In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol after a request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, will tell senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a frantic 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials expected to face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Senators are eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for Jan. 6. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” “We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three different ways,” Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued was “not an acceptable result,” the FBI was looking into what it could have done differently. Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
It’s hard to say what is the more impressive feat — remotely landing a spacecraft on Mars, or a kid from Norfolk County landing a job at NASA. Christopher Heirwegh’s unlikely trajectory took him from a Simcoe Composite School physics class to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where an instrument he helped design is scanning the surface of Mars for signs of ancient life. “It’s been a very exciting past couple of weeks, starting with the anticipation leading up to the landing, followed by the joy of knowing it made it successfully,” said Heirwegh, 39, a few days after watching the Mars rover Perseverance complete its 300 million-mile journey to the Red Planet on Feb. 18. As Perseverance floated down to the surface, Heirwegh was on the edge of his seat at his home in Pasadena, Calif. His wife, Meagan, and their six-year-old daughter, Harper, were by his side, with the rest of Heirwegh’s JPL team sharing in the suspense on a video call. “It hit me right at that moment before landing, around the parachute phase, that things are going to come in fast, and oh boy, if this doesn’t make it, where do we go from here?” Heirwegh said. “There was certainly some tension.” Perseverance’s thrusters soon kicked in to start its powered descent, and a sky crane took over to gently place the rover on Mars. While mission control filled with the cheers of relieved scientists, the Heirweghs tucked into celebratory shawarma and cake. Now that Perseverance is trundling around the Jezero crater, Heirwegh’s work has just begun. The physicist is keeping a close eye on PIXL, a high-tech X-ray machine that has been his sole professional focus since joining NASA in 2016. PIXL — the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry — is one of two instruments mounted on the lander’s robotic arm that will help answer the mission’s central question — has there been life on Mars? About the size of a lunch box, PIXL’s job is to scan Martian rocks for trace elements that could point to the presence of ancient life, while taking what Heirwegh describes as “super close-up pictures of rock and soil textures” that could reveal microbial evidence smaller than a grain of salt. PIXL has an X-ray tube at its heart, similar to what dentists use when photographing teeth. The scanner shoots pinpoint-sized X-ray beams into the rock, a process not unlike how artwork investigators chemically analyze paintings to detect forgeries. “We’re looking at things that tell us what the rock is made of, where the rock might have come from, if it was exposed to water, and also if it might have potentially harboured very primitive forms of life at one time,” Heirwegh explained. PIXL is best at finding evidence of inorganic material — heavier elements like calcium, lead and strontium — while another instrument on the rover, called SHERLOC, looks for “the building blocks of life,” lighter organic molecules like carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Together, they search for “biosignatures” suggestive of fossilized bacteria that may have called a Martian ocean home billions of years ago. “Our two instruments can each produce two-dimensional elemental maps,” Heirwegh said, likening each pinpoint of data collected to the pixels on a television that combine to form a clear picture. “We’re hoping we can eventually overlay the two maps so we can really get a good idea of what the rock is all about.” Reaching for the stars The grandson of tobacco farmers who immigrated to Norfolk County from Belgium, Heirwegh grew up enthralled by the stars in the night sky and the vastness of space. He never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — “mostly just the Rodenberry years,” he clarified — and pored over images of the solar system captured by the Voyager probes. “I found that pretty fascinating, and that kind of led me to what I do now,” he said. Mike and Laurie Heirwegh have followed their son’s career with pride. “Some of the stuff is way above what we understand. Christopher always keeps it as simple as possible for us,” Mike said with a laugh. Mike, a retired pharmacist and business owner, said his “studious” and “reserved” son excelled in a science-heavy course load at Simcoe Composite School. “Whitney, our daughter, said he had this microscope he got at Christmas and would project images up in his room and explain what was on the slides to her and her sister Danielle,” added Laurie, who owns a gift shop in Simcoe. Four years studying undergraduate science at McMaster University in Hamilton led to a master’s in medical physics at Mac, where Heirwegh first tried his hand at X-ray technology. He further studied X-ray fluorescence and radiation science while doing his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in applied physics at the University of Guelph, which involved analyzing data collected by the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers. That piqued NASA’s interest, creating a rare opportunity for a Canadian to join the Jet Propulsion Lab. “There were not too many people who were doing that,” Mike Heirwegh said. “To get a job like he’s doing in NASA, you have to be uniquely different than any American.” The family left their house in Guelph to make a new life in America, with Meagan Heirwegh, herself an accomplished academic, putting her career on hold so her husband could follow his dream. “She was extremely supportive of taking this step,” Heirwegh said. “That’s been a really key part of it, and something that helped me to have the courage to make such a drastic move.” While navigating the immigration process, Heirwegh got to work calibrating PIXL years ahead of its launch on Perseverance. Past Mars rovers have used X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, but PIXL is the first with an X-ray tube, a technological milestone Heirwegh finds “quite rewarding.” In the months ahead, Heirwegh and his fellow scientists will analyze the trove of scientific data Perseverance will transmit across space to the Jet Propulsion Lab, while making sure their high-tech scanner stays properly calibrated. To keep himself calibrated in what can be a high-pressure job, Heirwegh exercises every morning, and he and Meagan solve a Mensa puzzle together over breakfast. “It’s a nice way to jump-start the physical and mental gears,” he said. Heirwegh could not have known what the future held when he decided to leave Canada and boldly go to NASA to reach for the stars. But his parents say their son was destined to work on the Mars project. “I think the term ‘perseverance’ is very much like Christopher,” Mike said. “He persevered to get to where he is.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
A major spending scandal at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has led to some difficult questions of its board of directors, which includes Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine and Area P Director Mel Rothenburger. In a major investigative series, Kamloops This Week (KTW) reporter Jessica Wallace detailed how the regional district’s former chief administrative officer put to use his tax-payer funded credit card. Over a five year period, Sukh Gill spent over $500,000 on the card. This included $174,000 on coffee shops and restaurants, with Gill charging money on the card an average of once every two days. Former staff and outgoing directors were treated to dinners and pricey parting gifts. A number of gift cards were also purchased and working meals at high-end restaurants were numerous. On Monday, March 1, current board chair Ken Gillis announced the TNRD will commission an investigation into the spending scandal, though the timeline and scope have yet to be determined. “On behalf of myself and the entire Board of Directors, I am here to say that we take full ownership and accountability for the lack of financial oversight on this matter,” said a media statement from Gillis. None of the spending was against policy, and the TNRD has stated publicly that the spending was not the reason for Gill’s departure in February of 2020. The regional district has not explained why he left and called his departure a retirement; it has been reported that he received a $500,000-plus severance and payout upon his departure. The spending scandal has drawn widespread condemnation, with Kris Sims, director of the British Columbia Chapter of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, calling it one of the worst examples of government misspending she has seen. “This is one of the worst examples I’ve seen when it comes to expense accounts,” said Sims. Sims said it isn’t just the “big eye-popping” spends, such as an $8,000 spent at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, B.C., but rather the “constant drip” of spending. “Like every other day, more or less, this person was eating and drinking and not paying for it themselves,” said Sims. Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is one of 11 member municipalities of the TNRD. Raine, who is one of 26 directors for the TNRD, has served on the board since 2010, and currently chairs the organization’s auditing committee, a position he held in 2013 and 2015 to 2017. The audit committee’s role is to approve of the hiring of an audit firm, meet with the auditor to review the plan for audits and then receive the end product. Like other TNRD staff and directors, Raine is mentioned in the reported spending. Raine appears on four line items over the five year period related to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference in Halifax, N.S. in 2018. Raine declined comment for the story, instead directing Sun Peaks Independent News to speak with current TNRD board chair Gillis. Gillis said that while some of the spending highlighted in the KTW investigation was lavish, in other cases, it was justified, and that one must also keep in mind that Gill also often paid for required big-ticket items, such as hotel rooms for directors or working lunch meals for directors, on his credit card. “In mea culpa mode, we obviously should have had some means in place to have the CAO’s expenses reviewed, [which] we do have now,” said Gillis. Gillis added the board was not fully aware of the scale of spending that was taking place as CAO spending was not presented in one clear place for directors to see. Asked if some of the meals that he joined Gill and others at raised a red flag, Gillis said that they did, but they never translated into policy. “I thought [that] this is a bit extreme,” said Gillis, “And I mentioned it to Mr. Gill on one occasion, but he didn’t seem to be particularly concerned about it. You think well, I guess that this is the way things are done? “There were red flags raised on certain issues at certain times, but for some reason, [they] didn’t really seem to go anywhere.” In 2018, Gillis attended a dinner at Whistler’s high end Bearfoot Bistro during the Union of Municipalities Convention. The meal cost taxpayers $8,000 and has a flashpoint for outrage around the CAO spending. Gillis said that while wine may have flowed a bit too freely, the evening was a strong networking opportunity that brought together staff with local and provincial politicians. “It was a wonderful networking opportunity,” he said. “It gave us a great chance to become more familiar with the municipal councillors [and the] issues that they were dealing with at any given time.” Gillis added that while board members were discouraged from “badgering the MLA” with specific issues, they were able to make connections and get the ball rolling on important matters. Gillis said the organization has put in a number of measures to curb spending in recent months. This includes changing the TNRD’s hospitality policy to limit drinks to two (beer or wine) at events. The regional district has also created policies where the chair or vice-chair has to sign off on CAO expenses and staff are not allowed to expense alcohol. “We have made a requirement that all Visa receipts submitted must be accompanied and backed up by the invoice,” he said. “So in other words, you can’t just submit the little tab that comes off the machine at a restaurant, you have to have the restaurant bill attached to that.” Mel Rothenberger, director for Area P, which covers Sun Peaks, said that he would like to see the rules go even further. He noted that he pushed for a cash bar this summer when the board voted for the two-drink limit at events. Rothenburger was elected in 2014 and is tied to numerous meals out with Gill, including a $523 meal at the Boathouse Restaurant in downtown Vancouver in 2015. Rothenburger was also part of a 13-member party from the regional district who stayed at the Pan Pacific between three and five nights at $399 a night during a conference. The total cost of the accommodation for the party was $6,094.66. Asked about his presence at the dinners, Rothenburger said that he kept his orders to a reasonable amount. “I’ve always tried to be careful about my spending and my expenses tend to certainly be on the lower half of the list of the totals over the years,” he said. “Two years ago, for example, I made a motion which was successful that the cost for spouses not be paid, that we clarify that spouses are not eligible to be paid when they accompany directors to various events. That was approved that it was actually reinforced last year.” Rothenburger said that he would like the TNRD to take an “open book approach” to CAO and director spending in the future. “I think if we could produce a report with details of that spending, at least quarterly, maybe even monthly, if that’s possible, that would go a great distance towards restoring public confidence and also giving us a means to pay careful attention to that spending,” he said. Moving forward, Sims of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation said things will need to be different. She said that the incident highlights the need for a strong office of the Auditor General for local government, where staff can report misspending. “We don’t have a strong, effective municipal Auditor General,” she said. “And we don’t have a team of watchdogs keeping an eye on these books. Whistleblowers have next to nowhere to call, and when they get a sense that something is going wrong in their workplace, they’re scared for their jobs.” Overall, Sims said she hopes that the event does not turn people off local government. She added local government is among the most personal forms of government and while scandals like this can result in disillusionment, it is important for citizens to demand for change and better safeguards. Since the publication of the KTW report, one board member—-Area E Director Sally Watson—has gone on record saying that the board of directors was complicit in the CAO spending over the years. Sims added it’s important for all board members to speak up on the issue. “They owe it to the people to give an explanation,” she said. “And maybe they do have an explanation. Who knows? Maybe they honestly didn’t know. Maybe they were somehow being kept in the dark. If that’s true, just say so.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
A Sudbury man has been charged with impaired driving after being stopped by West Parry Sound OPP in Archipelago Township on Friday, Feb. 26. Police say that they were patrolling Highway 69 when they saw a possible impaired driver around 1:45 a.m. After stopping the vehicle and speaking with the driver, police confirmed that alcohol had been consumed. Fifty-seven-year-old Eugeniusz Lorenc of Sudbury has been charged with operation while impaired and a blood alcohol concentration of 80 plus, according to police. This is the thirteenth impaired driving charge that West Parry Sound OPP have laid in 2021. Lorenc was issued 90-day driver's license suspension and the vehicle was impounded for seven days. They are scheduled to appear in Parry Sound court on March 18. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
European Union countries presenting plans to speed-up rollout of high-speed telecoms network should comply with rules aimed at protecting competition, the EU Antitrust head said on Tuesday. The comments come as member states gear up to present projects eligible for the EU's 750-billion-euro Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) - a fifth of which will go on plans to boost digital capabilities. "Member States should ensure that the measures will be implemented in accordance with all applicable rules, including State aid and public procurement rules," EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in reply to a question by an EU lawmaker.
OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators say forward Derek Stepan requires shoulder surgery and will miss the remainder of the NHL season. Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a release that Stepan suffered a damaged labrum caused by the dislocation of his left shoulder during the Senators' 5-4 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 23. Dorion said the procedure is expected to take place next week and added Stepan is expected to fully recocver in time for next season. Stepan has a goal and five assists this season, his first with the Senators. Ottawa acquired the 30-year-old Stepan, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, in a Dec. 26 trade with Arizona in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. Ottawa was scheduled to face the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday night. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Some of the Toronto van attack victims and their families are nervously waiting to learn the fate of the man whose deadly rampage three years ago changed their lives forever.On Wednesday morning, live on YouTube, Justice Anne Molloy will deliver her verdict in the case of Alek Minassian, who deliberately drove a rented van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk on April 23, 2018, killing 10 pedestrians and injured 16 others."I've been anxious for months, much more so than I thought I'd be," said Catherine Riddell, 70, who was out for a walk when Minassian's van hit her from behind.Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, but pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., argued at trial that he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions due to autism spectrum disorder. The trial will turn on Minassian's mindset at the time."He's a mass killer who has autism, that's it," said Riddell, who suffered a fractured spine and broken ribs, scapula and pelvis in the attack. She also suffered a minor brain injury and internal bleeding."I'm really nervous," said Robert Forsyth, whose aunt, Betty Forsyth, 94, was killed by Minassian when she was out for a walk on an unusually warm and sunny April day. "He's got to be guilty, right?"Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie Victoria D'Amico, Munir Najjar, Dorothy Marie Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha died in the attack.The seven-week trial that started in November focused on the inner workings of Minassian's mind. The prosecution opened with a painstakingly detailed examination of how all 26 people were killed or hurt.The trial heard that after weeks of planning, Minassian sat in the driver's seat of his rental van at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in the north end of the city around 1:30 p.m.When the light turned green, he floored it, hopped the curb and hit a group of pedestrians, killing two. He drove for about two kilometres on and off the sidewalk as he killed and maimed unsuspecting pedestrians along the way. Minassian only stopped when one of his victims spilled their drink on his windshield and he worried he'd crash. On a side street he hopped out of the van and tried to get killed by police, "suicide by cop" being part of his plan. Minassian tried to fool an approaching police officer by pulling his wallet, pretending it was a gun, but it didn't work."I'm a murdering piece of shit," Minassian told the booking officer shortly thereafter.Several hours later Minassian told a detective he committed the attack as retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn't have sex with him. Later, he told various assessors that the so-called "incel" motive was a ruse, designed to increase his notoriety. He was still a lonely virgin, however, that part was true.He went on to tell different doctors different reasons for his attack. He said he had "extreme anxiety" over a new job he was about to start. He also wanted to "set a world record" for kills in order to be atop an online leaderboard of mass killers.If he accomplished that, then he wouldn't be viewed as a failure, he told a forensic psychiatrist. Minassian also told them he had a strong desire to commit a mass killing and was infatuated with an American mass murderer.The central question at trial was whether Minassian knew what he did was morally wrong. The legal test in this case focuses on whether he had the capacity at the time to make a rational choice.The defence's star witness, American-based forensic psychiatrist Dr. Alexander Westphal, testified that Minassian's autism left him without the ability to develop empathy.Minassian's lawyer, Boris Bytensky, said that lack of empathy left him incapable of rational choice, and, ultimately, to know what he did was morally wrong. The prosecution argued Minassian knew what he did was wrong, in part because he told many of his assessors he knew killing 10 people that day was morally wrong.Minassian had a decade-long fixation on mass school shootings, the Crown pointed out. That fixation morphed into fantasies of committing a mass shooting at his own high school, where he was picked on.But he never followed through, in part, because he did not know how to get a gun. "There's no evidence he ever lost the fact of the wrongness of his actions," said Crown attorney Joe Callaghan.The prosecution's key witness, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Percy Wright, said Minassian had some empathy and knew what he did was wrong, thereby did not qualify for the test that he was not criminally responsible for his actions.Renowned forensic psychiatrist, Dr. John Bradford, who has evaluated some of the country's most notorious killers, said Minassian did not meet the test to be found not criminally responsible.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
ALGIERS, Algeria — Hundreds of students restarted their weekly Tuesday protest marches that were called off last spring because of the coronavirus. The march came eight days after the Hirak pro-democracy movement reappeared in streets around the country to mark its second anniversary and days after the weekly Friday marches restarted. Hirak's peaceful protests helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019. His successor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has promised reform of the system marked by corruption under Bouteflika and with the shadow of the army ever-present. “Civilian state and not a military state,” one group of students cried out, hoisting high a banner reading “We don't go home until the demands of Hirak are met.” Police watched, their vans blocking some streets, as marchers detoured around security forces, moving through winding streets at the bottom of Algiers' famed Casbah toward the imposing central post office, the traditional rallying point for the Hirak. Demonstrators sang and waved flags with no incidents reported. The Associated Press
Another GTA region has begun inoculating seniors 80 years of age and older. Shallima Maharaj has the story.
Les conséquences de l’épidémie et du confinement touchent aussi les animaux. Surenchère de la demande, hausse des cas de vols, arnaques, prix de vente exorbitants, « éleveurs » improvisés, etc. La SPA de l’Estrie dessert un territoire qui compte plus de 225 000 habitants et englobe plusieurs municipalités, dont celles des MRC du Val-Saint-François et des Sources. Rencontre avec Marie-Pier Quirion, 27 ans, agente de communication et porte-parole. Qu’en est-il des vols dans nos régions ? « Comme on en parle davantage, quand son animal manque à l’appel, on pense illico à un vol, explique-t-elle. Mais il peut s’agir d’autre chose, notamment une fugue. Dans tous les cas, c’est préoccupant, et nous vous invitons à redoubler de vigilance. Ne laissez jamais votre chien seul à l’extérieur même attaché. Lorsqu’il va faire ses besoins, mettez votre manteau et sortez avec lui. Un chien peut disparaitre tellement vite ! C’est aussi un règlement municipal : si votre animal est libre sur votre terrain, il doit être sous surveillance constante. Et bien sûr, il doit porter un médaillon. » Craqué pour une boule de poil… Comme on ne serre plus les mains, on n’embrasse plus, la présence d’un animal peut combler bien des besoins. Et l’engouement pour trouver un compagnon est sans précédent. « Au cours des dernières années, de toute façon, on reçoit moins de chiens, poursuit Marie-Pier Quirion. Et depuis la pandémie, la demande explose ! Les prix sont surélevés, les attentes chez les éleveurs sont longues et les refuges sont quasiment vides. Cette pénurie stimule, hélas, l’appât du gain chez plusieurs. Pensez à toutes ces arnaques. Par exemple, on donne un chiot de race, mais il faut payer le billet d’avion. On entre dans un engrenage avec zéro animal en fin de compte. » Après la pandémie, doit-on s’attendre à une vague d’abandons ? « On ne l’exclut pas. Avant qu’un animal parte dans sa nouvelle famille, les préposés font un énorme travail de sensibilisation à propos des coûts, des besoins de l’animal, des investissements de temps et d’énergie. Sachant que l’espérance de vie d’un chien est d’une douzaine d’années et qu’un chat d’intérieur peut atteindre 15 ans, on rappelle que c’est une responsabilité pour la vie ! En ce moment, et avec le télétravail, les gens ont davantage de temps pour s’occuper d’un animal. Après, auront-ils encore cette disponibilité ? C’est un pensez-y-bien. » La SPA offre ses services sur rendez-vous seulement. L’organisme invite les gens à le contacter pour toutes questions. « Parlez-nous avant d’abandonner votre animal. Souvent, nous proposons des pistes et des solutions de rechange pour résoudre aisément moult problèmes », conclut-elle. spaestrie.qc.ca facebook.com/spaestrie Mireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
The federal government says the door is open to help producers affected by the closure of a central Alberta pork plant where an outbreak of COVID-19 has infected hundreds of workers and resulted in three deaths. Olymel temporarily closed its plant in Red Deer more than two weeks ago. The company is moving its own pigs that would normally be slaughtered at the plant to its operations in the United States to free up capacity for independent producers in Canada. It estimates there's a backlog of 80,000 to 90,000 animals that should be cleared within four to five weeks once the plant reopens. Cabinet minister Jim Carr held a virtual news conference from his home in Winnipeg on Tuesday to provide an update on an emergency fund for meat-processing companies and to address the situation at Olymel. "Last spring, when outbreaks caused plants to slow down or close, we moved quickly to help livestock producers manage the growing backlog of animals on their farms," said Carr, who is the government's special representative to the Prairies. "Our government stands ready to help producers affected by the temporary closure of the Olymel plant in Red Deer, Alberta. If needed, federal funding will be there to assist pork producers with extraordinary herd management costs such as additional feed costs." Carr was vague when asked for details on what the assistance would look like. "We'll have to see what the needs are moving forward. The point we wanted to make is that the door is open for assistance if required." The federal government set up a $77.5 million emergency fund in September to help food processors deal with COVID-19 by adapting new safety protocols, including acquiring more protective equipment for workers. Another $10 million has been added since. The fund is also supposed to help upgrade and reopen meat facilities shuttered due to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Carr said the program has provided more than $7.8 million to 24 meat-processing companies across the Prairies, but is no longer taking applications. "We were out of the gate quickly. We adjusted as we learned what elements of programs were working and what elements were working less well," he said. "The same thing is true now as we move forward into the next phase of the pandemic." The meat-packing sector has been hard hit by the health crisis. Cargill temporarily shut down plants in High River, Alta., and Chambly, Que., last year after COVID-19 outbreaks. Olymel shut down its hog slaughter and processing plant in Yamachiche, Que., and the JBS beef plant in Brooks, Alta., temporarily went down to one shift daily from two. Cargill and JBS operations in Alberta account for 70 per cent of Canada's beef production. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
A Vancouver Island man who teaches cross country skiing has seen his Youtube channel grow in popularity as people from around the world turn to the sport as the perfect pandemic activity. Keith Nicol has been posting videos online for the past decade. Over the past year, the number of people who subscribe to his channel has grown from 4,500 to 6,500, and his videos now accumulate between 4,000 and 4,500 views a day. “I would say that it’s really been a COVID-related thing in terms of kind of grasping the uptick,” said Nicol. “I put it down to people having time on their hands, not travelling in the winter, and looking for something to do, so they’ll pick up cross country skiing.” Nicol has a long history of teaching and running instructor courses in Atlantic Canada, where he lived before moving to Courteney six years ago. He holds a Level Four instructor training certificate for cross country skiing and a Level Three for telemark skiing from the Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors. These are the highest such levels that the organization assigns for the respective sports. (In other words, Nicol truly knows what he’s talking about.) Nicol now teaches at Mount Washington. He said that his videos focus on the aspects of the sport that people struggle with, as well as key elements of technique. “I teach up at Mount Washington, so I see people repeatedly having problems doing certain activities or certain skills. So I’ll say, ‘okay, well, maybe I’ll do a video on that,’” he said. Overall, Nicol said that he’s very encouraged by the growth of cross country skiing, which experts estimate has grown by around 50 percent this year. “I think it’s great, since it’s such a great lifetime sport,” said Nicol. Nicol, who cross country skis almost every other day, also views it as the “perfect” COVID activity. “I go up Mount Washington, and I’ll look at all of the people lined up the lift, and I’ll go, ‘Well, I’m glad I’m glad I’m cross country skiing today again,’” he said. For anyone wanting to see Nicol’s cross country ski instructional videos, you can check them out at this link. Nicol also encourages anyone interested to reach out to him directly with video ideas at email@example.com. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Nootka Sound RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the fatal accident of a Western Forest Products contract employee at Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 19 near Gold River on Monday morning. Cpl. Kim Rutherford said that the RCMP responded to a report of a workplace fatality at a wood lot located south of Gold River at 9:40 a.m. on March 1. BC Coroner Service is also investigating the incident, said Rutherford. In an email statement, WFP spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said that harvesting operations were immediately suspended and that they are working with the contractor and authorities as appropriate. “We are saddened to hear of a fatal incident that occurred this morning involving an employee of one of our contractors working in Tree Farm Licence 19 near Gold River, B.C. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues impacted by this tragedy. On behalf of all employees at Western, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the worker’s family,” said Don Demens, President and CEO, WFP. Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror
Pedal power is coming to Mitchell’s Bay after council officially awarded a contract for the construction of a bike lane. On Monday, Chatham-Kent council awarded Armstrong Paving and Materials Group Ltd. with a $291,290.73 contract for the project. North Kent Coun. Jamie McGrail said the Mitchell's Bay Area Association has been working hard to get this project off the ground and completed for months. The association also contributed $25,000 toward the project. “They're excited that hopefully come June or July, we invite everybody to come down to Mitchell's Bay and take advantage of this new trail, because it really does complete an awesome trail system that's already here,” she said. The bike lane will be constructed along Bay Line which is the only roadway leading into the waterfront community. The 1.5 metre-wide paved shoulder will extend west from Winter Line Road to Dover Beach Park and connect to Memorial Park and Trail, the South Lakeshore Trail, and surrounding residential neighbourhoods. The route has been identified as a key connector for The Great Trail – a cross-Canada 24,000-kilometre system of greenways, waterways, and roadways – and the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. “Both of these national and provincially promoted routes are identified on the respective organizations’ mapping as a key connection. This route is also identified in the Chatham-Kent trails master plan through the implementation plan,” reads a report to council. Public consultation also took place with only one opposition expressed toward the project. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
TORONTO — Ontario's health minister says the province won't administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to seniors. Christine Elliott says the province plans to follow the advice of a national panel recommending against using that vaccine on people aged 65 and older. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended the shot not be used for seniors due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations. Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use. She also says the province is waiting for recommendations from the immunization committee on whether Ontario can extend the interval between administering first and second vaccine doses to four months. Elliott says Ontario will share its updated vaccine rollout plan once that advice is received, factoring in expected supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Staff and customers at MacCarthy GM in Terrace raised $700 to support anti-bullying initiatives for Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 24. A board was set up inside the dealership where customers could write anti-bullying messages and donate. In 2007, two Nova Scotia students took action after witnessing a younger student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. The students bought 50 pink T-shirts and encouraged schoolmates to wear them and send a powerful message of solidarity to the bully. According to pinkshirtday.ca, proceeds from shirt sales and donations helped to fund programs that impacted over 59,000 youth, including Kids Help Phone, Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Canada and the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Canadian welterweight Rory (Red King) MacDonald will make his PFL debut April 29 against David (Bulldawg) Michaud. MacDonald, a former UFC title contender and Bellator champion, signed with PFL in December 2019 but had to sit out last year as the promotion cancelled its season. The 31-year-old MacDonald (21-6-1) last fought in October 2019 when the B.C. native, who now calls Montreal home, lost his Bellator 170-pound title to Douglas (The Phenom) Lima. The 32-year-old Michaud (18-6-0) lost to Ray Cooper III last time out in the final of the 2019 PFL welterweight season. He had won seven of eight fights before that. Cooper fights in the PFL co-main event April 29 against France's Jason Ponet. The PFL said the location for the card will be announced next week. PFL 2 will also feature 2019 light-heavyweight champion Emiliano (He-Man) Sordi of Argentina against Chris Camozzi and Jordan (Big Swinging) Johnson, runner-up to Sordi, against Tom (Filthy) Lawlor in another 205-pound matchup. The Professional Fighters League, formerly known as the World Series of Fighting, works on a set schedule unlike other MMA promotions. The 2021 campaign, featuring six weight classes, starts with PFL 1 on April 23, with each fighter having two bouts during the promotion's "regular season.'' The first half of the schedule takes place April 23, 29 and May 6 with the second half set for June 10, 17 and 25. Fighters earn performance-based points, with three points for a win, plus bonus points for knockouts and submissions. They are seeded in standings for their weight class based on their point totals. The top eight in each division advance to the single-elimination playoffs in October, where fighters must fight twice and win twice in the same night to advance to the finals. The 2021 PFL World Championship is slated for New Year's Eve with the winners each earning US$1 million for being crowned PFL champions. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press