At this critical juncture in the history of Governor General, many Canadians believe it's time to re-examine the role and how it is filled. We speak to some of them, including a First Nation chief who says it's time for an Indigenous candidate.
At this critical juncture in the history of Governor General, many Canadians believe it's time to re-examine the role and how it is filled. We speak to some of them, including a First Nation chief who says it's time for an Indigenous candidate.
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.
Facebook says it is lifting its ban on political and social-issue ads put in place after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Political candidates, groups and others will be able to place ads on Facebook and Instagram beginning on Thursday. Restricting political advertisements following the November election was among the host of measures Facebook put in place last year in an attempt to ensure its platform is not used to sow chaos and spread misinformation. Facebook halted U.S. political ads when the polls closed on Nov. 3, an extension of an earlier restriction on new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day. It said at the time that the ban would be temporary but did not give a clear end date. “We’ve heard a lot of feedback about this and learned more about political and electoral ads during this election cycle,” the company said in a blog post Wednesday. “As a result, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.” Twitter has banned political ads permanently. Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that China concocted national security charges to pin on Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig following the arrest of Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver — smacking down a claim by China's ambassador that the cases are not linked. "It is obvious that the two Michaels were arrested on trumped-up national security charges days after we fulfilled our extradition treaty responsibilities toward our ally, the United States," Trudeau told reporters during a news conference today. Kovrig, a former diplomat who was working for an international non-profit group, and Spavor, an entrepreneur who promotes tourism and investment in North Korea, are Canadian citizens who were detained separately by China more than two years ago. They were arrested in December 2018 shortly after Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian officials in Vancouver. Meng was arrested on a U.S. extradition request over allegations that she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The two men stand accused of spying on China. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, and remain detained. (The Canadian Press, The Associated Press) Trudeau's comments came after China's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, tried to put some distance between the two cases during an interview this weekend with CBC News. Cong was pressed to say why — if the cases are not linked — he brought up Meng's confinement to her mansion in Vancouver when asked about the two Canadian prisoners. Cong said there is clear evidence affirming their guilt but "there's nothing connecting" their case with Meng's. "Chinese officials at the time were very clear that they were absolutely connected as a frame," said Trudeau. "Nothing the ambassador can say now will dissuade me from understanding that it is indeed the case." WATCH | Trudeau says China is holding Kovrig and Spavor on 'trumped-up national security charges'
Toronto police say a man who was in a position of authority with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Program has been charged with sexual assault. The force says the man was with the cadet program in Toronto in November 2019 and allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl. They say the 27-year-old man surrendered to police on Feb. 24 and is no longer in his position of authority. Police say the man faces charges that include sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a young person. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 12. Police say there may be other alleged victims. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
SOUTH DUNDAS – Declining program use and the resignation of a staff member has prompted changes to the municipality’s recreation department. Some of the changes had been decided before the resignation of Recreation Program Coordinator Jamie Scott. Scott left his position February 16th. Declining use of the municipal swimming lesson program at the Morrisburg and Iroquois Beaches prompted a review early in 2020. Before the pandemic, the municipality rostered up to nine summer students for that position. This year that number will drop to six, three each for the Morrisburg and Iroquois Beaches. South Dundas Communications Coordinator Kalynn Sawyer Helmer explained that this is based on the programming needs and budget. “Six lifeguards will be able to cover the shifts necessary without affecting the swimming lessons,” she said. In 2020, the municipality consolidated swimming lessons and hired only two lifeguards to operate the lessons due to the pandemic. Recreation programming will take a different look due, in part, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recreation coordinator position was a full-time position, but with Scott’s departure, that role will be a part-time position for the time being. “Due to the resignation of the Programming Coordinator earlier this month, Council and staff met to discuss the future of that role,” Sawyer Helmer said. “It was felt that during the COVID-19 pandemic a part-time position would be sufficient to fill the needs of the Municipality.” The part-time coordinator position will be advertised in the coming months. “Senior management will then be able to monitor the position and re-evaluate the job details if needed as the pandemic eases,” she said. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
TORONTO — The judge who found Alek Minassian guilty of murder and attempted murder in the Toronto van attack has set Canadian precedent by considering autism a "mental disorder" under the Criminal Code.Justice Anne Molloy ruled that autism did not leave the 28-year-old not criminally responsible for killing 10 people and injuring 16 others, but her decision to consider that possibility means the argument could be made in future cases.Molloy noted, however, that the decision does not "say anything at all about any connection between ASD and criminality," and each case must be decided based on the specific circumstances. The only other Canadian case that had argued someone was not criminally responsible due to autism was appealed, and Molloy said the appeal judge did not rule on whether autism left the accused criminally responsible.Molloy ruled that autism is a mental disorder by the Criminal Code's definition because it is a permanent condition with an "internal cause, rooted in the brain" that "has an impact on brain functioning and thought processes." "In its severe manifestations, and particularly where there are comorbidities, ASD might cause a person to lack the capacity to appreciate the nature of an action or to know that it is wrong," she wrote, underlining the word "might" in the decision. "It is not possible to rule out ASD at this threshold stage by holding that it cannot ever qualify as a mental disorder under (the Criminal Code.)" Molloy said that autism can affect a person's ability to empathize with others or understand their emotions, but rejected the defence's argument that Minassian's lack of empathy for his victims left him not criminally responsible. She said Minassian understood that mass murder is morally wrong by society's standards, and that he knew the consequences of his actions, leaving him criminally responsible for the killings. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
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 named finance minister in December 2020, Gilani received 169 votes to Sheikh's 164. Gilani's success suggested some ruling party lawmakers revolted and didn't vote for Sheikh for the key seat reserved for the capital Islamabad. The ruling party quickly rejected opposition party demands that Khan resign. Foreign Minister Shah Mahood Qureshi said in a news conference that Khan will seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly to prove he still enjoys a majority in Parliament. He didn’t say exactly when the vote could take place. 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 finance minister during Gilani's tenure as prime minister in 2010 — congratulated Gilani. Gilani served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012 until he resigned after being disqualified by the Supreme Court in a contempt case. Results for the Senate’s other seats were still coming in and Khan's party was expected to improve its position. Gilani's victory came hours after Khan showed up in Parliament in person to cast his vote for Sheikh. Khan in the past several days had campaigned intensely for Sheikh to ensure he wins the election. 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. 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 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 legislation 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 the 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
The COVID-19 pandemic has elicited strong emotional reactions across the globe, and a St. John’s author and her extended family are using poetry to bottle and preserve those emotions. Though written in verse, Lillian Bouzane said the collection of poems is as much a historical documentation of the early days of the pandemic as it is a book of art. “I imagine that a hundred years down the road, some graduate student is writing about the pandemic of 2019 and 2020 (or however long it lasts,) and comes across this book of poetry, or the manuscript of poetry, which I have every intention of putting in the archives, and what they get is a picture of the beginning of the pandemic, when very few people, including the doctors and scientists, knew what to do about it,” said Bouzane. “So, I see it more as a historical document written in verse.” The poems, written by siblings, children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and spouses, reflect a wide range of emotions, emotions that we’ve all felt at some point during the pandemic: anguish, fear, boredom, uncertainty, contentment, bravado, and joy. One poem paints a picture of planting gardens and snaring rabbits during isolation, while another highlights the heartache of grandparents who are not able to properly visit growing grandchildren. The poems, written by everyday folk who would never style themselves as ‘poets’, portray how folks felt in all the moments, little and big, of unprecedented times. Bouzane, herself the author of In The Times of Wolves, a suite of poems on the Mount Cashel crimes, and the novel In The Hands of the Living God, which was long listed for the International IMPACT Dublin Literary Award in 2000, said that creativity provides an emotional lift, especially during times such as these. “The joy of writing the poems makes you feel good,” said Bouzne. “To write a poem, as one person said, makes you feel as if you’ve had a glass of wine… I heard on the radio that somebody has composed a song to Janice Fitzgerald, the Chief Medical Officer.” Bouzane said she was ‘surprised by joy,’ a line borrowed from poet William Wordsworth that expresses the feeling of being caught off guard by a sudden burst of joy in a dark moment, when her family embraced her suggestion to write and publish the collection. “I was so surprised by all of the members of the family who were writing poems,” said Bouzane. “I thought, ‘Am I going to get 30? Am I going to get 20? Am I going to get any at all?’ And I got 75.’” The collection, the cover of which is a photo of The Rower statue at Quidi Vidi Lake adorning a facemask, is available as an eBook from Amazon at $3.94. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
ATHENS, Greece — Fearful of returning to their homes, thousands of people in central Greece were spending the night outdoors late Wednesday after a powerful earthquake, felt across the region, damaged homes and public buildings. The shallow, magnitude-6.0 quake struck near the central city of Larissa. One man was hurt by falling debris but no serious injuries were reported. Officials reported structural damage, mainly to old houses and buildings that saw walls collapse or crack. One of them was a primary school, stone-built in 1938, in the quake-hit village of Damasi where 63 students were attending classes. “The teachers kept their cool and the pupils stuck to the emergency drill, and everyone got out okay,” headmaster Grigoris Letsios said while on a video call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “The building will be condemned now...We’ll need a new school.” The army set up tents and meal counters at a nearby soccer field as local officials urged people to remain outside their homes until they could be inspected. A series of powerful aftershocks of up to 5.2 magnitude kept many residents on edge. “Have you seen how trees move when the wind blows? That’s how the houses moved,” Damasi resident Vangelis Mouseris said. “I stood still like a statue. I wondered whose house would fall? The neighbour’s house? My house? I’ve never felt something like this before.” The quake struck at 12:16 p.m. (1015 GMT), according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute, and was also felt in neighbouring Albania and North Macedonia, and as far north as Kosovo and Montenegro. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu phoned his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, to convey solidarity and offer assistance if needed, according to officials from the two neighbouring countries — which are longtime regional rivals. The foreign minister of Albania, Olta Xhacka, also called Dendias to express support. In Athens, seismologist Vassilis Karastathis told reporters that the quake originated in a fault line in the area that has historically not produced temblors of much larger magnitude than Wednesday's. He said the post-quake activity appeared normal so far but experts were monitoring the situation. “The earthquake had an estimated depth of just 8 kilometres (5 miles) and that was one of the reasons why it was felt so strongly in the region,” said Karastathis, who is the deputy director of the Athens Geodynamic Institute. The head of Greece's armed forces was in the quake-hit area to assist emergency service, and Fire Service helicopters were used before nightfall to assess building damage around the central Greek towns of Tyrnavos, Elasona, and elsewhere near the epicenter. The fire department said it had received multiple calls Wednesday to deal with medical emergencies, helping patients with various chronic conditions get hospital access, already affected by the pandemic. Greece lies in a highly seismically active region. The vast majority of earthquakes cause no damage or injuries, many occurring under the sea. Last October, an earthquake that struck the eastern Greek Aegean island of Samos and the nearby Turkish coast killed two high school students on Samos and at least 75 people in Turkey. In 1999, an earthquake near Athens killed 143 people. ___ Elena Becatoros and Theodora Tongas in Athens, Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed. ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos and Kantouris at https://twitter.com/CostasKantouris Derek Gatopoulos And Costas Kantouris, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Yankees manager Aaron Boone is taking a leave of absence from the team to get a pacemaker and intends to return to work in a few days. New York said the procedure was likely to be performed later Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida. Boone said in a statement the medical team is “confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life. I look forward to getting back to work in the next several days.” The 47-year-old is entering his fourth season as Yankees manager. The team started the exhibition season Sunday and was scheduled to play its fourth game on Wednesday night against Toronto in Tampa. “As many of you know, I underwent open-heart surgery in 2009, and I wanted everyone to understand where I’m at regarding the procedure that’s taking place today,” Boone said. “Over the last six to eight weeks I’ve had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath. As a result, I underwent a series of tests and examinations in New York prior to the beginning of spring training, including multiple visits with a team of heart specialists. While the heart checkup came back normal, there were indications of a low heart rate which, after further consultations with doctors in Tampa, necessitates a pacemaker." Boone said “my faith is strong, and my spirits are high. I’m in a great frame of mind.” “During my short-term absence, I have complete trust that our coaches, staff and players will continue their training and preparation at the same level as we’ve had and without any interruption," he said. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was expected to address the situation later Wednesday. Boone played in the major leagues from 1997-2009 and was an All-Star for the Yankees in 2003, the year his 11th-inning home run off Boston's Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York. He is a third generation major leaguer, whose grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues and whose nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Ronald Blum, The Associated Press
There was no appetite at the West Nipissing council meeting Tuesday to support Parry Sound’s call for improved dialogue with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. Council had given Dr. Jim Chirico, Medical Officer of Health for the district, near-unanimous support at its last meeting and it didn’t waver despite mounting opposition to lockdowns. “This is not the time to make this a political issue,” Councillor Chris Fisher, who noted that Chirico is taking “a lot of flak” already from various elected officials, groups and individuals. Parry Sound’s resolution asked for a “more proactive approach to community outreach and communication” with both political and health leaders prior to making decisions. There have also been several open letters from West Nipissing residents urging council to take a stand against the decisions Dr. Chirico and the province have been making. Dave Lewington, for example, asked with no luck for the Health Unit to disclose its official order that closed down the snowmobile trails, outdoor rinks and toboggan hills, a move that was above and beyond the provincial framework for restrictions. “Taxpayers deserve accountability,” Lewington, a member of the Northern Ontario Libertarian Caucus stated in correspondence to West Nipissing council dated March 2, which was too late for the meeting’s agenda. “We are counting on you as our elected officials to stand up for the taxpayers in our region.” The Health Unit advised the snowmobile trails, outdoor rinks and hills could be used again last week. Rejean Venne has published several open letters calling on West Nipissing council to get more involved in putting pressure on Dr. Chirico to base his decisions on the data at hand instead of projections and fears of spread. Venne noted in his most recent piece that the North Bay Parry Sound District has fewer active cases per capita than other areas that have seen re-openings. “Although being permitted to enter the “Grey Zone” on March 8th would be better than nothing, I think our council needs to request a full transition to the actual framework as well as requesting to be consulted on any future deviations from this framework,” Venne wrote. Councillor Dan Roveda, West Nipissing’s representative on the Health Unit’s board of directors, said the issue should not even be discussed at this table. “Dr. Chirico has been as open as he can be,” Roveda said. Councillor Denis Senecal said the decisions being made by the Health Unit “follow science this far … Dr. Chirico has steered us straight so far, this is not the time to waver.” Mayor Joanne Savage said she understand that business owners and individuals are anxious to hear what the update this Friday will be on the provincial “stay at home” orders for different areas. “They don’t know how long they can continue to stay in lockdown,” she said, adding that said even West Nipissing’s emergency management team would prefer to have early information on what decisions are being made. Earlier in the meeting, council discussed the limited financial options it could consider to help the municipalities business owners and residents. “There’s not much we can do financially,” Savage said, prior to discussing a motion to consider a motion to grant deferral periods for payment of interim property tax bills. Council agreed to give a 120-day deferral on the interim tax bills that would have required payments at the end of the month. And those who are already in arrears will be able to discuss their individual situations with staff to see what can be done on a case-by-case basis. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today. They involve two people in their 20s in the Fredericton region and both cases are travel-related, as well as a person in their 50s in the Miramichi region which is under investigation. Officials have identified a list of locations in Miramichi where there may have been public exposure, and a mass testing clinic will be held to determine if there has been any further spread in the area. The clinics will be held tomorrow and Friday at the gymnasium of the Dr. Losier Middle School. There are now 37 active cases in the province and three people are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. There have been 28 COVID-19-related deaths in the province since the onset of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Prince Harry's wife Meghan has accused Buckingham Palace of "perpetuating falsehoods" about her and her spouse, saying the royal couple would not be silent in telling their story. Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, made the comments to American talk show host Oprah Winfrey in an interview about why they quit their royal roles that is due to be broadcast on U.S. television on Sunday. An advance excerpt of the interview was released on Wednesday, hours after Buckingham Palace said it was "very concerned" about reports in the Times newspaper that assistants working for Meghan two years ago had been bullied by her.
The U.S. economic recovery continued at a modest pace over the first weeks of this year, with businesses optimistic about the months to come and demand for housing "robust," but the job market showing only slow improvement, the Federal Reserve reported on Wednesday. "Economic activity expanded modestly from January to mid-February for most" of the Fed's 12 regional districts, the U.S. central bank said in its latest "Beige Book" compendium of anecdotes about the economy. The Fed, however, reported that the labor market, which remains about 10 million jobs short of where it was before the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, was not gaining as much traction as had been hoped.
The Paradise Warriors Minor Hockey Association may be formidable foes on the ice, but they’ve been doing plenty of good off the ice. In mid-February, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, who has become a household name during the pandemic, asked residents to consider donating to local food banks and charities, rather than sending her personal gifts. Groups, businesses, residents, and sports leagues across the province, including the Warriors, took Fitzgerald’s request to heart. The Warriors hosted a virtual fundraiser which ran from February 19 to February 28. In just that short amount of time, the association raised $5,540. “As an association, we are extremely proud of our members for being able to help out the community during this latest lockdown,” said Paradise Warriors Minor Hockey President Greg Barton. “It is a testament to how lucky we are to have so many great people involved with our association.” Barton said the virtual food drive helped meet a community need while keeping players, who are currently unable to play due to the pandemic restrictions, active in the association. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
CALGARY — Waterous Energy Fund says it has prevailed in its takeover of private junior oilsands producer Osum Oil Sands Corp. It says a total of 45.7 million Osum shares, about 34 per cent of the outstanding total and more than 50 per cent of the shares the fund didn't already own, were deposited to its offer of $3 per share by the expiry date. The fund says it intends to buy the remaining shares within four months. Osum leaders reversed their strong opposition to the Waterous deal last month after the initial offer of $2.40 per share was increased by 25 per cent. Waterous, a Calgary investment firm established in 2017 and headed by CEO Adam Waterous, said it bought 45 per cent of the outstanding shares last July from Osum's three largest shareholders. It says five of Osum's directors and four executive officers, including CEO Steve Spence, have voluntarily resigned. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says extra vaccine shipments could make it possible to vaccinate all willing Canadian adults before September. The United States has an earlier target at the end of May, but Trudeau cautions against using the U.S., with its worse record of infections and deaths, as a guide for what Canada does.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Besieged by sexual harassment allegations, a sombre New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday, saying he “learned an important lesson” about his own behaviour around women, but he said he intended to remain in office. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a Wednesday press conference. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” Cuomo said he will “fully co-operate” with the state attorney general’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Attorney General Letitia James is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations and produce a report that will be made publicly. Cuomo had avoided public appearances for days as some fellow Democrats call for him to resign. Before Wednesday's press conference, the governor last spoke to reporters during a teleconference call on Feb. 22. His last media briefing on video was Feb. 19. He hadn't spoken publicly since giving New York Attorney General Letitia James a referral to investigate claims that he sexually harassed at least two women in his administration. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he’d been trying to be “playful” and that his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations. And another woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at a September 2019 wedding. Cuomo started Wednesday's press conference focusing on the latest data on the coronavirus pandemic. He highlighted a disproportionately high number of hospitalizations in New York City, news that the state is receiving an initial shipment of 164,000 doses of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that three vaccination sites will temporarily shift to 24/7 operations. __ This story has been updated to correct the day of the press briefing. It was on Wednesday, not Tuesday. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenian authorities on Wednesday deployed snipers in the parliament building as thousands of protesters rallied nearby, and launched a criminal probe against a top opposition leader amid the country's spiraling political crisis. Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the Armenian capital Wednesday to demand the prime minister's resignation, amid a heavy presence of security forces. Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to step down since he signed a November peace deal that ended fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which Azerbaijan routed the Armenian forces. The political tensions escalated last week when the military’s General Staff demanded Pashinyan's resignation, and he responded by firing the chief of the General Staff, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. On Wednesday, about 10,000 opposition demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building at a time when Pashinyan arrived to attend a session. As part of tight security measures, security agents armed with sniper rifles took positions in the building's windows and on its roof and remotely controlled stun grenades were placed in a park outside. Vazgen Manukyan, a veteran politician whom the opposition named as a prospective caretaker prime minister, denounced the security measures as an attempt by Pashinyan to scare his opponents. The country's top investigative agency said Wednesday it has accused the 75-year-old Manukyan, who served as prime minister in 1990-91 when Armenia was still part of the Soviet Union and served as defence minister when it became independent, of making calls for the seizure of power and violent change of the constitutional order. The prime minister's order to dismiss the chief of the General Staff is subject to approval by Armenia’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who has refused to endorse it. Some legal experts argued that the order would take effect automatically following Sarkissian's failure to contest it in the nation's high court, but others pointed to legal caveats that could allow the top military officer to stay on. Manukyan, the opposition leader, warned that if Pashinyan manages to force the military chief out, the army would likely disobey the prime minister. As part of manoeuvring to defuse the political crisis, Pashinyan offered to hold a snap parliamentary vote later this year but rejected the opposition's demand to step down before the vote and let a caretaker successor take the helm. Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to resign since Nov. 10 when a Russia-brokered peace deal ended six weeks of intense fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, still enjoys wide support despite the defeat in the fighting that lasted 44 days and killed more than 6,000. He has argued that the peace deal was the only way to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the peace deal. ____ Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. By Avet Demourian, The Associated Press