Money is coming off the books over the next few seasons in Vancouver, and the Canucks need to decide sooner than later if Jim Benning will determine how its spent.
Money is coming off the books over the next few seasons in Vancouver, and the Canucks need to decide sooner than later if Jim Benning will determine how its spent.
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter There was a lot to talk about at last Tuesday's Strategic Priorities Committee. The full docket included a discussion led by Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer regarding the service level reopenings following Huron Perth's move into the Orange - Restrict level of Ontario's reopening framework. Kittmer said that the move to the Orange - Restrict level places St. Marys about where it was at the holidays last year, which Kittmer admitted felt to him like a fast jump from being in a lockdown to being at a stage where services could be almost completely open. Because of the move, he is aware that there will be some expectation from some members of the community that the Town is automatically going to begin operating its service levels as much and as freely as possible. However, this is not what would be in the best interest of the Town, according to the CAO. Town staff believes a slow and cautious reopening is prudent. Kittmer went through their proposal for various service level reopenings for the Council members' consideration. Municipal offices would remain open for drop-ins with doors locked and a doorbell for service. However, virtual services are available and preferred when possible. The Yard Waste Depot is open, as is the Landfill, however, the latter is not accepting cash. The Station Gallery/VIA Rail Station is open with gathering restrictions in place. The plan for the St. Marys Public Library would be to reopen in-person service with gathering limits in place and encouraging virtual service use when possible. There would also be gathering limits and time limits for public computer use. The plan from Town staff also mentioned the Museum, which would continue with virtual and telecommunications programming until March 1st, when it would open three days per week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for research only and with gathering limits in place. The proposal lists late April as a target to resume exhibits at the Museum. Speaking on the Pyramid Recreation Center, which drew the majority of the focus, Kittmer began with the pool. There is some delay in opening the pool given the recency of the reopening announcement and the need to recall staff. The plan would see the pool open on March 8th with registrations starting before that and done on a week-to-week basis. The capacity for the pool would be capped at 25 percent, meaning lane swims would be capped at four people, Aquafit classes capped at 10, and public swim capped at 20. Swimming lessons would also not be brought back yet due to an inability to take proper safety protocols. Moving to the ice pads, the ice remains uninstalled and ice users will have until February 26th to express interest in Spring ice in April and May. This will require a future discussion with Council as ice users come back with their requests. Lastly, for the Friendship Center, Wellness Programs and Services will continue, virtual programs and phone services will continue, a drive-thru Easter Lunch would be held at the end of March, and a target of early April to resume in-person programs with outdoor classes. Youth Center programming would also continue virtually. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
BERLIN — Germany's foreign minister on Wednesday urged Iran to accept diplomatic overtures coming from the West in order to preserve the 2015 nuclear accord. Heiko Maas accused Tehran of further undermining the transparency it is required to show under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, after Iran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16 — far past the 3.67% purity allowed under the JCPOA. "In the end, Iran needs to understand that what’s important is to de-escalate and accept the offer of diplomacy that’s on the table, including from the United States,” Maas said. Iran’s violations of the JCPOA pose a significant problem for U.S. President Joe Biden, who is seeking to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to pull the U.S. unilaterally out of the deal three years ago, triggering the re-imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Iran. Iran this week effectively set a deadline to lift those sanctions within three months, after which it said it would erase surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities Maas said the transparency required of Iran under the JCPOA wouldn't be fulfilled during that period. "But we still want to use these three months, together with other partners in the nuclear agreement, to discuss step by step how the U.S. can return to this accord,” Maas said. “And in particular (the discussion) will be about the sequence of measures. That is, who needs to take which step so that a general agreement can be achieved at the end of which the U.S. are part of this agreement again.” Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear late Tuesday that his country doesn't have confidence in the accord with Tehran. “We have already seen the quality of agreements with extremist regimes such as yours, in the past century and in this one, with the government of North Korea,” he said. "With or without agreements – we will do everything so that you will not arm yourselves with nuclear weapons.” The Associated Press
(Linda Ward/CBC - image credit) Toronto police say they have discovered human remains in a case that is linked to the shooting death of a 45-year-old man downtown on Tuesday. That fatal police shooting is currently under investigation by the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU). In a news release issued on Wednesday afternoon, investigators said the remains "have not yet been formally identified," adding that the homicide unit is now leading the investigation. Toronto man Orson York, 59, has been charged with indignity to a human body. York appeared in court via video link on Tuesday. The charge is linked to an incident where a second man, identified on Wednesday by the SIU as Gedi Ali Gedi, 45, was shot by Toronto police officers early Tuesday morning. Speaking on Tuesday, police said they were called to the unit at 291 George St. as part of an investigation into a missing woman. Sources tell CBC News that before police arrived at the scene for that investigation, someone discovered blood at the Toronto Community Housing building. When security video was reviewed, sources say two men could be seen carrying bags out of the building and what appeared to be a body part was seen falling from one of the bags. Police were notified and the Emergency Task Force was dispatched to the building to do a door knock. When the ETF officers arrived, sources say they found Gedi with an edged weapon inside an apartment on the third floor. The mother of the missing woman, Amanda Killeen, 33, confirmed her daughter's ex-boyfriend was Gedi and he lived at that address. The family said the two broke up about a year ago but she often visited him. On Tuesday evening, forensic investigators were digging through dumpsters outside the building. Toronto police confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation is taking place on Commissioners Street, where a transfer station for waste collection is located. Police also confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation is taking place on Commissioners Street, where a transfer station for waste collection is located. Police said the scene is part of an investigation for human remains but would not confirm if it is connected to the case at 291 George St.
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):1:50 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting one COVID-19 death today and 45 new cases. However, six cases have been removed due to data corrections, so the net additional count is 39.---1:50 p.m.Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for people aged over 95, or over 75 for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines had been directed at certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes.---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting the province's fifth death related to COVID-19.Officials say six more people are in hospital due to the disease.Public health is also reporting eight new cases, all in the eastern region, where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks.Chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low these past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard.---12 p.m.The Manitoba government has announced the location of its fourth site for large-scale vaccine distribution. Health officials say a so-called supersite will open in early March at a former hospital in Selkirk. There are similar sites already in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.---11:30 a.m.Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 and now has 21 active infections.The new cases are in the Halifax area.One is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other two cases are under investigation.As of Tuesday 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 11,658 people having received their required second dose.---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting 806 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths attributed to the virus, including five in that past 24 hours.Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 25, to 655, and the number of intensive care cases rose for a second consecutive day, with 10 more patients for a total of 130.The province says it administered 8,807 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 376,910 since the campaign began.---11 a.m. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities are declining access the country.Miller says there were 1,443 active cases and a total of 20,347 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities on-reserve as of yesterday.Miller says vaccinations have begun in 440 Indigenous communities and more than 103,000 doses have been administered.---10:45 a.m.Ontario plans to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older against COVID-19 in the third week of March, depending on vaccine supply. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine task force, says an online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15 and people in that 80 and older age range, or those booking for them, can access it.Hillier says the task force aims to then vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15, and shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1.He says people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1.---10:40 a.m.Ontario says there are 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and nine more deaths linked to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 363 of those new cases are in Toronto, 186 are in Peel Region and 94 are in York Region. More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Tuesday's daily update.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Now entering its second year, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot in Sudbury is finding success, even amongst the challenges of COVID-19. And it’s a good thing, said Meredith Armstrong, manager of Tourism and Culture in Economic Development at the City of Greater Sudbury, because while Sudbury is one of the only Northern Ontario communities showing growth when it comes to population, a recent Northern Policy Institute (NPI) report shows that a focus on bringing people to the area is essential to maintaining economic standards in Sudbury. Basically, “we’re not going to have enough babies,” said Armstrong. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot was created in 2020 as a three-year program to support and encourage newcomers to Canada to settle in rural areas and Northern Ontario, rather than in big cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, and is based on the applicant securing a job offer before they apply and at the moment, in mining or tourism. The program itself has an economic development focus, said Armstrong. “This is an economic immigration program,” she said. “It’s about having a job offer, within the two priority sectors, with an employer that understands the need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They understand the need to embrace employee settlement. They are not sponsors of the candidate, but they do play a role in helping them get their feet under them.” The newcomer candidates need to understand the community of Sudbury and demonstrate their intention to reside long-term in the city, to become a part of the fabric of Northern Ontario. They must also complete extensive paperwork, as well as numerous interviews, in-depth evaluations of the job offer and review by the selection committee. If the applicant is successful, they will be recommended to Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residency. The two priority sectors determined at the beginning of the pilot are mining supply and service, as well as tourism. While one industry has suffered and will need to be rebuilt, mining has continued to have skilled positions available. Armstrong said Sudbury’s labour shortages in certain areas are longstanding. “I think it’s fair to say that we’ve always had labour market challenges, “she said. “We have a lot of jobs; we don’t have enough talent to go around.” Armstrong does acknowledge that some may question bringing in newcomers for employment when there are layoffs due to the pandemic. “I think that’s a legitimate question,” she said. But she noted the issue of the ratio of dependants and working age people will fall terribly out of balance without newcomers, and that remains an issue, post-pandemic. “We can’t do it without newcomers,” she said. “Immigrants really hit above their weight when it comes to giving back to communities, starting businesses and creating subsequent jobs.” Armstrong said while they did not reach their intended goal in the first year, they are quite pleased with their results. “2020 did hit the program pretty hard with some challenges and we didn't get all the way where we wanted to with our allotment for the first year,” she said. “But we were successful in recommending 11 wonderful candidates through the program. They're now on their way to pursuing permanent residency and settling in the community and they have families with them. So, you're looking at just under 25 new residents that come out of that endorsement.” And this year could be even better for the program. “We're certainly poised to hit a much higher number for 2021,” said Armstrong. “We've got some more resources in place to assist and we're really hitting the ground running with this year's allocation.” Armstrong said many of the applicants recommended for permanent residence are South Asian, owing to the number of international students who come to Sudbury to study and wish to stay here longer. Armstrong noted these applicants are usually successful not just because they have a job offer in a priority sector, but because they already know and enjoy life here in Sudbury. “And that really is the crux of the program, this is about retention in the community.” There are also many Francophone applicants, owing to Sudbury’s designation as one of 14 Welcoming Francophone Communities, described as an initiative “made by Francophones, for Francophones” to foster lasting ties between newcomers and members of the host community. “We work to collaborate with our Francophone settlement agency partners to ensure that we do have services to support people living and working in the process,” said Armstrong. “So, I think that's an area of focus.” But as the pilot is economically driven, the job offer is central. “More than anything, it comes down to the job offers,” said Armstrong. “It starts with an employer looking for the right person for an available job, and then that person really demonstrating that commitment to living in the community.” And while the RNIP does not act as a “matchmaker,” it does support employers as much as possible, said Armstrong. “We have seen that approach from some of the other communities participating in the pilot, but I think more and more, we're trying to equip employers with different ways to amplify when they're posting a position. Things like: where can they post it? Where can they find potential candidates? And I think as we go on, we will also have opportunities to connect employers with each other so that there's a bit of shared learning.” Armstrong said the pilot is successful so far, not just due to the work of the team and support from IRCC, but also from elected officials. She mentions Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre and Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré, as well as the Greater Sudbury Local Immigration Partnership, who also offers information on allyship and anti-racism to make the city more welcoming to newcomers. “Now more than ever, it's a really excellent time to have those conversations,” said Armstrong. “In the meantime, we need to keep really supporting our entrepreneurs, because they're the ones creating the jobs. Making sure they know about the program and about the various tools available to support them as employers and as businesses.” You can find out more about the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot by visiting the IIRC website, or at InvestSudbury.ca. Jenny Lamothe is a Local Journalism Reporter at Sudbury.com, covering issues in the Black, immigrant and Francophone communities. She is also a freelance writer and voice actor. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Town Treasurer Andre Morin spoke to the Strategic Priorities Committee, made up mostly of St. Marys Town Councillors, regarding a possible second round of business grants last Tuesday. Morin's first question was whether or not the Town should indeed pursue another round of business grants. In 2020, the Town ran a business grant program to help local businesses struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea of possibly running another round of the program has been mentioned before but now, Morin came to the Committee to see if they wanted Town staff to begin seriously investigating. Morin stated that he believes there is a need for additional support. He noted that businesses got a boost over the holidays, but into January and February, compounded with the Provincial lockdown, local businesses are once again feeling a big strain. Conversely, he also noted that there have been Federal and Provincial grants available for local businesses, and a case could be made that municipal governments should take a different approach to support their businesses rather than monetary grants. All of this leads to the question; should a second business grant program be run by the municipality, and if so, what would that look like? There are three key categories to consider in terms of running another such grant program; timing, budget, and eligibility. Beginning with timing, Morin said that if the Town does run another business grant program, it should be done soon. With more businesses reopening, those businesses may need extra funding to assist with the added costs. Morin said that Town staff would aim for March or April to run the program. Next, the potential budget for the program. Morin pointed out that last time, the total budget was $50,000, but requests came in for around $100,000. He expects that would be roughly the same amount requested in a second round, meaning the budget should be between $50,000 to $100,000 Finally, the eligibility criteria. Last time, the criteria for applicants was fairly wide-open. The view was that businesses know what they need and if the municipality puts in more rigid criteria, they may leave someone out who may have a legitimate need. Morin said that they would keep that wide net of eligibility, but did talk about possible areas that may be prioritized. Would businesses that received funding in the first round be secondary to businesses that didn't? Would certain industries be prioritized over others depending on how hard they've been hit? Should the size of the business carry more weight in the selection process, or should there be a minimum or maximum number of employees? Morin stated that they don't need a final decision on these as of last week's meeting, but that they wanted to know if the Committee and the Council wanted Town staff to move forward in drafting a second business grant program and if there are any general ideas, such as the ones he mentioned, that the Town would like to focus on. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
CALGARY — The CEO of Crescent Point Energy Corp. says the company is poised to benefit from rising oil prices after two years of transformation through selling assets, cutting debt and reducing costs. The Calgary-based company's move last week to buy producing light oil shale assets in Alberta for $900 million from Royal Dutch Shell reflects that confidence, Craig Bryksa said. "We have built an asset portfolio that is well-positioned to benefit from a rising price environment given our light oil weighting and high netbacks," he said on a Wednesday conference call with analysts to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results. "We expect to generate $375 (million) to $600 million of excess cash flow this year at US$50 to US$60 WTI (West Texas Intermediate) prices." The company plans to devote most of that cash flow to paying down debt, he said, adding that it will evaluate increasing returns to shareholders over time. Shell is to receive $700 million in cash and 50 million Crescent Point shares under the deal and will wind up owning an 8.6 per cent stake in Crescent Point if it closes as expected in April. The companies say the assets are producing around 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from more than 270 wells. About 57 per cent of production is condensate, highly valued as a diluent blended with oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline. Analysts said the company beat their fourth-quarter estimates on production and average selling prices although both measures fell compared with the same period in 2019. "CPG closed the chapter on a highly successful year in its business transformation toward becoming a more sustainable producer generating significant free cash flow, which should be complemented by the upcoming (Shell) acquisition," Desjardins analyst Chris MacCulloch wrote in a report. Crescent Point reported producing 111,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about 90 per cent crude oil and petroleum liquids, in the fourth quarter, down from 145,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. It attributed the drop to capital spending cuts enacted early in 2020 as oil prices fell. It's average realized fourth-quarter oil price was $49.40 per barrel, down from $65.27 in the year-earlier period. It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $51 million or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $932 million or $1.73 per share in the same period of 2019. On Wednesday, it confirmed 2021 production guidance released with the Shell announcement last week of about 134,000 boe/d, as well as a 2021 capital budget of about $600 million (both assuming the deal is closed). That's up from Crescent Point's average output of 121,600 boe/d during 2020 and down from actual 2020 capital spending of $655 million. The company reported net debt of about $2.1 billion at year-end, paid down by over $615 million during the year. It said it also removed about $60 million in budgeted operating expenses in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CPG) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
(Lea Storry/Twitter - image credit) If this week's big flash in the early morning sky has you itching to hunt for meteorites, you're not alone. But for Alberta's scientific community, space detritus has more value than being a stellar addition to your rock collection. At the University of Alberta, for example, researchers are using bits of space debris to figure out how to eventually handle parcels arriving on Earth from far, far away. "We're trying to advance curation techniques — that is, how do we handle this extra terrestrial material without contaminating it by the terrestrial environment," Patrick Hill, a planetary geologist at the U of A, told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Wednesday. "[That will] prepare us for sample-return missions such as Perseverence on Mars or Hayabusa 2 or OSIRIS-REx. And so that's our main interest. But meteorites provide us with a wealth of information about the history of the solar system and the geology of the solar system." Researchers are now checking images collected on an array of specialized cameras that document the night sky, looking for clues about the location of the fireball, which was reportedly seen in places like Jasper, Calgary and Saskatchewan. Those images will also offer insight into whether any fragments of the meteor survived the trip through the atmosphere to land on the ground, Hill said. "As long as it's captured by two or more of our cameras — because we know the GPS location of those cameras and the orientation in the night sky, we can, in essence, triangulate and the hone in on where this happened in Alberta," he said. Following the brilliant streak, captured on umpteen dashboard and doorbell cameras, the meteor enters what scientists call "the dark flight" of its freefall to the Earth's surface. Using speed and altitude data from the cameras, scientists will try to figure out what might have made it to the ground. "There's still some uncertainties in our models about powering down the exact location of where this happened and if any debris was formed. But if so, yes, it most likely would have fallen in Alberta," Hill added. For those who go hunting, Hill said a meteorite will be dark black or brown, with an eggshell-like outer layer, created during its fall through the sky. A 13-kilogram meteorite found in 2009 in Buzzard Coulee, Sask., approximately 40 kilometres from Lloydminster, Alta. The space rock was among 1,000 pieces collected from the Buzzard Coulee meteorite which fell Nov. 20, 2008, making it a Canadian record for number of fragments recovered from a single fall. Because nearly all meteorites contain iron, nickel or other metals, they will be fairly heavy for their size — and they should be magnetic, he said. As for size, Hill said it could vary between a couple of centimetres to a metre or more. A meteorite that falls on private property belongs to the landowner, while space debris that ends up on roads or public land falls under the finders-keepers principle, Hill said. But if you really want to know what you've found, you'll need to call in the experts. The U of A science faculty has a website titled Meteorites (and meteowrongs) to help guide people through the process. "Usually we work with the finder because the value of these meteorites comes from the classification," he said. "For example, they could be much more valuable, like lunar meteorites or Martian meteorites, where something hit Mars or the moon and that debris has been sent to Earth."
“Speak, Okinawa,” by Elizabeth Miki Brina (Knopf) Elizabeth Miki Brina’s “Speak, Okinawa” is a masterful memoir in which Brina examines the complex relationship she has with her interracial parents. Brina’s father, white and American, met her mother, who is from the island of Okinawa, while he was stationed there on a US military base. The two settled in the United States, where Brina’s mother spent decades feeling lonely and out of place. Brina grew up feeling close to her father and resenting her mother. Desperate to feel wholly American, she pushed her mother away, embarrassed of her accent and overall inability to truly assimilate. In this investigation of her childhood, Brina begins to see things differently. She looks at life from her mother’s perspective, and now, she starts to understand the depth of her pain, pain she endured from leaving behind all she knew and loved, and also the pain of calling occupied land home. “Speak, Okinawa” is both a mediation on Brina’s own family as well as a powerful history of the United States occupation of Okinawa, where it maintains a massive military presence to this day. Brina’s writing is crisp, captivating and profound. She is vulnerable, raw, and relatable, and her stories will no doubt cause readers to reflect on their relationships with their own parents. As educational as it is entertaining, “Speak, Okinawa” is well worth the read. —- Molly Sprayregen can be reached at her site. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
(BAE Systems Inc./Lockheed Martin Canada - image credit) Canada's budget watchdog predicts construction of the navy's new frigate fleet could cost at least $77.3 billion — a number that could rise even higher if the frequently-delayed program faces any more setbacks. Yves Giroux, the parliamentary budget officer [PBO], said the overall price tag for building 15 Canadian Surface Combatants could hit $82.1 billion in the event the program is delayed by as much as two years. The Liberal government is basing Canada's new warships on the design of the British-built Type 26 frigate. The House of Commons government operations committee asked the budget office to crunch the numbers on other designs, such as the FREMM European multi-mission frigate and the Type 31e, another British warship. The French FREMM frigate Aquitaine in an undated file photo. Those estimates show the federal government could save money by dropping the existing program and going with the other designs. It could also save money by building a fleet that includes two classes of vessel, such as the Type 26 and one of the other warships. Giroux said the idea of a mixed fleet makes sense from a fiscal point of view, but he couldn't say whether it would agree with the federal government's vision of what it wants the navy to do. "It's a good way of saving costs, if the government is interested in cutting down on its costs," Giroux said in a virtual media availability following the report's release today. Depending on the ship, the savings could be substantial. Deep cuts to construction costs possible: PBO For example, the budget office estimated that ditching the existing program and switching entirely to the Type 31 frigate would cost $27.5 billion, a projection that includes a four-year delay. The cost of acquiring an entire fleet of 15 FREMM warships is estimated at $71.1 billion — somewhat comparable to the existing program. A mixed fleet using either one of the alternate designs and the existing Type 26 also would result in savings. Giroux acknowledged that such a scenario would mean the navy would have to invest in separate infrastructure, support and supply chains — something it is reluctant to do. But it might be a good idea from a larger perspective, he added, because a mixed fleet means "you don't put all of your eggs in one basket." Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux. As of last fall, the Department of National Defence was insisting it could build all 15 Type 26 frigates, under contract with Lockheed Martin Canada and Irving Shipbuilding, for up to $60 billion. Giroux said he hopes the department is correct for taxpayers' sake, but his team stands by its numbers. The department stuck by its estimate in a statement issued today — but acknowledged the difference in the cost estimates could be explained in part by the fact that PBO includes the project's associated provincial sales taxes, while the federal government does not. The statement said the decision to select the Type 26 design was made based upon the capabilities it will bring to the navy. "As the PBO noted, the other design options that they examined would have 'more limited' and 'modest' capabilities than our selected design," the statement said. "These reductions would impede the [Royal Canadian Navy's] ability to execute its assigned roles and missions to keep Canadians safe both at home and abroad." The department also categorically ruled out scrapping the program or going with another design. "This is not an option we will be pursuing," the statement said. "Selecting a new design at this stage in the project would lead to significant economic loss for Canada's marine industry and those employed in it. "It would have major operational impacts for the [Royal Canadian Navy], due to associated project delays and life-extension requirements, as well as increasing the costs to operate and maintain more than one class of ships in the future." In their response, the Conservatives focused on the delays that led to the higher cost projections. "The increased costs of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) program are a direct result of Justin Trudeau's failures and the Liberals' mismanagement on this important procurement," said the statement, issued on behalf of Conservative defence critic James Bezan. "Conservatives continue to support our plan to revitalize the Royal Canadian Navy and the National Shipbuilding Strategy. But we do not support this ongoing Liberal dithering and costly delays to the CSC procurement." The latest report builds on an analysis prepared by the PBO office two years ago which projected a construction cost of $70 billion. The new numbers, Giroux said, reflect new information from the defence department about the size of the warships and the capabilities being built into them, as well as anticipated production delays. The outgoing president of Irving Shipbuilding, Kevin McCoy, told CBC News in an interview recently that the production timeline to build a Type 26 is seven-and-a-half years, which is two years longer than the five year timeline that had been built into the program. That means the navy won't see its first new frigate until 2031, on the current schedule. McCoy said in his interview that when the program started out under the previous Conservative government, the intention was to build a warship from scratch. He said it took several years and a change of government to convince Ottawa and the navy that doing so would be extraordinarily expensive — more expensive that the current program. A question of capabilities Dave Perry is vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and one of the country's leading experts on defence procurement. He said that when you look at the defence department's tax explanation and consider the delays, the projections are not too far apart. He said he believes the only fair comparison is between the existing Type 26 design and the FREMM frigate because they have similar capabilities. "To use a boxing analogy, it is in the same weight class," said Perry. He said the choice to include the less capable Type 31e in the comparison struck him as odd. The PBO report notes the difference and acknowledges that the less expensive Type 31e is designed to operate mostly in conjunction with the larger Type 26, which has air defence capabilities, among other things. A mixed fleet, he said, is something policy-makers could consider and is something Canada has had in the past — but the notion extends far beyond simple budgeting. "We would be building a different navy, a significantly less capable navy," Perry said.
Jasper Municipal Council discussed potentially approving the installation of utility services in connection with the Connaught Drive affordable apartments during its committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 23. Utilities would be installed for GC, GB and GA parcels, or for just one or two of them. The parcels of land are located along the south side of Connaught Drive between Hazel and Willow avenues. The go-ahead for the 40-unit apartment building is contingent on the success of a Rapid Housing Initiative grant application by the Jasper Community Housing Corporation (JCHC). Word about the success of the grant was expected by the end of February. If it doesn’t go through, other alternatives will be looked at. Coun. Bert Journault said he’s not supportive of installing utility services beyond parcel GC. “I don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers to saddle them with that (because) that may not be used for a long, long, long, long time,” he said. Journault asked if services installed in parcel GB would be recoverable from the developer. Chief administrative officer Bill Given said if that scenario is presented, “Administration would be proposing that if there is private development that is able to benefit from those services then there should be some kind of contribution toward that. That would be a decision council would be involved in, of course.” Deputy mayor Scott Wilson said the lots “may not be developed for some time but they’ll be developed quite a bit sooner if the services are there and they’re ready to roll.” “If you’re looking at a lot and realizing you have to spend millions in services to start your project, I just can’t see anybody coming to the table,” Wilson added. “I think that’s a challenge currently. I think we have to make them desirable and developers will come.” Coun. Jenna McGrath noted servicing these parcels was the first step to ensuring that affordable housing would be built in Jasper. “When we were elected for this term of council, the single most important issue facing the community of Jasper was housing,” McGrath said. “This is our first opportunity as this council to ensure that housing has a possibility of being built in our community.” McGrath added that the initiative is “absolutely necessary.” “There are many, many people needing affordable housing in our community.” Coun. Paul Butler emphasized how development was a priority. “We have the wherewithal to recuperate whatever proportion we, as council or future council, would decide,” he said. About GC only or GC and GB, or all three sites being developed, Butler said “I do respect the thinking that suggests if we’re going to be in the ground let’s do the whole thing and set ourselves up for future success on those sites.” Butler said he’s being cautioned by the question of what is realistically the near-, medium- and long-term demand for high-density housing. He noted the JCHC has identified other areas in town as being suitable for other kinds of housing, and that there are other sorts of housing being needed in the community, such as more family- and senior-oriented housing. Information provided by administration outlined how Jasper has systemic housing affordability, suitability, adequacy and risk of homelessness issues, along with a complex process for securing land to fulfil affordable housing needs. The town has had a 0.0 per cent vacancy since at least 2014 with approximately 37 per cent of residents overpaying for shelter. Parks Canada identified that 46 new housing units have been constructed in the municipality since 2017 and that through the same period, 63 units were converted to condominiums, likely removing at least some from the rental pool. Administration will present borrowing bylaws to council for approval at a future meeting. The bylaws would fund a maximum of $3.647 million towards these utility services. Council will also decide whether to allocate $350,250 in the 2021 budget for upfront project costs, subject to approval of the RHI grant application. The final decision on how to proceed about servicing the lot(s) will be back for a decision at council’s regular meeting on March 2. Wastewater Treatment Plant The committee of the whole recommended council direct administration to enter into contract negotiation with Aquatera Utilities Inc. for a ten-year operating contract of the Jasper Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Since Jan. 27, 2020, the WWTP has been operated by a contracted service provider (EPCOR) under a one-year service agreement. This agreement was extended until June 30, 2021 to complete the RFP process and ensure an orderly transition. Final approval is scheduled to be mid-May of this year. Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Council will discuss a recommendation to approve the submission of an application to the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative for up to $260,000 for improvements to public spaces in town, at their March 2 meeting. The deadline for submitting an application is March 9. “It’s a fairly flexible grant,” Given said. There are three themes to projects: safe and vibrant spaces, improved mobility options and digital solutions. Administration identified improvements that would fit under the safe and vibrant public spaces and improved mobility options themes. The application could include: Some projects are enhancements to existing funding and others wouldn’t go ahead without grant funding. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
The Town of Paradise has approved it’s 2021 Street Rehab list. “Roads were evaluated based on the severity of defects, the density of defects, and the overall ride comfort rating of the road,” explained Deborah Quilty during the February 16 public meeting of council. Quilty said road assessments were carried out in the fall of 2020, and that streets were graded based on a scale of zero to 100. Roads which scored less than 50 and were not included in the Water and Sewer Priority List, were considered for the 2021 Street Rehab list. Streets on the list are Irving Drive, Newcastle Place, Janal’s Road, Harcourt Road (Topsail Road to Gosse’s Road), Vanellen Place, Woodville Road, Husseys Road. Quilty said the Infrastructure and Engineering department has been in close collaboration with Public Works to ensure there is no duplication of work, and to identify roads which fall under Public Works’ budget line and are better suited for a contractor to complete. The total budget, excluding additional items from Public Works and the Water and Sewer list is $900,000. Councillor Patrick Martin asked how many more streets might need to be done, acknowledging that staff might not have the information on hand. CAO Lisa Niblock said that, as Martin had indicated, she did not have the exact number on hand, but that information is readily available. She added if there is money left over following the approved work, the town would simply continue on, starting with the next street on the list. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie asked if the list, as presented, was in the order in which work would be completed. Niblock said that she believed it was, but would confirm it at a later time. Mayor Dan Bobbett pointed out that funds for street rehabilitation have doubled since last year, when council had only budgeted a little over $400,000. Bobbett said the decision to increase funding had been unanimous among councillors. Councillor Kimberly Street applauded the increase in funds, given the high demand for work. “There’s many roads in need of repair, and this increase, I believe, will be well received by residents,” said Street. Councillor Alan English echoed those sentiments. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Laurie addressed folks who live on streets in need of repair that were not on the list. “There is also a budget within our Public Works department that we are able to do some repairs in house,” said Laurie. “So, even though you don’t see your street’s name on this list for big contractors to go out and do major repairs, there will be some repairs over the season that are done in-house, so there will be some other streets addressed as well, besides these.” Councillor English, however, cautioned against depending too much on the Public Works budget. “I just wanted to make a comment on the budget in Public Works; I wouldn’t get our hopes up too high on that because there’s a relatively modest amount of money invovled,” he said. “I think it’s around $100,000, and as Deputy Mayor Laurie said that would be used to address issues as they arise, and some have already been brought to the forefront. But, it’s not a big amount of money.” Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Alliance Magnésium a accueilli lundi sa première cohorte de 20 employés. Des opérateurs, électromécaniciens, et responsables en santé-sécurité, des techniciens en entretien et instrumentation et des superviseurs de production travaillent maintenant pour l’entreprise valsourcienne. Ces employés amorcent donc une formation de cinq semaines en virtuel. « Du matériel informatique, des aide-mémoire, les manuels des employés et les procédures leur ont été acheminés. [...] Il y aura surtout plein de formations sur le procédé, la chimie, la technologie, le travail particulier qui doit être fait avec du métal en fusion. Il y a aussi les spécificités propres au magnésium qui est un métal aux nombreuses propriétés, mais qui demande qu’on lui porte une attention particulière lors de la fabrication », indique la directrice aux communications et affaires publiques pour l’entreprise, Karine Vallières. Plus de temps sera consacré à la formation du personnel. Mais en temps normal, ces cours théoriques auraient été mélangés avec de la pratique. « C’est comme de dire à quelqu’un qui veut faire de la soudure qu’il allait tout apprendre sur l’ordinateur. C’est assez particulier, mais ça nous permet d’éviter le retard et d’aller de l’avant dans le processus d’embauche. Ça fait longtemps qu’on dit que les emplois s’en viennent. On ne veut pas perdre l’intérêt des ressources qui veulent travailler avec nous, c’est pourquoi on va de l’avant et que nous demandons aux formateurs de bien vouloir se plier à l’exercice du virtuel pour adapter les formations, de revoir de quelle façon on les donnait et d’ajuster l’échéancier », explique Mme Vallières, assurant que la qualité de la formation sera la même. Après les formations théoriques, le personnel arrivera en usine pour suivre des formations pratiques avant de démarrer les premières coulées de magnésium recyclé. Actuellement, une quarantaine d’employés sont dans le registre du personnel d’Alliance Magnésium. Quelque 80 autres employés seront engagés. « On a été très agiles pour surmonter plein de trucs qui se sont dressés devant nous durant le déploiement de l’entreprise. On a usé de créativité pour bien arrimer l’arrivée des employés et permettre que leur formation soit faite au maximum au moment où le centre de coulée sera prêt. On les a accueillis par petits groupes à notre bureau de Val-des-Sources pour permettre le respect de la distanciation physique », mentionne Karine Vallières, rappelant que l’entreprise « bénéficie d’une banque de CV intéressante », mais qu’Alliance Magnésium « a besoin de recevoir des CV ». L’entreprise est maintenant à la recherche de techniciens de laboratoire, d’autres opérateurs et d’autres électromécaniciens. L’embauche continuera à se faire de manière progressive. Retard Le retard dans le domaine de la construction a également un impact sur l’usine. « C’est majeur, convient Karine Vallières. Non seulement sur l’échéancier, le déploiement, qu’on doit tout arrimer les embauches prévues, changer continuellement les dates. Ce n’est pas comme si on avait déjà des lignes de production. Il faut embaucher pour la formation, mais nos entrepreneurs généraux et les entreprises spécialisées reçoivent le matériel pour que l’usine soit prête dans les délais convenus. » « Ça crée des retards dans la livraison du bâtiment, ça crée aussi des pertes économiques, car on ne produit pas, alors qu’on était censés produire, renchérit-elle. Ça crée des dépenses non prévues. Beaucoup d’éléments sont à considérer et il y a un impact financier majeur sur l’entreprise à cause de ces éléments qu’on ne contrôle pas. » Les premiers lingots couleront donc au deuxième trimestre de 2021. Tommy Brochu, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
TUCSON, Ariz. — It is now illegal in Tucson, Arizona, to enforce dress code or grooming policies that discriminate against hair texture and hairstyles in the workplace and public schools, officials said. The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to adopt the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, joining multiple cities across the country in passing the ordinance, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The ordinance has been part of a national campaign promoted by Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty. It also prohibits workplace discrimination based on headdresses worn for cultural or religious reasons. “We want to be sure there are no barriers for people in the workplace and in schools,” said Annie Sykes, president of Tucson’s Black Women’s Task Force. “These barriers are usually rooted in discrimination and prejudice.” Sykes cited a study showing that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair and 80% more likely to feel like they have to change their hair to fit in at work. “Your hair is your crown and it connects us to our culture and to our ancestry,” said Desiree Cook, a licensed hair stylist and founder of the local organization, I AM YOU 360. “So we ask that those crowns are honoured, whether it be in schools, in the community or the workplace.” The Tucson ordinance will be enforced through the human relations section of the city code and will apply to any facility or business with public accommodations, officials said. Violations can bring civil penalties. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Paul McCartney is finally ready to write his memoirs, and will use music — and a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet — to help guide him. “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present” will be released Nov. 2, according to a joint announcement Wednesday from the British publisher Allen Lane and from Liveright in the United States. McCartney, 78, will trace his life through 154 songs, from his teens and early partnership with fellow Beatle John Lennon to his solo work over the past half century. Irish poet Paul Muldoon is editing and will contribute an introduction. "More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right," McCartney said in a statement. “The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I’ve learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.” Financial terms for “The Lyrics,” which has a list price of $100, were not disclosed. Publishers have long sought a McCartney memoir, even though he has spoken often about the past and has participated in such projects as Barry Miles' biography “Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now,” and the 1990s documentary and book “The Beatles Anthology." The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards has been equally open about himself, but his 2010 memoir “Life” still sold millions of copies. No Beatle has written a standard, full-fledged account of his life. Lennon published two works of stories, poems and drawings and was considered the most gifted with words, but he was murdered in 1980, at age 40. Ringo Starr's “Another Day In the Life" is centred on photographs and quotes, because, the drummer has said, a traditional memoir would require multiple volumes. George Harrison, who died of cancer in 2001, issued the scrapbook/retrospective “I, Me, Mine” in 1980. According to McCartney's publishers, his songs will be arranged alphabetically, and will include McCartney's comments on when and where they were written and what inspired them. The U.S. edition of the book will be broken into two volumes, contained within a single box. “Presented with this is a treasure trove of material from McCartney’s personal archive — drafts, letters, photographs — never seen before, which make this also a unique visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” according to Wednesday's announcement. McCartney has often received more acclaim for his melodies than for his lyrics, but he has written some of the most quoted songs in recent history, including “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude” and “Eleanor Rigby.” Muldoon said in a statement that their conversations in recent years “confirm a notion at which we had but guessed — that Paul McCartney is a major literary figure who draws upon, and extends, the long tradition of poetry in English.” Muldoon is known for such poetry collections as “Moy Sand and Gravel” and “Horse Latitudes,” and also has a background in music. He has given spoken-word performances backed by the musical collective Rogue Oliphant; published a book of rock lyrics, “The Word on the Street”; and collaborated on the title track of Warren Zevon's “My Ride's Here.” He even mentioned McCartney in a poem, “Sideman”: "I’ll be McCartney to your Lennon/ Lenin to your Marx/ Jerry to your Ben &/ Lewis to your Clark" ___ Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Nikola Dimitrov of AIS Technologies Group in Windsor, Ont., discusses how the pandemic has affected supply lines.
(CBC News - image credit) New Brunswick MLAs from all parties voted Wednesday to call officials from the pension management agency Vestcor in front of the Legislature's public accounts committee, in a striking show of support for Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson in her ongoing dispute with the former Crown entity. But late in the day, Premier Blaine Higgs issued his own statement declaring his government would not alter legislation to force Vestcor to submit to Adair-MacPherson's oversight as she has requested "There is no plan to change legislation," said Higgs in the statement, which largely took Vestcor's side in its stand off with the auditor general "Vestcor was set up to operate independently, reporting to shareholders, who are the pension holders." The premier's tone on the issue was a stark change from the morning, when government and opposition MLAs spoke unanimously of their support of a motion aimed at advancing Adair-MacPherson's effort to review Vestcor's operations. "Members of the government side support the motion fully keeping in the spirit and the theme of government members supporting the auditor general fully at all times," said Progressive Conservative MLA Jeff Carr prior to casting his own vote to summon Vestcor to answer questions. Miramichi MLA and People's Alliance member Michelle Conroy, who noted the motion passed unanimously. Although the motion to summon Vestcor was originally made Tuesday by People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin, Green Party MLA Megan Mitton also spoke in favour of it, as did Liberal MLA Robert McKee "I think its important that we be able to ask questions of Vestcor," said McKee. People's Alliance MLA Michelle Conroy paused to make note of the unanimous support "Thank you everybody. We love to see a collaborative working government." Committee Chair and Liberal MLA Lisa Harris echoed Conroy's statement and congratulated all members for the non partisan support of the auditor general. "This is an example of how public accounts is supposed to work," said Harris after the vote to summon Vestcor was approved. "Bravo team." Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson says her office has the authority to audit Vestcor. Vestcor is the Fredericton-based organization set up to manage what is now $18 billion in New Brunswick government pension and other funds. Formally known as the New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation, it was created by the province and owned by it directly for more than two decades, with reviews by the auditor general's office of its operations commonplace.. However, in 2016, it was given its independence and rebranded as Vestcor. When Adair-MacPherson requested access to a number of its financial documents beginning in late 2019, the agency refused. In a statement released this week, Vestcor accused the auditor general of attempting to overstep her authority now that it is on its own. "Our analysis and advice have indicated that the auditor general should be much more limited with respect to access to Vestcor related information than what had been requested, and we therefore have had to respectfully decline these requests," read the statement Auditor general doesn't agree The defiance has been received cooly by Adair-MacPherson, who is adamant Vestcor is still subject to provincial oversight, and this week she turned to MLAs for help enforcing her point. In a written response to the vote by MLAs, Adair-MacPherson said she was pleased the public accounts committee so quickly agreed to call Vestcor to appear before it. "The hope of this recommendation, along with others in our report, is to prevent future disagreements over access so that my office can fulfil our legislated mandate as per Auditor General Act and conduct necessary audit work of over $18 billion in New Brunswick public sector related funds," she said. But within hours, her key request to the province that it change legislation to explicitly list Vestcor as falling under her jurisdiction to audit was rejected by Premier Higgs. In his statement he said he was not opposed to MLAs summoning Vestcor to answer questions and suggested it might enlighten some about the body's independence. John Sinclair is president of Vestcor, which maintains the auditor general has limited access to the company's information. "I understand it was voted on to have Vestcor appear at Public Accounts, and I hope that will result in the committee fully understanding the structure and reporting practices of Vestcor," said Higgs in the statement. Billions of dollars in funds Vestcor invests impact the New Brunswick government's financial statements and the province pays Vestcor millions of dollars in annual pension contributions on behalf of employees Last year, when hundreds of millions of dollars in nuclear decommissioning and spent fuel management funds managed for NB Power by Vestcor lost value in the COVID-19 market crash in March, it transformed the utility's profit into a loss and drove up the province's deficit. Adair-MacPherson insists those financial ties mean Vestcor is still within her authority to audit. "Vestcor is an auditable entity because, in substance, it is both a service provider on behalf of the Province and a funding recipient from the Province," she wrote in her report. "The auditor general is entitled to free access to information that relates to fulfilling her responsibilities, such as the audit of the Province's financial statements, which requires information from Vestcor." Other questions Adair-MacPherson also made the point Vestcor obtained its independence in part on suggestions it would be freed up to market its expertise and manage funds for public bodies outside New Brunswick "We have had preliminary discussions with some fairly big public sector pools of money, even outside the province," she quotes Vestcor CEO John Sinclair telling MLAs back in 2016. But no out of province pools of money have yet signed on and Adair-MacPherson told MLAs they should be asking questions about that. "In our view, potential growth outside New Brunswick was one of the main arguments Vestcor and its representatives used to convince legislators that Vestcor needed to be a private entity," said Adair-MacPherson in her report. "Since Vestcor has not grown its public sector client base outside of New Brunswick, an audit by the auditor general could verify and publicly report on what steps Vestcor is taking to grow its public sector client base." The motion voted on by MLAs requires Vestcor to appear before the public accounts committee in the coming days, but also puts it on a permanent list of "entities who are regularly called to appear before the committee."
BATON ROUGE, La. — Trashed on social media and censured by Louisiana Republicans, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy described himself Wednesday as “at peace” with his vote to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and dismissed the scorching GOP backlash he's received. Louisiana's senior Republican senator said he does not believe the criticism represents the feelings of many of his party's voters. He said the censure he received from the leadership of the state Republican Party represented “a small group of people,” not the “broader Republican Party.” “I am such at peace with that vote. I say that knowing that I’m getting criticized, but I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Cassidy said in a conference call with reporters on a variety of topics. Cassidy joined six other Senate Republicans in voting with Democrats on Feb. 13 to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in an impeachment trial that saw the former president acquitted. Louisiana's other U.S. senator, Republican John Kennedy, voted against conviction. “I’ve received comments from folks who are Republican who object to the vote,” Cassidy said. “I’ve received a heck of a lot of folks who agree with me or, if they don’t agree with me, respect the kind of thought process that went into it.” He added: “There’s a diversity of opinion among Louisiana Republicans, even if there is not among a very small group of people.” Though the 57-43 Senate vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to find Trump guilty, the seven GOP votes against Trump represented the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty at impeachment proceedings. Some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said they did not believe the Democrats proved their case that the former president was directly responsible for inciting hundreds of people to storm the Capitol building in a riot that left five people dead. Other Republicans said they simply did not believe Congress had jurisdiction over a president no longer in office. Cassidy has tried to change the conversation since the impeachment trial ended, sending out daily statements about a variety of subjects and talking about other issues, such as the confirmation hearings of President Joe Biden's cabinet appointments and recovery from the icy weather. But Trump supporters don't want to move on, and they've been slamming Cassidy on conservative talk radio and websites. They've called for Republicans to ban Cassidy from their events, and several local Republican groups have joined the executive committee of the state GOP in condemning Cassidy's vote to convict Trump. Cassidy, a doctor, overwhelmingly won reelection in November to a second term, with Trump's backing. Asked whether his vote to convict Trump could damage his chances of reelection in 2026, Cassidy replied: “It is six years off, but that's immaterial. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution." ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
A new podcast recently launched by an Indigenous storyteller focuses on reconnecting with his cultural roots and exploring how it informs his identity. Jeremy Ratt, a former resident of the Columbia Valley, self-identifies as Métis with ancestors that are of both Woods-Cree and Caucasian descent in his newly released Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) - B.C. / Radio Canada podcast entitled Pieces which was announced on Feb. 18, 2021. “I always knew that more Indigenous stories needed to be told and I’m so proud of how Pieces turned out. Podcasting is an intimate and personal medium and really suits the themes of identity and self I explored in Pieces,” said Ratt, the host of Pieces in a recent press release. “The stories are authentic and I feel the podcast will resonate with anyone figuring out who they are in our complex world.” Ratt has released several episodes on the CBC podcast, ranging from cultural reclamation to racism, stereotypes and shame as well as the burdens of intergenerational trauma. He believes these personal stories are a way of sharing his identity with other Canadians and may contribute to his own personal growth in the long-run. The 19-year-old Métis boy focuses on exploring his identity through his platform as a CBC host on a newly published series. Ratt is a self-proclaimed writer and musician with a passion for broadcasting. In fact, Ratt wrote and recorded the intro song that plays at the beginning and end of each episode in his podcast. “I have had the pleasure of working on multiple podcasts at CBC British Columbia that reflect contemporary Canada, we are always on the lookout for interesting stories and diverse voices,” says Shiral Tobin, Director, Journalism and Programming CBC, British Columbia. “When Jeremy first came to us with the idea for Pieces,” we knew it was a story that needed to be told. We are humbled and proud Jeremy trusted CBC British Columbia to help tell this deeply personal story.” Pieces is available online at CBC Listen, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer