These two buddies engage in a fun game of tug-of-war for the camera. Everybody wins!
These two buddies engage in a fun game of tug-of-war for the camera. Everybody wins!
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
(Aqua Maof Group/Submitted - image credit) A Norwegian company's proposal to open a salmon farm and hatchery in Placentia Bay, N.L., got a major boost Thursday from Canada's OceanSupercluster, a federal innovation funding organization. The organization announced that Grieg Seafood, an on-again, off-again salmon facility planned for Marystown, will be used to develop ocean sensors that allow open-net pens to be monitored and managed remotely from shore. The Ocean Supercluster will contribute $12 million with industry partners putting in $14.8 million. The project will use communication towers installed around Placentia Bay to receive data gathered by sensors in the water. The information will be transmitted to control centres on shore. Grieg NL is an aquaculture company in Marystown. Some of this technology is already in use at fish farms operated by Cooke Aquaculture, a Grieg competitor, elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. But Tim Stone of Halifax-based InnovaSea, a partner in the project, said the systems planned for the Grieg operation represent a leap forward. Its sensors are installed in more than 300 fish farms around the world. "We're not talking about making incremental improvements to technology," Stone told reporters Thursday. "We're talking about actually changing the way people do things." They can tell when a fish is hungry, or full High-definition cameras, sensors and machine learning will come together in Placentia Bay to measure the size of the fish, the amount of feed eaten and wasted along with real-time ocean conditions. For example, video will reveal when fish are hungry, or full. When satiated, salmon stop feeding on pellets and let them go through the water. Operators will be able to instantly stop the feeding process. Tim Stone is the general manager and vice-president of product development at Halifax-based InnovaSea Systems. "Those technologies, although individually they may exist in some parts of the world, no one has ever brought them together to provide multi-factor feeding in aquaculture-industry sensing technologies," he said. One of five partners InnovaSea is one of five partners, led by Grieg Seafood Newfoundland. The other partners are SubC Imaging, AKVA Group and High-Tech Communications. It is a two-year project with work beginning later this year. For Grieg, Thursday's announcement is a step forward after a major setback last fall when it shut down construction of its hatchery in Marystown, citing poor salmon prices caused by the pandemic. Grieg halted a post-smolt unit that houses hatched salmon before being transferred to ocean cages. Perry Power of Grieg NL calls the development a 'win-win.' The company said at the time work would continue on the other elements of the project. Grieg spokesperson Perry Power said Thursday the installation of the communication towers will be a boon for the Placentia Bay area, where wireless communications are limited. "This is a win-win for everyone," he said. "It's going to create not just for us but for mariners and pleasure craft operators out in the bay … a level of enhanced safety of connectivity," he said. OceanSupercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald said the project puts Atlantic Canadian companies in a position to export their wares. "We see this is a really exciting project from the perspective that it is building on existing technology," MacDonald said. "It's developing expanding technology solutions and these technologies can be taken to the rest of the world to really help with the journey to transform the aquaculture sector. So we do see that this is transformational." MORE TOP STORIES
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. Grand Chief Garrison Settee wants to see more First Nations health experts on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). On Wednesday, Settee wrote a letter to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, to request Dr. Barry Lavallee, CEO of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM), be invited to take part in the NACI. He explained during a press conference that a First Nation representative from Northern Manitoba would provide great value to the important work of NACI to strengthen fairness and substantive equity in setting guidelines. “I always felt decisions being made on behalf of First Nations are always done by people that don’t know the geographical locations of these First Nations, they don’t know the demographic, their situations and they make these decisions,” said Settee on Thursday. “It is better to have First Nations people on the committee so then these decisions would be done in a way that is supportive of First Nation’s culture and community values as well as to make sure it is done in a way that is satisfactory to the people.” In the letter, Settee wrote having a First Nations representative on the committee will also help to advance the federal government’s reconciliation strategies, address the gaps in developing Indigenous health legislation, and work towards addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health care. Settee concluded the letter saying that he wanted to partner with Tam to ensure Manitoba First Nations people are prioritized and protected during the pandemic. “Throughout our history with government entities, many if not all decisions were made with the exclusion of Indigenous expertise in that conversation. At times, those decisions have been detrimental,” he said. “I think we have reached a point in time where we have enough expertise in our Indigenous communities that can offer guidance and advice that could allow First Nations to have access to the proper medical care.” The Grand Chief has written a letter to Manitoba’s Premier as well to express the need for collaboration on strategies with the MKO to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Strategies to address the COVID-19 outbreaks in Northern Manitoba could include plans for vaccine distribution, including improved communication to First Nations about when they can expect to receive their vaccines. “While our provincial partners have made assurances to be transparent to First Nations, offering better communication of current and anticipated vaccine supplies for both First Nations and Manitoba, MKO will continue to work closely with the provincial government and hold them accountable regarding the vaccine rollout,” said Settee. Recently, public health officials have announced that appointments can now be made to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations for First Nation people aged 75 years or older. Planning is underway for the second phase of the expanding First Nation vaccine rollout, with First Nations being engaged to review options for surge capacity. “Access to the COVID-19 vaccines remains top of mind as we near the one-year anniversary of living with the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Michael Routledge, medical advisor to MKO and KIM. “We encourage everyone to become informed about the vaccine and to strongly consider accepting your vaccine once you become eligible. Although there is evidence that case numbers in Northern Manitoba are starting to improve, it is important for everyone to follow public health recommendations to prevent new outbreaks.” — Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Canada's Auditor General Karen Hogan on Thursday delivered her 2021 report, including five performance audit reports to the House of Commons. Hogan's report found that Canada's ship building strategy was slow to deliver combat and non-combat ships.
La Ville de Saint-Sauveur a acquis deux terrains par dons écologiques pour créer la réserve naturelle du Mont-Christie. Les travaux débuteront au printemps et les sentiers seront accessibles dès l’été 2021. Un nouveau projet parmi les nombreux autres de la Ville. Ces dons proviennent du promoteur Immo-Mc inc et de Madame Nancy Guillemette qui ont donné chacun une partie de leur terrain. Au total, cela représente 1,6 million de pieds carrés dans le domaine du Mont-Christie, en bas et à l’est de la montagne du même nom. Il s’agit d’un milieu humide et un lac se trouve également au centre. La création de la réserve permettra de préserver ce territoire naturel et d’y faire de l’interprétation. « Il s’agit d’un don écologique, car c’est un milieu humide et il n’est pas possible de toute façon de construire dans ce genre d’endroit », a précisé le maire de la Ville, M. Jacques Gariépy. La Ville profitera donc de ce territoire pour y installer des sentiers d’interprétation de la faune et du milieu naturel. « Dans ce coin, la faune est très diversifiée. Des écologistes vont d’ailleurs travailler avec nous pour développer cette partie. » Des passerelles en bois seront également construites pour que le terrain ne soit pas abimé, mais aussi parce qu’il s’agit d’un milieu humide, donc il y a souvent de l’eau. Comme il s’agit de dons, la Ville a eu moins d’investissements à faire, sauf pour les infrastructures de bois et l’aménagement. Dans le budget 2021, le montant est estimé à 600 000$. En été, les sentiers seront accessibles pour la randonnée pédestre et pour y faire de l’interprétation. En hiver, il sera possible d’y faire de la randonnée pédestre également, mais aussi de la raquette et du ski de fond. « On regarde pour peut-être permettre le fatbike à l’hiver », précise le maire. Il y aura également un belvédère avec une vue sur le lac et le terrain pour y faire de l’interprétation. « Les écoles et les camps de jour pourront également en profiter. Du point de vue académique, c’est très intéressant. » Il y aura deux accès pour entrer dans la réserve : un sur la rue de l’Église et un autre à l’extrémité du chemin Papineau. Des stationnements sont prévus aussi à ces endroits, mais il reste à la Ville d’acquérir ces deux terrains situés au nord et au sud. Selon le maire, il est aussi important de prendre en compte cet enjeu avant de lancer le projet. « Le problème qu’on a dans les sentiers des Pays-d’en-Haut, c’est que les gens se stationnent n’importe où dans les milieux résidentiels et dans les rues, car il n’y a pas assez de stationnements. » La Ville souhaite donc travailler en amont, et ouvrir la réserve lorsque des stationnements auront été prévus à cet effet. Cela fait déjà plusieurs années que la Ville de Saint-Sauveur travaille pour créer cette réserve. « C’est un long processus, autant du point de vue écologique qu’au niveau interne. Mais toutes ces étapes sont maintenant passées et nous sommes prêts à passer à d’autres choses », explique M. Gariépy. Dès le printemps, la Ville entamera l’aménagement des sentiers et des passerelles en bois et travaillera avec des écologistes pour le volet interprétation. Mais la réserve du Mont-Christie n’est pas le seul projet qui prendra forme cette année. En effet, grâce au don écologique de la famille De Volpi, la Ville a acquis un terrain de plus de 3 millions de pieds carrés. Ce dernier est situé près du Lac des Becs-Scies et de la municipalité de Mille-Isles. À cet endroit seront aménagés des sentiers de randonnée pédestre et de vélo qui seront accessibles dès cet été. Certains sont déjà en place, mais il restera à les baliser par la Ville. Dans les autres grands projets de Saint-Sauveur, il y a également l’acquisition du Cap Molson pour y faire des sentiers balisés et y construire un belvédère. « Nous sommes actuellement en procédure d’expropriation. Dans les prochaines semaines ou mois, la procédure devrait être finalisée. On devrait commencer les travaux prochainement. » La Ville souhaite principalement sécuriser les sentiers, comme ils sont déjà beaucoup utilisés. Les sentiers du sommet de la Marquise seront aussi accessibles dès cet été. Il reste à la Ville d’acquérir un terrain pour en faire un stationnement à l’entrée sud des sentiers pour empêcher les gens de se stationner dans les rues. Selon M. Gariépy, ces projets aboutissent presque tous maintenant, mais la Ville travaillait sur eux depuis des années. « Les projets étaient liés à des échéanciers écologiques, avec le ministère de l’Environnement notamment. Par exemple, pour les sentiers du Mont-Christie, on attendait des autorisations de leur part qu’on a eues. » Voyant l’engouement pour le plein air cette année en raison de la pandémie, ces projets s’inscrivent parfaitement dans le mouvement. « On n’avait pas prévu la COVID-19 il y a deux ou trois ans lorsqu’on avait commencé ces projets, mais la concrétisation de ces derniers tombe pile avec ce besoin. » Marie-Catherine Goudreau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
Three cousins from Garden River First Nation were the most recent winners of a hack-a-thon competition. Teams were asked to come up with a plan on how they would spend $500,000 over three years to encourage electric vehicle use in Indigenous communities. This online competition was open to teams of youth ages 18-30 and was hosted by Indigenous Clean Energy and SevenGen. Chris Seymour, Aaron Jones and Megan Young are first cousins who took the time to participate in the hack-a-thon, all while pursuing their own academic excellence. Seymour is a fourth year aerospace engineering student. Jones is a junior researcher for the Firelight Group which supports the rights and interests of Indigenous and local communities. Young is a biology graduate from UBC and is currently working as a wildlife biologist at the Toronto Zoo. The cousins were up against 7 other teams in this competition. All teams were asked to come up with a 15 minute presentation over the 5 day e-gathering. The winning idea the team came up with was to purchase two 15-seat electric passenger vans that could transport Garden River First Nation members back and forth from Sault Ste. Marie. This would allow members of the community who do not have their own vehicles to travel into town for the necessities. With the excess money, they proposed installing electric car charging stations in Indigenous communities along Lake Huron. The trio won $5,000 for their idea, which they split between them. In an interview with Anishinabek News, Seymour states “I’d like to certainly present it to the Chief and Council someday.” Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
OTTAWA — Federal auditor general Karen Hogan delivered a stark warning Thursday that government mismanagement is threatening to leave the navy and coast guard without the ships they need to defend Canada and protect its waterways. The warning is in a new report that offers a scathing assessment of the state of Ottawa’s multibillion-dollar national shipbuilding strategy nearly 10 years after it was launched. Hogan and her team found delays across the board in the construction and delivery of new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Those delays are threatening to create gaps as the navy and coast guard vessels those ships are supposed to replace are near retirement, or in some cases have already reached that stage. Those include the navy’s three destroyers and two support ships, while the coast guard has had to do without some research vessels and icebreakers because its existing ships are docked for repairs. Hogan's report says the government has mitigated some of the short-term effects but Canada is already feeling the pinch as ships retire or are forced into extended maintenance. “The delivery of many ships was significantly delayed, and further delays could result in several vessels being retired before new vessels are operational,” the report says. “National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard have implemented measures to maintain their operational capabilities until new ships are delivered, but interim capabilities are limited and cannot be extended indefinitely.” The report added that it had not assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but noted that shipyards have either closed or reduced their workforces due restrictions, which will further threaten schedules. The auditor general’s report came one day after the parliamentary budget office estimated that building 15 new warships — just one part of the strategy — will cost $77.3 billion, about $17 billion than the government’s stated price. Both reports are likely to raise fresh questions about the shipbuilding plan, which was launched in earnest in October 2011 when Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax and Seaspan Marine in Vancouver were selected to build dozens of navy and coast guard vessels. The government is now working to add a third shipyard to the program, Chantier Davie in Quebec City, to build a series of icebreakers. “The delays that we saw in this audit should really be seen as a shared responsibility,” Hogan said. “There were delays in designing and determining capabilities that were needed. Then there were delays in production.” Procurement Minister Anita Anand defended the strategy, saying shipyards have so far delivered four ships and created thousands of jobs. She also insisted that the government was on track after facing some early challenges that “were not yet informed by actual build experience at the shipyards, and expertise in Canada was still developing.” “I am of the view that the shipbuilding strategy has been, by and large, successful,” Anand said. “I don't think it is a mistake when you see the contribution to the Canadian economy ... and the actual vessels that have been produced.” But Conservative defence critic James Bezan held up the report as evidence of the Liberal government's mismanagement. Hogan acknowledged the complexity of building new ships but said that was “compounded” by the shipbuilding plan’s other objectives: creating a Canadian shipbuilding industry and boosting the economy. To that end, nearly a decade after the strategy was launched, the auditor said the government did not know if the two shipyards in Halifax and Vancouver had even reached a state where they “met international ship-construction standards to enable efficient ship production.” Officials also had not assessed whether the shipyards — or even the government departments involved — had enough staff to implement the shipbuilding plan and deliver the new ships on schedule. “We noted instances where such staff shortages caused shipbuilding delays,” the auditor’s report says, adding the government only drew up a draft human-resources plan for the shipbuilding strategy in December 2019. Hogan’s report also catalogues some of the changes to the schedule and cost of the various individual projects in the plan, which is supposed to deliver dozens of new vessels over 30 years. That included several amendments to the contract with Seaspan Marine for three fisheries-science vessels for the coast guard, which saw the delivery schedule pushed back by two to three years. The report revealed the Vancouver shipyard “sustained significant financial losses” during the construction of those vessels, the last of which was delivered in October, due to a significant underestimation in the time and effort needed to build them. “This not only threatened the strategy’s overall objective of creating a sustainable marine industry,” the auditor general’s report says, “but also put the renewal of the federal fleet in peril.” Seaspan spokeswoman Amy McLeod suggested Thursday that the Vancouver shipyard had overcome those problems. “In very close collaboration with our government partners, Seaspan Shipyards and its (national shipbuilding strategy) ecosystem are firing on all cylinders and delivering ships, jobs and economic benefits across Canada.” Irving Shipbuilding did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hogan also raised concerns about building a polar icebreaker to replace the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent. The new ship was pulled from Seaspan’s order book in 2019 and the government has not decided where it will be built. The auditor general did suggest departments have started to learn from some of their earlier mistakes and expressed a cautious hope those lessons would ease some of the problems. “But there was little room for further delay,” Hogan’s report says. “Delaying could result in a loss of capability to deliver essential government programs.” As an example, she noted that the last of the navy’s existing Halifax-class frigates is due to retire in 2047 — only one year before the last of 15 new warships is scheduled to arrive. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
Retention bonuses and incremental increases for volunteers are being considered to better reward members of the East Ferris Fire and Emergency Services Department. Council had asked Fire Chief Frank Loeffen last year to look at how the municipality’s renumeration compared to other similar-sized townships. His report presented at Tuesday’s meeting indicated there is much variety in how each department compensates its members, with East Ferris in the mid-range for volunteers and top end for officers. Loeffen, representing the municipality’s fire and emergency services committee, recommended a $10,000 increase for 2021 to the annual points system allocation used to compensate volunteers at each call for service and training sessions. It would bring that budget up to $54,566, which is slightly above the mid-range of comparable departments, he said, suggesting it then increase three percent annually in following years. His report also looked at the implications of moving to a “minimum wage per point” system, but said it would be “unpredictable for budgetary purposes” as calls to service and number of members responding fluctuate. As it functions now, the budget is divided up based on points with the hourly amount going up or down depending on volume of calls and training sessions. Included in the recommendations was a two percent increase to the annual officer honourarium, bringing it to $1,081.20 for 2021. In addition, it was suggested to council that the Fire Prevention Officer be given the same officer honourarium instead of $50 per inspection. Council warmly embraced the suggestions and several members recommended two options to recognize longer service. Deputy Mayor Steve Trahan suggested that senior volunteers be given an extra point or two to reflect the skills and experience they provide at fire scenes and collisions. “They are asked to do extra roles … (we) lean on them a little heavier compared to someone newer,” Trahan said. Councillor Rick Champagne said he's interested in a system that works as an “incentive for people to step up and stay a little longer. “These people do work very hard for us,” Champagne said, “I think we’re getting away fairly cheap the way we’re paying them right now.” East Ferris currently has 26 volunteer members on its roster. Four of them are rookies less than one year of participation, six are in the one to five year's of experience, nine are in the five to 10-year bracket, two at 10-15, two 15-20 and five with more than 20 years involvement. Councillor Terry Kelly, a long-time fire and emergency services volunteer, said he looks at that kind of thing as a “retention bonus,” noting they now get a “recognition” plaque every five years, joking the plaque grows in size the longer you are there. Kelly suggested a $500 bonus every time a volunteer hits a five-year milestone as recognition for long-time service. “We’ve been very fortunate with retention,” he said, “and if you look at what the fire department does not cost the taxpayer … it’s one of the best deals we have with the service they do, and quite frankly, they knowingly put themselves I harm’s way with great training.” Last year, a report looked at running a part-time service with scheduled shifts at $20 an hour that would have doubled the budget to about $90,000. Loeffen was asked to explore the suggestions at the committee level and cost out the “pros and cons” as well as financial impacts of both the retention and recognition of skills systems. Mayor Pauline Rochefort thanked him for an “excellent report with lots of comparables” and she looked forward to considering the initial recommendations and new information for the budget deliberations. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
(Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit) York Regional Police say their homicide unit has been called in to investigate a "suspicious" death after a man's body was found on a road in Vaughan, Ont. on Thursday morning. Police say they were called to the area of Teston at Rodinea roads at around 8 a.m. after the body was located. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, police say. There's no confirmation yet of man's identity and cause of death. The homicide unit has since taken over the investigation. Police are appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or anyone with home surveillance video to contact them.
NEW YORK — Author and editor Nadja Spiegelman is heading a new literary magazine that will highlight writing from around the world. Astra Quarterly will likely release its first issue later this year. “It feels like the ideal moment for a publication whose primary focus is on international literature. There is a growing awareness that America is not the centre of the world, that reading widely is vital to all of us,” Spiegelman told The Associated Press. “Technology has led to the rise of a multilingual, multicultural class of readers and writers, all of whom are in conversation with one another. Astra Quarterly hopes to be read in Mexico City or Lagos as much as in New York or Paris.” Spiegelman most recently served as online editor of The Paris Review. She has also written the memoir “I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This,” and such illustrated works as “Lost in NYC” and the upcoming “Blancaflor.” Astra Quarterly will be released through Astra Publishing House, which announced the new, English-language publication Thursday. The Associated Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — Linda Thomas-Greenfield presented her credentials as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, officially taking on one of the most challenging jobs for the Biden administration of helping to restore the United States as a top multilateral player on the global stage after former President Donald Trump’s unilateral “America First” policy. The longtime American career diplomat thanked Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, who swore her in on Wednesday, for choosing her for the “distinguished position.” “That was made all the more wonderful because I knew you were here,” she told Guterres who served as the U.N.’s refugee chief before his election to the U.N. post. “I worked with you in the past on refugee issues so I’m looking forward very anxiously to getting to work and working on many of the key issues that we know are before the United Nations and we know that people around the globe are looking to us for.” Guterres warmly welcomed Thomas-Greenfield, calling her a “distinguished global citizen" with great compassion for refugees. Thomas-Greenfield and Guterres then moved to his private office on the 38th floor of U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River for private talks. She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on Friday. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday that “the red carpet” will be rolled out for Thomas-Greenfield and Moscow is ready to work with President Joe Biden’s administration -- but “it takes two to tango.” “We are looking forward to interactions with her,” he told a group of reporters Wednesday. “You can count on our most favourable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member of our Security Council family.” Noting Thomas-Greenfield's decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said “it's always easier to interact with professionals." But he said America’s view that Russia is “an enemy” and a “threat” hasn’t changed under Biden, so “it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new administration.” Nonetheless, Polyansky said, “there are a lot of things Russia and the United States can do together” and “we will judge the new administration by what it does.” “We’re in favour of co-operation,” he said. But “it takes two to tango, and really we’re ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows all the moves and who respects us” as a country with certain positions, “doesn’t view us as a threat” and sees “our obvious national interests in many issues.” Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post. Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump’s “America First” unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe Biden’s return to multilateralism. At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its human rights abuses a mistake. The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N. Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not only with allies “but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into strict compliance” with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question. Polyansky said Russia welcomes the “positive developments” on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement, adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions “first and foremost in the area of strategic stability.” Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging internationally and promoting American values -- “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as “a top priority.” “She should abandon the Trump administration’s selective approach to human rights – enthusiastically condemning its enemies’ abuses while ignoring rights violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But there’s room for continuity on China and Syria," Charbonneau said. “She should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against Beijing’s human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
La campagne de sociofinancement pour les rénovations du Bar à Pitons bat son plein. En moins d’un mois, plus de 8000 $ ont été amassés, sur un objectif de 30 000 $, afin de permettre l’agrandissement de ce lieu culturel et d’ainsi assurer sa survie. Avec ces rénovations, l’établissement pourra revoir sa capacité d’accueil à la hausse et bonifier son offre d’activités. C’est la Coopérative de Solidarité V.E.R.T.E qui est responsable du bar et qui a mis en place la campagne de sociofinancement appelée Pour l’amour du Bar à Pitons. Selon Christine Rivest-Hénault, coordonnatrice générale de la coopérative, le Bar à Pitons est devenu, au fil des années, un endroit unique pour la scène émergente artistique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. « La signature du Bar à Pitons, c’est que tout le monde peut être une vedette. Ils peuvent tous venir chanter ou lire leurs textes. On accueille aussi beaucoup de groupes émergents. On a une offre qui, je pense, est importante pour la région culturellement », explique-t-elle, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Alors que les gestionnaires avaient pris la décision, en février 2020, de concentrer leurs activités sur le Bar à Pitons et de fermer l’auberge, ils ont été frappés de plein fouet par la pandémie. Le bar a dû fermer ses portes tout l’hiver, avant de rouvrir quelques mois à l’été. La terrasse extérieure a permis la tenue de certaines activités. Cet automne, la coopérative a dû faire face à la réalité. Les normes sanitaires ne permettent pas au bar d’ouvrir ses portes à l’hiver. Les gestionnaires devaient donc décider de le laisser fermé tout l’hiver ou d’amorcer des rénovations qui permettraient au lieu d’être adapté aux règles sanitaires. « Ça faisait déjà deux ans que nous pensions à ces rénovations et, comme tout le monde, nous ne savons pas combien de temps nous serons dans cette pandémie. Nous nous sommes donc lancés. Nous savons qu’il y a plein de gens qui nous aiment, qui tiennent au Bar à Pitons. Nous avons décidé de prendre le pari que tous ces gens-là, qui voient que notre mission est importante, allaient nous aider », se réjouit-elle. Déjà, les rénovations sont amorcées. La coordonnatrice est fière du montant amassé jusqu’à maintenant et reconnaît que son objectif est ambitieux. L’important pour elle est d’amasser le plus de sous possible, pour que la relance de l’établissement soit le plus facile possible, à la réouverture. Jadis un lieu touristique Le Bar à Pitons a bien changé avec les années. Lorsque la coopérative a acheté la Maison Price, où se trouve le Bar à Pitons, le but était de transformer cette maison en auberge. Au sous-sol, une salle de réunion avait été aménagée, surtout pour les visiteurs. « C’est comme ça qu’est né le Bar à Pitons, une toute petite salle principalement pour les utilisateurs de l’auberge. Rapidement, les gens qui habitent autour se sont approprié le lieu », souligne la coordonnatrice générale. C’est cet engouement qui a motivé les gestionnaires à faire des rénovations en 2015 et à mettre sur pied le Bar à Pitons. Le bar a eu le droit à un léger agrandissement, mais plusieurs espaces étaient toujours réservés à l’auberge. En 2018, l’auberge a commencé à perdre de la clientèle, tandis que le Bar à Pitons lui, en gagnait. C’est ce qui a amené les gestionnaires à fermer l’auberge, en février 2020, pour de bon et se concentrer sur le lieu culturel. « C’était rendu le Bar à Pitons qui faisait vivre l’entreprise. Notre programmation culturelle était de plus en plus riche, aimée et fréquentée, donc nous avons concentré nos activités là-dessus puisque c’est ce qui fonctionne et ce qui attire les gens », continue Mme Rivest-Hénault. La mission de l’établissement alors touristique a officiellement changé pour devenir plus culturelle. Tous les intéressés à participer à la campagne peuvent se rendre sur le site de la coopérative pour faire un don. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
OTTAWA — A British Columbia businessman who made an illegal contribution to New Democrat MP Peter Julian's 2015 election campaign has been ordered to pay $7,500 to the receiver general of Canada. Elections commissioner Yves Côté says Robert Gibbs, co-owner of Romar Communications, provided free website development services to Julian's campaign. Gibbs told Julian's campaign that the work was done by volunteers, after work hours. However, unbeknownst to the campaign, Côté says three workers were paid $1,000 each for their work, the commercial value of which Côté says was actually $6,000. In its report to Elections Canada, Julian's campaign reported non-monetary contributions worth $2,000 from each of the three workers. Since that exceeded the $1,500 individual donation limit, the campaign paid $1,500 to Gibbs' company on the understanding that it would be given to the three workers, but Gibbs kept the money. The $7,500 Gibbs must now pay the receiver general represents the commercial value of the work done plus the $1,500 from the campaign that was never given to the workers. Côté announced the payment as part of a compliance agreement with Gibbs. Compliance agreements are commonly used by the elections commissioner to deal with relatively minor violations of the Canada Elections Act. They do not constitute a criminal conviction in a court of law and do not create a criminal record for the offender. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Le gouvernement du Québec a annoncé que le port du masque d'intervention pédiatrique sera rendu obligatoire en tout temps pour les élèves de la 1ère à la 6e année qui fréquentent un établissement scolaire situé en zone rouge. À Laval, cette mesure sera mise en place dès le 8 mars, soit au même moment que pour tous les autres élèves de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. La livraison de ces masques vers les centres de services scolaires et les établissements d'enseignement privés est déjà en cours. Cette mesure s'appliquera plutôt à compter du 15 mars pour les autres territoires en zone rouge en raison des délais de livraison. Les élèves devront tout de même porter un couvre-visage en tissu partout dans les établissements scolaires pendant cette période. Rappelons que le port du couvre-visage était déjà obligatoire en tout temps pour les élèves des 5e et 6e années. L'ajustement se fait plutôt auprès des niveaux plus jeunes qui devaient seulement porter le couvre-visage dans les aires communes, lors des déplacements et dans le transport scolaire. Les régions situées en zone orange pourront continuer de procéder de cette façon. L'opération de vaccination de masse a débuté plus tôt jeudi sur le territoire lavallois. Elle se déroule simultanément avec le lancement de la prise de rendez-vous pour obtenir une première dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. Selon Christian Dubé, ministre de la Santé, plus de 70 000 rendez-vous avaient déjà été confirmés dans la province moins de quatre heures après l'ouverture de la plateforme web. En conférence de presse, M. Dubé s'est d'ailleurs dit ouvert à l'idée de créer un «passeport de vaccination» qui pourrait notamment permettre aux personnes vaccinées d'accéder à certains lieux ou événements. «Tous les outils qu'on va pouvoir utiliser comme mesures sanitaires pour moi sont importants, précise-t-il. Pour moi, ça en est un, mais il faut le mettre en place. Il faut être capable de s'assurer des pratiques, mais c'est sûr que nous sommes en train de regarder ça.» Le ministre de la Santé a aussi confirmé que le Québec devrait recevoir 700 000 doses des vaccins de Pfizer-BioNTech et de Moderna d'ici la fin du mois de mars. Avec un bilan de 24 367 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 113 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès augmente à 868 depuis le début de la pandémie. Le CISSS de Laval cumule également 22 718 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 781 cas actifs (+57) confirmés sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 31 sont hospitalisées, dont 10 aux soins intensifs. 15 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Trois résidence privée pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 285 330 cas et 10 361 décès. Au total, 633 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 122 aux soins intensifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
A left turn lane will be installed on southbound Westmount Road at its intersection with Highway 1. The change is expected to improve safety and reduce congestion at Westridge Road by preventing traffic backing up along Westmount Road from the intersection, explained Ethan Wilson, Town of Strathmore’s infrastructure manager. Alberta Transportation has already performed repairs at the intersection, at no costs to the town. These included upgrades, including camera position and signal timing changes, to improve safety. But while these changes have improved the wait times at the intersection, it is still a busy intersection with limited space for vehicles to wait, said Wilson. The cost for the project is estimated to be $30,000, of which $7,000 is for design and about $23,000 for construction. These sums include provisional items that may not be required once the design is completed, said Wilson. Once the design is completed, Alberta Transportation will need to grant approval to the project. The government department has already been consulted and has given some support to the project, but they still need to assess how the project would affect east and westbound traffic on the highway, before giving sign off. “There is a risk of spending some money without getting approval,” said Wilson, adding he is confident the project engineer will be able to provide a solution allowing the project to proceed. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Trois-Rivières - Afin de souligner la semaine de relâche et pour encourager les enfants à être actifs en profitant des sports d’hiver, Cogeco Connexion et NousTV ont remis une cinquantaine de luges à la maison d’entraide pour familles et centre de pédiatrie sociale Coude à Coude du secteur Grand-Mère. «Quelle belle façon d’égayer les journées hivernales des enfants! Avec la situation actuelle, les possibilités d’activités sont restreintes et ces luges offrent une belle occasion à toute la famille d’aller prendre une bonne bouffée d’air et de se changer les idées. Merci à Cogeco de se mobiliser à nos côtés pour le bien-être de nos tout-petits comme de nos jeunes et de faire autant d’heureux», souligne Lysiane Legault, directrice générale de Coude à Coude. «Chez Cogeco et NousTV, nous encourageons l’activité physique et les saines habitudes de vie. Avec cette initiative, nous voulions inviter les familles et les jeunes à bouger tout en s’amusant. À la veille de la relâche, nous espérons que les enfants en profiteront pour jouer dehors et pour aller glisser. Ils pourront ensuite utiliser les luges tout au long de la saison hivernale», explique Jessica Lalonde, gestionnaire de la programmation chez NousTV Mauricie. Mentionnons que ce sont 750 luges que Cogeco Connexion a offertes à des organismes à but non lucratif des quatre coins du Québec avec la complicité de ses 15 stations NousTV. «Depuis plusieurs années, nous nous sommes donné pour mission de nous impliquer auprès de nos communautés. Comme nous l’avons constaté au cours des derniers mois, les enfants subissent aussi les répercussions du confinement. L’activité physique aide grandement à réduire le stress et l’anxiété. Nous souhaitions donc leur offrir un peu de gaieté et une belle dose d’énergie pour la relâche», précise Johanne Hinse, directrice générale Québec et vice-présidente, Programmation et Relations avec les communautés chez Cogeco Connexion. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
(Submitted by Liam and Kim Dolan - image credit) After almost 40 years in Prince Edward Island's restaurant and tourism business, Liam and Kim Dolan may finally get a chance to sit down as they are honoured as the 2021 entrepreneurs of the year by the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce. The award will be given to the Dolans March 24 at a ceremony for the chamber's Excellence Awards, and recognizes the couple's accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit. "Liam and Kim embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship," said Colin Younker, president of the chamber's board, in a written release. "Through their dedication to the family business, promotion of P.E.I.'s culinary offerings and contributions in the community, they set the standard for aspiring entrepreneurs." "We are humbled, grateful and honoured to be recognized in our community as entrepreneurs of the year," Kim Dolan said in the release. "We truly would like to thank the Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce for all the tireless, dedicated work they do on behalf of ours and all businesses." Straight out of Ireland Liam moved from Ireland to P.E.I. in 1978 at age 19. Working as a chef, he dreamed of opening his own restaurant, the release said. He met Kim and in 1983 the couple opened the Claddagh Room on Sydney Street in Charlottetown. Two years later they opened the popular Olde Dublin Pub upstairs, where live bands play traditional Celtic music. Although they sold The Claddagh Oyster House and Olde Dublin Pub in 2018, the Dolan family continues to own and run Peake's Quay Restaurant and Bar. In 1994, the Dolans bought Peake's Quay on the Charlottetown waterfront, which came with the opportunity to operate the nearby Charlottetown Yacht Club. The venues became magnets for the public and further development of the area with seasonal shops and an expanded boardwalk ensued. Now, it's a major tourism destination and growth continues. In 1996, Liam founded the P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival, a successful event which continues to grow and attract more tourists to P.E.I. during the shoulder season contributing millions to the local economy. The pair has also been active in the community, volunteering with events and advancing the food and beverage industry locally and nationally. Liam has been a member of industry boards including the P.E.I. Chefs Association, Restaurants Canada and the American Restaurant Association, and currently chairs Downtown Charlottetown Inc., a non-profit that works with businesses to create and maintain a vibrant downtown. Kim is a well-known Island curler, having volunteered with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and other Canadian championships hosted in Charlottetown. The family contributes to charitable organizations in the community, including Make A Wish Canada. The couple sold the Claddagh Oyster House and the Olde Dublin Pub in 2018, but continue to work at Peake's Quay Restaurant and Bar with their children, Marc and Sinead. Along with Peter MacDonald and Dan MacIsaac, Liam will also be inducted into P.E.I.'s Business Hall of Fame this June. More from CBC P.E.I.
TORONTO — Proposed changes to Ontario's election laws introduced Thursday by the Progressive Conservatives were slammed by the Opposition as an attempt to silence critics amid mounting failures in the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government said the election law reforms were aimed at limiting third-party advertising and boosting voter participation. Attorney General Doug Downey, who introduced the bill, said one of the proposed changes would extend the $637,200 spending limit placed on third-party advertisers from six months before an election to a year. “Ontario is the only place where we count third party in the millions (of dollars) instead of in the thousands,” he said in an interview. “And we've heard from Elections Ontario that they have concerns with that dynamic.” Third parties, such as the conservative group Ontario Proud and union-led Working Families Coalition, have played a significant role in recent provincial elections, launching extensive advertising campaigns in bids to sway the vote. The province said more than $5 million was spent by third-party advertisers before and during the 2018 election. The next provincial vote is set to take place in the spring of 2022. The bill also proposes to limit what the government calls “collusion” between those third parties and political parties. “We just want transparency and fairness,” Downey said. “When we talk with third parties spending their ($637,200), we want to make sure that there's rules around them sharing information, common vendors, common contributors, use of funds from foreign sources.” The amount individuals can donate to a party, candidate or constituency association would also double from $1,650 to $3,300 a year. New Democrat legislator Taras Natyshak slammed the proposed limits on third-party advertisers. “At a time when long-term care advocates, organizations of health leaders, and the families of nursing home residents are speaking up about the horrors in long-term care, it looks like Ford is trying to silence his critics,” he said in a statement. Natyshak said doubling the individual contribution limit will drag the government back to the days of "cash-for-access" fundraising. Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said while he supports some measures in the bill, like continuing the per-vote subsidy, increasing donation limits is a problem. "My biggest concern is that they're slowly opening the door back up to pay-to-play politics," he said. "How many regular Ontarians can afford to contribute that much to a candidate, constituency association and a party?" University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman said the rule changes on individual donations will benefit both the Progressive Conservative government and the Liberal party, but stressed they won’t be the sole factor in deciding the 2022 election. “When the current government came to power, defeating the Liberals wasn't because of money,” he said. “It was because people essentially wanted a change.” Wiseman said the new limits placed on third-party advertisers might be a way the government thinks it’s giving itself a leg up, but the groups will find ways to maximize their message. “This is changing things at the margins,” he said. “Most groups will just try to spend the money as close as they can to election day.” The bill also proposes to extend the number of advance polling days from five to 10. "Ultimately, we want to make it easier and safer for people to vote," Downey said. The legislation will, for the first time, clarify the use of social media accounts by provincial legislators. It will also give Elections Ontario more enforcement powers, and the ability to fine individuals or groups it deems to have violated election rules. Currently, the province's chief electoral officer must report infractions to the Ministry of the Attorney General, which then decides whether to prosecute. Downey said the change would align Ontario with federal practices. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version, based on information provided by the government, said the spending limit placed on third parties six months before an election was $600,000.
The harmless puppy just wanted to play around! How cute is that?