Calgary police are cracking down on anti-mask rally organizers and others who disregard public health rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christa Dao reports, CPS have issued dozens of tickets since enhanced measures were introduced.
Calgary police are cracking down on anti-mask rally organizers and others who disregard public health rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christa Dao reports, CPS have issued dozens of tickets since enhanced measures were introduced.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Huronia West OPP were called to a collision between a farm tractor driven by Springwater resident Teunis Ploeg, 84, and a motorcycle driven by David Ball, 64, of Essa Township on July 10. The bike and tractor collided on Highway 26 near Horseshoe Valley Road shortly before 1:30 p.m. Ball was thrown from his motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene. As a result of the police investigation, Ploeg has been charged with Careless Driving Causing Death and could face provincial fines up to $50,000 and/or up to two years in prison. Ploeg is scheduled to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Wasaga Beach on March 2, 2021. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Huronia West OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is an anonymous tip line; contributors don’t testify and could receive a cash reward up to $2,000. As a result of the police investigation, Ploeg has been charged with Careless Driving Causing Death and could face provincial fines up to $50,000 and/or up to two years in prison. Ploeg is scheduled to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Wasaga Beach on March 2, 2021. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
A busy thief smashed out the glass doors to two businesses in downtown Halifax early Tuesday morning making off with two cash registers, according to Halifax Regional Police. The first break in happened around 2:55 a.m., an alarm went off at Boston Pizza on Granville Street drawing police to the scene. When police arrived they found part of the restaurants' glass door had been smashed. A cash register and other items had been stolen from inside, according to a news release from the Halifax police. Then around 3:05 a.m. another business' alarm went off this time at Creamy Rainbow, a bakery and cafe on Dresden Row. Once again the thief had smashed the business' glass door to get inside, and taken the cash register. So far no one has been arrested. The suspect in both break ins is a white man about 30 years old, with short brown hair and glasses. The man was wearing a black jacket with a white hoodie underneath, black pants and black sneakers with white soles. Police say anyone with information about the incident or suspect should contact them or send an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers. MORE TOP STORIES
La proposition du conseiller de l’opposition David De Cotis de rebaptiser l’aréna Saint-François du nom de Jacques St-Jean a rallié les élus du parti au pouvoir, des deux oppositions et des élus indépendants lors de la séance du conseil municipal de janvier. Ainsi, il a été décidé à l’unanimité d’en saisir le comité chargé d’analyser les demandes de dénomination toponymique. «C’est un honneur en tant que représentant des citoyens de Saint-François d’appuyer cette proposition», a déclaré le conseiller et membre du Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers, Éric Morasse. Son collègue Yannick Langlois, qui préside aux destinées du Comité de toponymie, a pour sa part qualifié Jacques St-Jean de «bâtisseur» et de «personnalité très importante dans l’histoire du hockey et du sport de Laval», précisant que «le comité analysera le dossier» à la lumière de la Politique de dénomination toponymique. Celle-ci, adoptée au printemps 2018, vise à mettre en valeur le patrimoine et la culture locale par l’attribution de noms évocateurs à des lieux et espaces publics. Aux yeux de M. De Cotis, le proposeur, il s’agirait d’un «honneur bien mérité» pour celui qui s’est dévoué pendant plus d’un demi-siècle auprès de la population lavalloise. Conseiller municipal de Saint-François pendant 24 ans, soit jusqu’à ce qu’il quitte la vie politique en 2017, Jacques St-Jean avait été régisseur des sports pour l’ancienne ville de Chomedey avant la grande fusion de 1965. Son nom est indissociable du hockey, lui qui a notamment dirigé dans les années 1970 le National de Laval à la belle époque de Mike Bossy. En 1975, il fonda sa propre école de hockey qui, pendant plus de 40 ans, a accueilli des milliers de jeunes Lavallois. Aujourd’hui âgé de 85 ans, M. St-Jean, qui fut intronisé au Temple de la renommée du hockey québécois en 1996, a fait carrière dans l’enseignement, plus précisément au sein de la défunte Commission scolaire de Chomedey où il a œuvré à titre de conseiller pédagogique en éducation physique. Si cette proposition devait être entérinée par le Comité de toponymie, l’aréna Saint-François deviendrait le 4e amphithéâtre à être rebaptisé sous l’administration Demers. En 2014, l’aréna Laval-Ouest est devenu l’aréna Hartland-Monahan en l’honneur de celui qui fut le premier Lavallois repêché par la Ligue nationale de hockey. Les défunts Golden Seals de la Californie en avait fait leur choix en 1971. Deux ans plus tard, ce fut au tour de l’aréna Samson de changer de nom pour celui de l’ex-grande vedette du Lightning de Tampa Bay, le Lavallois Martin Saint-Louis. Enfin, en 2019, l’aréna Chomedey était renommé l’aréna Pierre-Creamer en l’honneur de cet entraîneur lavallois qui a notamment eu le privilège de diriger Mario Lemieux à la barre des Penguins de Pittsburgh à la fin des années 1980. À lire également: Jacques St-Jean reçoit le Prix Artisan 2020 Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Setting money goals in 2020 was likely an exercise in futility. Maybe you’d been saving for a trip abroad, but the pandemic kept you at home. Or you wanted to save up for a down payment on a house, then the recession left you out of a job. The pandemic made achieving yearlong goals a challenge for many last year. In fact, 29% of Americans with financial goals for 2020 said COVID-19 forced them to put some of those aspirations on hold until 2021, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online in late fall by The Harris Poll among over 1,700 U.S. adults with 2020 financial goals. Although the pandemic is still part of our daily lives, the new year offers an opportunity to craft fresh money goals — and perhaps the trials of last year can help you clarify your financial ambitions. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR PRIORITIES Before you set your goals, think about your current financial situation and your priorities for the new year. “Take an inventory of where you are and more importantly who you are,” says Jordan Awoye, an equitable advisor based in Long Island, New York. First, dig into the state of your finances, including your income, monthly expenses and emergency fund. Understand where you are right now to get an idea of where you could be in a year’s time. Then think about your personal priorities and values — and how they may have shifted as a result of the pandemic — to pinpoint what you want from your finances. Maybe you want to get back to a baseline of where you were in early 2020, before a year of financial challenges. Or maybe you want to use the money you saved while staying at home to put a down payment on a house. “Start with an understanding of the why behind your goal,” says Kristen Holt, CEO of the non-profit credit counselling agency GreenPath Financial Wellness. “A great goal is ‘I want to get out of debt,’ but go deeper and ask why. Will you be able to sleep better? Will you be able to enjoy life more? Get clear on your why, because that can be motivation to stick to your goal.” CRAFT SMART(R) GOALS With the foundation of your priorities and motivation settled, it’s time to establish the framework to build your financial future. That means crafting your goals in a way that makes them easier to achieve. The SMART template for goal-setting can help: — SPECIFIC: Make your goals as specific as possible. If you want to curb your spending, for example, pin down how much you spend on unnecessary items each month. Then set an exact dollar limit for such spending. — MEASURABLE: Choose a way to track your progress. If you’re paying down debt, think about using a debt tracker. Or if you want to save a certain dollar amount, consider visualizing your goal in a savings progress chart that you’ll colour in as you go. — ATTAINABLE: Your goals need to be something you can accomplish within a year. If you’re paying off $10,000 in credit card debt, for example, find what you can realistically pay monthly, multiply that by 12 and use that amount as your goal. — RELEVANT: Choose goals that are meaningful to your personal values. Similar to finding your “why,” choosing relevant goals helps ensure that your 2021 financial plan is connected to your life goals. If you want to retire early, think about upping contributions to a retirement account so you’re on track to accomplish that multi-year goal. — TIME-LIMITED: Setting a deadline can keep the pressure on. And think about breaking up your overarching goal into smaller pieces that you’ll achieve on a monthly basis. Hitting monthly goals can provide a steady feed of accomplishments, which can keep you motivated. Take the SMART acronym a step further by tacking on an “R” for “reward.” Plan rewards for yourself as you make progress. The more enjoyment you get out of the process, the more likely you are to keep working at it. Say you want to reduce debt. For each $100 you pay off, find a way to treat yourself, maybe by making a nice dinner or having a DIY spa day at home. TACTICS TO BOOST YOUR PROGRESS Finally, here are a few simple tips to build momentum: — AUTOMATE: Taking a “set it and forget it” approach can make accomplishing your ambitions easier. For savings goals, try direct depositing a portion of your income into a high-yield savings account. And for debt payoff, set up automatic payments for an amount above the minimum due to ensure you’re making progress. — CUT YOUR INTEREST RATE: If less of your payment goes to interest, more of it goes to debt payoff. You may be able to reduce your rate by refinancing your mortgage, student loan or car loan. If you have credit card debt, see whether you can qualify for a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR promotional period. _______________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Money goals in flux under pressure of pandemic http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-pandemic-money-goals Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Boris Johnson has promised a compensation fund for seafood exporters hit by post-Brexit bureaucracy, but describes their difficulties as "teething problems".View on euronews
Gil Hymer was sixteen years old when he came out of the closet. When he left home, he met his partner through a consciousness-raising group in the gay community. They became fast friends, and bonded easily over their mutual love for music. They were together for 40 years. "We sort of became very entrenched in our own relationship, and didn't make a lot of friends outside," he explains. When his partner died and he entered his golden years, Hymer found himself longing for community. For many people who are over 50 years old and LGBTQ+, it can be difficult to make new friends. While bars in the Gay Village are an option for younger people, the older generation are often left without a space to connect with others their own age. Hymer, however, found support through a group called Gay and Grey Montreal, a social group for people 50 and over who are LGBTQ+. They meet for barbecues, go out for walks, and offer a safe space for people to be themselves. For now though, because of the pandemic, the group meets primarily through video calls. Gil recalls a special moment he had with the group. "[They] came to one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas I was singing in," he says. "It really touched me that they would go all the way out to the West Island to do that." Bruce Cameron founded Gay and Grey in 2018 . The goal was to counteract the homophobia that some seniors might experience as they get older, and to allow them to interact comfortably with people of the same orientation, gender identity, or who share similar experiences. As Cameron explains, many seniors go back into the closet when they enter residential care. "They have to be concerned again about people being homophobic," he says. "They can't really be free, and this is one of the last places where they're going to live." Through Gay and Grey, Cameron also hopes to fight ageism that exists within the LGBTQ+ community. "Whether you're 40, 50, 60, or 70, you still have needs, you still have wants, you still have desires," he said. "And people should be open and accepting of that." By connecting older members to younger people in the LGBTQ+ community, Bruce hopes to bridge the divide between members of the community. "The older generation, they lived through gay liberation. They remember a time when being themselves was actually illegal," Nikki Machin, an outreach co-ordinator for Gay and Grey, explains. "That's an experience that not many of us today, who are millennials or younger, have any experience with." One of the group's members, K. David Brody, was involved in a court case fighting for the right to a widower's pension after his partner died. At the time, the province of Quebec did not recognize gay couples' rights to the pension. The members of Gay and Grey have a message for young people who may be struggling to come out of the closet. As Cameron puts it: "Be proud of who you are. The people who aren't accepting, that's their issue. Live with who you are, and be proud of that." WATCH | Bruce Cameron discusses what it's like to age as part of the LGBTQ+ community with the CBC's Catherine Verdon Diamond.
When President Donald Trump delivered his inaugural speech on Jan. 20, 2017, he promised an end to “American carnage,” a bleak and dysfunctional nation he had insisted that he alone could fix. Closing out his presidency exactly four years later, Trump leaves behind an even more polarized America, where thousands are dying daily from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is badly damaged and political violence has surged. Trump didn’t create the bitter differences that have come to define American life.
Those surprised at U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s intention to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit might want to take a look at the incoming administration’s plans for environmental justice. In addition to Biden openly vowing to cancel the controversial project if he won office, the pipeline has faced stiff opposition from some U.S. tribes. Ignoring these Indigenous groups in the context of fossil fuel development would seem to go against Biden’s “climate crisis strategy,” specifically designed to support tribes as well as states and territories. Experts say if Biden follows through with his intention to kill Keystone XL, it should be seen in this broader context, as the incoming U.S. administration gets set to put Biden’s overarching “plan to secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity” into motion. “Climate justice is the idea that, rather than just looking at climate change as just an environmental or physical issue, it recognizes there are so many aspects to it that are also related to justice,” said Lindsey Bacigal, director of communications at Indigenous Climate Action, in an interview. “Capitalism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, anti-migrant sentiment, Islamophobia, anti-Indigenous sentiment, racism — all these things really help to uphold climate change, rather than work to fix it,” she said. “Rather than looking at these systems of power that have got us to where we are right now, how is it that we can work from the grassroots up, rather than from the top down?” Bacigal said ending Keystone XL would be “far from the only fight — it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but we’re far away from climate justice yet.” Environmental justice addresses the fact that in many parts of the world, the places where pollution is generated, toxic chemicals are processed or garbage is dumped tend to be near marginalized or low-income communities. Often, these communities have no power over the fact that they are exposed to threats to their health or safety. Environmental justice seeks to ensure that no community should be forced to endure this kind of exposure just because of its particular demographic makeup. The Biden campaign pivoted towards this approach after the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated “how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of colour,” it stated in its plan. The administration intends to direct 40 per cent of clean energy spending towards “disadvantaged communities” to address the idea that “communities of colour and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades.” The plan says the administration will use a “climate and economic justice screening tool” to identify which communities are disadvantaged or “threatened by the cumulative impacts of the multiple stresses of climate change, economic and racial inequality, and multi-source environmental pollution.” The president-elect’s team has picked Cecilia Martinez, for example, the co-founder and executive director of the Minneapolis-based Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy, to be senior director for environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Also joining the team is Stefanie Feldman, who was national policy director for the campaign, worked on Biden’s climate plan and will now serve as deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser to the director of the Domestic Policy Council. Feldman is credited with securing support from environmental justice advocates during the presidential race. Tim Gray, executive director at Environmental Defence, also said he thought a decision to cancel Keystone XL should be seen in the context of environmental justice, and he expected to see more action on that front from the administration. Gray noted that Biden had nominated North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Regan to run the Environmental Protection Agency following a campaign by dozens of advocates to block the candidacy of Mary Nichols, who chaired the California Air Resources Board, over concerns she did not adhere to recommendations from environmental justice bodies. “Many urban areas and non-urban areas in the U.S., where a lot of fossil fuel manufacturing is occurring … a lot of those are disproportionately impacting marginalized communities,” said Gray. “I think you’ll see a lot more attention on that from the Biden administration, for sure.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions are being rolled back to the more restrictive red phase as of midnight Tuesday night, and there has been another death in the province. The individual, an 89-year-old resident of Parkland Saint John, is the 13th COVID-19 patient to die since the pandemic began last winter. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, made the announcement at a live-streamed briefing Tuesday afternoon, saying the measures are needed to stave off the "avalanche of cases we are seeing across our borders." Premier Blaine Higgs also addressed the briefing, warning that the province will go to "full lockdown," including closing schools, if cases continue to rise. "We have never been in a situation like this since pandemic began," Higgs said. "I cannot stress enough that this is a critical moment. ... Stay home as much as you possibly can and avoid interacting with people outside your household bubble." Under the red phase, gyms, hairdressers and entertainment centres must close and everyone must stick to a single-household bubble. Dining must be takeout, drive-thru or delivery only, and elective surgeries and non-urgent medical procedures are postponed. New red phase rules for schools have been introduced, including: Students and staff must stay home if they have even one symptom of COVID-19. School staff will be screened for COVID-19 when they report to work each day. If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school in the red level, the school will be closed for at least three days to allow for contact tracing. The school would also become a testing site for school staff. 31 new cases reported, affecting six of seven zones Dr. Jennifer Russell,the chief medical officer of health, announced 31 new cases in the province on Tuesday. The cases break down as follows: Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases: two people 40 to 49 an individual 50 to 59 an individual 60 to 69 Saint John region, Zone 2, three cases: two people 19 or under an individual 40 to 49 Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case: an individual 19 or under Edmundston region, Zone 4, 21 cases: an individual 19 or under an individual 20 to 29 two people 30 to 39 three people 40 to 49 seven people 50 to 59 five people 60 to 69 an individual 70 to 79 an individual 80 to 89 Campbellton region, Zone 5, one case: an individual 50 to 59 Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 20 to 29 There are now 316 active cases in the province, and 1,953 New Brunswickers are self-isolating. The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick so far in the pandemic is 1,004 and 674 have recovered. There have been 13 deaths, and one patient is hospitalized. As of Tuesday, 176,034 tests have been conducted, including 1,839 since Monday's report. Warnings about deadly, underestimated threats The daily case count numbers are a visible reminder of the threat of COVID-19 that is "all around us," Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday. But unseen threats also lurk, with potentially fatal consequences, he said. Higgs cautioned against "underestimating your ability to infect others" and said that even with the mildest symptoms — or no symptoms at all — you could be a carrier and a transmitter of the disease. He cited the case of an asymptomatic person who came home to isolate with their parents in New Brunswick. That individual unknowingly infected them with COVID-19, Higgs said, "and one of their parents died." The growing threat of the much more contagious U.K. and other variants of the virus should also be on everyone's radar, Higgs said. "We do not yet know if new strains of COVID-19 are in New Brunswick," he said, "but they pose an additional, real threat." Frustrating wait for answers on vaccines Premier Blaine Higgs has questions about the "reliability" of vaccine supply in the wake of Pfizer's delivery wobble, but he said he's not getting answers. In the wake of news from Ottawa on Tuesday that Canada will not get any shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week and will see reduced shipments for several weeks after that, Higgs said plans to have the province's health-care workers and care home residents vaccinated by the end of March are still on track. But he wants further assurances — and he's not getting them, he said. "We need consistency, we need to know what the [dosage delivery] numbers are," he said at Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing. "We'll work with the numbers we have, but we need to have assurance that the numbers are correct. This (Pfizer delivery) issue this week gives us some concern in that regard." The status of approvals for some of the five other vaccines Canada has agreed to purchase is also a troubling question mark, Higgs said. "Only two vaccines have been approved by Health Canada and they were approved relatively quickly," he said. "What is the status of at least two others that are in front of Health Canada for approval? What is the timeline? We can't seem to get any answers on that … not only here but across Canada." Health Canada is currently reviewing AstroZeneca's vaccine, which has been approved in the U.K., and a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical arm, Janssen. 3 more schools record cases of COVID-19 École Régionale Saint-Basile in Saint-Basile and Élémentaire Sacré-Coeur in Grand Falls both announced positive cases and said they would close because of them. Both schools are in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, which is in the red phase. Meanwhile in the Anglophone South School District, a Saint John school has announced a positive case. In an email to CBC News district spokesperson Jessica Hanlon confirmed a case at Princess Elizabeth School. "Any staff or student who might have been identified by Public Health as a close contact would have been contacted and informed to self-isolate," said Hanlon. Nine schools in the province have had COVID-19 cases within the past week. In Anglophone South School District, cases have been recorded at Quispamsis Middle School, Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield, Millidgeville North School in Saint John, and Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis, where there are two cases. Two schools in the Anglophone East School District, Riverview East School and Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, have also announced positive cases. New public exposure warnings issued Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights: Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m. Public Health has also issued the following potential COVID-19 exposure warnings: Moncton region: Goodlife Fitness Centre, 175 Ivan Rand Dr. E., on Jan. 13 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Moncton North After Hours Medical Clinic, 1633 Mountain Rd., on Jan. 14 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Edmundston region: Jean Coutu Kim Levesque-Cote Pharmacy, 276 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Parts for Trucks,21 Powers Rd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 11, 12 and 14 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
Greek coastguard officials recovered the body of one man and rescued 27 people from a rocky beach on the island of Lesbos after they apparently arrived by boat from Turkey, authorities said on Tuesday. The influx of refugees and migrants to Greece fell by 80% last year compared to 2019. Turkey hosts more than three million refugees and migrants and more than 90,000 are also in Greece, mostly housed in overcrowded camps while waiting for their applications for asylum to be processed.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — A court in Kosovo on Tuesday acquitted a dozen former government officials of misusing public money in benefits payments to people who hadn't fought during the 1998-1999 war. The Pristina court said that the 12 defendants, who included former ministers and lawmakers, couldn't be blamed for the illegal payments to around 19,000 fake war veterans, as the prosecutor’s office had charged them in 2018. The prosecutor's office said the state budget suffered 68 million euros ($79 million at the time) in losses claimed improperly from people falsely presenting themselves to be war veterans. Kosovo offers benefits to former fighters of the 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia. A NATO-led air campaign in 1999 forced Serb troops out of Kosovo where an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian majority population fought for independence. At the time, Kosovo was run by the United Nations until 2008 when it declared independence that Serbia refuses to recognize. The Associated Press
Tiny Township residents can expect a 1% blended tax rate increase for this year. The decision was forwarded to the next meeting after hours of deliberation at Monday's budget meeting. Where a majority easily agreed on the option, one council member expressed some concerns. A blended tax rate is achieved after incorporating the county and education tax rates. "I’m not comfortable with 1%," said Coun. Tony Mintoff, adding he also wasn't comfortable sacrificing important projects to find the $400,000 to keep the township's tax rate increase at zero per cent. "Based on that, I will reluctantly agree to a 1% blended rate increase." Council approved $70,000 in salary for a full-time human resource person. Staff pointed out that there may yet be savings in this line item once recommendations from the North Simcoe services operations review comes forward in March. Further, even if the township hires an independent HR staff member, the $70,000 annual salary will not be realized in full for this year. Then council found $30,000 in savings by directing staff to take out the extra ask for arena use from the Town of Penetanguishene. "It’s my understanding the recreation master plan had created the recommendation that fulsome discussion be held with all three municipalities that provide arena facilities to us," said Mintoff. "Given the fact that hasn’t happened yet, my recommendation would be to remove the $30,000 that was asked by Penetang, subject to the discussions to take place in 2021." Agreeing with staff, council decided to delay the purchase of a vehicle for the parks department, instead moving the $70,000 to reserve funds. At the end of the day, staff was sent back to find efficiencies in departments or seek out projects that could be delayed to make up for the $8,500 in funding gap that still remains if the tax rate is to be set at 1%. Other budget approvals include a 6% increase in funds to be moved to the municipal infrastructure reserves. As well, council approved a 1% cost of living increase for staff wages, despite Mintoff's suggestion to the contrary so the township could show solidarity with residents who had suffered through the pandemic. "This has been a very difficult year financially for a lot of our residents," he said. "The majority that live in the private sector world and those who live on retirement income. I’m pleased we were able to maintain full employment for our staff, so I think it would be inappropriate and insensitive of us to consider any kind of increase in wages. My recommendation would be to remove this salary increase from the budget." Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma disagreed with his peer. "I can 100% justify the cost," he said. "When you look at municipal employees as a whole, there’s very little you can do in terms of incentives. There are no bonuses and there’s no additional time off you can get. I know there’s been a CPP increase this year. If we’re going to take a look at our retirees being affected, we have to back it up with quantitative evidence as well. "If a statement needs to be made in terms of leadership, then I’d be in favour of council taking no increase," added Walma. "The savings can be donated to a local charity. Or the council could take the 1% increase and donate it back to the municipality into the bursary program." Other council members agreed with his suggestion. And so did Mintoff. "I have no issue with council taking zero per cent increase," he said. "Speaking about council’s initiative to raise our rate of pay for staff from 50th percentile to the 55th percentile, how much did that bumping up of salaries cost? "I believe it was several hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t want my comments to be misconstrued that we don’t value our staff, but I believe we pay them above a comparative group. I don’t want staff watching to think they don’t deserve fair recognition and compensation for what they do." Staff will now bring back a third and possibly final draft of the 2021 budget at a meeting next month. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. When word leaked this week that Joe Biden would pull the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline project the first day he's sworn in as president, the only person who seemed shocked was Premier Jason Kenney. "We hope president-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us," said Kenney during an online news conference where he lectured, hectored, and pleaded with the Biden administration. Politically speaking, Kenney was at times on his knees begging, on his toes dancing, shaking his fist, shaking his head, and bending over backwards to justify sinking $1.5 billion into the troubled project in 2020 and promising another $6 billion in loan guarantees in 2021. It was like watching a tap dancer trying to juggle as he set his hair on fire. Kenney, of course, should have seen this coming since March last year when he announced the "wise investment." It was no investment but a gamble on a troubled project. He called it a "bold move." That should have been the first red flag. Whenever politicians describe something they're doing as "bold" they mean controversial or contentious or risky. Kenney, it turns out, meant all three. Another red flag was Kenney acknowledging the project "never would have moved forward" without $7.5 billion in support from the Alberta public. When government's jump in where private corporations fear to tread, plan for a rough landing. And, of course, there was this red flag big enough to cover the pipeline's proposed 2,000-kilometre route from Alberta to Nebraska: "I've been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tar sands that we don't need, that in fact is a very, very high pollutant." That was Biden on the campaign trail promising to take action against climate change. Hot button issue Just as Keystone has become a symbol of economic salvation for Alberta, it has also become a symbol of all the evils of global warming. Both are simplistic tropes. Building Keystone won't solve Alberta's systemic economic problems. Killing it won't end global warming. But, boy, it's been a lightning rod for more than a decade. Keystone was twice rejected under the presidency of Barack Obama and even though it received approval under Donald Trump, Biden promised to scrap the project should he become president. He'll be sworn in on Wednesday. Kenney says cancelling the Keystone expansion project "would be, in our view, an economic and strategic error that would set back Canada-U.S. relations with the United States' most important trading partner and strategic ally: Canada." WATCH | Kenney's message for Joe Biden Kenney is falling into the same political conceit that has beguiled Alberta premiers for decades: the belief that they or Alberta or even Canada really matters on the U.S. stage when partisan politics is involved. Yes, we are major trading partners but, to paraphrase Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's father, we are a mouse sleeping next to an elephant. And the elephant isn't taking our calls. Almost 20 year ago Ralph Klein travelled to Washington in a futile attempt to open up the closed U.S. border to Alberta beef during the mad cow scare. Others including Alison Redford and Jim Prentice tried to educate U.S. politicians and business leaders about the oil sands and its strategic importance in North America, as if highly placed Americans had never heard of Alberta. They have, but they'll only act in Alberta's interests if it's in their interests. Kenney seems to be under the assumption that if he can just get Biden, or someone close to him, on the phone, he could convince the new president to overturn an election promise to shut down Keystone. But Biden made an election promise — just like Kenney did in 2019 to scrap Alberta's carbon tax. Perhaps Biden should simply send Kenney a four-word email the premier would understand: "promise made, promise kept." Kenney asked Biden to "show respect for Canada" and sit down to talk. But where was Kenney's respect last November when he suggested Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was "brain-dead" because her state waged a legal fight last summer against Enbridge's Line 5? Whitmer isn't just any U.S. governor. She was a national co-chair of Biden's presidential campaign. Five days after Kenney's slur, Whitmer took legal action to shut down the pipeline completely this year. Maybe American politicians do listen to Kenney, after all. For Kenney, the impending death of the Keystone project isn't just an end to thousands of construction jobs or another hit to Alberta's beleaguered economy, it's a political humiliation and a harbinger of things to come as the world moves away from fossil fuel. Kenney campaigned in the 2019 Alberta election on a promise of jobs, economy and pipelines. Thanks in large part to the pandemic, Alberta now has some of the highest jobless rates in the country, the depressed price of oil has undercut the economy, and, what must be the most galling of all for a staunch conservative like Kenney, the only pipeline to tidewater under construction is the Liberal-government-owned Alberta-to-West-Coast Trans Mountain pipeline project. There are two questions looming: can Canada convince Biden at the last minute to change his mind on Keystone? If not, how long before Kenney hits his default button and lays the blame at Trudeau's feet?