Our panel of U.S. politics experts break down Wednesday’s inauguration, from the traditions to the speeches and the first actions by President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Our panel of U.S. politics experts break down Wednesday’s inauguration, from the traditions to the speeches and the first actions by President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic 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, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 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. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials 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. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. 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.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Un vent de renouveau souffle sur la radio montagnaise de Nutashkuan : quatre nouveaux membres ont fait leur entrée au sein du conseil d’administration à la suite des élections du 17 février. Marc-Antoine Ishpatao, Élise Wapistan, Léo Grégoire et Pierre-Grégoire Kaltush ont respectivement reçu 144, 104, 101 et 100 votes. Victor Kaltush (115 votes) est le seul membre de l’ancien CA qui a été réélu au sein du comité. Rencontrés peu avant leur première réunion officielle, le 28 février, les élus étaient enthousiastes de partager leur vision de l’avenir de la radio communautaire. Pour le président du CA, Marc-Antoine Ishpatao, cela tient en un verbe : redynamiser. « On est une équipe de jeunes et on est prêts à relever les défis. On a plein de projets en tête, on a hâte de mettre ça en œuvre. » L’ancien conseil d’administration avait acheté de nouveaux équipements pour moderniser le système de communications, ce qui donne une direction plus professionnelle à la radio, signale-t-il. M. Ishpatao espère que le projet de formation en journalisme destinée aux Autochtones de la Société de communication Atikamekw-Montagnais (SOCAM) se réalisera. « On aimerait avoir des journalistes avec nous pour bien aller dans chaque secteur et bien passer l’information dans la communauté. » Aussi, « une fois que le système de communications va être en place, ce qu’il va rester à faire, c’est de trouver une infrastructure pour bien desservir la communauté ». La balance penche-t-elle plutôt du côté de rénovations des locaux ou vers un déménagement de la radio? « On n’a pas statué sur rien encore, mais c’est une décision qu’on devra prendre bientôt », rapporte le président du CA. Entre-temps, le comité misera sur le développement interne de la radio, notamment sur l’augmentation du nombre d’heures de diffusion sur les ondes de CFNQ 89,9 FM. « On aimerait passer de cinq jours à sept jours sur sept », confirme le vice-président du CA, Victor Kaltush. Cette expansion de la diffusion nécessiterait l’embauche d’au moins deux animateurs. « On voudrait donner la chance aux étudiants de la communauté avant tout », exprime Marc-Antoine Ishpatao. L’ajout de cases horaire à la programmation permettrait une meilleure couverture du quotidien à Nutashkuan, avance le CA. « Ça fait plus de possibilité pour les avis du conseil [de bande], des Services sociaux ou pour la prévention, mais aussi pour les annonceurs. » Les nouveaux élus espèrent mettre derrière eux la période plus trouble de la radio. « Il y a eu de la bisbille à l’intérieur des CA et entre les CA et le conseil de bande dans les dernières années. Nous, on n’est pas là pour se chicaner, on est là pour bien transmettre l’information dans la communauté. » En 2018, les conflits entre le conseil d’administration et le conseil de bande avaient mené à l’arrêt de la diffusion de la radio ainsi qu’à un changement abrupt des animateurs et des membres du CA. Le 17 février, chacun des 277 votants tirés au hasard parmi la liste électorale avait l’opportunité de donner leur appui à un maximum de cinq candidats. Un seul vote a été refusé lors du dépouillement. Au total, 14 personnes avaient jeté leur chapeau dans l’arène. Les élus du conseil d’administration de la radio montagnaise de Nutashkuan sont en place pour un mandat de deux ans. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
The first recorded treaty was ratified 3,279 years ago between ancient Egypt and the Hittite empire. Signed in 1258 BC, the treaty ended over two centuries of conflict between the two powers. A copy of the agreement is displayed in the United Nations headquarters in New York City as a reminder of the importance for parties with different backgrounds to come to the table together. To that end, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and the MD of Pincher Creek have carried on a small portion of a tradition thousands of years in the making with the creation of a new intermunicipal collaboration framework. The agreement was finalized back in January, and both councils approved it during their Feb. 9 regular meetings. Creating the ICF, said Mayor Blair Painter, “was a smooth process.” “This document,” added Coun. Dean Ward, “between the recreation and what we’re doing with the airport, shows a good spirit of co-operation between the two municipalities.” Unlike the ICF agreement signed with the Town of Pincher Creek last summer, the MD and Crowsnest Pass ICF contains only two specified financial obligations between the municipalities: a $25,000 commitment from each for developing the regional airport (an amount already agreed upon with the Town of Pincher Creek), and $25,000 from the MD to Crowsnest Pass to contribute to the municipality’s recreation programming and facilities that MD residents often utilize. The ICF is valid for a term of five years, though discussions will occur between the two municipalities as needed. Recognizing Crowsnest Pass has developed a more urban culture while the MD has remained agricultural, the ICF establishes procedures for differences to be embraced. Avenues for better communication between the municipalities are also laid out, creating an ability to provide better service levels to their respective ratepayers. Requirements to communicate on major capital projects that may impact the other municipality are described, along with commitments to co-operate in lobbying higher levels of government for mutually beneficial regional services. Both municipalities have also agreed to provide information regarding funding to organizations within the other respective municipality. Previous agreements concerning emergency services, solid waste management and intermunicipal development plans are acknowledged by the ICF, alongside plans for the airport. Future considerations will be given for supporting recreation and exploring agricultural services such as weed, pest and animal disease control. Formalizing the agreement comes at a time when many residents in both municipalities are at odds over potential coal mine development in the area. The debate leached into MD council discussions regarding the $25,000 recreation contribution, with Division 1 councillor Quentin Stevick voting in opposition due to comments made by Crowsnest Pass councillor Lisa Sygutek on CBC Radio while voicing her support for the mines. Though not backing down from her statements, Coun. Sygutek apologized to her fellow council members. “I just want to apologize to council that my views regarding our coal mine had to be taken to an extreme by one councillor,” she said. “At no time did I expect a decision where something I said personally could affect the community the way that councillor made it.” “I’m glad that the rest of the people on that committee had enough decency to recognize personal opinion versus me as a councillor,” Coun. Sygutek added. While acknowledging the different stances taken by each respective municipality on mining and other issues, Reeve Brian Hammond stressed the ICF is a document that supersedes differences and is mutually beneficial. “Regardless of ongoing difficulty between jurisdictions, for the most part it’s provided a new opportunity to open a channel of communication with our neighbours we probably didn’t have before,” he said. Establishing a formal framework of communication, he continued, provides an opportunity to identify areas of common interest and concern, creating a closer and more open relationship that will help provide solutions to problems. “Going forward it provides an ongoing structure, a procedural format, for how you can open up another dialogue or expand on the dialogue with your neighbours. I think that’s a good thing,” said the reeve. The ICF can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/MD-CNP-ICF. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
P.E.I. is moving out of red phase pandemic restrictions Thursday morning. The red phase was implemented at midnight Monday in response to a weekend outbreak that saw the number of active cases on the Island reach an all-time high. It included closing schools and non-essential businesses. But extensive testing found no evidence of widespread community transmission, so the red phase will end at midnight Wednesday. P.E.I. will return to circuit breaker restrictions, which were first implemented in late November and have had ongoing modifications. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison outlined the new rules during a briefing Wednesday. Schools will reopen and daycares can operate at full capacity. Households can gather, inside or outside, with up to six other people. Those people should remain consistent. Personal gatherings should be as small as possible. Restaurant dining rooms can reopen. No more than 50 people will be allowed in a dining room, tables limited to six people, and they will close at 10 p.m. Movie theatres, concerts and worship services may resume, with no more than 50 people in attendance. Weddings and funerals may also have up to 50 people, but no receptions are permitted. Gyms, fitness centres, museums and libraries may operate at 50 per cent capacity. Retail stores, craft fairs, and markets can operate at 50 per cent capacity. Entrances and exits must be monitored. Rehearsals and individual team practices are allowed within organized gathering limits but games, tournaments and competitions are not allowed. Personal services may operate on appointment basis, provided masks are worn at all times by everyone. Long-term care homes will have three partners in care and six designated visitors for residents. Pending any further announcements, these restrictions will remain in place until 8 a.m., March 14. More from CBC P.E.I.
The Cypriot church has gone into battle against "The Devil", denouncing the country's pick for this year's Eurovision Song Contest as glorifying Satan. Dance number "El Diablo" - Spanish for the Devil - is the island nation's offering to the annual music contest for 2021. Sung by Greek performer Elena Tsagrinou, it has already triggered an online petition for it to be pulled, signed by more than 16,500 people who believe it pays homage to the Devil.
The Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) wants to hear from people who have experienced racism and discrimination. The survey is gathering feedback to understand what racism and racial discrimination look like in Timmins. According to the TEDC, the goal is to "help foster a welcoming and inclusive community." “Cultural diversity plays a key role in economic growth and development,” TEDC’s chair Fred Gibbons said in a statement. “Communities that are open to different cultures and ethnicities benefit from an increased range of skills and experiences, creativity, and innovation.” The TEDC is conducting the survey as part of the Timmins Diversity Awareness Project. It is one of 85 projects across Canada funded through the Anti-Racism Action Program. According to the announcement, the project will include a public awareness campaign and a workplace-focused initiative, aimed to create and promote more inclusive communities and workplaces. Advisory group members include local residents, the City of Timmins, Timmins and District Multicultural Centre, Newcomers Encouraging Self-Empowerment in Timmins, Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services, Reseau du Nord, Université de Hearst, Collège Boreal, Northern College, Timmins Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Indigenous Advisory Committee. The 17-question survey takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. To access the survey, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
THUNDER BAY — Two Thunder Bay youth detention facilities will close permanently by April 30, the Ontario government has announced. Due to a reduction of youth being admitted into custody and detention in Ontario since 2004, several youth justice facilities including the Jack McGuire Centre and JJ Kelso Youth Centre in Thunder Bay have been significantly underused. “A focus on prevention and education programs has contributed to an 81 per cent reduction of youth admitted into custody and detention,” a spokesperson with the ministry of children, community and social services said in an emailed statement. In 2019 and 2020, Jack McGuire Centre, a male youth detention centre in Thunder Bay, had a utilization rate of 29 per cent and JJ Kelso Youth Centre, a female youth facility, had a utilization rate of 12 per cent, the ministry said. “Youth who resided in these facilities are from northern communities were transferred to remaining facilities in the northern region,” the ministry said. The decision to close these facilities comes from recommendations made by the auditor general. These actions will address the significant under-utilization, build a sustainable system that will fully support youth in conflict with the law and will allow the government to reinvest more than $39.9 million annually into programs that support Ontario families and communities," the statement said. The facilities will no longer be operational by April 30. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
ISLAMABAD — A former Pakistani prime minister Wednesday defeated a ruling party candidate in Senate elections in a major setback to the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, election authorities and opposition parties said. Yusuf Raza Gilani defeated the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party's Hafeez Sheikh, an adviser to Khan who was made finance minister in December 2020, an indication he will continue this position after becoming a Senator. He received 169 votes to Sheikh's 164. Gilani's success suggests some ruling party lawmakers revolted and did not vote for Sheikh in the election for a key seat reserved for Islamabad. Votes for Senate, the upper house of Pakistan's Parliament, are cast by members of the National Assembly, or the lower house, and four provincial assemblies. After Gilani's win was announced in the Parliament building, Sheikh— who had served as a finance minister during Gilani's tenure as prime minister in 2010, congratulated Gilani in acknowledgement of his defeat. Results for the Senate’s other seats were still coming in. The result came hours after Khan showed up in Parliament in person to cast his vote for Sheikh. Khan in the past several days had extensively campaigned for Sheikh. The Senate elections have been seen as a test for Khan, who came to power in 2018 parliamentary elections. Khan had hoped to improve his standing in the 100-member Senate, where his party had only 15 seats entering the elections. Until recently, the upper house had 104 seats but four were abolished after the merger of former northwestern tribal regions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In Pakistan, Senate members are elected for six-year terms and as half the senators are due to retire after three years, elections are required to replace 48 Senators who had completed their terms. However, voting on Wednesday was being held only for 37 seats as other candidates had ran unopposed. Members of the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly are elected in nationwide parliamentary elections, which last time took place in 2018, when Khan's party came to power. Both chambers of parliament have legislative powers, and any bill passed by the National Assembly must be approved by the Senate before it becomes a law. In turn, any legislations by the Senate goes to the National Assembly, where Khan has a simple majority. Hours before the announcement of results of the Senate elections, Fawad Chaudhry, minister for science and technology, had predicted an easy win for finance minister Sheikh against opposition's Gilani. After Gilani's victory was announced, almost all of the country's opposition parties hailed it and urged Khan to resign. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who heads the country's Pakistan People's Party, took to Twitter, saying “democracy is the best revenge." Muhammad Zubair, a spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League party, also congratulated Gilani, saying his success was the first key step for the ouster of Khan's government. Pakistan's joint opposition plans to hold a major rally against Khan's government later this month. Munir Ahmed, The Associated Press
Montreal-based non-profit Regeneration Canada is spreading the word about the importance of soil health and “regenerative farming” practices in an evolving world reckoning with climate change. Canadians may think of themselves as removed from the effects of a changing planet, says Regeneration Canada’s co-director, Antonious Petro, but the signs are already here, especially when it comes to increasing incidences of drought conditions. Cover crops, crop biodiversity, not disturbing soil, water management, agroforestry and regenerative grazing all are aspects of regenerative farming, but everything begins with increasing and supporting soil fertility. Focusing on soil and its function empowers farmers to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, says Petro, by keeping carbon in the ground and increasing water retention in land. “We need to have more plants and vegetation and trees and fertile soil to balance carbon cycle and distribution among carbon pools where it’s stored,” he said. Ann-Marie Saunders, a Niagara grape grower, practises regenerative farming, and participated in Regeneration Canada’s online Living Soils Symposium, discussing a recently released online map connecting consumers to regenerative farmers. The family-run Saunders Family Farm and Vineyard began moving toward organic farming practices after Ivy Saunders, Ann-Marie’s late mother, developed Parkinson’s disease, which later claimed her life in 2015. Ivy had handled much of the pesticide-covered fruit grown on the farm since the 1960s. In moving toward a more natural way of farming, the family learned more about nature, plants and soil and how everything interconnects. Dirt, Saunders says, is not just an anchor for plants. “There’s life in the soil.” At the 11-acre Beamsville vineyard, the ground between rows of Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling grapes, is covered with living plants (as opposed to leaving soil bare and exposed) using perennial cover crops native to the area. The vegetation reduces erosion and keeps soil cooler and damper during drought conditions. Much of regenerative farming is about getting out of the way of nature and letting it thrive. Saunders admits there’s a learning curve, and said farmers, whose wallets are hit first when it comes to implementing changes, may be reluctant to adjust, but she says the benefits are seen in the long term. “As a farmer, if your system is working or doing much better along a cycle and really more self-supporting, its less stress for you,” she said, pointing out there’s less time spent worrying about inputs and labour. “You’re not having to take on extra things that the soil may already be working at doing.” Since launching two weeks ago, Regeneration Canada has received a “tremendous amount” of interest in their map, Petro said, which will also serve to connect farmers with other farmers interested in regenerative farming practices in their area. There are presently two Niagara farms on the map: Saunders Family Farm and Vineyard and Southbrook Vineyards. For more information and to access resources on regenerative farming, visit: regenerationcanada.org. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
LONDON — Prince Philip is “slightly improving” and the royal family is keeping its fingers crossed for the hospitalized duke's recovery, his daughter-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, said Wednesday. Philip, 99, has been hospitalized since being admitted Feb. 16 to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London, where he was treated for an infection. On Monday, he was transferred to a specialized cardiac care hospital, St. Bartholomew’s, to undergo further treatment alongside testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. Camilla said during a visit to a coronavirus vaccination centre in London that Philip is “slightly improving,” but he “hurts at moments.” “We keep our fingers crossed,” said the duchess, who is married to Prince Charles, eldest son of Philip and Queen Elizabeth II. The comments were reported by broadcasters covering the visit. Buckingham Palace said Monday that Philip was “comfortable and is responding to treatment but is expected to remain in hospital until at least the end of the week.’” The two-week stay is already Philip’s longest-ever stint in hospital. Philip, who retired from royal duties in 2017, rarely appears in public. During England’s current coronavirus lockdown, Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has been staying at Windsor Castle, west of London, with the queen. Philip married the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and is the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He and the queen have four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. The Associated Press
While applicant and the Township are working to iron out concerns with a proposed townhouse project in King City, the matter is still headed to an LPAT hearing. Councillors, staff and members of the public offered input into Stateview Homes’ plan to build 49 residential cluster townhouses on Keele Street. The applicants are seeking amendments to zoning and King’s Official Plan to allow for the development. A public meeting was initially held in March 2019 and since then, both the applicant and Township staff have held working meetings. This led to two revised applications. The applications have been appealed to LPAT and a hearing is scheduled for this coming June. The outstanding issues include consideration for King’s OP, the proposed density, environmental buffers and traffic concerns. The property is currently zoned established neighbourhood, which doesn’t permit large-scale development. Townhouses are not considered a suitable use in this zoning. Staff said this application is fundamentally opposed to current planning rules and fails to meet many criteria. The applicant wants to redesignate the lands as medium density, but they’re currently deemed low density, limited to 25 units per hectare. The bid is to up that to 40 units per hectare. King plans also require vegetative buffers of 30 meters adjacent to natural heritage features, and this plan has zones that vary from 20 to 46 metres. The application included three-storey townhouses, but the surrounding neighbourhood is largely single, detached homes. An architectural design is still under review. Staff have been working with the applicant to address compatibility, particularly the lots in the eastern and southern boundaries. Also, staff are concerned with some minimum lot areas, as well as front and side yard setbacks. Staff are also concerned with limited amenity space. They favour further revision to include fewer or small units, which would allow for better lot coverage and comply with zoning provisions. Staff noted concerns have been raised over access to the site and traffic generated. Residents have asked that traffic lights be installed. However, the current application does not propose any signals. At this time, staff will report back to the Committee of the While, prior to the LPAT hearing, to outline the status of the applications and any further revisions. Consultant Murray Evans, representing Stateview, said this plan has several credible elements and they’ve made changes to improve setbacks, in hopes to mitigating any impacts on existing residents. He admitted there’s work to be done, mostly of a technical nature. The zoning standards, he contends, are reflective or an urban area. Their objective is to create a pedestrian-friendly street front. The issue of access is important to them, he said, noting they are working with the Township on the signal lights, perhaps at Norman. Bruce Craig, on behalf of Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT), said rows of townhouses will drastically change the streetscape. The combination of the five lots along the edge of the East Humber River Valley provides an excellent setting and opportunity to create an attractive residential subdivision with clusters of new homes that integrate well with the surrounding neighbourhood known as Heritage Park. However, in CCKT’s view there would need to be significant changes to the present concept and site plan. Reducing the number of residential units and including two or three different forms of housing arranged carefully on this large parcel of land would address a number of concerns. Many mature trees could be preserved, impervious surface area reduced, the 30-metre buffer retained and a suitable transition to neighbouring lots achieved. The Established Neighbourhood designation in the new King Ofﬁcial Plan is intended to maintain the character and general fabric of the surrounding residential neighbourhood. The current proposal, with a density of 40 units/ha and blocks of three-storey townhouses does not achieve the goals or intent of the designation, the group points out. Regarding the revised site plan submitted by Stateview Homes in December 2020, CCKT recognizes several improvements, which include screening, retention of trees, wider planting strips, and more. CCKT said the density of proposal “far exceeds what is envisioned in the Established Neighbourhood designation.” The group would like the number of units reduced substantially. Craig pointed out that the blocks of townhouses stretching along Keele Street with small spaces between blocks is “not appealing and does not complement and integrate well in the existing neighbourhood with a more open space character.” They’d like to see the plan include single-detached, semi-detached, duplexes and/or one or two well-designed small blocks of two-storey townhouses carefully placed on the overall property to integrate well with homes in the existing neighbourhood. Also, the building heights of 12.5 metres is “far beyond the heights of the surrounding residential units which are made up of bungalows, and two-storey dwellings. Heights need to be reduced. CCKT recommends a maximum height of 9.0 metres.” CCKT advocates for retaining the full 30-metre buffer, and recommends that residential units and lots be adjusted to be completely outside of the buffer zone. CCKT, to, would like to see signalization at Norman Drive and the roadway entrance into High Crown Estates. Signals with sensors should be installed to allow the traffic to ﬂow well on Keele Street, and to provide for access on to Keele Street from Norman Drive and the High Crown Estates roadway in peak rush hour times. Dennison Drive should not be used for through trafﬁc in and out of this site. CCKT contends that with “signiﬁcant revisions to the current site plan, a creative and attractive subdivision plan can be achieved that is well-received by the neighbouring community.” Resident Jennifer Hobbs, representing King Heritage Park Ratepayers Association, made a comprehensive presentation to council. Her group represents some 220 King City residents. While residents understand growth pressures, this development doesn’t quite fit in with the neighbourhood and needs to be more forward-thinking. “If there is to be departure from the existing character of the neighbourhood, the development needs to provide adequate transition,” she said. The site includes many natural heritage features and is home to many mature trees and wildlife. The fear is many of these trees will be removed to make room for the development. Official Plan mandates, she said, include achieving a high degree of compatibility; minimizing impacts to vegetation, and having no negative impacts on adjacent properties. KHPRA, she stressed, is trying to ensure compatibility. The bid could change the design to soften the impact, and provide wider transition buffers. They suggest reducing the building height, setting buildings back further from the road, and planting larger streets. Increase traffic congestion is a major concern among residents. Hobbs said backups are common on Keele and this project will make matters even worse. It will add pressure to Keele and neighbouring streets, most of which don’t have sidewalks. The proposal, KHPRA contends, has no park space, and no safe pedestrian crossing. The group said they’re willing to work with the applicant and the Township to see a development that meets the needs of the community. There’s a need to find a balance between growth and residents’ safe enjoyment of their properties and the surrounding neighbourhood. “The latest changes to the proposal are an improvement, but still a long way from a plan that KHPRA would find acceptable.” A Martin Street resident said her street has become a shortcut for motorists, and traffic in her area is often at a standstill. She is concerned the new development will add to the mayhem in this family neighbourhood. She said there needs to be a plan for pedestrian safety, as well as adequate traffic calming measures. Mayor Steve Pellegrini said staff, through its traffic management plan, is always looking at speed limits in King’s villages. Another man said the project still has many deficiencies and he’d like to see two sets of traffic lights in the area. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
The history of the western expansion of Canada is a fascinating account of perseverance, courage and conflict. For a long time, the focus of this time period emphasized the experiences of white settlers who immigrated from Great Britain, the United States and central and northern Europe. Recent scholarship and activities like Black History Month, however, are now making an effort to ensure other historical voices are heard — and Pincher Creek is taking steps to celebrate its own unique portion of the history of black pioneers in southern Alberta. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting, Coun. Wayne Elliott presented a motion to rename a street after “Auntie” Annie (though some sources have her first name as Amy) Saunders, a black woman who immigrated to southern Alberta in 1877. “Being it’s Black History Month, it seems kind of fitting that we honour someone to that magnitude that doesn’t seem to ever get any recognition,” Coun. Elliott said. Ms. Saunders was born in the United States and met Mary Macleod, the wife of Lt.-Col. James Macleod, the North West Mounted Police officer the town Fort Macleod is named after. In 1877, Ms. Saunders joined the Macleod family and worked as a nurse for the children on their ranch just east of Pincher Creek. She eventually operated multiple businesses in Fort Macleod (then known as the Town of Macleod) and Pincher Creek, including a restaurant and boarding house, and worked as a laundress. Understanding the historical context makes Auntie Annie’s story all the more noteworthy. Western Canada experienced a great influx of immigrants throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although the Canadian government actively promoted the area as the “Last Best West,” it also sought to exclude and dissuade specific groups of immigrants, including Chinese, Jewish and black people. As a former member of the British colonial empire, the Canadian government operated under the notion that white settlers were superior to other races and better suited to homesteading on the Prairies. Despite the prejudice, about 1,500 black Americans settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan between 1905 and 1912, most leaving Oklahoma to escape rising levels of racial violence. Rising political pressure from white constituents on the Prairies led to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier signing an order in council in the summer of 1911 banning black immigrants from settling in Canada because they were “deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.” Though the order was never enforced, aggressive marketing by Canadian agents in the United States discouraging black Americans from moving to Canada cut down the number of black settlers, as well as unfair practices at the border that made it more expensive for them to travel into Canada. The fact Ms. Saunders was one of the first black pioneers to settle in Alberta, along with making her own success despite the racism and general prejudice of that time, is remarkable. She passed away in 1898 and is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Pincher Creek. Coun. Elliott mentioned Auntie Annie was a figure in his own family’s history. “Going back, I was talking to my mom and she said my grandpa talked about what his dad said about her, and she was a very good cook,” he related. “So that’s going back into the 1880s, 1890s, so there is some history on my side.” To honour the memory of Ms. Saunders, and her role in Pincher Creek’s history, Coun. Elliott proposed renaming a section of Veteran’s Street to Auntie Annie Saunders Way, Avenue, Street or Parkway. The proposed renamed section would span from Scott Avenue to the eastern corner of Pioneer Cemetery. While entirely supportive of naming a street after Ms. Saunders, other members of council expressed concerns with renaming an existing road. “I’m completely in favour of honouring our historical figures, but I’m not in favour of changing street names,” said Coun. Scott Korbett. “New developments is where we should be doing this as we move forward, and I also wouldn’t want to honour someone with a street that’s not open.” A better location, Coun. Lorne Jackson added, would help commemorate Ms. Saunders better than the proposed section. “Annie Saunders was an amazing person, someone of colour back in those days that became an entrepreneur and was very successful and one of the richest people in town after a time,” he said. “I think a new street somewhere in town that’s a viable and well used street, and a sign that people would see and drive by all the time, would honour her in a better way.” After discussion, Coun. Elliott agreed to amend the motion to add Ms. Saunders to the town’s prioritized list of future street names. Auntie Annie is second in line after Warren Winkler, whose name was previously selected in a motion from 2017. Mr. Winkler grew up in Pincher Creek and was selected in 2007 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be the chief justice of Ontario. He was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to the advancement of Canadian labour law. More information on the history of black settlers immigrating to Canada can be read online in The Canadian Encyclopedia at http://bit.ly/CAN_PEDIA. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
U.S. President Joe Biden says there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines available for 260 million people by May and promised every adult in the U.S. who wants a vaccine will get one by then.
Licence to Kill, the 16th James Bond film produced, was initially titled Licence Revoked. Producers decided to change the title after test audiences in the United States thought the title referred to having driving privileges removed. As a result of government-mandated shutdowns, businesses across the province likely felt their own business licences were revoked as many were forced to temporarily close. Crowsnest Pass council considered altering the cost of renewing business licences during its Feb. 23 regular council meeting after a local business owner submitted a letter requesting fees for the 2021 business licence be reconsidered. General, resident business licences cost $125. General non-resident licences are $360. The municipality typically collects about $68,000 each year. With establishments like hair salons, barbershops and restaurants being unable to operate for the full term their 2020 licence permitted, Mayor Blair Painter said adjusting expectations for 2021 was not unreasonable. “There’s already a big enough hardship on them,” he said. While acknowledging some municipalities in the province have outrightly waived licence fees for small businesses, council was unsure how it would best determine if a business actually needed support. “I would have no problem with the approach if a business could show a certain amount of loss,” said Coun. Dean Ward, “but I know several businesses that had their best year ever and collected $60,000 from the federal government, 20 of which they don’t have to pay back. I don’t want to see us get into that kind of situation.” With over 75 per cent of businesses having already purchased their 2021 licences, Coun. Sygutek added, waiving fees for the whole community just wasn’t feasible and probably wouldn’t make much of a difference. “If 125 is going to make or break your business, then you got problems from Day 1,” she said. “Reimbursing 300 business licences would also be a tremendous amount of work.” Rather than forgiving fees, Coun. Sygutek continued, council could simply forego charging interest on late payments until the summer. Chief administrative officer Patrick Thomas suggested a route similar to overdue taxes could also be an option. “If someone requires or needs it for this year, we look at a payment plan [for licence fees] instead,” he said. “We do that with taxes, utilities — when someone gets behind you set up a payment plan so someone else can identify that they’re at least paying towards it and they’re not just ignoring it,” CAO Thomas continued. “If they are just going to ignore it, they’ll fall under the normal processes that we’ll try to pursue to deal with it.” Council accepted the suggestion and approved creating an option for businesses to utilize a payment plan for their 2021 licence fees. The next regular council meeting will be held Tuesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at the MDM Community Centre in Bellevue. Agenda packages are available online at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Angel, also known as Kyal Sin, was killed by a shot to the head on the streets of Mandalay as she fought for a tentative democracy in which she had proudly voted for the first time last year, an election overturned by the Feb. 1 coup. Seen in pictures of her at the protest, the phrase from Angel's T-shirt quickly went viral on social media as users posted it in defiance of security forces who killed at least 18 people around Myanmar over the day. Myat Thu, who was with her at the protests, recalled a brave young woman who kicked open a water pipe so that protesters could wash tear gas from their eyes, and who lobbed a tear gas cannister back towards the police.
HALIFAX — The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian and another RCMP officer during last year's mass shooting will remain on administrative duties until internal inquiries are completed.Nova Scotia's police oversight agency issued a report on Tuesday clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall.The report by the Serious Incident Response Team, or SIRT, concluded the "totality of the evidence'' prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19.According to the report, radio congestion prevented the Mounties from contacting other police and they mistakenly believed the civilian standing near an RCMP car was the killer because he wore a reflective vest like the one the mass shooter was wearing.RCMP spokesman Cpl. Mark Skinner said in an email Wednesday that an internal code of conduct investigation is standard practice in incidents such as this.He also wrote there is an investigation underway by the force's hazardous occurrence investigation team "to find out more about the incident and make recommendations going forward."He says the two members have been on administrative duties and will remain in those paid positions pending the outcome of the RCMP’s investigations.Skinner also noted that the RCMP has provided $39,000 to the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade for damages to the firehall, a fire truck and an electronic sign as a result of the gunfire.He said the RCMP "share the concerns this incident raised," and "the incident remains under investigation by the RCMP with the intent of preventing a similar future occurrence."The fire brigade said Tuesday it was “frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved.”The union representing the RCMP officers defended their actions and the SIRT report's findings."This was an extremely challenging and complex emergency response, particularly given that the suspect was known to be wearing an RCMP uniform and driving a replica RCMP vehicle," Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation, said in an emailed statement."We are pleased that SIRT delivered a thoughtful, fair, timely and transparent decision on this incident. We are fully confident in all our members’ brave and selfless actions on that day."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A man who killed 10 people and injured 16 others by deliberately driving a van down a bustling Toronto sidewalk was found guilty at trial on Wednesday, with a judge finding he carried out the attack to achieve notoriety. Alek Minassian had admitted to planning and carrying out the attack on April 23, 2018 but had argued he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions because he is autistic. The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Justice Anne Molloy, who refused to name Minassian in her decision and referred to him only as John Doe, found him guilty on all 26 counts. "Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed," she said in her judgment, which was delivered via video conference and broadcast on YouTube. The key issue at Minassian's trial, which began last November without a jury, was whether he had the capacity at the time of the attack to make a rational choice. Molloy said Minassian was fully capable of making a rational choice at the time and deliberately chose to commit mass murder. Robert Forsyth, whose 94-year-old aunt Betty Forsyth died after being hit from behind by Minassian, welcomed Molloy's decision. "I'm happy with the decision, although it's hard to use the word happy when you lose a loved one like this," he said. "It was clear he knew what he was doing." The Crown had argued that Minassian is a mass killer who knew right from wrong and happens to have autism. But the defence argued that because of autism, Minassian never developed empathy, and that lack of empathy left him incapable of rational choice. Molloy rejected that argument. "It does not matter that he does not have remorse nor empathize with the victims. Lack of empathy for the suffering of victims — even an incapacity to empathize, for whatever reason — does not constitute a defence under Section 16 of the Criminal Code," she said in her decision. The trial heard that Minassian had fantasized about mass killings for years, starting when he was in high school, where he was bullied for years. Minassian told several psychiatric assessors he wanted to shoot up his high school, but was unable to find a gun. At one point he became fixated on an American mass murderer who hated women. He joined an online community of so-called "incels" — males who are involuntarily celibate. Minassian told a detective hours after the attack that he sought retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn't have sex with him. Later he mentioned different motives to different doctors who analyzed him. He told them he had a strong desire to commit a mass killing, he was lonely, worried he'd fail at his upcoming software development job, a belief he'd never have a relationship with a woman, his infatuation with a mass murderer and, what many point to as his biggest motivator, the quest for notoriety. Three weeks before the attack he booked a rental van for the day after he completed his final college exam, court heard. Around 1:30 p.m. on a bright and warm April day, Minassian sat in the driver's seat at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue at a red light. When the light turned green, he floored it, hopped the curb and began the attack. He drove for about two kilometres on and off the sidewalk as he killed and maimed unsuspecting pedestrians along the way. He was arrested moments later following a failed attempt to commit suicide by cop. 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. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
China wields so much power on the global stage these days that it is less concerned about how foreign media makes the country look than in the past, says Keith Richburg, director of the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre and a former China correspondent for the Washington Post.