Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took his family on vacation to Cancun, Mexico, this week as his home state was paralyzed by a deadly winter storm, drawing criticism from leaders in both parties and potentially damaging his political ambitions. (Feb. 18)
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took his family on vacation to Cancun, Mexico, this week as his home state was paralyzed by a deadly winter storm, drawing criticism from leaders in both parties and potentially damaging his political ambitions. (Feb. 18)
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
PARIS — Canadian forward Jonathan David scored two late goals as Lille beat Marseille 2-0 to stay top of the French league on Wednesday. David, from Ottawa, scored in the 90th minute and again two minutes into injury time. The northern side remains two points ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which won 1-0 away to Bordeaux. Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda kept out shots from United States forward Timothy Weah and David in the second half to frustrate Lille. But the veteran France No. 2 spilled an angled shot from Jonathan Ikone in the 90th and David finished from close range. Defending champion PSG was missing Kylian Mbappe through suspension and was without the injured Neymar, while striker Moise Kean was ruled out after testing positive for the coronavirus earlier Wednesday. Winger Pablo Sarabia filled in and scored in the 20th minute when he turned in Idrissa Gueye’s cross from the left. Bordeaux winger Hatem Ben Arfa should have equalized against his former club when he ran through in the 70th, only to shoot just wide of the left post. The top three sides all won 1-0, with Lyon edging out Rennes at home to stay one point behind of PSG. Lyon is now four points clear of fourth-place Monaco after it lost 1-0 at Strasbourg for a first defeat in 13 league games. DEPAY DELIVERS Lyon forward Memphis Depay created the winning goal for substitute Houssem Aouar in the 73rd minute. Depay sprinted through down the right, but then lost his balance after shrugging off a defender just outside the penalty area. He got quickly back up and slid-tackled the ball to Aouar, who clipped the ball neatly over the goalie. Lyon had struggled to break down a well-organized Rennes side whose coach Julien Stephan resigned on Monday after a bad run of form. Tino Kadewere had a goal ruled out for offside midway through the second half, and strike partner Karl Toko Ekambi went close before Depay delivered. OTHER MATCHES Fifth-place Lens continued its good form with a 3-2 win at Saint-Etienne while sixth-place Metz slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Angers. Brest beat last-place Dijon 3-1 at home and Nice moved into midtable by downing struggling Nimes 2-1. Also, Reims beat Nantes 2-1 and Montpellier drew 1-1 with Lorient. There are 10 rounds left. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press
WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier says COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been "fantastic" as just over half the territory's residents have received their first dose, but he's concerned about rising numbers of variants elsewhere in Canada.Sandy Silver says the territory is focusing on meeting its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity before lifting current restrictions despite zero cases in Yukon. He says a clinic for everyone aged 18 and over opened in Whitehorse this week and mobile clinics are returning to smaller communities to provide second shots to people over 60.Silver says as of Monday, 11,503 Yukon residents had received their first shot while second shots were administered to about half that number.He joined chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley in saying numbers on vaccine uptake would not be provided for specific areas to prevent pitting communities against each other.Hanley is urging residents to continue taking all precautions as clinics go "full tilt" in the territory. "If cases, and particularly variants, lead to increased COVID our risk of importing variants will go up day by day," he says.Seventy-one Yukoners have recovered from the illness and one person has died since the pandemic began.Hanley, who received his shot on Wednesday, says 850 people were immunized in the mass clinic on Tuesday. Yukon and other territories have received a higher allocation of vaccine doses because remote areas have limited access to specialized care."While we recognize that immunizing the territories is the right thing to do for Canada this incredible opportunity should provide us with extra motivation to step up and get a vaccine," Hanley says.However, he says "vaccine hesitancy is a reality" and it will be important to address people's questions so they're comfortable being immunized in order to protect everyone.Hanley says despite four weeks without any active cases, the restrictions will remain because the territory is in a "nebulous" time and on guard against variants."This is a huge consideration for us because regardless of whether we have zero or 10 cases right now we are always managing risk of importation," he says."Vaccine uptake is so critical to getting to a place where we can be much more confident about being able to propose a solid framework for opening up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is again being accused of discrimination in how it treats migrant farm workers. Haldimand-Norfolk is already infamous in farming circles as the only jurisdiction to put a cap on how many offshore workers can quarantine together in a bunkhouse, a controversial policy upheld after a lengthy court battle last year. Now medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai has decreed that newly arrived farm workers self-isolating in hotels cannot leave their rooms. While federal rules allow “limited and monitored outdoor time” for returning Canadian travellers staying at isolation hotels, the latest directive from the health unit confines migrant workers to their rooms for their entire 14-day quarantine. “I think any time people are treated differently than a Canadian, that’s discrimination,” said Leanne Arnal, a farm worker advocate and member of the Norfolk Seasonal Agricultural Workers Community Committee. “If we were to lock a dog in a room for 14 days — I don’t care how nice the room is — you’re going to have the police there. You’re going to have a community of upset people. So why are we keeping the farm workers in there for 14 days? Even criminals can go outside and get a fresh air break.” Nesathurai defended the new restriction as necessary to contain the more contagious variants of COVID-19. “This past summer, an outbreak among Haldimand-Norfolk’s migrant worker community led to hundreds of infected individuals, multiple hospitalizations, and a death. The Haldimand-Norfolk experience shows that some workers arrive in Canada carrying COVID-19, and this can have deadly consequences,” he said. “The risk is not theoretical. We’re trying to keep as many people safe as possible, given the resources that we have.” Nesathurai said the policy also protects other hotel guests and staff, and farm workers can take smoke breaks or get fresh air on their balcony, “if available.” Not every room has a balcony, Arnal noted, adding that all workers are tested for COVID-19 before leaving their home countries. Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp said she was “perplexed” by the new rule. “As chair of the board of health, I have consistently supported Dr. Nesathurai, even when there were rules I didn’t agree with. He’s a medical professional and I am not,” Chopp said. “However, when I see rules that now are not treating the migrant workers the same as Canadians, I do start to question that, when Canadians themselves are entitled to be able to get some fresh air while they’re in quarantine.” Kevin Daniel from Trinidad and Tobago, who works at a farm in Simcoe, said he “strongly believes” the new rule discriminates against migrant workers, who cannot protest the conditions set out by the health unit due to their precarious employment status. “What they tell us to do, we have to comply with it,” he said. Daniel will be spared another quarantine because he remained in Simcoe over the winter after being unable to fly home thanks to border restrictions. But he said he is still feeling the debilitating mental effects of spending two weeks in a hotel room after a COVID-19 outbreak at his farm last November. “It was very terrible, the experience I had being locked up those 14 days,” said Daniel, who said he continues to suffer from insomnia. “I experienced it in the quarantine, and when I came out, I would be up until 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s a consistent problem that I have,” he said. Daniel said allowing workers daily outdoor exercise would not alleviate the anxiety of quarantine, but it would help. Arnal helped Daniel’s employer manage that quarantine. She proposed having workers use a dedicated stairwell to safely spend time outdoors in a secluded yard. “(Nesathurai) said ‘absolutely not,’ with no reason for it,” Arnal said. “Using the variants as an excuse right now — what was his excuse in November, when there were no variants?” Nesathurai contends the health unit does not have enough staff to monitor workers’ outdoor breaks, but Chopp said the farmers themselves would pay for supervision. According to Nesathurai, the health unit has asked Ottawa “numerous times” to take over the migrant worker self-isolation program, most recently in a March 1 letter in which he warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that federal inaction would “likely contribute to more workers becoming infected.” Arnal sees this rule as the latest in a string of questionable health unit decisions — such as issuing ID cards she considered “racial profiling” — that demonize farm workers, who she said spend most of the year in Canada and make an incalculable contribution to the national food supply and local economy. “They are not a risk, they are at risk, just like the rest of us,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Town Treasurer Andre Morin joined last Tuesday's St. Marys Town Council meeting for the culmination of the months-long process of crafting the 2021 municipal budget. Morin has spoken with Council on multiple occasions throughout the budget process and many of those details have been reported on previously in the Independent. The key takeaways start with the tax levy increase of $12,799,710, which equates to a property tax net increase of 0.85 percent. When other municipal costs are included, such as water, sewer, and solid waste, the average St. Marys household will see a total increase of 1.01 percent. Councillor Tony Winter commended Town staff on crafting a draft budget. The Town's cautious approach to dealing with the pandemic reflects well in the adopted budget with a property tax increase of under one percent. For comparison, the City of Stratford passed their budget earlier this year with a tax levy increase of just over two percent, while Perth County and the City of London both passed budgets with tax increases of over three percent. Before passing the budget by-law, Mayor Al Strathdee spoke on the budget process, saying that he felt this year's process went even more smoothly than last year, even with the hindrances imposed on Town staff and the Council. He credited Town staff for their hard work and diligence during the process. As requested by Councillor Winter, because of the importance of the legislation, a recorded vote was held and the 2021 budget was approved unanimously. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
Pembroke -- The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is counting on ultra-fast gig internet in the region and has submitted an ambitious proposal to the federal and provincial government for funding for a $1.6 billion project. “A regional project is the best approach,” Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson noted on Monday morning following the submission of the proposal. “A county project alone would be hugely expensive.” The project would use a competitive process to choose a telecommunications partner and maximize coverage across the region. In this massive undertaking, EORN seeks to fund the $1.2 to $1.6 billion project through a combination of funding, with $200 million each from the federal and provincial governments and the remainder from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the private sector. The timing is right according to the proponents, who are supported not only by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus, where Warden Robinson serves as chair, but also the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus and represent some 1.2 million people in the region. “Every day we hear from our constituents about their frustrations with poor or limited high-speed broadband services,” a letter from Eastern Ontario wardens and mayors stated. “A co-ordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of Eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage.” Right now, both the federal and provincial governments are investing in broadband. The federal government established the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) and the Government of Ontario created the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) fund. Both funds focus on local projects. EORN is seeking support through a flexible use of these programs, or any other appropriate funding streams. “We appreciate how committed both governments have been to improving broadband access,” said Warden Robinson, in her role as chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC). “We all share the same goals, and we look forward to working together on a solution that is both comprehensive and cost-effective.” Delivering Gig service generally involves a fibre optic or cable connection to the home or business. The EORN Gig Project leverages previous investments in infrastructure and services. This includes a fibre 2 optic backbone and other infrastructure across the region built to handle the speed and capacity of the Gig project. EORN anticipates it could provide up to 95 per cent of the region or more than 550,000 premises with Gig service by 2025-2026 if fully funded. The County of Renfrew has had huge success in the past with EORN projects bringing broadband to the area but recently there has been some concern the province is looking at individual areas to develop their own projects instead of having this more regional approach which has worked so well. Last Wednesday at Renfrew County council there was some discussion on having a Renfrew County plan and developing a local plan to bring in broadband. Warden Robinson noted the collaborative approach and regional approach through EORN is the best way to bring broadband to the area, but there still needs to be a back up plan. “We are going to look at a broadband strategy for the county in conjunction with what is happening here,” she said. “You don’t want to put all your hopes on one project.” Warden Robinson said while there is funding available from the provincial and federal government, EORN is looking for a provider to work with. The goal is to have the same reliable broadband service people in the larger cities take for granted. Having a regional project also means broadband would be delivered in areas where people actually live and work in Eastern Ontario and not just where the telecom providers decide to invest. “A patchwork process in the area would be telecom providers building out from existing infrastructure,” she said. That strategy means areas with little or spotty coverage might not see much improvement. In Renfrew County there are still areas with no access to reliable broadband. For anyone trying to work from home, participate in a virtual meeting or access the internet the way people in more built-up urban areas take for granted, the poor connectivity is very frustrating, she said. With a prevalence of ZOOM or virtual meetings for the last year, the importance of reliable broadband has been highlighted, the warden added. “On Wednesday, during county council even my internet connection at the county was showing up as unstable,” she said, noting she was in the County of Renfrew building just outside Pembroke. “You can’t conduct business like that.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to work from home or spend more time at home. As well, students are learning from home and people are moving to rural areas. All this has made the need for faster broadband all the more urgent. “We can grow, but not without decent broadband,” Warden Robinson said. “If we have that here, the growth would be incredible.” Speed is an issue and that is why this Gig project is being pursued. Instead of going for slightly faster speeds, the goal is to fix the system with the speed required not just in 2021 but for years to come. “Speed is important and even people who think they have good broadband discover it is not as good as they thought,” she said. “So why not fix the problem now for the long term?” EORN covers all of Eastern Ontario and is currently working on a $213 million project, funded by the public and private sector to improve and expand cellular services across the region. From 2010 to 2014, EORN helped improve broadband in Eastern Ontario with a $175 million public-p Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
The owner of a Calgary cafe has started a letter-writing campaign aimed at convincing city council to reverse a decision that will result in the eatery being evicted from a historic building in Eau Claire. The city, however, says its decision is irreversible — and has been in the works for a long time. The 1886 Buffalo Cafe has been running out of the historic Eau Claire Lumber Company building for about 40 years. Next month, however, the city will not be renewing its lease, in order to undertake some long-anticipated area refurbishment. City councillors said the cafe owners were given notice in 2017 that the city would need to move the building to do some major flood work, and as part of the redevelopment that was happening in Eau Claire. But owner Joanna McLeod told CBC News she feels the city led her astray with confusing communications that made her think they'd be able to stay in the building longer. It prompted her to start a letter-writing campaign and petition in the hopes of saving the cafe. "I just think there's a lot of missing information for the city's aspect," she said. "We've been the best tenants for 40 years … and we would really just love to stay in that building." 'Timeline of assurance' McLeod said they were in negotiations with the city to renew its lease in 2018. At the time, they were on a month-to-month lease, she said, because of the developments that were planned for Eau Claire. The cafe owners were told the revitalization of the area would have the cafe moved closer to the river, and in the same building. In February 2020, McLeod said, she was offered a five-year lease by the city that went unsigned after a realtor told her the language wasn't typical for a commercial lease, and the cafe owners wanted a few details changed before they committed. According to the city, the lease was rescinded in November 2020, after the tenant failed to sign and the city received confirmation of $8.6 million in funding from the province to proceed with the Eau Claire Plaza reconstruction project. But McLeod said there are documents and emails that showed a "timeline of assurances given to us by the city, and kind of leading us down a path of security with them." The owners were blindsided, she said, when they were eventually given notice by a leasing agent that they had 90 days to vacate the premises. And thinking they were going to be staying in the building, McLeod said they invested money into the place. "Had we known that it was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to continue business out of that building … we would have chosen to do business a little differently," McLeod said. Development plans not a secret, councillor says If the decision isn't reversed by the city, McLeod said, she is hoping they will be compensated for the business decisions they made "under bad faith." However, Coun. Druh Farrell told the CBC that while she is very sympathetic with the owners, they have known for a very long time that these developments were in the works. "It's not a secret, and the information has been shared with council, and we've been working on this for a number of years," said Farrell, who represents Ward 7. Significant changes are coming to the area, including essential flood work, that will be very disruptive — but there is a commitment to restore the building and put it in a new designated location, Farrell said. It will be available again in 2023. "There will be no reversing this decision," Farrell said. Still, McLeod is hoping the city might budge. "We're imploring them to change their mind. It's a building that's not only close to our hearts, it's a building that's close to many hearts," McLeod said. "It's just such an iconic piece of Calgary."
Toronto's top doctor is asking the province to lift a stay-at-home order and move the city to the strictest "grey" category of Ontario's pandemic restrictions system next week. The stay-at-home order that was imposed in January, with other measures that include the closure of non-essential retail, is set to expire Monday. Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, said Wednesday that lifting the order is reasonable but precautions still must be taken. "While there are evident reasons for a change in status, there remain reasons or risks that underscore how moving back into grey status is and will be a delicate balance," she said.Moving to the grey category, which allows retailers to open at 25 per cent capacity, is better than placing the city in the second-strictest red category, which allows indoor restaurant dining and personal care services, she said.Toronto Mayor John Tory said he believes moving to the grey category is the right approach."The cautious transition is the right way to go, all things considered," he said.Tory said he hopes the approach will help ensure the city will not have to undergo another shutdown. De Villa also issued a new order for workplaces, requiring businesses to ensure mask use at all times during an outbreak, should the city be moved to the grey category.The order also requires businesses to keep a record of everyone entering the workplace during an outbreak.Tory said the city has reached out to the Ministry of Labour to help support the move with increased workplace inspections over the coming days.Meanwhile, the top doctor of neighbouring Peel Region, which is also under a stay-at-home order, recommended his area move to the grey-lockdown zone as well. The move would preserve the progress made in the fight against the virus, said Dr. Lawrence Loh.Toronto reported 290 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while Peel Region reported 164.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
Although Alek Minassian was found guilty of all counts in the Yonge Street van attack, the judge has set a Canadian precedent by considering autism a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code. Kamil Karamali reports.
CALGARY — As the Calgary Flames try to snap out of their malaise, the return of their star goalie appears imminent. Sidelined five games with lower-body injury, Jacob Markstrom put in a full practice Wednesday with the Flames. "He's close," Flames head coach Geoff Ward said. "Right now he's going through hurdles to get clearance from our medical staff. "He should be ready to go moving forward here based on sort of what we saw, but we'll leave that decision up to the medical people ultimately." Markstrom was pulled midway through a 7-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 20 to open a six-game road trip. A 2-3-1 swing, including a pair of losses to the division cellar-dwelling Ottawa Senators, dropped the Flames below the .500 mark (10-11-1) heading into Thursday's rematch at home against the Sens. Markstrom was Calgary's best player the first quarter of the season with an 8-4-1 record, a .924 save percentage and 2.36 goals against average. The coveted free agent signed a six-year, US$36-million contract with the Flames in October after seven seasons in the Vancouver Canucks organization. In his seventh straight start, and 14th of Calgary's first 16 games of the season, the six-foot-six Swede twice collided hard with Canucks players while coming out his crease to challenge them Feb. 17. Three days later in Edmonton, Markstrom was replaced by David Rittich after giving up five goals to the Oilers on 15 shots. Whether he returns Thursday against Ottawa, or in the weekend's back-to-back games against the Oilers and Senators respectively, Markstrom is hungry to help restore his team's confidence. "Stop the puck. That's my top and only priority," Markstrom said. "It sucks not being out there to battle with the team. You want to be out there for the good times, but also, when we're not playing our best and guys are battling, you want to be out there with them and get us out of this little slump." Veteran forward Derek Ryan also skated Wednesday and appears ready to return to the lineup after missing 12 games with a broken finger. "Things are a little heavy around here," Ryan said. "Guys are gripping the sticks, and it's just not the happiest place right now. "So I was trying to bring a little positivity today in practice and then when I get in the lineup, it's more of that, the energy, positivity." The Flames are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and scored one goal or less in seven of them. Calgary sits three points back of fourth-place Montreal with the halfway point of the pandemic-shortened season looming March 13 when the Canadiens come to Calgary. "We've got some guys coming back from injury, which is a positive thing for us," Ward said. "There's no panic in our situation. We understand exactly where we're at. But we also understand the only people who can get us out of this is ourselves. "We need to come together collectively, we need to do the things that we need to do to, to make positive plays, we need to look after what's important on a daily basis, and we'll start to go the other way again." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officers will soon receive a powerful new tool to assist patrols in B.C. waters for illegal fishing and infringements on marine protected areas. Sometime in April the DFO base in Campbell River will take possession of a new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance aircraft for a suite of missions up and down the coast and into the western Arctic. “The aircraft has lots of sophisticated surveillance sensors and arrays on board that captures information we can present to courts in prosecution situations, but also present it to flag states as evidence of illegal activities. The other aspect is to direct our support vessels to suspected illegal activity so they can carry out inspections,” Brent Napier, DFO’s director of enforcement policy and programs, conservation and protection said. The plane will keep within 200 nautical miles of the coast with the ability to stay aloft for eight to 10 hours, twice the flight time of DFO’s current plane, a Beechcraft King Air. This new capacity is critical to reach remote protected areas. “We’d like to spend a lot more time outside of our traditional patrol sites, because what we’re seeing really is a changing pattern in the Pacific, as large fleets look for ever-new stocks to fish," Napier said. "We want to be there to make sure we’re protecting those stocks. This [aircraft] will give us a whole new capacity that we never had before.” The new plane will be a vital enforcement tool under an ever-growing mandate of the fisheries and oceans ministry to restore ocean health and fisheries, protect southern resident killer whales and expand ocean-based economies with sustainable industries. In 2019 DFO signed a five-year, $128-million contract with PAL Aerospace in St. John’s, N.L. for a fleet of four new aerial surveillance aircraft. The other three are headed to the Atlantic provinces. B.C.’s Dash-8 will also be used in partnership with the US government agencies to patrol the western arctic as new vulnerabilities arise due to the melting ice sheets. “This aircraft will let us know what’s going on up there. There are emerging fisheries and science that’s being conducted, and we want to make sure everyone’s following the rules, that we aren’t getting foreign vessels as the ice clears," Napier said. The Dash-8 will strengthen Canada’s ability to uphold obligations with other Pacific nations to police the “scourge” of illegal fishing in international waters, particularly with B.C.-bound Pacific salmon. The plane will also serve as a scientific platform to more accurately map and monitor the migratory routes of specific salmon populations to help guide fisheries management decisions. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
Around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 3, McDougall Fire Department responded to a call that a building had exploded at the Tim Horton’s Memorial Camp in McDougall. The camp is located on Lorimer Lake Road and McDougall’s fire chief Brian Leduc said that maintenance staff was onsite and just beginning their day when the incident happened. “The Jack and Jill dormitories – big buildings about 8,000 square feet each, wood frame construction and it was the Jill building, which is where the female children would be housed,” said Leduc. There was a major explosion inside the building and as a result the fire broke out, destroying the building. However, nobody was in the buildings at the time and no one was injured. Both McDougall fire stations responded to the call and had tanker assistance from McKellar Fire Department and fire crew assistance from the Town of Parry Sound. The cause of explosion is currently under investigation. Sarah Cooke is a Local Journalism Reporter with the Parry Sound North Star, and Almaguin News. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Pembroke -- A respected member of the Upper Ottawa Valley legal, business and agricultural community, Del O’Brien, was recognized by Renfrew County Council at its February 25 meeting for his coming induction into the Ontario Agricultural Wall of Fame. He was introduced via ZOOM by Donna Campbell, secretary-treasurer of the Renfrew County Federation of Agriculture, one of the bodies which supported the nomination for the honour. Ms. Campbell noted some of the highlights of Mr. O’Brien’s career during which legal, agricultural and business interests, local as well as provincial, continued to intersect. The nomination highlighted his agricultural involvement and specifically his years of work with the Ontario Drainage Tribunal, a body which adjudicates disputes under the Ontario Drainage Act with regard to the impact of water management on farmland use. “In 1975 he was asked to establish and chair the Ontario Drainage Tribunal,” said Ms. Campbell. “As such he had a major influence on the evolution of tile drainage law in the province. In 1984 he was appointed founding chair of the Ontario Agricultural Council. And in 1994 he was appointed the official Drainage Referee for Ontario, a position he held until 2006. Now retired, he continues to operate a 500-acre organic farm along the Ottawa River with his sons.” Mr. O’Brien thanked Mrs. Campbell for her introduction, and county council for the honour and for the opportunity to speak to them. He said he would take the opportunity to leave them with a message. He told the meeting the challenges of coping with the COVID-19 virus bring with them two revolutionary opportunities for Renfrew County. “If we follow the news, we see that city living has become almost untenable,” he said. “People want to flee to the country. Renfrew County is a green area which is very inviting and has a lot to offer. “The second is the IT revolution. The internet has made it possible to work from any home. Renfrew County has severances along every road where the municipality doesn’t have to spend a nickel for services. The road, hydro, and telephone are already there, and in most cases there’s good internet. People can have a large lot with a drilled well and a septic tank. It’s green, green, green! Why do business in the city when it can be done in any home, anywhere in the country?” He said every municipality could use more children in schools and rinks, and more people in the churches. “The county’s structure was originally set up for one family on every 100 acres,” he said. “Thousands of people could be attracted to the Valley by making building lots readily available. Every real estate agent and developer can tell you the demand for lots and houses is outrageous. We’ve got to accommodate that demand and do it quickly, and not by subdivisions which take years to get in place and cost a great deal of money.” He added residential development along existing roads is completely compatible with farming today. “It’s mainly cash crops that are being produced now,” he said. “Due to Mad Cow Disease, beef operations are almost non-existent. And dairy operations are in confined housing 24/7. Planning policies are outmoded and haven’t recognized the revolutionary changes in farming. They must be brought up to date and modernized so that severances move quickly because they are needed immediately. You, the leaders of county council, can be the engine of that change. You’re in charge and you have to seize the opportunity.” Warden Debbie Robinson thanked Mr. O’Brien for his input. “You did not disappoint,” she said. “Your message is extremely timely as we’ll be discussing our Official Plan later today. It was excellent and it was heard.” She congratulated him and displayed a certificate of recognition which she plans to present to him in person when COVID-19 regulations permit. “I can assure you that, if we were doing this today in person in council chambers you would receive a standing ovation with thunderous applause,” she said. Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
When the Hilton Garden Inn Fredericton was opened in 2018, the expectation was its rooms would be packed every spring and summer with thousands of convention attendees from across the country. But, for the second year in a row, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to that. With restrictions on travel and gatherings continuing for the foreseeable future, that's put a chill on large national and regional conventions, and that's a cause for concern to Celine Bertin, general manager at the Hilton Garden Inn. "April, May, June, are big convention months, however, August is probably one of the biggest convention months, along with September, October and very much November as well. "So with that said, we're a convention hotel and a corporate hotel... so, yeah, [there being no conventions] does affect us in a big way." Bertin said the hotel's plan hinged so much on catering to convention attendees, that its was located next door and attached to the Fredericton Convention Centre. "If there wasn't a convention centre, frankly, we wouldn't be downtown." Trevor Morgan, general manager of the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton.(Submitted by Joanne Barlow) The Crowne Plaza is directly across the street from the centre, and typically hosts convention attendees in its rooms and at its pub and restaurant. That won't be happening this year, and that worries Trevor Morgan, its general manager. "The bottom line is we won't be able to replace that revenue, so we do anticipate running significantly lower revenue and occupancy through that period because of the lack of that business," Morgan said. More help needed for businesses The likely loss of the 2021 convention season is just the latest blow to an industry already particularly hard hit by the pandemic, said Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.(Submitted by Carol Alderdice) "It makes such a big difference to hotels and restaurants when conventions are in town. It keeps them busy and it keeps them alive, and that's just not been happening. "That's why we've had to count on federal support to keep them going." Alderdice said that aid has been well used, but more is needed. She said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which provides up to 75 per cent of employee wages for eligible employers, should be extended to the fall, and raised to cover 85 per cent. She also wants to see an extension to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which helps tenants pay the rent if their business or non-profit has lost revenue due to the pandemic. In a media briefing Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those two programs, which were originally set to end next week, will be extended to June. CBC News did not receive a response from the Prime Minister's Office about whether it would also increase the pay-outs offered under those programs. Hopeful for recovery The Fredericton Convention Centre accommodated 34,000 convention attendees and generated an estimated $12.9 million for the local economy in 2019. Instead of convention-goers, for 2021 the convention centre will be hosting lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants, as the Department of Justice has agreed to rent the space to act as the Fredericton Court of Queen's Bench to allow enough space for physical distancing. The Fredericton Convention Centre on Queen Street.(Daniel McHardie/CBC) While the agreement has softened the blow for the convention centre, Cathy Pugh, its general manager, said the loss of the season is hard on the industry. "We were the first hit, the hardest hit, and it will take us the longest to recover," Pugh said. "But we are hopeful that we will start to recover. It will take a couple of years. We'll start seeing groups coming back in 2022 and then hopefully in 2023 it will continue on the upswing, and we're hopeful that we will return in 2024 to pre-pandemic numbers or thereabouts." Jeremy Trevors, a spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, said convention activities related to catering and meeting facilities typically account for about $30 million in revenue generated in New Brunswick annually, while another $80 million is earned in room bookings related to conventions. Trevors said the department hopes bookings for small meetings will re-emerge in the late spring, but that remains contingent on COVID-19 public health protocols, which will dictate what can and can't be done. "We look forward to working with the New Brunswick Hotel Association and destination marketing organizations to plan recovery for this area of business," he said.
MADRID — Barcelona eased some of the pressure on the club by rallying late to force extra time and defeat Sevilla 3-0 on Wednesday, reaching its ninth Copa del Rey final in 11 seasons. Barcelona trailed 2-0 from the first leg but pulled even in the fourth minute of stoppage time, when Gerard Piqué scored with a header to make it level 2-2 on aggregate. Martin Braithwaite then netted early in extra time to give the Catalan club a 3-2 win over both legs. Goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen had kept Barcelona in it by saving a 73rd-minute penalty kick that would have practically ended the team's chances of advancing. Ousmane Dembélé opened the scoring early for Barcelona, which will be trying to win a record 31st Copa title. The victory comes two days after former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested by Catalan police investigating possible irregularities during his administration. It also comes four days before the club holds its presidential elections to try to move on from one of its worst crises ever. Sevilla was trying to return to the Copa final for the first time since 2018, when it lost to Barcelona. The five-time Copa winner also lost to the Catalan club in the 2016 final. This season's final will be on April 17 at the La Cartuja Stadium in Seville. Levante hosts Athletic Bilbao in the other semifinal on Thursday. The teams drew 1-1 in the first leg in Bilbao. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
If you're planning a drive through the heart of Grandview-Woodland any time soon, be prepared to ease off the gas pedal. Starting Wednesday, a large swath of the neighbourhood becomes the city's first "slow zone" pilot with the speed limit dropping to 30 km/h in the area bounded on the east and west by Clark Drive and Commercial Drive, and on the north and south by First Avenue and Grandview Highway North. All municipal streets in the province have a default speed limit of 50 km/h unless otherwise posted, but the city says slower speeds could help eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. Studies have shown slowing vehicles dramatically improves safety for people walking and cycling. New slow-zone in the East Vancouver neighbourhood of Grandview-Woodland where the speed limit will be 30 km/h.(City of Vancouver) According to a World Health Organization study, the probability of a fatality is 15 per cent when a vehicle travelling 30 km/h hits a pedestrian. If the vehicle is going 50 km/h, the probability of fatality increases to 50 per cent. Grandview-Woodland was identified as a good candidate for the pilot based on speeds, collisions, vulnerable populations (seniors/children/low income) and community amenities. Signs have been installed to alert drivers to the change. City staff will monitor the pilot and report back to council in the fall. Information gathered could be used to create more slow zones in Vancouver. In the summer, the city brought in 24 hour a day 30 km/h zones around schools and playgrounds. Municipalities advocate for reduced default limits Winston Chou, manager of the traffic and data management branch with the city, said the provincial Motor Vehicle Act makes projects like this one more challenging than they need to be. Under the act, municipalities can set their own limits, but they must post signs for each change. According to Chou, an entire area can't have a blanket change applied. "We're certainly advocating to the province to allow road authorities and local jurisdictions to set default speeds, especially on residential neighbourhoods," he said, calling the requirement to post changes on each block "onerous." "That can prove to be very expensive and time consuming for staff to do the design work, the cost of the signs, the cost of installation," said Chou. According to city officials, the Grandview-Woodland pilot project cost $33,000 for just 120 signs, as well as $2,000 for notification letters for residents. In 2019, the Union of B.C. Municipalities voted to call on the province to make 30 km/h the default provincial limit on streets with no centre line, with posted signs to increase it if desired by municipalities. In 2016, then-Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall released a report that, among other things, recommended the province reduce the default speed limit to 30 km/h.
Mexico's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the country's telecoms regulator over a label that aims to curb the dominance of Carlos Slim's telecommunications company America Movil. Mexico's Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) acted within the constitution when it determined that the America Movil Economic Interest Group, made up of Telcel and other subsidiaries, is a "preponderant agent", the court said in a statement.
Earlier this week the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) moved into the green zone of the province’s reopening framework. At the same time, Collingwood’s restrictions were heightened to the grey-lockdown zone. The vast difference in restrictions between the two neighbouring communities has raised some questions about the logic behind the shift. “Changing the colour zones is not related to the locality of one town to another or the discrepancy between the red and the green and one area,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for GBHU. Arra explained that moving a region between the varying colour-coded zones is a provincial decision based on data points related to epidemiology, such as case count, per cent positivity, hospital and ICU capacity. “The Chief MOH will ask each MOH about the situation on the ground – where we see the region going. So, we have some input but the decision is absolutely provincial,” Arra said. Arra added the data set the province looks at to make its decision is essentially from three weeks prior to the shift. “So right now, if you go back two weeks, then the week before those two weeks, that's the set of data that is used,” he said. Arra added that he cannot comment on the specifics taking place in Simcoe County, as every health unit manages its own caseload and epidemiology data sets, but said in Grey-Bruce he has been confident with the decisions that are being made on a provincial level. “I don't know all the details that go there that led to the decision, but I know first-hand from dealing with provincial officials on a weekly basis or sometimes daily basis, I know that they're doing really a fine job. I can't comment on their decisions, but I can comment from my experience that they're doing a great job,” Arra said. However, Collingwood’s town council may beg to differ. At a meeting held last night the Collingwood council passed a motion that calls on the province to change the town's lock down designation. Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson said the stark difference between restrictions in the two neighbouring municipalities is “unconscionable.” “We’ve got two halves of a large economic engine that are now at opposite ends of the spectrum,” said the mayor. The Town of the Blue Mountains Mayor, Alar Soever said while he sympathizes with the situation Collingwood is in, he would prefer to keep politics out of the conversation when it comes to COVID-19 as he believes politicians should not make or influence decisions about public health. “I don't think what zone you're in should be a political decision. There are criteria that are based on case counts and where the transmission is happening. I would leave any and all of these decisions to the health professionals,” Soever said. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday he is maintaining restrictions in the Montreal area because public health authorities fear a novel coronavirus variant will soon cause rising case numbers and hospitalizations in the region. But for residents of Quebec City and several other parts of the province, starting March 8 they will be able to eat in restaurants and go to gyms, Legault told reporters. The capital area and four other regions will move to the lower, "orange" pandemic-alert level, he said, adding that the nighttime curfew in those areas will be pushed back from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Greater Montreal and the neighbouring Laurentians and Lanaudiere regions will not see any change, as residents will continue to be forbidden from leaving their homes after 8 p.m. Legault said public health officials told him "in the next weeks there will be an increase in cases and hospitalizations" due to the B.1.1.7. variant first identified in the United Kingdom. "We can't in that situation change the (pandemic-alert level)," Legault said of Montreal. Health officials reported 729 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 19 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including two that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Officials said hospitalizations dropped by 10, to 618, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 120. Legault said cases have "stabilized" in the Montreal area, which he said was a sign that the U.K. variant could cause infections and COVID-19-related hospitalizations to rise. Earlier Wednesday, Montreal's public health director said she expects the U.K. mutation to become the predominant form of the virus spreading in the city. "We know it's going to happen," Dr. Mylene Drouin told reporters. She said 15 per cent of new cases in the city are linked to variants, up from 12 per cent last week. There are 43 outbreaks in schools linked to mutations, Drouin said, adding that most of those outbreaks are small. School-age children and their parents account for the majority of all new cases in the city, she said. While the number of new cases reported daily in the city remains stable, the spread of variants could change that. "We may be seeing a third wave in front of us," Drouin said. Meanwhile, Quebec's statistics agency said Wednesday that life expectancy in Quebec dropped in 2020 due to an increase in deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. For men in Quebec, average life expectancy dropped by five months, to 80.6 years, and dropped by eight months for women, to 84 years, the Institut de la statistique du Quebec reported. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of deaths reported in Quebec rose by 10 per cent — or 6,750 fatalities; there were 74,550 deaths reported in the province in 2020. That's compared to an average rise in deaths of 2 per cent a year between 2010 and 2019 — due to population growth and an aging population The agency says that during the same 10-year period, life expectancy rose by an average of 2.3 months a year for men and 1.5 months a year for women. Health officials said 16,117 doses of vaccine were administered Tuesday, for a total of 472,710. Quebec has 7,336 active reported infections and has reported a total of 289,670 COVID-19 cases and 10,426 deaths linked to the virus. Legault said Wednesday that health officials would wait up to four months before administering a second dose of vaccine, up from the current 90-day interval. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
Wall Street slumped on Thursday and global stock markets declined after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell repeated his pledge to keep credit flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes. Benchmarket U.S. Treasury yields rose toward last week's highs as Powell spoke, and the dollar hit a three-month high. With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum.