Interested in building a pitching mound for your son to practice on? Check out this video where this person walks you through step-by-step instructions. This took about 6 hours to complete on a $200 budget. Enjoy!
Interested in building a pitching mound for your son to practice on? Check out this video where this person walks you through step-by-step instructions. This took about 6 hours to complete on a $200 budget. Enjoy!
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Sinai Health in Toronto, said deaths that have been recorded as a result of COVID-19 only reflect those who were tested for it. "But there are going to be people who died in excess of what we normally expected, who might have been infected and never got a test and went on to die." The underlying cause of death in 92 per cent of 9,500 fatalities was recorded on medical certificates as COVID-19 in a November study by Statistics Canada. In the remaining eight per cent of cases, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other chronic conditions were most commonly found to be the underlying cause of death. Stall said while the 92 per cent figure is higher than what he expected it to be, he thinks the actual number is likely to be even larger. "I think this also speaks to the confusion people have of how to actually classify a cause of death," he said, adding those who die are rarely tested to determine if they had COVID-19. He said the better indicator of the pandemic's death toll will be excess mortality, when more deaths than were expected are recorded during a specific time period. Dr. Roger Wong, a clinical professor of geriatric medicine, said the accurate recording of deaths from COVID-19 is a challenge around the globe. The World Health Organization and medical regulatory bodies in Canada have provided guidelines on how to record COVID-19 related deaths. Wong said an incomplete or inaccurate record of mortality data can have public health implications. Scientists and researchers will get a better understanding of COVID-19 in people with long-standing health conditions by recording as many details as possible in death certificates, said Wong, who is also a vice-dean in the University of British Columbia's faculty of medicine. "It has implications, not only for COVID-19 deaths, but implications for all deaths," Wong said. He said the first line of a death certificate states the immediate reason a patient died, while the second and subsequent lines record health conditions leading to the cause of the fatality. "The immediate cause of death may not capture the underlying cause of death," he said. In patients who die from COVID-19, they could have also suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia because the virus affects the lungs, he said, giving an example. In those cases, the first line would list respiratory syndrome as the cause of death, and the second and third lines would say what led to it, which could be pneumonia and COVID-19 respectively, Wong said. It is important to note what caused the pneumonia, he said, adding in a number of cases it could be COVID-19. Long-standing illnesses or comorbidities, such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, also complicate how deaths are recorded, Wong said, as those patients are at higher risk of infection. "COVID-19 should be recorded as an underlying cause of death, not so much as a concurrent health condition that happened to be there," Wong explained. Stall used cardiopulmonary arrest as another example of fatalities that don't always list COVID-19 as a factor. "Well, everyone dies of cardiopulmonary arrest, because everyone dies when their heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing. That's not a cause of death. That's the mechanism of death," Stall said. "The cause of death is COVID-19, and ultimately all events lead to cardiopulmonary arrest but that's a common example that I'll sometimes see as a cause of death when it certainly is not the cause." There needs to be better education and "a bit more" quality control in how deaths are recorded, he said. "It's not something we learn a ton about in medical school or something that's given a lot of attention and consideration by individuals who are often in a rush to do it so the body can be released to the morgue or funeral home." The StatCan study said international guidelines are followed to record COVID-19 as the cause of death where the disease "caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death." Stall said accurately recording deaths helps stamp out misinformation about the pandemic as well as gauging how the country has been affected by it. "We are looking at the picture and the complete scope of what COVID-19 has done to our population in our country," Stall said. "And in order to look after the living, you need to count the dead." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021 Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. By the time that dose is injected, it has travelled to at least six different cities in four countries, across the Atlantic Ocean twice, and monitored by a 24-hour watchtower in Iceland every step of the way. A marvel of both science and supply-chain heroics takes the vaccine from the factory floor to the arms of grateful patients all over the world. "It's really very complex," said Germain Morin, Pfizer's vice-president in charge of global supply chains for the company's rare-disease medications and vaccines. The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines being made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, as well as Moderna, are a novel technology that before COVID-19 had never been approved for widespread use in humans. While DNA is the large and complex molecule that stores all of genetic coding that makes us who we are, RNA carries individual pieces of that code out into the body with the instructions on how to carry out the body's work. In the case of mRNA vaccines, they are carrying the genetic code for part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which teaches our bodies to mount a defence against the virus. A year ago, the materials for these vaccines were being made for research purposes only, enough for maybe a few hundred doses at a time. Now Pfizer expects to pump out two billion doses by the end of this year. It has made scaling up the manufacturing process a herculean feat, said Morin. There are 25 different suppliers involved, spanning 19 different countries. Some of them, said Morin, were making milligrams of liquid at the start. Then they were asked to make kilograms of it, and finally hundreds of kilograms. The 475,000 doses Canada received last week began their lives before Christmas. Morin said it used to take four months to make a single dose of the vaccine, which is officially called BNT162b2. Morin said the process has recently been streamlined to half that time. Every dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is born in a Pfizer lab in Chesterfield, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. That's where small DNA molecules called plasmids are made with the beginnings of the code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It takes about two weeks, followed by a quality assurance process. Every step of production has quality checks and rechecks, from the bags and boxes used to store and transport the vaccine components to the temperature in the lab and the protective clothing worn by any workers. Then comes the first major chill, as the plasmids are put in bags and frozen to that famous ultralow temperature Pfizer's product needs: -80C. From Missouri, the plasmids are shipped to two labs, one a Pfizer facility in Andover, Mass., and another a BioNTech facility in Germany, where they are used to make the mRNA. A single batch of mRNA takes about four days to make, in a high-tech process with numerous enzymes and chemicals. The mRNA is then frozen again and shipped off for finishing. In the U.S. that happens in Kalamazoo, Mich., and for Canada's doses, currently made in Europe, they go to Puurs, Belgium, Pfizer's biggest plant in the world. Messenger RNA is not a very stable product and will disintegrate quickly if not protected, so every bit of mRNA is encased in a tiny amount of fat called a lipid nanoparticle. "Imagine a very, very small egg, so a very small eggshell of lipids that would protect the mRNA," said Morin. "This is part of the magic of making this vaccine as well." Over the course of three or four more days the mRNA gets its lipid coating, and is filled into vials containing enough vaccine for six doses. The vials are then packed into boxes, and immediately put into "those famous freezers" which turn the lipid-coated mRNA molecules into mini blocks of ultracold ice. "This was, by the way, one of the challenges," said Morin. "You can imagine that those freezers are not very common in the world. Laboratories buying them would typically buy them one or two at a time. We went to the suppliers and the first time we've asked for 650 of them in one shot, and then we went for more after that." The vials stay in those freezers for two to three weeks, while every lot is tested with more than 40 different quality-control measures. Then come the thermal shipping boxes Pfizer and BioNTech developed for this vaccine. Each vial is packed into a tray about the size of a pizza box with 195 vials total. Five trays are packaged together into the special box, which is filled with dry ice, and sealed. Every box contains a tracking unit to know its location and internal temperature at all times. A control site in Iceland monitors the boxes, which are all uniquely labelled. If any box records a problem between Belgium and the delivery site, it will be investigated and most likely discarded. Morin said at first there were many concerns about the complexity of the freezer requirements but the supply chain has been so successful that only one per cent of the product around the world has been lost because of temperature concerns. Pfizer contracted with UPS to deliver the boxes. Those are picked up by UPS in Belgium, and sent through Germany and Kentucky on their way to Canada. UPS delivers the batches to dozens of delivery sites in each province, where provincial health officials take over possession and prepare to inject them into arms. Moderna hasn't released as many details about its manufacturing process, but has said the vaccine is largely produced for Canada in Switzerland, sent to Spain to be mixed with a diluent and filled into vials, and then shipped to a warehouse in Belgium. Canada has hired FedEx and Innomar Strategies to manage the shipping and distribution of Moderna's and all other vaccines except Pfizer-BioNTech's. Guy Payette, the president of Innomar, said they too use specially designed boxes. Moderna's vaccine doesn't have to be frozen as deeply but does have to be kept at about -20C. The other vaccines Canada is likely to get will mostly need to be kept at about 6 C. Payette said each box is also labelled and tracked with a GPS and thermal sensor. The shipments arrive at Innomar's warehouse, where workers repackage them to match the quantities being sent to each province. He said except for one spot in northern British Columbia, the trackers have worked beautifully. Where they did not, due to the altitude, boxes are equipped with a second device with data that can be downloaded later. He said so far, the temperature has been fine and all products delivered successfully. Those involved in the vaccine process have expressed awe at the speed with which everything turned around. Moderna's vaccine was in clinical trials less than two months after the SARS-CoV-2 virus was fully sequenced. Pfizer and BioNTech signed a partnership agreement in March 2020, and 266 days later the vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom. More than 50 countries have since followed suit and more than 100 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine have now been distributed. It's a pace of development the company has never seen in its 173-year history. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, not even close," said Morin. He said most products take three to five years to get this far. "We're very proud," he said. "Every new market that we launch is a celebration." He said when the first Canadian was vaccinated on Dec. 14, "I had goosebumps." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. There are 861,472 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 861,472 confirmed cases (30,516 active, 809,041 resolved, 21,915 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 3,252 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 80.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,886 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,984. There were 50 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 339 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 57.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,205,347 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 977 confirmed cases (290 active, 682 resolved, five deaths). There were four new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 55.54 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 114 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 16. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 0.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 194,501 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 121 confirmed cases (seven active, 114 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 4.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been six new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 100,524 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,634 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,534 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 10 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 3.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 323,312 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,428 confirmed cases (42 active, 1,360 resolved, 26 deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 5.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 234,746 tests completed. _ Quebec: 286,145 confirmed cases (7,888 active, 267,885 resolved, 10,372 deaths). There were 815 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,458 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 780. There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 94 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 13. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 120.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,220,844 tests completed. _ Ontario: 298,569 confirmed cases (10,294 active, 281,331 resolved, 6,944 deaths). There were 1,258 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 69.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,798 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,114. There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,726,049 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 31,721 confirmed cases (1,197 active, 29,635 resolved, 889 deaths). There were 64 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 86.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 486 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 69. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 526,985 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 28,344 confirmed cases (1,510 active, 26,454 resolved, 380 deaths). There were 153 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 128.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,099 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 157. There were zero new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 15 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.18 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 567,399 tests completed. _ Alberta: 132,788 confirmed cases (4,505 active, 126,406 resolved, 1,877 deaths). There were 356 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 101.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,433 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348. There were three new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,378,626 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 79,262 confirmed cases (4,719 active, 73,188 resolved, 1,355 deaths). There were 589 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 91.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,427 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 490. There were seven new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,901,202 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,126 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (three active, 39 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 6.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,388 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 356 confirmed cases (26 active, 329 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Friday. The rate of active cases is 66.07 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 24 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,569 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 26, 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) A mining company hoping to strike it rich on the Eastern Shore says it now believes there is double the amount of gold it initially thought was on its property near Goldboro, N.S. Anaconda Mining originally estimated there were 1.4-million ounces of gold at its site about 250 kilometres east of Halifax. But after exploration, drilling and testing last year, the Toronto-based company now believes there are closer to 2.75-million ounces of gold. "I've been in this industry 35 years, and it's been my dream to develop something like this," said Kevin Bullock, the company's president and CEO. "I'm just ecstatic. You know, people look for these their lifetime and never find them. So I'm really happy about that." Bullock said he believes the gold deposit at Goldboro is the second-largest undeveloped deposit in Atlantic Canada, second only to Marathon Gold's Valentine Gold project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Focus shifting to open-pit mining The findings have prompted Anaconda to modify its plans for the proposed mine. The plan had always been to extract gold through both open-pit surface mining as well as underground mining. The company still plans to use both methods, but now plans more open-pit mining. Open-pit mining tends to be faster and less expensive. It also means more ore is crushed and processed, producing more waste dumps and tailings, the material left over after ore is processed. Bullock said the amount of ore that will be processed will quadruple from previous estimates. The shift to more open-pit mining will increase the physical footprint of the mining operations due to the amount of tailings and waste dumps, but Bullock couldn't yet say by how much. He expects the period of open-pit mining to last for at least eight or nine years before underground mining begins. Bullock said if the mine is approved, he hopes to see construction begin by the end of 2022. The project would create a "tremendous" number of jobs through both the construction and operations phases, Bullock said. Anaconda is now expecting to be able to produce about 100,000 ounces a year, a figure Bullock estimates is relatively on par with the activities of the province's active mine, Atlantic Gold's Touquoy mine in Moose River. Environmental approval Anaconda submitted its original plans for Goldboro to the province for environmental approval in August 2018. But the environment minister at the time, Margaret Miller, said the company's submission didn't contain enough information. She asked Anaconda to write a new, more extensive report on the environmental implications of the project, and gave a one-year deadline. Three days before that deadline, in September 2019, Anaconda withdrew its proposal from the environmental assessment process because it was changing its plans for the mine. Bullock said the mine would operate in compliance with all provincial environmental policies. "So, waters frequented by fish, we will stay away from. We will ensure that everything is done to the standard that anything emitted to the environment will not have anything in it that's deleterious." Bullock acknowledged that since the Goldboro area was mined as far back as the late 1900s — long before any environmental regulations were in place — there are historical tailings that "have some nasties in them." He said the company would hope to help the government clean up those sites. MORE TOP STORIES
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
(Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada - image credit) Space is being cleared in at least one long-term care home in St. John's to make way for a dedicated COVID-19 unit, while front-line staff await word on when more of them will be receiving vaccinations, says the union representing the province's nurses. Some residents at Pleasantview Towers have been moved in an effort to prepare for long-term care residents who may develop symptoms of the virus and require a dedicated unit for care, says Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union of Newfoundland and Labrador. "They did this last year. There were no admissions to that unit. However, they've still got to be prepared and have staff ready in case needed," Coffey said. "Hopefully we will not need to open that unit to patients, but we have to be prepared. We do not want to be caught like Ontario and Quebec when it comes to our vulnerable population." Our members are tired. They're stressed. They've been on the front lines now for over a year, and there's no end in sight yet. - Yvette Coffey Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 earlier this month, centred mainly in the metro St. John's region, the COVID-19 pandemic was generally under control, Coffey said. But with hundreds of cases and, as of Saturday, 10 people in hospital — six in intensive care — Coffey said being prepared for a possible influx of residents requiring extra care is essential. "We've all watched across the country and we all know that if COVID gets into our long-term care facilities, it's going to be very challenging for us, so, you know, they're doing what they can to ensure safety and continuity of care for our patients and residents," Coffey said. That could include redistributing where nurses are assigned to work, Coffey said. In an email Saturday, Eastern Health told CBC News the unit at Pleasantview Towers will have 28 beds, with some residents being temporarily relocated to Chancellor Park to create space for the unit. The health authority said the plans were made in consultation with residents and their families and there is no timeline right now for the residents' return. Eastern Health staff are working to prepare the unit at Pleasantview Towers and a date for the opening of the unit will be confirmed "in the near future." Each individual long-term care facility also has its own plan for how to isolate residents, if necessary, the health authority said. At the start of the pandemic last year RNUNL and other health sector unions signed a "good neighbour agreement" with the province and the four regional health authorities that would allow them to move staff around as needed. There were already regulations under the registered nurses' collective agreement that allows them to be reassigned to where the health authority feels they're most needed, Coffey said, but the good neighbour agreement expands on it. Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union of Newfoundland and Labrador, says the union wants nurses who are being reassigned to any area that was identified in the Phase 1 group to be vaccinated before going to those areas. One of the places where Coffey said members are being deployed is to long-term care. "Staffing levels have reached a point in some areas that we can't provide the services without deploying nurses there, and one of those areas is long-term care, and … critical care as well," Coffey said. "In order to provide services, what the regional health authorities have first done is ask for volunteers … with the skill set and experience in the areas that they need to deploy to. If there are no volunteers, they have looked at the people who have previous experience in those areas, and that's who they are redeploying first." Eastern Health CEO David Diamond said the health authority had been short staffed in long-term care even before the pandemic, and staffing has been an ongoing challenge. Vaccines only 1 part of protection One of the concerns about reassigning staff is where things stand with COVID-19 vaccine rollout for front-line workers. Phase 1 of Newfoundland and Labrador's vaccination plan identified vulnerable populations, including long-term care residents and Indigenous communities, as well as front-line workers who would be the most likely to be exposed. The province released its plans for Phases 2 and 3 of vaccine rollout Friday afternoon, identifying who will be able to sign up, and when they're expected to get vaccinated. But those timelines will rely on supply of the vaccine, while also prioritizing people 70 years and older in the pre-registration plans. Front-line health care workers not immunized in Phase 1 will be covered under Phase 2, with inoculations happening some time between April and June. That could mean some of the registered nurses now being assigned to work in COVID-19 units like the one being established in Pleasantview Towers may not be vaccinated yet, Coffey said. However, vaccines is only one part of protection for registered nurses, Coffey said. Pleasant View Towers, which opened in 2014, has 460 long-term care beds. "The vaccine keeps our workforce from being sick, but it doesn't prevent transmission of the virus. Our registered nurses have to use their judgment and wear the appropriate PPE — that is their best line of defence with COVID-19." The reason vaccines haven't been distributed more widely, Coffey said, is simple: "We don't have vaccine." Vaccine supply has been a challenge across Canada, and since the supply is distributed to the provinces from the federal government, that means there isn't any vaccine to be administered. Coffey said she was told as of Thursday that it's expected everyone identified in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout in this province would have received their inoculations by March 5. "We have pushed that those who are being reassigned, especially to COVID units and long-term care or all areas that were identified in the Phase 1 group, that they be vaccinated prior to going to those areas," Coffey said. Judy O'Keefe, Eastern Health's vice-president of clinical services, said priority has been given to any staff member who would work in the ICU, emergency, case rooms and COVID-19 units, as well as community-based high-risk staff. "The last couple of weeks, for sure, our greatest concern has been the seniors' population in congregate living," O'Keefe said Friday afternoon. "We've been vaccinating people as we have vaccine." Public health nurse Betty Sampson prepares the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in Makkovik in January. O'Keefe said Eastern Health thinks that all staff identified in that Phase 1 category should be fully vaccinated with their second doses by the end of March. As the pandemic drags on, Coffey said, union members are feeling the strain, and ask that members of the public do their best to adhere to health guidelines. "Our members are tired. They're stressed. They've been on the front lines now for over a year, and there's no end in sight yet," Coffey said. "We do ask the public, we plead with the public, to please follow public health guidelines, because the less people we have coming into our hospitals and acute care, the less pressure there is on the system." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(© Disney/Chelsea Klette - image credit) A Saskatoon artist is joining the elite ranks of those who bring the magic of Disney to life. Denyse Klette is the first Canadian to be signed by Collectors Editions as an officially published creator of Disney fine art. "It's magical," Klette said. "My mom and dad had Sunday nights as a special evening where … they'd make us hamburgers and French fries and we'd watch The Wonderful World of Disney. So I absolutely grew up on this." Denyse Klette is a painter and sculptor based on an acerage outside of Saskatoon, Sask. The Collectors Editions is not a Disney Corporation, but it's the only independent company in the world with rights to produce and publish Disney fine art. "They have a small group of artists from around the world that they've selected and we get to design and create Disney art," Klette said. "The originals are sold in different Disney galleries and also they have reproductions done." The painter and sculptor lives on an acreage just outside of Saskatoon and has a style that combines her mediums. Klette paints an image, then sculpts around the edges to give it a 3D aspect. Denyse Klette's work combines painting with sculpture work around the edges. Klette said she is allowed to base pieces on almost any of Disney's animated works. She first produces a full-colour concept drawing on her iPad then uploads it to the Collectors Edition team. The team sends it to the Walt Disney Company, which then reviews it and makes any corrections on proportions or colours. Disney then sends it back to the Collectors Edition, which gives her the go ahead. So far she has created artwork inspired by Beauty and the Beast, Moana, Tangled, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Frozen, The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch and Mulan. Denyse Klette is authorized to produce work based on animated characters from Disney. She paints the picture then adds sculpted frames for a unique piece of art. Her work is mainly on display at the Disney art gallery at the Epcot Centre in Florida, but she's allowed to sell in Canada through her website. Her originals or reproductions can also be found at galleries authorized by Collector's Editions. "It's so much fun. I get to walk into my studio and paint Mickey Mouse," Klette said. "I still do like my non-Disney, but to do Disney art, it's such a magical and close-to-the-heart experience." Klette said she has an extensive library of Disney books that she collected over the course of almost 40 years. "It really is a dream come true." Noka Aldoroty, the director of Disney fine art at Collectors Editions, said in a statement that Walt Disney's ability to inspire others to create was his greatest talent. "It amazes me that even to this day his legacy is still inspiring artists to invent new ways of reimagining and interpreting Disney stories through their own creative lens," Aldoroty said. "We saw in Denyse a truly unique point-of-view artistically, and we could not be more excited to share her talents with Disney fans and art collectors around the world." One of Denyse Klette's pieces is a Moana-inspired painting with a custom-sculpted frame. Klette's work can be found in hotels, resorts, private collections, home decor products, bags, puzzles and more. She also signed a book deal in 2016 with Macmillan Publishers for a whimsical series of adult colouring books distributed worldwide. Klette is currently working on pieces inspired by Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
(Submitted by Jeremias Tecu - image credit) Jeremías Tecú hid from the Guatemalan militia between the roots of a massive inup tree with his mother and younger siblings every night for more than two weeks. The year was 1981 and Tecú was 11 years old. He and his family were trying to survive a massacre during a civil war that would leave more than 200,000 Indigenous Mayans dead. Massacres by the Guatemalan regime in the early 1980s destroyed 626 villages, including Ceiba, Tecú's village. From the tree roots during the violence, Tecú could make out the silhouettes of other people hiding, just as he was. "That tree was, every single night for about 15 days, our shelter," the Fredericton resident said of the 180-foot tall inup, the Mayan symbol for life. Years later, after dedicating his life to speaking out against corruption and Indigenous murders in Guatemala, Tecú was kidnapped and tortured in 1999. He escaped to neighbouring Mexico in 2000 and was granted refugee status in Canada, where he arrived 19 years ago with his wife and kids. In collaboration with Moncton-based therapist Eve Mills Allen, Tecú's life story has been told in a book that launched this month: In the Arms of Inup: The extraordinary story of a Guatemalan survivor and his quest for healing from trauma. The roots of an inup or ceiba tree in Puerto Rico. The massacre The background to Tecú's story begins in the 1950s, when Guatemala's land was owned by a few rich families. Through protests, the country's working class demanded equality. But after some of the land was redistributed to peasants, many of them Indigenous Mayan people, a civil war began. The terror that ensued lasted about 36 years, from 1960 to 1996, and throughout those years, the government murdered more than 10 per cent of the Mayan population, reducing it from over 50 per cent of Guatemala's population to about 40 per cent. The government labelled the Indigenous Mayans communists to try to justify the slaughter, although the Mayans were protesting for land that was theirs. Tecú's aunt and uncle were among the Mayan casualties. After their murder, Tecú's home was set on fire and, along with his mother and siblings, he left his village and walked for 45 days until he reached Guatemala City. The book cover for In the Arms of Inup Tecú's fear of being massacred stayed with him for years, until he landed in Fredericton in 2002. And after that, a new kind of fear settled over him. Tecú, who now works as a settlement worker, suffered from untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, often working long hours or drinking to forget the mass-slaughter he witnessed as a boy. "I would go into a liquor store, for example, to buy a six pack," he said. "That's how I got at least one hour of sleep." "You can be in paradise but the memory is there. They come back to your mind." Eight years ago, a lifeline materialized in front of Tecú, in the form of paper and pencil and a therapist eager to listen. How they met In 2013, Mills Allen facilitated a writing group at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton. Nine people showed up, including Tecú. Mills Allen told the participants how therapeutic writing their own stories could be. "He came up to me and said, 'I need to tell my story. Would you write it?'" After sharing some of his story with Mills Allen, she decided she would take on the challenge. "I guess I just knew it's a story that needed to be told but I was a little nervous of whether I could take on that task." For eight years, Mills Allen and Tecú met in coffee shops, in parks, in their own homes. Writing the book was a long process because reliving experiences often became overwhelming for Tecú. "Many times, I was sobbing along with him," said Mills Allen. But receiving a hard copy of the book this week made it all worth it, said Tecú. Central American immigrants on the run on Jan. 20, 2020. Poverty and murder in Guatemala linked to government corruption have led thousands to leave their country for the United States. Storytelling therapy According to Mills Allen, writing helps victims take control of their own stories and emotions. "It helps organize what's all jumbled up, coming at you from all sides of your life." It gives victims the chance to find a beginning, a middle and an end to their experiences, said Mills Allen, as it did for Tecú. "He gained a little control, feeling out of control. And you can reframe the way things happen. That makes you see your own resilience." Tecú hopes his book inspires survivors of trauma with PTSD to seek help. "To anyone who suffered torture, I want to tell them that life is beautiful. But in order to see it, you must look for support." His book is now on sale on the HARP Publishing website.
Gunmen in Nigeria on Saturday released 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school last week in the north-central state of Niger, while security forces continued to search for more than 300 schoolgirls abducted in a nearby state. Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups. On Feb. 17, 27 students, three staff and 12 members of their families were abducted by an armed gang that stormed the Government Science secondary school in the Kagara district of Niger state, overwhelming the school's security detail.
(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit) Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says he's not expecting pushback from Facebook as he moves ahead with proposed legislation that would force the company and other global online giants to pay Canadian news agencies for the content they use. Guilbeault told CBC's The House that Facebook took a hit to its public image when it tried to head off a similar law approved this week in Australia by blocking all news from that country. Google also threatened to prevent Australian users from accessing its search engine before reaching licensing deals with publishers in that country for stories that appear on its news showcase site. "I think there's a couple of lessons that need to be learned from what just happened in Australia. The first one is that if we ever needed a reason why these companies need to be regulated, Facebook just handed it to us on a silver platter," Guilbeault said in an interview airing Saturday. "(It) just proves the point that they've been unregulated for too long. And this needs to change. And I think the second lesson I draw from all of this is that we need to act internationally. We need to find international allies and engage on this issue together, because these are very big, powerful companies." Lessons from Australia Australia is at the forefront of efforts to ensure Facebook, Google and other digital giants share the revenue they earn from linking to or lifting news content with the domestic newspapers and broadcasters creating that content. The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code became law in Australia on Wednesday. Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News this week that the talks with Facebook and Google were complex and difficult. He's since spoken about the new law to his counterparts around the world, including Canada's Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. "What's transpired in recent weeks in Australia has been very much a proxy battle for the world with major global ramifications," he said. Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison shakes hands with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the issue this week during a call with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. A readout of the call said the two agreed to continue coordinating efforts to "ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with ... the media." On Friday, Facebook announced it had reached tentative deals with three Australian news publishers. But critics say it isn't a total victory for Australia's government. The law allows those online companies to negotiate deals with Australian news companies. Only in the event that no deal is reached can the matter be referred to an independent arbitrator. The Globe and Mail reported on Friday that Facebook is prepared to negotiate licensing deals with Canadian news publishers, but the timing and details still need to be worked out. Guilbeault said he hasn't spoken with Facebook officials since the Australian law went into effect. Critics argue the government's efforts in Australia failed to protect smaller media companies and the journalists they employ, and will benefit only the largest media organizations. A 'made-in-Canada approach' Guilbeault said he doesn't agree with those who argue that Australia passed a watered-down law. He said he's aware, however, that Facebook and others should not be free to negotiate solely with Canada's largest media chains. "It's certainly something that's at the top of mind for us," he told The House. "We need to ensure ... a made-in-Canada approach to this, because we can't just cut and paste a model and import it here. Canadian media companies have been urging the government to regulate these digital companies because they're taking a larger and larger share of advertising revenue. "One thing we want to make sure is that our model will serve the bigger, the medium-sized and the smaller media organizations in Canada," Guilbeault said. Guilbeault said he has spoken to his counterparts in several other countries about the best approach. Heritage Canada also continues to talk with smaller organizations to ensure that the proposed legislation will lead to proper compensation for their content and encourage new companies to emerge. Guilbeault said he hopes to table his bill later this spring because protecting homegrown journalism is "one of the pillars of democracy" in Canada. Taking on hate speech, sexual exploitation In the meantime, he said, his department expects to introduce proposed legislation in the coming weeks to force internet service providers to take action against hate speech, sexual exploitation and other online violence. "I think Canadians are getting really, really sick and tired of some of the content that they are seeing on those platforms," he said. "They're asking government to intervene." The plan is to create a new regulator to monitor online activity, with the power to force internet providers to choose between taking down offending material within 24 hours and facing severe penalties. "So you can imagine a regulator like that having audit powers to look at what platforms are doing, ensure that compliance is happening," he said.
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) The math is simple, the challenge is not. Quebec plans to dole out 12 million doses of the various COVID-19 vaccines before Labour Day, which is 26 weeks away. That means an average of 450,000 doses per week. In the seven days ending Thursday, it managed 85,000 or so. The Health Ministry is ramping up its efforts by opening vaccination centres across the province, but also by enlisting help from the private sector. On Wednesday, the province inked a deal in principle to allow pharmacists to inject people, as early as mid-March or as late as mid-April, depending on deliveries. "From our experience from the flu vaccination, we know pharmacies can, for an extended period of time, give 100,000 doses of vaccines per week," said Pierre-Marc Gervais, the senior director of pharmaceutical services for the Association Québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires. "That's the minimum, and in some weeks we gave 140,000 doses of flu vaccines, so that's a lot of immunizations." So far, 1,500 pharmacies have signaled their desire to participate. More crucially, there are 3,000 registered pharmacists in Quebec who are able to do the injecting, in addition to the nurses who typically provide immunization services in community pharmacies. Vaccine logistics are about to become simpler That's roughly the number of qualified staff the public health system currently has dedicated to the task. The expectation is they will be able to crank out 120,000 or so vaccines per week on average, in April. That's when the vaccine bottleneck will be eased completely, and the trickle turns into a firehose. The federal government's decision on Friday to approve Astra-Zeneca/Oxford University vaccine, as well as an Indian-manufactured version of it, should help simplify the logistics somewhat. That vaccine, and the candidates proposed by Novavax, Johnson and Johnson, and others, are somewhat less finicky than the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. They don't need to be frozen, and in Johnson and Johnson's case, only require a single dose. "It's a huge boost if you wanted to roll this out quickly," Dr. Matthew Oughton, an epidemiologist at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital, told CBC News Network about the Astra-Zeneca approval. Gervais said there are also hopeful signs regarding the mRNA shots, pointing to a U.S. finding this week that suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech product may not need to be super-frozen after all. The Canadian government has firm orders for about 300 million doses of seven different vaccines and options to buy millions more, with deliveries set to ramp up meaningfully in April and May. Quebec should have no trouble getting its 12 million. But the public vaccination centres and pharmacies may still not be able to hit the pace required to meet the fall target. That's where the province's large employers come in. Véronique Proulx, CEO of the association representing Quebec's manufacturers and exporters, said her group's 23,000 members (and their 475,000 employees) are eager to help. "We need to get out of this [pandemic] situation as quickly as possible ... they're more than happy to raise their hands," she said. Proulx was part of a delegation of business leaders that visited an as-yet unopened vaccination centre in Brossard on Friday with provincial vaccine czar Daniel Paré, and she was struck by the familiarity of the environment. "It's very similar to a small manufacturing line," she said, adding "we should be able to replicate it." Proulx added there are roughly 1,000 manufacturing businesses dotted across Quebec that have more than 100 employees, and that many have the large, open spaces to accommodate vaccination stations. All they'll need is a little training and financial support from the province to set them up. Employee vaccination blitzes Karl Blackburn, the CEO of the Conseil du patronat, struck a similar chord, saying there is a "big interest" among the 70,000 employers his group represents in helping the effort, particularly between June and September. Blackburn estimates the summer vaccination peak could reach a million people per week, and that companies large and small could help the effort either by holding weekend vaccination blitzes or more sustained campaigns for employees, their families and the general public. He offered an illustration of how it might work with Premier Tech, a Rivière-du-Loup firm that works in the food and automation sectors. The company employs about 1,600 people. "If you add their families and their suppliers and the public in that specific area, it means more than 10,000 people could be vaccinated," he said, adding he's had firm expressions of interest for large companies with multiple facilities in the province like Rio Tinto, Ubisoft and CAE.
(wutzkohphoto/Shutterstock - image credit) Heads up, Canadians: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is going to be a tax season like no other. If you collected COVID-19-related benefit payments last year, you might end up owing more money than in previous years. However, if you spent part of 2020 working from home, you could wind up with a bigger tax refund than usual. Here's what you need to know about filing your taxes this season, including important deadlines. Has the deadline been extended? Despite this being a more complex tax season, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has not extended the tax filing deadline. The due date is still April 30 for most Canadians, and June 15 for self-employed people. To avoid interest charges, Canadians need to pay any taxes owed by April 30. However, not everyone has to comply with that rule this year. Those who had a total taxable income of $75,000 or less and received one or more of the COVID-19 benefits listed below don't have to pay their taxes until April 30, 2022. Eligible benefits: Canada emergency response benefit (CERB). Canada emergency student benefit (CESB). Canada recovery benefit (CRB). Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB). Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB). Employment Insurance benefits. Similar provincial emergency benefits. Qualifying Canadians "will have that full year after the filing deadline of April 30th " to pay any tax debt without facing interest charges, said Francesco Sorbara, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. Those who qualify for the payment deferral still need to file their taxes on time — or they'll face a late-filing penalty. Will I owe taxes on my government benefits? The benefits listed above are considered taxable income, so the federal government introduced the tax-payment deferral to help out the many Canadians who will have to pay taxes on their benefit payments. "[Many] lost jobs and collected benefits, and they may have some amounts owing," said Sorbara. "We're giving some flexibility there." WATCH | CRA prepares for a complicated tax season: The government didn't withhold any taxes on CERB and CESB benefit payments Canadians received in 2020. It did withhold a 10 per cent tax for people who received CRB, CRCB and CRSB benefits, but tax expert Jamie Golombek said many of those individuals will still owe the government money, as most Canadians' income is taxed at a much higher rate than 10 per cent. "For many people, [10 per cent is] not going to be enough, particularly for those who had other sources of income throughout the year," said Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC. "You may actually find out for the first time ever in your life that you actually owe some taxes." Working from home? Claim your cash Due to the pandemic, many Canadians worked from home for part of 2020, which means they may be eligible for a home office expenses tax deduction. To qualify, you must have worked from home more than 50 per cent of the time for at least four consecutive weeks last year. There are two options for Canadians claiming home office expenses. The first is the detailed method, which involves calculating what percentage of your household costs — such as hydro, rent and internet — can be applied to your home office space. Also, you're required to save all relevant receipts. If that sounds like too much work, don't fret. To simplify the process for people who worked from home for the first time in 2020, the CRA has introduced a new, temporary flat rate method. It allows employees to claim a tax deduction of $2 for each day they worked from home, up to a maximum of $400. "We've kept it simple. They can file it without filing any documentation, any forms," said Sorbara. Software designer Pat Suwalski is seen working from his desk at home in Nepean, Ont. Software developer Pat Suwalski of Nepean, Ont., has been mainly working from home since April 2020. He filed his taxes on Wednesday using the flat rate method and said it took him just minutes to calculate his deduction. "I'm a pretty honest guy, so I took a calendar and I started counting [work] days," he said. Suwalski counted 188 work-from-home days last year. Multiply that by $2 a day and he's set to get a tax credit of $376. "I'll take it," he said. "It's great that they made [the process] simpler." Which method should you choose if you worked from home this year? Golombek said the flat rate method may be the best option if you're a homeowner, because it's easier and chances are you'll come out ahead. That's because mortgage payments — typically a homeowner's biggest monthly bill — can't be claimed as a home office expense. "Our experience is that homeowners, typically speaking, don't have enough expenses … to beat the $2-a-day method," Golombek said. While homeowners can't claim their mortgage payments, renters can claim a portion of their rent based on the size of their home office space compared to their entire home. As a result, Golombek says they may reap bigger rewards by choosing the detailed method. "Depending on [what] percentage of their home they're using, [renters] typically would probably come out ahead on the detailed method." Digital tax credit Golombek also points out one of the new wrinkles this tax season, which is that the government is offering a tax break to people who subscribed to digital news services in 2020. Canadians can claim up to $500 for subscriptions to qualifying Canadian media, such as newspapers, magazines, websites and podcasts, that don't have a broadcast licence and offer primarily original news content. "I call it a bit of a fun new credit," Golombek said. The CRA told CBC News it will post a list of eligible subscriptions on its website in March and that it will only include organizations that wish to have the information publicly posted. If you still have questions about your taxes, you can call the CRA tax information line at 1-800-959-8281. The agency said it has beefed up resources at its call centre, as it anticipates higher than normal call volumes this tax season.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images - image credit) Windsor resident Nancy McDonald says accessing the COVID-19 vaccine has already come with a few barriers, including figuring out the online registration and planning transportation to the site. Starting Monday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) said the WFCU Centre, located at 8787 McHugh St. in east Windsor, will be the first vaccine clinic to offer shots to seniors 80 and older. The other clinic will open March 8 at Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre in Leamington. Registration has already begun, with some 7,000 people signing up within the past day, according to WECHU. Eighty-four-year-old McDonald was one of those who signed up — but she had to get someone to help register her online. Yet, now she worries how she'll get to the site when it's her time. As the region moves to vaccinate the next priority group, questions are arising about accessibility. Concerns being raised show that it needs to be thought of broadly not just in terms of physical access to a building. When dealing with a vulnerable population who likely have mobility and financial issues, details like clinic hours, online access and fluency, location and transportation need to be addressed amid the rush to get vaccines in arms. "I was very concerned because I'm basically in the downtown area ... I'm a non-driver so to get to either place I would have to have a ride or some type of transportation," says McDonald, who lives across from Windsor's Jackson Park. She usually takes public transit to get around, but hasn't done so due to the pandemic, so her only other option is to rely on someone to bring her. For people like herself, she says the centre's hours of operation, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., aren't the best. The WFCU Centre opens March 1 for vaccinations for those 80 and older and Leamington's Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre will open March 8. "If it's someone that needed a ride and their family were working people couldn't they have evening [hours], say 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a couple hours to get people there that didn't have a ride?" she said. She says she wishes there was a clinic in walking distance of where she lives. But she's not the only one concerned about getting to the site. On Friday, the health unit said it has already received some concerns from community members who have mobility issues. "This isn't going to be for everyone at this point that is over 80," WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said. "It is a limited supply of vaccine and it may not be the best option for everyone ... We continue to try to work internally to see what other options are available to our seniors over 80." More sites, transportation options could help Windsor-Essex Council on Aging director Deana Johnson said mobility is always a challenge for older adults. But, "what's the alternative?" she said. "It would be nice if we were able to have several sites east, west, central, where people could indeed get vaccinated," she said. "If I'm a senior and I live downtown, I got to go all the way to the east end [and] that becomes very difficult." At the same time she says she can only imagine that planning the vaccine rollout is a "logistical nightmare." Here's a snapshot from Workforce Windsor-Essex's demographic map that shows regions with high number of seniors between the ages of 80 and 84. This data is from Statistic Canada's 2016 census. The WFCU centre, though far from the city's west-end senior population, is a "fairly reasonable" site for people to access. She said the space has a senior centre in it and is known to the community. Multiple sites, she said, might not be possible given the limited number of large spaces with parking in the city and the ability to properly store the vaccines in different locations. But at the least, more transportation options could be made available to the community, she said, adding that maybe that includes volunteer drivers or a bus to pick up groups of people. Accessibility of the sites Physician at the University of Windsor and director at Student Health Services Matt Scholl says the sites are accessible and geographically make sense. "Logistically speaking both sites are great as far as accessibility for that population, wheelchair accessible main floor, plenty of area for social distancing, following all public health protocols that are in place and there's also an area basically for these individuals to remain for 15 to 30 minutes to make sure that there's no vaccine reactions," he said. Workforce Windsor-Essex has a demographic map showing where seniors in the region live, based on 2016 census data from Statistics Canada. According to the map, the clinics seem to be located in areas where the majority of those who are 80 and older are living. Theresa Marentette, CEO Windsor Essex County Health Unit, says the health unit is working on other options for seniors to get the vaccine for those who are not able to access a clinic. Some more appointment details, according to information on the health unit's website, note that people are allowed to bring assistive devices as needed, including a scooter or wheelchair. As well, the health unit says there will be wheelchairs on site for people to use. A support person is also allowed if required, though the only example listed on the website is an interpreter. In an email to CBC News, the health unit said this also includes other support personnel and formal documentation is not required. It added that translation services will also be available at the clinic. Beyond the physical space and appointment itself, the health unit has also set up phone lines for people to register as not everyone has access to technology. Are mobile clinics a possibility? The health unit said Thursday that it still is working out the details on accessing people in the community who are 80 and older and have difficulties leaving their home. "We will continue to work on other strategies for access that will likely involve our teams and others that we're partnering with moving into areas where there are populations of seniors living so we'll work on that as well," said Marentette. "There will be other strategies that we'll have to keep considering as we get more vaccines and be able to transport the vaccine safely." Mobile clinics have been suggested in other regions of the province, with cities like Hamilton looking at pop-up clinics, mobile bus clinics, rolling or drive-thru clinics. Rolling clinics would help people who cannot leave their homes, and are living in small numbers. A bus would drop off vaccinators at a site, and circle back to pick them up. The third option is a mobile bus, which would drive to various areas and operate as a clinic.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country's biggest city will go into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus, of unknown origin, surfaced. The opening race of the best-of-13 series between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and America's Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) is due to be held in the waters off Auckland on March 6.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 67,201 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,774,599 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,682.409 per 100,000. There were 398,071 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,441,670 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.68 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 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were 7,020 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 33,820 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,485 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,176 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 76.758 per 1,000. There were 1,670 new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,987 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 32,019 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.81 per 1,000. There were 14,700 new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were 11,760 new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 13,464 new vaccinations administered for a total of 400,540 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.81 per 1,000. There were 28,500 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 537,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.47 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 21,805 new vaccinations administered for a total of 643,765 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.826 per 1,000. There were 220,030 new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,409 new vaccinations administered for a total of 71,469 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.902 per 1,000. There were 6,100 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 108,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 4,015 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,451 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.899 per 1,000. There were 15,210 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 93.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 11,728 new vaccinations administered for a total of 207,300 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.092 per 1,000. There were 69,090 new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 12,490 new vaccinations administered for a total of 252,373 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 49.18 per 1,000. There were 15,491 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 323,340 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 15,174 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 363.615 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 80.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 19 new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,276 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 187.884 per 1,000. There were 8,500 new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.44 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. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding through Quebec's Cote-Nord region, the Magpie river has long been a culturally significant spot for the Innu of Ekuanitshit. Now the river, a majestic, world-renowned whitewater rafting destination, has been granted legal personhood status in a bid to protect it from future threats, such as hydro development. Its new status means the body of water could theoretically sue the government. On Feb. 16, the regional municipality of Minganie and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit adopted separate but similar resolutions granting the river nine legal rights, including the right to flow, to maintain its biodiversity and the right to take legal action. One of the resolutions says the river can be represented by "guardians" appointed by the regional municipality and the Innu, with "the duty to act on behalf of the rights and interests of the river and ensure the protection of its fundamental rights." It notes the river's biodiversity, importance to the Innu and potential as a tourism destination as reasons why the body of water needs special protection. Pier-Olivier Boudreault, with the Quebec branch of the environmental charity Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, says the move is rooted in the belief that the river is a living entity that deserves rights. "The idea is that the river is living, that it has an existence that doesn’t depend on humans," he said in a recent interview. "It's not a simple resource for humans; it becomes an entity that has a right to live, to evolve naturally, to have its natural cycles." Boudreault says the new designation for the Magpie is the first time a river has been granted legal status in Canada. Similar efforts have been successful in countries like New Zealand, India and Ecuador. David Boyd, an environmental lawyer and United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, says the idea of granting rights to a river isn't as far-fetched as it seems. "In our legal system, we declare lots of things to have legal personhood, like municipalities and corporations," he said. He said the "environmental personhood" movement is a response to the belief that successive governments around the world have failed to adequately protect the environment, as well as to the growing recognition of Indigenous Peoples' rights and their legal concepts. While this is new in Canada, he said the resolution "could have quite a bit of strength" because of the constitutional protection of Indigenous rights. "In theory, you could have a lawsuit brought on behalf of the river to prevent a hydroelectric project from taking place," he said. Uapukun Mestokosho, a member of the Innu community who has been involved in the Magpie river conservation effort, said the river is an important part of the traditional territory of the Innu of Ekuanitshit. For some, spending time on the river is a way to reconnect to traditional land-based practices that were partially abandoned because of the trauma suffered by Indigenous people from colonial violence, including the residential school system. "People are suffering a lot, with intergenerational traumas linked to the past," said Mestokosho, who described occupying the territory as "a form of healing." Mestokosho said her ancestors have always protected the Magpie, known as the Muteshekau-shipu, and that the recognition of the river's rights will allow them to protect it for future generations. She and Boudreault agree the biggest threat to the Magpie is likely to come from the province's hydro utility, which has raised the possibility of damming the fast-flowing river. Hydro-Quebec insists it has no plans for the Magpie in the "short or even medium term" and that no plans are "even foreseeable" in the next decade. "But in the long term, we do not know what Quebec’s future energy needs will be," spokesman Francis Labbe wrote in an email. "Right now, we do not consider it responsible, in terms of Quebec’s energy security, to permanently renounce to the potential of this river." Any future project would have to meet several criteria, including social acceptability, he noted. Boudreault says the Innu, members of the regional government and other environmental activists haven't given up on lobbying the Quebec government to grant the river official protected status. He said he thinks the province has been reluctant to commit to the idea, mostly because of the river's potential for hydroelectric power. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
The federal auditor general says in a report that the Liberal government won't meet its goal to lift all boil-water advisories for several years. Dawn Martin-Hill, chair of Indigenous studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, says there needed to be more work with Indigenous communities to build a strategic plan to ensure access to reliable, safe drinking water.
(Submitted by Kayel Lewis - image credit) A P.E.I. woman has a new side-hustle with a few different missions: to keep pets warm, to make a little extra money and to upcycle old sweaters that might otherwise be thrown away. Kayel Lewis of Rice Point started altering vintage human sweaters for her dog last winter and enjoyed it so much, she turned it into a small business and Hand-Me-Down Hound was born. "I've always been a bit of a thrifty person and I couldn't find other jackets and sweaters [for him], so I bought a sweater and turned it into a dog sweater," Lewis said. "I think for the most part people just think it's cute to see a dog in clothing!" Lewis's dog Exi is an integral part of the story: she adopted Exi from Spain last year through an agency called Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos. Exi in the very first sweater his human Kayel Lewis made him. Galgos and podencos are ancient breeds of Spanish hunting dogs and like racing greyhounds in the U.S., many are often seen by their owners as having outlived their usefulness so are given up for adoption or abandoned on the streets. Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos is one of several agencies that now help rehome the dogs, which like greyhounds can make excellent pets. Also like greyhounds or whippets, the dogs are very sleek, without much hair to keep them warm in colder climates. "It started cause I wanted him to be warm!" she said with a laugh. Great excuse to go thrifting Lewis is a lifelong thrift-store enthusiast, sewer and crafter, so the idea of repurposing vintage sweaters was natural for her. Louis the pug shows off his new duds from Hand-Me-Down Hound. "I kind of realized it was a niche thing that people seemed to really like, and I really like finding sweaters — so it gave me an excuse to buy sweaters that I've found. It's kind of just a satisfying thing for me." She moved from British Columbia and said she appreciates the abundance of beautiful handmade sweaters she has been able to find in P.E.I. thrift stores. Lewis said she is excited to make sweaters for all animals people consider pets, including goats, pigs and chickens too. This podenco looks cosy in her new sweater, which Lewis called the Oh My Heart. She will alter sweaters customers already have, or they can choose from her collection of vintage sweaters she has thrifted. She has made about 20 so far, and is excited to grow her business. The one-of-a-kind creations cost $35 to $50, less if customers provide their own sweaters. "I'm just starting, and I'm more excited just to get sweaters out there than to try to make a big profit," Lewis said. She sells on Facebook and on the online maker marketplace Etsy, but said she'd prefer to keep most of her sales local, since it is more sustainable not to ship and "because it would be fun to see the dogs wearing the sweaters — it feels good," she said. 'He's very proud' Exi loves wearing his sweaters, she said. Seeing the dogs in sweaters 'is pretty entertaining!' says Lewis. Here, Silver models a sweater with rosebuds. "He kind of struts around, it's very cute, he's very proud," she said. Lewis has a day job on an organic farm and said she's enjoying growing Hand-Me-Down Hound as a side job, for now. For the month of February, she donated 10 per cent of her sales to Extraordinary Galgos and Podencos, and plans to make donating to her favourite causes part of her business model. More from CBC P.E.I.
(Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press - image credit) Delays in the delivery of vaccines sapped Canadians' esteem for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — but polls suggest there hasn't been a corresponding slippage in support for the Liberal Party he leads. Not yet, at any rate. Voting intentions often move after other indicators of voter sentiment start to shift. But with recent announcements about more vaccine shipments arriving soon, the Liberals might avoid taking the hit that was coming their way. As was the case for most governing leaders across the country, Trudeau's popularity soared at the outset of the pandemic. COVID-19's rallying effect tapered off somewhat as the pandemic dragged on, but Trudeau was still polling better at the end of 2020 than he was at the start of it. News in mid-January that there would be delays in vaccine deliveries, and that Canada was falling behind in international vaccination rankings, coincided with a decline in Trudeau's own personal ratings. According to a recent survey from the Angus Reid Institute, Trudeau's approval rating has dropped by five points since mid-January to 45 per cent. The risk of over-promising, under-delivering Abacus Data found that the share of Canadians saying they have a positive impression of Trudeau fell three points to 36 per cent, while the number of those with a negative impression increased five points to 42 per cent. The timing probably isn't a coincidence. Trudeau's repeated assurances that Canada would receive a specific number of vaccines by a specific date put him in danger of over-promising and under-delivering something over which his government had only limited control. So it isn't surprising that after those delays were announced, Abacus reported that the number of Canadians saying that Trudeau has done an excellent or good job procuring vaccines had dropped 15 percentage points. Léger has also found that public satisfaction with the measures put in place by the federal government to fight COVID-19 has fallen to 56 per cent from 66 per cent before the New Year, while an Ipsos/Global News poll found approval of Trudeau's response to the pandemic down six points from early January to 54 per cent. Those are some significant drops after what had been a rather steady public opinion environment for Trudeau. But while the Liberals are down a little, they have not seen as much of a shift in their own support. Liberal lead in the polls largely untouched According to the CBC's Canada Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data, Liberal support across the country stands at 34.9 per cent, down just 1.2 percentage points since Jan. 27. Recent polls have shown an inconsistent trend line. The most recent Léger survey has the Liberals at 36 per cent, unchanged since mid-January, and ahead of the Conservatives by seven points. Both Abacus and Ipsos have the Liberals dropping three points since January, but still ahead of the Conservatives by one and three points, respectively. The Angus Reid Institute pegged the Liberals at 34 per cent, down a single point since January but leading the Conservatives by three. While it's not a positive trend line for the Liberals, it certainly doesn't look like the bottom is anywhere close to falling out for them. This isn't the first time we've seen support for the Liberals proving to be more resilient than support for the prime minister. According to polling by Abacus Data, the share of Canadians with a positive view of Trudeau plummeted 11 points in early 2018 — around the time of his controversial trip to India. In the same polls, however, support for the Liberals slipped by just three points. Trudeau's positive ratings tumbled by 12 points between December 2018 and April 2019 during the SNC-Lavalin affair, but the Liberals only suffered a four-point drop. This is largely because a party leader's ratings and those of the party he or she leads are only linked to a certain point — because even if voters sour on a leader, they need to prefer the options available to them before they take their votes elsewhere. Conservatives struggle to capitalize The Conservatives haven't benefited from the Liberals' modest drop. The party currently sits at 30.1 per cent support nationwide in the Poll Tracker — down 0.5 points since Jan. 27. Instead, it's the NDP that has picked up some of the Liberals' slack. Polls suggest Erin O'Toole, who took over as Conservative leader in August, has not made a positive first impression with Canadians. While Trudeau's personal ratings fell, Abacus found that O'Toole's positive score was unchanged at 20 per cent, while his negatives increased by two points to 30 per cent. The Angus Reid Institute found just 29 per cent of Canadians holding a favourable view of O'Toole (down three points since January), while his unfavourable rating increased four points to 51 per cent — just one point behind Trudeau, who benefits from having higher favourables and fewer undecideds than O'Toole does. Polls suggest the Conservatives under leader Erin O'Toole have been unable to make much headway in popular support, despite recent struggles for the Liberals. O'Toole's problematic personal ratings make it difficult for the Conservatives to capitalize on Trudeau's own worsening numbers — a phenomenon they've experienced before. The same thing happened to the previous Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer. Drops in support for the Liberals over the India trip in 2018 and SNC-Lavalin in 2019 did not result in big spikes for the Conservatives — in part because Scheer had problems with his own personal poll numbers. More vaccines could turn things around for Trudeau It's clear that the appeal of the alternatives matters — and that voting intentions don't always follow the leader. According to polling by Abacus Data during the 2019 federal election campaign, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh saw his positive ratings increase by 14 points. But by the end of the campaign, Abacus had the NDP down one point from its pre-campaign standing. Nevertheless, a leader's declining poll numbers should get parties thinking about whether their own support will be next. Had further vaccine delays continued to sap Trudeau's popularity, it's likely that the Liberals would have started to feel the effects more directly. Instead, new vaccine shipments are imminent and should put Canada on track to reach its targets by the end of March. Any rise in Canada's international vaccination rankings could correspond with a rise in Trudeau's support. Indications of a potential rebound might already be emerging. Polling by Morning Consult, an American polling outfit that has been tracking the approval ratings of global leaders, recently reported an uptick in Trudeau's approval rating. It could be a blip. But after a tough few weeks, there's no doubt Trudeau and the Liberals will be happy for any signal that they've made it through in one piece.