Court documents filed in an Ontario court show a dispute between some state-owned companies in Saudi Arabia and a former top Saudi official, now living in exile in Canada. But that official says he's being targeted by the regime itself.
Court documents filed in an Ontario court show a dispute between some state-owned companies in Saudi Arabia and a former top Saudi official, now living in exile in Canada. But that official says he's being targeted by the regime itself.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,125.72, down 194.95 points.) Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Industrials. Up five cents, or 8.33 per cent, to 65 cents on 20.7 million shares. Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 64 cents, or 2.44 per cent, to $26.89 on 17.3 million shares. Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Energy. Up 47 cents, or 4.95 per cent, to $9.96 on 13.8 million shares. Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Up 13 cents, or 0.29 per cent, to $44.59 on 11.8 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down two cents, or 7.14 per cent, to 26 cents on 11.6 million shares. Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE). Energy. Up seven cents, or 5.47 per cent, to $1.35 on 10.9 million shares. Companies in the news: Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ). Up 71 cents or 1.9 per cent to $38.36. The move by U.S. President Joe Biden to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline in January continues to plague Canadian oil companies, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. forced to digest a related $143-million charge on its fourth-quarter results on Thursday. If not for the blemish on its earnings in the last three months of 2020, analysts said the company would have registered a solid beat on expectations driven by strong oilsands mining production and operating cost cuts. The company's production of synthetic crude from its oilsands mining and upgrading operations reached a record of 490,800 barrels per day in December due to high utilization rates and ongoing incremental production growth projects. Last year's operating costs fell by $2.10 to $20.46 per barrel of synthetic crude. Bombardier Inc. — While the business jet market will take "several years" to return to pre-pandemic levels, Bombardier Inc. plans to capitalize on growth of after-sales service to achieve its goal of US$7.5 billion in sales in 2025. In its outlook released Thursday, the Quebec aircraft manufacturer said it expects to turn free-cash-flow positive next year and generate more than US$500 million by 2025. Its operating profit is expected to reach US$1.5 billion while the adjusted operating margin target has been set at 20 per cent. Calfrac Well Services Ltd. (TSX:CFW). Up six cents or 1.5 per cent to $4.04. Calfrac Well Services Ltd. reported a fourth-quarter profit of $125.9 million, boosted by a gain on the settlement of debt. The oilfield services company says the profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31 amounted to $2.19 per diluted share. The result included a $226.3-million gain on the settlement of debt and a $54.2-million deferred income tax expense. Calfrac posted a net loss of $49.4 million or $17.07 per share diluted in the fourth quarter of 2019 when it had fewer shares outstanding. Revenue was $180.7 million, down from $317.1 million a year earlier. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada is on the cusp of authorizing a fourth vaccine for COVID-19, raising the possibility that every Canadian adult will be offered at least one dose before Canada Day. Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said Thursday the review of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine "is going very well." "It's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days," Sharma said at a virtual news conference from Ottawa. Johnson and Johnson, which was authorized in the United States last weekend, would join Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca on Canada's list of approved vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna have been in use since December, with more than 1.5 million Canadians now vaccinated with at least one dose. Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said that with new vaccines being approved and moves by provinces to delay second doses, more Canadians will be vaccinated at a faster rate. All provinces have indicated they will accept a recommendation made Wednesday by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to delay second doses of vaccine by up to four months. The new guidelines say the science shows a first dose is so effective that delaying the second dose so everyone can get a first dose more quickly, is better both for individual protection and to establish herd immunity in Canada. Canada had been expecting enough doses of approved vaccines to vaccinate every adult with two doses by the end of September, based on Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all requiring two doses given 21 or 28 days apart. Canada is in line to get 26 million more doses of Pfizer and Moderna, and at least 3.5 million of AstraZeneca by the end of June. Those deliveries alone would be enough to offer a first dose to every Canadian over 16 years of age by Canada Day. No vaccines are approved for use on children under the age of 16 yet. Another 20 million doses of AstraZeneca and 10 million from Johnson and Johnson are to arrive by September, but it's not yet clear how many will arrive by June. Another 55 million doses expected from Pfizer and Moderna between July and September would more than cover the necessary second doses. The national advisory panel's recommendation to delay doses is the latest adjustment to vaccine guidelines that some fear may make Canadians hesitant to trust the vaccines. "We're very concerned about that," said Sharma. "We want to make sure that people have confidence in the decisions that are being made about vaccines." She said experts are basing vaccine decisions on evidence as it is presented. With more data coming almost daily about the vaccines, including how they're faring as millions of doses are administered around the world, new and changing guidance is not surprising. "The responsible thing to do is to make sure that we get all that information and incorporate that into our decision-making," she said. "So definitely, the messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message, and it never changed. But that's not what science does." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona captain Gerard Piqué is facing another spell on the sidelines after spraining a ligament in his right knee, the club said Thursday. Piqué sustained the injury in the team's 3-0 win over Sevilla in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. The defender scored four minutes into second-half stoppage time to force extra time and help the team advance to the final. He was limping in the final minutes but finished the game at the Camp Nou Stadium. Barcelona said tests conducted on Thursday showed that Piqué has “a sprain in the internal lateral ligament of his right knee.” “He is therefore unavailable and the evolution of the injury will determine when he returns,” the club said. Spanish media said Piqué will miss at least two weeks. Piqué has already missed several games this season because of another right knee injury. Barcelona next week will try to reverse a 4-1 deficit to Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Piqué should be back for the Copa del Rey final, which will be played on April 17. Piqué has played 15 games this season, scoring two goals. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Teamwork prevented the sinking of a ship off Nova Scotia from ending in tragedy this week, despite the malfunction of a Cormorant helicopter tasked with plucking crew members from the vessel. Rescuers saved all 31 crew members from the fishing vessel Atlantic Destiny hours before it went down Wednesday. The ship was in distress and taking on water after a fire broke out on board Tuesday night off the southwest coast of Nova Scotia. Maj. Mark Norris, acting commander of the 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron at CFB Greenwood, said in an interview it was "a very, very difficult night," complicated by high winds and six- to eight-metre swells. "Getting a call any night for a rescue mission, whether it's four people or 31 people, is challenging," he said. "But the size and the amount of folks that we had to ... rescue was quite significant, given that we had very challenging conditions on scene and it was nighttime." Norris said the co-ordination shown that night was impressive.(CBC) Norris said a Cormorant helicopter malfunctioned during the rescue after hoisting six people off the Atlantic Destiny, while two search and rescue technicians were still on the ship with the crew. He said the malfunction led them to stop their rescue operations, secure and make the aircraft safe, get to a safe altitude and get back to shore. The aircraft flew back to the airport in Yarmouth and stayed there while two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters from Cape Cod lifted 21 crew off the vessel, one by one. It took about 12 hours to get everyone to safety. The issue with the Canadian helicopter was a hydraulic malfunction. A second Cormorant was dispatched from Greenwood to try to airlift the last four crew members and the two technicians, but encountered issues with its hoist. The remaining six had to jump in very rough seas off the much higher Atlantic Destiny to the small Zodiac. By then, the Canadian Coast Guard — which Norris described as the "unsung hero in this whole operation" — was on scene with its vessel Cape Roger, which used a fast-rescue craft to get the last six people off the ship. It took about 15 hours for them to get back to shore, said Norris. He said the search and rescue technicians returned to Greenwood early Thursday morning. Norris said the Cormorant that malfunctioned was checked out Wednesday and was flown back to CFB Greenwood on Thursday morning. The Cormorant that malfunctioned arrived in CFB Greenwood on Thursday morning.(Paul Palmeter/CBC) He said they're conducting maintenance work and they expect it to be back on search and rescue duty shortly. Norris credited the successful rescue mission to the teamwork of everyone involved — from both Canadian partners and those south of the border. "No entity has all the resources needed to cover every single task, especially 31 people that need to be taken off a vessel," said Norris. "The amount of co-ordination and the diversity of partners including our international partners, industry partners … it's quite impressive. "The result, the outcome — that we have 31 people on shore that are going home to see their families — is what matters." MORE TOP STORIES
MONTREAL — A novel coronavirus variant could cause cases in the Montreal area to explode by the end of April if residents don't strictly adhere to health orders, according to new modelling by the province's public health institute. The modelling released Thursday by the Institut national de sante publique du Quebec and Universite Laval suggested the B.1.1.7 mutation — first identified in the United Kingdom — is likely to become the predominant strain in the province by the middle of next month. People's behaviour, however, will determine the speed of the variant's rise, the institute said. "The extent of the increase in variant cases would depend on adherence to measures during and after the spring break and superspreader events," read the institute's report. "Vaccination coverage for people over 70 and health workers should not be sufficient to control the rise in cases linked to a new variant by May, since they represent less than 20 per cent of the population." The modelling suggested that a "strong" adherence to public health measures both during and after this week's spring break could allow the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to remain stable until the end of April. A "medium" respect of measures — defined as a 50-to-100 per cent reduction in home visits and increased contacts in workplaces and during sports and leisure activities — could cause cases to rise sharply. Hospitalizations and deaths are expected to follow more slowly because many of the most vulnerable are protected by vaccination, the projections found. The variant is not expected to spread as rapidly outside the greater Montreal area because of the lower level of community transmission. Health Minister Christian Dube described the projections in a Twitter message as "stable, but very concerning," especially in Montreal. "A medium adherence to the measures would have as an impact to bring hospitalizations back to the level we were at in the worst month of January," he wrote. COVID-19-related hospitalizations surpassed 1,500 in January. "That's exactly why we're asking Quebecers not to relax their efforts," he added. Another report released Thursday by the Quebec government health and social services institute found that hospitalizations have stabilized after a sustained drop earlier in 2021. The report by the Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux indicated hospitalizations will likely remain stable for the next three to four weeks. "Beyond this period, the evolution of this trend could be different with an increasing presence of more contagious or more virulent variants," the report said. The report, which was written Feb. 28 but released Thursday, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic in the province is largely concentrated in Montreal and the surrounding regions, where 85 per cent or more of Quebec's new cases and hospitalizations originate. On Wednesday, Premier Francois Legault announced that restrictions would be eased in much of the province but maintained in Montreal and the surrounding areas, including Laval and the South Shore. While Montrealers will continue to be forbidden to leave their homes after 8 p.m., residents of four other regions including Quebec City will be able to eat at restaurants, work out at the gym and stay out until 9:30 p.m. starting Monday. Despite the risk posed by variants, the report on hospitals suggested that the province's health-care institutions remain in relatively good shape for the coming weeks. It noted that about a third of the regular beds and half the intensive care beds in the Montreal region designated for COVID-19 patients are occupied, and that hospital capacity is not expected to be surpassed in the next three weeks. The report found that while the institute's past projections have generally been accurate, they become less precise when predicting more than three weeks ahead. While the number of confirmed variant cases across the province remained stable at 137 on Thursday, the number of presumptive cases rose to 1,353, an increase of 133. The Quebec government reported 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the virus. Hospitalizations have gone up slightly in the province for four of the past five days. On Thursday, they rose by eight, to 626, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by five, to 115. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
SAN DIEGO — More than 260 refugees who were vetted, approved and booked to come to the United States have had their flights cancelled by the State Department over the past two weeks because they do not qualify under restrictions imposed by former President Donald Trump, refugee resettlement agencies say. The restrictions came when Trump capped refugee admissions at a record low of 15,000. President Joe Biden proposed quadrupling refugee admissions and eliminating Trump's restrictions in a plan that was communicated to Congress three weeks ago. Meantime, the State Department, which co-ordinates flights with resettlement agencies, booked the refugees with the anticipation that Biden would have replaced Trump’s orders by now, according to the agencies. But Biden has not issued a presidential determination since his administration notified Congress, which is required by law, and Trump’s orders have remained in place. The action does not require congressional approval and past presidents have issued such presidential determinations that set the cap on refugee admissions shortly after the notification to Congress. As a result, the State Department has cancelled the flights of at least 264 refugees and more cancellations are expected, according to resettlement agencies. Most of the refugees are from Africa and do not qualify for entry under the restrictions that Trump implemented that allocated most of the spots for people fleeing religious persecution, Iraqis who have assisted U.S. forces there, and people from Central America’s Northern Triangle, the resettlement agencies say. Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, a Maryland-based Jewish non-profit that is one of nine agencies that resettles refugees in the U.S., said all flights for refugees who don't qualify under Trump's restrictions have been cancelled through March 19. “Real lives are being impacted," Hetfield said. “To say I am very disappointed that the Biden administration would treat refugees this way would be an understatement." Many of the refugees had sold their belongings and left places they were renting and now are scrambling to find another place to stay until they get word they can come to the United States. Melaku Gebretsadik, 54, an Eritrean refugee who lives in Greeley, Colorado, was on his way to the Denver airport Tuesday with flowers and gifts to greet his wife and three children when he was told their flights were cancelled. He has been waiting to be reunited with them for a decade. “My heart was broken," Gebretsadik said through an interpreter. His family was told they should be re-booked on a flight in a couple of weeks but Gebretsadik is not going to get his hopes up. “I don't know what to believe," he said. The Biden administration gave no explanation about the delay or cancellation of flights when asked about the situation Thursday. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Secretary of State Antony Blinken “believes that it is very much in our DNA to be a country that welcomes those fleeing persecution, welcomes those fleeing violence the world over. It is precisely why discriminatory travel bans were done away with." But he said he had no updates at this time on “our efforts to undo some of the damage to the program.” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which also resettles refugees, said many are in precarious situations. “After four years of draconian Trump administration policies, it’s critical that the Biden administration expeditiously issue its presidential determination to ensure these new Americans can safely enter their new home country," she said. ___ Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be given to first responders and essential workers, but it still needs to be determined which industries will be included. Dr. Bonnie Henry says the first shipments of the recently approved vaccine are expected in the province next week and the B.C. Immunization Committee is developing a detailed plan of who should be immunized and when. She says she expects the plan will be finalized around March 18, and in the meantime, the initial supply will be used to address ongoing outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing case numbers in some communities. Henry also apologized to long-term care residents and health-care workers whose second dose of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was suddenly postponed this week after B.C. decided to extend the gap between first and second shots to four months. She says the decision was not taken lightly, but it did need to be made quite rapidly because the province was approaching a time when tens of thousands of second doses were scheduled to be given. Henry reported 564 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the virus to 1,376, and she also says two of those who died had variants of concern. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
PARMA, Italy — Alexis Sánchez scored twice to help Inter Milan win 2-1 at relegation-threatened Parma on Thursday to open up a six-point gap at the top of Serie A. Romelu Lukaku had a hand in both Inter goals in the second half before Hernani pulled one back for Parma. Inter moved six points above second-place AC Milan, which was held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese on Wednesday. Nine-time defending champion Juventus is third but has played a match less. Parma remained second from bottom, six points from safety. Inter had won six of its past seven league matches heading into the game at Parma, scoring 17 goals and conceding just one. It was Parma which had the better of the earlier chances, but Inter broke the deadlock nine minutes into the second half. Lukaku chested down a pass on the edge of the area and tried to turn but the ball ended up ricocheting into the path of Sánchez. Sassuolo defender Riccardo Gagliolo tried to clear his shot off the line but it had already gone over. Lukaku did even better eight minutes later as he powered through from his own half and then rolled a great ball across for Sánchez to drive into the bottom right corner. Parma briefly threatened a comeback when Hernani volleyed in Germán Pezzella’s cross in the 71st. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
TORONTO — Martinrea International Inc. capped a difficult year in which it faced automotive plant closures with its net profit falling 12 per cent to nearly $45 million in the final quarter of 2020. The autoparts manufacturer says it earned 56 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter, down from 63 cents per share or $51.2 million a year earlier. The adjusted profit surged 30.7 per cent to $44.2 million or 55 cents per share, up from $33.8 million or 42 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2019. Revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31 increased 16.7 per cent to $1.07 billion from $917.6 million in the prior year. Martinrea was expected to report an adjusted profit of 52 cents per share on $1 billion of revenues, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. For the full-year, it lost $27.3 million or 34 cents per share, compared with a profit of $181.2 million or $2.19 per diluted share in 2019. Adjusted profits dropped to $46.9 million or 58 cents per share, down from $187.7 million or $2.27 per share a year earlier. Revenues decreased 12.6 per cent to $3.37 billion, from $3.86 billion in 2019. "Looking at 2020, after a challenging second quarter where we generated minimal sales and an operating loss, our results rebounded sharply in the back half of the year, which saw us generate record adjusted diluted net earnings per share in both the third and fourth quarters," stated CEO Pat D'Eramo. "Our fourth-quarter results were characterized by continued strong volumes and an adjusted operating income margin above year-ago levels — a strong result despite renewed lockdowns and other public health restrictions in November and December as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impeded some integration and launch activities." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:MRE) The Canadian Press
Once upon a time, dear children, before you were born, they made a fairytale movie about a kingdom called Zamunda. “Coming to America,” starring Eddie Murphy at the height of his popularity and charisma, became a huge hit and a cult classic. In this film, dear children, Murphy played Prince Akeem — he didn’t need to be called Prince Charming, because he was already so darned charming. We met him on the morning of his 21st birthday, awakening in his palace bedroom to a full orchestra, servants tossing rose petals at his feet, and gorgeous naked women servicing him in the bathtub until his royal appendage was deemed clean. Oops! Sorry, kids. Some parts of “Coming To America” didn’t age very well. Including most of the stuff about women. But 33 years and one #MeToo movement later, it’s time for a reboot. The good news about “Coming 2 America,” directed by Craig Brewer, is that things have gotten better for women in Zamunda. Yes, it’s still a patriarchy (more on that soon) and yes, there are still obedient royal bathers. But we don’t see their naked breasts or backsides. There’s also a bathtub gag involving the great Leslie Jones that flips the gender dynamic entirely and gratifyingly (especially for her). And now, Prince Akeem is not a randy young heir but an established family man. Happily married for 30 years to Princess Lisa — the bride he found in Queens in the last film — he has three daughters, brave and feisty. The eldest wants to be his heir. A female heir? That’s not done, in Zamunda. But the times, they are — or might be — a-changin'. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this sequel, despite (or perhaps because of) its nod to modern sensibilities, isn’t nearly as funny or edgy as the original. It has seemingly everything -- the original cast, some well-known newcomers, high-profile cameos — and eye-popping costumes by the great Ruth E. Carter (an Oscar winner for “Black Panther”). It has set pieces and choreography and de-aging technology and overlaying plot lines. What it has less of, is fun. Still, just like we go to college reunions 30 years later to recapture the magic, fans of the first will flock to it on Amazon Prime. They likely won’t be too disappointed. Especially because, despite the knowing references to urban gentrification, transgender offspring, Teslas and even unnecessary movie sequels, little has really changed. Obviously Murphy is back, as producer and star. So is Arsenio Hall, as trusty sidekick Semmi (and a bunch of other roles). Also back: the stately James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer; Shari Headley as Lisa (a seriously underwritten role); and Louie Anderson as Maurice. John Amos is back as Lisa’s dad, still ripping off McDonald’s. And of course the My-T-Sharp barbershop crew is back in Queens. A new presence is the casually appealing Jermaine Fowler as Lavelle, Akeem’s previously unknown son. Celebrity guests include a highly amusing Wesley Snipes as flamboyant General Izzi, leader of Nexdoria (next door); Tracy Morgan as Lavelle’s uncle; and Jones as his uninhibited mother. Another “Saturday Night Live” face, Colin Jost, makes the most of a brief cameo. Among notable musical appearances, Gladys Knight sings “Midnight Train From Zamunda.” The plot follows a familiar trajectory, beginning in Zamunda and travelling to Queens to solve a major need. In this case, the need is not a bride, but a male heir. Akeem, who becomes king upon his father’s death, learns he unknowingly sired a son during that Queens trip three decades ago (it was Semmi’s fault!) He needs a male heir to cement his power. So he brings Lavelle, a ticket scalper who aspires to much more, back to Zamunda, along with Mom. But Lavelle needs to learn royal ways, and pass a “princely test” which includes facing down a lion. There’s also the matter of Akeem’s daughter, Meeka (a luminous KiKi Layne, not given enough screen time), who rightly deserves to be queen one day. Complicating matters entirely, Lavelle falls not for his intended bride, Izzi's daughter, but for his royal barber, Mirembe, who aspires to her own shop one day (women don’t own businesses in Zamunda). Again, it all feels like a 30th reunion — maybe because it IS one — where the liquor flows, old stories are rehashed, the men haven’t aged quite as well as the women, the kids steal the show, and by the end you’re happy to have gone but feel no need to be at the next one. “Coming 2 America,” an Amazon Studios release, has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America “for crude and sexual content, language and drug content.” Running time: 110 minutes. Two stars out of four. MPAA definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned, Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s attorney general has promised a thorough investigation of allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least two women. But if the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, what then? Who gets to decide what discipline, if any, the Democrat might face? New York has an impeachment court, last used in 1913, but there are other options, like a public censure, or just letting the matter play out in the court of public opinion. Here’s a look at what could come next in the investigation: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S REVIEW Attorney General Letitia James said her office will hire a private law firm to investigate Cuomo's conduct and issue a public report. Details, like the scope and length of the investigation are unclear. The inquiry could just focus on the two members of Cuomo’s administration who said they felt harassed. Or investigators could seek out other women who were made to feel uncomfortable, even those outside the administration. Former Cuomo adviser Lindsay Boylan says the governor commented about her appearance, summoned her to an uncomfortable private meeting in his office after a holiday party and gave her an unwanted kiss at a meeting in 2018. Boylan also says the administration leaked her personnel files to reporters after she accused him of harassment. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked about her sex life and if she had ever had sex with older men, and talked about wanting a girlfriend, which she viewed as the governor asking for a relationship. A third woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times the governor put his hands on her cheeks and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding. The three-term governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but acknowledged he does kiss people’s faces as a greeting and has teased people about their personal lives in a way some women interpreted as flirting. “I didn’t mean it that way,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “But if that’s how they felt, that’s all that matters.” One possible blueprint for the investigation is one Cuomo himself oversaw as the state’s attorney general in 2010 into his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson. Cuomo enlisted the state’s former chief judge, Judith Kaye, to examine allegations Paterson pressured a woman to drop domestic violence allegations against a longtime aide. Paterson was also accused of violating state ethics laws by accepting free Yankees World Series tickets and ethics commissioners ended up fining him $62,125 for falsely testifying he intended to pay for them. Kaye took about four months to issue a report on the domestic violence probe, finding Paterson committed errors of judgment but should not face criminal charges. WHAT IF INVESTIGATORS FIND WRONGDOING? Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Wednesday that if the investigation shows something inappropriate did happen, Cuomo should resign. If Cuomo refused to go, one option could be impeachment. That process would start in the Assembly. If a majority of members vote for impeachment, a trial would then be held with a jury of senators and Court of Appeals judges. At least two-thirds of the jurors are needed to convict. New York used this process to oust Gov. William Sulzer from office in 1913. A legislative committee found Sulzer failed to report thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and commingled campaign funds with personal funds. Sulzer blamed his downfall on the Democratic Party machine of Tammany Hall, and he blasted the court’s secret deliberations: “A horse thief in frontier days would have received a squarer deal,” he complained. IS THERE A PUNISHMENT SHORT OF IMPEACHMENT? Either state legislative chamber could decide to censure the governor by majority vote, according to New York University School of Law professor Stephen Gillers. That would amount to a stern public rebuke, a largely symbolic penalty. No lawmakers have expressed public support for censuring Cuomo amid the investigation, and there’s no indication it’s being floated as an option down the road. “A public slap on the wrist seems inadequate for the moment,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris. In 1892, the state Senate censured three senators for refusing to vote on a bill. And in 2007, an assemblyman was censured and lost his position as ranking member on the chamber's alcoholism and drug abuse committee for sleeping at the home of a 21-year-old female intern after drinking at a sports bar together. Predicting the appetite for a punishment now might be premature, with the investigation still incomplete. “If there are more stories that come out, depending on who you’re talking to, people may have different sensibilities,” said Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, who chairs the legislative ethics commission. CIVIL COMPLAINT? The governor, like any one else, could face civil penalties if someone sues him for sexual harassment or files a complaint with a state or federal agency. That could lead to civil penalties, a cease-and-desist order or an order to change his practices. “Could somebody then bring a lawsuit for civil penalties based on the finding of the (attorney general)?” attorney Richard Rifkin, who was special counsel to the governor in 2007 and 2008 and serves as legal director at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. “They could.” HOW ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES? It's also possible that a prosecutor could bring criminal penalties based on the attorney general's report, according to Rifkin. Harassment could constitute a crime if it involves forcible physical touching of a sexual nature, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts. Cuomo has insisted he didn't touch anyone inappropriately and said if he kissed or touched anyone, it was in the way that politicians have been greeting allies and constituents for ages. ___ Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report from New York. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
A Liberal MLA wants more details about what the government plans to do to support the Island's tourism industry during the upcoming season. Heath MacDonald raised the issue during question period in the legislature Thursday. He said many Island tourism operators are currently trying to make plans for the upcoming season and are waiting for guidance from the province. "Predictability is an important part of the process of whether they're going to open their business or not and you know, they're very, very worried," MacDonald said. Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald says other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to planning for the tourism season.(John Robertson/CBC) He asked Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay when those working in the industry would have some answers. "So where is the plan? Maybe there's a plan we're not aware of for this industry. Where is the road map for this anxious industry?" Plan to be released March 18 Responding to MacDonald's question, MacKay said he knows the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and government is gearing up to release its tourism strategy at a conference later this month. "We've been working round the clock for the last eight months, with industry as a whole," MacKay said. "Obviously I wish I had a crystal ball … the road map of the future, we still don't know what it looks like but we're prepared to the best of our ability and industry has been at the table front and centre with this and it's going to be rolled out March 18," MacKay said. MacDonald countered that other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to laying out their intentions for this season. MacKay told CBC News the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. and the modified red phase were a setback in rolling out the plans. He said the tourism strategy for 2021 is being developed in partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. and includes details about the province's marketing campaign and new programs to help support operators. Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay says government will roll out its plans for the upcoming tourism season at a conference on March 18.(Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. ) MacKay didn't provide specific details of what this year's plan will include, but did say it will build upon last year's strategy that encouraged Islanders to explore P.E.I. and welcomed visitors from within the Atlantic bubble. "Islanders really stepped up last year to support the tourism industry and tour the Island. The Atlantic bubble was a success and we feel like we can improve on that. Until vaccines roll out I just can't see us having much more than that," MacKay said. "But depending on how quick we can roll vaccines out and how quick the rest of the provinces can roll vaccines out, will be the tell tale." More P.E.I. news
From spring through fall, it’s not unusual to find Beck Aurell swinging from limb to limb through the crowns of Island oak, maple or poplar trees. Gear similar to a rock climber’s holds her safely in the tree and she carries a pruning saw or chainsaw at her side. “I might be the only female bodied climbing arborist on PEI,” Beck said, explaining that arborists are tree workers with specialized skills and certifications. They typically focus on managing and taking care of trees in residential areas. She was most recently employed with Laird Tree Care out of Cardigan. While Beck identifies as gender non-binary she is perceived by most as female and is comfortable with she/her or they/them pronouns. This puts her at odds with the majority of people she has worked with in Canada and around the world. Beck loves outdoor, hands-on work and any day she can help preserve the life of a tree is a good day in her opinion. She said making her way into a male dominated field of work wasn’t particularly easy but there were a few things that lifted her up into the treetops. “My dad was very helpful,” she said. Beck’s father owns an arborist business in New Brunswick and encouraged her to challenge herself by climbing in her teens. “It was something fun we did together and he never questioned if I could do it.” While the average arborist seems to be a tall bulky or lean guy, Beck has found smart techniques and tools tend to level the playing field. With a 5 foot 2 inch tall female body, she is stronger than some might expect. Beck said sometimes customers meet her with surprised comments like “Oh, are you doing the work?” or “Where’s the foreman?” when she is the team lead for the day. “It might be hard to believe, but it doesn’t actually take a 6-foot bulky man to transport logs from point A to B, to work hard all day, or to do the work we do efficiently,” she said. Luckily most customers meet her with supportive comments. “Customers that are older women especially seem supportive, I think it might be because they’ve seen so much change over the years.” Beck said local queer and some feminist communities have been a tremendous source of support and their ideas have helped her the whole way through. “Queer communities tend to share the idea, if it feels right for you, break gender expectations without fear or embarrassment, with pride,” she said. “They’ve really showed me there are different ways to be a person that don’t fit specific gender roles.” Beyond that, seeing female arborists in the industry when she worked in Sweden or at events (like women’s arborist skills camps in the US or in iternational arborist climbing competitions) reassured her that she could succeed in this line of work. Co-workers who have welcomed her into group environments and given her the opportunity to do what she is capable of without underestimating her abilities have also played a helpful part. “Most of my co-workers have been great,” Beck said. “Most don’t think twice about having me on the crew and working together, especially once they see I am capable and reliable.” “This means a lot because sometimes it takes a minute for some of the guys to settle with the idea that I’ll be climbing and working on the same level or even as a leader with them. “Sometimes when a crew shows up on a job they’re not expecting a blonde woman in her 20s to be the foreman and there seems to be a bit of an ego thing that can go on. “Sometimes there is some pushback but for the most part, it’s no problem.” Beck said her crew on PEI has been an excellent and fun team to work with. She has some advice for anyone considering a field of work that may seem unusual for their gender. “Don’t be afraid to break expectations and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “And if you can’t find anyone supportive, give me a call.” Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
IQALUIT, Nunavut — COVID-19 infections rose sharply in Arviat on Thursday, but Nunavut's top doctor said there is no sign of uncontrolled spread and numbers are declining overall. The community on the western shore of Hudson Bay tallied 10 new illnesses to bring the active case count to 14. Arviat's population of about 2,800 has been under a strict lockdown since November. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed and travel is restricted. A state of emergency was declared Feb. 24 and there's a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said there is no evidence of community transmission. "If things continue on this way, we can look at working with the hamlet to ease some of the measures next week," he said. Arviat is the only place in the territory where COVID-19 is active. It has had higher numbers than anywhere else in Nunavut since the pandemic began — 325 of 369 total cases. Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is from Arviat, said the overall weekly decline is "still encouraging." Last week, there were 25 cases. "We should expect that case numbers will vary day to day," he said. Two COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been held in Arviat. The second one was dedicated to administering second doses. Patterson said there is no evidence of "vaccine failure" in Arviat. "A failure ... would be getting new COVID (cases) two weeks or more after a vaccination." Health experts say it takes about 14 days for the COVID-19 vaccines to take effect. Patterson said his department is not releasing community-specific vaccination numbers and would not say how many people in Arviat have been vaccinated. To date, 8,628 of Nunavut's 39,000 residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 5,125 have had two shots. The territory has received 26,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine so far. Nunavut's original goal was to have its vaccine rollout completed by the end of March, but Patterson said that will be extended into April. The territory initially faced some delays in vaccine shipments, he said. "As the vaccine supply ramps up, we're now into the stage where that's no longer an issue. Staff will be able to go much faster and much more efficiently starting now." John Main, Arviat's member of the legislature, is urging the government to provide isolation spaces for infected residents who live in overcrowded housing This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
Gisèle Fortaich a été la première citoyenne lavalloise à recevoir une dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19 dans le cadre de l’opération de vaccination lancée le jeudi 25 février au Quartier Laval. La dame de 86 ans jugeait qu’il était important pour elle d’aller se faire vacciner, notamment après avoir contracté le virus il y a quelques mois. «Au début, je ne pensais pas que je l’aurais attrapée, note-t-elle. Par la suite, j’ai été malade et eu plusieurs symptômes, mais les gens du CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée m’ont bien traité.» Notons qu’elle n’est pas résidente de cet endroit et qu’elle y allait plutôt pour y suivre des traitements de physiothérapie. Par ailleurs, Mme Fortaich recommande à tous les Lavallois de se faire vacciner. «Ce n’est pas facile de vivre avec la COVID-19, donc il est important d’aller se faire vacciner le plus rapidement possible.» Elle affirme n’avoir ressenti aucun effet secondaire après avoir reçu cette première dose. Rappelons que la vaccination est désormais accessible aux citoyens lavallois âgés de 70 ans et plus en date du jeudi 4 mars. Ceux-ci sont invités à prendre rendez-vous au Québec.ca/vaccinCOVID ou par téléphone au 1 877 644-4545. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government has shot a boost of optimism into its fight against COVID-19, announcing it will join other provinces by delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations. Speaking Thursday at a news conference with other premiers, Premier Scott Moe said people will get their second shot up to four months after the first, which falls in line with a recent recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee. Alberta, Manitoba and other provinces made similar announcements after British Columbia first said Monday it was moving to a four-month delay. The shift comes as health experts point to people being well protected against the novel coronavirus with a first dose, noting the country faces a limited supply of vaccines. "The benefits are tremendous," Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said during a briefing. "We can emerge out of the pandemic three months earlier than we had anticipated. With a two-dose program, it would have taken us till September. Now we can vaccinate everyone 18 and older as early as June." Provincial health officials said that starting Friday, staff will only be giving first shots. The change will not apply to people who have appointments booked to receive a second dose, long-term care residents and staff, as well as those in personal care homes. Shahab said since vaccinations started in long-term care homes, there have been fewer outbreaks and infections in the facilities. To date, about 84,000 vaccinations have been done in Saskatchewan out of the roughly 400,000 shots needed to inoculate residents 70 and older and health-care workers at risk of COVID-19 exposure. Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said he expects most of these vaccinations under the first stage of the province's immunization program will be finished in early April. He also asked for patience, as the authority has to adjust how it delivers vaccines with the new four-month window between doses. Saskatchewan reported 169 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Thursday. The province of 1.1 million people also continues to lead the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita in Canada. Moe said earlier in the week that delaying the second dose of vaccine would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions need to stay in place. The current order is in effect until March 19. Shahab said decisions about what rules might be relaxed could come next week. "I know it's been very hard for people not to be able meet each other in their houses," he said. "In the past, we did have, you know, two to three households as a bubble of up to ten. So that's something that we're looking at." The Ministry of Health also said it would use 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on people aged 60 to 64 and certain health-care workers. A national panel has recommended it not be used on seniors. The province said these vaccinations will start later this month and eligible residents will be able to book an appointment by phone through a system that is expected to launch next week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has eased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program. The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent. Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before. The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application. Ravi Rahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community. He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes. "Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available." This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements. Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far. The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria. In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old. Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant." B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Parkland Corp. is reporting lower fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as affects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns continue to erode fuel sales. The Calgary-based convenience store operator and fuel retailer says it had net earnings of $53 million in the last three months of 2020 on revenue of $3.47 billion, down from $176 million on revenue of $4.78 billion in the same period of 2019. It says it sold 5.4 billion litres of fuel and petroleum products in the fourth quarter, a decrease of seven per cent compared with the year-earlier period. It says lower volumes were offset by strong per unit fuel profit margins in Canada and in its international operations, as well as robust company convenience store same-store sales growth in Canada of around eight per cent and a healthy 90 per cent utilization of its Burnaby, B.C., refinery. Parkland says it will hike its dividend by two per cent, its ninth consecutive annual increase. The company says it plans growth capital spending of between $175 million and $275 million in 2021, along with between $225 million and $275 million in maintenance capital spending, including about $40 million of work deferred from 2020. "In 2021, we will strengthen our customer offerings and continue our organic growth initiatives, advance our disciplined acquisition strategy and deepen our commitment to providing customers with low-carbon fuel choices as part of our broader sustainability efforts," said CEO Bob Espey. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:PKI) The Canadian Press