Romchy the ferret and Deborah the Yorkie enjoy an epic new take on the game of tag that involves their owner's slippers. Check it out!
Romchy the ferret and Deborah the Yorkie enjoy an epic new take on the game of tag that involves their owner's slippers. Check it out!
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
The Town of New Tecumseth has hired a new Director of Ad-ministration Services and Clerk. Pamela Fettes will take over the position effective March 22, 2021. She will fill the vacancy created when the former clerk retired at the end of 2020. Ms. Fettes’ previous experience includes the past eight years with Clearview Township as the Director of Legislative Services and Municipal Clerk. “We are excited to welcome Pamela to the Town of New Te-cumseth,” said Mayor Rick Milne. "Her experience, expertise and knowledge of Simcoe County and our growing community will be an asset to the Town. Council and staff are looking forward to her leadership in the important role of Director of Administration Se-vices and Clerk as we continue to move the Town’s administration forward.” Under the Corporate Services division, as the Director of Admin-istration Services and Clerk, Ms. Fettes will lead the Town’s admin-istrative services which includes customer service, the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement area, licenses and permits, the preparation and circulation of Council documents, records management, requests for information under the Mu-nicipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the conduct and administration of municipal elections. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Just when you thought it was safe – the Ontario gov-ernment and the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit has issued another lock-down to the region that became effective on Monday, March 1. Calling it an “emergency brake,” the lockdown was imposed locally as well as in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. The decisions were made “in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions,” according to a state-ment issued by the Province. “While we continue to see the number of cases and other public health indicators lowering in many re-gions across the province, the recent modelling shows us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures to protect Ontarians and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With COVID-19 variants continu-ing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the prog-ress we have made to date.” The statement went on to say “variants of concern continuing to spread, the number of patients requiring hospitalization and intensive care may rise once again if public health measures are not relaxed carefully and gradually. The actions of everyone over the coming weeks will be critical to maintaining the progress communities have made across the province to date.” Local medical officers of health continue to have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and municipalities may enact by-laws to target spe-cific transmission risks in the community. “Quickly implementing stronger measures to inter-rupt transmission of CO-VID-19 is a key component of the government’s plan to safely and gradually return public health regions to the Framework,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Due to data and local context and conditions in the Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay Districts, it was necessary to tighten public health measures in these regions to ensure the health and safety of the region at large and stop the spread of the virus.” To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, ev-eryone is strongly urged to continue staying at home and limit trips outside their household and between other regions for essential reasons only Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Prince Edward Island's two Mi'kmaw chiefs are denouncing a move by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to regulate their "moderate livelihood" fishery, especially a provision that would allow fishing only during existing commercial seasons. "We have waited long enough," said Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard. "We intend to implement our self-regulated fishery based on right." P.E.I.'s spring commercial lobster fishing season usually lasts from the beginning of May to the end of June. The right to a moderate livelihood fishery was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, springing from the Donald Marshall case in Nova Scotia, but the precise details remain dependent upon ongoing negotiations between the federal government and Mi'kmaw bands. On Wednesday, the federal government announced it will not license any Indigenous moderate livelihood fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season. Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, told CBC News on Friday that the group supports Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan's "focus on conservation and sustainability" in the decision and "was glad that she erred on the side of conservation." He added that the board has not had a chance to discuss the ruling and wouldn't be commenting further at the moment. A news release from P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaw chiefs Thursday called the plan "both unlawful and disrespectful." "DFO's continued paternalistic approach to our rights-based fishery goes against the very spirit of reconciliation," Abegweit First Nation Chief Junior Gould said in the release. 'Many of the principles set out in the Minister’s statement are blatantly unconstitutional and in direct conflict with the law,' says Abegweit First Nation Chief Junior Gould.(John Robertson/CBC) Bernard said she was "blindsided" by Jordan's announcement, especially since she had taken part in a roundtable discussion with Jordan Wednesday during which they talked about the moderate livelihood fishery. P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaw people have not yet exercised their right to a moderate livelihood fishery, but Bernard has said they plan to this spring and "it may or may not be within commercial seasons.… We are currently engaging with our community members, analyzing the science and data and all other relevant information and developing our management plans." Bernard said the community doesn't feel it has to wait any longer: "It has been over 20 years since the Marshall decision." Jordan's statement said DFO will work with Mi'kmaw communities to develop moderate livelihood fishing plans that will be licensed by DFO. 'We have been clear that we will be implementing our Treaty Protected Fishery as early as this spring,' says Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News) She acknowledged the plans are a "fundamental shift" in the way DFO has approached this issue. This is not what nation-to-nation decision-making and respect for self-governance looks like — Chief Darlene Bernard In 1999, the Supreme Court's controversial ruling on R. v. Marshall affirmed a 240-year-old treaty right allowing Indigenous peoples to earn a "moderate livelihood" through commercial fishing in Atlantic Canada. After months of criticism from non-Indigenous fishermen, the court issued a clarification on Nov. 17, 1999, which reinforced the federal government's power to regulate the fishery. That regulation is the source of this dispute. Jordan said government is within its rights to regulate the valuable fishery, and the chiefs say it is not. In her statement, Jordan said "seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." Gould disputes this. "To imply that this approach is based on conservation purposes is false ... We haven't seen any data or evidence to support this," he said. Feds taking 'colonial approach,' says Mi'kmaw chief "This is not what nation-to-nation decision-making and respect for self-governance looks like," Bernard said. "It is not just a colonial approach to First Nations relations, it does not respect the rule of law." P.E.I. Senator Brian Francis — the former chief of Abegweit First Nation — issued his own statement late Thursday evening echoing the chiefs's statement. 'The "new path" set forth by Minister Jordan will do little to heal and repair the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples,' says P.E.I. Senator Brian Francis.(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) "[Jordan's] 'new path' is paternalistic and perpetuates the old divide-and-conquer strategy used by predecessors, offering to sign only conditional commercial agreements with individual bands," he said. Francis said it also ignores traditional Mi'kmaw law under which harvests are only done sustainably. He said the department's own evidence shows the scale of this fishery would not have a negative impact on lobster stocks. "Even if conservation was a real issue, it is the privilege-based commercial fishery that should be regulated first," he said. Francis said he worries the government's approach will lead to more for hostility or even violence against Mi'kmaw fishermen. "I am left deeply troubled and concerned that the Mi'kmaq and/or other First Nations will be forced to once again resort to the courts to ensure our rights are honoured. That, to me, is not how we achieve real reconciliation." There were sometimes-violent confrontations on and off the water with local fishermen last fall in Nova Scotia's St. Marys Bay when the Sipekne'katik band launched its own moderate livelihood lobster fishery. Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan says commercial "seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." (CBC) Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack is urging Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject the federal government's position and said his First Nation will continue to operate its fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021. P.E.I. MLAs unanimously passed a motion last November supporting the Mi'kmaw treaty right to a moderate livelihood fishery. Next month, P.E.I. Mi'kmaw rights group L'nuey will launch an education campaign about the treaty-protected fishery, the release said. More from CBC P.E.I.
MONTREAL — A Universite de Montreal education professor has been charged with a sexual offence involving an 11-year-old child. Police in Longueuil, Que., south of Montreal, said Thierry Karsenti, 52, was arrested Feb. 23. He faces a single charge of sexual interference and is due in court on Friday. Karsenti, who is also the Canada Research Chair on information and communication technologies in education, allegedly committed the offence in 2015, according to a release issued by police. Police said Karsenti also goes by the name "Thomas." They said there could be other victims from a period between 2015 and 2017 and want people who may have information to come forward. Karsenti has been suspended indefinitely from his role at the university, according to Universite de Montreal spokeswoman Genevieve O'Mera. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
The Ontario Police College has seen more than 90 positive cases of COVID-19 in a week since an outbreak was reported, the region's medical officer of health said. Last week, the college in Aylmer, Ont., halted all in-person learning for 14 days, in an effort to curb any further spread of COVID-19 at the institution. It also required all of its recruits who test positive to remain at the college to self-isolate. On Thursday, the outbreak had reached a total of 93 active COVID-19 cases. Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health (SWPH), said while the number of cases is not alarming, it is a clear example of just how fast the coronavirus can spread through congregate settings. "This is a clear case of how easy the virus — and this is not even the variant, this is the routine virus — can spread when people live together," Lock told CBC News on Thursday. Lock said there is no concern regarding possible coronavirus variants among the cases at this time, as it would have likely come up in testing within the past week as cases emerged. "If it had been a variant of concern, we would've known by now," Lock said. "We expected the numbers to go up, and they still may go up higher." On Thursday, SWPH reported 83 new cases of COVID-19, with 66 logged in Aylmer. The number was a major spike in cases compared to last week when Aylmer reported no new cases of COVID-19. Lock noted that some cases have not yet appeared on the SWPH dashboard as some recruits may have returned to their own jurisdiction. She also noted that due to an outage on Wednesday, Aylmer's figure might not yet accurately reflect the outbreak. CBC News has reached out to the Office of the Solicitor General for comment on Thursday but has not received a response. Lock said given the number of students attending the college, the region had expected to see a rise in positive cases, which is why they conducted testing as quickly as possible. More than 700 people were tested for COVID-19 over two days when the outbreak was reported on Feb. 22, Lock told CBC News. The police college, which trains more than 400 recruits, has implemented a number of safety measures during the pandemic to curb further spread of the virus. The measures include mandatory screening, on-site testing, personal protective equipment as well as implementing isolation whenever necessary. "We knew that there was a significant risk that despite all the good effort put in into infection prevention," Lock said. "There was a high risk of spread once we got a virus into that organization." All staff and recruits were tested for COVID-19 as of Feb. 25, according to the ministry. Lock said most of those who have tested positive have mild illness, while many are asymptomatic.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Efforts to ban the application of the death penalty to some people with severe mental illnesses ran into resistance Thursday, but the bill mustered just enough votes to be sent to the Kentucky Senate. The measure cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote, leaving it potentially one step away from being sent to the governor. But that final hurdle could be a formidable one in the full Senate after the bill won 75-16 House passage this week. Republicans control both chambers. Afterward, the committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield, said the bill’s prospects appeared to have become “dimmer.” Westerfield, who supports the bill, put its chances of passing the Senate at “50-50,” adding: “I’m not as confident as I once was.” The measure would block use of the death penalty for people who, at the time of the offence, have a documented history of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder or delusional disorder. “This is not, despite all the rhetoric we’ve been hearing, going to do away with the death penalty," said Republican Rep. Chad McCoy, the bill's lead sponsor. "It is a very, very narrow bill.” The bill reflects a long-running goal of mental health advocates in Kentucky. The measure drew opposition from prosecutors at the committee hearing Thursday. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron objected to the bill's reference to a person's documented history of disorders. He said it's too “loose a term” that would cause more legal disputes in cases that already consume considerable time. The bill's critics worry that a decades-old diagnosis could prevent that person from being held accountable for a heinous crime later in life. Disorders listed in the bill are seen frequently in criminal cases, and defence attorneys could try to have the proposal applied to existing death row cases if it becomes law, Cohron said. “The odds of this not being challenged and litigated retroactively is zero,” he said. Kentucky hasn't carried out an execution since 2008 and currently has 26 inmates on death row. McCoy said the bill applies only to future cases where the death penalty might be considered. “I don’t think we could be more clear on the retroactivity,” McCoy told the committee. Defendants with a history of having the disorders listed in the bill would still face severe punishment if the bill becomes law, he said. “This is not a decision of whether somebody’s not going to be tried or not going to be punished,” McCoy said. “They’re still going to get life in prison without parole.” ___ The legislation is House Bill 148. Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska state senator sought an apology Thursday from Gov. Mike Dunleavy for a scathing letter in which he accused her of misrepresenting the state's COVID-19 response and said his administration would no longer participate in hearings she leads. Sen. Lora Reinbold during a news conference called the reaction by Dunleavy, a fellow Republican, “outlandish” and said the Feb. 18 letter was an “attempt to intimidate those who question him and his administration and to silence those with opposing views.” Jeff Turner, a Dunleavy spokesperson, listened to the news conference, held in a Capitol corridor. In an email later, he said Dunleavy “will not be retracting his letter” to Reinbold. Dunleavy has been working from home while recovering from COVID-19. Several bills that are key parts of Dunleavy's legislative agenda, including proposed constitutional amendments and a proposed change to the yearly oil-wealth check residents receive, are in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Reinbold chairs. The committee also has been designated to hold a confirmation hearing for Dunleavy's attorney general nominee, Treg Taylor. Reinbold did not say whether she might seek to compel testimony from the administration. But she said she will not meet with Dunleavy "until he withdraws the letter and issues a formal apology. That is my first step, and that is what I'm hoping for.” Senate President Peter Micciche, who leads a majority Republican caucus, said he hopes Reinbold and Dunleavy resolve the dispute. “We’re all grown-ups here and the public expects us to be professional and get our work done on time,” he said in a statement, adding later: "However this works out between those two individuals, the Senate’s business is going to get done in a legal and timely manner – including hearings on the governor’s appointees.” Micciche has said he expects Senate committees to take a balanced approach. Reinbold, who has held hearings highlighting views of those who question the usefulness of masks and criticize the effects of government emergency orders, said Thursday she has brought a “diversity of thought” to the committee that has gone against the Dunleavy administration's “fear-mongering” COVID-19 message. Reinbold and other lawmakers saw Dunleavy as overstepping in issuing pandemic-related disaster declarations when the Legislature was not in session. But she also has taken aim at health restrictions imposed by local governments and the Legislature, such as mask requirements, and raised concerns with COVID-19 vaccines. She was appointed in November, when Dunleavy used the state's emergency alert network to warn of rising case counts, ask Alaskans to consider celebrating the holidays differently and said he would require masks at state work sites. He also urged groups to meet remotely and encouraged people to use online ordering or curbside pickup. Dunleavy at the time said hospitalizations and sick health care workers were reaching “untenable levels.” In a social media post, Reinbold said Dunleavy “wants us to dramatically change our lives, in other words, basically to help frontline workers, that have supposedly been gearing up to take care of patients all year. Things aren’t adding up.” She said Thursday some of the information she had requested from the administration included data on hospital capacity. The state health department has long posted online data on available hospital beds and hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The department last fall, including around Thanksgiving, was reporting weekly highs in hospitalizations. “The bottom line is, we as Alaskans want to know why the disaster was extended over the Thanksgiving" holiday, she said, adding that seeing the data on hospital capacity that played a role in a disaster declaration around that time was important. “We need to be able to ask the tough questions.” Dunleavy, in his letter, said Reinbold had made “many superfluous inquiries" and that her “baseless, deleterious, and self-serving demands on government resources amounts to an abuse of public services and will no longer be endured.” The state's last disaster declaration expired in mid-February. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74 and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus can begin booking March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of AstraZeneca will available starting March 10. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said while AstraZeneca is just as effective as the others, due to incomplete data it recommends it not be given to those over 64. Shandro says for that reason, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to adults 50 to 64 who don’t have a severe chronic illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Alberta Parks have issued a joint avalanche warning for a large portion of Alberta’s mountain parks. As Jackie Wilson reports, recent warm weather has created the dangerous conditions.
HONOLULU — The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled a tsunami watch Thursday for Hawaii that was issued after a huge earthquake occurred in a remote area between New Zealand and Tonga. The agency previously cancelled a tsunami warning it had issued for American Samoa. The magnitude 8.1 quake struck the Kermadec Islands region. It forced thousands of people to evacuate in New Zealand but did not appear to pose a widespread threat to lives or major infrastructure. In American Samoa, officials rang village church bells and police in marked vehicles and fire trucks used loudspeakers to spread word of the threat because the territory's regular outdoor warning system has been out of commission since last year. Repairs have been on hold because flights to American Samoa were suspended amid the pandemic and technicians have been unable to make the trip. Residents weren't taking any chances after a tsunami in 2009 killed 34 people in American Samoa and caused major damage. The Kermadec Islands quake was the largest in a series of tremors that hit the region over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3. The Associated Press
A Calgary man has been found guilty of murdering two men, both of whom he shot "at point blank range" as they sat, unsuspecting, in the front seats of an SUV, a Calgary judge has ruled. Christopher Naidu was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the April 2018 deaths of fellow drug dealers Joshua Brendan Bamfo, 25, and Mahad Abdiraham Ainanshe, 23. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Jim Eamon found Naidu planned the killing of the two victims and "shot them at point blank range to their heads and neck area." "There's no reasonable possibility that Mr. Naidu happened to have his loaded gun at a meet-up with his business partners and used it on impulse," said Eamon in delivering his decision. After Eamon convicted Naidu, the killer sat in the prisoner's box shaking his head. During the trial, the judge heard that the three men sold drugs together, sharing a cellphone containing a client list of about 100 names and numbers. Naidu was supposed to have the phone every Friday and Saturday but one of the victims had recently kept the phone on the killer's assigned days. The Crown said in its opening statement that Bamfo and Ainanshe "were killed for the list," said prosecutor Todd Buziak on Day 1 of the trial last month. Victims 'not expecting a threat of violence' On April 20, 2018, just after 3 p.m., police were called to the northwest neighbourhood of Evanston after neighbours reported hearing gunshots. The two victims were found dead in a Nissan SUV. Bamfo's legs were up, casually resting on the dashboard of the vehicle, suggesting he had no idea what Naidu was planning. "[They were] not expecting a threat of violence, rather it was a meet-up," said Eamon. Following a 14-month investigation, Naidu was arrested and charged. A date for sentencing will be set next week. Naidu faces a life sentence with no chance of parole for between 25 and 50 years. Prosecutors have not yet indicated whether they will seek consecutive parole ineligibility periods.
A family is raising concerns about decisions made at a private living facility dealing with an outbreak of a COVID-19 variant and a mouse infestation. Rose Zennick's 94-year-old father lives at Churchill Manor in southeast Edmonton. She says restrictions were loosened too soon. Her father tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday — the same day he received the vaccine. "With them knowing that the vaccine was coming within a two-week period, they should have waited," Zennick said Thursday at a news conference hosted by the NDP. "I'm so angry and frustrated and disappointed. I'm very concerned for my dad. He's scared right now. He has no symptoms, but his doctor told me to get ready." Emails shared with CBC show residents were informed the facility eased safety measures on Feb. 16, allowing residents to gather in groups of five, though with masks and social distancing. Residents were also allowed to visit with two family members indoors. Four days later, families were informed residents would receive their vaccinations on March 1. On Feb. 26, a resident tested positive for the coronavirus. Since then 32 residents and 4 staff have tested positive with at least 19 of those people infected by a highly contagious variant, the operator Atria said. The patients are being cared for by nurses with Alberta Health Services who are on site. NDP labour critic Christina Gray raised concerns about the mouse infestation at the facility at the news conference. She showed photos taken by a family member of mouse droppings and torn shavings. "We're asking for the government to make sure that the seniors in our community are being cared for, that they are living in hygienic condition [and] getting the support they need during this outbreak," Gray said. Health officials say they have been supporting Churchill Manor since Monday but, as an independent residence, the facility is not contracted to Alberta Health Services. AHS is working with the operator Atria to bring in pest control, the department said.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, avoiding a potential clash with moderates in their own party who were wary of reigniting the “defund the police” debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. Approved 220-212 late Wednesday, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named for the man whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked demonstrations nationwide. It would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability, and was first approved last summer only to stall in the then-Republican controlled Senate. The bill is supported by President Joe Biden. “My city is not an outlier, but rather an example of the inequalities our country has struggled with for centuries,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who represents the Minneapolis area near where Floyd died. Floyd’s family watched the emotional debate from a nearby House office building and said “defunding the police” is not what the legislation is about. “We just want to be treated equal. We just want to deescalate situations,” said Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew. “We want to feel safe when we encounter law enforcement. We’re not asking for anything extra. We’re not asking for anything that we don’t feel is right.” Democrats hustled to pass the bill a second time, hoping to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. But the debate over legislation turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that supporters were intent on slashing police force budgets. Though this bill doesn't do that, moderate Democrats said the charge helped drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country last November. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Teas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. Republicans quickly revived the “defund the police” criticisms before the vote. “Our law enforcement officers need more funding not less,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis. Still, even the House’s more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, ultimately backed the bill. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill’s prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Another possible point of contention is provisions easing standards for prosecution of law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without legal protections, fear of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it. “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity as well as those changing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a statement on behalf of the Floyd family saying the House was “responding to the mandate issued by thousands of Americans who took to the streets last summer to raise their voices for change.” “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of colour and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of colour,” Crump and Romanucci said. “Now we urge the Senate to follow suit.” That may be a taller order. Even though Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. Bass acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But she said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how “the scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, Bass conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50. She said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding, “Hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” ___ Lisa Mascaro contributed. Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
Thursday was the first day Londoners 80 and older living in the community could get the COVID-19 vaccine. The shots — coming nearly one year since Ontario first announced COVID-19 lockdowns — mark a milestone in the battle against the pandemic. Here’s what some Londoners had to say after getting their first dose: “I feel secure,” he said after the jab. “I was most concerned about my wife,” who got her first dose just hours before. While it’s good news, Loubert knows life won’t be back to normal soon. “My biggest thing is following the health rules . . . Until everyone is vaccinated, we’re not safe.” “I’m relieved . . . I’d been trying for two days to get through” to book an appointment, she said. “I’m glad to get the process started. They’re doing a fantastic job.” “We’ve spent three mornings trying to book,” Maureen said, with the couple finally booking last-minute slots Thursday morning. “We’re really, really pleased. We need it.” As for Gary, how he's feeling was summed up in one word: “good.” “I’m glad. I’m so glad. And to get it so early.” “I was lucky. I saw a couple of blanks this morning (in the booking) and jumped in.” As for after the shot, Friesen said he was "feeling OK." But it's still a mystery what life will look like once he's fully vaccinated. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll have to see what they say.” “I’m relieved. It was a long time coming,” she said. She doesn't expect life to change too much, even after she gets the second dose. “I’ll still keep my mask on and follow the rules.” “I’m delighted, relieved, excited,” he said. Henderson is eagerly awaiting the rest of the world to get inoculated so he can return to one of his favourite pastimes: travel. Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Mark Nichols is taking mandatory Curling Canada isolation in stride ahead of the Brier. He's lapping it up, actually. On his second day of quarantine, he walked 5K in his Calgary hotel room. "12 steps from wall to door," he counted. "That's a lot of laps." It took the Olympian an hour, pacing past his bed, through the room's seating area, and back —something to keep moving while Team Gushue looks to win its fourth Brier in five years. "It's tough at times," Nichols said when asked how isolation will affect his mental game, adding he feels ready. "We've been preparing for this for a long time, whether it's visualization or meditation or anything like that," he said. "This team has done a lot to kind of get to this place. We're ready for it." 'We're ready for it' The Brier takes place from March 5 to March 14, but Team Gushue — the defending champions, playing as Team Canada — plans to bunker down for the curling season. There's mixed doubles, two grand slam events, and the world championships for whoever wins the Brier. Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue, left to right, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker hold the Brier Tankard trophy after defeating Team Alberta in the 2020 Brier curling final.(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) "It could be 55 days in this hotel and out on Day 56 if everything goes as planned." Nichols said, adding that with the required safety protocols, if the team were to win worlds, it wouldn't make sense to leave the hotel between tournaments. Curling Canada mandates two weeks of relative isolation for curlers and coaches in their home province before flying out to an event. For the last three days, people aren't allowed to leave their homes or have contact with their families. Teams have to test negative for COVID-19 four times: before arriving in the host city, upon arrival, the following day and, again, either two or three days after that. Participants have a check-in every day to disclose any symptoms. They're restricted to their individual hotel rooms and they're not allowed visitors. Teams each have a car. They're only permitted to drive to the rink and back. It's a minute-long drive and stopping anywhere other than the arena isn't allowed. Keeping up the 5K But once they're on the ice, Nichols said, the game will feel much the same. They're used to downtime between matches and hanging out in hotel rooms. This season will just be an extreme version of that, with more time spent doing hotel room laps. "If that's the worst thing that happens here, I have to walk 5K back and forth, and we're still winning, then that's a good thing to do," Nichols said. "If it distracts me from what's going on around, then that's a good thing." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A Crown lawyer urged the judge overseeing Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings to "leave the politics to the politicians" Thursday by rejecting the Huawei executive's bid to toss the case over comments by former U.S. President Donald Trump. Robert Frater told B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the defence team's allegations of political interference were based on the "thinnest of evidence" and that there was no indication Trump's words had affected the fairness of the hearing. "Everyone in this courtroom knows that the elephant in the room in this case has always been the geopolitical winds that swirl around it," Frater said. "Yesterday, my friends tried to bring the elephant into this room. With respect we urge you to focus on the facts and the law." Operating under an oppressive 'cloud' Frater was delivering the Crown's response to the defence's bid to stay extradition proceedings against Meng because of alleged abuse of process. Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker about her company's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. In this courtroom sketch, Crown lawyer Robert Frater urges Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes not to toss the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou. Frater said the judge should leave politics to politicians. (Felicity Don) Prosecutors claim that by relying on Meng's reassurances, the bank risked loss and prosecution for breaching the same set of sanctions. This week's proceedings are part of a series of hearings spread over the next two-and-a-half months, culminating in arguments on the U.S. extradition request itself. On Wednesday, defence lawyer Richard Peck accused Trump of using Meng as a bargaining chip and reducing the 49-year-old from a human being to "chattel" in December 2018, when he told a reporter he would "certainly intervene" in the case to get a better trade deal with China. The defence team contends the former U.S. president's words amount to an individual threat to Meng and a general threat to the integrity of the Canadian justice system, as Meng tries to defend herself under an oppressive "cloud." Decision best left to minister of justice Frater said Trump's words were "anodyne" and "vague" and any power he had over the case has ended, along with his term in office. He also said any arguments the defence had to make about allegations of political interference should be made to Canada's minister of justice — if and when a decision to commit Meng for trial in the United States is made. Lawyers for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou claim that former U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to use their client as a bargaining chip in the U.S. trade war with China.(Canadian Press photos) Both the Crown and the defence cited a 2001 decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a judge's decision not to extradite four men to the U.S. because of comments a U.S. prosecutor made to the CBC's Fifth Estate. An assistant U.S. attorney told a reporter one of the accused would "be the boyfriend of a very bad man" if he waited out his extradition hearing and ended up in jail after a trial. In that case, "the requesting state was reaching into the Canadian extradition hearing and threatening someone with harsh punishment if they availed themselves of their legal right to contest extradition," Frater said. "What you have to decide are whether [Trump's] comments either individually or cumulatively amount to a threat." 3-part test for stay Holmes' decision will come down to a three-part test established by Canada's highest court in a 2014 decision that emerged from a trial involving two Quebec men charged with firearms and other offences related to an investigation of drug trafficking involving the Hells Angels. The pair claimed they were victims of police misconduct and that prosecutors tried to force them to forego a trial by threatening additional charges if they didn't plead guilty. Vancouver police officers wait outside the downtown B.C. Supreme Court building where Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings are being held. (Ben Nelms/CBC) A lower court stayed the proceedings, but the Supreme Court of Canada overruled that decision, because societal interest in having a trial outweighed the Crown wrongdoing. The top court said judges ruling on applications like Meng's should determine: if the right to a fair trial or the integrity of the justice system is threatened, if an alternative remedy exists and if the interests of the accused outweigh the interests of society in having the case heard. It's a test Holmes will have to apply several more times in the coming weeks, as Meng's lawyers have scheduled three more hearings for alleged abuses of process. The defence team claims Meng's constitutional rights were violated on the day of her arrest, when CBSA officers interviewed her for three hours without a lawyer, before RCMP told her she was wanted for extradition. They also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of the case against Meng. And they claim the charges themselves reach beyond U.S. jurisdiction. Towards the end of his arguments, Frater said he believed the choice facing Holmes is clear. "Having these charges heard on their merits would be a triumph for the rule of law," he said. "If she goes to trial and whether she's acquitted or convicted — justice is served." The extradition proceedings will continue on March 15.
China will increase its annual research and development spending by more than 7% every year over the next five years, the government wrote on Friday in its work report from the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress. The government will increase expenditure on basic research by 10.6% in 2021, the report added. The ramp-up highlights the country's commitment to advancing in the tech sector, as the country increasingly clashes with the United States and other countries over technology policy.
The federal government will invest $2.75 billion to help get 5,000 zero-emission buses on the road across Canada, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced Thursday. The grant is supposed to cover the upfront costs of buying the buses over the next five years. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has also committed $1.5 billion as part of its three-year, $10-billion growth plan specifically for zero-emission buses and related infrastructure. “This means better public transit, cleaner air, quieter streets and a planet safe for our kids and future generations,” McKenna said. Transportation is Canada’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for a quarter of total emissions, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. The money is coming out of the $14.9 billion in transit support over the next eight years that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last month. It will go towards purchasing city and school buses, however McKenna acknowledged it won’t cover all necessary costs, such as charging stations on transit routes and in existing depots. McKenna says that by 2023, all new federal investments in public transit will support zero-emission bus and rail systems. Besides the environmental benefits, McKenna notes the economic upsides, too, with the investment to shift from diesel to electric being part of the feds' plan to create one million jobs. The Liberals have also pledged permanent transit funding in their post-pandemic recovery strategy, including $3 billion annually starting in five years. Infrastructure Canada's funding has already bought 300 buses, according to McKenna, who hopes to get to 5,000 “as quickly as possible.” Ehren Cory, the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s chief executive, says the government’s investment “complements” the financing agency’s work. “Financing challenges are often the limiter to the development and expansion of fleet transit systems,” Cory said. “That’s why the combination of a grant from the government, a subsidy, combined with a loan against savings together will allow us to get the most done, allow us to make wholesale change quickly and do so at minimal impact to taxpayers.” Cory says the bank will help cities and other fleet owners leverage the long-term savings of not having to buy diesel to pay off his agency’s loans. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who was also at Thursday’s announcement, says he’s keen on working with the feds on transit. He’ll be rolling out an electric bus pilot program later in fall 2021 using four electric buses, which he says will each save 35,000 litres of fuel every year. McKenna says the drop in transit ridership due to the pandemic wasn’t a factor in the decision to help turn cities’ bus fleets green. “We recognize that we’re going to get out of this pandemic, but we’re still going to have a climate crisis,” McKenna said. “So we have to tackle emissions in our transportation sector.” Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer