-président de l’Administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière. MM. Cyr et Gallagher-Duguay souhaitent obtenir une rencontre avec le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêches et de l’Alimentation du Québec, André Lamontagne, dans le but que celui-ci signe un décret pour financer le projet. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
A fourth COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Windsor Regional Hospital Tuesday evening. The hospital's 6N unit is the latest area of the organization experiencing an outbreak, with four positive patients and no positive staff. This news comes after the hospital announced three outbreaks in the last two weeks. "We expect to experience these situations as COVID-19 continues to spread in our community," said Karen Riddell, WRH Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Operating Officer, in a news release. "We continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that we have the correct infection prevention and control guidelines and precautions in place to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus." In a news release Tuesday, the hospital provided an update on each of the other three outbreaks: 4M at the Ouellette Campus has 10 positive patients and five positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 6. 6E at the Ouellette Campus has 10 positive patients and six positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 8. 4N at the Met Campus has one positive patient and 11 positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 14. The hospital said that admissions to the units continue, but it keeps COVID-19 patients cohorted. Transfers into units experiencing an outbreak are required to be approved by the hospital's Infection Prevention and Control department, the hospital said, adding that testing will continue. Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare is also experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared on Tuesday. The hospital said in a news release Sunday that two staff and three patients tested positive on the 3N unit of the Dr. Y. Emara Centre for Healthy Aging and Mobility.
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A woman accused of entering the U.S. Capitol illegally during the Jan. 6 riot will likely be charged with stealing a computer from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a federal prosecutor said in court Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson in Harrisburg said he will consider bail and that he plans to conduct a preliminary hearing on Thursday in the case of Riley June Williams. Williams is charged with trespassing as well as violent entry of the Capitol and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanours, and is being held in the county jail in Harrisburg. She spoke only briefly during the half-hour proceeding and was represented by a public defender. Federal authorities are preparing two new felony charges of stealing government property and aiding and abetting against the Harrisburg resident, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian T. Haugsby told Carlson. Those charges have not yet been approved by a judge in Washington, he said. The FBI has said a witness who claims to be an ex of Williams' said friends showed that person a video of Williams taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi’s office during the breach of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. The tipster alleged that Williams intended to send the device to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to that country’s foreign intelligence service, but that plan fell through and she either has the device or destroyed it, investigators said in court records. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed two days after the Capitol attack that a laptop used only for presentations had been taken from a conference room. Haugsby told Carlson that prosecutors in Washington intend to file two felony charges against Williams, but the documents had not yet been approved by a federal judge. Haugsby argued Williams should not be released on bail pending trial, saying she might flee or try to obstruct justice. Carlson scheduled the preliminary hearing and consideration of bail for early Thursday morning. Williams' lawyer, Lori Ulrich, argued for her release and against a delay. Williams' father, who lives in the Harrisburg suburb of Camp Hill, told local law enforcement that he and his daughter went to Washington on the day of the protest but didn’t stay together, meeting up later to return to Harrisburg, the FBI said. Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
Police have identified a woman who was found dead on a rural road near Chestermere, Alta., on Friday. The body of Jennifer Ashley Foley, 29, was found on Range Road 284 north of Chestermere Boulevard, police said in a release on Tuesday. An autopsy was completed on Monday. Foley was from the Calgary area, police said, and investigators are trying to determine her whereabouts in the weeks that led up to her body being found. RCMP have released photos of Foley in the hopes that friends or family will recognize her. Anyone with information is asked to contact Chestermere RCMP at 403-204-8900, or Crime Stoppers anonymously. Chestermere is located just east of Calgary.
Yukon's first community vaccination clinic for COVID-19 wraps up Tuesday in Watson Lake, and local officials say it's been well-received. "As a community, we're just very thankful, and we really appreciate being put at the front of the line," said Mayor Chris Irvin, who was the second person to get the Moderna shot on Monday. Irvin said he experienced no side effects, and that he felt "great." "I almost felt like it was a bit euphoric, honestly, just because it's kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel is long and dark, we don't know where the end of it is, but there is a light." Two mobile vaccination teams will spend the coming weeks travelling across the territory to provide the Moderna vaccine. They bring everything they need with them — including tables, metal folding chairs and even their own sink. Stephen Charlie, chief of the Liard First Nation in Watson Lake, was first in line for a shot on Monday. He says the First Nation has been urging citizens to get the shot. "Well, I think some individuals are really excited about it, the opportunity to combat the virus," he said. "We've been going door to door. We've been having the resources available to our health team from Liard First Nation getting the word out and offering rides to the individuals that would like to go to the to the clinic." Under Yukon's vaccine strategy, priority is given to people living in long term care homes and shelters, health care workers, people over the age of 70 and residents of remote or rural communities, including First Nations citizens. The territory is expecting enough doses to vaccinate about 75 per cent of the adult population in the territory, between now and March. After Watson Lake, mobile vaccine clinics will be set up this week in Old Crow and Beaver Creek. Appointments can be booked on the government's website. 'A lot of apprehension' Charlie says hundreds of people registered ahead of time for the Watson Lake clinic. But he says some in his community are still reluctant to get the shot. "There's a lot of apprehension out there. There's a lot of misinformation. There's a lot of stuff online," he said. Doris Bill, chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in Whitehorse, agrees. This week, she posted a video online, urging citizens to get informed about the vaccine. "I see it online all the time. And I see people talking about the vaccine and the information that they have is just not accurate," she said. She says there is still some "unease" about how new the vaccine is, and that some people have suggested those at the front of the line are like "guinea pigs." "You try and assure people that things are going to be OK and that, you know, we're doing this to protect our community," Bill said. "You know, if you're not going to take the vaccine, at least know why you're not going to take it. And at least know the information that's out there."
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Pembroke – With only 10 new COVID-19 cases in the last week in the region, Renfrew County and District Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman is encouraging residents to continue to be vigilant as they await the vaccine roll-out. “We are through the middle of January and we are seeing a turn-around,” he said on Monday afternoon. “Keep it up. Let’s bring on the vaccines and get through this.” After weeks of rapidly increasing numbers, the last week has seen the new cases trickle down to one or two a day. Currently there is one person in hospital with COVID from the district. He said they are in an Ottawa hospital and had significant co-morbidity issues. While outbreaks have all but been eliminated with one outbreak remaining at a long-term-care home, he cautioned this can “turn on a dime” and people need to continue to be cautious. Fortunately, area residents can enjoy being outdoors, he said. “We need to keep doing this,” he said. “Renfrew County is not a densely populated urban centre. Get out and get some fresh air. Stick to members of your household.” With December being the worst month for COVID cases, January seems to be improving slightly. He pointed out with seven people in isolation and no new cases on Tuesday, things were looking up. “We are seeing the fruit of the hard work everyone is doing since the Boxing Day lockdown,” he said. This contrasts with December and even the first 10 days in January where the numbers were increasing. The district, which includes not only Renfrew County but Nipissing and South Algonquin, has seen a total of 296 cases of COVID since the pandemic began in March. There has been one death early on. Numbers had begun to spike in November and December but are levelling off now significantly with only seven people currently in self-isolation with a diagnosed case of COVID. “We are seeing the drop off because of the lockdown and co-operation,” he said. With the numbers that low in the county the province might be looking at these numbers and pursuing a more regional approach again, he noted. “I don’t want to speak for Mr. Ford (Ontario Premier Doug Ford),” he said. “Maybe in another week or so we can re-assess, and certain jurisdictions can open up.” If the colour-coding system were in place, Renfrew County would be considered green right now, he said. One of the issues with the zones was people travelling from the grey (lockdown) zones to red, orange, yellow and green zones, he clarified. “And I do understand there is a lot of spillage when people find the rural areas and green zones,” he said. While many families are awaiting a provincial announcement on Wednesday about school re-opening, Dr. Cushman said this will be a provincial and school board decision. One concern by many is the impact on mental health the lockdown is having. It is not only affecting seniors isolated in long-term-care homes but children not able to go to schools and people in abusive relationships, including many others. “It is terrible,” he said of the mental health impact. “The collateral damage is almost on par. You can’t deal with one without the other.” Vaccine Roll-Out Stating he understands the desire to see businesses re-open and people able to congregate again, Dr. Cushman said it is important to wait on the vaccine roll-out and plans are in place to vaccinate the most vulnerable in early February in the county. “The latest is we think we do the long-term care homes the first of February,” he said. “We are very committed to that. “We have been advised that we can expect to receive Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines in early February, but there has been no confirmation of the number of doses,” he noted. However, a clear plan is in place on how the vaccines will be administered. “We’ve seen examples of spoilage in other centres,” he said. “That will not happen here.” Each long-term care home has a plan in place to vaccinate residents and staff, he said. “We are ready to go,” he said. “We are working with each home and they have a plan.” In this first phase, the province has announced the vaccine will be rolled out to health care workers, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of chronic home health care. Phase 2 is expected to begin in late winter and will expand to include additional congregate care settings and adults over 70. Phase three will expand the roll-out. Dr. Cushman said he remains concerned about travel as a risk factor for people in the area, noting cases have come in from travel to other regions, including Ottawa. As well, people should not let their guard down in the workplace or at home. “Don’t congregate in the work setting,” he stressed. As far as being outdoors, people don’t have to wear a mask if they are alone but should take one along in case it is impossible to keep physically distant, he said. While very few fines have been issued in the district, the health unit did go public on a few fines late last year. With the new State of Emergency order brought in by the province last Thursday, Dr. Cushman explained now by-law officers and police can also issue fines. “It means we have more means of enforcement,” he said. The health unit has received calls about some people breaking the Stay-At-Home order and lockdown order, he said. “We did have some chatter in one small neighbourhood,” he said. “We investigated and it was more chatter than reality.” In the meantime, he reminded area residents standard COVID-19 precautions go a long way and are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Area residents are reminded to: get the flu shot; stay home if sick; avoid contact with people who are ill; practice physical distancing (two metres); wear a mask/face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained; wash their hands, and use the COVID Alert App. COVID testing continues in the county with 51,243 tests completed. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
NEW YORK — A U.S. Army soldier was arrested Tuesday in Georgia on terrorism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City's 9-11 Memorial and other landmarks and attack U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, authorities said. Cole James Bridges of Stow, Ohio, was in custody on charges of attempted material support of a terrorist organization — the Islamic State group — and attempted murder of a military member, said Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for Manhattan federal prosecutors. The 20-year-old soldier, also known as Cole Gonzales, was with the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, when he thought he was communicating with the Islamic State online about the terrorism plots, Biase said. Unbeknownst to Bridges, an FBI employee was in on the chat as Bridges provided detailed instructions on tactics and manuals and advice about attacking the memorial and other targets in New York City, Biase said. “As we allege today, Bridges, a private in the U.S. Army, betrayed our country and his unit when he plotted with someone he believed was an ISIS sympathizer to help ISIS attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East," said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York City's FBI office. “Fortunately, the person with whom he communicated was an FBI employee, and we were able to prevent his evil desires from coming to fruition,” Sweeney said in a release. “Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. Bridges was scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday. It was not immediately clear who would represent him. According to a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court, Bridges joined the U.S. Army in September 2019 and was assigned as a cavalry scout in Fort Stewart. At some point, he began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology, authorities said. They said he expressed his support for the Islamic State group and jihad on social media before he began communicating in October with an FBI employee who posed as an Islamic State group supporter in contact with the group's fighters in the Middle East. According to court papers, he expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid the Islamic State group. The criminal complaint said he then provided training and guidance to purported Islamic State fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City, including the 9-11 Memorial. It said he also provided portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics. Bridges also diagrammed specific military manoeuvrs to help the terrorist group's fighters kill U.S. troops, including the best way to fortify an encampment to repel an attack by U.S. Special Forces and how to wire certain buildings with explosives to kill the U.S. troops, the complaint said. This month, according to the complaint, Bridges sent a video of himself in body armour standing before an Islamic State flag, gesturing support. A week later, Bridges sent a second video in which he used a voice manipulator and narrated a propaganda speech in support of the Islamic State group's anticipated ambush of U.S. troops, the complaint said. In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division, Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, confirmed that Pfc. Cole James Bridges is assigned to the division. She said division commanders are “co-operating fully with the FBI.” Elder referred further inquiries to the Pentagon. ___ Associated Press writer Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed to this report. Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia joined other provinces Tuesday in having to rapidly recast its plans to provide Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month and next. Provincial officials initially provided an estimate that it would have 13,500 fewer doses than expected over the next six weeks. However, by mid-afternoon, chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said that with Ottawa's announcement that Pfizer was shipping no vaccine next week, plans were underway to cope with a "substantive reduction in the weeks ahead." The province had forecast, as of midday on Tuesday, that due to the slowdown it would receive only 16,575 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer's Belgium plant by the end of the month and 28,275 in February. An official later confirmed Nova Scotia would no longer be receiving the 975 doses of vaccine it had expected next week. The federal government has said it's expected that the shipments will ramp back up after the company has made changes to its production facility in Belgium. Nova Scotia public health officials say it is among the best positioned jurisdictions in the country to cope with the vaccine delays due to its low case counts of the illness. As of Tuesday morning, the province has just 22 active cases, with four new cases of COVID-19 detected on Monday. Asked about the Pfizer announcement's impact, Strang said the news was still fresh. "We'll be able to talk in more detail in the next few days about what our vaccine supply will mean for the next few weeks," he said. However, Premier Stephen McNeil said the closure of a production line to allow for the increased production rate in the near future is "short-term pain for what we believe will be long-term gain." "The lack of shipment will be made up in the following month and the next six months for sure." The premier said the province will meanwhile focus on setting up vaccination sites in every region of the province. "When Pfizer starts ramping up, or a new vaccine gets permitted by Health Canada, we (will) have a system that allows us to ramp up vaccinations very quickly across our province," he said. The province had hoped to provide 78,750 vaccinations in March and then have a mass rollout of 333,333 doses in April at clinics in pharmacies and doctors offices. Over the next month, the first wave of shots will go to health workers and long-term care staff and residents, along with a pilot project for African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities. Special care homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities will also have vaccinations for staff and residents. The second phase, happening over the next 60 days, will include a pilot project for community clinics for residents over 80 years old in Halifax and Truro, more vaccinations of health workers and special care facilities and a pilot project for delivering vaccines at pharmacies. The 90-day plan is to have mass immunization clinics established in all communities with cold storage locations. As of Monday evening, about 2,200 Nova Scotians had received both vaccine doses, and 8,520 total doses had been administered from the province's supply of 23,000 doses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
A Saskatchewan First Nation near North Battleford will receive about $127 million to settle a land claim that dates back to 1905. The Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man First Nation lost over 5,800 hectares of reserve land in the Battlefords area in 1905. In a claim filed with the Specific Claims Tribunal in 2014, the band alleged the federal government illegally took and sold the land. The government denied the claim in 2014. But in a joint statement regarding validity and compensation filed with the tribunal on Dec. 21, 2017, the federal government agreed the loss of land was "invalid." The compensation hearing looked at the agricultural production in the lost land to determine the loss of its use and benefits since 1905. The tribunal determined the current market value of the land at $15.5 million, effective Sept. 21, 2017. The tribunal assessed the value of its loss through Dec. 31, 2019, at $111,433,972. The combined amount is $126,933,972. "Although the agreement did not describe the events and actions that breached Crown fiduciary duty, the evidence introduced in the compensation phase of the proceeding reveals that the Crown took a surrender vote in contravention of the statutory requirement that permitted only members of the Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man Bands to vote, and later accepted and acted on the surrender," the tribunal wrote in its decision. "This was, from the outset, a breach of the duty of ordinary prudence. This breach occurred within a Treaty relationship, with respect to a Treaty reserve, and the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land from the Claimant." The First Nation began the land claim back in the 1990s and spent decades fighting the government for compensation.
Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like no other: pared down, distanced, much of it virtual. But for actor Christopher Jackson — the original George Washington in Broadway's “Hamilton" — performing in a virtual “ball” is a way of participating in an essential rite of American democracy. “I’m glad to play a part in it,” says Jackson, who will perform at the quadrennial ball for the Creative Coalition, a fundraiser for arts education and one of the more prominent unofficial events surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. “It’s a great honour, and I’m very grateful that we have allowed our system to continue to work in the way it was intended.” Jackson -- not to mention former co-star and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- joins a slew of celebrities descending on Washington, virtually or in person, for entertainment surrounding the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances. Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The proceedings will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast. Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others. There’s also star power on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and including Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honours members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers. In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition's ball, going all virtual this year, Along with Jackson, KT Tunstall will perform. Host Judy Gold will kick off with a comedy set, also featuring comedians Randy Rainbow, Michael Ian Black and Wendi McLendon-Covey. More than two dozen members of Congress are set to join celebrity guests like Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Jason Alexander, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ellen Burstyn, Alyssa Milano and others. Jackson, who spoke in an interview late last week while planning his performance, said he would not be appearing as George Washington -- but history was on the actor’s mind nonetheless, given the unique circumstances of this inauguration. “We put ourselves in a perilous position,” he said of recent events roiling the country. “So the idea that this inauguration is happening is testament to the resolute dedication that our public servants have to making this thing work.” He said he was also eager to shine a spotlight on arts education, the coalition’s core mission, noting that as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, he depended on resources like an early-morning band class at school, where he’d begin each day playing the trumpet. “There was a time when I went through a lot of bad emotional passages as a kid,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the outlet the arts created for me, I don’t know where I would be today." He noted that support for the arts is ever more urgent given how the pandemic has decimated the arts industry. Actor Tim Daly, the coalition’s president, said that despite optimism for the new administration’s approach to arts funding, it’s still an uphill battle in the United States. “I feel there’s going to have to be a really long and powerful effort by the Creative Coalition and other organizations to finally try and make federal, local and state governments understand the importance of the arts," he said, adding that the arts, besides being a driver of the economy, "is part of our spirit. It’s how we teach empathy and kindness.” Daly said he has mixed feelings as he approaches this very unique inauguration. “This is going to be the strangest (celebration) ever,” he said. “It’s virtual, and the celebration will in some ways be very muted. But in some ways, very meaningful. In a way this year is more important than any other, because our democracy has been under threat.” The coalition’s ball will include breakout rooms where guests can mingle, and even simultaneous hand-delivered meals in multiple cities. But there’s still no way to replace an in-person experience, Daly acknowledged. “There’s nothing that takes the place of human interaction,” the actor said. “I’d be lying or dishonest if I said this was better. But we’re doing the best we can -- and it’s better than nothing.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
The TPD Boutique has reopened on Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) land making it the third cannabis shop within one square kilometre near the Canco Gas Station on Highway 97 just outside of Oliver. Owner of TPD, Christopher Dawe, said his shop was closed last year to get in line with requirements from the OIB. “(The OIB) had some prerequisites and safety concerns that they wanted me to satiate before I opened. So, what essentially happened was, I built the place last year, and then I was under the impression that we were allowed to open and then I realized that we had just a couple of hoops to jump through. And then with the COVID and everything, it was just a more lengthy process,” Dawe said. Those hoops included getting in line with federal legislation on lab testing and packaging, Dawe said. Dawe reopened his shop recently with OIB elders in attendance for the ribbon cutting. The OIB adopted the Osoyoos Indian Band Cannabis Bylaw, with two Indigenous Bloom stores opening on OIB land last year. TPD Boutique is the first shop to open under the OIB’s regulatory framework since. The OIB was very particular about safety of the product as well as the packaging and being in line with federal legislation, Dawe said. “Through the OIB program, we just have a little more leniency as to where we can acquire our products from. So, through the government program, you can only acquire your products from a government LP, which is a legal provider. Through the Indigenous cannabis bylaw act, I'm able to acquire my products through any of the previously legislated cannabis enrolment programs.” This means Dawe is able to work with local growers who he says have been producing cannabis in the Okanagan and Similkameen for some time for medicinal use before recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018. One of three cannabis shops in the small area, with an Indigenous Bloom location close by, and Nimbus Cannabis across the highway, Dawe does not feel there are too many cannabis shops concentrated in one area. “I feel as though we should have as many shops as the market allows for and ultimately the market will determine the right amount of shops. I think that's how the free market works for the most part,” Dawe said. Mike Lane, senior vice president of regulatory compliance for Indigenous Bloom, previously told the Times-Chronicle the Indigenous Bloom stores are not federally regulated, but their product mimics and/or exceeds federal and provincial standards. “Every single product, whether it’s a strain of dried flower, an edible, a concentrate, a rub, etc., is tested by an independent third-party laboratory licensed by Health Canada for analytical testing under the Federal Cannabis Regulations,” Lane said in early 2020. As of yet, there has not been a negotiation between the Government of Canada and First Nations for tax collection or sharing. “Until that’s done, we can’t charge taxes,” Lane previously told the Times-Chronicle. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
WASHINGTON — In a last-minute slap at President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court struck down one of his administration’s most momentous climate rollbacks on Tuesday, saying officials acted illegally in issuing a new rule that eased federal regulation of air pollution from power plants. The Trump administration rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled, adding that the Environmental Protection Agency "fundamentally has misconceived the law.” The decision is likely to give the incoming Biden administration a freer hand to regulate emissions from power plants, one of the major sources of climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions. EPA spokeswoman Molly Block called the agency’s handling of the rule change “well-supported." The court decision "risks injecting more uncertainty at a time when the nation needs regulatory stability,” she said. Environmental groups celebrated the ruling by a three-member panel of the Court of Appeals. “Today’s decision is the perfect Inauguration Day present for America,'' said Ben Levitan, a lawyer for the Environmental Defence Fund, one of the groups that had challenged the Trump rule in court. The ruling “confirms that the Trump administration’s dubious attempt to get rid of common-sense limits on climate pollution from power plants was illegal,'' Levitan said. "Now we can turn to the critically important work of protecting Americans from climate change and creating new clean energy jobs.” A coalition of environmental groups, some state governments and others had challenged the Trump administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule for the power sector. The rule, which was made final in 2019, replaced the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature program to address climate change. The court decision came on the last full day in office for the Trump administration. Under Trump, the EPA rolled back dozens of public health and environmental protections as the administration sought to cut regulation overall, calling much of it unnecessary and a burden to business. Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to bring back the struggling coal industry, repealed the Obama administration’s plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants that power the nation's electric grid. The Clean Power Plan, one of President Barack Obama’s legacy efforts to slow climate change, was blocked in court before its 2017 repeal. The Trump administration substituted the Affordable Clean Energy plan, which left most of the decision-making on regulating power plant emissions to states. Opponents said the rule imposed no meaningful limits on carbon pollution and would have increased pollution at nearly 20% of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Market forces have continued the U.S. coal industry’s yearslong decline, however, despite those and other moves by Trump on the industry’s behalf. Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s “global warming solutions” campaign, said Trump's “Dirty Power Plan” was "clearly a disastrous and misconceived regulation from the start. As the Trump administration leaves office, we hope this ruling will be reflective of a much brighter future'' for renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, denounced “activist judges” on the appeals court who "seem intent on clearing the decks for the incoming Biden administration to issue punishing new climate regulations'' that he said will shut down power plants and raise energy costs. But Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, called the ruling a timely rejection of Trump's effort to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. “It looks like we’re kicking off a new era of clean energy progress a day early,” Castor said. "It’s almost poetic to see our courts vacate this short-sighted and harmful policy on Trump’s last full day in office.'' —- Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City. Matthew Daly And Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's health minister says the province is still on track to begin administering second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine despite the news that no vials will be delivered to Canada next week. Adrian Dix said Tuesday that B.C. had expected to receive about 5,800 Pfizer-BioNTech doses next week, which is "very significant" but a relatively small amount compared with the roughly 25,000 expected in the coming days. "Every time we get news that we're getting less vaccine, that news is obviously disappointing," he said. "Hopefully this is a one-time interruption. But what we can do in British Columbia is use the vaccine that we receive and use it effectively and on vulnerable populations, and that's what we're going to do." The volume of doses is expected to increase to about 25,000 weekly following the shortage, he said. The province will devote more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it's set to receive this week, along with the "small amount" it has on hand, to completing first doses in long-term care homes across the province and beginning to administer second doses, Dix said. Second doses are crucial to the strength of the program and B.C. remains committed to a 35-day interval between doses, he said. The minister said second doses will begin Wednesday, which marks 36 days from the first 3,900 doses being administered in hospitals in Vancouver and Abbotsford, B.C. The following week, 8,000 doses were given out, and 12,000 the week after that, so the demand for second doses will increase over time, he said. Still, he said the loss of 5,800 vaccines next week does not pose a risk to second vaccinations. "The risk is not to second doses. The risk is 6,000 fewer first doses," he said. "Every single one of those doses is directed to a vulnerable person or someone working with vulnerable people ... and every one of them is important." A higher percentage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines given out in the coming weeks will be second doses, he said, while the Moderna vaccine will become the province's "workhorse" for first doses. The province began receiving the Moderna vaccine later, so the 35-day interval for second doses will also end later, Dix said. The federal government announced Tuesday that Canada's shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be cut by nearly one-fifth this week and then go down to zero next week. Pfizer told Canada last week its shipments would be affected because the production facility in Belgium is being upgraded to produce more doses overall. Asked whether B.C. is looking at trying to obtain vaccines outside of the supply chains set up by Ottawa, as it did with personal protective equipment, Dix said that was unlikely. There's no "back door" source for vaccines, he said. He said he expects the federal government to lead efforts to obtain more vaccine for the provinces and he's confident in Ottawa's work. Dix was in Vancouver Tuesday to announce a new urgent and primary care centre in the city’s northeast opening on Feb. 16. The centre will be the 22nd of its kind opened by the New Democratic government since it took power in 2017. The facilities are open for long hours and are aimed at providing urgent care for people suffering from injuries or illness that don’t require an emergency room visit. Urgent and primary care centres have played a "central and important role" during the pandemic, Dix said. "They have made an extraordinary difference." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
A man who police say stole a Victoria harbour ferry has been arrested after cops and the coast guard had to chase the wannabe pirate through city waterways Tuesday morning. According to a statement from the Victoria Police Department, officers were called to the waters off the 400-block of Swift Street at approximately 3 a.m. after a boat was reported stolen and heading up the Gorge Waterway. When officers arrived on the scene, the alleged thief changed direction toward the inner harbour and appeared to be trying to flee the area. With the assistance of a nearby harbour ferryemployee, officers boarded a separate boat, took off after the stolen vessel and were able to get close enough to speak with the suspect and convince him to surrender. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape St. James brought additional VicPD officers to the scene to help. Police say the stolen ferry and suspect were then towed to a dock in the 900-block of Wharf Street where the man was arrested. The short-lived ride resulted in recommended charges of theft over $5,000.