Viewer video of a kid driving an F1 car snow sculpture in Oshawa, ON
Viewer video of a kid driving an F1 car snow sculpture in Oshawa, ON
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nation's top counterintelligence agency Wednesday to redouble its efforts to address what he described as Western attempts to destabilize Russia. Speaking at a meeting of top officials of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the main KGB successor agency, Putin pointed at the “so-called policy of containment of Russia,” charging that it includes efforts to “derail our development, slow it down, create problems alongside our borders, provoke internal instability and undermine the values that unite the Russian society.” The Russian president added that those activities by foreign powers, which he didn't name, are aimed at “weakening Russia and putting it under outside control.” The United States and its NATO allies have rejected similar previous claims by the Kremlin that they were seeking to undermine Russia. Russia's relations with the West plummeted to post-Cold War lows following Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The recent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and a sweeping crackdown on protesters demanding his release has been another source of tension. Navalny, Putin's most prominent critic, was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation and accused Navalny of co-operating with Western intelligence agencies — claims which he has ridiculed. Earlier this month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated and the European ?ourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Navalny's arrest has fueled a wave of protests that drew tens of thousands to the streets across Russia. The authorities have detained about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days. In the wake of the demonstrations, the Kremlin-controlled parliament has toughened the punishment for disobeying police and introduced new fines for funding demonstrations. Putin on Wednesday signed those new bills into law. Without naming Navalny, Putin assailed those in Russia who allegedly serve foreign interests. “It's necessary to draw a line between natural political competition, competition between political parties, ideological platforms, various views on the country's development, and the activities that have nothing to do with democracy and are aimed at undermining stability and security of our state, at serving foreign interests,” he said. The Russian president emphasized the need for the FSB to shield the parliamentary election set for September from any "provocations." Putin hailed the agency for disrupting the activities of foreign spies, maintaining it unmasked 72 foreign intelligence officers and 423 of their informants. He ordered the FSB to tighten the protection of the country's latest military technologies, saying, “You all understand that we have a lot to safeguard.” Putin also commended the FSB for its efforts to combat terrorism. He said it prevented 72 terror attacks last year. He instructed the agency to “uncover contacts between terrorist groups and foreign special services.” “Unfortunately, anything goes, and they also use terrorists,” Putin said without elaborating. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
(Paul Tukker/ CBC - image credit) Whitehorse city council has given first reading to a new bylaw considering a zoning application that would allow a new drive-thru restaurant near the top of Two Mile Hill. The proposed business — not named in council documents — would be built on an empty lot on Range Road, just off the Alaska Highway and adjacent to the airport. The lot's zoning currently allows for an eating or drinking establishment, but not with a drive-thru. That would require an amendment approved by council. Councillors have expressed concern about the development, and some say it could take business from the downtown area. But councillor Dan Boyd says that traffic is the big issue, and also let it slip at this week's council meeting what the development might be. "It would be 1,000 visits or trips potentially through a busy drive-thru, if you built a Dairy Queen, or whatever this might be, downtown or if you built it at the top of the Two Mile hill," said Boyd. Whatever the development might be, it has raised questions about long-term planning for the city. Mayor Dan Curtis says there is only so much space that can be built on, and that the city should think about long-term planning. "Quite frankly I think our downtown is outgrowing itself. That's not to suggest I want something that enables people to get what they need and keep on going. I don't want that," Curtis said. "But I think that the services in the capital city and people here and the things they can see and do is going to be the real draw, not the fact there is perhaps a drive-thru on top of the south access or on top of the Two Mile Hill," said Curtis. The bylaw to rezone the area on Range Road to allow for drive-thru services is now open for public comment. A public hearing on the proposed development is scheduled for March 22.
(Chris Ensing/CBC - image credit) The union representing workers at Caesars Windsor says it has negotiated additional pension incentives for members looking to retire. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Unifor Local 444 said it has secured enhancements to the existing voluntary retirement incentive, "allowing many of our members an opportunity to retire earlier than they otherwise may have." There are three options based on years of service, and people who are 60 and older are eligible. The maximum incentive is $3,000. The union says casual employees are not included. The casino was shut down for much of 2020 due to the pandemic, putting about 2,000 people out of work. It reopened in the fall but was closed when Windsor switched to the red zone in November, and the shutdown is still in effect. Under the current rules, casinos are allowed to reopen but at a capacity of 10 patrons. Caesars Windsor could not immediately be reached for comment. More from CBC Windsor:
(Tim Trad/Unsplash - image credit) While the province's new focus on mental health seems to come with a distinctly Nordic flavour, one researcher cautions against adopting the model wholesale. Yesterday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard announced the province's five year plan to increase mental health services. This includes implementing "a guiding document for population health promotion and prevention" which the province said would be based on the Icelandic Prevention Model. But Julia Woodhall-Melnik, director of the laboratory for housing and mental health at UNB Saint John, doesn't think the Icelandic model would fit the province's demographics. "The Icelandic model is great for a middle class family, but I don't think it's going to work for our most vulnerable in society and it's those vulnerable individuals that I'm the most worried about," said Woodhall-Melnik. The Icelandic model The Icelandic Prevention Model was introduced in the small island nation in the 90s as alcohol, drug and tobacco use increased among the nation's youth. The model includes raising the legal age to buy alcohol and tobacco, promoting after school sports and other extracurricular activities, asking parents to spend more quality time with their children and implementing curfews for youth. The 2008 scientific article "Substance use prevention for adolescents: the Icelandic Model" published in Health Promotion International cited a study indicating that in 1995, 25 per cent of Icelandic 10th graders had become drunk 10 or more times in a 12 month period. By 2003 that number had dropped to 14 per cent. But Woodhall-Melnik said there's a couple things that would make the model impractical in New Brunswick. "In Iceland, individuals experience a lot more equity in terms of income," said Woodhall-Melnik. "We have a much higher rate of poverty in New Brunswick than they experience in Iceland." 'Very conservative' Woodhall-Melnik said she understands what would attract the province to this model, calling it a "very conservative mandate" that focuses on strong parenting and behavioural change. But that mandate starts to break down outside the traditional nuclear family that have two parents with 9-5 jobs. "It's all well to say, 'OK, we're going to have a committee of parents policing the street at 10 o'clock at night after curfew to take home any kids that they find out wandering,'" said Woodhall-Melnik. "If I'm a little Jill, let's say and I'm 15 years old, I'm out after curfew, but my mom's working the night shift somewhere and … my other parent is not in the picture. You know, there's nobody for me to come home to necessarily." She said parent to child contracts forbidding drug and alcohol use, which was part of the Icelandic model, may work for middle class families, but those families are less likely to be at risk of substance abuse. "Middle class kids, they tend to, you know, try some alcohol, try some drugs, they dabble in this," said Woodhall-Melnik. "Usually when we look at general population trends and don't look at the individual specific family case, we see that children from lower income backgrounds and children who experience large amounts of trauma are actually the children that are more likely to grow up to use substances problematically." Change needed Still Woodhall-Melnik said she was happy to hear the province announce a plan, even one with potential flaws, because change is needed urgently. "Our mental health system here is far behind other provinces in Canada," said Woodhall-Melnik. "I'm a not so recent ... immigrant from Ontario and the mental health system there is much more well developed than here."
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say a crash on Highway 16 west of Prince George has killed a Metro Vancouver man and injured a 20-year-old Alberta resident. An RCMP statement says the collision happened Monday as the Alberta man in a westbound pickup was overtaking an empty logging truck. The passing lane ended before the pickup had finished its manoeuvre and police say it collided with an oncoming car. Police say the driver of the car, who was in his 40s, died a short time later in hospital. Officers in Prince George are leading the investigation and want to speak with the logging truck driver, who stopped to assist but left before talking with police. Investigators are also appealing for dashcam video from anyone on Highway 16 between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof at around 5:30 p.m. Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nearly one in four residents of Pincher Creek thinks something is amiss with the municipal government. A petition requesting a municipal inspection was submitted to Alberta Municipal Affairs last November by a concerned citizens group called Our Voices Matter. The petition seeks a provincial government review of what the group says are inappropriate spending and tax increases by town council. To be accepted, the petition needed to be signed by at least 20 per cent of the town’s population. “For the Town of Pincher Creek, the minimum number of signatures required would be 729, and there were 888 valid signatures on the petition submitted to the minister,” says Mckenzie Kibler, press secretary for Municipal Affairs. According to the Municipal Government Act, each signature needed the correct address of the petitioner, contact information and an accompanying signature from a witness affirming the resident signed the petition. A municipal inspection was first called for by Jim Litkowski, acting spokesman for Our Voices Matter, during a town council meeting back in September. Mr. Litkowski brought up a number of concerns, including assertions of overspending, doubling of tax rates since 2015, insufficient economic and tourist planning, and unnecessary costs for constructing two new early-learning centres. Mr. Litkowski repeated his concerns over spending and tax increases in a Feb. 13 article in the Lethbridge Herald, though he declined an interview request this week from the Breeze. “The answers you seek are now in the hands of the minister of municipal affairs,” he wrote in an email. Town council and administration have released three responses to issues raised by Our Voices Matter, including details of its economic plan and public records that show residential taxes have increased by only 8.37 per cent since 2015. Mayor Don Anderberg says, given the economic insecurity associated with the pandemic, council appreciates the public’s financial concern. “People are worried about how they’re going to live. We get all that,” he says. Compared to other municipalities, the mayor says, taxes in Pincher Creek fall in the middle of the pack. Decreasing taxes would result in a decrease in provided services, many of which are not offered by other municipalities in the province. “We’ve tried to not have big increases in taxes but still get things done,” Mayor Anderberg adds. Municipal Affairs interviewed town council, administration and members of Our Voices Matter last week to review the issues that led to the petition. The information will be compiled into a report for Minister Ric McIver, who will ultimately determine if a full municipal inspection is required. Should the minister decide the situation warrants it, an inspection would take up to a year to complete before results are released to the public, Ms. Kibler says. “Municipal Affairs charges back the cost of inspections based on the financial capacity of a municipality,” she adds. Depending on the depth of investigation into the issues raised by Our Voice Matters, the town could be responsible for a $50,000 to $80,000 inspection bill. It is not clear what effect the inspection would have once completed, since the municipal election will be held in October. The town’s published responses to Mr. Litkowski’s concerns are available at http://bit.ly/Mayor_Updates. Image courtesy of the Government of Alberta Municipality Measurement Index. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
“Paul Anishinaabemo (Speaks Ojibwe)” is a new podcast series by Paul Rabliauskas and his mother Sophia Rabliaukas. Paul Rabliaukas is a comedian from Poplar First Nation in Northern Manitoba, and he has sat with his mother every Sunday this month at her kitchen table to learn Anishinaabemowin. Rabliaukas told CBC he is a self-described mama's boy and said that it's nice to laugh with her during the recordings. Sophia told CBC when she was a young adult, she didn't put emphasis on teaching her children Anishinaabemowin because she was taught that in order to be successful, they had to prioritize English. As Rabliauskas has gotten older, he has come to regret not being able to speak his mother's tongue and has been wanting to work on a language project with her for a couple of years. This podcast is a beautiful look into an honest relationship between mother and son as they explore language together. They started this podcast in February 2021, and they now have 4 episodes that run an hour long and go through the lessons and importance of traditional teachings and language. This podcast can be found on most streaming platforms for free! Locally, the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre offers several resources for traditional language learning. Check out their Facebook page for their weekly programming for all ages and abilities! Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
SAN FRANCISCO — A new report from Uber Technologies Inc. says its Canadian drivers and couriers don't think they receive dependable earnings. The survey of 23,428 people earning money through the company's platform says only 31 per cent rated Uber as "good" for dependable earnings. About one quarter described it as "poor" and 43 per cent says they were just "OK." The survey was conducted by Uber and Qualtrics last October and was released after UberEats couriers complained that a change in the company's pay system resulted in their average earnings sliding from as much as $10 a trip before tips to as low as $3.99 during the pandemic. Drivers called for more transparency around how their fares are calculated, release of details on minimum earnings before accepting trips and lower commissions on long trips. Almost 20 per cent of Uber users griped about the quality of customer service, robotic responses and the long response time to get an issue resolved, while 17 per cent had concerns about the app's performance and its navigation and GPS system. Despite the issues raised, Uber says 80 per cent of those surveyed were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the company and 65 per cent think it has either done enough or gone above and beyond for workers during the pandemic. “What drivers want and care about matters, and we will use this feedback to help improve the experience on Uber for now and in the future," an Uber spokesperson said in an email. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Taisto Eilomaa’s daughter said there are two words spring to mind when thinking of her father. One is Skype. Barbara Major said her 91-year-old father is the only person she has ever known that speaks to so many people via the internet-based communication that he required a monthly paid account. The other is not a word you may be familiar with: Sisu. Eilomaa passed away Jan. 30 due to complications from COVID-19 at Finlandiakoti, an apartment building that is part of the Finlandia Village complex. If you are one of the many people of Finnish descent who make up the Sudbury community, then you’ll recognize this word, even if you can’t quite describe it. If you are English-only, there is not really a translation for it, but more of a ‘you know it when you see it,’ meaning. Start with the translation of the root word, sisus, which means ‘guts’ or ‘intestines’ and you begin to get an idea. It is reserved for the challenging moments in life. It defines those who overcome regardless of the obstacle they face and who do so with aplomb, intestinal fortitude, resilience, determination. Ténacité, or in Italian, tenace, for a passion that seems crazy to undertake, almost hopeless. The Finnish say it is the reason they survive, the reason they thrive. There is a common saying: “Sisu will get you through granite.” Taisto Eilomaa had sisu. It got him through coming to a new country at the age of 22 with no ability to speak the language. It got him through starting businesses from the ground up, like Lockerby Auto Service, later investing in business and creating success — Brown's Concrete Products Ltd., for one, as well as the Wanup Sand and Gravel Pit and Taisto’s Trucking. It allowed him to keep connections with his family wherever they were in the world, to contribute to his community as well as to his own family. You could say it also helped him when he lost his wife of 53 years; and when he was at his lowest, it could be sisu that allowed him to find love again. Also, it may have been the driving force behind a man who raced stock cars he built, loved scuba diving and got his pilot’s licence, Sisu got Eilomaa through granite and his community is better for it. Born Nov. 18, 1929, to Saima and Frances Eilomaa in Lohja, Finland, Eilomaa decided to immigrate to Canada in search of a better life. It might be fate that put him on that ship in 1951, for it was on that voyage he met a lovely woman named Laura Akkanen. They wed in 1952 and were married for 53 years before her passing at age 77, in 2005. Major, their daughter, wasn’t sure her father would survive. “When my mother passed away, I thought we would lose my dad as well. After 53 years of marriage, he seemed unable to move on.” But for sisu, he may not have. Though it took time, Eilomaa began to get re-acquainted with a long-time family friend, Riitta Nurmikivi, at a weekly card party and they soon formed a close relationship, and spent more than 14 years together. “Ironically,” said Major, “My mother would often joke that Riitta would take her place if she ever died before my father.” Nurmikivi would bring to Eilomaa’s life more family for him to dote over and he did just that. Major says they were a welcome addition who will also mourn for Eilomaa. “We will always cherish her in our family,” said Major. It was family that always gave Eilomaa his greatest joy; perhaps the source of his sisu. “If there is one thing my father had plenty of,” said Major, “is love for everyone he met, especially his family.” He loved his daughter dearly and he loved her daughter, his granddaughter, perhaps even more says Major. “As much as they showered me in love and compliments,” she said, “my parents took great pride in their granddaughter.” He adored her and told her so often. “In his later years,” said Major, “I would often catch my daughter wiping away tears only to learn that her grandfather had taken a moment to mention how much he loved her and how proud he was of the woman she became.” He also dearly loved his great-grandchildren, Clarke and Laura. He was also dedicated to his Finnish family as well, spending as much time in Finland — and on Skype — as possible. He learned to operate a computer at 60, “A two-finger keyboarder,” said Major and began extensive research and interviews to build a family tree. “Those connections were worldwide,” said Major. On one of his trips to Finland, Eilomaa filled a suitcase with 50 bound copies of the family tree to distribute to family. And that isn’t the only history Eilomaa was dedicating to preserving. Eilomaa was a member of the Finnish Canadian Historical Society since 1968 and dedicated so much of his time to preserve history of those of Finnish descent who settled in Sudbury, particularly through photography collection and archiving. Major remembers visiting her father at times and finding him surrounded in photos that he would arrange and display for Finnish celebrations, allowing everyone to see their history. The Finnish Canadian Historical Society have presented him with two awards in recognition of his outstanding service and lasting contribution. Eilomaa also received a certificate of appreciation and is an honorary member of the Voima Athletic Club, which he has been actively involved with since 1952. And as one of the founding members and a previous past president of the Finlandiakoti Finnish Rest Home Society, many in the community say his commitment to the vision is a large part of what made Finlandiakoti what it is today. He was also active in the Freemasons and the Shriners for more than 30 years. Of all the words that are used to describe the small bits of character that are revealed through actions, there are another few for Eilomaa: ‘My sweetheart’, ‘my darling’, ‘I love you’. But not for the reasons you might think. “One of his favourite things he used to say,” said Major, “is that when my mom and dad arrived in Canada, between the two of them, they had three suitcases and $50. But my dad knew how to speak only a little English and what he knew how to say in English was: ‘my darling, my sweetheart, I love you’.” And truly, with a little sisu, that will get you pretty far. Due to the pandemic, no funeral service will be held, but a Celebration of Life for Taisto Eilomaa will be held in both Sudbury and Finland, on a date to be determined. Jenny Lamothe is a Local Journalism Reporter at Sudbury.com, covering issues in the Black, immigrant and Francophone communities. She is also a freelance writer and voice actor. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccine doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective than delivery directed from Ottawa. He says he will be working with provinces and territories to ensure they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts, even as the National Association of Friendship Centres and other advocates call for more direct federal involvement.
LEICESTER, England — Leicester midfielder James Maddison will miss the Europa League match against Slavia Prague because of a hip injury, manager Brendan Rodgers said Wednesday. While the Foxes prepared to host the Czech champions on Thursday in the second leg of the round of 32, Maddison was in London seeing specialists for a hip problem that required surgery last summer. “We don't believe he needs more surgery,” Rodgers said. “It's irritable where he's had the issue before. We're just getting all the information on it.” Rodgers didn't offer a timeline for Maddison's return: “He won’t be available for the game. He’s in consultation with our doctor and some specialists and they’re just trying to see where we’re at, but certainly for tomorrow night, he misses out.” The 24-year-old attacking midfielder saw specialists Tuesday and Wednesday. He scored Leicester’s first goal in a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday but walked off gingerly midway through the second half, having complained of both foot and hip injuries after a heavy but fair tackle by Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz. Maddison has tallied 11 goals and 10 assists in 32 appearances across all competitions this season. Leicester drew 0-0 in the first leg last week in Prague. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
ExxonMobil is selling most of its drilling and exploration assets off the coast of the U.K. in the North Sea for more than $1 billion. Exxon has heightened its focus on other oil rich regions, including the Permian Basin in the Southwest United States. The sale includes ExxonMobil’s interests in 14 producing fields in the North Sea. The fields are run primarily by Shell, including Penguins, Starling, Fram, the Gannet Cluster and Shearwater. Total operated others. ExxonMobil’s share of production from these fields was approximately 38,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day in 2019. The sale by Exxon of its North Sea assets first arose in 2019, and the selling price was estimated to be around twice the announced number Wednesday. Oil prices plunged last year as the pandemic ground almost all travel, by road, rail or air, to a halt. Prices have rallied since last spring and are up 30% this year, but remain muted. The Texas oil giant, which has operated in the U.K. for more than 135 years, will maintain extensive refining, petrochemicals production and the natural gas operations in the U.K. It will also keep its non-operated share in production and exploration assets in the southern North Sea. Neil Chapman, senior vice-president of ExxonMobil, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that the company is selling assets that are “less strategic" to better concentrate on major operations in Guyana, Brazil, and the United States. The deal is expected to close by the middle of the year. Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
Trans Mountain Corp, a Canadian government corporation that operates an oil pipeline, has asked a regulator to keep the identities of its insurers private as environmental activists push them to drop coverage. Activists have stepped up pressure on banks and insurers to drop financing and insurance for fossil fuel companies, leading to European companies like AXA and Zurich pulling back from underwriting coal and oil sands projects. Trans Mountain is nearly tripling capacity of the pipeline to carry 890,000 barrels of crude and refined products per day from Edmonton, Alberta to the British Columbia coast.
The territorial government is in favour of a national pharmacare bill that would see Canadians acquire universal public access to prescribed medication with expenses covered by the government. The proposed legislation, Bill C-213, is a private member’s bill put forth by Peter Julian, the New Democrat MP for New Westminster-Burnaby. Julian proposes a national single-payer pharmacare program that would “deliver better healthcare and improve the health and lives of millions of Canadians,” according to his party. “Canada is falling behind, being the only high-income country that has a universal healthcare system but does not include universal coverage of prescription drugs," the NDP says. "The lack of coverage results in one in five Canadians being unable to afford the medication their doctors prescribe.” The bill has its first parliamentary vote on Wednesday. Private members' bills typically have a low chance of being passed as they rarely acquire government backing. If passed, a national pharmacare program could be developed by next spring. In the N.W.T. legislature on Tuesday, health minister Julie Green said the bill could be a “game changer” in the way N.W.T. residents go about acquiring prescription medication. Green said only about 50 per cent of residents in the territory have pharmacy and medication coverage. “This would take in a lot of people who are currently left out,” she said. The minister said pharmacare had "not received the attention it deserves, primarily because it has coincided with the pandemic, and federal and territorial resources have been focused on that.” Green said that while the N.W.T. supported a national pharmacare program, the "fine print" would have to include provisions unique to the territory. “We wouldn’t want a boiler-plate system. We would want a system that suits our particular needs in the Northwest Territories,” she said, suggesting that would include long-term funding. Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly asked Green if the territory’s support had been communicated to the NWT's Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, before he casts his vote on Wednesday. Green said she was not sure what, if any, conversation on the matter had taken place with McLeod. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
OTTAWA — A new report says too many federal inmates in isolation aren't getting a few hours a day out of their cells, pushing them into territory that could be described as inhuman treatment or even torture. Citing federal data, the report says nearly three in 10 prisoners in isolation units didn't have all or any of the four hours out of their cells they are supposed to get, for two weeks at a time. A further one in 10 were kept in excessive isolation for 16 days or longer, which by international laws and Canadian rulings constitutes cruel treatment. The findings suggest the federal prison system is falling well short of the guidelines the Liberals ushered in for "structured intervention units" designed to allow better access to programming and mental-health care for inmates who need to be kept apart from other prisoners. Prisoners transferred to the units are supposed to be allowed out of their cells for four hours each day, with two of those hours engaged in "meaningful human contact." The report by two criminologists says there needs to be better oversight of how the units are managed, adding the results show Canada commits "torture by another name." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
A new podcast recently launched by an Indigenous storyteller focuses on reconnecting with his cultural roots and exploring how it informs his identity. Jeremy Ratt, a former resident of the Columbia Valley, self-identifies as Métis with ancestors that are of both Woods-Cree and Caucasian descent in his newly released Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) - B.C. / Radio Canada podcast entitled Pieces which was announced on Feb. 18, 2021. “I always knew that more Indigenous stories needed to be told and I’m so proud of how Pieces turned out. Podcasting is an intimate and personal medium and really suits the themes of identity and self I explored in Pieces,” said Ratt, the host of Pieces in a recent press release. “The stories are authentic and I feel the podcast will resonate with anyone figuring out who they are in our complex world.” Ratt has released several episodes on the CBC podcast, ranging from cultural reclamation to racism, stereotypes and shame as well as the burdens of intergenerational trauma. He believes these personal stories are a way of sharing his identity with other Canadians and may contribute to his own personal growth in the long-run. The 19-year-old Métis boy focuses on exploring his identity through his platform as a CBC host on a newly published series. Ratt is a self-proclaimed writer and musician with a passion for broadcasting. In fact, Ratt wrote and recorded the intro song that plays at the beginning and end of each episode in his podcast. “I have had the pleasure of working on multiple podcasts at CBC British Columbia that reflect contemporary Canada, we are always on the lookout for interesting stories and diverse voices,” says Shiral Tobin, Director, Journalism and Programming CBC, British Columbia. “When Jeremy first came to us with the idea for Pieces,” we knew it was a story that needed to be told. We are humbled and proud Jeremy trusted CBC British Columbia to help tell this deeply personal story.” Pieces is available online at CBC Listen, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer
OTTAWA — The fight to win the leadership of his party could be nothing compared to what Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has ahead: keeping his party together as he tries to win over voters who haven't voted for it recently. Caucus morale is buoyed by this week's House of Commons vote in favour of a motion declaring a genocide against Uighur Muslims in China. But the Tories remain stuck behind the Liberals in the polls and the Liberal war room is revving up to keep them there. The Tories' hawkish view on China stands as a point of demarcation between O'Toole and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, so while the Tories lauded the vote Monday as a victory for human rights, it's also one for them. That Liberal MPs, but not cabinet, voted with the Tories on the motion underscores the point, O'Toole argued after the vote. "The fact that Mr. Trudeau did not even show up to be accountable is a terrible sign of leadership," he said. That he'd take a strong stance on China was a key promise O'Toole made in his bid for leadership last year. But how he's following through on others is emerging as a question as O'Toole marks exactly six months in the post. Among the issues: a fear he'll backtrack on a promise dear to the heart of the party, especially in the West: repealing the federal carbon tax. MPs not authorized to publicly discuss caucus deliberations say many are concerned about O'Toole's stated support for a Liberal bill aimed at cutting Canada's net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero by 2050. Most environment and economics experts say getting there without a carbon tax is possible, but would cost more because the regulations needed to achieve the goal would ultimately be more expensive. For a party fixated on the bottom line, which path to take without inflaming the base is a tricky choice. O'Toole's spokesperson says he remains committed to scrapping the federal carbon tax, though O'Toole himself no longer includes it in election-style speeches to general audiences, nor would he repeat the commitment to reporters when asked last week. Another marquee promise, to defund the CBC, is also in the wind. Spokesperson Chelsea Tucker didn't directly answer this week when asked if he would still do that if the Conservatives win power. All outlets need a fair playing field, she said in an email. "Conservatives are committed to ensuring the best path forward for Canada’s news sector." The promises on the carbon tax and on defunding the CBC were key planks for O'Toole's leadership campaign because he needed the Tory base on side to win. But as he seeks now to broaden the appeal of the party, many in caucus are expressing frustration with his approach. Recent meetings have been laced with tension and demands for change, several told The Canadian Press. Underpinning the grumbling: how kicking controversial MP Derek Sloan out of caucus played out, the appearance of a demotion from the important finance-critic post for wildly popular MP Pierre Poilievre, and frustration over the Conservatives' overarching pitch to the public. In some instances, MPs have issued their own statements when official lines out of O'Toole's office didn't jibe with their own points of view. MPs Rachael Harder and Jeremy Patzer publicly lashed out over new Liberal measures restricting travel to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, calling them draconian and an overreach, while O'Toole's office stuck with a call for compassion. Meanwhile, some MPs see focusing on anything but vaccines against COVID-19 a waste of political energy, including the recent vote on China. Others argue that O'Toole's stated focus on jobs — it was the reason Poilievre has a new title as jobs and industry critic, O'Toole says — means little without ideas to advance. O'Toole's team has partially blamed lacklustre polling on an inability to get out in front of people during the pandemic, and have tried to counter it with ad blitzes. Those efforts are also aimed at defining O'Toole before the Liberals come up with a narrative of their own. The two clashed Wednesday. As O'Toole marked six months as leader with a new ad portraying him as a serious worker, the Liberals jumped on a clip from his leadership race where he suggests he wants to put the prime minister in a portable toilet. O'Toole's office discounted the tactic as another effort by the Liberals to distract from their record, calling on them to focus instead on vaccines. There are other signs of a disconnect emerging between O'Toole and at least some of his caucus. One is over an upcoming vote in the House of Commons on a ban on conversion therapy. O'Toole says he is against the practice of forcing those questioning their gender or sexual identities into therapy but it's a free vote for his MPs. The members of his caucus who oppose the ban are organizing their own strategy sessions to frame their planned votes, work that includes O'Toole's deputy chief of staff. And the well-organized social-conservative wing of the party is gearing up for the Tories' March policy convention. The effort includes snapping up delegate spots so rapidly that some party stalwarts didn't get one, raising fears the social conservatives will be mighty enough to get controversial policies passed. Competition for spaces is a healthy sign, said party spokesman Cory Hann. "We have had more people interested in our convention than at any time in history, so of course there's going to be competitive delegate-selection meetings right across the country, which just shows how much interest there is in our party," he said. O'Toole said recently what the polls show today doesn't matter. "The Conservatives got Canada through the last global recession, better than any other country, without raising taxes. That is what we will do," he said. "And I think the polls will be on election day when Canadians want to choose that strong future." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Oshawa MPP Jennifer French is calling on the province for a public inquiry into two of Durham’s long-term care and retirement homes that saw significant COVID-19 outbreaks. In a recent letter to Premier Doug Ford, French asked for the province to support Durham Regional Council’s recent call for an investigation into Sunnycrest Nursing Home in Whitby and ThorntonView Long Term Care Home in Oshawa. An outbreak was declared at Sunnycrest Nursing Home on Nov. 23, 2020. In total, there were 195 COVID-19 cases in which 30 residents died. The outbreak at ThorntonView Long Term Care Home began on Nov. 28, 2020 and saw a total 152 cases in which 18 residents died. “The reality faced by loved ones in long term care, their caregivers and their families has been particularly distressing and often tragic,” she writes, adding she was proud to be able to work alongside surviving family members who have been grieving while advocating for change in the wake of the horrible loss of Orchard Villa Retirement Community in Pickering. Orchard Villa was the first long term care home in Durham to see a significant outbreak in the first wave of the pandemic in spring of 2020. The outbreak began on March 31, 2020 and lasted until June 11, 2020. In total, there were 306 cases and 71 deaths. “Unfortunately, as Ontarians have seen across their home communities, situations like Orchard Villa are unfolding every day,” she continues. “Families are being devastated every day. Vulnerable loved ones are suffering every day.” French says it is “beyond disappointing” that an inquiry was not called during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It has been very upsetting to see that lessons were not learned, supports were not put into place and our most vulnerable have not been protected.” Speaking with The Oshawa Express, French says families of loved ones are desperate for answers. “Families and communities are distraught that things were not put in place, supports were not put in place, staffing levels were not improved – all the recommendations from the first wave that could have been implemented as we headed into this unfortunate next chapter,” she says. “People are dying, people are suffering, and families are beside themselves.” French says the province relied too much on the vaccine as the “strategy” when it came to protecting seniors. While she says it’s important to ensure the vaccine continues to be distributed and administered, she notes that can’t be the only plan. “The calls for more staffing, the calls for investment in training, in disease protocols… we haven’t been doing that.” She notes families are “terrified,” especially with the more quickly-spreading variants that are starting to circulate. “We don’t know what we’re headed into, but we do need to be prepared. We need to be ready,” says French. “You don’t want to lose anyone you love, but if you have to lose them, you don’t want to lose them in a way that people are dying in this pandemic. It is not a nice way to die – isolated, alone and in pain and with all the other pieces of desperation, or starvation, or dehydration. It is unthinkable what we are subjecting our loved ones to.” Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general is warning of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn't address the shortage of spaces. Kim Adair-MacPherson says the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement. She says it's unclear how the province plans to address the demand. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch says 600 new nursing home beds will be opened over the next five years. He says the procedure the government uses to request proposals for new nursing homes has been streamlined, which he says should speed things up. Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, says the government should concentrate on helping seniors remain in their own homes instead of putting them into nursing residences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Veteran defender Laurent Ciman has returned to Montreal, where he started his MLS playing career, this time as an assistant coach. The 35-year-old Belgian spent three seasons in Montreal before an unwanted trade to expansion Los Angeles FC in December 2017. After one season as LAFC captain, he joined Toronto FC in December 2018 after a brief stint in France with Ligue 1's Dijon. Ciman, named MLS Defender of the Year in his first season in Montreal, became a free agent after his TFC contract expired at the end of last season. For Ciman, retirement as a player means a return home. He retained his house in Montreal and wife Diana and their two kids remained there while he played in Toronto. After a successful career in Belgium, Ciman opted to come to Canada in 2015 because of the support available here for daughter Nina, who has autism spectrum disorder. "I'm very happy to be back home," Ciman said in a statement Wednesday. "It's been my wish for a long time, and this is a great opportunity for myself and my family. I just want to contribute to the club’s growth." Ciman, who won 20 caps for his country, played in the Belgian top flight from 2004 to 2015 with Charleroi Sporting Club, Club Brugge, KV Kortrijk and Standard de Liège. He played six seasons in MLS, appearing in 136 regular-season games including 126 starts. He also played in nine playoffs games, nine Canadian Championship games and eight CONCACAF Champions League matches. "We are very happy that Laurent is joining the coaching staff and that he is back with the club," said Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard. "It is a logical and beneficial association, especially knowing the attachment Laurent has always had for this club and this city. We can now count on his experience after a fruitful career in Europe, in MLS, and on the international stage." Ciman who played 515 pro matches during his career, saw limited action with Toronto but provided key backup for the injured Omar Gonzalez in the 2019 playoffs. He was a popular member of the Toronto squad. "He's got an incredible personality … a very playful personality that I think is infectious in our group," then coach Greg Vanney said during Ciman's time in Toronto. "It's something that our group needs at times, just to be able to banter, have fun, make something sometimes that is challenging or difficult into some kind of a game within the game." Ciman was a member of the Belgian squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and saw action in Euro 2016. He missed out on the 2018 World Cup, one of Belgium's final cuts. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press