Snow whips across a neighbourhood in Grande Prairie, AB.
Snow whips across a neighbourhood in Grande Prairie, AB.
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
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, 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
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
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.
During their last council meeting of 2020, members of Meadow Lake city council passed their 2021 budget. The budget process in Meadow Lake started before the provincial election with town administrators getting operating and capital budget documents ready for discussion, said Mayor Merlin Seymour. Mayor and councillors agreed that due to the stress and challenges of COVID-19 they did not want to make 2021 more difficult for residents by increasing taxes on property owners. “Things are tough enough for everyone already. We just felt that keeping our taxes as they were, we may have to sharpen our pencils a little bit, which we did. Holding our taxes for our residents, that was a priority for us.” The city will once again be focusing on infrastructure maintenance with $1.8 million worth of improvements to water and sewer in the east part of the city as part of a 10-year disaster mitigation program. This year will see $950,000 go towards paving improvements throughout the city, $840,000 will go towards replacing underground utility infrastructure, and $300,000 will go towards improving city equipment. Replacing ageing infrastructure is a province-wide problem for all sizes of communities. Seymour said they are working to stay on top of it in Meadow Lake as well. “It's a long process and we're not the only municipality that has infrastructure problems. But we're trying to keep on top of it as best we can with funds that are available.” With this being a provincial assessment year, residents may see the changes in the value of their property which may change tax rates, but these changes will not be made by the city. The Long Term Care levy that was put in place in 2013 will remain for 2021, said City Manager Diana Burton. The levy is going towards the new long-term care facility with the city paying for 10 per cent of the total cost. Burton estimates that the levy will be in place for seven years until the city’s portion of the facility is paid off, she said. “We have just over $2 million in our reserve accounts and our capital contributions with 10 per cent of the capital cost of the new long term care facility is expected to be around $4 million. So we have about half of it saved up and we would have to get a loan for the remaining half.” Construction of the facility started in May 2020. Council passed the budget on Dec. 14 as part of their regular council meeting but discussion took place before the new council was elected in November. Seymour said the city administration worked hard to bring new councillors up to speed and answer any questions they had so they could be fully informed regarding the budget. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
PORTLAND, Ore. — Plans for a major West Coast liquified natural gas pipeline and export terminal hit a snag Tuesday with federal regulators after a years-long legal battle that has united tribes, environmentalists and a coalition of residents on Oregon's rural southern coast against the proposal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that energy company Pembina could not move forward with the proposal without a key clean water permit from the state of Oregon. The U.S. regulatory agency gave its tentative approval to the pipeline last March as long as it secured the necessary state permits, but the Canadian pipeline company has been unable to do so. It had appealed to the commission over the state's clean water permit, arguing that Oregon had waived its authority to issue a clean water certification for the project and therefore its denial of the permit was irrelevant. But the commission found instead that Pembina had never requested the certification and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality "could not have waived its authority to issue certification for a request it never received.” The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states. The proposed 230-mile (370-kilometre) feeder pipeline would begin in Malin, in southwest Oregon, and end at the city of Coos Bay on the rural Oregon coast. Jordan Cove did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and it was unclear what next steps the project would take. Opposition to the pipeline has brought together southern Oregon tribes, environmentalists, anglers and coastal residents since 2006. "Thousands of southern Oregonians have raised their voices to stop this project for years and will continue to until the threat of Jordan Cove LNG is gone for good,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Rogue Climate. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has opposed the project, said in a statement on Twitter that she was pleased with the ruling. “At every stage of the regulatory process, I have insisted that the Jordan Cove LNG project must meet Oregon’s rigorous standards for protecting the environment, or it cannot move forward,” she wrote. The outgoing Trump administration has supported energy export projects and in particular Jordan Cove. It had proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
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
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
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
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he won't grant a curfew exemption for Montreal's homeless population, telling reporters Tuesday he has confidence that police will use their good judgment in dealing with cases. Legault told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing in Montreal that altering the government's decree to exclude the homeless from the provincial curfew would be used as a loophole by others to flout the measure. Montreal's mayor had made the formal request just an hour earlier, calling on Quebec to relax the COVID-19 measure on the city's most vulnerable population. "What I'm say is right now, the police are doing a very good job. They use their judgment," Legault said. "If we change the rules and say that you can't give a ticket to someone who is saying they're homeless, you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Mayor Valerie Plante's appeal followed the weekend death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a shelter he frequented. Andre often spent time at a day centre for the homeless called The Open Door, which was forced to close its overnight service last month following a COVID-19 outbreak. He visited the centre Saturday evening and was found dead Sunday morning, not far from the shelter, which had to send him out at 9:30 p.m. The coroner is investigating Andre's death. Plante said there's evidence the curfew is causing problems for the homeless and those who work with them. "What we've been seeing in the past week is that it created a lot of stress — not only for the homeless population itself but also the workers," Plante told reporters outside Montreal City Hall. "The curfew just adds to that and creates a sense of insecurity for a lot of users and we don't want that.... I want people to feel safe in the streets." Plante says the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — which began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to last at least until Feb. 8 — is creating an untenable situation for the city's most vulnerable. Legault said police aren't there to ticket homeless people, but direct them to homeless shelters. Plante agreed Montreal police have shown compassion, noting they had helped at least 400 homeless people find shelter. The mayor says on most nights the city's overnight shelters are at least 95 per cent full. While she wants the rules relaxed to relieve the pressure, she doesn't want people sleeping on the street. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them," she said. Plante said a 100-bed facility is set to open in the coming days. Legault said the province has added 800 beds and it stands ready to add more as needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
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."
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump might argue the calendar is his friend when it comes to a second impeachment trial. Trump's impeachment last week by the House of Representatives for his role in inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol set up his trial in the Senate. But there's one potential wrinkle. In 2019, the last time Trump found himself impeached by the House, he had nearly a year left in his presidency. But on Wednesday, with the inauguration of Joe Biden, Trump will be out of office by the time any Senate trial gets started. Some Republican lawmakers argue it's not constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a former president, but that view is far from unanimous. Democrats for their part appear ready to move forward with a trial. On Tuesday, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she doesn’t think a post-presidency impeachment trial is constitutional. But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wasn’t so sure. “I think there’s serious questions about it,” he said. Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, meanwhile, said it was “bogus” that a trial after Trump leaves office wouldn't be constitutional, noting that the Senate has held impeachment trials of federal judges after they’ve resigned. “So whether somebody resigns, or runs out the clock it makes no difference. They can still be held accountable and there’s nothing in the spirit, or the letter of the impeachment provisions in the Constitution that argues against it,” he said. Some questions and answers about whether a former president can be impeached. WHY IS THIS OPEN TO DEBATE? The Constitution says: “The President ... shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But the Constitution says nothing about the impeachment of a former president. The question has also never come up. The only other two presidents to be impeached, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were tried while still in office. WHAT DO SCHOLARS AND HISTORY HAVE TO SAY ON THE TOPIC? A recent Congressional Research Service report for federal lawmakers and their staffs concluded that while the Constitution's text is “open to debate,” it appears most scholars agree that a president can be impeached after leaving office. One argument is that state constitutions that predate the U.S. Constitution allowed impeachment after officials left office. The Constitution's drafters also did not specifically bar the practice. Still, the text of the Constitution could be read to suggest impeachment only applies to current office holders. In the early 19th century, one influential Supreme Court justice, Joseph Story came to that conclusion. One powerful suggestion that post-office trial is acceptable, however, comes from history. The Congressional Research Service report cites the 1876 impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap. Belknap resigned over allegations he received kickbacks. The House impeached him after his resignation, and while Belknap objected to being tried in the Senate because he'd left office, the Senate heard three days of arguments on the topic and then deliberated in secret for over two weeks before concluding Belknap could be tried. He was ultimately acquitted. COULD TRUMP CHALLENGE A CONVICTION? Courts are unlikely to want to wade into any dispute over impeachment. In 1993, in a case involving an impeached former judge, the Supreme Court ruled it had no role to play in impeachment disputes because the Constitution says the “Senate shall have sole Power to try any impeachments.” DOES AN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF A FORMER PRESIDENT PRESENT OTHER LEGAL ISSUES? One other issue is who would preside at the impeachment trial of an ex-president. The Constitution says it's the chief justice's job to preside at the impeachment trial of a president. But scholars offer differing views about whether that's Chief Justice John Roberts' job if Trump's trial begins after he's out of office. The choices for who would preside appear to be Roberts, Kamala Harris, who by then will be vice-president, or Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will be the Senate’s president pro tem once the Democrats take control of the Senate. WHAT'S THE POINT OF IMPEACHING SOMEONE WHO IS OUT OF OFFICE? The consequence the Constitution sets up for a president who is impeached and convicted is removal from office. That's not really a concern for a former president. Still, conviction would send a message about Trump's conduct. Moreover, if the Senate were to convict, lawmakers would presumably take a separate vote on whether to disqualify Trump from holding future office. Some lawmakers believe that's appropriate. "We need to set a precedent that the severest offence ever committed by a president will be met by the severest remedy provided by the Constitution — impeachment and conviction by this chamber, as well as disbarment from future office," incoming Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Tuesday. ___ Associated Press reporter Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
A hallway fire that ousted dozens of people from their homes late Sunday is considered suspicious, say RCMP, and an investigation is ongoing. The fire started in the second floor hallway of Town Park Apartments C-block at around 11:30 p.m on Jan. 17. It quickly engulfed the hallway, pumping heat and smoke through the building. A mattress was found on fire in the hallway, but officials would not confirm whether it was intentionally set alight. Andrew Dawson lives on the second floor with his wife and uncle. Earlier that night he says someone pulled the fire alarm, and shortly after the building manager sorted that out, the smoke detector went off. “I usually don’t react because they’re so sensitive, they go off all the time. You open your shower and steam will set it off,” he said. But that night for some reason he went to check, and found an actual fire. Dawson ran down the hallway banging on doors, yelling for people to get out. Outside, he found his wife, uncle and uncle’s girlfriend at the window trying to climb down with blankets. Dawson could see it billowing out the neighbour’s window, who had left their hallway door open. “I started screaming, jump, I’ll catch you just jump, I was pleading,” he said. They dropped while he tried to break their fall. A handful of other residents jumped out of second floor windows when they found the hallway exit blocked by smoke, including Dawson’s sister, who broke her leg. A dog, Dex, also broke its forepaw when he was thrown out of the building. READ MORE: Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building to save their lives It could be months before residents are allowed back inside. Parallel 50 Realty and Property Management is working with insurance adjusters to assess the damage to the 15 suites, but it won’t be quick. “You’ve got a building that just had extensive smoke damage. You have to make sure it’s safe before we can even determine how much work needs to be done,” said Parallel 50 CEO Dale Mailman. Emergency Support Services (ESS) was called in the early hours of Jan. 18, to coordinate housing the tenants in the interim. They have 25 people in hotels, three are in hospital, and a few others had family or friends to stay with. The automatic 72-hour ESS support period has already been extended for another three days. After that, no one can say yet what will happen, but Port Hardy ESS volunteer Susan Bjarnason said no one will be left stranded. Port Hardy Fire Rescue crews doused the fire quickly. It was short-lived due to lack of fuel and oxygen in the hall, but was hot and intense with smoke. Crews were on scene for over three hours ventilating and securing the building. All six Port Hardy fire trucks were on site with over 30 firefighters. A truck with five crew from Port McNeill also came as back up. BC Ambulance Services, Port Hardy RCMP and BC Hydro crews were all on scene as well. If anyone has knowledge of this incident or any other or who is responsible, please contact the Port Hardy RCMP at 250-949-6335. If you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit their web site at www.crimestoppers.ca. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
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
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.
North Simcoe's environmental association seems to be under the microscope in another municipality. This time, it's Tiny Township, which is also the residence of the Severn Sound Environmental Association's (SSEA) board chair Steffen Walma. The matter came up at a recent budget meeting when Coun. Tony Mintoff questioned the increase in municipal contributions toward the SSEA. "I’d like to get a specific cost for the SSEA," he said. "I noticed the actual in 2019 was $93,000 and for 2020 it was $176,000. I would like to know which services are mandated and the cost for those services and any other services they provide and their costs and benefits for the residents." The issue also came up recently at Tay Township's council meeting. Budget documents shared with council show that the township budgeted $93,672 for the SSEA costs in 2019 and paid a total of $119,136, which includes costs for Sustainable Severn Sound (SSS) and an invasive species coordinator. For 2020, the township budgeted $176,911 for SSEA costs and paid $181,600, which includes the SSS cost. For 2021, Tiny is being asked for $228,805, which breaks down to a $11,155 for the SSS portion, $187,630 for the SSEA core services and $30,020 for municipal drinking water source protection. Walma, who is also Tiny's deputy mayor, ventured to sum up the reasons for why the costs are the way they are. "In 2019 to 2020, we made a board decision to stop Band-Aiding our way through operations," he said, adding there was a leadership change and SSEA relocated its office to Tay Township. "In 2019, we presented a 65% increase to our municipalities. That included a change in staffing and office and upgrading of our networks." As part of its water quality sampling mandate, staff needs to visit various locations in North Simcoe, said Walma. "We’ve been borrowing vehicles from municipalities and never owned our vehicles," he said. "(From a) liability standpoint, municipalities were no longer willing to loan us vehicles, so we ended up having to purchase our own. "We had been testing wells in the municipality, so we had the responsibility to decommission those wells at the end of their life. We started budgeting a reserve we’ve never had in the past. We also found some liabilities in our existing staffing policies. We modernized our existing budget for the 65 percent." This year, the increase is five percent, according to Walma. "That was listed in the five-year plan," he noted. "We do expect to see some savings on 2020, but those savings won’t be realized by our partners this year because we don’t know what they are yet." As for the services, Walma said, every municipality pays a board-approved service level, there’s no a-la carte. Members, however, have the choice to opt out of core services on a two-year notice period. "(Core services) include cold-water stream sampling, fish habitat mapping, inland lake-water quality sampling, and invasive species programs," he said, adding he can bring to council a more comprehensive list. "The SSS portion of things, they have been rolled in together, is optional. This is a service municipalities choose to participate in." Where contracting the SSEA itself is not mandatory, "the only legislated piece is the source-water protection modelling that’s been put in place by the province," said Walma. "In short, at least until council opts out of the program, we’re obligated to the pay $187,000, not the $11,155 for the SSS." Mintoff said he would bring forward a notice of motion at a future meeting so council could take a closer look at it. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
OTTAWA — Conservatives were torn Tuesday over a decision by party leader Erin O'Toole to try to expel an MP from their ranks over a donation from a known white nationalist. The party's 121 MPs are set to vote via secret ballot Wednesday morning on whether Derek Sloan ought to be removed, with a simple majority required to oust him. While Sloan has courted his fair share of controversy for months, the idea he should be booted from caucus specifically because of a donation he said he had not realized he'd received wasn't sitting well with some MPs and party supporters. And the move prompted immediate backlash from some anti-abortion groups, who had been firmly in Sloan's corner during the leadership race he lost to O'Toole almost six months ago. The group Right Now urged backers to contact MPs to voice their displeasure. "We feel that this an attempt to discourage pro-lifers from engaging within the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically at the upcoming policy convention," Right Now's email said. "If those officials in the Conservative Party of Canada who do not share our values were not threatened by us taking our rightful and democratic place within the party, then they would not attempt such a brazen and obviously desperate effort such as this." The controversy over the $131 donated by Paul Fromm, a longtime political activist with links to neo-Nazi causes, erupted late Monday. O'Toole declared the donation — made under the name "Frederick P. Fromm" — meant Sloan could no longer be a Conservative MP, citing an intolerance for racism within the party. O'Toole promptly kick-started the process of getting him removed from the Conservative caucus. Some MPs publicly voiced their approval on social media, but privately concerns were immediately raised about the bar O'Toole was setting. The party prides itself on collecting donations from hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters. Vetting them all against an unclear standard would be challenging, if not outright impossible. Sloan was first elected as the MP for the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and stunned many of his fellow MPs by running to lead the party not long after. He has sparked several controversies during his relatively short political life. He's been accused of racism for questioning the loyalty of the country's chief public health officer, a charge he denied. He's also suggested being LGBTQ is not a matter of science and compared a ban on therapy designed to force a person to change their gender or sexual identity to child abuse. During the leadership race, O'Toole told MPs Sloan ought not be kicked out of caucus over the remarks he made about Dr. Theresa Tam, even buying ads on social media trumpeting that position. The fact a donation would be the thing that finally turned O'Toole against Sloan raised some eyebrows. "That he plays silly-bugger word games that homosexuality is a choice should have disqualified him. But kicking him out over a donation from a racist who disguised his identity? So many good reasons to kick him out. Not sure this is one," wrote longtime Conservative operative and strategist Chisholm Pothier on Twitter. "Glad he’s gone. But ends justifying the means is easy, principled politics is hard." The Liberals had been calling for months for O'Toole to eject Sloan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he was pleased O'Toole was showing leadership. "Political parties need to remain vigilant, particularly in the wake of what we see in the United States, from the infiltration or the active presence of fringe or extremist or violent or unacceptable or intolerant elements," Trudeau said at a news conference. "And that's something that we constantly need to work towards as all politicians in Canada." Trudeau, however, did not address whether Fromm's organizations would also see money they received in COVID-19 supports clawed back as well. Fromm has been connected to Holocaust-deniers and other white nationalist groups for years. Sloan cited Fromm's use of his first name in making the donation in saying he was unaware of the source of the funds. Fromm also holds a membership in the Conservative party, voted in the leadership race, and had registered for a virtual convention the party is holding in March, none of which had raised red flags before Monday's revelation. Late Tuesday, the party said Fromm's membership would be revoked and he would not be allowed to participate in the convention. In an interview, Fromm said he's never met Sloan, and while Sloan's policies did appeal to him, he argued that to suggest his money, membership or desire to participate in the convention taints Sloan or the party is ridiculous. "I think basically, somebody is out to get Sloan and are prepared to use just about anything," he said. O'Toole won the leadership last year thanks in part to Sloan's supporters, whom he'd courted. Ever since, he has faced questions about how he'll broaden the appeal of the party, given the strength of its social-conservative wing. That faction was already gearing up to try to play an outsized role at the party's policy convention in March, organizing to advance several socially conservative positions through policy motions and ensuring they had enough delegates to make them pass. Their efforts were spurred on by Sloan, who had been pushing people to sign up as delegates, a move viewed within caucus as challenging O'Toole. Sloan has said he'll fight efforts to expel him. He noted he told the party to return Fromm's donation as soon as he was made aware of it, and wasn't sure what more he could have done. He declined to say what he was hoping to achieve at the convention, saying he is now focused on what he called the fight of his life. "O'Toole ran a leadership campaign on fighting cancel culture and promoting a big-tent version of the Conservative party," Sloan said. "And I hope that he has not jettisoned that in favour of perceived short-term political gain." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
The U.S. Secret Service opened an investigation into comedian John Mulaney over jokes believed to be made about President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” last year, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Mulaney, 38, revealed last month that the Secret Service had investigated the comedian and “SNL” alum for “inappropriate jokes about President Trump” after he made a joke about Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who was stabbed to death by a group of senators on the Ides of March. The file obtained by the AP through Freedom of Information Act request showed the bureau contacted NBC but did not interview the comedian for its inquiry, which found no wrongdoing. “Another thing that happened under Julius Caesar, he was such a powerful maniac that all the senators grabbed knives, and they stabbed him to death. That would be an interesting thing if we brought that back now,” Mulaney said to laughter from the audience. The joke was said during Mulaney’s opening monologue during the “Saturday Night Live” broadcast on Feb. 29, 2020. The Secret Service noted other remarks during the monologue, including: “I asked my lawyer if I could make that joke, he said, let me call another lawyer, and that lawyer said yes. I don’t dwell on politics, but I dislike the Founding Fathers immensely. ... I hate when people are like, God has never created such a great group of men than the Founding Fathers. Yeah, the ’92 Bulls. ... That’s a perfect metaphor for the United States. When I was a boy, the United States was like Michael Jordan in 1992. Now the United States it like Michael Jordan now.” Two days after Mulaney’s “SNL” monologue, law enforcement officials contacted Thomas McCarthy, the global chief security officer and senior vice-president at NBC Universal, to express the agency’s desire to discuss the joke with the comedian's attorneys. The Secret Service file included a report from Breitbart entitled, “SNL: John Mulaney Jokes that Senators Should Stab Trump Like Julius Caesar.” The investigation into Mulaney was opened in March and closed in December, five days after the comedian revealed the investigation during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. The Secret Service file notes that Mulaney made no direct threats towards Trump. “The person vetting me was very understanding that the joke had nothing to do with Donald Trump because it was an elliptical reference to him,” Mulaney said to Kimmel. “I didn’t say anything about him. In terms of risk assessment, no one who’s ever looked at me thought I registered above a one.” He added: “I said I have been making jokes about him since 2007, so I have been making fun of him for 13 years,” Mulaney said. “They said if it’s a joke, then I am cleared by the Secret Service.” —— LaPorta reported from Delray Beach, Florida. James Laporta, The Associated Press
IMMOBILIER. Tel que rapporté, selon les données colligées par JLR, une société d’Equifax, 899 préavis d’exercice (prise en paiement, vente sous contrôle de justice, vente par le créancier et prise de possession à des fins d’administration) ont été émis au cours du quatrième trimestre de 2020. Ce qui représente une baisse de 46 % par rapport à la même période un an plus tôt. Pour l’ensemble de l’année, les publications d’actes de ce type se sont élevées à 3916, une chute de 42 % comparativement à 2019. Le nombre de préavis diminuait légèrement avant la pandémie une tendance qui se poursuivait depuis 2016 grâce à une économie et un marché immobilier en croissance rapporte JLR. «La baisse s’est grandement accrue à partir de la mi-mars, soit lors de l’arrivée de la pandémie et de la mise en place de mesures d’aide. Peu de temps après la mise sur pause de l’économie, une possibilité pour les ménages ayant perdu tout, ou une partie, de leurs revenus de reporter leurs paiements hypothécaires de six mois a été annoncée. Ceci, combiné à l’octroi de la PCU à plusieurs citoyens dans le besoin, a réduit de manière importante les processus de reprise hypothécaire, ce qui est contraire à ce qui s’observe habituellement lors d’une crise économique», indique-t-on. Un total de 296 délaissements a été publié au Registre foncier au cours du quatrième trimestre de 2020, une chute de 26 % relativement à la même période en 2019. Un recul qui s’amenuise depuis deux trimestres pour ces immeubles hypothéqués abandonnés volontairement au profit de son créancier ou d’un jugement qui l’ordonne.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal