Thousands of people in Poland took to the streets after a new, highly restrictive abortion law came into effect.
Thousands of people in Poland took to the streets after a new, highly restrictive abortion law came into effect.
(Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit) Donald Trump's actions will take centre stage in a Vancouver courtroom this week as Meng Wanzhou's lawyers try to prove the former U.S. president poisoned extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive. The case should be tossed out because of alleged political interference, Meng's lawyers are expected to argue at the first of three sets of B.C. Supreme Court hearings scheduled to stretch into mid-May. A decision on the extradition request isn't expected until much later this year. The 49-year-old, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arguments related to the former president concern a statement he made to a Reuters reporter in the weeks after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018. At the time, Trump said he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary to help the U.S. reach a trade deal with China. Charter rights argument could be 'decider' The Crown — which represents the U.S. in the proceeding — contends there's no evidence Trump made good on his words and that any possible influence he could have had on the case ended along with his term in office. University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, an expert on international law, says he doubts the defence team will have much success convincing Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the U.S. Department of Justice has been swayed by political considerations. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the telecommunications giant. She is accused of fraud and conspiracy. But he does think they'll have a better shot in the coming weeks with claims Meng's rights were breached on her arrival when Canada Border Services Agency officers questioned her for three hours before RCMP executed a warrant calling for her "immediate arrest." "That three-hour period could well have constituted a violation of her Section 7 rights to security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "And so if the extradition judge is to rule that Ms. Meng should be set free, my expectation is that it's that particular element of the case that will be the decider." Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, the man who became a billionaire by turning his global communications giant into a flagship business prized by the Chinese state. Meng's legal team includes lawyers from firms across Canada. And her case is being spearheaded by Vancouver's Richard Peck, of Peck and Company. Strategy to have case thrown out Along with arguments about Trump's role, the allegations related to Meng's treatment by the CBSA are part of a multi-pronged defence strategy to have the proceedings stayed. Meng's lawyers also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case and that American prosecutors are reaching far beyond their jurisdiction by trying a Chinese citizen for a conversation that took place in Hong Kong with an executive for an English bank. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers are expected to claim her charter rights were violated during her first few hours in CBSA custody. Holmes will hear submissions about the events surrounding Meng's arrest during the second stretch of hearings, scheduled to begin in mid-March. The defence claims the CBSA conspired with the RCMP and CBSA to have border agents question Meng without a lawyer. They also seized her cellphones and later gave the passcodes to police, in contravention of policy. The defence has accused the RCMP of sending technical information from Meng's electronic devices to the Americans. A senior officer who was in touch with a legal attache for the FBI has refused to testify — and last month, Meng's lawyers announced their intention to try to force the Crown to disclose their communication with him about that decision. 'An irritant' in U.S.-China relationship In court documents filed in advance of this week's hearing, Meng's lawyers cited comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a need to tie a trade deal between the U.S and China to the resolution of Meng's situation and the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been accused of spying by the Chinese government in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for their release. The Crown doesn't make any mention of the so-called "two Michaels" in its submissions, but the defence claims the constellation of factors riding on the case has made it extremely difficult for Meng to defend herself without worrying about the impact on others. U.S. President Joe Biden called on China to release Kovrig and Spavor last week following a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, saying "human beings are not bartering chips." Byers believes Biden may decide to bring an end to efforts to extradite Meng in the coming months as he looks to improve the U.S. relationship with China. "It is in the hands of the Biden administration to end this case. And the Biden administration will be in the process now of resetting the relationship between the United States and China. That is a hugely important relationship, for economic reasons, for security reasons. "Those two superpowers need to get along. They need to get things done. And Ms. Meng's presence in Vancouver is an irritant in that relationship." To that end, reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters last December claimed Meng was in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an end to the case through a deal that would see her admit to some wrongdoing in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement. In an exclusive interview with CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any deal would have to be made free of geopolitical considerations. "We follow the law. We follow the facts. "And one of the things that we don't do is have politics or foreign policy interfere in the workings of the Justice Department."
Filming a polar bear just inches from its nose, close enough to see its breath fog up the lens, was a career highlight for Jeff Thrasher. The CBC producer is part of the team behind "Arctic Vets," a new show that follows the day-to-day operations at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg."It was breathing warm air onto the lens. I was thinking, 'Wow, there's nothing between me and this polar bear,"' Thrasher said, who filmed the shot using a GoPro camera up in Churchill, Man. The show is also the first time cameras have been allowed in the Winnipeg facility, which houses Arctic animals like seals, polar bears and muskox."I've filmed many, many things in my career and that's right up there," Thrasher said. There are 10 half-hour episodes in the new series that features expeditions to Manitoba's subarctic, emergency animal rescues and daily life at the conservancy. The first episode follows veterinarian Chris Enright to Churchill just as polar bears are starting to migrate up the coast of Hudson Bay. When a bear wanders too close to town, Enright works with the local Polar Bear Alert Team to catch it and lift it by helicopter to a safe distance away. In the same episode, back in Winnipeg, the team trims the hooves of resident 800-pound muskox, Chloe.Although being around Arctic animals is part of Enright's daily life, he hopes the show will help bring southern Canadians a little closer to the North."This is our norm. But it's not the norm for a lot of people, so the show is a good opportunity to tell these stories," he said. "We have herds of caribou that rival migrating animals on the Serengeti, but people in the South don't necessarily know about that. And that's really unfortunate, because there's some incredible wildlife in the North."Enright also hopes the show will urge Canadians to think about protecting the country's Arctic ecosystems, which face the critical threat of climate change."There's a lot of concern with the effects of climate change and over the next 50, 100 years what's going to happen. As southerners, there are things we can do to protect and conserve those ecosystems," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit in the middle of filming, which Enright said prevented the team from travelling into Nunavut.Jackie Enberg, an animal care supervisor and Heather Penner, an animal care professional, are also featured in the show for their work with polar bears."It's not just animal care or vet care, or conservation and research. It's all of it. We all have a great passion to educate and share and help inspire other people to make a difference, whether it's to make changes in your lives or just talk about," Penner said.Enberg said the bears featured in the show were rescued when they were a few years old. "They're here because they could not survive in the wild," Enberg said. "We just ultimately hope people will fall in love with polar bears as much as we have," Penner said. "Arctic Vets" premiers Friday, Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem. By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, NunavutThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.---This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that "Arctic Vets" premiers Friday at 8 p.m. In fact, it airs Friday at 8:30 p.m.
(Supplied/Prairieland Park - image credit) A Saskatoon city councillor says he's "baffled" by Prairieland Park's decision to cancel the 2021 horse-racing season at Marquis Downs, calling the organization's reasoning behind the decision a set of excuses. Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill, who has a background in the agriculture industry, says he was surprised by the recent news the 2021 racing season at Marquis Downs was a no-go. He feels Prairieland Park leadership has an obligation to both the city and the province's agriculture sector, including those working in the province's horse-racing industry, noting the cancelled season will have widespread consequences beyond horse owners and trainers. "There's so many other people that are going to be impacted by this," he said. "I'm baffled by this." Prairieland Park, located on land designated for agricultural activity, cancelled horse-racing in 2020, and like others in the community, Hill worries those involved in the sport won't be able to survive another cancelled year. "Their margins are so thin to begin with, let alone now, a second season with no revenue or no racing for them, I think we're going to see some of the racers pack up and move to a different province," he said. Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill says Prairieland Park has an obligation to the province's agriculatural community, which includes the horse-racing sector. CBC reached out to Kristy Rempel, marketing manager with Prairieland Park, on Sunday for a response to Hill's concerns, but she said Prairieland Park won't be making further comment beyond the statement issued on Feb. 25 indicating the season was cancelled. Leadership says costs, lack of agreement with the Saskatchewan's Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association (HPBA) and the logistics of bringing international jockeys into the city for racing under COVID-19 protocols are some of the biggest factors behind the cancellation, noting the organization has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The HPBA wanted to see a 24-day season go ahead, while Prairieland Park was pushing for 20 days, and the two groups failed to reach a compromise. "With the shutdown of our whole operations here, Prairieland could be losing as much as $3 million this year. So that poses a big challenge for us too," said Prairieland Park CEO Mark Reiger in a previous interview with CBC. Reiger said they've invested in the sport heavily. "How many days are enough? What are we supposed to do? We try our best here to make it work, but there are limitations as to what we can do." The HPBA, however, says it feels Prairieland Park is leaving income on the table by not globally broadcasting simulcasts of its races, bringing in more revenue and a wider audience, with leadership saying they are also "at a loss" as to why Prairieland Park won't join in its ongoing efforts to lobby the provincial government for funding. 'I can't believe it' The reasoning isn't sitting well with Coun. Hill either. Hill says people could "easily" physically distance themselves from one another inside the Marquis Downs facility and precautions like planned quarantined and COVID-19 tests for jockeys upon departure and arrival could have ensured the season could go ahead. "There's so many ways around this, and taking the easy way out and putting at risk everybody that's involved in the horse-racking sector, I can't believe it," he said. Moving forward, he said he'll ask city administration to look into whether or not Prairieland Park did everything it could to run the season. Mayor monitoring situation Saskatoon's top elected official, Mayor Charlie Clark, also expressed concern for those affected by the cancelled season in a statement when asked about Prairieland Park's decision, but said mediation may be beyond the city's scope. "I understand how concerning it is to see the challenges that are facing this historic industry in our city and province, and the impact this has on many families," said Clark. "I have been following the combination of the impacts of COVID on the ability to run a season and the financial challenges of the industry. I'm also aware that it would take interventions beyond the scale of the city's role to address these issues," he continued. "The city does not own or operate Prairieland Park or operate horse racing. Prairieland Park is a third-party corporation governed by a board of directors elected by their membership. Prairieland Park already receives tax abatements and a very favourable land lease in place on the property." Nicole Hein, an apprentice jockey in Saskatoon who got her start at Marquis Downs, has said publicly she feels the organization isn't doing enough to back the sport. She's organizing grassroots demonstrations aimed at raising awareness about what the cancelled season will mean for the sport and the city. Nicole Hein, an apprentice jockey and an advocate for the Saskatchewan horse-racing industry, can be seen in this supplied photo during a morning gallop at Prairieland Park. She says concern from an elected official about the cancellation of the upoming season is welcome. Asked what she thinks about Coun. Hill's plans to inquire about Prairieland's efforts around the cancelled season, she said it's a "good step forward. "If the city can take a look at Prairieland's responsibilities on their ag-land, it would certainly help us move forward with us making sure that it's in the right hands, or that it's operated properly according to the zoning and their agricultural responsibilities." Hein hopes this year's season can continue despite the cancellations, saying she feels it's important Prairieland hears and responds to the industry's concerns and what she says is growing support. "They are an agricultural society, and for them to just write this off knowing the damage that it's doing with the support behind us, that is just, I would call it a slap in the face," she said. "It's just blatant disregard for the importance of the industry."
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Department of Health and Human Services has reported fewer than 100 influenza cases in the state during this flu season, down from close to 400 cases at this time last year. While 13 state residents died with the flu last season, so far this season, only two flu deaths have been recorded in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Sunday. The 2018-19 flu season yielded almost 12 times more flu cases in the state compared to the ongoing 2020-21 season, said Carrie Edmonson, a state nurse epidemiologist who compiles the state’s weekly “flu snapshot” report. Flu death data for the entire U.S. population is hard to compile quickly, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials maintain a count on how many children die from influenza. One pediatric flu death has been reported so far this season compared to 195 deaths in the 2019-20 season. During the 2019-2020 influenza season, the CDC estimated that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths across the country. “This is the lowest flu season we’ve had on record,” according to a surveillance system that is about 25 years old, said Lynnette Brammer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials such as Edmonson have said that public health orders aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus have also prevented the flu from spreading. Officials also attribute the flu's decline to less influenza testing and increased flu vaccinations, the newspaper reported. The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — From Jason Sudeikis’ hoodie to Jodie Foster’s bare feet, the stars embraced a virtual Golden Globes, and still found ways to cut loose. There was no red carpet and logjam of celebrities outside the show’s usual location at the Beverly Hilton. No boozy camaraderie at the jammed-in tables inside the ballroom, either. The coronavirus pandemic made certain of that. Instead, most of Sunday night’s winners accepted from their own homes or hotel rooms in laidback settings unheard of for Hollywood's biggest awards shows. Many were surrounded by spouses, parents, kids, pets or support staff. Several winners welcomed the change. “This is the best Globes ever, to be able to be home, but also it just felt really real,” a giddy Foster said in virtual comments after her win. “It didn’t feel like it was filled with so much artifice. I think people were kind of thrilled by the newness and the sort of live theatre.” Foster cozied up on a sofa, cuddling her white dog while sharing a kiss with her wife. Friends watching on television downstairs raised a delayed shout when she was announced as the winner for supporting actress in a motion picture drama. Foster stuck her bare foot in the air, showing media that she wasn’t wearing any shoes. She was headed downstairs to eat dinner after her win. “It was really fun,” said Aaron Sorkin, winner for motion picture screenplay. “There was an intimacy to it.” Sacha Baron Cohen won two trophies for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” with wife Isla Fisher smiling next to him. He donned a traditional tuxedo and she wore a gown and red lips. “The virtual experience was different, but a lot more relaxing,” Baron Cohen said. “You didn’t have to do the red carpet, which I’m not sure a lot of people enjoy.” In London, Sudeikis won best actor in a television series, musical or comedy for “Ted Lasso.” He wore a white hoodie promoting his sister's dance and workout studio in New York City. “When people you care about do cool, interesting things you should support them, so this is no different than that,” Sudeikis later told reporters. Clearly surprised by his win, the actor hesitated and rambled during his acceptance remarks. Fellow nominee Don Cheadle was shown whirling his finger in the air, a joking signal that Sudeikis should wrap up. “The guy's got chops,” Sudeikis said. “He's an ex-stage manager.” Nominee Kate Hudson hosted a family get-together. Wearing a strapless gown, she sat with her kids, her partner Danny Fujikawa, her mother Goldie Hawn, as well as Kurt Russell and brother Oliver Hudson. Her 2-year-old daughter, Rani, blurted out, “Hi, everybody!” as the telecast went to a commercial break. Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch. Their daughters, Sunday and Faith, both wore white dresses while making a rare appearance. A shocked Andra Day had a crowd that included two co-stars from “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” her manager, her publicist, her parents and some of her cousin's family. Known for her singing career, Day became the second Black woman to win for actress in a motion picture drama in her acting debut. “There's cake outside, so I'm going to eat with that, and with my family and my team,” she said after her win. “We're just going to eat so much food.” Beth Harris, The Associated Press
(Heidi Atter/CBC - image credit) The Regina Police Service is seeking help from the public after a man was robbed at gunpoint in northeast Regina, Sunday. The incident happened at around 1:40 a.m. in the 400 block of Broad Street North. Police say a man walked up to a driver and pointed a black handgun at him, instructing him to get out of the car. The suspect then got in the car and drove south on Broad Street, police said. The stolen car is a 2012 black Honda Accord, with damage to the front passenger fender. Police describe the suspect as five-foot-10, wearing a black and white bandanna, a black hoodie and several rings. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (306) 777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.
This kitty is captivated by the newborn chicks in the box. So sweet and gentle!
Selon Marie-Ève Sigouin, directrice de la foresterie pour RYAM, le succès du projet ne se calcule pas en termes de mètres cubes ni en pourcentage de territoire sans perturbation. « Le succès, c’est d’avoir été capable d’établir un dialogue, de faire un plan ensemble, et d’avoir une démarche pour continuer le travail », dit-elle, fière du travail accompli par le comité formé avec le ministère de la Forêt de la Faune et des Parcs (MPPF), de la communauté de Pikogan, et de la Société pour la nature et les parcs (SNAP). Pier-Olivier Boudreault, biologiste pour la SNAP, abonde dans le même sens. « On s’entend sur 95 % des mesures et tout le monde travaille de bonne foi pour en arriver à une position conjointe, dit-il. Je crois que ça envoie un message positif parce qu’on est capable de s’asseoir ensemble et de franchir des étapes importantes ». Ce dernier estime que l’industrie forestière fait partie de la solution pour réduire notre empreinte carbone, mais que l’on doit trouver un équilibre entre les niveaux de récolte et les impacts sur la biodiversité. Benoit Croteau, directeur territoire et environnement, du Conseil de la Première Nation Abitibiwinni, se réjouit également du travail accompli jusqu’à présent, tout en ajoutant qu’il reste beaucoup à faire. D’emblée, le comité de travail a décidé de s’éloigner des extrêmes. Chaque groupe avait de bonnes raisons de ne pas s’asseoir à la table, remarque Marie-Ève Sigouin, mais tous les intervenants ont convenu qu’ils devraient faire des compromis. Par exemple, RYAM a accepté d’emblée qu’il y ait une perte de possibilité forestière, alors que Pikogan et la SNAP ont accepté la poursuite des opérations forestières. « On savait que la protection du caribou amènerait une baisse de la garantie d’approvisionnement, mais on préférait s’impliquer dans le processus pour minimiser les impacts », explique la directrice de la foresterie chez RYAM. En sachant que des mesures pour la protection du caribou étaient inévitables, RYAM a choisi d’investir dans ses scieries, plutôt que de s’apitoyer sur son sort en brandissant la menace de pertes d’emplois. « Ça nous force à mieux utiliser le bois qu’on récolte et c’est pourquoi on investit pour améliorer le rendement matière », ajoute cette dernière. De plus, la baisse de la possibilité forestière devrait mener à une baisse de la garantie d’approvisionnement pour l'équivalent de trois semaines de travail à l’usine de La Sarre. Cette diminution ne représente pas nécessairement une baisse de volume à transformer, car RYAM peut acheter des lots mis aux enchères ou encore acheter du bois aux producteurs privés pour compenser, dit-elle. Le résultat final est imparfait, admet Marie-Ève Sigouin, personne n’a atteint 100 % de ses objectifs, mais tout le monde se rallie derrière le plan de protection du caribou. Après deux ans de travail, le comité a réussi à réduire le taux de perturbation à 39 % dans les zones occupées par les caribous. « On doit continuer à travailler pour atteindre le 35 %, mais c’est le plus loin qu’on a pu en arriver après deux ans de travail », note cette dernière. Malgré le manque à gagner, FSC reconnaît le travail effectué et la démarche d’amélioration continue, ce qui permet à RYAM de conserver sa certification FSC. « On veut poursuivre le travail et éventuellement, on aimerait établir une aire protégée, souligne Benoit Croteau. Il faudra aussi s’arrimer avec l’Ontario parce que le caribou ne sait pas quand il traverse la frontière. » Malgré une demande média faite le 9 février dernier, ainsi que plusieurs relances depuis, le MFFP n’avait pas répondu au Progrès, au moment de mettre sous presse, pour définir l’importance d’un tel projet dans le cadre de la préparation du Plan de rétablissement du caribou forestier, qui devrait voir le jour en 2023. Bien que le MFFP ait été impliqué activement, et que son travail a été souligné par tous les intervenants du comité caribou, c’est Québec, en tant que propriétaire et gestionnaire des forêts publiques, qui détient le dernier mot pour entériner les mesures proposées par le comité de travail conjoint. None Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday stood by an unidentified Cabinet minister against calls for him to step down over an allegation he raped a 16-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. The accusation has created a cloud over the 16 men in Morrison’s 22-minister Cabinet and is feeding complaints of a culture within Parliament that is toxic for women. The allegation was contained in an anonymous letter sent to the prime minister’s office and to three female lawmakers last week. The letter contained a statement from a complainant that detailed her allegation of a rape she said occurred in New South Wales state in 1988. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, reported the allegation to police before taking her own life in June at age 49. Morrison said the Cabinet minister “vigorously and completely denied the allegations.” Morrison said he forwarded the letter to police and discussed the allegation with the federal police commissioner. Morrison said he did not intend to take any further action. “We can’t have a situation where the mere making of an allegation and that being publicized through the media is grounds for ... governments to stand people down simply on the basis of that,” Morrison said. The Ministerial Code of Conduct states a “minister should stand aside if that minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.” Some within the government argue that because the complainant is dead, her allegation is no longer under official police investigation because a conviction is unlikely. Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, a minor Greens party lawmaker who received the anonymous letter, said the minister must step down pending an independent investigation by a former judge. “It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire Cabinet,” Hanson-Young said. She said the accusation erodes the belief that the government takes sexual assault seriously. Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, who represented the complainant when she took her accusation to police, said the allegation cannot be resolved through the criminal justice system because she has died. The minister should step down while some independent inquiry investigates the evidence, Bradley said. “His position is pretty clearly untenable and he should step aside or be stood aside until this matter can be addressed and resolved,” Bradley said. The disclosure comes two weeks after Morrison apologized in Parliament to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a more senior colleague in a minister’s office two years ago. Brittany Higgins quit her job in January and reactivated her complaint to police after initially not pursuing the case because she felt it would have affected her employment. The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was fired for breaching security by taking Higgins into a minister’s office following a night of heavy drinking. Three other women have made sexual misconduct allegations against the same man since Higgins went public with her complaint. A government staffer who alleged she was raped by the man last year told The Weekend Australian newspaper the attack wouldn’t have happened if the government had supported Higgins’ initial complaint. Morrison responded to Higgins’ public complaints by appointing government lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political parties to investigate Parliament House culture, improve workplace standards and protect staff. Hammond and opposition Labor Party Sen. Penny Wong also received anonymous letters about the 1988 rape allegation. Wong said she met the complainant in 2019 and the complainant detailed her allegation against the man, who was not in Parliament in 1988. “I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police,” Wong said. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whom Morrison replaced in a power struggle within the ruling conservative Liberal Party in 2018, said the complainant wrote to him in 2019 seeking advice on what she should do with her allegations. Turnbull described her allegations as “pretty harrowing” and said Morrison should remove the minister. Turnbull said he had sent the woman's email and his reply to police in the woman's home state of South Australia in expectation that they would be used as evidence in a coroner's investigation into her death. An investigation has not yet been announced. Morrison said that before he was told of the rape allegation last week, he had heard “rumours” that an Australian Broadcasting Corp. investigative reporter was “making some inquiries” about a rape around November last year when the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast its “Inside the Canberra Bubble” investigation. The program accused the Liberal Party of tolerating and condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour. The program exposed an extramarital affair between Population Minister Alan Tudge and a female adviser in 2017. It also alleged Attorney General Christian Porter had been seen “cuddling and kissing” a female staffer in a Canberra bar, which he denies. The government has condemned the program. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has asked the ABC board to explain how the program was in the public interest and complied with the state-owned broadcaster’s obligation to produce accurate and impartial journalism. Minister for Women Marise Payne on Monday described the recent allegations of sexual misbehaviour as a low point of her 24 years in Parliament. “This is most definitely the most difficult, most confronting and most distressing period of my work life in this environment,” Payne told Sky News. “But distressing for me is meaningless in comparison to those people who have had to endure issues around sexual assault, the experience of sexual assault or harassment in its many forms, and we want to make sure that that stops now,” she added. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
ZAGREB, Croatia — Zlatko Kranjcar, a former Croatia national team coach who led his team to the 2006 World Cup and also played internationally for Yugoslavia before the country's breakup, has died. He was 64. The Croatian soccer association said Monday that Kranjcar died in a Zagreb hospital after a short and serious illness. Croatian media reported that Kranjcar died early Monday after he was hospitalized last month. Kranjcar launched his career at Dinamo Zagreb in the 1970s, playing as a centre forward. He later moved to Austrian club Rapid Vienna, where his career peaked. Kranjcar also played for the Yugoslav national team and later served as the first captain for an unofficial Croatian national team in 1990. Croatia became independent in 1991 and played its first official match since the breakup in 1992. Kranjcar coached the Croatian team from 2004-06, leading his country to the World Cup in Germany. Croatia finished third in its group behind Brazil and Australia and was eliminated. Croatia's state HRT television described Kranjcar as “one of the best players in the history of Dinamo.” “Thank you for everything, for the memories, trophies, for creating Dinamo's great history, for soccer romance and most of all friendship and good spirit and warmth that you spread among all of us," Dinamo Zagreb wrote on its website. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in a message of condolences to the family that Kranjcar was “one of true greats of the Croatian soccer.” “The Croatian sports family has lost a true soccer icon,” Plenkovic said. Kranjcar has also coached a number of international clubs and foreign national teams. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
La MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska doit au cours des prochains mois cartographier sa résilience face aux changements climatiques. Les inondations, canicules, sécheresses et grands vents observés ces dernières années laissent des traces. Et la MRC cherche à les recenser. La MRC va faire le diagnostic de l’impact qu’a le climat sur l’ensemble de ses équipements, services et infrastructures. «On veut évaluer la vulnérabilité de notre territoire, voir en quoi elles sont impactées par ces différents événements climatiques. La MRC va tenter de classifier les risques et tenir compte de cette vulnérabilité dans la gestion future de ses actifs», explique Michel Côté, directeur général de la MRC. «Les changements climatiques constituent l’un des enjeux majeurs auxquels les municipalités sont confrontées. Leurs effets exigent des mesures d’adaptation fortes et innovantes. Cela nous conduira très certainement à revoir certaines de ces manières de faire, et à penser différemment nos modes de développement», soutient Geneviève Dubois, préfète de la MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska. L’ensemble des professionnels des différentes municipalités de la MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska sera mobilisé. Une conseillère en environnement a été embauchée par la MRC pour travailler le dossier. Le bureau de génie de la Fédération québécoise des municipalités va lui donner un coup de main avec le concours des différents départements de Travaux publics et d’urbanisme du territoire. Le gouvernement du Québec finance le projet à hauteur de 64 500$. La MRC assume quant à elle 35% de la facture. Ce diagnostic de vulnérabilité doit être complété d’ici 12 mois. Des sommes additionnelles seront requises lors de la phase de mise en oeuvre du Plan d’action qui en découlera. La MRC affirme rester à l’affût de nouvelles possibilités de financement. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
The European Commission will propose this month an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer. The EU executive aims to present its plans for a "digital green pass" on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union. "The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism," Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.
PARIS — A Paris court on Monday found French former President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced him to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. The 66-year-old politician, who was president from 2007 to 2012, was convicted for having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved. The court said Sarkozy will be entitled to request to be detained at home with an electronic bracelet. Sarkozy will face another trial later this month along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. The verdict is expected on Monday in a landmark corruption and influence-peddling trial that has put French former President Nicolas Sarkozy at risk of a prison sentence if he is convicted. Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, firmly denied all the allegations against him during the 10-day trial that took place at the end of last year. The 66-year-old politician is suspected of having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved. This is the first time in France’s modern history that a former president has gone on trial for corruption. Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor. Sarkozy’s co-defendants — his lawyer and longtime friend Thierry Herzog, 65, and now-retired magistrate Gilbert Azibert, 74 — also deny wrongdoing. Prosecutors have requested two years of prison and a two-year suspended sentence for all three defendants over what they said was a “corruption pact.” “No pact has ever existed,” Sarkozy told the court. “Neither in my head, nor in reality.” “I want to be cleared of that infamy,” he added. The trial focused on phone conversations that took place in February 2014. At the time, investigative judges had launched an inquiry into the financing of the 2007 presidential campaign. During the investigation they incidentally discovered that Sarkozy and Herzog were communicating via secret mobile phones registered to the alias “Paul Bismuth.” Conversations wiretapped on these phones led prosecutors to suspect Sarkozy and Herzog of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about another legal case, known by the name of France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. In one of these phone calls with Herzog, Sarkozy said of Azibert : “I’ll make him move up ... I’ll help him.” In another, Herzog reminded Sarkozy to “say a word” for Azibert during a trip to Monaco. Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case. Azibert never got the Monaco job. Prosecutors have concluded, however, that the “clearly stated promise” constitutes in itself a corruption offence under French law, even if the promise wasn't fulfilled. Sarkozy vigorously denies any malicious intention. He told the court that his political life was all about “giving (people) a little help. That all it is, a little help.” “I was 100 billion miles away from thinking we were doing something we did not have the right to do,” he said. Sarkozy said he did not get confidential information from Azibert. Prosecutors believe Sarkozy was at some point informed that the secret phones were being wiretapped and that it is the reason why he did not ultimately help Azibert get the job. The confidentiality of communications between a lawyer and his client has been a major point of contention in the trial. “You have in front of you a man of whom more that 3,700 private conversations have been wiretapped... What did I do to deserve that?” Sarkozy said. Sarkozy’s defence lawyer, Jacqueline Laffont, argued the whole case was based on “small talk” between a lawyer and his client. “You don’t have the beginning of a piece of evidence, not the slightness witness account, the slightness declaration,” she told the court. Sarkozy withdrew from active politics after failing to be chosen as his conservative party’s presidential candidate for France’s 2017 election, won by Emmanuel Macron. He remains very popular amid right-wing voters, however, and plays a major role behind the scenes, including through maintaining a relationship with Macron, whom he is said to advise on certain topics. His memoirs published this summer, “The Time of Storms,” was a bestseller for weeks. Sarkozy will face another trial later this month along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. His conservative party is suspected of having spent 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million), almost twice the maximum authorized, to finance the campaign, which ended in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande. In another investigation opened in 2013, Sarkozy is accused of having taken millions from then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to illegally finance his 2007 campaign. He was handed preliminary charges of passive corruption, illegal campaign financing, concealment of stolen assets from Libya and criminal association. He has denied wrongdoing. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp-up in Canada, one of the country's largest stadiums is taking in a long line of elderly, while provinces enlist dentists, midwives and chiropractors to help meet the expected rush for jabs. A slow rollout of vaccines has recently dented Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's popularity, with the lack of domestic production being blamed for Canada trailing many other developed nations in its vaccination drive. Montreal's cavernous Olympic Stadium, which once hosted young athletes during the 1976 summer games, on Monday saw thousands of octogenarians donning folding chairs and canes as they waited in a snaking line for jabs.
Death and taxes may be the only certainties in life, but death taxes are only a remote possibility for most people. The vast majority of Americans won’t ever have or give away enough to owe estate or gift taxes. Far more people could be affected if a tax break that benefits heirs is eliminated. While campaigning for president, Joe Biden proposed doing away with something called the “step-up in basis” that allows people to minimize or avoid capital gains taxes on inherited assets. But no legislation has been proposed yet, and such a change could have a tough time getting approved by a divided Congress. “Right now, we’re telling folks to start thinking about this stuff, but we’re not rushing out to take action,” says certified financial planner Colleen Carcone, a director of wealth planning strategies at TIAA. HOW STEP-UP IN BASIS LOWERS TAXES Although most estates don’t owe estate taxes, anyone who’s inherited a house, stock or other property has likely benefited from the step-up tax break that gives such assets a new value at the owner’s death. Say your savvy aunt paid $7,000 for a single share of Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1990. That’s her tax basis. If she sold the stock for its closing price of $362,000 on Feb. 10, she would owe tax on the $355,000 gain. If she generously gave you the stock and you sold it on Feb. 10, you’d owe the same amount of tax because you’d also get her tax basis. Now, let’s say that instead of giving you the stock, she left it to you in her will and she died Feb. 10. The stock would get a new basis for tax purposes of $362,000. All the gain that occured during her lifetime would never be taxed. If you sold the stock later, you would owe tax only on the gain since her death. Some kinds of inheritances, such as annuities or retirement accounts, don’t get the step-up. But it’s no exaggeration to say that far more people benefit from our estate tax system — by inheriting homes and other assets with a stepped-up tax basis — than have to pay any estate taxes. WHO PAYS GIFT AND ESTATE TAXES NOW This year, an estate has to be worth more than $11.7 million to trigger federal estate taxes. Less than 0.1 per cent of the people who died in the U.S. last year were expected to leave estates large enough to owe any tax, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. People who have to pay gift taxes are pretty rare as well. There’s an annual exclusion, or an amount you can give away to as many people as you want each year without having to file a gift tax return. The exclusion limit is $15,000 for 2021 — you can give up to $15,000 each to an unlimited number of people without having to report the gifts. Even if you do have to file a gift tax return, you wouldn’t actually owe gift taxes until the amount you gave away in your lifetime — over and above the annual exclusion amounts — totalled more than $11.7 million. These historically high limits are scheduled to end in 2025, which means in 2026 the estate and gift tax exemption limits would revert to $5 million per person, adjusted for inflation. Biden wants the exemption to drop to $3.5 million per person. People in some states already face lower limits. The 12 states that impose their own estate taxes — Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia have lower exemption limits than the feds. Massachusetts and Oregon have the lowest exemption amounts, $1 million. Six states — Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — also levy taxes on people inheriting. Different tax rates and exemption limits apply, depending on the relationship between the inheritor and the person who died. Immediate family members usually pay the least, if anything, while distant relations and nonrelatives pay more. WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW: KEEP GOOD RECORDS The idea of eliminating the step-up in basis has been proposed in the past, but it faced headwinds in part because the practice benefits a wide range of voters. Since there’s no concrete proposal to change the step-up, there’s not much people can do to prepare for change other than what they should be doing anyway, which is keeping careful records. That means “tracking the basis” of what they paid for any assets as part of routine estate planning. If you buy shares of a stock in a taxable account, for example, hang onto records showing those purchases. The cost of any improvements you make to a home or other real estate also can increase its tax basis and potentially reduce taxes later. “The one thing that we do think folks should start doing today is really starting to think about the record-keeping,” Carcone says. _________________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Estate Planning https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-estate-planning Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary's right-wing prime minister has threatened to pull his party out of its group in the European Union's legislature as the conservative group edges closer to excluding its largest Hungarian delegation. In a letter on Sunday to chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber, Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned a group proposal agreed to on Friday that would allow for entire parties to be excluded from the centre-right EPP, rather than just individual MEPs as currently allowed. Orban wrote that the proposed rules, which are expected to pass with a two-thirds vote at an EPP group meeting on Wednesday, were “tailor-made" to sanction his Fidesz party, and that “if Fidesz is not welcome, we do not feel compelled to stay in the Group.” It is the latest in a series of ongoing clashes between the right-wing Fidesz and the EPP, the largest political family in Europe, and marks the closest Orban's party has come to losing its place in the group's ranks. The EPP suspended Fidesz’s membership in 2019 over concerns that it was eroding the rule of law in Hungary, engaging in anti-Brussels rhetoric and attacking the EPP leadership. The EPP's new rules would allow for suspended member parties to be expelled with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote, opening the way for Fidesz's 11 delegates to lose their place in the group. Some of the EPP's more moderate national delegations have pushed for Fidesz's expulsion, arguing it no longer represents the group's values. In a statement in December, the EPP Group wrote that “the frequent attacks by Fidesz’ representatives towards the European Union and its values are not in line with the core beliefs of the EPP.” Also in December, the EPP voted to suspend Tamas Deutsch, the head of Fidesz’s delegation, stripping him of his rights to speaking time in plenary sessions and removing him from his positions in the Group. The decision, which allowed Deutsch to remain an EPP member, came after the lawmaker compared EPP Group leader Weber to the Gestapo and Hungary's communist-era secret police. In his letter, Orban wrote that he would pull his party out of the EPP Group if the new rules are adopted, signalling he will not wait to see whether the EPP votes his party out at a later time. A spokesman for the EPP Group in the European Parliament said that the changes to the rules “have nothing to do with the situation of Fidesz,” and that the vote will go forward as planned on Wednesday despite Orban's letter. “There is a broad majority support for the new rules,” Pedro Lopez de Pablo told The Associated Press in an email. “If once they are approved, some MEPs would like to initiate the procedure of suspending or expelling Fidesz, they will need to do it following the new rules. ... We are not changing the rules of procedure of the EPP Group because of Fidesz.” Othmar Karas, an Austrian EPP lawmaker and vice-president of the European Parliament, tweeted Monday that the vote on the procedural changes would go forward as planned. “I am not going to let Orban succeed with blackmail again,” Karas wrote. Justin Spike, The Associated Press
CROTONE, Italy — Crotone fired coach Giovanni Stroppa on Monday, with the Serie A club bottom of the standings and eight points from safety. The 53-year-old Stroppa had been in charge since 2018 and led Crotone to promotion from Serie B last season. Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Cagliari was Crotone’s sixth straight loss and its 18th in 24 matches this campaign. “So ends a beautiful and intense journey, that lasted almost three years, and that wasn’t without difficult moments but that culminated in the extraordinary survival in Serie B and furthermore in the second, historic, promotion to Serie A,” Crotone said in a statement. Stroppa took charge of Crotone in June 2018, with the team in the second division, but was fired in October of that year after collecting just 11 points from nine matches. He was rehired two months later and steered the team to safety before guiding it to a second-place finish in Serie B the following season and promotion to the top flight. It is the sixth coaching change in Serie A this season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit) A policy that prohibits nurses from making house calls is endangering lives, especially when they cannot be transported to a health centre in timely manner, according to an N.W.T. MLA. "In June 2020, we lost an elder in Deninu Kųę́ [First Nation] who was in medical distress and the local nursing staff were bound by policy or procedure and were not able to respond," Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn said in the Legislative Assembly Friday. The elder was only a few hundred metres from the health centre, said Norn. Community members phoning for a medical emergency must be transported by a friend or RCMP to get the medical attention they need, he said. This resulted in a second death in the community, said Norn. "We lost another resident who could have very well been still with us if there was a swift response to attend to their emergency. There was valuable time lost because of response in transportation of a patient to the health centre." Community health nurses not first responders: minister Health Minister Julie Green replied that "first responders have a different skill set," and the problem lies with getting patients to the health centre. A policy from November 2019 prohibits community health nurses from leaving the health care centre in order to provide emergency services. Green said there is a gap in ambulance services needed to transport people. That responsibility falls under the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, which she said is working on the issue.
(Submitted by Jeff Reeder - image credit) A Saskatchewan non-profit is fundraising to build a permanent retreat where first responders and their families can rest and focus on their mental well-being. River Valley Resilience Retreat owns property outside of Prince Albert and hopes to soon have a lodge on the land. The non-profit is working to raise $350,000 to make the retreat a reality. They're working to raise the money through private community donors, and a campaign for River Valley Resilience Retreat recently launched on GoFundMe. "We're just really looking for people to show us that they understand our need to stop suicides amongst first responders and create this place," co-founder Michelle McKeaveney told Saskatchewan Weekend. "It shouldn't be so difficult to raise funds for people who truly are depended on and counted on." McKeaveney and co-founder Jeff Reeder are working to create the retreat. McKeaveney works in corrections and Reeder first had to leave his job as a firefighter due to post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011. That's when Reeder started working toward a place like this. He's since been able to return and currently does in Prince Albert. "We're so close," he said. Their aim is to open the lodge by 2022, which would be "an absolute dream come true and relief for sure," said Reeder. McKeaveney said the retreat was born out of necessity. Through the years, she's seen colleagues struggling with mental well-being in need of a place to go other than the Prince Albert Mental Health Centre — an experience she's had herself. She said the centre serves its purpose, but first responders and front-line workers sometimes need a dedicated space. The non-profit was given 10 acres of land for its planned retreat near Prince Albert. Both McKeaveney and Reeder are involved with a local support network for first responders and veterans in Prince Albert called What's Important Now. The group offers text and online support, and also meets in person at the Cornerstone Methodist Church, while following COVID-19 protocols, McKeaveney said. "The common theme is people don't feel like they're normal," she said. "So the first thing when they walk into the peer-support group is creating a sense of normality, that the things that they're feeling and responding to … they start to feel like this is normal." The group's members help each other and make sure people have doctors or other professionals in their lives they can rely on. Reeder said including families, not just workers, in the planned retreat is extremely important, because families can be also be affected by a loved one's struggle with PTSD. Horse therapy offered relief from PTSD Reeder said in his experience with PTSD, being in nature worked best in his healing, and especially therapy involving working with horses. "I went through the conventional modalities and counselling for nine months," he said. "I felt after that I was supposed to be by the book healed by that point, and I was honestly no further ahead." That's when he discovered horse therapy. "I just kind of ended up … having some horses at the farm and just started working with them. And that was ultimately the only time I had any relief from any symptoms." McKeaveney said other members of their peer support group have since tried it and had profound changes as well. She said it will be a large component at the lodge. Reeder and McKeaveney have been given 10 acres of land for their retreat as a gift from the property owners, but people using the retreat will have access to the 100 acres around the property. Michelle McKeaveney poses with one of the horses currently being used in equine-assisted therapy, which will be a part of the retreat. "We have access to amazing river trails. They have trails to their pasture. They have trails through the valleys," McKeaveney said. "It's a remarkable green, open space." It's a peaceful setting, says Reeder. "When you're on top of the hill, you can see the horizon and all you see is forest," he said. "Being in that nature setting, it just takes your breath away." Reeder hopes they can build the main lodge to house a few people, rooms for clinics or therapy, and a main gathering space. Outdoors, the plans include a riding area for equine therapy and a classroom for workshop sessions. In the long term, he said they may expand to have cabins for family accommodation. If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available. For an emergency or crisis situation, call 911. You can also contact the Saskatchewan suicide prevention line toll-free, 24/7 by calling 1-833-456-4566, texting 45645, or chatting online. You can contact the Regina mobile crisis services suicide line at 306-525-5333 or Saskatoon mobile crisis line at 306-933-6200.