Choppy waters on an overcast day at Whiteway shore.
Choppy waters on an overcast day at Whiteway shore.
A small town congregation's defiance of COVID-19 public health orders and the community's surveillance of parishioners have created a toxic environment that could come to a head Friday when a judge decides whether to lock the doors of the Church of God in Aylmer, Ont. The church, Pastor Henry Hildenbrandt and Assistant Pastor Patrick Wall were found in contempt of court for continuing in-person services despite a court order to stop to meet COVID-19 restrictions. Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas must now decide what penalty, if any, to impose. "This whole thing has turned one small community in Ontario into a cauldron of hostility, one that has pitted neighbour against neighbour. I am deeply concerned about the toxic environment in Aylmer," Thomas told virtual court Thursday. "This congregation and these people, although different than the mainstream population of southwestern Ontario, were living in peace and tranquility in this community in the past. Now, I see a splintered community, a fractious community." The town church is one of several in Canada that are challenging the constitutionality of public health orders that prohibit gatherings, including church services. Those will be heard in October. Locking the doors of churches in Canada is a poignant symbol of our democracy under threat. - Lisa Bildy, Aylmer, Ont., church's lawyer At the beginning of the pandemic last year, the southwestern Ontario church held drive-in services, which were prohibited by provincial law, and then escalated to 200-person gatherings within the building, with no physical distancing or mask wearing. Hildebrandt's sermons, in front of a large congregation, are available on YouTube and Facebook as shown in this image. (Church of God at Aylmer/YouTube) The church, and its pastors and parishioners have been ticketed multiple times by Aylmer police. But physically locking all the exterior doors, as the Crown has asked, goes too far, argued Lisa Bildy, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which represents the church. "Locking the doors of churches in Canada is a poignant symbol of our democracy under threat," she said. "This was two weeks to flatten the curve and has become 60 weeks and counting. No outbreaks have been traced to the church... I don't think we should be locking church doors in this country. Church is fundamental to these people." Welcomes further fines Many church members come from a Mennonite tradition, speak Low German (a variety or dialect of the language), and dress in modest clothing as a way to signal that church for them is way of life, not just something to attend on Sunday, Bildy said. They [Church of God] are flouting the law and public health orders. Locking the door is the only way to ensure they won't access the building. - Connie Vernon, Crown lawyer "Pastor Hildebrandt didn't set out to be defiant, he didn't set out to be a figurehead in a movement. He wanted his parishioners to have some community," she said. He has now embraced the role of figurehead, said Bildy. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hildebrandt has embraced the No More Lockdowns movement, including a 2,000-person rally against COVID-19 restrictions in the small town. He has preached that the virus doesn't exist and encouraged defiance of provincial lockdown rules. His sermons, in front of a large congregation, are available on YouTube and Facebook. The church and its pastors have "committed themselves to publicly and continuously defy the public health measures," said Crown lawyer Connie Vernon in her arguments to the court. "They have stated clearly that they plan to breach any court order, they have encouraged civil disobedience, they've encouraged others to come to the church," she said. "It is clear that [Hildebrandt] welcomes further fines and will continue to open the church. They are flouting the law and public health orders. Locking the door is the only way to ensure they won't access the building. There is nothing to suggest that they will stop inviting people in." The Crown wants: All exterior doors locked until there are no more public health orders. For Hildebrandt and his assistant pastor to be fined $10,000 each. For the church to be fined $50,000. For the church to pay for $100,000 in court fees. Bildy argued the court fees are much too steep and the monetary penalties too high. If the doors are locked, the pastor should be allowed to access the building sometimes to check on it, and they should be unlocked when public health orders are less restrictive. Hundreds of people stand by the side of the main street in Aylmer, Ont., before a rally and march to protest public health measures. (Kate Dubinski/CBC) Thomas said he will make his decision Thursday, but added he doesn't see Hildebrandt as a passive player in the movement against public health orders. "He has chosen the role he now has. He has chosen to be the spokesperson for the infringement of rights," said Thomas. "He uses his pulpit as a pulpit to exert an argument to others to follow his example. It's not about the word of his God, it's also about the concerns that he is exhorting others to breach the regulations. He's chosen to be the face, front and centre of this movement."
SEVEROMORSK, Russia (AP) — A top Russian admiral complained Thursday about increased NATO military activities near the country's borders, describing them as a threat to regional security. Adm. Alexander Moiseyev, the commander of Russia's Northern Fleet, said that NATO navy ships' presence in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea have reached levels unseen since World War II. Speaking to reporters onboard the Northern Fleet's flagship, the Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) missile cruiser, at its Arctic base of Severomorsk, Moiseyev charged that NATO drills have edged closer to Russian borders, and noted increasingly frequent flights by U.S. nuclear-capable strategic bombers. “Such actions are provocative and have a negative impact on regional security,” Moiseyev said. He voiced particular concern about the U.S. military assets on the territory of NATO ally Norway that borders Russia, charging that it has led to an “increase of the conflict potential in the Arctic.” Ties between Russia and the West have plummeted to post-Cold War lows after the 2014 Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and Moscow’s support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern over the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders. Russia and the alliance also have blamed each other for conducting destabilizing military exercises near the borders. Last month, a massive build-up of Russian troops alongside the Ukrainian border fueled concerns in Ukraine and the West. The Kremlin rejected Western worries, charging that the troops don't threaten anyone, but it also warned Ukrainian authorities against trying to use force to reclaim control of the rebel east. The Associated Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's recent letter calling on the federal government to further restrict travel into and across Canada is an attempt to deflect attention away from the third pandemic wave rampaging through the province, says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. "I would encourage the premier to look at his data, listen to his health experts and let's act on the facts. And frankly, we see an effort to deflect and distract from a very serious concern that everyone has in Ontario," Blair told guest host David Common on CBC News Network's Power & Politics Thursday. "I know they've got some serious problems ... in their workplaces and in their social gatherings but their own data tells us … they had 2,320 cases reported in Ontario yesterday. Zero of those were related to travel, so frankly I would disagree." The Ford government sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau another letter this week restating requests it made in previous letters. The provincial government says it wants Ottawa to reduce the number of international flights allowed to arrive in Canada, require that Canadians take pre-departure tests before flying domestically and extend quarantine measures at Canada's airports to the land border with the United States. Blair dismissed the suggestion of restricting international flights further, saying all non-essential travel to Canada was halted 14 months ago. He also said international travel is down by 96 per cent and Canadians are returning home from abroad because they have a right to do so. As for Ford's request that domestic travellers be required to take a polymerase chain reaction test — commonly known as a PCR test — for COVID-19 before they travel, Blair said the federal government is willing to help but internal travel restrictions are a provincial responsibility. "If the premier wants to implement measures restricting travel into Ontario from anywhere domestically in Canada, he has the authority to do that and we're happy to work with him," Blair said. Land border measures working: Blair On Feb. 22, the federal government implemented new quarantine measures at airports requiring all air travellers returning from non-essential trips abroad to isolate in a federally designated facility for up to 72 hours while they await the results of a PCR test that they must take upon arrival. The three-day mandatory quarantine stay at a federally designated facility can cost as much as $2,000 per person. Ford said he wants those measures extended to the land border. "There are 117 land border points across this country and many of them are hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest hotel," said Blair. "The safest and most effective way to manage people who are arriving at our borders by land is by the system that we have put in place." Blair said Canadians returning by land from the U.S. while contained in their cars, with their families, and going directly home after their tests to quarantine for two weeks "is the safest way to manage those people." "All of the requirements of pre-arrival testing, post-arrival testing and 14 day quarantine are enforced vigorously at our land borders, and in fact we have 99.6 per cent compliance," he said. "And when people are not compliant with that, there are substantial consequences and fines that are imposed."
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's leading Jewish group on Thursday sharply condemned protests in front of a synagogue in the western city of Gelsenkirchen as “pure antisemitism.” Several other German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover have seen anti-Israeli protests over the past few days. At least two synagogues were attacked, and several Israeli flags were torn down and burned since the latest eruption of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Central Council of Jews in Germany tweeted a video of dozens of protesters in Gelsenkirchen waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and yelling expletives about Jews. “Jew hatred in the middle of Gelsenkirchen in front of the synagogue. The times in which Jews were cursed in the middle of the street should have long been over. This is pure antisemitism, nothing else!” the group tweeted. The German government repeatedly condemned anti-Israeli and antisemitic attacks earlier this week and said that “the perpetrators must be found and held responsible and Jewish institutions must be protected thoroughly.” On Thursday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Funke Media Group that “there must be zero tolerance for attacks on synagogues in our country.” “All of us are called on to make it very clear that we do not accept if Jews in Germany are made responsible for the events in the Middle East — neither in the streets nor on social media,” Maas added. The protests in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday were dispersed by police, German news agency dpa reported, but authorities reported further incidents in other parts of the country. Some cities which had hoisted Israeli flags in front of their city halls on Wednesday in remembrance of the start of German-Israeli diplomatic relations on May 12, 1965, reported that the flags were torn down and sometimes burned. An Israeli flag in front of a city hall in the western town of Solingen was torn and burnt and two Israeli flags in Berlin were also torn down late Wednesday night. On Tuesday night, police stopped 13 suspects in the western city of Muenster near a synagogue after an Israeli flag was burned there. In the western city of Bonn, police said several people damaged the entrance of a synagogue with stones and investigators found a burned flag as well. In nearby Duesseldorf, somebody burned garbage on top of a memorial for a former synagogue. Several cities and states in Germany have since upped their security and raised police presence in front of Jewish institutions, dpa reported. In Berlin, some 100 people also assembled for a pro-Israel rally on Wednesday night in front of the city's landmark Brandenburg Gate waving Israeli flags and holding a banner saying “We stand with Israel — Now and Forever." Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press
A driver who travelled from their home in North Vancouver to Vancouver Island has become the first person in B.C. to be fined for breaking current restrictions on non-essential travel. RCMP initially pulled over the driver, who was not identified, for driving offences on southern Vancouver Island on May 1. An officer spoke with the driver and determined their reason for being on the Island was not essential. The officer issued a $575 ticket under the Emergency Program Act and told the driver "to return to the Lower Mainland immediately," according to a statement. The driver was also ticketed for the initial driving offences. Travel boundaries Non-essential travel in B.C. is limited to three regions, which are areas covered by the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities; the Northern and Interior health authorities; and Vancouver Island. RCMP has set up road checks on highway corridors connecting the mainland regional zones to uphold the rules. No tickets have been issued at any of the checks established so far on highways 1, 3, 5 and 99. There are no check stops in place around BC Ferries terminals. Ferry staff are being instructed to ask passengers for their reason for travelling, and are refusing to accept bookings for recreational vehicles such as campers and trailers. RCMP Supt. Holly Turton, the officer in charge of the B.C. Highway Patrol Unit said many non-essential travellers stopped at the highway checks have turned around voluntarily after RCMP refreshed them on the rules. "I've been very impressed by the fact the people we've encountered at these road checks, by and large the vast, vast majority, are clearly engaging in essential travel. We've had to turn around very few people," Turton said.
The family of a paramedic who died after waiting too long for an ambulance is taking the province's Health Ministry to court, and it's hoping legal action will force them to finally address the need for better emergency services in Lévis, Que. Hugo St-Onge died in 2017 after going into cardiac arrest. He was 24 years old. It took 20 minutes for the ambulance to show up — twice as long as the North American standard for response time. The lack of ambulance services in the municipality located just south of Quebec City has been well documented. A month before he died, St-Onge was among those who signed an open letter denouncing the lack of ambulance coverage in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. "He died for nothing," said the 24-year-old's parents, Johanne Lapointe and Bruno St-Onge, in an interview with Radio-Canada. They say more than three years after his death, they still have difficulty sleeping, waking up in the middle of night thinking about their son. Ambulance resources in the area so thin that after paramedics showed up to a home last May, they were dispatched to another call deemed more urgent and left before checking on the woman who needed assistance. She died later that night, also of cardiac arrest. Johanne Lapointe and Bruno St-Onge say they still have difficulty sleeping, more than three years after their son's death. (Radio-Canada) In regards to St-Onge's death, the coroner's report last July found that there were three ambulances in the area when the 24-year-old was in distress. They were all busy. The closest available team was 13 kilometres away in a nearby town. Since that report, the province's Health Ministry has managed to add a total of 16 extra service hours in Lévis. Ambulance workers in the area say they 160 extra service hours — ten times more what the ministry has added. St-Onge's family is suing the Health Ministry, the regional health board for Chaudière-Appalaches and the 911 call centre for $520,000. Both the ministry and the health board have declined to comment. St-Onge's parents feel they must continue advocating for better ambulance services in Lévis, given that their son spoke out about that same issue prior to his death. "For Hugo, for the family, we feel like we have to push forward," Lapointe said. "When Hugo died, everyone in the family was shattered. Today, we pick up the pieces, we put the pieces together as best we can."
Heather Langley says her nine-year-old daughter, Lucy, loves school so much, even the bus ride is a moment of unbridled joy for the Grade 3 student from Halifax. "From the moment that she is assisted to get on the bus, she's squealing with joy, ready to start her day," said Langley in an interview from her Clayton Park home. She said Lucy, who does not speak and needs constant one-on-one support, is a "little bit of a star" at Burton Ettinger Elementary School in Fairview, going class to class each day to greet the other children. But since the end of April, those classrooms have been empty. Lucy, like all kids across Nova Scotia, is expected to learn from home, over a computer screen, now that schools have closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 'For my child, there is nothing' Premier Iain Rankin said last week he's heard from the minister and deputy minister of education that remote learning is "going well," but some parents of students who require additional supports at school say their children are falling between the cracks. "I would like the premier to know that they're not going well, they're not going at all," said Langley. "For my child, there is nothing. Lucy and children like her, I think have just disappeared from their classroom. They're not online. They can't be." Tracey Edwards, whose seven-year-old twins are on the autism spectrum, said instead of consulting the minister or department bureaucrats, Rankin should've talked to parents like her. "I'm at my wit's end," said Edwards. "It's not fair to my children that they are being left out." A good year, interrupted Up until now, Edwards said her children, Zoe and Zachary, have had a good school year. "This year has been absolutely wonderful," she said. "My daughter, Zoe, she will stand at [the] door and she will just go, 'Bus, bus, bus,' 10 or 15 minutes while we're waiting for that bus to come around." Zachary has become more independent and is excelling at school, said Edwards. "He still needs his help to keep him focused and stuff, but he's actually doing academic work, which is really nice to see," she said. Online learning not meeting needs But Edwards said neither child has been getting much out of at-home learning. "They come on and they sing a song with the kids. They show a video. We do a dance. We do some stretching. We read a poem, and then they're gone. And it's 30 minutes a day," she said. "With special needs [children], there is no online version of learning. I am sorry. There is just not." Likewise, Langley said Lucy can't do computer-based learning. "She's not a child that can sit quietly and amuse herself," said Langley. "If you put an iPad in front of her [or] a computer, she's more likely to throw it." Calls for N.S. to follow other provinces' lead The two mothers are calling on Nova Scotia to follow the example of the other Atlantic provinces and allow some students who need extra supports or care to return to class, even during lockdowns. "I think they have the time right now to vaccinate the EPAs [Educational Program Assistants], vaccinate the learning centre teachers so that they are protected," said Langley. "We would happily take daily rapid tests, whatever kind of test they asked us to, if that meant that Lucy could safely return." When schools were preparing to reopen last fall, the province said in its back-to-school plan it would continue to provide "excellent supports to students to support inclusive education." But the plan also stated that support would be virtual if schools closed again as a result of COVID-19. No plans to reopen schools yet The Halifax Regional Centre for Education said it has worked with families who are struggling with online learning to try to find accommodations, but reopening classrooms is not part of the plan. "We recognize that none of this replaces face-to-face time between learners and teachers/support staff," spokesperson Kelly Connors said in an email. "We know the best place for children is in school, but at this time, we all have to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19." Heather and Lucy at her daycare graduation ceremony.(Submitted by Heather Langley) When asked why Nova Scotia has adopted a different approach than some other provinces for students who require assistance to learn, a spokesperson for the Education Department would only say the decision to learn from home was made in consultation with Public Health. Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said May 4 he expected online learning to last at least a few more weeks. "Getting kids back in school, in-school learning, has been one of our priorities throughout the whole pandemic, and it will be a priority as we start to look at when we can reopen things," he said at the time. "But it can only be done when we are in a position where we have low risk in communities, which then creates safe schools." MORE TOP STORIES
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The Jesuit priest who presided over an inaugural Mass for President Joe Biden has resigned his position as president of Santa Clara University in Northern California, college officials said, after an investigation found he engaged in inappropriate, alcohol-fueled conversations with graduate students. The Rev. Kevin O’Brien, at the direction of Jesuit officials, has begun a therapeutic outpatient program to address personal issues, including alcohol and stress counseling. He had been president of Santa Clara University since July 2019 and was placed on leave in March. The university announced O'Brien's departure in a statement to the campus community on Wednesday that included messages from acting President Lisa Kloppenberg and board of trustees Chair John M. Sobrato. O'Brien had notified the board of his resignation Sunday and the trustees accepted it the next day. The private Jesuit institution in the Silicon Valley, founded in 1851 as the first Jesuit university in the West, is ranked as one of the top 25 schools for undergraduate teaching nationwide. California Govs. Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown are among its alumni. In a letter to the university community dated Wednesday, O’Brien wrote that he hopes to return to active ministry as a Jesuit priest after he completes the four- to six-month outpatient program. He did not give details about his conduct, writing only that there had been “accounts of my behavior over the past year in certain social settings with adults that did not meet the highest standards of decorum expected of me as a Jesuit.” “After much prayer and thought and out of deep love for Santa Clara, I have concluded that the best service I can offer to our beloved university is to step aside now," he wrote. O’Brien has known the Bidens for about 15 years; they met when he was serving at Georgetown University, another Jesuit college. O'Brien gave the service at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the most prominent Catholic churches in Washington, in January for Biden, who is the nation’s second Catholic president, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, their families and elected officials before the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. He also presided over services for Biden’s inaugurations as vice president. “This is a challenging time for Santa Clara, but Fr. O’Brien has shown both generosity and freedom in wanting to do what is best for the university,” said the Rev. Scott Santarosa, head of the Jesuits West Province that conducted the investigation, in a statement. “With care for the faculty, staff, students and entire Santa Clara community, he has decided to step down.” Sobrato's statement said the investigation found that O'Brien “engaged in behaviors, consisting primarily of conversations, during a series of informal dinners with Jesuit graduate students that were inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.” The dinners involved alcohol, Sobrato wrote, but no inappropriate behavior was discovered outside of these events. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, on Wednesday called for the Jesuits to broaden the investigation to other places O'Brien previously worked, including Georgetown University, to see if other students would come forward. “SNAP is alarmed with the limited amount of information that has been provided about the case and wants to see the probe expanded,” the statement said. The Associated Press
Ontario is looking to begin vaccinating children between the ages of 12 to 17 in June using the Pfizer vaccine. The news comes as the province continues expanding vaccine eligibility. Marianne Dimain reports.
Five patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. The outbreak, declared on Tuesday, is taking place in the hospital's medicine unit. Four of those infected are in-patients while the fifth person had been discharged prior to the outbreak declaration, hospital president and CEO Lori Marshall told reporters during a media briefing Thursday morning. Fifty staff members have been tested for COVID-19 in relation to the outbreak, none of whom has tested positive as of Thursday morning. Marshall said that additional preventative measures are in place during the outbreak, which is believed to involve a COVID-19 variant of concern. Overall, the hospital has 17 COVID-19 patients, three of whom are in ICU, Marshall said. Eleven of the patients are residents of Chatham-Kent, while six are non-residents. The hospital is one of many in Ontario accepting transfers of COVID and non-COVID patients from hospitals facing capacity issues amid the third wave of the pandemic. The average age of COVID-19 in-patients as of Thursday is 48.2, she said.
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island said Thursday they are concerned a case of COVID-19 tied to a daycare centre in Charlottetown may have spread beyond the facility. The case is likely travel-related and involves someone in their 20s who works at Leaps and Bounds Childcare Centre, chief medical officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters. "We really are going to need to focus on trying to see if we can contain and manage any potential spread that may have happened in this situation," she said. The centre takes care of between 38 and 40 children and has eight staff. Morrison said the daycare will be closed and children, staff and their close contacts will be tested and asked to isolate as they wait for results. Morrison said early contact tracing indicates the case may involve a close contact of someone who recently travelled, adding that it's too early to say if additional restrictions are needed in the capital. Premier Dennis King told reporters he has asked Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay to help people affected by the daycare closing to access federal support payments. The province has seven active reported cases of COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
The Halifax Regional Municipality is set to provide a written apology and damages to a man who won a human rights case against two city police officers who racially discriminated against him. Gyasi Symonds filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission after two white officers followed him into his place of work to issue a jaywalking ticket. Symonds, who is Black, said constables Steve Logan and Pierre-Paul Cadieux were aggressive when they confronted him in 2017. The constables had given him a warning after witnessing him jaywalk across Gottingen Street earlier in the morning. They alleged he did it again minutes later, justifying their decision to show up at his work. Symonds was adamant when he spoke at the commission that he crossed the second time in the crosswalk. He described feeling like he was hunted down and humiliated when the officers confronted him at his work. A commissionaire working in the lobby of his office building backed up Symonds's account of the exchange, and said she was shocked by the actions of the officers. The decision by the board of inquiry ordered the city to apologize and pay Symonds $15,232. Jacques Dubé, the municipality's CAO, said HRM accepts the outcome of the case. "The municipality is committed to addressing anti-Black racism in our workplaces and communities, and will continue to take steps to advance change," he said in a news release. Officers to take training Dubé said the two Halifax Regional Police officers will also take part in a new training program developed with the Black community. "There is still much work to do in removing barriers to equity and inclusion," said Dubé. He said the municipality is working on an anti-Black racism strategy that will be presented to regional council in June. The news release did not specify when Symonds will receive his written apology. MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — A homegrown mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 shows promising results in its first small trial and its maker is hoping to test it directly against the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech. Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics says its vaccine produced no serious adverse events and developed good antibodies against COVID-19 that "compare favourably" with the two mRNA vaccines already on the market from Pfizer and Moderna. "We're extremely pleased," said Providence CEO Brad Sorenson. The Phase 1 trial included 60 healthy adults between 18 and 64, with more than half of them receiving two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The results have not yet been peer-reviewed. Sorenson said the next step is supposed to be a Phase 2 head-to-head trial that would test the effectiveness of Providence against Pfizer. Most vaccines in Phase 2 have been tested only against a placebo, but Sorenson said in a pandemic he feels it is unethical to give someone a placebo when they could otherwise be vaccinated. But to do the trial, Providence needs 500 doses of Pfizer, which he said neither the company nor the National Research Council has been willing to provide. A spokeswoman for Pfizer said Thursday the company's focus is only on getting the vaccine to meet an "urgent public health need" and will only sell its vaccine to the federal government. "As such, we are not providing supply of our vaccine to third-parties to study the vaccine in comparative trials," said Christina Antoniou. Pfizer is the main component of Canada's vaccination campaign to date, accounting for two-thirds of the deliveries as of this week. A spokesman for Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government has informed Providence Ottawa is willing to help fund its Phase 2 trial, and continue to work with the company. "Minister Champagne has spoken directly with Providence Therapeutics’ CEO and the chair of their board of directors to discuss our continued support for their work as they bring their vaccine candidate through the early stages of development," said John Power. A spokesman for the National Research Council said it doesn't have access to doses of Pfizer or Moderna to help Providence, but is discussing the request with other departments that might be able to help, including Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Sorenson said Providence is also discussing with the World Health Organization the possibility of doing a Phase 3 trial in a developing country. Sorenson said if Health Canada supports both trials, they could be wrapped up by the end of the year. But Sorenson said he doesn't feel supported by Ottawa and has threatened to take the business outside the country. The company has production agreements in place that should be able to produce 200 million doses a year, he said. Providence is one of six Canadian companies that received funding from the National Research Council for COVID-19 vaccines that were in early stages of development. The company received $4.9 million last October to help fund its Phase 1 trial. It also received $5 million in January from the next-generation manufacturing supercluster to help scale up its manufacturing of mRNA. Canada currently doesn't make any of the vaccines it is using — Pfizer is being made in Europe and the United States, Canada's doses of Moderna are all coming from Europe, and Oxford-AstraZeneca is coming from the United States, India and South Korea. The only Canadian-made vaccine among the seven procured by Canada for COVID-19 to date is Medicago's plant-based protein vaccine, which is now in a Phase 3 trial and could be ready for mass production before the end of the year. Medicago received $173 million in October to push its vaccine forward as well as an undisclosed sum for a contract to provide Canada at least 20 million doses if it is approved. Some of it will be made in Canada, but production will also take place in the U.S. A lack of domestic drug manufacturing hurt Canada's vaccination program, particularly early on, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is intent on fixing that ahead of the next global health crisis. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
A police operation sparked by reports of shots fired in a Moncton, N.B., park ended Thursday, with no suspect arrested and no indication of whether any evidence was found. After hours of the RCMP telling residents by Twitter to stay in their homes and lock their doors, the force issued an Alert Ready message just after 6 p.m. AT telling them the operation in the Centennial Park area of Moncton had ended. "Residents may exit their homes and return to normal activities," said the message. In an interview, RCMP spokesperson Corp. Hans Ouellette said Codiac RCMP responded to a report around 8:30 a.m. that a vehicle was struck by bullets on Killam Drive near Millennium Boulevard. The shots appeared to have come from the woods of nearby Centennial Park, prompting the closure of the park and the issuing of the Alert Ready message telling residents to stay inside and away from the area. Ouellette said after hours of officers searching the park, including with help from a helicopter, no evidence was found that warranted keeping the area contained. "There were some people that were asked to stay in their homes," he said. "Those people can now return to their regular activities." Though the area is no longer contained, Ouellette said RCMP officers continue to search it. "I couldn't disclose anything that we have found just for the integrity of the investigation. What I can say is that, you know, we're still actively investigating this and no arrests have been made. "And we're also asking people who ... may have dashcam video or video or pictures of, you know, anything that would have occurred between 8 and 9 a.m., to give the Codiac Regional RCMP a call." Ouellette couldn't say what kind of gun was involved in the shooting. Pickup truck seen with bullet holes in it Steven Parker, owner of Boyd's Auto Body on Millennium Boulevard, said he was at his shop on Thursday morning when a pickup truck stopped on the street in front of his business with two gunshots holes on the rear door and the rear windows broken. Parker said the driver got out and the two of them spoke briefly before about 10 police cars arrived. Steven Parker, owner of Boyd's Auto Body in Millennium Boulevard, said he was at his business on Thursday morning when he saw a pickup truck pull up with two bullet holes and smashed rear windows.(Submitted by Steven Parker) "[The driver] was kind of panicky. He was very nervous," Parker said, adding the man told him he'd been shot at higher up the street. Parker said the police blocked off the street and officers could be seen searching the pickup truck. Students, staff locked in The incident prompted lockdown and hold-and-secure responses from schools in the area, including Bernice MacNaughton High School, Bessborough School, Hillcrest Middle School, Harrison Trimble High School, École Sainte-Bernadette and École Le Sommet. By late afternoon, Anglophone East School District announced all students had been safely dismissed from schools previously under lockdown. In a tweet Thursday evening, the district said schools will be open on Friday. The incident also prompted the closure of Horizon Health Network's COVID-19 Assessment Centre and blood collection clinic at the Moncton Coliseum. "If you had an appointment, please DO NOT go to the Coliseum," Horizon said, in an online notice. The public first learned about the police operation in a morning tweet from the RCMP, about an hour after the report of gunshots. Then at 10:17 a.m., an RCMP Alert Ready message said the force was responding to shots fired in the Centennial Park area, and for residents to lock their doors, stay away from windows and shelter in place. In a tweet around 4:30 p.m., the RCMP said an Alert Ready update would be issued "once the search was concluded and it was safe for residents in the area to resume their daily activities."
Ottawa has announced $2.73 million to build affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness in one of the largest Mi'kmaw communities in Nova Scotia. The 20-unit project in the Sipekne'katik First Nation will be constructed through the federal rapid housing initiative, with half of the units targeted to women and children. "This 20 that will go into our community, we're very grateful and we're happy to have," Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said Thursday in a video conference. Sack said the contribution will help the housing crisis in Sipekne'katik, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to solve the issue. A home needs assessment completed two years ago found houses in the community needed $10 million in improvements to bring them up to standards, he said. The First Nation's housing list also indicated a need for 395 homes. A first step "This is an important investment," Kody Blois, the Liberal MP for Kings-Hants, said during the conference. "We know that this is not going to solve all issues in Sipekne'katik, but we have to start somewhere." The project received $681,340 from the Sipekne'katik First Nation, including $100,000 provided to Sipekne'katik by Indigenous Services Canada. Last month, the federal government announced $3.16 million in funding for 24 affordable housing units in the Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation and We'koqma'q First Nation as part of the rapid housing initiative. The $1-billion initiative was announced last fall to initially create up to 3,000 permanent, affordable housing units across the country. An additional $1.5 billion for the initiative was included in the recent federal budget. Original target tripled "This new funding of $1.5 billion in budget 2021 will more than triple our total target to over 9,200 units built under the rapid housing initiative," said Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of families, children and social development. "That means over 9,000 families will now have a safe and affordable place to call home." Hussen said at least 25 per cent of the new funding will go toward women-focused housing projects. All units will be constructed within 12 months of when funding is provided to the applicants. "Together we'll ensure that most vulnerable members of our communities are safe and sound," he said. HRM housing projects Last December, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said roughly $8.6 million would be used to fund rapid housing initiatives in the municipality. The funding would be shared among Adsum House, the North End Community Health Association and the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre. MORE TOP STORIES
The Liberal government's controversial new broadcasting bill won't infringe upon the free speech rights of social media users, according to a new analysis report produced by the Department of Justice. Justice Minister David Lametti oversaw the analysis of Bill C-10 at the request of MPs on the House of Commons heritage committee after recent amendments raised concerns. Critics of the bill cried foul after committee members removed an exemption that would have excluded user-generated content posted to social media sites from regulation by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the country's broadcasting regulator. Internet law experts and opposition MPs said removing that protection would give the CRTC the power to regulate the posts that millions of Canadians upload every day to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube — something they saw as a violation of the charter right to freedom of expression. Bill consistent with charter, analysis finds In its analysis, the government concludes the bill is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — in part because an existing clause in the bill states that social media users who are not affiliated with the site itself won't be be subject to regulation when they upload audio and visual content. "The effect of the proposed removal of [the user-generated content exclusion clause] is that an online undertaking that provides a social media service could be subject to regulation under the Act in respect of the programs uploaded by its unaffiliated users," the analysis reads, which was obtained by CBC News. "However, Clause 1 (section 2(2.1)) remains. This means that unaffiliated users of social media services would not be subject to broadcasting regulation in respect of the programs they post." The analysis also points out that the CRTC is compelled to fulfil its regulatory duties in a manner that is consistent with freedom of expression and the charter. LISTEN: What is Bill C-10 and why is everyone so upset about it? Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault introduced Bill C-10 to update the Broadcasting Act for an era when Canadians increasingly consume music, movies, TV shows, videos and podcasts either online or through mobile apps. The bill would allow the CRTC to request information from foreign streaming services and app companies about how much revenue they make in Canada, compel them to pay into funds that support Canadian musicians, writers and artists, and require them to make Canadian content more visible on their platforms. The committee suspended its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-10 this week in order to wait for the charter analysis. Guilbeault is expected to appear before the committee on Friday, along with officials from the justice department, to answer questions from MPs. C-10 could be subject to charter challenge, says expert Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in internet law, said the government's analysis doesn't engage with the main concern that has emerged about Bill C-10 in recent weeks. "Under Bill C-10, all user generated content is treated as a program and subject to regulation by the CRTC. Never in Canadian history has the expression of so many individuals been treated as falling within the jurisdiction of a broadcast regulator," said Geist. "Further, though there are limits to the CRTC's powers, the fact that it can prioritize or effectively de-prioritize content in the name of discoverability has a direct impact on the expression of millions of Canadians." Geist said that, if it's enacted, the bill could be subject to charter challenges and a lengthy court battle. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is calling on the Liberals to scrap Bill C-10.(Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) At a press conference today, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to scrap what he called a "terribly flawed" bill. O'Toole said a Conservative government would repeal Bill C-10 if it passes in its current form. "It is unfair to trample on the rights of Canadians, to try and mislead them by saying they must accept regulation of their social media in order to help artists," said O'Toole. "That is not only disingenuous but the deceit shows why they tried to sneak in this change."
TORONTO — Ontario is extending its stay-at-home order until June 2, a move Premier Doug Ford said was aimed at bringing down the number of COVID-19 infections while ramping up vaccinations to achieve a "two-dose summer."The government had hinted in recent days at prolonged restrictions, which will see all public schools and thousands of non-essential businesses remain closed. But many had hoped it would end a controversial ban on outdoor recreational activities that experts say are important for people's physical and mental health.Ford, however, said recreational outdoor facilities would remain closed to limit mobility and other behaviour that could contribute to spread of the virus. "They pick up another buddy, two or three go out, go golfing, there's nothing wrong with golfing," he said. "The problem is, then after golf they go back, they have some pops. That's the problem."Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath expressed disappointment with that decision.“I think it’s very clearly what leading public health and other science advisers are saying,” she said. “I think there's a lot of room to give Ontarians a break.”The Progressive Conservative premier, who has been more vocal recently in his criticism of the federal government's handling of the pandemic, took a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his recent remarks about a "one-dose summer.""I just don't believe in a one-dose summer," Ford said. "It's just not good enough. ... if we get the supply, we will work our backs off to have a two-dose summer."A spokeswoman for Ford later told The Canadian Press that the province aims to have all willing adults in Ontario fully immunized against COVID-19 by Sept. 22."So long as we receive sufficient supply from the federal government, we will work to get everyone who wants to be vaccinated fully vaccinated this summer," Ivana Yelich said in an email.The president of the Ontario Medical Association said family doctors can help the province achieve that goal."We do need to see more empowerment and capacity amongst family doctors to help their patients get vaccinated and to be able to administer in office when feasible,” Dr. Samantha Hill said.Meanwhile, the province's top doctor said he would like to see the number of daily infections drop "well below" 1,000 before Ontario lifts the stay-at-home order. "We want to open and stay open," Dr. David Williams said. "We do not want a fourth wave at all."The premier blamed Ottawa for the third wave of the pandemic, suggesting a significant number of cases of the COVID-19 variants had entered Ontario through its land, air and water borders, a claim disputed by experts.The province's own science advisers had warned the government back in February that without strict measures, the variants of concern would trigger a third wave of the pandemic that could overwhelm the health-care system. The province, however, briefly loosened restrictions despite the warning before a surge of infections forced it to impose another lockdown."The reality is, existing border measures have failed to keep the contagious variants out of Canada," Ford said. "This brutal third wave is fuelled almost entirely by variants that pass too easily through our borders."Trudeau said Thursday he was "frustrated" and "disappointed" with the Ontario premier.In an interview with Toronto television station CP24, the prime minister said Ottawa has reduced the number of international flights and is open to working with the province to enact more restrictions.“We're there to continue to support Ontarians through this difficult time in whatever ways are necessary," he said. "It's just unfortunate that Doug Ford continues to play politics.”Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also slammed Ford for being preoccupied with attacking the federal government on border issues, saying he should in stead be doing more to prevent the main source of outbreaks - workplaces."The premier is using the border to deflect from his own failures to ... avoid, or at least mitigate, the third wave," he said.Ontario declared a state of emergency and invoked the stay-at-home order in early April amid skyrocketing cases.Under the order, stores providing essential goods remain open but are only permitted to sell grocery and pharmacy items. Non-essential retailers are limited to curbside pickup and delivery. Restaurants and gyms are closed for in-person service.Ford also stressed that while he knows people are eager for some "sense of normalcy," COVID-19 variants of concern remain a risk to the province. "We need public health doctors, teachers and our labour partners to agree on the best path forward," he said. "We simply don't have that right now."Ontario reported 2,759 new COVID-19 cases today, with 31 more deaths from the virus. There are 1,632 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province, including 776 in intensive care.The president of the Ontario Hospital Association said the group "fully supports" the extension of the stay-at-home order and urged people to follow the public health measures."Hospitals are continuing to operate in a state of emergency and are doing everything they can to maintain equitable access to care," Anthony Dale said in a statement.-with files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021. ' Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
A Calgary doctor has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta after engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient, creating false entries on patient charts and failing to have a chaperone present while examining female patients, as required under a previous ruling. Dr. Wequar Ahmad, a general practitioner, voluntarily withdrew from practice in 2018 when the most recent allegations surfaced. He had signed an undertaking with the college in 2014 that required a chaperone be present for all examinations of female patients. He was recently found guilty of creating false entries on the records of 13 female patients between 2014 and 2017 that stated a chaperone was present when that was not the case, according to the college. He also engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient and failed to disclose that relationship on his 2018 annual renewal form, the college said. The college says the hearing tribunal looking at the case will "reconvene at a later date to determine Dr. Ahmad's sanction."
Canada Border Services Agency officers in B.C., say they have seized a large shipment of restricted chemicals, including a quantity of the controlled chemical substance used to produce GHB, the so called date rape drug. The agency's Pacific Region Intelligence Section intercepted the delivery of a marine container Feb. 8 containing 17,852.5 litres of GBL with an estimated street value of over $1.8 million, it said Thursday in a statement. "Through an effective and successful investigation, border services officers and intelligence personnel prevented the potential manufacture of thousands of kilograms of illegal drugs," said J.J. Chayeski, Metro Vancouver operations division director. GBL is a restricted precursor chemical and key element used in the production of a date rape drug, according to the agency. The B.C. RCMP's website says GBL is used to produce GHB, also called liquid ecstasy — a different drug than ecstasy — that is known to cause sedation and memory loss. In 2019, Nanaimo RCMP issued a public warning after two women reported feeling nauseous and lightheaded within five minutes of having a drink at a local bar. The CBSA said the investigation into the importers is ongoing.
OTTAWA (Reuters) -If the buoyant Canadian dollar continues to rise it could create headwinds for exports and business investment as well as affecting monetary policy, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said on Thursday. Canada is a major exporter of energy, lumber, minerals and agricultural products. "If it moves a lot further, that could have a material impact on our outlook and it is something we have to take into account in our setting of monetary policy."