A Toronto doctor has created an award to support Indigenous medical students and encourage more Indigenous people to enter health care. The award is in memory of her adopted Indigenous son, who died by suicide after battling mental health issues.
A Toronto doctor has created an award to support Indigenous medical students and encourage more Indigenous people to enter health care. The award is in memory of her adopted Indigenous son, who died by suicide after battling mental health issues.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
En milieu d’après-midi, le cabinet du maire Demers confirmait que Virginie Dufour «demeurera au comité exécutif de la Ville» qu’elle vient tout juste de réintégrer. Rappelons que dans les heures qui ont suivi l’annonce de son retour au comité exécutif, le mercredi 20 janvier, le cabinet du maire apprenait que le Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ) ouvrait finalement une enquête relativement aux allégations de financement politique illégal dont fait l’objet la conseillère municipale de Sainte-Rose depuis le 30 novembre. «Madame Dufour accueille cette nouvelle avec très grande satisfaction, a indiqué par voie de courriel le directeur des communications du cabinet, Alexandre Banville. Après tout, rappelons que c’est elle-même qui demandé au DGEQ d’ouvrir une enquête à son sujet. Elle demeure convaincue que cette opération permettra de clarifier sa situation et de rétablir entièrement sa réputation.» Il précise par ailleurs que «le maire de Laval l’a réintégrée à la suite du dépôt d’un affidavit confirmant l’impression soutenue par madame Dufour, soit qu’elle serait la victime collatérale d’une chicane de couple». Preuve à l’appui, une information confidentielle transmise au <@Ri>Courrier Laval<@$p> ce vendredi 22 janvier révèle que l’avocat saisi du dossier au Service des affaires juridiques du Bureau du DGEQ avait recommandé autour de la mi-décembre la tenue d’une enquête concernant l’usage de prête-noms dans le versement de contributions politiques impliquant Virginie Dufour et Normand Cusson. Impossible toutefois de connaître le moment précis où la décision d’ouvrir une enquête fut prise. De fait, l’institution responsable de l’application des dispositions de la Loi sur les élections et les référendums dans les municipalités relatives au financement politique «ne confirme ni n’infirme» jamais la tenue ou non d’une enquête, indique sa porte-parole, Julie St-Arnaud. «On ne communique absolument rien en ce qui a trait à nos démarches d’enquête», ajoute-t-elle, précisant que cette politique vise, entre autres, à protéger la réputation des gens ciblés par ces enquêtes, lesquels ont droit à la présomption d’innocence. Ce n’est qu’une fois les infractions constatées et les poursuites intentées que le DGEQ sort de son mutisme et que l’information devient publique.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
The RM of Edenwold will go a little longer yet without a permanent chief administrative officer in place, following the retirement of Kim McIvor. A possible replacement candidate for McIvor was preparing for a move to the area in December but for family reasons was not able to make the move.For now that leaves Karen Zaharia, the RM’s assistant administrator, as acting CAO, with Jedlic also assisting with some of the CAO duties on a temporary basis. “We had initiated a search to replace (McIvor) last summer and into the fall,” Jedlic said. “We had a number of excellent candidates and ultimately one we worked with over a period of time who surely would have been an excellent candidate for the RM of Edenwold.” Due to personal circumstances, that candidate withdrew during late stages of the search process. That forced the RM of re-initiate the search process. While the CAO search continues, Reeve Mitchell Huber has also assisted with administration duties in the interim. The CAO opening has been posted by Boyden Canada, an executive search firm. Job requirements include having a Rural Class A certificate in Local Government Administration or a relevant professional degree, along with 10 years of related municipal government experience. Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
Last week Daisy Ridley and Jennifer Hudson went to a movie premiere together. They posed for photos and made remarks from a stage while an audience watched quietly. Or, more accurately, their avatars did. The actors were actually on different continents, brought together for a few minutes through virtual reality headsets to walk a red carpet, pose for photos in front of a step and repeat and to speak to a crowd of other avatars on behalf of their short film “Baba Yaga.” It’s being called the first ever VR movie premiere. “I truly feel like I went to a premiere,” Hudson said later. “But I didn’t leave home! I think it’s a cool way to do it, especially right now.” She especially liked seeing her team and how much their avatars looked like themselves. Virtual movie premieres have become standard in Hollywood since the pandemic started. The “events” typically just involve a start time for the film to broadcast on your home screen and, sometimes, a zoom-style Q&A with talent afterward. But Baobab Studios, the 6-year-old interactive animation studio behind a handful of cinematic VR experiences, decided to push the envelope for “Baba Yaga.” “I really don’t think we would have ever thought of this if it wasn’t for COVID,” said Eric Darnell, the man behind the “Madagascar” films and co-founder of Baobab. “We usually have our films premiere at festivals.” “Baba Yaga” actually got a real festival premiere too as part of the Venice Film Festival last year. But as it became increasingly clear that there would not be an opportunity stateside, the company started working alongside the XR consultancy firm MESH to produce the ambitious event, which included designing a rainforest room inspired by the one in the film. The virtual reality movie premiere is not entirely dissimilar to an actual premiere. There are publicists, filmmakers and actors, things to look at and displays to take selfies with (really). At this particular event, there was also a roped off “restricted” area, although organizers said it was simply there to designate the end of space and not an exclusive side party. And not unlike at actual events, sometimes you find yourself without anyone to talk to and just awkwardly wander around eavesdropping. But at a virtual reality premiere you can’t even pretend to send text messages or respond to emails. This reporter also had to take off her headset for a few minutes after getting VR dizzy. Darnell co-wrote and directed the film/experience alongside Mathias Chelebourg. It also features the voices of Kate Winslet and Glen Close. The film and the rainforest room are currently available to experience through Oculus Quest. Events like this may have been born out of necessity, but they could be the way of the future. “Even if we did go back to premiering at festivals, I still think this is an amazing way to bring people together and to say let’s celebrate this medium by actually having a party inside of it,” Darnell said. —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — It's a proven political strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver. President Joe Biden, in his first three days in office, has painted a bleak picture of the country's immediate future, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to reorient a nation facing a historic convergence of crises. The dire language is meant as a call to action, but it's also a deliberate effort to temper expectations. In addition, it is an explicit rejection of President Donald Trump’s tack of talking down the coronavirus pandemic and its economic toll. Chris Lu, a longtime Obama administration official, said the grim tone is aimed at “restoring trust in government” that eroded during the Trump administration. “If you’re trying to get people to believe in this whole system of vaccinations, and if you want people to take seriously mask mandates, your leaders have to level with the American people,” he said. Biden said Thursday that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better” and offered “the brutal truth” that it will take eight months before a majority of Americans will be vaccinated. On Friday, he declared outright: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” It's all part of Biden's pledge that his administration will "always be honest and transparent with you, about both the good news and the bad.” That approach, aides say, explains Biden’s decision to set clear and achievable goals for his new administration. The measured approach is drawing praise in some corners for being realistic -— but criticism from others for its caution. Trump often dismissed the seriousness of the virus and even acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately played down the threat to the U.S. to prop up the economy. Even as death tolls and infection rates soared, Trump insisted the country was already “rounding the turn.” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Biden’s pledge for 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office might fall short of what’s needed to turn the tide on the virus. “Maybe they’re picking a number that’s easier to achieve, rather than the number that we need to achieve. I would urge people to be bolder than that,” he said. Adalja argued that the goal they’ve set “should be the bare minimum that we accept.” But he also acknowledged that there’s a major political risk in overpromising. “You don’t want people to be discouraged or feel like the government is incompetent” if they fail to meet a goal, he said. “It’s a disappointingly low bar,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician. Biden on Friday acknowledged the criticism, saying he was hopeful for more vaccinations, but he avoided putting down a marker that could potentially fall out of reach. “I found it fascinating that yesterday the press asked the question, ‘Is 100 million enough?'" he said in the State Dining Room. "A week before, they were saying, ‘Biden, are you crazy? You can’t do 100 million in 100 days.’ Well, we’re — God willing — not only going to 100 million. We’re going to do more than that.” In fact, while there was some skepticism when Biden first announced the goal on Dec. 8, it was generally seen as optimistic but within reach. The Biden administration might be taking lessons from the earliest days of the Obama administration, when there was constant pressure to show real progress in turning around the economy during the financial crisis. One former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal conversations, said there was a fevered effort during the first few months of Obama's first term to play down the focus on evaluating the president’s success within his first 100 days because aides knew the financial recovery would take far longer than that. In one notable misstep, Obama’s National Economic Council chair, Christina Romer, predicted that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if Congress passed the administration’s stimulus package to address the financial crisis. It was signed into law a month into Obama's first term, but by the end of that year, unemployment nevertheless hit 10%. The risk in setting too rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them. President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 — at a time when the Iraq War was far from over — became a defining blunder of his presidency. Trump provided an overreach of his own in May 2020, when he said the nation had “prevailed” over the virus. At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from the virus. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 412,000. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Trump’s handling of the virus caused so much damage to public perceptions of its severity that it’s important for Biden to set a contrasting tone. “I think it is really important to start telling the American people the truth. And that has not happened in a year, since we found the first case of coronavirus, so he’s got a lot of damage to undo,” she said. “This is a very serious, very contagious, deadly disease, and anything other than that message — delivered over and over again — is, unfortunately, adding to the willingness of lots of people to pay no attention to how to stop the spread of the disease.” Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
Alberta reported 643 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 12 additional deaths. Provincial labs completed 13,019 tests on Thursday for a positivity rate around 4.9 per cent. Active cases continue to drop, falling below the 10,000 mark for the first time since mid-November — now at 9,987 as of the latest update. As of end of day Thursday, 97,785 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta, an increase of 1,279 from the previous day. Included in the total vaccine doses administered are 8,304 second doses, meaning that 89,481 Albertans have received at least one dose of vaccine to date. Currently, 691 are people being treated for the disease in Alberta hospitals, including 115 in intensive care. In total, 108,258 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 deaths in the province since the pandemic began is now 1,512. Of the 12 deaths reported Friday, five were in the Edmonton zone, three were in the Calgary zone, three were in the Central zone and one was in the North zone. Here's a regional breakdown of active cases: Calgary zone: 3,839 Edmonton zone: 3,511 North zone: 1,366 Central zone: 849 South zone: 411 Unknown: 11 Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, will provide a COVID-19 update on Monday.
The RM of Edenwold has cut a $120,000 cheque to the Town of Balgonie as the town purchased a new pumper truck for its fire department. RM reeve Mitchell Huber said the $120,000 has come out of budgeted funds from 2019 and 2020 to support fire department equipment purchases. Huber added being able to support a fire department who is a mutual aid partner helps the whole area. “Balgonie had come to us asking for our support in purchasing another truck and we approved supporting a percentage of that truck’s cost,” Huber said. The cheque has already been sent to Balgonie, whose mayor Frank Thauberger was happy to see an aging pumper truck replaced. The truck, which is scheduled to arrive this summer, cost $363,000. Balgonie covered $243,000 of the cost from reserves, as council and administration had been setting money aside over a number of years for its replacement. “Every time you are dealing with a major purchase, you have to look at all the variables on it,” Thauberger said. “Right now, it feels good. We weren’t anticipating any money from the RM but now that it’s come through, we are very thankful for their support. It makes our budget look a lot better too. It’s very important to have good equipment for your fire department. We were running with an old truck that needed to be replaced and was having problems.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
Montreal's COVID-19 indicators are improving but the many health orders in place are likely to remain for weeks to come, the city's public health director said Friday. Health officials reported about 622 new daily infections between Jan. 17 and Jan. 21, down from a daily average of about 765 the week before. But hospitals in the city remain close to capacity, Dr. Mylene Drouin told reporters, with 696 people hospitalized in Montreal, including 112 in intensive care. About 1,000 health-care workers are off the job with COVID-19 or awaiting test results. That means public health officials are far from ready to lift most of the restrictions, Drouin said. The current provincial measures are scheduled to run until Feb. 8. "Some of the confinement measures are probably going to stay," Drouin said. "I think what we're going to ask ourselves is, what we can reintroduce that is less at-risk and help people find a normal life?" She didn't offer specifics but suggested some physical or social activities could be permitted. Quebec has imposed many health orders in recent weeks, asking people to work from home, shutting non-essential businesses and imposing a nightly curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Quebec's national public health institute issued modelling Thursday that suggested the province's measures could have significant impact for all regions and even more so for greater Montreal. "Strong support for the measures would make them even more effective in addressing the course of the epidemic," the institute said in a statement. Drouin said there has been a sustained decrease this month in the number of new cases per 100,000 people, from 46 in December to 37 in January. She said that number might soon dip to 30. She also said the reproduction rate — the average number of cases linked to a confirmed infection — was less than one for the first time since the fall. She said it needs to remain below one for at least two weeks, "if we want to reach a certain comfort level." Overall, 8.8 per cent of COVID-19 tests in Montreal are positive, but officials say they'll target neighbourhoods in northern and eastern Montreal that have much higher infection rates. Drouin said those areas were also hot spots last spring, due in large part to population density and an influx of essential workers at a higher risk of contracting the virus. "It's not that the people do not want or do not apply the public health recommendations, it's more that the context makes it difficult to apply," Drouin said. Authorities will use rapid tests in those neighbourhoods to cut down on what is now a roughly three-day delay between the beginning of symptoms and a test result. "It is the period where the person is most contagious," Drouin said. "We have to go to where people have the symptoms and get them tested quickly." Quebec reported 1,631 new COVID-19 cases Friday and 88 additional deaths, but hospitalizations dropped for a third consecutive day. The Health Department said the number of patients with COVID-19 in hospital fell by 27, to 1,476, with 212 in intensive care, a drop of four. Hospitalizations have decreased by 74 over the last three reporting periods. Of the 88 deaths reported Friday, 18 occurred in the previous 24 hours. Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of deaths reported daily in the province remains too high, and he called on people to respect public health orders. The province has now vaccinated 200,627 people after another 14,417 people received shots Thursday. Quebec has now inoculated 2.35 per cent of its population with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, using a little more than 84 per cent of vaccines the province has received. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported a total of 250,491 infections and 9,361 deaths linked to the virus, with 223,367 people considered recovered. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — New first lady Jill Biden took an unannounced detour to the U.S. Capitol on Friday to deliver baskets of chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members, thanking them “for keeping me and my family safe” during President Joe Biden's inauguration. “I just want to say thank you from President Biden and the whole, the entire Biden family,” she told a group of Guard members at the Capitol. “The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said, before joking that she couldn't say she had baked them herself. Joe Biden was sworn into office on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after Donald Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol in a futile attempt to keep Congress from certifying Biden as the winner of November's presidential election. Extensive security measures were then taken for the inauguration, which went off without any major incidents. Jill Biden told the group that her late son, Beau, was a Delaware Army National Guard member who spent a year deployed in Iraq in 2008-09. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. “So I'm a National Guard mom,” she said, adding that the baskets were a “small thank you” for leaving their home states and coming to the nation's capital. President Biden offered his thanks to the chief of the National Guard Bureau in a phone call Friday. “I truly appreciate all that you do,” the first lady said. “The National Guard will always hold a special place in the heart of all the Bidens.” Jill Biden's unannounced troop visit came after her first public outing as first lady. She highlighted services for cancer patients at Whitman-Walker Health, a Washington institution with a history of serving HIV/AIDS patients and the LGBTQ community. The clinic receives federal money to help provide primary care services in underserved areas. Staff told the first lady that cancer screenings had fallen since last March because patients didn't want to come in because of the coronavirus pandemic. More and more patients are taking advantage of options to see a doctor online. When the issue of universal access to broadband internet was raised, Jill Biden, who is a teacher, said she hears from teachers around the country who can't get in touch with their students because of the spotty access in some areas. “We just have to work together and address some of these things," she said. “The first thing we have to do is address this pandemic and get everybody vaccinated and back to work and back to their schools and get things back to the new normal.” Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade – À l'issue de la première journée de pêche aux petits poissons à Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade vendredi, les sourires s'affichaient sur tous les visages, qu'ils soient visiteurs ou organisateurs, alors que débutait la 83e saison, une édition qui passera assurément à l'histoire pour toutes les raisons du monde. D'abord, en raison de la pandémie, évidemment, qui a apporté son lot d'ajustement pour l'organisation, mais aussi par le fait qu'il s'agira fort probablement de la saison de pêche la plus courte de l'histoire et enfin, parce que l'événement 2021 se déroulera presque dans l'intimité puisque seulement 120 chalets prendront racine sur le rivière d'ici le 21 février. Lors du passage du Nouvelliste, quelque 90 chalets avaient déjà été installés et l'exténuant travail se poursuivait. «Ça a été un marathon, mais là, on est dans le dernier 100 mètres», image le président de l'Association des pourvoyeurs de la rivière Sainte-Anne, Steve Massicotte. Bien que les travaux ait été réalisés en un temps record, les conditions ne sont pas encore toutes réunies afin d'assurer le roulement à plein régime des activités. «Pour la première fin de semaine, il n'y aura pas de circulation automobile. La glace est actuellement à 12 pouces d'épaisseur, on aimerait qu'elle atteigne 15 à 18 pouces idéalement, alors nous resterons prudents», explique M. Massicotte. Ce dernier souligne que l'intérêt de la part des touristes est très présent, alors que les places s'envolent rapidement. «Les gens doivent réserver. Il reste encore des places. Il y a beaucoup de poisson actuellement», souligne le président, qui se réjouit de constater l'intérêt renouvelé des visiteurs de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec pour l'événement. «Il y a des gens du coin qui appellent et qui disent ''je suis de la région, mais je ne suis jamais venu''. Ça, ça nous met le sourire au visage», confie-t-il. Les commerçants prudents Bien qu'habituellement heureux de voir les touristes débarquer chez eux en grand nombre, les commerçants de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade font preuve de prudence dans les attentes qu'ils entretiennent cette année. Tellement, que certains ont carrément choisi de fermer leurs portes et de passer au prochain appel. C'est le cas de Daniel Hardy, copropriétaire du Gîte et café bistro de la tour. «Tant mieux s'il y a de la pêche, mais pour nous, c'est loin d'être payant, ça mange de l'argent», concède-t-il. «Ce serait tellement peu, il saison durera à peine trois semaines. Et la santé, c'est plus important que l'argent», ajoute M. Hardy. À la SAQ locale, le gérant Philippe Marchand avouait qu'il serait difficile pour lui d'effectuer des prédictions sur les ventes à prévoir. «C'est difficile de dire ce que ça donnera. On va attendre que ça commence pour vrai et que les gens y aillent. Dans une semaine, on aura un meilleur aperçu», s'est-il contenté de mentionner. Au marché d'alimentation Métro, le gérant Michel Lemay soutient pour sa part que la hausse de la demande pour certains produits aide considérablement à éponger le manque à gagner que pourrait générer une pêche aux petits poissons plus timide. «C'est très particulier comme année, je ne m'attends pas à ce qu'on ait beaucoup de pêcheurs qui viennent nous voir, surtout aussi, qu'il y a moins de pourvoyeurs. Mais c'est certain que présentement, on constate une baisse des ventes de certains produits, comme les mets cuisinés ou la bière, qui sont en diminution.» Pour M. Lemay, même si tous les Péradiens ne sont pas d'accord sur la tenue ou non des activités, il est important pour son commerce de continuer à s'impliquer. «C'est très déchirant pour le village. On continue avec eux, on demeure des partenaires de l'événement parce que ça nous tient à coeur», avoue-t-il, précisant qu'il s'attend à des retombées qui vont s'avérer bien différentes des autres années. Une sortie qui fait du bien Les visiteurs qui avaient déjà pris place vendredi avouaient tous de concert que cette activité ferait le plus grand bien à la famille. «On a du plaisir. Ça nous fait plaisir, aussi. Les activités sont très limitées. On en profite pour faire bouger les jeunes. Je trouve que l'organisation fait bien les choses. C'est une adaptation, mais c'est le fun, ça mord», souriait Mathieu Roy, un pêcheur de Trois-Rivières, qui déploie sa ligne depuis plus de 30 ans. Pour la famille Thériault de Laval, dont il s'agissait de la première expérience, l'activité permet de changer d'air. «Ça ne mord pas encore beaucoup à date, mais ça nous permet de changer d'air. Ça fait du bien», souligne la maman Sandra Niquet. «À date, on aime bien ça», ajoute son conjoint Daniel Thériault. Pour la famille d'Hatim, en provenance de Repentigny, c'est la quatrième présence à Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade. «Ça se passe bien. Ça soulage un peu», sourit le papa de deux enfants. Directement débarqués de Kingsey Falls, au Centre-du-Québec, la famille de Jean-Philippe Turcotte et Karelle Giroux profitait de la journée pédagogique à l'école pour passer un bon moment ensemble. «Ça mord bien! Ça fait du bien aussi d'avoir une activité. On en profite», soulignait le papa dont c'était la troisième année sur la rivière. Les Quinta-Machado ont fait la route de Montréal pour parfaire leur technique de pêche. «L'an dernier, on a pêché 529 poissons», sourit la maman, Isabel Quinta. «C'est un peu différent cette année. Il y a moins de poisson, mais ça se fait bien, tout est nettoyé, tout est propre. C'est devenu nécessaire, une activité en famille», confiait-elle. Quant à elle, Sandra Nadeau, copropriétaire du Centre de pêche Grimard, raconte que les grandes cabanes de pêche de cette entreprise n'ont tout simplement pas été installées cette année, puisqu'il était inutile de mettre en place une cabana qui peut accueillir 20 personnes pour une bulle familiale seulement. «On a douze de nos dix-sept cabanes d'installées. Il faut s'assurer de désinfecter en profondeur. Même s'il n'y aura pas les activités habituelles, nous affichons complet pour les trois prochaines fins de semaines», s'est-elle au moins consolée.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
CALGARY — WestJet says a Boeing 737 Max that was scheduled to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday returned to the gate before taking off due to a warning in the cockpit. A WestJet spokeswoman, Lauren Stewart, said that after the plane's engines were started, its monitoring system indicated a "potential fault that needed to be verified and reset." The process takes time and requires an engine run, which the airline does not perform with passengers on board, Stewart said. In the interests' of passengers' time, WestJet cancelled the flight and booked passengers on the next available flight to Toronto, Stewart said. The aircraft has since been cleared by maintenance and will return to service as scheduled on Jan. 24, Stewart said. The Max was cleared to fly in Canadian airspace on Wednesday after it was grounded for nearly two years following deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Capitol Police are investigating an incident in which a Republican lawmaker was blocked from entering the House chamber after setting off a metal detector while apparently carrying a concealed gun. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., set off the metal detector while trying to enter the chamber Thursday afternoon. The metal detectors were installed after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. The incident was witnessed by a reporter from the HuffPost website. After setting off the machine, Harris was asked to step aside for further screening. At that time, an officer discovered Harris was carrying a concealed gun on his side, according to the reporter. The officer sent Harris away, at which point Harris tried to get Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., to take the gun from him. Katko refused, telling Harris he didn’t have a license to carry a gun. Harris eventually left and returned less than 10 minutes later. He once again went through security and did not set off the magnetometer. He was then allowed to enter the House floor. Harris, in his sixth term representing Maryland's Eastern Shore, issued a statement through his chief of staff, Bryan Shuy. “Because his and his family’s lives have been threatened by someone who has been released awaiting trial, for security reasons, the congressman never confirms whether he nor anyone else he’s with are carrying a firearm for self-defence,'' the statement said. "As a matter of public record, he has a Maryland Handgun Permit. And the congressman always complies with the House metal detectors and wanding. The Congressman has never carried a firearm on the House floor.'' Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for Capitol Police, said the incident is being investigated. The public is not allowed to carry guns on Capitol grounds, but members of Congress may keep firearms in their offices or transport them on the Capitol grounds if they are unloaded and securely wrapped. Lawmakers are not allowed to bring guns into either the House or Senate chambers. Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has said she’ll carry a gun in Washington, D.C., which does not allow the open carrying of a firearm. Fellow freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., told a North Carolina newspaper that he was armed when a mob that supports former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol. Since the metal detectors were installed last week, most House members have followed police orders and gone through the devices to enter the House chamber, but some Republicans — including Boebert and Harris — initially sidestepped the machines or refused to be checked with wands after they set it off. Capitol Police have now placed desks and velvet ropes near the metal detectors to block anyone from walking around the machines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has proposed a rule that would fine members who bypass the metal detector $5,000 for their first offence and $10,000 for their second. The fines are not yet in effect, because the House has not adopted the rule. A spokesman for Cawthorn declined Friday to say where, exactly, the congressman was while armed on Jan. 6. Cawthorn "practices his 2nd Amendment rights, as well as privileges accorded to him as a member of Congress. Rep. Cawthorn also respects and adheres to instructions from the Capitol Police,'' said spokesman Micah Bock. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — The son of a couple killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that killed 11 worshippers is suing the National Rifle Association, arguing the group’s inflammatory rhetoric led to the violence. Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice Simon, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the NRA, the gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Co., and accused shooter, Robert Bowers, news outlets reported. Colt manufactured the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle allegedly used by Bowers. A fourth defendant is the unknown business that sold Bowers the gun. Bowers is charged with killing 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Police said the former truck driver expressed hatred of Jews during and after the October 2018 rampage. “Bowers was not born fearing and hating Jews,” the suit claims. “The gun lobby taught him to do that.” Bowers has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The plaintiff argues gun lobbyists like the NRA radicalized people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.” The lawsuit also says Colt could have prevented the AR-15 from “bump firing,” or using a modification that allows the rifle to fire more rapidly. An NRA spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit. The group filed for bankruptcy last week, and the claims against them in Simon’s lawsuit will be stayed as a result of the group’s reorganizing. Colt did not respond to request for comment. Besides a wrongful death claim, the complaint accuses Colt of product liability and says the gun is more akin to a military-style weapon than a civilian product. The Associated Press
Canada’s response to COVID-19 shows what national unity over a common goal can accomplish, says Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Now he says the country needs to apply similar efforts to achieving racial equality. “Recognizing these systems of government control as inherently racist, and needing to then be anti-racist, be actively anti-racist, in the way that we engage, the way that we work together between Inuit and government, is really the only way we can chart our course to a better future,” said Obed, the head of the national organization that represents 65,000 Inuit in Canada. Obed made the remarks Friday during a panel discussion about mental health in diverse communities, co-hosted online by Queen’s University and Bell, featuring four experts on race and mental health, with former federal Indigenous services minister Dr. Jane Philpott as the moderator. Obed spoke of the impact racism has had on Inuit communities and their mental health. “You can’t help but link the imposition of government control over our communities … and complete control over our education and economic well-being as anything other than a mental health catastrophe,” he said. In a June 2019 Statistics Canada report, under the National Household Survey, researchers found that suicide rates of First Nations people were three times higher than those of non-Indigenous people. More specifically, Inuit were nine times as likely to take their own lives than non-Indigenous people. That same report cited post-traumatic stress disorder due to colonization as a key factor in Indigenous mental health. Also on the panel was Dr. Kenneth Fung, clinical director of the Asian Initiative in Mental Health Program at Toronto Western Hospital; Dr. Myrna Lashley, a psychiatry assistant professor at McGill University; and Asanta Haughton, a human rights activist. They agreed that for the betterment of Black, Indigenous and people-of-colour communities, recognizing oppressive systems are essential to dismantling them. The pandemic has only made these challenges more acute, panelists said. Numerous studies show marginalized communities are the most impacted by COVID-19. A Statistics Canada study on the self-reported economic hardships caused by the pandemic on Indigenous versus non-Indigenous people showed that Indigenous people had experienced more job loss or reduced work, and a larger negative financial impact. The report concluded that “employment disruptions likely had a larger financial impact on Indigenous participants because of greater pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as lower income levels and higher proportions living in poverty and experiencing food insecurity.” Obed offered the following advice for making strides against racism: “Keep putting one step in front of the other, on the path that you’re making for your own mental health, but then also the change that you want to see,” he said. Meagan Deuling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
B.C. is aiming to vaccinate 4.3 million people by the end of September. Premier John Horgan cautioned the plan depends on a consistent supply but wouldn’t blame the federal government for delays in receiving vaccines.
Provincial offences officers are headed to Windsor-Essex on Saturday and Sunday to check for COVID-19 compliance in big-box stores. Officers will attend locations in the region to ensure that big grocery chains and stores like Walmart and Costco are following COVID-19 measures around masking, physical distancing and capacity limits, minister of labour, training and skills development Monte McNaughton told CBC News. This time around, McNaughton couldn't say how many officers are headed to the region or the number of stores that will be visited during the blitz, but he said that last weekend the ministry had 50 officers cover 242 big-box stores in Toronto and Hamilton. Out of these locations, McNaughton said 69 per cent were in compliance. "[That] isn't good enough at this point. So we are holding businesses to account, we're closing down businesses that are not playing by the rules," he said. "We're doing everything possible to keep people safe and we just implore with businesses, supervisors, managers step up, do even more." Stores that aren't following the rules may be ticketed and receive a fine anywhere between $750 to $1,000. Depending on the violation, McNaughton said officers might also initiate an investigation that could lead to higher fines. Locally, small business owners have been frustrated that they've had to close their doors while big-box stores can remain open. The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association has even created a petition calling for "fairness" with small businesses. Prior to the lockdown in Windsor-Essex, these businesses were also part of COVID-19 enforcement blitzes to ensure compliance. Local officers from the health unit will also be helping the province carry out the blitz. As of Friday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said that its own officers have received more than 500 complaints in the last two and a half months. Since Nov. 1, health unit officials say they have issued 65 violation notices and 23 charges, with the most recent charges given out the week of Christmas. Windsor-Essex County Health Unit CEO Theresa Marentette said people continue to send in complaints related to a lack of screening, personal protective equipment, improper mask wearing, lack of physical distancing and breaching indoor capacity limits. At this time, McNaughton said that the officers will only focus on big-box stores, though the ministry is starting to attend farms across the province to ensure that safety standards are being met for migrant workers. As of Friday, Windsor-Essex has 13 COVID-19 outbreaks on farms. "I want every worker to know regardless of their passport that the labour laws apply to all of these workers to protect them and we 're going to make sure that these workers are protected," he said.
WASHINGTON — Newly confirmed Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will have to contend not only with a world of security threats and a massive military bureaucracy, but also with a challenge that hits closer to home: rooting out racism and extremism in the ranks. Austin took office Friday as the first Black defence chief, in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where retired and current military members were among the rioters touting far-right conspiracies. The retired four-star Army general told senators this week that the Pentagon’s job is to “keep America safe from our enemies. But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Ridding the military of racists isn’t his only priority. Austin, who was confirmed in a 93-2 vote, has made clear that accelerating delivery of coronavirus vaccines will get his early attention. But the racism issue is personal. At Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, he explained why. In 1995, when then-Lt. Col. Austin was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, three white soldiers, described as self-styled skinheads, were arrested in the murder of a Black couple who was walking down the street. Investigators concluded the two were targeted because of their race. The killing triggered an internal investigation, and all told, 22 soldiers were linked to skinhead and other similar groups or found to hold extremist views. They included 17 who were considered white supremacists or separatists. “We woke up one day and discovered that we had extremist elements in our ranks,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And they did bad things that we certainly held them accountable for. But we discovered that the signs for that activity were there all along. We just didn’t know what to look for or what to pay attention to.” Austin is not the first secretary to grapple with the problem. Racism has long been an undercurrent in the military. While leaders insist only a small minority hold extremist views, there have been persistent incidents of racial hatred and, more subtly, a history of implicit bias in what is a predominantly white institution. A recent Air Force inspector general report found that Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct. Based on 2018 data, roughly two-thirds of the military’s enlisted corps is white and about 17% is Black, but the minority percentage declines as rank increases. The U.S. population overall is about three-quarters white and 13% Black, according to Census Bureau statistics. Over the past year, Pentagon leaders have struggled to make changes, hampered by opposition from then-President Donald Trump. It took months for the department to effectively ban the Confederate flag last year, and Pentagon officials left to Congress the matter of renaming military bases that honour Confederate leaders. Trump rejected renaming the bases and defended flying the flag. Senators peppered Austin with questions about extremism in the ranks and his plans to deal with it. The hearing was held two weeks after lawmakers fled the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, in which many of the rioters espoused separatist or extremist views. “It’s clear that we are at a crisis point,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., saying leaders must root out extremism and reaffirm core military values. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., pressed Austin on the actions he will take. “Disunity is probably the most destructive force in terms of our ability to defend ourselves," Kaine said. "If we’re divided against one another, how can we defend the nation?” Austin, who broke racial barriers throughout his four decades in the Army, said military leaders must set the right example to discourage and eliminate extremist behaviour. They must get to know their troops, and look for signs of extremism or other problems, he said. But Austin — the first Black man to serve as head of U.S. Central Command and the first to be the Army's vice chief of staff — also knows that much of the solution must come from within the military services and lower-ranking commanders. They must ensure their troops are trained and aware of the prohibitions. “Most of us were embarrassed that we didn’t know what to look for and we didn’t really understand that by being engaged more with your people on these types of issues can pay big dividends,” he said, recalling the 82nd Airborne problems. “I don’t think that you can ever take your hand off the steering wheel here.” But he also cautioned that there won't be an easy solution, adding, “I don’t think that this is a thing that you can put a Band-Aid on and fix and leave alone. I think that training needs to go on, routinely." Austin gained confirmation after clearing a legal hurdle prohibiting anyone from serving as defence chief until they have been out of the military for seven years. Austin retired less than five years ago, but the House and Senate quickly approved the needed waiver, and President Joe Biden signed it Friday. Soon afterward, Austin strode into the Pentagon, his afternoon already filled with calls and briefings, including a meeting with Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He held a broader video conference on COVID-19 with all top defence and military leaders, and his first call to an international leader was with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Austin, 67, is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He helped lead the invasion into Iraq in 2003, and eight years later was the top U.S. commander there, overseeing the full American troop withdrawal. After serving as vice chief of the Army, Austin headed Central Command, where he oversaw the reinsertion of U.S. troops to Iraq to beat back Islamic State militants. He describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, who will speak his mind to Congress and to Biden. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press