Ontario has officially gone into lockdown during what is known as one of the busiest days of the year for retailers. It comes as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to soar. Brittany Rosen has more details.
Ontario has officially gone into lockdown during what is known as one of the busiest days of the year for retailers. It comes as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to soar. Brittany Rosen has more details.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
A 21-year-old woman who went missing Thursday after she went snowshoeing in B.C.'s North Shore Mountains has been found dead. CBC has identified her as Nikki Donnelly of Ontario based on information provided by rescue officials and social media accounts. Donnelly posted a short video Thursday afternoon on Instagram from atop St. Mark's Summit, a popular hiking spot north of Vancouver, that documented the picturesque ocean view. Shortly after, the young woman, who was visiting B.C. from Ontario, made her way back down the Howe Sound Crest Trail, according to officials with North Shore Rescue. She soon called her boyfriend in Toronto to tell him she was lost and in distress before the call dropped. The woman's disappearance set off an 18-hour search that ended with rescue crews discovering her body Friday morning, at about 10:40 a.m. PT, in a steep drainage area below the summit. The crew flew the woman by helicopter back to their rescue base, where she was pronounced dead. "Our thoughts are with the woman's family and friends, as well with all the responders and search teams to the St. Mark's area last night and today," Sgt. Sascha Banks with Squamish RCMP said in a statement. The police did not identify the woman, but rescue officials referred to her by her first name, Nikki, and noted she had posted a video from the summit. WATCH | Hiker posts video atop St. Mark's Summit before going missing: Called boyfriend several times Crews were called to look for Donnelly round 5 p.m. PT Thursday, but despite an all-night search with two helicopters and night-vision equipment, she was not found overnight. North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks said fresh search teams returned to the area at first light on Friday to look for any signs of the woman or possible tracks off the trail. The St. Mark's Summit hike is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, a 28-kilometre trail that winds through the mountaintops north of Vancouver. The hike typically takes four to five hours round-trip and leads hikers to a peak with a view of the ocean and islands. Danks said the woman called her boyfriend when she reached St. Mark's Summit. She phoned him again on her way down, and shortly after made the final distress call that dropped. Snowshoer unlikely prepared to spend the night Rescue crews said Donnelly was likely out for a day trip and was probably unprepared to spend the night on the mountain. There was a "significant" amount of snow, and windy, rainy weather had wiped out searchers' tracks. Danks said the only indication that the woman was on the mountain was from the video she took and her registered rental car still parked in the Cypress Mountain parking lot. Her cellphone was most recently pinged at 3:30 p.m. PT Thursday. Based on the ping, Danks said, crews reasoned the woman was on the east side of the peak, where her body was later found. RCMP on Friday urged anyone who is in need of help while exploring remote areas to call 911. "As well, before you leave, please: research your area, take all the equipment you need, know your skill level, follow weather patterns, know snow conditions, and have a trip plan," Banks said. Squamish RCMP will work with the BC Coroners Service to investigate the woman's death.
Calling Métis an "interest group," as Premier Brian Pallister did Wednesday after touring the Brandon vaccination site, does not sit well with Manitoba Metis Federation David Chartrand. "It’s insulting," said Chartrand. When The Brandon Sun asked Pallister to explain the lack of a COVID-19 data sharing agreement with the federation, including the lack of a partnership to ensure Métis are prioritized for vaccines as First Nations have been, he was quick to bristle. But instead of answering the question, the premier spoke about Indigenous people generally, First Nations and reconciliation. "Well, Métis representatives have been at the table and have been part of this. But, of course, Métis people live integrated, for the most part, with the rest of us in the province, as opposed to a lot of the Northern Indigenous communities that do not. And, so, the considerations are not identical, as you would recognize," he said, when pressed. When pressed again, he said, "There are significant efforts being made to work with our interest groups in our province, in particular with the Indigenous and Métis people to make sure that we’re doing what’s culturally appropriate, what works well for their population, what’s acceptable, agreeable, sensitive to their needs. That work is ongoing." But Chartrand objects to Pallister’s statements. He said the only committee the federation – a self-governing political representative for Manitoba Métis – has been asked to sit on is about how best to communicate about vaccines, which has nothing to do with the roll-out. To begin with, Chartrand explained, in some villages, the clear majority will be First Nation and Métis, with very few non-Indigenous people living in them. Chartrand offers Camperville, on the western shore of Lake Winnipegosis, St. Laurent, established as Fond du Lac in 1824 by Métis, and St. Eustache as examples of predominantly Métis villages. "Those are Métis villages. The vast majority (of people) are Métis. These are historical Métis villages which existed even before Canada existed, before the Province of Manitoba," Chartrand said. "Excuse me, but I can tell you where every Métis person lives. I can tell you their chronic illnesses. I can tell you their education level. I can tell you what universities they’re going to. I can tell you what colleges they’re going to." Further, Chartrand said Pallister has a responsibility to establish a distinct process with Métis, and that he’s making excuses not to engage with Métis as a rights-holding Indigenous population. NDP leader Wab Kinew weighed in, after Pallister’s appearance in Brandon. "Unfortunately, Mr. Pallister has politicized his relationship with the Métis people in Manitoba. And I think, in this instance, it’s getting in the way of public health," he said. He said due to the strong work of First Nations health leaders, the benefits of data sharing and strategizing can be seen, and that the Métis community being able to participate in the same kind of arrangement would probably benefit all Manitobans. "If there is one group in society that – whether it’s a cultural group, a geographic region, a socio-economic group – that gets left behind, and that becomes the opening by which the virus can spread, then that affects all of us," Kinew said. "Then we all have to live with the virus or the public health restrictions that are attempting to combat it." He thinks the Métis are raising an important issue and Pallister would do well to dramatically improve his working relationship with them. Jerry Daniels, the Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO), concurs. "SCO supports our Métis relatives in their efforts to have allotments of COVID-19 vaccines that they can distribute to their own people," stated Daniels by email. "COVID-19 has impacted the Métis population in Manitoba and there needs to be accountability for this. There also needs to be a facts-based approach to vaccine distribution, to ensure they receive a fair amount of vaccines and can keep their most vulnerable people safe. So far, the province has been unwilling to collaborate with the Metis Nation." Meanwhile, in a follow-up email from a Pallister spokesperson, Chartrand’s previous statements on this matter were denigrated. "Contrary to the inaccurate and inflammatory comments made by the president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, the Government of Manitoba appreciates the willingness of the MMF to assist in Manitoba’s COVID-19 response," stated the spokesperson later Wednesday afternoon. "We have invited them to work with us, in partnership, to discuss how Métis communities can be supported to enhance their ability to access Manitoba’s three COVID-19 vaccination super sites. We have yet to receive a response to this invitation, but remain optimistic about the prospect of working together on this pivotal aspect of the vaccination strategy." But that’s not what Chartrand wants. He wants an allocation of vaccine, and he would partner with pharmacies to deliver them to vulnerable Métis, likely much the same way the science has dictated priority groups so far. "We’d pay them (pharmacies) to give the vaccines. We’d put up the resources to make sure it’s there. We know where our people live, we know their ages, we know their locations, we know the communities. We can quickly put an action team together and a plan – overnight," Chartrand said. When asked about a possible "plan B" if the Province of Manitoba continues to exclude the federation from meaningful participation in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in the province, to ensure the most vulnerable Métis are adequately protected, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) stated the federal government places great importance on including Indigenous voices in the priority-setting for early vaccination. "ISC is working collaboratively with all provinces and territories to encourage inclusion of Indigenous perspectives to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to support the administration and planning process of the COVID-19 vaccine for Indigenous peoples," stated a spokesperson by email. "The logistics of a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out require coordination amongst partners and provinces and territories; an efficient and effective roll-out requires co-planning and is dependent on full collaboration."Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Québec souhaite mettre en valeur la participation et le leadership des femmes et des filles dans les secteurs du sport, du plein air et de l’activité physique. C’est pourquoi il fait appel à la Fondation Québec en forme, devenue M361, dont le siège social est à Trois-Rivières, pour la mise en place d’une stratégie globale de mobilisation en collaboration avec le ministère de l’Éducation. Le gouvernement a fait connaître son intention dans le cadre d’une annonce de recrutement d’organismes ciblés possédant l’expertise des enjeux liés aux femmes dans les secteurs du sport, du plein air et de l’activité physique. Son choix s’est arrêté sur Québec en forme à la suite d’un accord de gré à gré. Québec en forme était une organisation québécoise fondée en 2002, issue d’une entente de partenariat de 480 millions $ entre la Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon et le gouvernement du Québec. Son mandat était de promouvoir la bonne forme physique et la saine alimentation auprès des enfants de 0 à 17 ans. En septembre 2019, Québec en forme devient M361. Elle se transforme en une toute nouvelle organisation et redirige ses activités vers l’activité physique et la saine alimentation. En vertu du mandat accordé, M361 devra recruter des partenaires et experts oeuvrant en sport, plein air et activité physique pour la mise en commun des stratégies favorisant le recrutement et la rétention des femmes et des filles dans les domaines du sport, du plein air et de l’activité physique. Pour ce faire, ils devront valoriser et mettre en lumière des modèles féminins dans ces secteurs d’activité. Parmi les organismes ciblés figurent Égale Action et Fillactive. Le travail consistera à élaborer une image de marque pour lancer et accompagner la stratégie globale, produire des outils promotionnels, incluant une vidéo ainsi qu’un événement de lancement, tout en assurant le développement d’un site Web. Le projet doit prendre son envol l’automne prochain pour une période de deux ans. Malgré nos demandes d’entrevue par courriel, il n’a pas été possible de discuter avec la direction de M361 pour obtenir plus de détails.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Russia announced on Friday it was pulling out of the Open Skies treaty, saying that the pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, had been seriously compromised by the withdrawal of the United States. The move, announced by Russia's foreign ministry, comes days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration amid fears of a burgeoning arms race. Moscow's last major nuclear arms pact with Washington is set to expire next month.
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up the vaccine rollout and providing financial help to individuals, governments and businesses.
Three Innu men from Quebec were fined on Jan. 7 after being found guilty of illegally hunting caribou in Labrador in 2015. The three men, Roger Mark, Jacques Mark and Jean-Phillipe Vollant, were found guilty of violating the Wildlife Act and fined $1,000 each. Vollant was also found guilty of obstructing a wildlife officer and fined $200. Prosecutor Jim Clarke had asked Judge Kari Ann Pike to impose penalties on the lower end of the range because the three men co-operated with the wildlife officers. “It was non-confrontational is what I’d suggest and that is why the Crown is leaning towards the lower end of those scales and recommending the court impose minimum fines,” he told the court at the sentencing hearing. The incident that lead to the charges happened on Oct. 25, 2015. The Fish and Wildlife enforcement division in Happy Valley-Goose Bay received a complaint that three men were illegally hunting caribou in the Birchy Lake area. Four officers were sent out to do a helicopter patrol of the area and saw a tent set up near the edge of Birchy Lake. They landed, went to the campsite and found the Mark brothers there, with Vollant offshore in a canoe. When asked to come ashore by the officers, he initially refused before complying. That refusal is what led to his obstruction charge. The officers seized hunting gear, a rifle, a shotgun, and meat and animal parts at the campsite. The meat was sent to Trent University to be identified and it was verified to be caribou. A report entered into evidence verified that the camp location and hunt was within the range of the Mealy Mountain population, which are listed as endangered. During the sentencing, defence lawyer Francois Levesque said the men, who have hunted caribou since they were children, had acted respectfully to the caribou, which the Innu have traditionally hunted for generations. “It was a very respectful manner of doing the infraction, if I may put it that way,” Levesque said. “It’s not the worst case we’ve seen of poaching, if I can put it like that. Of course, the remaining fact is that caribou is endangered. Whether it is Red Wine caribou, George River caribou, it was endangered.” Pike said it was an aggravating factor that the men had planned the trip knowing they were not allowed to hunt caribou in the area, but there were also a number of mitigating factors. There was no indication the hunt was for anything but subsistence, she said, and on land the Innu have traditionally used for that purpose for a long time.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden has picked a former Food and Drug commissioner to lead vaccine science in his drive to put 100 million shots into the arms of Americans in his administration's first 100 days and stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. David Kessler, who will have the title of chief science officer of COVID response, headed the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s under presidents of both political parties. He has been acting as a top pandemic adviser to Biden and his appointment was announced Friday by the presidential transition office. Kessler will work out of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, assuming responsibility for the scientific side of Operation Warp Speed, an effort launched under the Trump administration to rapidly develop vaccines and treatments. The drive has already produced two highly effective vaccines, and more are on the way. Nonetheless, the nation's vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start, and most of the vaccine being delivered to states by the federal government is not being used right away. A person advising the Biden transition team said Kessler will take on the role now being carried out by Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a prominent vaccine scientist and innovator who has been serving as chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed. Several vaccine candidates in the pipeline are in final clinical trials, and one company is expected to soon apply for FDA emergency approval for its formulation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Kessler will co-ordinate vaccine review and approval, as well as the logistics of manufacturing millions more doses. Experts say the U.S. will need to vaccinate upwards of 250 million people to approach the goal of “herd immunity," where there is widespread resistance to virus allowing for a return to normal life. So far fewer than 12 million doses have been administered. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
Eleven adult male deer, or bucks, were harvested by hunters from the Shawanaga and Wasauksing First Nations during last month’s controlled harvest inside Killbear Provincial Park west of Parry Sound. The figures were released Jan. 11, by Shawanaga band manager Adam Good. It was the first time since the park opened in 1964 that Indigenous hunters were allowed inside the park boundary in order to harvest deer on their traditional and treaty hunting grounds. It was held from Dec. 15 to 18 and the park was closed to the public for the hunt for safety reasons. Hunters were restricted to shotguns only. Good said that 15 hunters in total from the two territories took part in the event. There had been concerns that protesters, who had expressed opposition to the harvest on social media, might also try to invade the park for the harvest but Good said that never materialized. “We were thinking that there could’ve been some sort of petition or a protest but that never occurred. It wasn’t a huge hunt. The number of hunters was low … there were some COVID scares but it was good for the first start. It was more about awareness,” Good said. He added that the harvest was the culmination of years of negotiations between park staff, other officials and the two First Nations. Good said that it is not yet clear if the harvest will become an annual event. He said they may look at making it a bow hunt in the future. He added that youngsters and Elders also accompanied the hunters with a goal of educating the young people about responsible harvesting on land that had used been used by Indigenous hunters for hundreds of years. Good said that the two First Nations will work with the park on just exactly what future hunts might look like. Prior to the hunt getting underway, Good said that a prayer and smudging ceremony was held. Both chiefs, Shawanaga’s Wayne Pamajewon and Warren Tabobondung, took part, he added. Good said that some hunters also brought their families with them for the historic harvest. “The (kids) were amazed. It’s a learning experience and they loved being outdoors. It’s something you can’t teach in the classroom. It’s being outdoors and experiencing it first hand. It was a life lesson that the youth won’t soon forget,” Good said. “They now understand that this is traditional territory where they can exercise their rights whether that be hunting, fishing or picking berries.” Good said the venison from the harvest has been shared with community members, particularly Elders. He added that the food was appreciated by all, especially during the global pandemic when getting out of the home to shop has been more complicated. “The meat was delivered to the Elders’ homes. They were very thankful. The Elders always enjoy receiving venison or moose,” Good said. Kenton Otterbein, education leader for the park, stated in an email that the harvest went off without a hitch. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
The province is adding text messaging to its COVID-19 communication toolbox. "Text messages will now be used to support case and contact monitoring on a daily basis, in addition to phone calls from contact tracers and automated phone messages," said acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal Thursday afternoon. Text will serve a number of functions: as an alert that test results are available on the Manitoba COVID-19 online result display, in combination with other support during isolation, as an opportunity to confirm isolation status, to report changes in symptoms, and to request direct contact from a contact tracer. "Over the next few days, this service will be ramped up so that more of the individuals self-isolating will receive texts as part of case and contact monitoring. Text messages are another way public health officials interact with Manitobans and, similar to a phone call, it’s important that the public respond to these text messages as soon as possible to improve the speed and accuracy of our efforts to stop the spread of COVID," Atwal said. Lanette Siragusa, provincial lead for health system integration and quality and chief nursing officer for Shared Health then took the press present at the virtual meeting through hospitalization numbers: 117 hospitalized with active COVID-19 and 16 people in intensive care with active COVID-19. As for personal care homes, Siragusa said staffing is fairly stable related to meeting the demands of the pandemic. "(There’s) quite a bit of focus is on community outbreaks. We’re working with the regional health authorities and partners to make sure that people have safe spaces to isolate whether it be in their regions or coming to Winnipeg," she said. "That work is ongoing." Atwal noted the province is behind on updating active cases in the province – rather than 2,866, the reality is closer to 1,394. "Work is being done to correct that administrative issue," he said. Regarding public consultations, which have been promised so that Manitobans can provide input on a way forward when it becomes possible to ease restrictions, Atwal said that’s still in the planning phase. "When we’re ready, that information will be provided to the public," he said. The COVID-19 update from the province on Thursday saw two additional deaths listed, including one patient from the Prairie Mountain Health region – a male in his 90s linked to the McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre outbreak. The province reported 261 new cases, but two cases were removed due to data correction, bringing yesterday’s new cases to 259 The new cases are as follows: \- 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; \- 139 cases in the Northern health region; \- 23 in the Prairie Mountain Health region; \- 13 cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and \- 75 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10 per cent in the province, and 7.1 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 26,954, with 755 deaths or 2.8 per cent. There are currently 2,866 active cases in the province, with 23,313 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 The province also reported 117 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 173 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 290 hospitalizations. Sixteen people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 21 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 37 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 218 active cases, with 1,511 recovered. There are 18 people hospitalized, with no patients in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 73. Wednesday, 2,333 tests were completed, for a total of 446,018 since February. » Source: Province of Manitoba As of Jan. 11, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 42 total cases, 14 staff infected, 28 non-staff infected, 37 active cases, one recovered, four death. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths. • Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home: 42 total cases, 18 staff infected, 24 residents infected, 1 active case, 32 recovered, nine deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 1 active cases, 31 recovered, five deaths. • St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: No information Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of ManitobaMichèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today that global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada, further complicating the slow rollout of doses. Anand said she was told last night that Pfizer will send fewer doses than expected because it is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. "This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccines manufactured at its European facility, and that includes Canada," Anand told reporters at a public health briefing. "Pfizer believes that by the end of March it will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track for the total committed doses for Q1," she added, referring to the first quarter of the calendar year. Anand stressed that this is a "temporary reduction" and not a "stoppage," as some doses will still be shipped to Canada when some of Pfizer's manufacturing lines are idle. "It's going to be temporary, it's not a loss, and we will make up those doses," she said, adding deliveries will be disrupted for "two or three weeks." WATCH | Canada affected by Pfizer vaccine production delay in Europe: Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics, said Canada's allotment will be reduced by 50 per cent for four weeks. He said the shipment next week of roughly 208,000 doses will proceed as planned, but shipments over the subsequent four weeks will be substantially smaller as a result of this manufacturing hiccup. Fortin said Canada will experience the "most profound impact" during the week of Jan. 25, when Pfizer will ship just a quarter of what had been promised originally. All told, the delivery of roughly 400,000 doses has been punted to a later date. Fortin stressed that Pfizer's shipments will scale up after that point and "return to what we expected for end-February and onwards." The general has stated previously that Canada was expecting the delivery of 1.4 million Pfizer doses that month. "As numbers increase, Pfizer indicated that they intend to offset the impact of their production dip," he said. "It will hurt in the short-term but ... the manufacturer is committed to the doses it has promised us." A spokesperson for Pfizer Canada said the delay will allow the company to significantly scale up its manufacturing operations and pump out up to 2 billion vaccine doses this year — up from the previous target of 1.3 billion. The company said there will be "fluctuations in orders and shipping schedules" as it works to increase production volumes. "As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility. Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January and February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March," the spokesperson said. Other countries supplied by Pfizer's European facility provided some rough estimates Friday of how deliveries will be affected as Pfizer retools. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it expects deliveries to be reduced by as much as 20 per cent over the coming weeks. Lithuania said it was told its supplies would be halved until mid-February. "The manufacturer told us the cuts are EU-wide," Lithuanian health ministry spokesperson Vytautas Beniusis told Reuters. Anand said the federal government still expects to receive roughly four million doses of the Pfizer product in the first three months of this year. Moderna is expected to deliver another two million doses of its vaccine. Pfizer also has a plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., but all of Canada's doses are being shipped from the company's European operation. "While both our U.S. and European sites are approved by Health Canada to supply the Canadian market, the supply to Canada has been allocated from our Puurs site in Belgium. For the time being, that has not changed," the Pfizer spokesperson said. Later Friday, in an interview with CBC's Power & Politics, Anand said she did try to negotiate with the company to avoid this delay but was unsuccessful. "In my telephone conversation with them, I did raise what other measures we could take," she said. Pfizer's Michigan plant is only 220 kilometres away from the Detroit-Windsor border crossing. Asked if Canada could receive doses from the Michigan plant while the Brussels location is working at reduced capacity, Anand said those products have been earmarked already for the American market. 'Bumps along the way' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to assure Canadians today that the "temporary" delays won't derail the government's long-term goal of getting everyone who wants a shot vaccinated by the end of September. He also said he doesn't expect the manufacturing pause to "change our second quarter goals. Canada must still get ready for the 'ramp up' phase in Q2." Fortin has said the country is expecting delivery of about one million vaccine shots each week starting in April. In the spring, Canada will shift from phase one of the vaccine rollout — immunizing particularly vulnerable people, such as long-term care home residents, some Indigenous adults and health care providers — to wider distribution among the general population. Trudeau said the government always anticipated some "bumps along the way," given the unprecedented global demand for vaccines. WATCH: Trudeau says Pfizer's reduction is 'just temporary' "This kind of issue is out of our hands and that's why we pursued an aggressive procurement strategy in the first place," Trudeau said, adding Canada is not entirely dependent on Pfizer for shots. Other promising vaccine candidates, such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen, are currently being reviewed by regulators at Health Canada.
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
MILAN — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was released Friday from a hospital in the French Riviera city-state of Monaco where he underwent medical tests for heart problems, his press office said. The 84-year-old three-time premier said in a message to supporters that his health was good and that he entered the hospital to carry out some tests that were “a little more than routine” and ordered by his personal physician out of caution. “I am not worried about my condition,’’ Berlusconi wrote. “I am worried for the many Italian victims of COVID and other illnesses, and for the many other Italians who are suffering from the consequences of a very serious crisis.” Berlusconi was hospitalized for COVID-19 for about 10 days in September and underwent heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016. He has had a pacemaker for years, and also has overcome prostate cancer and a series of other ailments. . Berlusconi described his bout with COVID-19 as “insidious,” calling it the most dangerous challenge he ever faced. The media mogul no longer holds public office, but remains the head of his Forza Italia party and is vocal in national politics. On Friday, he sent a message of solidarity for the opening of the Christian Democratic Party’s national convention this weekend. Last week, he issued a strong condemnation of the siege of the U.S. Capitol, saying President Trump’s refusal to accept his election defeat had created “a very dangerous laceration in American society.” The Associated Press
MOSCOW — Russia said on Friday that it will withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities after the U.S. exit from the pact, compounding the challenges faced by the incoming administration of president-elect Joe Biden. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year “significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states,” adding that Moscow’s proposals to keep the treaty alive after the U.S. exit have been cold-shouldered by Washington’s allies. The ministry said that Russia is now launching the relevant procedures to withdraw from the pact "due to the lack of progress in removing the obstacles for the treaty's functioning in the new conditions.” The Russian parliament, which ratified the treaty in 2001, will now have to vote to leave it. The treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities. More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty, aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping monitor arms control and other agreements. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party. The U.S. completed its withdrawal from the pact in November. Russia denied breaching the treaty, which came into force in 2002. The European Union has urged the U.S. to reconsider and called on Russia to stay in the pact and lift flight restrictions, notably over its westernmost Kaliningrad region, which lies between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland. Russia has argued that the limits on flights over Kaliningrad, which hosts sizable military forces, are permissible under the treaty’s terms, noting that the U.S. has imposed more sweeping restrictions on observation flights over Alaska. As a condition for staying in the pact after the U.S. pullout, Moscow unsuccessfully sought guarantees from NATO allies that they wouldn't transfer the data collected during their observation flights over Russia to the U.S. Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said in televised remarks Friday that Russia could review its decision to withdraw if the U.S. decides to return to the pact, but acknowledged that the prospect looks “utopian.” Moscow has warned that the U.S. withdrawal will erode global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other nations, particularly amid Russia-West tensions after the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The demise of the Open Skies Treaty follows the U.S. and Russian withdrawal in 2019 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles), weapons seen as particularly destabilizing because of the shorter time they take to reach targets compared with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The only U.S.-Russian arms control pact still standing is the New START treaty that expires in three weeks. Moscow and Washington have discussed the possibility of its extension, but have so far failed to overcome their differences. Biden has spoken for the preservation of the New START treaty and Russia has said it's open for its quick and unconditional extension. But negotiating the deal before the pact expires on Feb. 5 appears extremely challenging. New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It 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. Arms control advocates have warned that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia — A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk has received a reprieve after a U.S. bird organization declared its identifying leg band was fake. The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the U.S. state of Oregon, 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) away, two months earlier. On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it. But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake. The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States which is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said. “The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Roberts said. “They do not need to kill him.” Australia's Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, agreed that the pigeon dubbed Joe, after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, was wearing a “fraudulent copy” leg band. “Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk,” it said in a statement. The department said it will take no further action. Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack had earlier said there would be no mercy if the pigeon was from the United States. “If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” McCormack said. Martin Foley, health minister for Victoria state where Joe is living, had called for the federal government to spare the bird even if it posed a disease risk. “I would urge the Commonwealth’s quarantine officials to show a little bit of compassion,” Foley said. Andy Meddick, a Victorian lawmaker for the minor Animal Justice Party, called for a “pigeon pardon for Joe.” “Should the federal government allow Joe to live, I am happy to seek assurances that he is not a flight risk,” Meddick said. Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the emaciated bird in his backyard, was surprised by the change of nationality but pleased that the bird he named Joe would not be destroyed. “I thought this is just a feel-good story and now you guys want to put this pigeon away and I thought it’s not on, you know, you can’t do that, there has got to be other options,” Celli-Bird said of the threat to euthanize. Celli-Bird had contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the bird’s owner based on the number on the leg band. The bands have both a number and a symbol, but Celli-Bird didn’t remember the symbol and said he can no longer catch the bird since it has recovered from its initial weakness. The bird with the genuine leg band had disappeared from a 560-kilometre (350-mile) race in Oregon on Oct. 29, Crooked River Challenge owner Lucas Cramer said. That bird did not have a racing record that would make it valuable enough to steal its identity, he said. “That bird didn’t finish the race series, it didn’t make any money and so its worthless, really,” Cramer said. He said it was possible a pigeon could cross the Pacific on a ship from Oregon to Australia. “In reality, it could potentially happen, but this isn’t the same pigeon. It’s not even a racing pigeon,” Cramer said. The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes with a native dove on a pergola. “I might have to change him to Aussie Joe, but he’s just the same pigeon,” Celli-Bird said. Lars Scott, a carer at Pigeon Rescue Melbourne, a bird welfare group, said pigeons with American leg bands were not uncommon around the city. A number of Melbourne breeders bought them online and used them for their own record keeping, Scott said. Australian quarantine authorities are notoriously strict. In 2015, the government threatened to euthanize two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Amazon Inc's cloud computing division opened its first office in Greece on Friday to support what it said was a growing number of companies and public sector agencies using its cloud services. The move by Amazon Web Services (AWS) comes as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's conservative government has stepped up efforts to attract foreign investment and draw high tech companies to Greece. "We have seen increased customer adoption of AWS in the country and decided to open an office in Athens to better support new customers," Przemek Szuder, the head of AWS operations in central and eastern Europe said in a statement.