Good contact tracing to clamp down on transmission and targeted restrictions in November have allowed British Columbia to start bending its curve again, but experts say it’s still on a knife’s edge over the holidays.
Good contact tracing to clamp down on transmission and targeted restrictions in November have allowed British Columbia to start bending its curve again, but experts say it’s still on a knife’s edge over the holidays.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska had 24,100 fewer jobs in December than a year earlier amid ongoing economic repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the state labour department reported Friday. Karinne Wiebold, a department economist, said there aren't many bright spots to glean from the December jobs report. “One possible glimmer is that we think oil and gas employment has bottomed out, so while the year over year losses are still steep, it should not get much worse,” she said by email. That sector reported about 6,800 jobs in both November and December, but the department said there's no sign yet of a “bounce.” Oil and gas employment stood around 10,000 in December 2019, the department said. Leisure and hospitality recorded the largest losses, with much of the December drop attributed to bar and restaurant restrictions in Anchorage aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, the department said. The sector had 8,600 fewer jobs than in December 2019, according to the labour department report. State government gained 500 jobs in December, compared to a year earlier, primarily due to pandemic-related hires, such as contact tracers and additional staff to help process unemployment insurance claims, the department said. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Bob Avian, a Tony Award-winning choreographer who had a role in some of the most beloved and influential shows on Broadway, including “Dreamgirls,” “A Chorus Line,” “Follies” and “Miss Saigon,” has died. He was 83. Avian died Thursday of cardiac arrest at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said Matt Polk, head of the theatrical publicity firm Polk & Co. Tony-winner Tony Yazbeck on Twitter called Avian “a sweet and kind spirit who generously gave his creative talents to legendary works.” Marvin Hamlisch said: “His legacy will live on stage for years to come.” Avian rose from a dancer in “West Side Story” and “Funny Girl” to work alongside such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Cameron Macintosh, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was with Bennett that Avian enjoyed a long professional partnership, working as associate choreographer or assistant director on such Bennett-choreographed productions as “A Chorus Line,” “Promises, Promises,” “Coco,” “Company,” “Follies, “Seesaw” and “God's Favorite.” He was a producer on the original “Dreamgirls” and “Ballroom” and did musical staging for “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close in 1994, “Putting It Together” with Carol Burnett and the original “Miss Saigon” with Lea Salonga in 1991. Avian earned six Tony nominations and won twice, for choreographing “Ballroom” and co-choreographing “A Chorus Line.” He won an Oliver Award for choreographing Boublil and Schonberg's musical “Martin Guerre” in London. He also choreographed “The Witches of Eastwick” in the West End starring Ian McShane. Avian's association with “A Chorus Line” continued when he directed the 2006 revival on Broadway and the London revival at the Palladium in 2013. He also directed touring versions. He earned a bachelor's degree from Boston University and also studied at Boston Ballet School. In 2020, his memoir “Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey” co-written with Tom Santopietro was published by University Press of Mississippi. He is survived by his husband, Peter Pileski, and a sister, Laura Nabedian. Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
For years, Jordan Murphy longed to complete her weight-loss transformation with another round of cosmetic surgery. It was a matter of finding the right time. The Toronto social media influencer knew from her prior procedures that going under the knife could require weeks of bedrest. She was also conscious of the fact that medically altered beauty doesn't come cheap. But when the COVID-19 crisis cleared her calendar, Murphy found herself with a sudden abundance of time and money she would typically spend on travel and recreation. The 27-year-old filled the hours by scrolling through social media, sizing up how her body compared to others, particularly the before-and-after photos plastic surgeons posted to their feeds. "I think it just put the idea into my head: This is the perfect time to do this," said Murphy, adding that she's been barraged by questions from her online followers since documenting her "360 lift," an operation that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, waistline and back, last summer. "(The only downside is) that I haven't been able to dress up cute and go out anywhere to rock the new bod." Murphy is one of many Canadians who plan to emerge from lockdown looking leaner, lifted or augmented in all the right places as several clinics report an uptick in demand for cosmetic procedures during the pandemic. Some cosmetic physicians say more patients are seeking out their services as the crisis has afforded people more time to scrutinize their perceived flaws, and the flexibility to get work done without raising eyebrows among friends and coworkers. But critics worry that people could be rushing into serious medical procedures as the psychological toll of the pandemic has fuelled body image issues, in part because of the distorting powers of video-chat platforms and social media. Others in the medical community, including a Quebec doctors' association, say private clinics shouldn't be performing cosmetic surgeries as COVID-19 caseloads have strained the health-care system, forcing many patients to wait for medically necessary operations. There's little data available on the number of cosmetic procedures that are performed in Canada. But according to a Google Trends analysis published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, U.S. searches for some of the most popular ones dropped off in the early months of the pandemic, before rebounding to hit two-year peaks over spring and summer of last year. This is consistent with what Dr. Mathew Mosher, president of the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is hearing from members who, in some cases, have been struggling to keep up with the increased interest in their services. "The sustained nature of the added interest has surprised many of us," said Mosher, who operates out of the YES Medspa and Cosmetic Surgery Centre in Langley, B.C. When private clinics started to reopen last spring, Mosher said surgeons were bracing for a backlog of postponed procedures, but didn't expect they'd be fielding an influx of calls from first-time patients and regulars. It's hard to gauge whether this spike in inquiries is translating into more surgical bookings, Mosher said, noting that COVID-19 precautions have curtailed many clinics' operational capacity. It also seems that demand has ebbed to some degree as many jurisdictions ramped up lockdown measures. Still, he said, it's clear that the pandemic has opened up new possibilities for patients to revamp their natural assets. While job losses have forced many Canadians into financial precarity, Mosher said those fortunate enough to have maintained a steady paycheque may have more money to spend on esthetic concerns. Moreover, he said, patients are able keep up with their professional duties while recouping at home. "Doing something that is in some ways empowering and positive has come up on the to-do list for a few more patients." While most of his patients are seizing the chance to move ahead with procedures they've been thinking about for a while, Mosher said he's also sensed a concerning "urgency" among clients who seem to be fixated on a newly detected imperfection or acting on an impulse to make a change during a stressful time. "I've seen more patients coming to the office where they frankly have been given poor advice," he said. Toronto dermatologist Dr. Julia Carroll said she credits the surge in demand for cosmetic services such as Botox, lip fillers and laser peels in part to what some have dubbed the "Zoom boom." As our conversations have shifted to video conference calls, many people are spending more time staring at their own faces, and some don't like what they see. "Most people get up in the morning, brush their teeth or put on their makeup, and they don't look at themselves for the rest of the day," said Carroll. "But now, you're seeing yourself in animation all day long.... So you see things that bother you." Carroll cautions that these virtual visages probably aren't accurate, because most webcams use short focal lengths that can warp how certain features appear onscreen. But while she doesn't think anyone "needs to look a certain way," Carroll says cosmetic procedures can boost a person's confidence. "For some people, there's a real disconnect between how they feel on the inside and what they present to the world," Carroll said. "I think a lot of patients are just trying to reconnect those two parts of themselves." Catherine Sabiston, a University of Toronto professor and Canada research chair in physical activity and mental health, says the lack of in-person social interaction under lockdown means people are spending more time online comparing themselves with filtered images of others, which can negatively impact body image. The internet is also filled with counterproductive messages about the COVID-19 crisis being a time for self-improvement, feeding into the guilt many feel about changes to their exercise and eating habits, she said. As these forces conspire to make people feel bad about themselves, Sabiston said it's no surprise that people are turning to the scalpel as a quick-fix solution. The fact that cosmetic surgeries are moving forward when many patients can't access cancer treatments speaks to the social disconnect that seems to prioritize people's appearance over their health, said Sabiston. She urged authorities to adopt a more balanced approach that would allow people to access the services they need to ensure their bodies are healthy and help them feel better in them. "Our bodies are miracles in so many ways, and yet, we hone in on the appearance aspects when there's so much more to what our bodies can do," she said. "We should be putting our emphasis on how to help people so that more plastic surgery isn't necessarily the bottom line." In a statement Wednesday, the Quebec College of Physicians called for all non-essential cosmetic procedures to be postponed in light of the measures the province is taking to limit COVID-19 spread. Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters last week that the province is considering how to address the medical staffing crisis, but suggested it would be easier to bring in intensive care personnel from other regions than to enlist nurses from private care and cosmetic surgery clinics. A spokeswoman for Quebec's health ministry added that staff from private cosmetic surgery clinics can still volunteer in the public health sector without shutting down operations. In Ontario, some clinics that offer cosmetic procedures have opted to scale back services or shut down altogether. While health practices remain open under the province's latest directive, a spokesman for Ontario's health ministry said "it's up to each professional's clinical judgment to determine what services should be offered," in accordance with the rules set out by their regulatory colleges. On its website, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says regional restrictions on personal care services, such as facials and hair removal, apply to medical practices, but clinics can continue to offer procedures that can only be performed by health-care professionals. Mosher appreciates the frustrations front-line medical workers feel as the recent surge in infections pushes health-care systems to their limits, but argues that closing private clinics will do little to assuage capacity concerns. Cosmetic surgeons report relatively low rates of complications, so there's little risk that their patients will need urgent care in overburdened hospitals, he said. Mosher said the cosmetic surgery industry isn't large enough to provide the reinforcements that hospitals require, and while some cosmetic surgery providers work in both the private and public sector, many don't have the expertise to help much with urgent care. "Health-care workers that are involved in delivering (cosmetic surgery) services would be more than happy to step up and assist if we were called upon," he said. "But like everybody else, we rely on the guidance from the health authorities." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021 Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — WestJet says a Boeing 737 Max that was scheduled to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday returned to the gate before taking off due to a warning in the cockpit. A WestJet spokeswoman, Lauren Stewart, said that after the plane's engines were started, its monitoring system indicated a "potential fault that needed to be verified and reset." The process takes time and requires an engine run, which the airline does not perform with passengers on board, Stewart said. In the interests' of passengers' time, WestJet cancelled the flight and booked passengers on the next available flight to Toronto, Stewart said. The aircraft has since been cleared by maintenance and will return to service as scheduled on Jan. 24, Stewart said. The Max was cleared to fly in Canadian airspace on Wednesday after it was grounded for nearly two years following deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Tanner Stewart can think of no better way to flush 2020 down the drain than by filling up a tub with his cannabis-infused bath bombs in 2021. Stewart, founder and CEO of St. Stephen-based Stewart Farms, said his new bath bomb, made with 50 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 50 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) and essential oils, has been receiving rave reviews. "It's a really nice way to engage with a familiar thing like a bath bomb for a lot of consumers who already really like bath bombs and combine it with a cannabis-infused experience," he said. Stewart Farms makes three different types of bath bombs, each tailored with the help of the essential oils for a different experience. Trainwreck combines the scents of eucalyptus, sweet orange and Spanish rosemary to be uplifting and energizing. Bubba Kush is meant to be calming, with the scents of lavender, white grapefruit and cassia, and Blue Dream is meant to be a harmonizing bath bomb, with the scents of lemon grass, pepper, orange and lavender. CBD is a known anti-inflammatory, Stewart said, and THC is known to be antibacterial and anti-fungal. All of the products, which retail for $16.99 per bath bomb, are packaged individually in 100 per cent biodegradable packaging. Stewart said it's believed his farm is the first cannabis producer in Canada to use this type of packaging. He said environmental protection is a cannabis company’s responsibility. "We think that's setting a new precedent in the industry," he said. Stewart Farms' bath bombs have just sold out for the second time in multiple locations since launching about a month ago. Products are being sold in New Brunswick and in Alberta for now, with plans to expand from coast to coast by the end of 2021. Stewart said the bombs are a great, easy and harmless introduction for those who've never used cannabis products before, especially older people. "They need to be grabbing these things, and giving themselves a nice, well-deserved self-care treatment." Stewart said bath bomb users won't get high from the cannabis per se, but he's received feedback from customers that tell him their skin feels great after, they're relaxed and they have a great night's sleep. Some other say they feel clarity and it helps with pain, he added. Stewart, who's originally from Miramichi, said he's grateful the cannabis industry allowed him to move back to his home province in August 2019 from Alberta to start this business. "This industry has allowed me not only to come back home to my own province and have a job, but I'm able to build a business in a globally-leading industry." The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
NEW YORK — If his new movie, “ Our Friend, ” makes audiences cry, Jason Segel can sympathize. He recalls being on an airplane and watching a movie that made him break down so uncontrollably that it got the attention of a woman seated next to him. “I was weeping, full-on weeping, crying so hard, and this woman couldn’t resist trying to find out what I was crying at. And she, like, peeked over and it was ‘Dreamgirls.’ This grown man, bawling his eyes out to ‘Dreamgirls,'" the actor said, laughing, in a recent interview. “Our Friend," premiering Friday in theatres and video on demand platforms, certainly covers emotional territory. Segel plays Dane, the best friend of married couple Matt and Nicole (played by Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson). When Nicole is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Dane moves in with the family to help them during the time she has left. It’s based on the true story of an experience written about by journalist Matthew Teague in 2015 for Esquire. He wanted to write about what going through a death is really like. “I felt so unprepared to meet death, even caring for somebody who was dying and that I felt even almost betrayed by the culture. In a way, I feel like we don’t discuss this very openly or very honestly," said Teague. Production on the film wrapped before the pandemic but Affleck understands it will strike a chord with viewers about grief and loss. “I think a lot of movies are probably going to be seen through the lens of the experience that we’ve all shared over the last year, whether or not they were intended to be about those things,” said Affleck. Johnson hopes the movie will remind others to “feel a bit more grateful and a bit more compassionate with themselves and others.” From experiencing his own loss, Teague offers advice on what to say to those who know someone who is going through it. “It’s hard to know what to say. And I think sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there and just offer yourself in some way and to not expect some emotional reaction. Even now, years have passed. I’ll still be in a restaurant and someone will come up and say, you know, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ And I feel like there’s an expectation that I reciprocate emotionally in some way. And so something I learned is just let people grieve on their own terms.” ___ Follow Alicia Rancilio online at http://www.twitter.com/aliciar —- This story corrects the spelling of Jason Segel's last name. Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Images of National Guard soldiers camped in a cold parking garage after being sent to protect Washington sparked new calls Friday for investigations of the U.S. Capitol Police, now facing allegations that the agency evicted troops sent to help after its failure to stop rioting mobs two weeks ago. Members of both parties were irate about reports that Guardsmen were forced to take rest breaks outside the Capitol building. About 25,000 Guard members from across the country deployed to help secure President Joe Biden's inauguration, which went off with only a handful of minor arrests. Biden spoke Friday morning to Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She said the president thanked Hokanson and the Guard for their help the last few weeks and offered his assistance if Hokanson needed anything. She did not say if they discussed what happened at the Capitol on Thursday. First lady Jill Biden visited Guard troops outside the Capitol on Friday, bringing them cookies and thanking them for protecting her family. She noted that the Bidens’ late son, Beau, served in the Delaware Army National Guard. A jittery Washington requested the aid following the riot where police were badly outnumbered, locking down the nation's capital with soldiers, police and barricades and lawmakers and Biden took pains to thank security forces for their effort. All 25,000 Guard members were vetted by the FBI over concerns of an insider attack, and a dozen were removed from their posts including two who made extremist statements about the inauguration. The National Guard said it originally moved troops out of the Capitol Rotunda and other spaces to garages at the behest of the Capitol Police. The Guardsmen were allowed back inside late Thursday after reports were widely shared of the conditions in the garages, with few bathrooms and little covering from the cold. Capitol Police Interim Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement Friday saying her agency “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.” But two Capitol Police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity contradicted her statement, saying they were told department higher-ups had ordered the Guardsmen out. It was unclear why. The two officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the department to speak. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said that “multiple members of military leadership” had told him a uniformed Capitol Police officer told them to leave the Capitol Visitor Center. “The troops didn't move on their own,” said Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He added: “This isn’t a blame game, but I want to know what happened so we can make sure it can’t happen again.” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who leads a subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, said Pittman and other commanders would eventually need to testify about their decision-making. “If the Capitol Police in any way, shape, or form pushed the Guard out into a cold garage, then there’s going to be hell to pay,” Ryan said . “We’re already trying to re-establish trust with the Capitol Police and we’ve got to figure out exactly what happened.” The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. The insurrection highlighted multiple failures by the Capitol Police to prepare for what became a violent mob overrunning parts of the building. Officers who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said there was little planning before the riot or guidance from department leaders once the riot began. The riot left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. Another officer died in an apparent suicide after the attack. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Nomaan Merchant, Lolita Baldor, And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just provided testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Hopefully Dan Levy inherited his father's sketch comedy chops. The "Schitt's Creek" co-creator is set to host "Saturday Night Live" next month. Levy will make his hosting debut on Feb. 6, joined by singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. The Emmy winner can get tips from his father, Eugene Levy, who starred on legendary skit show "SCTV," which some have called Canada's "SNL." NBC says "SNL" will return from hiatus for a five-week run starting on Jan. 30, when John Krasinski will kick things off with musical guest Machine Gun Kelly. Regina King will host on Feb. 13 with music from Nathaniel Rateliff. Guests for Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 haven't been announced. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has suspended the sale of decommissioned RCMP vehicles, two days after a man in Nova Scotia was arrested for allegedly impersonating an officer while driving a fake police car. The suspect's 2013 Ford Taurus was a decommissioned police car and was allegedly altered to look like an unmarked police vehicle. The car was similar to the replica RCMP cruiser used by a gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia during a 13-hour rampage on April 18-19. Blair issued a statement today saying the RCMP's resale process for decommissioned vehicles ensures they cannot easily be misused for criminal purposes. The minister said, however, such sales will be suspended to ensure the process is not flawed. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said today he was pleased with Blair's decision. "It's a great first step," McNeil said, adding that the province's justice minister, Mark Furey, has been working with Blair on the police vehicle file. "We have a piece of legislation that will be introduced during the next session. It deals with (police) accessories and how to deal with municipal (police) vehicles in our province." On Wednesday, the Mounties said that in the most recent case, a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have used the car in question to pull over other vehicles in the Halifax region and Antigonish County. The vehicle was outfitted with LED lights in the rear window, a microphone on the dashboard, a public address system, citizens band radio and a push bar with LED lights mounted on the grill. Police also confirmed the suspect did not appear to have any police clothing or firearms of any kind. "It remains illegal to impersonate a police officer and we will take every step possible to prevent such crimes from taking place," Blair said in the statement. "We will continue to work so that all Canadians feel safe in their communities." The vehicle used in the April mass shooting was heavily modified with an emergency light bar on the roof and decals that looked exactly like those found on marked RCMP cruisers. Early in the RCMP's investigation of the mass killing, a senior officer said the killer's vehicle allowed him to "circulate around the province, steps ahead of our investigators." The replica vehicle was so convincing that questions were raised about the availability of former police vehicles for public purchase. The Mounties have confirmed that on the night of April 18, the killer set fire to several homes and killed 13 people in Portapique before evading police later that night while disguised as an RCMP officer. The next morning, he resumed killing people he knew and others at random before he was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., which is just north of Halifax. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is thinking about getting Canadians the COVID-19 vaccine "when I wake up in the morning, when I go to bed, and every hour in between."
A victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher in the 1980s has secured an apology and $1.1 million in damages from School District 57.. The terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit seeking damages for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Wendell Diakiw, who taught at Austin Road elementary school in Prince George during the 1970s and 1980s. Had the school district not included an apology, Bruneau said he would have gone ahead with taking the matter to trial. As it stands, Bruneau was pleased with the school district's response. "The school district handled it so well and really did the right thing, which is unheard of, and I really want the news to reflect that and set a new precedent for other institutions to do the same," Bruneau said in an interview. According to a statement issued Thursday by London, Ontario-based Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers, the $1.1-million payout is understood to be the largest reported settlement of an individual teacher abuse case in British Columbia and will be covered by School District 57's insurer. Bruneau was a Grade 6 student at Austin Road when, according to the statement, the abuse began and continued for three years in the mid-1980s. Bruneau, in turn, played a key role in Diakiw's downfall. In 1986, Bruneau, then 16 years old, attended Diakiw’s house with a tape recorder and secured a taped confession, which led to police charges. In 1987, Diakiw was charged with a range of sexual offences in relation to six students, including Bruneau, and was sentenced to five years in jail later the same year. Bruneau was among four alleged victims for which Aaron Lealess, a lawyer at Beckett, had filed lawsuits against Diakiw and School District 57. The other three have also settled out of court but with the terms undisclosed due to confidentiality agreements. Court records show that Bruneau's case was the only one for which School District 57 did not file a response to the civil claim. Each of the claimants had sought as much as $3.2 million in damages. "At the very beginning of the claim, you just pick a high number - that's the maximum you could hope for basically, and then once more facts become known - you get all the medical records, education records, Mr. Bruneau was assessed by an expert psychologist - and so once you get all the information together, you get a bit better of an idea," Lealess said in an interview. "The plaintiff has their view of what the case is worth which is usually much higher than what the defence has their own view, which is much lower, and then this case was ultimately settled." Lealess said it was scheduled to proceed to trial this past November but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, "and ultimately we were able to get a settlement." Lealess said the $1.1 million represents the damage Bruneau has suffered in terms of the impact on his education and career and the expenses related to a lifetime of counseling, as well as inpatient treatment due to the psychological fallout. After living away from Prince George for 30 years, Bruneau has since moved back to the city. He expressed a degree of closure with the settlement and particularly the letter of apology. "It's a big shift in my thinking too, like the anger," Bruneau said. "Now it's a big thank you, I mean that's a huge difference." Diakiw was also named in the lawsuits and has been served but has not filed statements of response. As such, Lealess said they will be pursing a default judgment. "Now whether we can get a dime out of him is probably doubtful but we're going to continue to pursue the case against him," Lealess said. "It's more for the principal of the matter." Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Edmundston region is moving into full lockdown as health officials try to curb rising infections in the area bordering Quebec. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said today the 14-day lockdown begins midnight Saturday. The new health order forces the closure of all non-essential businesses as well as schools and public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said today all non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of Edmundston, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region. New Brunswick is reporting 30 new COVID-19 infections — 19 of which were identified in the Edmundston area. Russell says Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton will remain at the red pandemic-alert level, while she says Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi will stay at the lower, orange level. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Italian broadcaster Mediaset said on Friday it had won two legal cases against French and U.S. portals involving online piracy. In a statement, the broadcaster said an Italian court had ordered France's Dailymotion to pay it more than 22 million euros ($27 million) for publishing illegally 15,000 videos using Mediaset content. The court also ordered American portal Veoh, known as Qlipso Inc at the time of the offence, to pay Mediaset more than 3.3 million euros and 60,000 euros in costs.
The federal government is mulling a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers as the country's top doctor warns that easing COVID-19 restrictions too quickly could cause case numbers to shoot up again. The federal government is also looking at other options that would make it harder for people to return from foreign trips, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. He said it's time to "kill the second wave of the virus." Monday will mark a year since the first recorded appearance of the novel coronavirus in Canada. Trudeau said it is understandable that Canadians are tired and fed up, but they must remain cautious. “We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months,” he said. “We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.” Trudeau said the next few weeks will be challenging for vaccine supply as Pfizer-BioNTech slows deliveries to Canada and other countries while the company retools its plant in Belgium. The prime minister said Pfizer-BioNTech has committed to ensuring Canada will receive four million vaccine doses by the end of March. Provinces have reported a total of 738,864 vaccine doses used so far. That's about 80 per cent of the available supply. COVID-19 cases began to spike across the country in December and January, which put a strain on hospitals. Quebec and Ontario were particularly hard hit and officials responded with restrictions. Quebec instituted a curfew, while Ontario brought in an order for people to stay at home except for essential purposes such as work, food shopping or health care. Daily case numbers have slightly decreased in Ontario in the last week. There were 2,662 new cases Friday and 87 more deaths. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,703, down from a high of 3,555 on Jan. 11. There were 1,512 people in hospital on Friday, a decrease of 21 from the previous day. COVID-19 continued to pressure some local hospitals, so Ottawa said it would send two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area, adding an additional 200 hospital beds. Quebec has been under its provincewide curfew for nearly two weeks. Health officials reported 1,631 new cases and 88 deaths Friday. Hospitalizations decreased by 27 people to 1,426. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that bringing down the second wave of COVID-19 has been a "trickier path" than the first wave last spring. Daily case counts are higher than they were then and have put increased pressures on the health-care system. "If we ease up too soon or too quickly, resurgence will be swift," she said. She also expressed concern that 31 cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, and three of the South African variant have been found in Canada. It's believed that both are more contagious. The cases were identified through screening smaller batches of tests. Tam said more needs to be done to understand the level at which new variants are circulating in communities. Nova Scotia reported four new COVID-19 infections on Friday, two of which were variant cases. Health officials said both cases were related to international travel. There were 731,450 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 18,622 deaths as of Thursday. Over the past seven days, there were a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average was 6,079. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Two teachers at Rothesay Park School will be able to get their students outside and moving with the help of new grants. Julie Cyr, who teaches art, wellness and French, was awarded a $1,250 Innovation and Engagement Grant from the Anglophone South School District. With that, she bought outdoor classroom equipment, including clipboards, tarps and rope. "The planet is in great need of some change. And research is showing that students or kids who spend time outside in nature, form bonds with nature," Cyr said. She also received a First Nations Education Grant from ASD-S for $3,000 to purchase drums kits. Once the region returns to the yellow phase of COVID recovery, Cyr said she'll bring in an elder to teach the kids how to make the instruments and how to play them, as well as teach lessons about sharing circles and First Nations culture. Meanwhile, her colleague Jeanette Fisher, who teaches music and physical education, has received four grants for a project to overcome the obstacles of gym classes during the pandemic. With the school district encouraging teachers to stay away from team sports during the pandemic, Fisher found she couldn't use many of the regular equipment she would use for her gym classes. "I was thinking, 'What can I do? What kind of sports can I do that will engage the kids and keep them active during this time?'" she said. So Fisher decided to give the kids sticks and get them to try drumming with them. So far the kids love it. "It helps the body, the brain, and for the students, it helps strengthen the heart and the lungs, and increases muscular strength and endurance," Fisher said. "It builds brain connections, promotes social emotional learning, improves coordination. And with the student, it builds confidence and self-expression." Fisher received a $500 Education Improvement Grant for online training for cardio drumming, a $1,800 Innovation and Improvement Grant, and a $1,500 Teacher-Designed Professional Learning Grant. Those grants will go toward a training course, equipment and the continued development of integrating the drumming into courses. Fisher also received a $1,000 grant to purchase an iPad, which allows students to use GarageBand on the iPad to compose music. Fisher said drumming also gives an opportunity for kids who aren't getting regular exercise or participating in team sports like usual. Less exercise, she said, is affecting their social, emotional and mental well-being. Cyr said she's nice to be able to get outside during the pandemic, which has kept many people inside. She hopes to secure grant funding in the future to create an outdoor classroom as well. In the meantime, she plans to lay some groundwork for teachers through her new programming to get their kids outside, and she's open to letting other teachers use her equipment for their classes. "It's maybe a stress reliever to be outside. But [for teachers] it can also be just an extra thing to plan and prepare for," she said. "And I think it's what I'm hoping to do with this is to create an easier way for teachers to be able to go outside" The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Alberta's film and TV industry is gearing up for an unprecedented production season that promises jobs and a cash injection for the economy as major U.S. studios look north for locations due to COVID-19 slowdowns, says Damian Petti, local president of a union for film and stage technicians. "The season ahead is something I've not seen before," Petti told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday. "We've not seen this level of scouting and shows that are already greenlit in January — ever. I've been doing this 22 years and this is shaping up to be the most robust season ever." Petti, president of Local 212 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), says there are 19 projects in the works within Alberta, but even more are being scouted and greenlighted each day. These include a series called Guilty Party with Kate Beckinsale, a Fraggle Rock series reboot and another season of Jann with Alberta's own Jann Arden. He says it's also likely that Season 15 of CBC's Heartland will shoot this year in Alberta. Industry giants Disney, NBC Universal and HBO are scouting projects in Alberta too, Petti says. The draw Petti points to three reasons for the boom in interest: the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, federal and provincial incentives and Canada's management of the pandemic. Investors are interested in getting more bang for their buck in Canada, says Petti. One American dollar is worth around $1.28 Canadian, according to recent data from the Bank of Canada. There are also several tax credits eligible to companies who shoot in Alberta. Within Alberta, there is a film and television tax credit of up to $10 million per production for eligible Alberta production and labour costs incurred by companies that make films and television series in the province. The federal film or video production services tax credit encourages foreign-based producers to hire Canadians by offering a tax credit for Canadian labour. In terms of COVID-19 safety, Petti says major studios and streaming platforms have negotiated protocols over the summer. "We're in a good position to actually work safely. And the studios acknowledge that," he said. In Los Angeles, the epicentre of the film industry, COVID-19 has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes, which Petti says has led to a slowdown in production. Job creation Despite common misunderstanding on hiring, most of the film production labour in Alberta is hired within the province, says Petti. "There's a common misconception among the public that these crews are actually coming in from outside of the province," he said. "On a big Netflix of Apple project, 97 per cent or more of the shooting crew is actually hired locally." He says small businesses that produce things needed on set, like costumes and props, "thrive on the industry." "We hope to do $400 million in production this year," he said. "That would make it our best year ever." With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.