Ontario's hospitals are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases with many linked to holiday gatherings. Miranda Anthistle reports.
Ontario's hospitals are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases with many linked to holiday gatherings. Miranda Anthistle reports.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians can expect an announcement around the country’s border measures “in the coming days.”
At approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, officers of the Lennox & Addington (L&A) County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were on patrol and observed a vehicle being operated in a dangerous manner, travelling at a high rate of speed 401 Westbound, west of Deseronto Road. According to a release from OPP, police stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver for dangerous operation, and all three occupants were arrested for Possession of a Schedule I Substance. OPP say the vehicle was seized, along with break in tools and stolen property including identity documents, fraudulent cheques and personal documents. L&A County OPP have charged: Vikramjit Singh, age 31, of no fixed address with: - Dangerous Operation of a motor vehicle; - Six counts of Possession of Credit Card; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Fourteen Counts of Possession of a Forged document; - Possession of Instrument for forgery; - Twenty seven counts of Possession of identity Document; - Possession of a Schedule I Substance - Heroin; and, - Stunt Driving. Rajwinder Singh Chauhan, age 27, and Preetam Rattan, age 26, both of no fixed address are charged with: - Six Counts of Possession of Credit Card; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Possession of a Forged document; - Possession of Instrument for forgery; - Possession of identity Document; and, - Possession of a Schedule I Substance - Heroin . Rattan received a further charge of Fail to Comply with release order. All accused persons were held for a bail hearing and appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice in Greater Napanee on January 24, 2021. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
TORONTO — Loblaw Companies Ltd. is winning praise from a coalition of environmental, health and labour groups for its commitment to stop using receipt paper that contains a potentially dangerous chemical. The grocery and drugstore chain says it will transition to phenol-free receipt paper across all its divisions by the end of 2021. The move is being applauded by groups that say it will protect workers and customers from harmful chemicals, and is renewing pressure on other retailers to phase out the chemical. Muhannad Malas, toxics program manager at Environmental Defence, says cashiers are exposed to high levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals while handling receipts and deserve to be protected. Jennifer Beeman, executive director of Breast Cancer Action Quebec, says bisphenols used in thermal paper are known endocrine disruptors and can be a significant source of exposure for women. The Canadian government declared Bisphenol A (BPA) a toxic chemical in October 2010. Some retailers removed BPA-coated receipt paper, but replaced it with paper that contains similar phenol substances, according to the groups. Loblaw said in its Corporate Social Responsibility report last year that it would transition to phenol-free receipt paper by the end of 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:L) The Canadian Press
The Ontario government may have temporarily paused the demolition on several heritage buildings in downtown Toronto, but a challenge to stop the work won’t be easy. Matthew Bingley looks into the powers of minister’s zoning orders and why a court challenge may not be enough to save the heritage buildings.
«Incroyable! Les oppositions bloquent notre projet de loi qui interdit le 1000 $ aux gens qui doivent s’isoler après un voyage non essentiel. Ils l’avaient pourtant réclamé. C’est injuste pour tous ceux qui font des sacrifices», a publié le leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes, Pablo Rodriguez, sur son fil Twitter. Le Parti conservateur aimerait prendre plus de temps pour étudier le texte des libéraux afin de s’assurer que toutes les failles sur les PCMRE ont été revues et corrigées. Le Bloc québécois plaide pour une révision rétroactive de la loi dont le gouvernement a concédé la remise en cause dès 2021. Le leader parlementaire du Bloc québécois, Alain Therrien, fait référence aux voyageurs qui ont «indûment» perçu 1000 $ entre octobre 2020 et janvier 2021. De nombreux Canadiens de retour des vacances auraient reçu à deux reprises cette somme de 500 $ par semaine durant leur isolement de 14 jours. Cet avantage a été dénoncé par plusieurs élus, y compris le premier ministre Justin Trudeau qui a récemment indiqué que la PCMRE ne visait pas à encourager les voyages non essentiels. Les libéraux espéraient qu’ils obtiendraient l’adoption rapide de cet amendement visant à exclure le soutien aux voyages non essentiels à compter du 3 janvier dernier, comme l’avait promis la ministre de l’Emploi, du Développement de la main-d’œuvre et de l’Inclusion des personnes handicapées, Carla Qualtrough. À la réouverture de la Chambre des communes, les élus se sont d’abord prononcés sur leur mode de fonctionnement, en adoptant la conduite des travaux de manière hybride. Elle consiste à avoir à la fois des députés présents en personne et d’autres qui participent en visioconférence. Les élus voteront par «appel nominal électronique» et feront approuver leur identité et leur suffrage à l’aide d’une application mobile. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Updates wording on how course is described to 'a Grade 12 university prep course' High school classes began this semester as a mix of in-person and online, but even on virtual days the noisy class debates make it sound like teacher Tiffany Barrett’s students are right in her home. And that’s saying something considering it’s just a group of 10. This is also the first time the course — one all about defining and responding to anti-Black racism — has ever been offered. At the start of the 2020/21 school year, Newtonbrook Secondary School, a North York TDSB school, launched “Deconstructing anti-Black Racism in the Canadian and North American Context,” a Grade 12 university prep course that was cocreated by four Black teachers at the school: Barrett, D. Tyler Robinson, Remy Basu and Kiersten Wynter. Very much inspired by the recent wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, the course takes students through the history that has led up to the current reckoning and shows them how they can become changemakers themselves. “We’re talking about heavy, controversial, prickly topics,” Barrett said. “And although we’re not always on the same page, we respect each other.” The class starts with laying out terms like “privilege” and “systemic racism” so students can start with a thorough understanding of the language. The second unit covers the history of Black people, from communities in Africa, to the transatlantic slave trade and the role money had in the system. In unit three, the class goes through how Blackness is portrayed in the media. The fourth unit branches out and explores how other marginalized groups are oppressed as well. And for the final project, students get hands on and think about how they can use what they’ve learned to create change in the system, whether it’s letter writing, getting bills passed or advocating. “They were just so hopeful on the very first day. They looked so hungry for information,” Barrett said, reflecting on her first class, which happened to be in-person despite the rotation of in-school and online classes due to COVID-19 this school year. She remembers asking, “Tell me all the things that you’ve learned sitting in a classroom about Black history, Black bodies, Blackness,” and many of them saying, “Not much, Miss.” Barrett, who has been teaching for five years, recalls being nervous herself, wading into prickly topics with her class, half of whom were Black and half of whom were not. “I wanted to make sure that I was dealing with these topics with care. I wanted to make sure that the students were comfortable,” she said. The course came about as a response to the anti-Black racism conversations that were reignited last summer. At the end of May 2020, news and video footage of George Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis who was killed by a white police officer, captured the world’s attention. But some students at Newtonbrook were troubled by the online conversations some of their peers were having, and brought their concerns to school administration. A roundtable was created for the students to talk through issues and solutions. Robinson, who is the project lead, was one of the teachers students chose to join the conversation, and he says the personal stories the teens shared were emotional. “It brought tears to your eyes listening to these kids,” Robinson said. After the roundtable, Robinson, Wynter and their colleagues spoke more about what might cause some youth to have trouble seeing situations like Floyd’s death as racism. It came down to a lack of understanding and ignorance, Wynter said. Robinson said that, in general, the system of education has inadequately prepared students to have conversations about race and white supremacy. “The Ministry of Education should be creating new courses that help kids make meaning of what’s happening today,” he said. “We’re educators, how do we fight ignorance? We teach,” Wynter said about the brainstorming session she and her fellow teachers had. “What if there was a course where kids could sit, learn about this sort of stuff? What would that look like?” That “what if,” quickly became a “let’s do it.” Robinson, Wynter, Barrett and Basu drafted a memo proposing the course and brought it to the school administration. Days later it was approved. Course selection for the fall semester typically happens in February, but everyone agreed that this was needed soon. So, Newtonbrook administration worked to allocate resources so the co-authors could be paid to create the curriculum over the summer and they got to work promoting the course. Ten students made room for it in their schedules. The class will wrap up in early February, and from the start, engagement has not been an issue. Students often come in with questions written down and bite into Barrett’s lesson plan with topics they want to discuss that day. Sometimes this means sharing their own experiences with microaggressions, like being stopped by police, or worrying that if they hand in a resume for a part-time job in-person, being Black may take them out of the running. And as a Black teacher, Barrett has been able to relate to their stories. Basu, a co-author who works in the guidance department, teared up reading an email of positive feedback on the course from one of Barrett’s students. With a successful semester under their belts, the team is working to spread the course to other schools around the province. So far, five other TDSB schools will be offering it for the 2021/22 school year, including C.W. Jefferys, where Wynter now teaches. Beyond the city, the co-authors want to see the course taught all around Ontario and administered by the Ministry of Education. Basu, who is an assistant curriculum leader at Newtonbrook and has taught for 20 years, would like to see a course like this — one about learning to critically evaluate the world through an anti-oppressive lens — become a requirement, like literary courses are. Still, in these early stages, Basu said they have been working through barriers. One has been generating interest at schools that don’t have a large Black population. Another is lining up teachers — when Newtonbrook students gave feedback, they said the course should be taught by a Black teacher, so how will schools make that happen if they do not have a Black teacher on staff? School boards are also dealing with massive logistical shifts due to COVID-19, but at the same time, anti-racism teaching also can’t be forgotten. On that note, Robinson ponders, when students finally emerge from over a year of at-home learning, “What are we going to have in place to re-engage these kids?” Gaps in education are inevitable, and likely to disproportionately impact the Black community, he pointed out. Now is the perfect time to make sure Black students can learn about themselves, and allies can get excited about the topic too. “It’s kind of like a snowball effect of positivity,” he said. “When a kid is excited, anything can happen.” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Researchers at the University of Toronto are working to create an archive documenting Canadian Muslims and their lives in this country. The Muslims in Canada Archive came about after Anver Emon was appointed director of U of T’s Institute of Islamic Studies in 2018. He was interested in highlighting the Canadian experience — stories from the United States and Europe were easy to come by, but there wasn’t nearly as much collecting Canadian Muslim stories. After a community consultation and fundraising, archivist Moska Rokay joined the team and for the past year, they’ve worked to get the archive up and running, collecting donations from families around Canada. Emon and Rokay are looking to collect everything from old photos to recipe cards. “We care about people’s shopping lists, we care about the grocery stores they went to, we care about the recipes they inherited on those little index cards … camping trips, photos, videos, 8-track tapes … you name it,” Emon said. “We just want to understand Muslim lives in Canada,” Emon said. “We want to recognize that people just living their ordinary lives are also contributing to the history of Canada.” In talking with the community, one of the big desires was to change the narrative and the negative perceptions people can have of Muslim communities. “How do we change the narrative? And who gets to tell that narrative is the question, right?” Emon said. Since this archive is being built from scratch, Rokay has been able to tailor it in unconventional ways to overcome some roadblocks. For instance, how could families who were refugees participate, since they likely had to leave much of their personal belongings behind — something Rokay’s family has had experience with. So, she’s offered to help families like this to create a recording orally sharing their story. It’s also important for Rokay that the families can help with labelling and describing the items, whereas sometimes that’s something archivists handle. Much of the work so far has been getting the word out and reaching out to community members, particularly those of older generations, to try and get them to offer their records and artifacts for the team to go through. The concept of archiving can be new to Muslim communities, Rokay said. “Archives are very Eurocentric, western entities themselves.” A byproduct of this is that the communities may not think to contribute to more general Canadian collections and therefore aren’t highlighted there. And while some religious organizations like Christian churches keep their own records, due to this unfamiliarity with archiving, mosques haven’t. “It became even more important that Canadian Muslim heritage was recorded somewhere,” Rokay said. What many may not realize is that Muslim people have had a presence in Canada since 1851, when James and Agnes Love emigrated here from Scotland. Not only does the Muslims in Canada Archive aim to reshape the negative view people can have of Muslims in the present, but also in history books. Emon said for a long time, in Canada, history has been told from a particular perspective, but now, as we start to rethink and look at things from different perspectives — Indigenous, racialized and immigrant perspectives — “the story we tell is now beginning to change,” he said. “It’s also about humanizing the differences that make up our mosaics.” For more information about the archive and contributing, go to the Muslims in Canada Archives website. Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
MOSCOW — The Kremlin said Tuesday that Russia and the United States exchanged documents to extend the New START nuclear treaty. Both sides will now complete the necessary formalities in the coming days, the Kremlin said. Lawmakers in the Kremlin-controlled parliament said it would complete the necessary moves to extend the pact this week. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. A senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Moscow and Washington were making quick progress to negotiate an extension of their last remaining nuclear arms control treaty. Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed a five-year extension of the New START treaty that is set to expire on Feb. 5, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer. Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador at the international organizations in Vienna, said that Russia and the U.S. “are making remarkable and speedy progress” on the pact's extension. “There are reasons to expect that the relevant agreement can become a reality very soon,” he tweeted. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament's upper house, also said Monday that “the treaty must be preserved," adding that "we are now on the verge of that decision to be made and published.” The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Biden indicated during the campaign that he favoured the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice-president. Russia has long proposed to prolong the pact without any conditions or changes, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled, and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences. The negotiations were also marred by tensions between Russia and the United States, which have been fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other irritants. After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries. Earlier this month, Russia also announced that it would follow the U.S. to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed surveillance flights over military facilities to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West. While Russia always offered to extend New START for five years — a possibility that was envisaged by the pact at the time it was signed — Trump charged that it put the U.S. at a disadvantage and initially insisted that China be added to the treaty, an idea that Beijing bluntly dismissed. Trump’s administration then proposed to extend New START for just one year and also sought to expand it to include limits on battlefield nuclear weapons. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
A bail hearing for a man who was wanted by police for about eight months was adjourned again in North Battleford Provincial Court. The show cause hearing for Johnathan Swiftwolfe, 24, on Jan. 25 was adjourned to Jan. 28. Swiftwolfe was wanted on 35 charges, including assault, uttering threats, weapons-related offences, and flight from police. While police were searching for him in 2020, they issued a media release saying they were concerned about the safety of Moosomin First Nation residents while Swiftwolfe was at large. He was located after several RCMP detachments worked together to find him. When police arrested him on Highway 40 near Sweet Grass First Nation on Dec. 6, 2020, they found a loaded firearm in the vehicle that was within his reach. Cassandra Fox, 24, was with Swiftwolfe and also arrested. At the time, she was wanted on warrants for assault with a weapon and failure to comply with a release order. She was scheduled to enter a plea and election in North Battleford Provincial Court on Jan. 6, 2021, but failed to appear and a warrant for her arrest was issued. The charges against Swiftwolfe and Fox haven’t been proven in court. Moosomin First Nation is about 22 kilometres north of North Battleford. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the province closely watches a small outbreak in a nearby French territory. St-Pierre-Miquelon, situated just off the Burin Peninsula, has reported seven cases of COVID-19 in recent days, all related to an outbreak at the prefecture's hospital. Authorities there said Tuesday afternoon they have registered 203 close contacts of those positive cases, all of whom are undergoing testing. The territory has closed its bars, restaurants and cultural centres to stem the outbreak. Prior to those seven active cases, the islands had registered 16 cases of COVID-19 since March, all of whom recovered. An Eastern Health spokesperson told CBC Tuesday it has contracts in place with health officials on the French islands that allow residents to receive COVID-19 care in Eastern Health facilities, if needed. Eastern Health has not yet received any requests from St-Pierre-Miquelon for physician support, medical equipment or supplies, the spokesperson said. The health authority also clarified that it could not send doctors to treat patients in the French territory itself because they would not be licensed to practise in that jurisdiction. St-Pierre-Miquelon residents with medical appointments in Newfoundland are permitted to enter the province, but must self-isolate. The Department of Health told CBC that it has limited those entries to urgent appointments only. Patients and caregivers must self-isolate, aside from attending their medical appointments, the department said. In a meeting Monday, the department said the prefecture agreed not to send any close contacts of the positive cases to Newfoundland. Eastern Health said over the last fiscal year, patients from St-Pierre-Miquelon made 1,495 trips to Newfoundland and Labrador to see specialists, including ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons and oncologists. Meanwhile, the number of active cases in Newfoundland and Labrador fell to three on Tuesday, with one person in hospital. Two people have recovered since Monday's update, and 78,477 people have been tested since March. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Les enquêteurs de la Sureté du Québec ont terminé leur enquête et ont déposé les accusations dans le dossier de l’importante fraude envers deux corporations de la Ville de Chibougamau soit celle de l’aréna et celle du Centre plein air Mont-Chalco. Julie Vaillancourt devra répondre de 4 chefs d’accusation par rapport à des fraudes commises envers ces deux corporations. Toujours selon l’acte d’accusation, les faits qui lui sont reprochés ont été commis entre janvier 2015 et décembre 2019. Il faut se rappeler que c’est au début de l’année dernière que la fraude de plusieurs milliers de dollars était découverte par les autorités de la Ville et révélée au public. Le tout débute au mois de décembre. C’est un compte de la corporation de l’aréna qui servait pour payer les déductions à la source et qui s’apprêtait à être gelé par le gouvernement pour non-paiement qui a mis la puce à l’oreille de la Ville. Il faut dire que les sommes réclamées avaient été théoriquement provisionnées et payées au gouvernement. C’est à partir de cet évènement que la Ville a fait une courte investigation et a pris la décision de suspendre avec solde l’employée chargée des paiements afin d’approfondir le dossier. Devant l’ampleur de ce qui a été découvert, une firme comptable a été mandatée pour revoir l’ensemble de la comptabilité de la Ville sur une période de 4 ans et la SQ a été mise au fait pour qu’on regarde s’il y avait matière à porter des accusations. Le 24 janvier, Julie Vaillancourt a présenté sa démission à la Ville. Modus operandi Julie Vaillancourt était la responsable de la Ville qui tenait les livres comptables pour les corporations de l’aréna et du Mont-Chalco. C’est également elle qui s’occupait des comptes à payer. Sur une période d’environ 4 ans, elle aurait encaissé 147 chèques totalisant plus de 208 000 $ entre janvier 2015 et décembre 2019. Les chèques qui ont été émis, sans pièces justificatives, appartenaient à la corporation du Mont-Chalco. Pour ce qui est de la corporation de l’aréna, l’accusée avait mis sa carte de crédit Visa dans les comptes fournisseurs et remboursait quotidiennement ses achats effectués sur sa carte grâce au logiciel comptable comme si elle remboursait un fournisseur. Cette fraude totalise une somme de plus de 300 000 $ sur une période courant de janvier 2015 à novembre 2019. La grande question est : Comment l’employée a-t-elle été capable de dépenser une somme de plus d’un demi-million de dollars aux dépens de ses employeurs sur une période de quatre ans tout en déjouant tout le monde sans qu’un drapeau rouge ne se lève? Julie Vaillancourt a réussi à déjouer les deux conseils d’administration qui n’ont rien remarqué des dépenses supplémentaires dans les bilans financiers. Le département comptable de la Ville qui fait les vérifications n’a pas non plus détecté la fraude et les compagnies qui font les vérifications de la Ville, elles non plus, n’ont rien remarqué. Que s’est-il passé ? « C’est la question que l’on se pose », de répondre la mairesse de Chibougamau, Manon Cyr, lorsque la question vient sur le tapis. « C’est LA question. Ce qu’on me dit, c’est qu’il y avait une confiance aveugle envers cette employée. C’est la Ville qui faisait la tenue des livres pour les deux corporations. L’employée visée par les accusations était la seule à faire la tenue des livres et à s’occuper également des paiements.» On a remarqué aussi qu’elle a profité de moments où il y avait des surplus dans les corporations pour détourner les fonds à son profit. « Ce sont les constatations des jurés comptable qui ont fait l’analyse de l’ensemble des documents touchés par la fraude. Ces documents ont été remis à la Sureté du Québec et à nos assurances. » La mairesse a mentionné que, maintenant, la tenue des livres et les vérifications comptables des corporations ne reposent plus sur une seule personne. Jusqu’à ce jour, la Ville de Chibougamau a récupéré 185 416,84 $ et a obtenu de la cour un jugement pour l’émission d’une saisie avant jugement. Julie Vaillancourt est accusée de 2 chefs de fraude de plus de 5 000 $ aux dépens de la Corporation de l’aréna et de celle du Mont-Chalco. Elle devra répondre également de production et d’utilisation de faux documents soit une série de chèques. Julie Vaillancourt sera de retour devant le tribunal le 19 février prochain au palais de justice de ChibougamauRené Martel, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
Human beings have forgotten their fate remains intertwined with that of the planet, Indigenous representatives reminded world leaders on Monday at a virtual event involving Canada and Mexico. The two governments have taken up the work of examining “nature-based solutions” meant to help countries become more resilient in the face of a worsening climate crisis by taking advantage of elements already in the landscape in a sustainable way. On Jan. 25, they organized a forum on that topic as part of the two-day Climate Adaptation Summit, which heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and other high-level officials. “We should accept and honour our relationship with every form of life, and all the elements that represent the whole of creation throughout the universe,” said Adelfo Regino Montes, head of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, during the forum. “This is a basic component that human beings have unfortunately forgotten.” Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull, from the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in northern Quebec, explained how the nation has been working over the past 15 years towards enhancing levels of protection with the Quebec and federal governments. The nation has been able to weave together two sets of data from the Quebec government’s approach to its biodiversity goals, and a Cree-led data collection effort with focus groups taking into account the activity of the full-time hunters and trappers who have developed a close relationship with the territory. “The thing that was interesting was that traditional information collected on the Cree side highlighted almost entirely the same biodiversity target areas that Quebec had chosen,” said Gull. “So culture and traditional knowledge go hand-in-hand because it is based on an extensive relationship that’s interwoven with the existence of our territory." Indigenous representatives around the world came to three main conclusions about using nature to tackle the climate crisis, following a series of consultations, Regino Montes said. For one, “all solutions are nature-based and should be based in nature,” he said. “These are types of practical knowledge that our people have been pursuing since time immemorial because of their intrinsic material and spiritual relationship with Mother Earth.” As well, such nature-based solutions “should always be respectful of Indigenous Peoples’ rights,” should accept “their governance and their knowledge” and should be “context-specific,” meaning nature can’t be separated from culture. “Our Indigenous sisters and brothers have affirmed that it must be recognized that ecosystem restoration requires a cultural and spiritual connection, applying a human-rights based approach,” he said. “There is no division between culture and nature, nor should any culture be allowed to have dominion over nature.” The summit also heard from Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme and the undersecretary-general of the UN, who called on Paris Agreement signatories to live up to their promise to help poorer nations better adapt to the climate crisis. Under Article 9 of the Paris Agreement, Canada and other nations promised to use their considerable financial power to achieve a “balance” between their efforts to cut carbon pollution and slow climate change, and parallel efforts to help nations around the world adapt to a changing climate. But the World Bank has estimated 100 million people are at risk of falling into poverty without greater climate action. Andersen’s organization recently revealed global finance is falling far behind in meeting the $70-billion annual cost of climate adaptation borne by developing nations. “We are not doing enough, and it is the poor who suffer the most,” she said. “We have to live up to what we promised in Paris, it’s as simple as that. Adaptation finance remains at about five per cent … that is not acceptable.” Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who gave a speech at the forum, said Canada’s updated climate plan, which the Canadian government released last month, “recognizes the fundamental link between nature, a stable climate, human well-being and sustainable development.” The plan proposes a number of measures such as raising the rising federal price on carbon pollution, cutting energy waste, promoting hydrogen fuel cells and using carbon capture technology as well as “nature-based solutions.” That would, in theory, allow Canada to exceed its Paris target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, instead leading to about a 32 per cent cut. Canada will also have to make up for lost time, as it has been projected to overshoot its 2030 target by 15 per cent. The plan, said Wilkinson, “aims to embrace the power of nature to cut pollution, clean our air and make communities more resilient to extreme weather.” Wilkinson said Ottawa is trying to help Canadians take up “nature-based solutions” in their own backyards, for example, by focusing on certain requests from municipalities for funding related to tornadoes, flooding and other extreme weather that propose “natural infrastructure.” He also pointed to the establishment of the Edéhzhíe Protected Area in the Northwest Territories, the first Indigenous-protected area that was established as part of Budget 2018. In a two-minute statement at the outset, Trudeau said the “voices of young people” are needed to continue to take on the challenge of climate change. “Canada has outlined a strong climate plan that will adapt to the impacts of climate change, create jobs and build a cleaner, more competitive country for everyone,” he said. Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, made a speech during the conference’s opening remarks, where he expressed “humility” for American absenteeism on the world stage during the Trump administration when it came to tackling the climate crisis. He said the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will “do everything in our power to make up for it.” Kerry noted that the world has just nine years left to hold global average temperature rise to the low end of the Paris Agreement pledge, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “I regret that my country has been absent for three of those years,” said Kerry. Former U.S. president Donald Trump announced in 2017 that the country would abandon the Paris Agreement. In one of his first acts in office this month, Biden ordered the country to rejoin the agreement. “President Biden has made fighting climate change a top priority in his administration. We have a president now, thank God, who leads, tells the truth and is seized by this issue,” said Kerry. He said the U.S. has already begun work on a new carbon pollution reduction target for the next UN climate conference, known as a nationally determined contribution, and would be announcing it “as soon as practicable.” The Biden administration also intends to make “significant investments in climate action,” including through international climate finance, said Kerry. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
CALGARY — Enerplus Corp. is increasing its bets on the Bakken light oil region in North Dakota with the purchase of a private rival for US$465 million, despite a legal fight that could shut down a major oil pipeline there. The Calgary-based company said Tuesday it has agreed to buy Bruin E&P HoldCo, LLC, which has current production of about 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. “With immediately adjacent acreage offering strong operational synergies, Bruin’s assets are highly complementary to our existing tier 1 position in the Bakken," said Enerplus CEO Ian Dundas in a statement. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about a federal appeal court decision Tuesday to uphold the ruling of a district judge who last year ordered a full environmental impact review of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Following a complaint by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the district judge ruled last spring that the review conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the 1,886-kilometre pipeline that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border was incomplete. He ordered the pipeline shut down, but that order was reversed. The ruling Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is a setback for the pipeline but also does not require it to stop operating or be emptied of oil while the environmental review is done. In its news release, Enerplus said it expects to achieve an average 2021 Bakken oil price that's discounted by about US$3.25 per barrel below benchmark West Texas Intermediate, an improvement credited to better pipeline access compared with 2020, when the discount was expected to be US$5 per barrel. "In the event DAPL (Dakota Access) is required to cease operations, Enerplus expects Bakken oil price differentials to widen reflecting rail economics ... (to) US$6 per barrel below WTI, assuming 10 months of wider differentials if DAPL cannot operate," it said. The Dakota Access pipeline was the subject of months of sometimes violent protests in 2016 and 2017 during its construction. The tribe continued its legal challenges against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017. Enerplus reported fourth-quarter production of 86,200 boe/d on Tuesday and said that is expected to rise to an average of about 106,000 boe/d in 2021 on capital spending of between C$335 million and C$385 million if the Bruin deal goes through by early March as expected. Enerplus says it will fund the purchase of Bruin with a new US$400-million term loan and a C$115-million equity financing. It says it will not assume any of Bruin's debt. It says most of Bruin's production and development prospects are located in the Fort Berthold area near Enerplus's main property. The company produces oil in Canada, but most of its output comes from the U.S., with oil and gas wells in North Dakota and Montana and natural gas production in the northeastern United States. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:ERF) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A former senior civil servant accused of embezzling $11 million in Ontario COVID-19 relief money betrayed his own family, according to his wife and two sons. In sworn affidavits, the wife of Sanjay Madan and their two adult sons disavow any knowledge of his alleged scheme, which is now the subject of an unproven civil action against them all. According to his affidavit, Chinmaya Madan said he became suspicious of his father around June last year after discovering unexplained money in his bank accounts, some of which he didn't know existed. Only after repeated questioning did his father admit to having "diverted" money and promise to return it, the affidavit states. "I felt betrayed by my father," Chinmaya Madan said in the document filed in Superior Court. "I was and remain absolutely shocked by the allegations." The Ontario government's unproven civil claim names Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop a computer application for the COVID-19 benefit for families with children. Also named are his sons Chinmaya Madan and Ujjal Madan, and his wife of 28 years, Shalini Madan. The claim alleges the Madan family, who all worked for the government in information technology, defrauded the province of at least $11 million. No criminal charges have been filed. The claim asserts the family and others illegally issued and deposited cheques under the program aimed at defraying the cost of children learning at home. The province alleges the Madans opened hundreds of accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May 2020, then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants. Sanjay Madan had always been "controlling and secretive" about money and managed the family's finances, his wife said in her court filing. However, the actions alleged against him were totally out of character, she said, adding she learned of 1,074 Canadian bank accounts in her name, only three of which she said she had opened. "I am at a complete loss to understand why Sanjay would risk everything in the manner he did. We needed nothing. It all makes no sense to me," Shalini Madan says. "The Sanjay the plaintiff describes is like a completely different person than the man who is my husband and the father of our children." In a statement Tuesday, the Madan family's lawyer called the wife and children "victims not villains." "The Sanjay Madan who is alleged to have behaved so inappropriately is not the man they have known," Christopher Du Vernet said. "They are still struggling to understand what prompted him to act as he did, and especially to have used his own family when doing so." The children claim they were the victims of identity theft. They say in their court filings that they believed their father was returning the "diverted" money and was making things right, but also say they wonder if he was just stringing them along. Du Vernet said last week Sanjay Madan had returned more than the $11 million the government alleges he misappropriated. He said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his mental health. His family, Du Vernet said, could only conclude Sanjay Madan had long suffered from a mental disorder that profoundly distorted his judgment. "Mr. Madan’s wife and children are learning that Mr. Madan has actually had two sides to him: the dedicated husband and father they saw, and the miscreant they never saw." The lawyer also said none of Sanjay Madan's family had spent any of the money he allegedly took. In his affidavit, Ujjawal Madan said he never had any reason to suspect any wrongdoing by his father. "As long as I have known him, he has been a conservative spender," he said. The government, which fired Madan in November, has a court order freezing the family's assets, which included properties in Toronto. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Companies that want in on a new federal loan program will have to show sharp revenue declines during the pandemic and that they have already applied for other business aid. The new loans, from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), will open for applications on Monday and is on top of existing loan programs targeting small businesses. Loans will start at between $25,000 and $1 million for a single business depending on the size of the operation, and run up to $6.25 million for companies with multiple locations like a chain of hotels or restaurants. Details made public Tuesday say rates will be set at four per cent across the board, terms will be up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan. But to get the money, companies will have show a year-over-year revenue drop of 50 per cent or more over three months, not necessarily consecutive, in the eight months before filing an application. Companies will also have to show that they at least applied for either the federal wage or rent subsidies. The federally backed loan can be used for rent, utilities and help with payroll, among other costs, to keep operations running through public health restrictions, but can't be used to pay or refinance existing loans. Small Business Minister Mary Ng says the funding isn't targeted to any one sector, but available to any business that meets the eligibility criteria. "So whether it is your favourite neighbourhood restaurant, that bed and breakfast, a local movie theatre, or even a franchise restaurant or hotel, businesses that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 will now have the support that they need to keep moving forward," Ng said by video during a midday press conference. The head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is welcoming the launch of the new program to provide fresh financing to troubled companies. But Dan Kelly also says in a tweet that the government must consider making part of the loan forgivable, like an existing aid program, because "more loans are not the answer to the mountain of debt small firms are facing." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's public safety minister says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most "despicable" things he's heard in a long time. Mike Farnworth says the alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker show a "complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass." Tickets filed in a Whitehorse court show the 55-year-old man and his 32-year-old wife were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them. Ekaterina Baker did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment while Rodney Baker did not immediately return a request for comment sent to Great Canadian Gaming, which accepted his resignation Sunday. Farnworth said the couple paid a "pretty high price," with Rodney Baker losing what the minister described as a "$10-million-a-year job." An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March 2020 says Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million in compensation from the company in 2019. The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act and both people face fines of $1,000, plus fees. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Short-seller Andrew Left does not usually smoke. Left, who has built a reputation by targeting companies he thinks are overvalued, is as convinced as ever that videogame retailer GameStop is a dying business whose stock price will fall sharply someday. GameStop did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says after the last four years, he's confident Canada can safely navigate the perils of Joe Biden’s new protectionist Buy American regime. Trudeau says it's worth remembering that Canada survived former president Donald Trump’s persistent attacks on NAFTA and Canadian steel and aluminum exporters. And he says his federal Liberal government is far more closely aligned with the current White House than it ever was with Biden's "extremely protectionist" predecessor. But Trudeau refused to say if Canada faces a tougher fight than in 2010, when it secured an exception to then-president Barack Obama's version of similar procurement rules. Conservative MP Tracy Gray, the party's international trade critic, says Biden's plan to prioritize U.S. suppliers will jeopardize North America's economic recovery. Gray says she plans to press Trudeau in the House of Commons to push back hard on the U.S., especially after last week's Day 1 decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. "Over the past four years, we faced an American administration that was both unpredictable and extremely protectionist, and we were able every step of the way to stand up for Canadian interests," Trudeau said. "We were there to be able to advocate for Canada's interests, and I can tell you we will continue to be effective in advocating for Canada's interests with this new administration." The latest Buy American strategy is the second potential blow to Canada's economic fortunes to land in less than a week. On his first day in the White House, Biden rescinded the presidential permit for Keystone XL, a controversial cross-border link between the Alberta oilsands and refineries and ports on the U.S. Gulf Coast. "Expressing concern and disappointment on important issues to Canadian businesses and workers is simply not enough," Gray said in a statement. "Canada and U.S. trade are closely tied — but this Buy American plan puts our mutual economic recovery at risk." In announcing the new rules Monday, Biden warned that waivers would be granted only under "very limited circumstances." The aim of the policy, a cornerstone of Biden's successful election campaign, was to win over the same protectionist blue-collar workers who helped elect Donald Trump in 2016. The idea is to make sure American manufacturers, workers and suppliers reap the rewards of U.S. government spending, including an estimated $600 billion a year in procurement contracts. Monday's executive order will set a higher threshold for what qualifies as U.S.-made, establish more stringent oversight tools and enforce the rules more rigidly. It also sets up a "Made in America" office attached to the White House to police the use of waivers — the exceptions that allow Canadian contractors, manufacturers and suppliers access to a lucrative and often essential source of business. That office will "review waivers to make sure they are only used in very limited circumstances — for example, when there's an overwhelming national security, humanitarian or emergency need here in America," Biden said. "This hasn't happened before. It will happen now." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
“Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause,” by Ty Seidule (St. Martin’s Press) Few authors can say they have lived their story with quite the same authority as Ty Seidule, retired U.S. Army brigadier general and professor emeritus of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, and lived a life of white privilege provided by de-facto segregation. He revered Robert E. Lee. Now, with the vigour of a prosecutor, Seidule dismantles the near-sacred beliefs among many Southerners that the Civil War was a noble cause to preserve a way of life that benefitted everyone. Robert Edward Lee personified the myths of a romantic era, a righteous cause and contented slaves who were better off than they had been in Africa. Seidule’s book is particularly timely given the recent raid on the Capitol by hundreds of mostly white believers in an assortment of old and new myths. At least two of those who broke into the Capitol carried Confederate flags. Seidule finished his book before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which made his research and writing even more soul-wrenching. In the Civil War, he writes, “the United States fought against a rebel force that would not accept the results of a democratic election and chose armed rebellion.” Lee, still memorialized in scores of monuments, roads, counties and historical markers, was a traitor, Seidule writes, abandoning his oath of allegiance to the United States to lead the fight to preserve slavery. Does something endemic in the American character render us susceptible to accepting beliefs unsupported by even feeble evidence? That’s a question for another book; Seidule has offered clear and compelling evidence, to our shame as a nation, that many of us remain unwilling to confront an American past that includes slavery, lynchings and embedded segregation that endures today. Seidule’s book still has some chapters to be written — probably soon. Embedded in the 2021 military budget are directives to change the names of Army bases named for confederates. And for whom should those based be renamed? Seidule has thought that out too. In a Washington Post essay in June 2020, he recommends, among others, Vernon Baker, a Black lieutenant and Medal of Honor winner for his World War II heroism, and Charles Young, the third Black graduate of West Point. Young was forced to retire because then-President Woodrow Wilson didn’t want a Black man leading white troops. The monuments and confederate names elsewhere also must go, Seidule writes, observing that otherwise they serve the same purpose as lynchings — to enforce white supremacy. Seidule has written an extraordinary and courageous book, a confessional of America’s great sins of slavery and racial oppression, a call to confront our wrongs, reject our mythologized racist past and resolve to create a just future for all. Jeff Rowe, The Associated Press