Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and Penn State say that they hope their recent breakthrough will make this technology more cost-effective.
Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and Penn State say that they hope their recent breakthrough will make this technology more cost-effective.
President Joe Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators as the U.S. government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies. "It is great to see the priority that the new administration is giving to cyber," said Suzanne Spaulding, director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cybersecurity was demoted as a policy field under the Trump administration.
Félix-Antoine Joli-Coeur is the first contender to openly challenge Mayor Valérie Plante for her seat and he says he plans to bring with him a diverse range of candidates in the next municipal election, Nov. 7. "We have to find new ways to attract diversity in a short period of time," said Joli-Coeur, who has founded the Ralliement pour Montréal party. "The city council should be and has to be as diverse as possible to actually represent the diversity of Montreal." His team is still developing a plan on how to attract candidates of all genders, races and ethnicities to join, but one thing is certain, the current council cannot remain as is, with only a handful of visible minorities holding elected office, Joli-Coeur said. The call for a more diverse council is nothing new to Montreal, but that call is louder than ever before as large-scale protests have been marching through downtown streets — demanding an end to societal inequalities and systemic racism. The current party in power, Projet Montréal, has been heavily criticized for the lack of diversity among its elected representatives, but Plante said last November that she intends to bring more diversity to council. And although Ensemble Montréal already has visible minorities in office, party members like Saint-Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa have said the current situation must change. "Other parties have quite a bit of catching up to do," DeSousa has said. Looking to improve how city is managed Joli-Coeur is also promising to improve the way the city is managed. It's a city that is in dire need of improvement, he told CBC Montreal's Debra Arbec this week. "I love Montreal, but I think we are going under our potential," he said. "The city should be way more cleaner, the snow-removal operation could be swifter." He threw his hat into the ring with the intention of using his skills and expertise to change the way the municipality is run. Joli-Coeur is pushing for a stronger partnership with the provincial government to improve the city, including developing the downtown core with larger investments that will help draw people to the area. Joli-Coeur, a management consultant, has worked with cultural organizations and startup businesses. While the 42-year-old may not be well known to the public, he's no stranger to politics. He served as an advisor to former Mayor Gérald Tremblay and former Premier Pauline Marois. Candidate says he's 'outraged' by current situation Joli-Coeur said he wants to bring a new way of getting the job done to the mayor's office. "I really bring a pragmatic way of fixing things and bringing innovation and new solutions," Joli-Coeur said. "I think we bring a new option. We bring fresh air." In an interview with Radio-Canada, he said he wants to develop a "diverse coalition, a rainbow coalition, to really bring Montreal somewhere else." He had been interested in taking over as head of Mélanie Joly's former party, Vrai changement pour Montréal, but ultimately changed his mind. All the old parties are more of a liability than an asset, he said. "I am outraged by the trajectory that Montreal has taken," he said. "The streets, alleys and parks are extremely dirty."
Ramped up domestic oil production and alternative supply routes have lessened the U.S.'s need for the hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil that would have been pumped daily through the now-cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, some industry experts say. On Wednesday, not long after being sworn in as president of the United States, Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order scuttling the 1,897-kilometre pipeline expansion as part of the administration's effort to fight climate change. The project, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska and connected with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to Gulf Coast refineries. "I really don't think that this works out to be a major, significant change to American oil supply right now," said Warren Mabee, director of Queen's University's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy. "The flow of oil out of Canada ... is now a much smaller part of any big U.S. energy strategy. They've got the capacity in the States to be able to make up for that. They're not really counting on the additional capacity, the growth that Keystone XL would bring." A 'gut punch' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was disappointed with Biden's decision, but Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called it a "gut punch" and federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole described it as "devastating." While supporters of the project north of the border say the decision represents a major loss for Canadian jobs and oil production, it likely won't have a similar negative impact on U.S. oil supply, some experts say. And that makes the prospect of changing the administration's mind even more unlikely. "A decade ago, we were integral," Mabee said. "In fact, the United States would think of Canada as part of the United States when they were looking at their energy supply. And I don't think that's the case anymore." As well, there was no guarantee that adding 800,000 barrels a day of capacity would lead to 800,000 barrels a day of additional production in the oilsands, said Mabee. With Canada already moving 500,000 barrels a day by rail to the U.S., Keystone XL may have just picked up the slack from the rail system, he said. Weaned off imports In the years since Keystone XL was first proposed, the U.S. significantly increased its oil production through the hydraulic fracturing of shale. This resulted in a 230 per cent surge in U.S. crude production, or an extra 6.9 million barrels a day, said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. Total U.S. crude imports have dropped significantly as well. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, the U.S. produced, on average, about 19.25 million barrels per day of petroleum, which included more than 12 million barrels per day of crude oil. Since the 1990s, Canada's share of total crude oil imports to the U.S. has increased, accounting for 56 per cent of the supply in 2019. However, by that time, total U.S. crude oil imports were down by about one-third compared to 2005 volumes. "So the U.S. has just really weaned its way off of global imports in a really big way during that period," Tran said. "The domestic shale revolution has completely altered the U.S. landscape and its dependency on foreign oil. "The U.S. need for Canadian oil is not to the same urgent degree as it has been in the past." David Braziel, CEO of RBN Energy, an energy markets consultancy based in Houston, Texas, said that when the Keystone XL project was first announced, back in 2005, the U.S. was certainly in need of the additional capacity that would have been produced. But as the project continued to stall, the industry found alternative supply chains. Producers began relying more on rail to transport oil supplies while other pipelines expanded incrementally to help move those additional barrels to U.S. markets, Braziel said. The U.S. is also counting on the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which heads west from Alberta to B.C. and connects with a pipeline to Washington state, and Enbridge Line 3, which also begins in Alberta and crosses Minnesota to Superior, Wis. In late July, the Trump administration approved the existing Keystone pipeline to ship 29 per cent more Canadian crude into the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast. "So, there's a lot of additional capacity that could come on to fill the gaps. If the Keystone XL was there, [we would] definitely use it, but if it's not there, then there are other ways to get to market," Braziel said. WATCH | Kenney on Biden's decision to scrap Keystone XL: Andrew Lipow, CEO of Lipow Oil Associates, a petroleum consulting firm based in Houston, Texas, said the Keystone XL pipeline certainly could have been used to increase crude oil production that ultimately would have been delivered to U.S. refineries, many of them on the Gulf Coast, displacing imports from other parts of the world. "And those other imports that the Gulf Coast relies on come from areas of the world that may be politically unstable or have other supply issues," he said. Major exporter As well, while shale production has resulted in the U.S. becoming a major exporter of crude oil, that oil is of the "light sweet variety," Lipow said. And many U.S. refineries are configured to prefer the heavy sour crude that comes from Alberta. "The Canadian crude is actually less expensive than the light sweet crude coming out of the shale producing regions [in the U.S.]," he said. Still, while the U.S. refineries would prefer Alberta crude pumped through Keystone XL, they can still use U.S. crude oil, he said. Meanwhile, U.S. motorists are unlikely to see any spike in gas prices as a result of the Keystone XL decision, Mabee said. "It's not going to leave Americans paying three times as much for their gasoline," he said. "It probably won't affect their price at all."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back at the search giant saying "we don't respond to threats" after Google said it would remove its services from the country.View on euronews
Regina– On Jan. 18, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum lifted a state-wide mandatory mask order, with the state having brought its COVID-19 new case numbers down to a level lower than Saskatchewan’s. That state, which had among the worst COVID-19 numbers for the entire United States for the previous three months, has remarkably turned things around. On Jan. 21, Manitoba also announced a slight easing it its public health restrictions, restrictions that were much more severe than Saskatchewan. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister tweeted on that day, “Today is a day of hope and optimism. We’re announcing a few modest changes to our #COVID19MB restrictions that will allow increased personal connections and economic activity while ensuring we continue #ProtectingManitobans.” Manitoba will now allow two visitors to a household, 10 people plus the officiant at a funeral, and retail establishments to sell items beyond what was considered “essential.” These neighbouring jurisdictions were able to do so as they had both brought down their new COVID-19 cases down considerably. On North Dakota’s day of lifting its mask mandate, they say just 69 new cases, and by Jan. 21, their seven-day average of new cases was 147. On Nov. 14, 2020, North Dakota’s seven-day average peaked at 1,389.1. On Jan. 21, Manitoba’s seven-day average was 163. On Jan. 13 they had 90 new cases, and on Jan. 19, they had 111 new cases. For the past three weeks, both saw their seven-day averages less than 200, and generally around 160 to 170. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan, however, has had nearly double that over the last two weeks. From Jan. 10 to Jan. 21, Saskatchewan’s seven-day average of new cases hovered between 289.1 and 317.6. On Jan. 21, it was 286.1, with 227 new cases reported that day, and a record number of deaths for one day, at 13. Premier Scott Moe said in a Facebook post on Jan. 21, “Sadly, we are reporting that thirteen Saskatchewan residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died. I would like to extend my condolences to the friends and family of each of these individuals. “While Saskatchewan’s case numbers continue to decrease and we continue to deliver the vaccine at a high rate, reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic is a somber reminder of the need to reduce the spread of this deadly virus by following all public health orders and guidelines that are in place.” At the regular COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 19 in the Legislature, both Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab were asked about what North Dakota is doing better than Saskatchewan, and if they should be removing their mask mandate. Shahab said he’s been following North Dakota, which is similar in some ways to Saskatchewan, with a fairly rural population. He noted, “They were in dire straits by the end of October, early November.” “That's the lesson; that when there's high compliance with all the public health measures, things change very quickly. And I think that's the main lesson from North Dakota, but also, we’ve seen that in Saskatchewan. We've seen that in our neighboring provinces. High compliance through public health measures, restrictions, but also the high compliance by all of us, dramatically changes the course of the pandemic. So, that's what we saw in mid-December. That's really what we want to see right now,” Shahab said. Moe said of the measures implemented south of the border a few months ago, “Apparently they have been effective. There’s obviously been mass adherence to the measures that Governor (Doug) Burgum had put in place. “I’ve talked to Governor Burgum a number of times throughout this pandemic, with respect to some of the challenges that we've seen, north and south of the border, and their numbers have come down markedly. And that is through people doing the right thing, and taking their individual responsibility very, very seriously.” He added that the last time he checked, North Dakota was in excess of 5 per cent of its population having been vaccinated. “In fact, I think it's a few months ago, we were talking about North Dakota, having the highest per capita rate of COVID infections in North America. I believe if they're now leading North America on the vaccination rates, or are very close to it. And so, they have had a very robust ambitious and aggressive vaccination program. I know in one day they had over 300 vaccination sites operating in North Dakota. So they've been very ambitious, with respect to procuring vaccines and making them available to North Dakotas, and I think that speaks to the importance of us having access to a large number of vaccines, as soon as possible, ultimately, finding our way through this COVID-19 pandemic and finding our way back to some degree of normal in our communities.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
As countries such as Canada and the United States continue vaccinating millions of citizens, global health experts warn the pandemic could keep raging if lower-income nations don't get their share of much-needed doses. It's a concern that's growing even as Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden, announced on Thursday the country will rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO) — and with it, the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need. It's long overdue, some say. Others worry it's just the latest example of lip service after what's so far been a deeply inequitable vaccine roll-out around the world. "I would characterize the approach to global vaccine distribution as a massive failure," said Jenna Patterson, the South Africa-based director of health economics at the Health Finance Institute, a U.S. non-governmental organization. 'No doses in the pipeline' for some countries While Canada is among the nations signed on with COVAX, it's also one of the wealthy countries buying up massive shipments from a slate of vaccine producers — with millions of doses already administered between them. Meanwhile, other countries have no doses in the pipeline, with some lower-income nations waiting for international aid that could take months. That could amount to "catastrophic moral failure" on a global scale, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday. And from both an ethical and economic standpoint, the disparities could prove a lose-lose. "Everyone wants to go back to some sense of normal," said Dr. Ranu Dhillon, a global health physician who teaches at Harvard Medical School. "But that won't be possible unless we solve this globally." WATCH | WHO chief describes vaccine inequity between countries: Ignoring vaccine equity could 'prolong' pandemic On one hand, countries without COVID-19 vaccination programs could experience more infections and deaths for far longer; on the other, the possibility of vaccine-resistant variants emerging from ongoing hot zones could backfire on already-vaccinated countries as well. "Not only does this me-first approach leave the world's poorest and most vulnerable at risk; it is also self-defeating," Tedros said at the opening of the annual meeting of the WHO's executive board. "Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic." Allowing the virus to continue its spread in certain regions could impact travel and tourism, supply chains and the world economy, warned several experts who spoke to CBC News. The coronavirus doesn't respect international borders, said Dhillon, evidenced by the ongoing global spread of variants first found in countries such as Brazil and the U.K., meaning there's no way to end the pandemic by focusing solely on national response. If transmission continues largely unchecked in lower-income countries, there's a possibility that variants emerge that don't respond to current vaccines being rolled out in wealthy nations, he said. A situation like that could derail widespread vaccination efforts, travel routes and economic recoveries. "We can't control COVID unless we control it in the rest of the world," echoed Dr. Anna Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "And so that's an additional incentive to get the whole world working together to try to get all places, rich and poor, vaccinated as soon as possible." WATCH | U.S. health economics expert: one nation's health affects another Canada has administered 700,000 shots While Canada's vaccination program got off to a slow start, including an imminent pause on shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech, it remains among the countries poised to vaccinate tens of millions in the months ahead. Canada has administered close to 700,000 shots so far, providing at least one dose to roughly 1.7 per cent of the population. Israel, the world leader in doses per capita, has vaccinated more than three million people; the United Kingdom more than five million; and the U.S. and China have both inoculated more than 15 million and counting. That's a stark contrast to some of the world's poorest nations. Many African countries, in particular, are in danger of being left behind as countries in other regions strike bilateral deals, driving up prices, according to the WHO. The delay is, in part, because of the stringent cold-storage requirements for certain vaccines, which can be challenging to accommodate in remote areas. But WHO officials said they're working to ensure countries' readiness to receive shipments, and suggested clear inequities are also at play. "It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, in a statement the organization released on Thursday. Guinea is currently the only low-income country in Africa to provide its residents with COVID-19 vaccines, and to date, according to the WHO, those have only been administered to 25 people. No doses yet in many countries Patterson, who's based in South Africa and was speaking for the Health Finance Institute, said it's in the world's best interest to ensure all countries are vaccinated against this virus, on both economic and moral fronts — since the death toll in unvaccinated regions could continue skyrocketing while infection rates drop elsewhere. "And COVID has displayed this better than any other disease, how the health of one nation affects another," she said. South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa with more than 1.3 million cases to date. It's also now known for first discovering one of several concerning new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — one which appears to be more transmissible, and potentially capable of evading some level of immune response. Yet the country hasn't vaccinated any of its residents and is set to pay more than twice as much per dose for its batch of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India compared to purchases made by countries in the European Union, according to a Reuters report. Malawi, a low-income country in southeastern Africa, also has no vaccination campaign underway, even though the situation on the ground is a "disaster" according to Dr. Titus Divala, a physician and lecturer with the University of Malawi College of Medicine. The country is currently grappling with a surge of COVID-19 cases, far higher than its first wave, which recently claimed the lives of two cabinet ministers and prompted a national lockdown. It has more than 16,000 cases of COVID-19 and 396 deaths to date. "I think we're going to be in a situation where we do need the vaccine, but we don't have access to it for some time," Divala said. COVAX aims to bring 600 million doses to Africa Through the COVAX initiative — organized by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — international aid is meant to arrive, albeit slowly, in the shadow of vaccination programs elsewhere that are months ahead. The coalition has secured at least two billion doses of vaccines from multiple companies, with the WHO confirming on Friday that Pfizer-BioNTech, one of two companies with vaccines approved for use in Canada, will be signing on as well. The agreement is for 40 million doses of the vaccine, allowing COVAX to begin vaccinating people in poor and lower-middle income countries next month — since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is, so far, the only one with WHO emergency approval. COVAX has committed to vaccinating at least 20 per cent of the population in Africa by the end of 2021 by providing a maximum of 600 million doses. The WHO, however, warned shipments and timelines could change if vaccine candidates fail to meet regulatory approval — or if production or funding challenges arise. Alison Thompson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and researcher on ethics and public health, said countries like Canada and the U.S. who participate in COVAX need to either support other countries' vaccination efforts financially or, at some point, take a backseat so other nations can enter the crowded queue. "That's a hard sell politically," she added, "but it really does raise the question about, what are Canada's global obligations to public health?" Need to 'mass-manufacture' globally Dhillon, the physician from Havard, said this pandemic has shown the level of innovation and technology available, and now it's just a matter of scaling up to meet international need. "How do we mass-manufacture these vaccines in the quantities needed globally?" he questioned. "There is manufacturing capacity in other areas of the world. We need to remove issues with patents, we need to remove issues with intellectual property." It's all easier said than done in a charged climate where citizens are clamouring to access shots in short supply within their own borders, and Canada is no exception. But Dhillon compared the current vaccine landscape to the therapies that emerged to prevent AIDS, the often-devastating illness caused by HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. Wealthier nations accessed those first, he explained, while poorer countries were left waiting, with many of those infected in the developing world still starting therapy late. "Instead of waiting to look back in retrospect and question why we didn't do more — I think we're in that moment now," Dhillon said.
CAMEROON, Cameroon — The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force on Friday, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate. When the treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance. Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it “a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The treaty received its 50th ratification on Oct. 24, triggering a 90-day period before its entry into force on Jan. 22. As of Thursday, Fihn told The Associated Press that 61 countries had ratified the treaty, with another ratification possible on Friday, and “from Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law” in all those countries. The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries. Fihn said the treaty is “really, really significant” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward civilians and soldiers during war and the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons and land mines. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty demonstrated support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament. “Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause,” he said in a video message. “The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.” But not for the nuclear powers. As the treaty was approaching the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, the Trump administration wrote a letter to countries that signed it saying they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The letter said the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament" and would endanger the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nonproliferation efforts. Fihn countered at the time that a ban could not undermine nonproliferation since it was "the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the treaty’s arrival was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and “hopefully will compel renewed action by nuclear-weapon states to fulfil their commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.” Fihn said in an interview that the campaign sees strong public support for the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and Spain. “We will not stop until we get everyone on board,” she said. It will also be campaigning for divestment — pressuring financial institutions to stop giving capital to between 30 and 40 companies involved in nuclear weapons and missile production including Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Local businesses in Ottawa say they welcome provincial inspections of COVID-19 prevention protocols, but think the focus should remain on big box stores. An enforcement blitz in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas has uncovered numerous violations of those protocols at big box retailers, including failing to wear masks and ignoring physical distancing guidelines. During the first wave of the blitz, inspectors found only 70 per cent of sites they visited were adhering to the public health measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Now similar inspections will be coming to the Ottawa area, focusing in on big box stores, but also other retailers, restaurants open for takeout and gas stations. Province should 'double down' on bigger stores "It is infuriating as a small business owner," said Karla Briones of the inspection results so far. Briones, who runs a number of franchises in Ottawa including Global Pet Foods and a Freshii restaurant, said she welcomes an inspection for COVID-19 violations but thinks the province should continue focusing on the biggest culprits. "Instead of going down to small business owners where we actually take care of our staff, we actually care about our customers, to double down on those big box retailers," said Briones. Mark Kaluski, chair of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Area, said his members also welcome an inspection, but the news about the crackdown comes as cold comfort to the small businesses that followed the rules and yet have been forced to close. Meanwhile big box stores have been allowed to remain open during the provincewide stay-at-home order. "You would think, given that they've been given this unchecked ability to sell as much as they want to, the very least they could do is be following the rules," Kaluski said. Blitz to focus on big box stores this weekend The province's Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said inspections have already been happening in the Ottawa area, but inspectors will be sweeping through big box stores this weekend. "I feel for them," said McNaughton about small businesses. "COVID-19 has clearly impacted so many families and small businesses here in Ontario. The sooner we get through this, the sooner we can get our numbers down, the sooner we can reopen." A spokesperson for the department said there have been 241 orders issued during COVID-19-related visits in the Ottawa area since the lockdown began.
Nine months after a gunman used a replica police vehicle during a deadly shooting rampage in Nova Scotia, the federal government is suspending the sale of all surplus RCMP vehicles. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the moratorium takes effect immediately. "We are suspending the sale of decommissioned RCMP vehicles on an interim basis to ensure that this process remains appropriate and robust," Blair said in an email statement Thursday night. Last April, a gunman impersonating a police officer drove a former RCMP vehicle across rural Nova Scotia before he was shot dead by police. The shooting left 22 dead and was one of the worst massacres in Canadian history. Earlier this month, a 23-year-old from Antigonish, N.S., was arrested for impersonating a police officer while driving a vehicle made to look like a police cruiser. The Nova Scotia RCMP said the man may have used the car to try to pull people over. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court next month. In both instances, police say the civilians bought former police vehicles, outfitted them with lights and decals, and pulled people over. The cases prompted Nova Scotia Liberal MPs to contact caucus colleagues and Blair to press for changes to prevent former police vehicles from being purchased by members of the public. Former RCMP cars listed for sale Blair's statement said the government is pausing the sale of used police vehicles to ensure they aren't used unlawfully. He did not say when the suspension will be lifted. "During this moratorium, the Government of Canada and the RCMP will examine the policies that are currently in place and work towards long-term solutions that further ensures these vehicles are not improperly outfitted or otherwise misused." As recently as this week, anyone could have purchased a used RCMP vehicle on the Government of Canada auction site. In one ad, still listed as of Jan. 20, a 2013 Ford Taurus was listed for $2,300. It was among the last surplus RCMP vehicles put up for sale on the government's auction site. Now there are no such vehicles anywhere on the site. Former police vehicles still appear often on used car websites and marketplaces. Those sales will still be allowed, but authorities will get involved if those vehicles are used by someone pretending to be an officer. In his statement, Blair noted it's still illegal to "impersonate a police officer and we will take every step possible to prevent such crimes from taking place." MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — Internal reports prepared by Veterans Affairs Canada show Canadian veterans have been waiting longer and longer in recent years to access psychiatric services and other medical support at government-run clinics. The reports obtained by The Canadian Press through the access-to-information system are separate from the controversy surrounding the backlog of tens of thousands of applications from veterans for disability benefits. They also follow a previous warning from the federal auditor general about former soldiers facing long waits for badly needed mental-health services, with the reports blaming the growing delays on a soaring demand for help over the past five years. Experts say the new reports are concerning because of the importance in responding to requests for mental-health support as soon as possible to keep veterans from having to struggle on their own. “As we know with mental health, timely access is key,” said Wounded Warriors Canada executive director Scott Maxwell, whose organization provides mental-health services to veterans and first responders. “Making people wait, they might not go back, they might not follow up, they might fall through the cracks into these gaps that we know exist across the mental-health service space in Canada. And we have to make sure that we are avoiding that at all cost.” Prepared quarterly, the reports provide information on how long veterans are having to wait before getting first appointments for several medical services at 10 operational stress injury clinics set up across Canada. First established in 2002, the clinics are now located in most major cities across Canada and include teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other specialized mental-health professionals. Each clinic is designed to assess and treat the mental-health needs of veterans as well as serving military personnel and RCMP members through one-on-one therapy and group sessions. The most recent report, covering the period between April and June 2020, shows most veterans waited less than two weeks — and half only two days — before one of the clinics responded to their first phone call or other request for help. That was unchanged from the same quarter in 2018, even though the later period coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in lockdowns across the country. In fact, it was even an improvement over the year preceding the pandemic. “Contact within two days is actually a good starting point,” said Oliver Thorne, executive director of the Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, which works with former service members struggling with psychological trauma. Yet the report also shows most veterans had to wait months — in some cases more than seven months — for their first appointments with psychiatrists or to start work on treatment plans. The same was true for getting medical exams to apply for disability benefits. While the pandemic appears to have made it harder to get a medical exam or first appointment to start creating or implementing a treatment plan, the report shows wait times for both have been steadily growing since at least 2017. War Amps Canada executive director Brian Forbes, who is also chair of the National Council of Veterans’ Associations, said the growing delays for medical exams underscore the challenges many disabled veterans have just applying for benefits. Such exams are needed by Veterans Affairs Canada to approve a veteran’s application before they can get any type of help. “If you can't get to the doctor or the psychiatrists or the clinic, you're obviously stuck in another kind of backlog because you don't even get to first base,” said Forbes. Many veterans actually got their first appointments with psychiatrists faster during the start of the pandemic. But they had still been waiting in many cases more than two months longer than colleagues who saw psychiatrists in 2017. While the reports only extend as far as the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has created a surge in demand for assistance as veterans have seen their normal outlets and support networks dry up, Thorne said. “There's just kind of an increasing urgency behind them because of the stress that people are dealing with in their day-to-day life,” he said, adding many veterans often only come forward when they are in great need. “Looking at these numbers, what's potentially worrying is the amount of time between first contact and when the treatment plan begins. And so my followup question would be: How much other type of support is available for them in that interim time?” The reports note that the number of veterans referred to the government-run clinics even before the pandemic had nearly doubled between 2015 and 2020, which “had a negative impact on wait times.” Veterans Affairs spokesman Josh Bueckert also blamed longer treatment times for veterans than non-veterans and a shortage of mental-health workers across the country, “especially with psychiatrists and psychologists, causing occasional staff vacancies in some clinics.” “In order to address this situation, Veterans Affairs Canada has increased funding for OSI Clinic recruitment and specialized training of other types of mental health professionals,” Bueckert said. The department has also recruited local health providers to help out. Veterans are also screened when they first reach out to a clinic, Bueckert said, with the most at-risk provided faster service. Maxwell said there is a clear need for the government to dedicate more resources — including funding to train dedicated mental-health professionals — to ensure veterans have ready access to support. “Clearly, there's a desire to utilize the services based on the numbers that we're seeing in this report,” he said. “That just speaks to the need then to keep pace with demand so those veterans can get the care that they deserve, and in a positive way.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
The Doug Ford government's decision to expropriate downtown Toronto properties once home to Upper Canada's first parliament came as a surprise, city officials say — prompting one councillor to insist the land is "not for sale." City staff were informed last week that the provincial government was starting expropriation proceedings for two city-owned parcels of land needed for the construction of the Ontario Line — a rapid transit route projected to stretch more than 15 kilometres from the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place and the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The property in question is known as the First Parliament Site, located at the intersection of Front Street East and Parliament Street. It is a full city block and nearly the size of Nathan Phillips Square. Its historical significance dates back thousands of years to Indigenous settlements but the site is currently home to parking lots, a car dealership and a car wash. "I would say to the province right now, these lands are not for sale," Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents the area, said in an interview. Wong-Tam says years of city planning and public consultation have already gone into developing a comprehensive master plan for the site, which includes proposals for a library and park. And she has a message for the province. "The community doesn't want to sell these lands to you. We want to work with you to build transit, to build out the master plan. And we believe that we can do that without conveying the lands to you." Tweets from Coun.Joe Cressy, who represents Spadina-Fort York, echoed Wong-Tam's concern. "There is no good reason to throw out years of hard work on this landmark project. The Province should work with the City and community," Cressy wrote. City staff say they received notice about the expropriation on Jan. 11 from Metrolinx, the province's transit agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. "I guess we weren't necessarily expecting to receive it," Mayor John Tory said Thursday. But Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins says the agency has been in "ongoing discussions" with the city about its Ontario Line plans, "including discussions that were held in advance of our fall 2020 virtual consultations where details on the First Parliament site were provided." The parcels required will be used for construction of the Ontario Line's Corktown station. "Some parcels may be temporarily needed for construction and then would be restored," Aikins said. 'Hugely significant site' Between 1795 and 1824, the site was home to Upper Canada's first and second parliament buildings. They were rebuilt after being burned down during the War of 1812. The site also housed the Home District Gaol (jail) and the Consumers Gas Company. "It's a hugely significant site and there was a great deal of excitement when it was discovered," Upper Canada historian and York University PhD. student Wendy Smith said in an interview. Smith said previous archeological digs at the site have unearthed artifacts and it's believed many more remain buried in the ground. Injunction sought for foundry site The expropriation effort, first reported Thursday by the Toronto Star, comes after the Ford government's controversial decision to fast track the development of another nearby heritage site on the West Don Lands. Earlier this week, demolition of the Dominion Foundry building on that site sparked a backlash and legal action in the community. The St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association has filed an application for a court injunction to preserve the building. Tory said Thursday he sees these conflicts over planning as "growing pains" in the city's relationship with the Ford government and its cooperative effort to build housing and transit. "I think these are all lessons as to how we're going to have to sit together as two governments and, yes, get affordable housing built and, yes, get transit built, but do it in a way that involves proper consultation with the city, with the communities, and respect for all the various other policies that go beyond housing and transit," Tory said. With First Parliament, Aikens says the local community has assurance from Metrolinx that it will engage with them on plans for the site. "We also remain committed to capturing the history of the site in the new Ontario Line station and will be consulting with the community, Indigenous communities, and cultural heritage experts to explore options for commemoration of findings in consultation with the City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services and the Ontario Heritage Trust," she said.
Several southern Ontario school boards that straddle public health units are gearing up to reopen only a portion of their schools to in-person learning next week, adding another layer of complexity to an academic year that's been defined by quick pivots. The government order allowing schools in seven public health units to reopen physical classrooms as of Monday means nine boards now have to create different plans for different towns in their jurisdiction. "It's definitely more difficult to have one board be going in two different directions," said Diane Lloyd, chair of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, which oversees schools in Clarington, Ont., that will remain closed and ones in Northumberland and Peterborough that will reopen. She said the board began reaching out to parents immediately after receiving word of the plan from the Ministry of Education in an effort to prevent any confusion. "The challenge is being ready to pivot all the time on short notice," Lloyd said. That's nobody's fault, she said, as these decisions are made based on the rates of COVID-19 in a community in the interest of public safety, but the "constant change and constant new directives" are still presenting an issue. She said it will always be hard to work when you're being told to change course before you can make any progress. Stephen Sliwa, director of the Upper Canada District School Board, said teachers and school staff have gotten used to those sorts of shifts but that doesn't necessarily make it easy. "They're seeing it as another change in a series of changes that comes with working during a period of extreme uncertainty," he said. "I think all organizations are getting accustomed to adjusting quickly to respond to the changes." Roughly 40 per cent of schools in his district are in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, which covers Stormont, Glengarry and Dundas, Prescott-Russell and Cornwall, and will remain closed, he said. The other 60 per cent are located in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, and can reopen Monday. Sliwa said his board's efforts have been focused on educating parents of those students about what the return to class will look like, as the province has instituted new public health measures. Students in grades 1 through 3 will have to wear masks now, whereas before it was optional, he noted. And the province is also introducing "provincewide targeted asymptomatic testing" and enhanced screening, the Ministry of Education said. He said some parents have also contacted the board to figure out whether their kids will be returning to class on Monday. Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, defended the province's plan to reopen only some schools at a news conference on Thursday, saying it's in the best interest of students. "We definitely want kids to be in school. That is the best thing for them for a whole lot of reasons," she said, but the number of students testing positive for COVID-19 has made it impossible to send everyone back to class. "There was so much transmission that we felt at that point, going into a lockdown, it would be safer to keep keep them at home," Yaffe said. She said the government continues to monitor the situation in each region closely so it can reopen schools safely. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Three suspects are in custody following a shooting in Espanola on Thursday, according to provincial police. In a release, Manitoulin OPP said officers were called about 10:20 a.m. to a home on Albert Street in Espanola. "A person suffered a gunshot wound and has been transported to a nearby hospital (Health Sciences North in Sudbury) with serious life-threatening injuries. The three suspects believed to be involved in this incident then fled the area in a vehicle via Highway 17." The suspects allegedly fled the scene in a taxi en route to Sudbury, according to a witness. "OPP immediately engaged the assistance of Greater Sudbury Police Service who deployed their tactical unit to assist," the OPP said. "A short time later, the (Greater Sudbury Police) Tactical Unit arrested three individuals believed to be involved in the shooting while they were traveling in Lively." Greater Sudbury Police tweeted that its Emergency Response Unit worked with members of the Integrated Crime Team to conduct a high-risk vehicle stop on Adam Street in Lively at around 11:20 a.m. Police confirmed that the vehicle stop was in connection to the incident that occurred in Espanola, and the individuals were taken into custody. A neighbour near the shooting told The Sudbury Star that an individual had been shot in the shoulder at a nearby “drug house.” Manitoulin OPP and the Anishinabek Police Service were on scene investigating on Thursday. Witnesses reported seeing K9 and Tactical units in the area. Both the OPP and Greater Sudbury Police issued statements saying there is no threat to public safety at this time, and members of the Manitoulin OPP detachment have assumed responsibility for the investigation. Members of the OPP's Manitoulin Detachment Crime Unit, under the direction of the OPP's Criminal Investigation Branch, are involved. Assisting is an OPP Critical Incident Commander, an OPP Community Street Crime Unit, an OPP Canine Unit and OPP Forensic Identification Services. Further information will be released as it becomes available, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or your nearest police authority. Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or visit www.p3tips.com where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000. In an earlier report, The Sudbury Star said that Espanola schools were sent into lockdown as a result of the shooting. The OPP later clarified the school lockdown was not in any way connected to the incident on Albert Street. “Manitoulin OPP were called to a school on Spruce Street regarding alleged threats made via social media. A school lockdown was called, and police later located the student,” said the OPP in a tweet. “School protocol was followed, and a lockdown ensued. Police located the student a short time later. After investigation, it was determined the comments were made via social media and there was no threat to public safety,” police said in a release. OPP Const. Phil Young said no one was taken into custody as a result of this incident. The nature of the threats made on social media is currently unknown. School officials also confirmed the incident. “Espanola High School and A.B. Ellis Public School went into hold and secure just after 10:30 am today when the local police advised the schools to do so,” said Nicole Charette, spokesperson for the Rainbow District School Board. “The hold and secure was lifted at 12:10 pm when the police confirmed that it was safe to do so. In a hold and secure, students remain in the school as teaching and learning continues.” Officials with the town's French-language school took similar steps. "We can confirm that our school in Espanola also proceeded to a hold and secure as instructed by the OPP," Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon said in a statement. "Students and staff at École catholique La Renaissance are safe and sound. "We have communicated with parents asking them to inform the school if their child was made nervous by this incident and could benefit from some support." The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
NEW YORK — A lawyers' group filed an ethics complaint against Rudy Giuliani with New York's courts, calling for him to be investigated and his law license suspended over his work promoting former President Donald Trump's false allegations over the 2020 election. Lawyers Defending American Democracy, which includes former judges and federal attorneys among its members, sent the complaint on Wednesday to the Attorney Grievance Committee of the state's court system saying Giuliani had violated the rules of professional conduct. “Giuliani has spearheaded a nationwide public campaign to convince the public and the courts of massive voter fraud and a stolen presidential election,” the complaint said. The complaint called for the committee to investigate Giuliani's conduct, including his comments at a rally before rioters stormed into the U.S. Capitol, and to suspend his law license immediately while any investigation is being done. A message was left with the committee seeking comment. An investigation would be the first step in a process that could lead to a disbarment. Another complaint against Giuliani was filed earlier in January by New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, who asked that disbarring Giuliani be taken up for consideration. The New York State Bar Association separately has opened an inquiry into whether he should be expelled from that organization, which is a voluntary membership organization. An email seeking comment was sent to Giuliani's representative. The New York Times reported that on his radio show on Thursday, Giuliani said “the whole purpose of this is to disbar me from my exercising my right of free speech and defending my client, because they can’t fathom the fact that maybe, just maybe, they may be wrong." The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,622 new vaccinations administered for a total of 738,864 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,949.546 per 100,000. There were 13,260 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 920,775 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.24 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,996 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,827 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.07 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 11,950 new vaccinations administered for a total of 186,210 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.762 per 1,000. There were 975 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 15,899 new vaccinations administered for a total of 253,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.279 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,519 new vaccinations administered for a total of 23,884 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.345 per 1,000. There were 9,360 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.92 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,548 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,781 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.256 per 1,000. There were 2,925 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 1,263 new vaccinations administered for a total of 96,506 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.923 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,776 new vaccinations administered for a total of 104,901 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.442 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.59 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 570 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,160 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 75.723 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 43.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 830 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,375 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 87.151 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Booted from the Conservative caucus on Wednesday, Derek Sloan now sits as an Independent MP in the House of Commons. Without the backing of the Conservative Party of Canada, his chances of holding on to his seat in the next election don't look good. Sloan, who finished fourth in last year's Conservative leadership contest with just under 16 per cent of ballots cast, was ousted after a majority of his (former) caucus colleagues voted to eject him for what Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole called "a pattern of destructive behaviour involving multiple incidents and disrespect towards the Conservative team for over a year." The latest controversy stemmed from news that Sloan's leadership campaign accepted a donation from Paul Fromm, a notorious white nationalist. Sloan accused O'Toole of hypocrisy, arguing that the Conservative Party also failed to red-flag Fromm's donation and party membership. Sloan's political career with the party appears to be over. And if he does seek re-election in his Eastern Ontario riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington, he'll face a big challenge. Without the backing of a national party, Independent candidates tend to have a tough time. Just 76 Canadian MPs first elected under a party banner in this country have ever sought re-election as Independents. Only 25 of them have succeeded. That's a bad track record, considering incumbents running with a party's stamp of approval have won about three-quarters of the time. Since 1974, only five MPs have successfully been re-elected as Independents after leaving (or being ejected from) their party caucuses: Gilles Bernier in 1993, John Nunziata in 1997, Chuck Cadman in 2004, BIll Casey in 2008 and, most recently, Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last election in 2019. What would Sloan need to do to follow in their footsteps? Wilson-Raybould and Philpott tried, only one succeeded Wilson-Raybould wasn't the only incumbent MP running as an Independent in 2019. Jane Philpott, who was also ejected from the Liberal caucus in the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair, attempted re-election without success. But Wilson-Raybould bucked the historical odds by winning her Vancouver Granville seat with 33 per cent of the vote, beating the Liberals' Taleeb Noormohamed by about six percentage points. Wilson-Raybould's share represented about 74 per cent of the vote she had received as a Liberal in 2015. Philpott, however, finished third in her Ontario riding of Markham–Stouffville with 21 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Helena Jaczek won with 39 per cent. Philpott's share represented about 42 per cent of the vote she got as a Liberal in 2015, roughly even with how Independent candidates in her situation have performed in recent provincial and federal elections. Not all of those who voted for Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were former Liberal supporters. Both candidates took from other parties as well. In Vancouver Granville, the Liberals did 17 points worse in 2019 without Wilson-Raybould than they did in 2015 with her — but the NDP dropped 14 points, too. Many of the votes lost by the NDP likely went to Wilson-Raybould. In Markham–Stouffville, the Liberals did 10 points worse without Philpott than they did in 2015. The Conservatives in the riding dropped even more, sliding 12 points. This means some Liberal supporters followed Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, but most stuck with the party brand. Only Wilson-Raybould was able to attract enough support from other parties to get re-elected. That could be tough for Sloan to do. A national profile and generally sympathetic media coverage helped re-elect Wilson-Raybould, but it wasn't enough for Philpott. Sloan has neither of those things working for him. Big challenge for Sloan in his riding Elections and byelections in his Hastings–Lennox and Addington riding have been contested largely by the Liberals and the Conservatives. That makes his riding more like Markham–Stouffville than Vancouver Granville, where all three major parties traditionally have been competitive. Sloan took 41 per cent of the vote in the 2019 federal election in the riding — just enough to defeat the Liberal incumbent, Mike Bossio, who had 37 per cent. The NDP finished well back with just 13 per cent of the vote. In order to be re-elected, Sloan will need not only a big chunk of the Conservative vote but a lot of the vote that went to the Liberals and NDP in 2019 as well. Considering his politics, that's probably not going to happen. The more likely result would be Sloan siphoning off enough Conservative support to let the Liberals re-take the seat. But there's little to indicate that Sloan himself is much of a draw in Hastings–Lennox and Addington. In 2019, Sloan did about half a percentage point worse than his Conservative predecessor did in the riding in 2015. On the first ballot of the 2020 Conservative leadership, Sloan took just 36.5 per cent of party members' votes in his own riding. By comparison, O'Toole captured 67 per cent of the vote in his Ontario riding of Durham, while Peter MacKay took 86 per cent in his former riding of Central Nova. Sloan might not have the personal clout to win the seat on his own. But what if he got some help — perhaps from another former Conservative leadership candidate no longer with the party? Bernier bolted but was beaten Sloan has given no indication he is actively considering joining Maxime Bernier's People's Party. In a message to his supporters, Sloan encouraged them to put their names forward to attend the Conservative Party's next policy convention. The People's Party would seem to be a natural fit for Sloan. But being a PPC candidate wouldn't necessarily make it any easier for him to win Hastings–Lennox and Addington. Bernier wasn't able to secure his own re-election in his Quebec riding of Beauce in 2019; he took 28 per cent of the vote and finished 10 points behind the Conservatives' Richard Lehoux. Even though Bernier was a four-term MP and had a national profile due to his leadership of the People's Party and presence at the leaders debates, Bernier retained just 48 per cent of the vote share he received in 2015 in Beauce. If Sloan managed to match that percentage, he would only get around 20 per cent of the vote in his own riding — not nearly enough to be competitive. The PPC base in the riding isn't going to help much, as the party's candidate captured just 2.5 per cent of the vote in Hastings–Lennox and Addington in 2019. Sloan's options aren't very good. Whether he goes it alone or joins up with Bernier, his days as an MP are likely numbered.
EDMONTON — Political analysts say Premier Jason Kenney must rethink his traditional “fight back” approach and start building bridges to reconcile environmental concerns with oil and gas development. “Attacks are not going to persuade anybody,” Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said in an interview Thursday. “You don’t set up a war room whose purpose from the get-go is to go after environmentalists. That’s a problem when you have an environmentalist in the White House.” U.S. President Joe Biden, on his first day in office Wednesday, fulfilled a long-standing campaign promise to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. The line would have taken more oil from Alberta through the United States to refineries and ports to help alleviate the current price discount on the province's landlocked oil. Biden had promised to cancel former president Donald Trump's permit for the line on the grounds that product from Alberta’s oilsands does not mesh with broader goals to battle climate change. Kenney called the decision an insult to Alberta and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deliver a breakthrough in talks or, if that fails, impose trade sanctions on the U.S. Kenney’s comments also lauded Canada’s environmental record. Williams said those are valid arguments that Kenney needs to make a priority, married to policy initiatives as necessary, rather than throw them in as add-on talking points. She suggested Kenney needs to pick a lane on the environment. Right now, she noted, he is promoting the federal climate plan as justification for Keystone while simultaneously challenging in court the plan’s consumer carbon tax. Political scientist Jared Wesley said Kenney’s stance seems to be more about political damage control for a doomed project his government contributed $1.5 billion to last spring even though, at the time, it was a risky proposition. “Kenney’s not the first premier to have one gear when it comes to intergovernmental relations,” said Wesley with the University of Alberta. “The fight-back approach seems to be in (Kenney’s) political DNA. He doesn’t like being questioned and when his plans don’t turn out, the default position is to blame someone else.” Kenney’s challenge is that bridge-building premiers run the risk of being perceived as weak, Wesley said, so Kenney may feel he needs to be bellicose and hard line given his popularity is being challenged on the far right. Kenney beat the NDP in the 2019 election in part by promising to challenge what he said are shadowy global foes and environmentalists who seek to undermine Alberta’s oil industry. He set up a $30-million-a-year “war room” and struck a public inquiry into foreign funding of oil opponents. Both endeavours have been undermined by self-generated mistakes and controversies. Kenney has blamed many of the province’s economic and oil woes on the Trudeau government's policies. Yet the Liberal government in 2018 stepped in to buy the one pipeline that is proceeding – the Trans Mountain expansion from Alberta to the B.C. coast. Wesley said Kenney blaming Trudeau has almost become a cliché and one that will hurt Alberta. “The move (to blame Trudeau) has become so predictable that it’s laughable,” he said. “That’s not just among his opponents here in Alberta, but among people he’s supposed to be persuading nationally and internationally.” Political scientist Duane Bratt, also of Mount Royal University, agrees. “This is really setting the stage for the old playbook of 'let’s blame Trudeau' … and I’m not sure it’s going to work this time," Bratt said. “We’re seeing the collapse of the fight-back strategy in so many different realms. Not only has it not worked, it has cost Alberta taxpayers billions of dollars and a real hit to our reputation.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Recent developments: Ottawa reported 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday. What's the latest? As Canadians begin preparing their 2020 taxes, two Ottawa accountants share their tips for people working from home — and dispel notions of a great windfall this spring. Pandemic stay-at-home orders have changed how people are getting around Ottawa, and now the city wants to know whether its approach to snow and ice clearing should evolve, too. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 87 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and one more death. How many cases are there? As of Friday, 12,761 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,037 known active cases, 11,308 resolved cases and 416 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 22,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 22,200 resolved cases. One hundred and eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 147 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Places such as Kingston have started to take patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Schools can reopen to general in-person learning Monday in the areas of eastern Ontario with lower COVID-19 levels — not in Ottawa nor communities under the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. There is no return date for them. Child-care centres remain open. Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials say there are signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread and there's been some talk about what it will take to lift them. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Local health units have said they've given more than 29,800 doses, including about 22,000 in Ottawa and more than 7,300 in western Quebec. Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. That's already happened in Ottawa and across Quebec. That, and Pfizer temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, means some areas can't guarantee people will get a second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks. Ontario's campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August. Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public. It said before Pfizer's announcement people will get their second dose within 90 days. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites will reopen Monday. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had more than 130 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 240 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are marking the end of the first week of the provincial election campaign with a massive snowstorm. Though some candidates were out knocking on doors Thursday morning, by late afternoon it was difficult to see across the street in St. John's with all the blowing snow. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey made it back to St. John's before the storm hit after a few days of campaigning in western and central Newfoundland. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie is in Clarenville, where 60 km/h winds blew overnight Thursday. As of Thursday evening, it was unclear whether NDP Leader Alison Coffin would make it back to St. John's from campaigning in Labrador, where another storm was swirling over the north coast. The snowstorm also marks the one-year anniversary of the record-breaking blizzard, now dubbed "Snowmageddon," which dumped more than 70 centimetres on the capital city and prompted officials to enforce a state of emergency for more than a week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
A $129-million plan to rejuvenate the historic ByWard Market heads to Ottawa city council for approval next week, and business owners say it's about time the downtown area saw some civic love by way of upgrades. As it nears its 200th anniversary, Ottawa's original commercial district is still at the top of sightseeing lists, but many people who live and work there say it's looking run down. Even city staff referred to the market as a "district in distress" before presenting revitalization plans to Ottawa's finance committee last month. The idea is to make better use of the city's 10 hectares of the market, mostly its streets. The city plans to "reclaim" 3.2 hectares of that space for pedestrians by widening sidewalks for patios and benches, and reconfiguring roadways so whole streets can be closed for events and festivals. The aging municipal garage at the market's core would be replaced by a new "destination" building with much-needed public washrooms. William Street would be the only street permanently closed to traffic. At the "gateway" to the area, the ramp over the sombre pedestrian underpass at Sussex Drive and Rideau Street could be demolished to make the area brighter and improve cycling connections. "It's the biggest thing to happen down here since I've been around," said John Borsten, owner of the Metropolitain Brasserie, The Grand Pizzeria and for 35 years, Zak's Diner. York Street a 'wasted' boulevard The way Borsten sees it, if the city needs to redo sidewalks and install new lampposts anyway, it might as well do the job right and create wide, flexible public spaces that can be used for events such as Canada Day. "I think the future of the ByWard Market depends on it happening," he said. Borsten and partners have just bought the old building that housed the Fish Market restaurant at the prominent corner of York and William streets, a building that has borne witness to countless changes over its nearly 150 years. Someday, when the pandemic is over, the streetscape outside its doors might host a concert for 7,500 people. York Street, with its wide roadway and strip of parking spaces down the middle, is the city's top priority for the revamp. "It's a giant boulevard. It's just wasted. It's just surface parking," said Borsten. Mandy Gosewich looks out on York Street from her boutique, STUNNING! Fashion + Accessories. As a girl, she would see live chickens for sale on the street when she visited her shopkeeper grandparents in the ByWard Market. She's the fourth generation in her family to operate a business in the market and says times are changing yet again, with younger generations less dependant on cars and keener on open public spaces, especially since the pandemic. This past summer, Gosewich watched as families spent whole days in the ByWard Market when the city closed off streets for patios. "It was really wonderful to see the amount of people who were down here hanging out," she said. "It really brought back the vibe of the market that had gone away." Like Borsten, she thinks it's the market's turn for some municipal attention. "Lansdowne has been a huge focus for the city, and I think their cup has runneth over, and I think it's time to give love back to the ByWard Market," said Gosewich. The hunt for funding While city council is expected to approve the plan on Jan. 27, it doesn't yet have the money for a dozen projects pegged at $129 million. Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the cost is comparable to a couple of road renewals, and believes the city can make the case for funding. The revamp creates coveted public outdoor space, and helps local businesses and farmers recover from the pandemic. Plus the National Capital Commission already has a major stake, he points out. "It just checks so many of those boxes when you think of a federal or provincial [funding] application," said Fleury. Others with a stake in the ByWard Market have seen enough ideas come and go that they're not counting on the full plan to happen, or at least happen quickly. This time, however, the area's blend of retailers, restaurants, bars and homes appear more unified and supportive than they have in the past. That said, the perennial disagreement over parking versus pedestrian space continues. Some shops maintain that losing parking will harm sales because their customer bases extend beyond the neighbourhood, and most shoppers simply won't walk far with heavy bags. "We have been assured by the politicians that most of the parking that will be removed will be replaced, so I'm optimistic about that," said John Diener of longstanding Saslove's Meat Market. Diener, who also lives in the ByWard Market, hopes this will be the plan to finally lift up an area that looks more "tired" as each year goes by. "We're hoping that the great majority of these things actually do take place, because I think it would be great for the city and certainly great for the area."