WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is filling out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signalling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump. A transition official said Biden intends to nominate Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state and Victoria Nuland as undersecretary of state for political affairs — the second- and third-highest ranking posts, respectively. They were expected to be the 11 department appointees that Biden was announcing Saturday to serve under his pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, the official said. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the appointments before the announcements and spoke on condition of anonymity. Among the others joining the Biden team are: —longtime Biden Senate aide Brian McKeon, to be deputy secretary of state for management. —former senior diplomats Bonnie Jenkins and Uzra Zeya, to be under secretary of state for arms control and undersecretary of state of democracy and human rights, respectively. —Derek Chollet, a familiar Democratic foreign policy hand, to be State Department counsellor. —former U.N. official Salman Ahmed, as director of policy planning. —Suzy George, who was a senior aide to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, will be Blinken's chief of staff. —Ned Price, a former Obama administration National Security Council staffer and career CIA official who resigned in protest in the early days of the Trump administration, will serve as the public face of the department, taking on the role of spokesman. —Jalina Porter, communications director for Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who is leaving Congress to work in the White House, will be Price's deputy. Price and Porter intend to return to the practice of holding daily State Department press briefings, officials said. Those briefings had been eliminated under the Trump administration. Jeffrey Prescott, a former national security aide when Biden was vice-president, is Biden's pick to be deputy ambassador to the United Nations, He would serve under U.N. envoy-designate Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Five of the 11 are either people of colour or LGBTQ. Although most are not household names, all are advocates of multilateralism and many are familiar in Washington and overseas foreign policy circles. Their selections are a reflection of Biden's intent to turn away from Trump's transactional and often unilateral “America First” approach to international relations. “These leaders are trusted at home and respected around the world, and their nominations signal that America is back and ready to lead the world, not retreat from it," Biden said in a statement. “They also reflect the idea that we cannot meet this new moment with unchanged thinking or habits, and that we need diverse officials who look like America at the table. They will not only repair but also reimagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation.” Sherman led the Obama administration’s negotiations leading to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, from which Trump withdrew, and had engaged in talks over ballistic missiles with North Korea during President Bill Clinton's second term. Nuland served as assistant secretary of state for European Affairs during the Ukraine crisis.. Sherman, McKeon, Nuland, Jenkins and Zeya will require Senate confirmation to their posts while the others will not. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Toronto police arrested three people amid anti-lockdown protests in the city on Saturday, including two people who allegedly organized the demonstrations and a protester who allegedly assaulted a police officer. Toronto police also laid 18 charges of failure to comply with the provincial stay-at-home order that's currently in effect. A Toronto Police Service spokesperson said they were unable to say if it was 18 individuals who were charged or if some individuals are facing multiple charges. No further information has been released on the exact offences A large group flouted the province's stay-at-home order by staging an anti-mask protest in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square before marching down Yonge Street. Toronto police later reported there were two large gatherings in the core. Video shared on social media showed a line of police officers in the square, with one warning people to disperse. There was also at least one video of an apparent arrest. Toronto police said two people, a 49-year-old man and 38-year-old woman, were arrested and each face a criminal nuisance charge. Police allege they were the event organizers. Police later said they arrested a 22-year-old man who allegedly assaulted a police officer. The man is also facing criminal charges including assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer. "The Toronto Police Service continues to respond to calls to attend large gatherings and will take steps to disperse. Police will issue tickets and summonses to individuals when there is evidence of non-compliance of the provincial order," police said in a news release. Police said more details about tickets and fines could be released in the coming days. Another video shows Henry Hildebrandt, a pastor from Aylmer, Ont., who has been critical of the province's lockdown orders, hanging out of an SUV window to hug and high-five maskless demonstrators. This is the first weekend the order has been in place, and questions continue to swirl about how it will go — including how police will enforce the rules. Others are worried about people who aren't protesting but who could be the target of a crackdown during the stay-at-home order. Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician, told CBC News Network he's concerned people of colour or those dealing with poverty will be the target of law enforcement. WATCH | Policing Ontario's lockdown order will hurt racialized communities, doctor says: Health Minister Christine Elliott continued to urge people to stay inside and away from others as much as possible. "Stay home, stay safe, save lives," she said on Twitter. Record-high number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs Earlier, Ontario announced 3,056 new COVID-19 cases and 51 more deaths — as well as a record-high number of coronavirus patients in intensive care. The province is also tweaking its vaccination plan to deal with a looming shortage of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. There are now a record 420 COVID-19 patients in the province's intensive care units, new data from Critical Care Services Ontario shows. Provincial data is slightly behind but shows 1,632 people are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus and at least 281 of those patients require a ventilator. The province also recorded 51 more deaths, a day after reporting a record 100 deaths on Friday. In total, 5,340 Ontarians with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic early last year. At least 27 of those deaths took place in long-term care homes. Currently, 246 long-term care homes in the province are dealing with an outbreak — nearly 40 per cent of all facilities. The seven-day average of new cases declined to 3,218, and the provincewide test positivity rate was 4.9 per cent, with 73,875 tests completed. A further 3,212 cases were marked resolved. There are 903 new COVID-19 cases in Toronto, 629 in Peel Region, 283 in York Region, 162 in Durham Region and 152 in Ottawa. 2nd vaccine dose delayed Elliott said the province has now administered 189,090 vaccines in the province. However, the vaccine rollout will soon face another hurdle. The federal government announced Friday that Pfizer-BioNTech will deliver fewer vaccines to Canada in the near future as it reworks some of its production lines. In Ontario, provincial health officials say the first phase of the vaccination plan will continue, but the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will now be pushed back from 21 to 27 days for those in long-term care or retirement homes, or for those caring for seniors. Other recipients, such as health-care workers, will see their second dose pushed back to between 21 and 42 days after the first jab. Those who received the Moderna vaccine will see no change, as the second dose of that vaccine is delivered 28 days after the first. Enforcement blitz at big box stores Shoppers stocking up at big box stores in the Greater Toronto Area could see provincial inspectors this weekend. The government said earlier this week that 50 inspectors will be out to ensure big box stores are complying with the province's new rules. Walmart and Costco, for example, have been able to stay open during Ontario's lockdown, while most small stores have been reduced to curbside pickup. The inspectors, who will be joined by local bylaw and police officers, have recently been invested with the authority to fine individuals — both employees and customers — up to $750 for failing to wear masks properly and to physically distance. Inspectors will also be checking to ensure that big box retailers are actively maintaining in-store capacity at a maximum of 25 per cent, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said. "If these conditions are not met, I will not hesitate to shut down any big box store anywhere in this province," McNaughton said earlier this week. The enforcement is taking place primarily in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region.
New Brunswick is reporting 27 new cases of COVID-19 spread across six regions of the province on Saturday. The province has experienced a surge over the past two weeks, prompting officials to move all health zones to the orange recovery phase. The province has 267 active cases. There were 24 active cases on Jan. 1. The new cases include: Moncton region, seven cases: an individual 19 and under. an individual 20-29. three people 30-39. an individual 50-59. and an individual 60-69. Saint John region, four cases: two people 19 and under. an individual 40-49. an individual 90-99. Fredericton region, four cases: an individual 40-49. an individual 60-69. and two people 70-79. Edmundston region, seven cases: an individual 19 and under. an individual 20-29. an individual 30-39. an individual 40-49. two people 50-59. an individual 60-69. Campbellton region, three cases: an individual 19 and under. an individual 20-29. an individual 50-59. Bathurst region, two cases: two people 20-29. The Miramichi region reported no new cases and is the only region in the province with no active cases. New Brunswick has confirmed 911 total cases. Three people are in the hospital related to the virus. The province has recorded 631 recoveries and 12 deaths. The death of a 13th person with COVID-19 was not related to the disease. Officers visited 172 sites earlier this week and found 99.4% of all patrons were wearing masks, according to a press release. Employee compliance with mask use was 88.9%. The province said warnings were issued and businesses breaking the rules during future inspections could face fines of up to $10,000. Tucker Hall reports case Shannex Parkland Saint John is reporting a new case of COVID-19 involving a resident as part of an outbreak at its Tucker Hall nursing home. The company announced the new case in a statement released late Friday. The facility has 15 residents with the virus along with nine employees. Three residents of Lily Court died last week. Tucker Hall began receiving doses of the vaccine on Friday after Public Health officials reversed an earlier decision not to vaccinate at nursing homes experiencing outbreaks The units most affected at the long-term care homes experiencing outbreaks will not receive vaccine. Two parts of Tucker Hall, Lily Court and Portland Court are currently excluded. Shannex said it plans to retest all residents and employees of Tucker Hall next week. All results from the last round of testing on Thursday have been returned. The province has 170,985 tests since the the start of the pandemic, including 1,729 since Friday's update. More doses due to arrive More doses are expected to be delivered to long-term care facilities in the coming days. Premier Blaine Higgs said a shipment of Moderna vaccine that arrived in the province Thursday will be used to immunize residents and staff in eight long-term care facilities. New Brunswick has administered more than 7,700 vaccine doses, according to the latest figures from Public Health. Of that group, 1,862 have received a second dose. Vitalité reduces services Some hospital services are being reduced in northwestern New Brunswick in response to growing cases of COVID-19. Vitalité Health Network said the changes will impact the Edmundston Regional Hospital, Grand Falls General Hospital, and Hôtel-Dieu-Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin. Service reductions will vary at each facility depending on capacity and the situation in the community, according to the health authority. Vitalité is asking the public to limit emergency department visits to critical situations. Those facilities remain open for people who need urgent care. Dr. John Tobin, head of the family medicine department in Zone 4 for the Vitalite Health Network, said hospitals in the northwest are maintaining designated space in the event COVID-positive patients are admitted. "If we can delay the treatment or the surgery for a few days for a few maybe weeks, it might be delayed," he said. "But this is without saying every patient that needs urgent surgery or cancer treatment surgery will be treated." Exposure notification Public Health identified a possible public exposure where a passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 may have been infectious on the follow flight: Air Canada Flight 8910 – from Toronto to Moncton departed on Dec. 31 at 11:23 a.m. A Saint John restaurant has posted on Facebook that it is closed after being told an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 was inside. East Side Mario's said in the post that it will be closed for 48 for a deep clean. Public Health did not issue a notice about the restaurant. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
BEIJING — China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad. The hospital is one of six with a total of 6,500 rooms being built in Nangong, south of Beijing in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency said. China had largely contained the coronavirus that first was detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has suffered a surge of cases since December. A total of 645 people are being treated in Nangong and the Hebei provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, Xinhua said. A 3,000-room hospital is under construction in Shijiazhuang. Virus clusters also have been found in Beijing and the provinces of Heilongjiang and Liaoning in the northeast and Sichuan in the southwest. The latest infections spread unusually fast, the National Health Commission said. “It is harder to handle,” a Commission statement said. “Community transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is difficult to prevent.” The Commission blamed the latest cases on people or goods arriving from abroad. It blamed “abnormal management” and “inadequate protection of workers” involved in imports but gave no details. “They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or contaminated cold chain imported goods,” said the statement. The Chinese government has suggested the disease might have originated abroad and publicized what it says is the discovery of the virus on imported food, mostly frozen fish, though foreign scientists are skeptical. Also Saturday, the city government of Beijing said travellers arriving in the Chinese capital from abroad would be required to undergo an additional week of “medical monitoring” after a 14-day quarantine but gave no details. Nationwide, the Health Commission reported 130 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. It said 90 of those were in Hebei. On Saturday, the Hebei government reported 32 additional cases since midnight, the Shanghai news outlet The Paper reported. In Shijiazhuang, authorities have finished construction of 1,000 rooms of the planned hospital, state TV said Saturday. Xinhua said all the facilities are due to be completed within a week. A similar program of rapid hospital construction was launched by the ruling Communist Party at the start of the outbreak last year in Wuhan. More than 10 million people in Shijiazhuang underwent virus tests by late Friday, Xinhua said, citing a deputy mayor, Meng Xianghong. It said 247 locally transmitted cases were found. Meanwhile, researchers sent by the World Health Organization were in Wuhan preparing to investigate the origins of the virus. The team, which arrived Thursday, was under a two-week quarantine but was due to talk with Chinese experts by video link. The team's arrival was held up for months by diplomatic wrangling that prompted a rare public complaint by the head of the WHO. That delay, and the secretive ruling party’s orders to scientists not to talk publicly about the disease, have raised questions about whether Beijing might try to block discoveries that would hurt its self-proclaimed status as a leader in the anti-virus battle. Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
TRANSPORT. Avec 15 à 30 centimètres de neige accompagnés de fortes rafales de vent qui pourraient toucher plusieurs secteurs du Québec, le ministère des Transports invite les usagers de la route à être prudents. «Le Ministère tient d'ailleurs à rassurer tous les usagers de la route dont les déplacements essentiels sont autorisés en fonction des règles imposées par le couvre-feu en vigueur : les opérations de déneigement seront effectuées normalement, et ce, de jour comme de nuit. Toutefois, il est possible que le faible achalandage sur les routes puisse diminuer l'efficacité des sels de déglaçage, d'où l'importance de redoubler de prudence lors des déplacements essentiels effectués», indique-t-on en précisant que certaines ressources d'hébergement temporaires pourraient ne pas être disponibles en raison de la pandémie. Le Ministère suggère donc de planifier ses déplacements en conséquence. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Beset by political infighting, split between three territories and distrustful of their institutions, many Palestinians are sceptical that their first national elections in 15 years will bring change - or even happen at all. President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held later this year in a bid to heal long-standing divisions. The announcement is widely seen as a gesture aimed at pleasing U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with whom the Palestinians want to reset relations after they reached a low under Donald Trump.
IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier this week, tinting the sky pink and the snow a purple hue. The sun washed over the frozen tundra and sparkling sea ice for an hour — and was gone. Monday marked the return of the sun in the Arctic community of about 1,700 after six weeks of darkness, but an overcast sky that day meant the light couldn't get through. Pamela Gross, Cambridge Bay's mayor, said the town gathered two days later, on a clear day, to celebrate. Gross, along with elders and residents, rushed down to the shore as the darkness broke around 10 a.m. "It was joyous. It's such a special feeling to see it come back," Gross said. Elders Mary Akariuk Kaotalok and Bessie Pihoak Omilgoetok, both in their 80s, were there. As Omilgoetok saw the sun rise, she was reminded of a tradition her grandparents taught her. Each person takes a drink of water to welcome and honour the sun, then throws the water toward it to ensure it returns the following year. Gross filled some Styrofoam cups with water and, after taking a sip, tossed the rest at the orange sky behind her. "I didn’t know about that tradition before. We learned about it through her memory being sparked through watching the sun rise." Although the sun's return was a happy moment, the past year was especially difficult for the community, Gross said. She wouldn't elaborate. "Being such a small community, people really know each other, so we feel community tragedies together. There were a few that we’ve gone though this year," she said. Gross said restrictions on gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant losses in the community felt even more heavy. "It made it extra challenging to be close as a community ... and for your loves ones if they’re going through a hard time." Getting the sun back helps. "It's hard mentally to have a lack of sun, but the feeling of not having it for so long and seeing it return is so special. You can tell it uplifts everyone." The return of the sun is celebrated in communities across Nunavut. Igloolik, off northern Baffin Island, will see the sun return this weekend. But the community of about 1,600 postponed its annual return ceremony to March because of limits on gathering sizes during the pandemic. In the territory's more northern areas, the sun slips away day by day in the fall, then disappears for months at a time. Grise Fiord, the most northern community in Nunavut, loses sun from November to mid-February. But in the summer, the sun stays up 24 hours a day. Now that the sun has returned in Cambridge Bay, the community will gain 20 more minutes of light as each day passes. “The seasons are so drastic. It really gives you a sense of endurance knowing that you can get through challenging times," Gross said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
New Brunswick writer Richard Vaughan's life and legacy is now being celebrated through a virtual art exhibition. The acclaimed author, poet and playwright died in Fredericton in October. He was 55. Known as Cut. Paste. Resist. Redux, the multimedia exhibition consists of film strips created from collages. Those images are paired with voiceovers of friends and colleagues reading various excerpts from his poetry, chat books and novels. Marie Maltais, director of the UNB Arts Centre, helped organize the project and described Vaughan as "a shining star of New Brunswick's cultural scene." She said the exhibit is a way to "bring back the genius" of the writer. "He was an advocate, he was someone who was very down to earth, you could approach him," Maltais said. Vaughan was born in Saint John, but lived and worked in Montreal, Toronto and Berlin before returning to his home province last year to work as writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick. He wrote under the name R.M. Vaughan. He is remembered as a pioneer for LGBTQ artists and a talented writer who could address many subjects. The new exhibit was inspired by a collage project Vaughan organized with Ken Moffatt, the Jack Layton chair at Ryerson University, early last year. They put out a call for submissions from community members focused on the theme of resistance. More than 200 collages came in from around the world, and were displayed as part of the Cut, Paste, Resist art show at UNB. That initial show has evolved into the project presented online this month in Vaughan's memory. Maltais reached out to Moffatt shortly after Vaughan's death to collaborate on the project. It is being held virtually on the centre's website because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded readings from 17 different people will be released throughout the month. The response to the show has been positive, with people sharing fond memories. Maltais said she remembers Vaughan as someone who really cared about his students and the cultural community. "I have spoken to a few people that were mentored by him, and it is really a terrible loss," she said.
COVID-19. Faisant suite aux récentes déclarations du gouvernement canadien, notamment en ce qui a trait à la manipulation de la posologie des vaccins, le Parti libéral exige que le gouvernement du Québec clarifie sa stratégie. La porte-parole de l’opposition officielle en matière de Santé, Marie Montpetit, met particulièrement l’accent sur le fait que la stratégie ne doit pas avoir de conséquences sur l'immunité des Québécois ni sur l'approvisionnement des vaccins. «Le gouvernement du Québec n'a pas le droit à l'erreur dans ce dossier. Il doit avoir la certitude que ses décisions n'affectent pas l'efficacité des vaccins et ne remettent pas en cause leur approvisionnement. L'improvisation et les approximations n'ont pas leur place dans la situation actuelle et je demande donc au ministre de clarifier la situation et d'en informer adéquatement la population. Il en va de la réussite de la vaccination et de notre capacité à se sortir de cette pandémie», souligne Marie Montpetit. Pour la députée de Maurice-Richard, le gouvernement devra notamment s'assurer de dire publiquement et avec exactitude à quel intervalle les citoyens recevront leur deuxième dose du vaccin. La porte-parole libérale en matière de Santé insiste également sur la nécessité que cette nouvelle posologie soit approuvée par les autorités compétentes et par les fournisseurs du vaccin. À ce sujet, Marie Montpetit rappelle que les vaccins BioNTech/Pfizer et Moderna ont été approuvés par Santé Canada sur la base d'une posologie très stricte. En ce moment, aucune des deux entreprises n'a modifié cette posologie et Santé Canada n'a approuvé aucun changement. Cette situation est préoccupante et doit être corrigée immédiatement selon le Parti libéral du Québec. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WOLVERHAMPTON, England — West Bromwich Albion collected only its second win in the Premier League — and first under new manager Sam Allardyce — as two penalties by Matheus Pereira helped to earn a 3-2 victory over Wolverhampton on Saturday. Allardyce was unable to call upon two key players — goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and winger Matt Phillips — after they contracted the coronavirus, but West Brom still managed to boost its survival hopes with its first win since beating Sheffield United on Nov. 28. Pereira slotted home his first penalty in the fourth minute after Callum Robinson was tripped at the edge of the penalty area, but Wolves fought back to lead at halftime thanks to goals by Fabio Silva in the 38th and Willy Boly in the 43rd. Centre half Semi Ajayi scored for the third time since Allardyce arrived a month ago after a header following a long throw-in in the 52nd minute, and Pereira regained the lead for West Brom four minutes later from a penalty again won by Robinson. West Brom remained in next-to-last place, but moved in sight of safety. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
'Significant growth' in the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) could help keep taxes down while increasing the cash available for the town to spend in 2021. TBM will be finalizing its 2021 budget in early February, which currently proposes a 1.3 per cent tax rate increase. “The actual tax levy is increasing by 5.2 per cent. However, because we've seen significant growth, we are going to receive an extra $635,988 in tax revenue. So, the end result is that there's a 1.3 per cent tax rate increase,” stated Ruth Prince, director of finance and IT for TBM. “The town has been in a very fortunate position.” The proposed budget outlines an average residential property tax bill of $5,466 based on an assessment of $620,000. Of the $5,466, 17.4 per cent or $949 would be filtered to the education tax; 41.3 per cent or $2,256 is allocated to Grey County and $2,256 or 41.4 per cent remains in TBM. Assessments for 2021 have been frozen at the 2020 assessment rate level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So, what does that mean for an average town tax bill? If your assessment is that $620,000, you may see the town portion increased [from 2020] by $31,” Prince said. In the proposed budget, the town’s capital budget totals $23.6 million with 13 per cent of the funding coming from development charges and the remaining funds being drawn from long-term debt, property owners and reserves. Capital projects outlined for 2021 include the Camperdown Wastewater Extension, upgrades to Jozo Weider Boulevard, replacement of two bridges, as well as replacing an aerial pumper in the fire department's fleet. “We are being prudent, but we are trying to do a lot,” stated TBM Mayor, Alar Soever. TBM has outlined four studies that are expected to be completed in 2021 – the town’s density/intensification study, the Leisure Activity Plan, a compensation review and the Fire Master Plan. Town staff and council have also suggested additions to the base budget, including several new staff positions: an administrative assistant to committees; a communications assistant; a communications coordinator; a fire prevention inspector; an additional landfill operator; a contract building inspector; permit and inspection assistant; lot development technologist; and a development reviewer. In addition, TBM has outlined plans to pursue the creation of a dog park in Craigleith, installation of EV charging stations, adding a parks vehicle to its fleet and has also diverted funds into the communications department for additional advertising. The base budget additions total $917,550, with $496,680 being drawn from taxation. Four departments in TBM – water, wastewater, harbour and building departments – are funded through user fees, not taxation. “In terms of water and wastewater rates, there is no change to the water consumption, but there is a two per cent proposed increase to the wastewater consumption charge, and that would see an increase of approximately $6 a year,” Prince said. The draft budget also proposes several changes to the fee structure at the Thornbury Harbour, including a $2-per-foot increase to the Seasonal Mooring fees. Town staff have been actively working on the draft budget since June and TBM council held budget deliberation meetings on Dec. 2, 7 and 9, as well as a public meeting on Jan. 11. Comments received at the public meeting included concerns around the Camperdown Wastewater Extension project, affordability for seniors on a fixed income, and housing concerns. “Young families are effectively being precluded from living in the area as they simply cannot afford to live here. Home prices [are] rising at an alarming rate and [there is] alack of housing inventory available,” stated Katie Bell, in a letter to council. “The town deferred 2020 tax bill payment by one month in an effort to help residents meet the payment indicating the council acknowledges the difficult economic environment. Now, instead of continued support to the constituents, council will introduce a tax hike,” Bell continued. The Blue Mountain Ratepayers Association (BMRA), which has its own budget review committee, performed an analysis of the TBM draft budget and presented a deputation to TBM council on Dec. 8. In its deputation to council, the BMRA applauded the town for their continued efforts in remaining fiscally responsible while addressing the needs of the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the group drew some concerns around the town’s ability to complete capital projects in a timely manner. “Depreciation is greater than new capital builds and has been for some time,” stated Brian Harkness, chair of BMRA's budget review committee in the deputation to council. The BMRA is also continuing its efforts in trying to find justification in the large percentage of tax dollars that is allocated to the county, in comparison to other lower-tier municipalities in the region. “BMRA is concerned about the increasing amount of municipal tax assessment dollars directed to the county and not available for the town to spend on needed capital projects, such as a modern community centre,” Harkness continued. Currently, 41.3 per cent of the tax dollars collected from TBM residents is allocated to Grey County. In 2020, the average TBM resident paid $2,268 in tax dollars to Grey County, which is the highest paid by any resident of all nine Grey County municipalities. The Municipality of Grey Highlands held the second-highest contribution rate in 2020, contributing, on average, $1,483 per resident. Comments from the public meeting will be presented to council in a staff report on Jan. 26, where council members will take one final look at the proposed draft budget. “We're now at 1.37 [per cent increase], but we're going to be meeting to fine tune things once a public meeting where everybody will have a chance to provide some more comments,” Soever said, adding that council members hope to reduce expenditures further to reach a zero per cent tax increase. The budget bylaw will appear before council for final approval on Feb. 8. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Brazil's government will not seek to bar Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from 5G network auctions slated for June this year, newspaper Estado de S. Paulo reported on Saturday, citing government and industry sources. Financial costs potentially worth billions of dollars and the exit of ally President Donald Trump from the White House are forcing President Jair Bolsonaro to backtrack on his opposition to Huawei bidding to provide the next generation cellular network for carriers in Brazil, the paper said.
COVID-19. Dans une étude produite pour le Ministère de la Famille, Christine Gervais de l’Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) s’est penchée sur l’expérience de 111 enfants et adolescents d’âge scolaire de la pandémie de la COVID-19 ainsi que ses effets sur eux-mêmes et leur parent durant la période du 30 avril au 20 mai. Si la fin du confinement du printemps 2020 semble contribuer à l’amélioration du bien-être et de la santé mentale des parents et des enfants, il importe de souligner que les parents sont encore nombreux à ressentir un faible bien-être ainsi que des symptômes anxieux importants. Si les enfants démontrent une bonne connaissance des enjeux liés à la pandémie et semble s’y adapter plutôt bien, c’est sans doute grâce à l’environnement sécurisant qu’arrive à créer leurs malgré l’incertitude ambiante. «Il nous apparaît cependant important de nous préoccuper collectivement de la persistance dans le temps des stress auxquels les familles doivent s’adapter, et de la fatigue que ressentiront de nombreux parents, enfants et adolescents face à la deuxième vague de la pandémie et au retour de mesure de distanciation plus strictes, qui pourraient limiter leur capacité d’adaptation», indique Christine Gervais en précisant que la préoccupation liée à l’épuisement des ressources adaptatives de jeunes et de leur parent est encore plus importante pour les familles qui évoluent en contexte de vulnérabilité. La professeure en sciences infirmières de l’UQO note également que l’enthousiasme des jeunes à partager leur expérience témoigne du peu de tribunes dont ils disposent pour s’exprimer, de leur souhait d’être consultés et écoutés dans la prise de décision qui les concerne, particulièrement celles liées à l’école, et de la pertinence de s’intéresser à leur point de vue. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Prince Rupert resident Sharlene Wilson was in her early 60s when she lost her job of more than 30 years in October 2019. A month later, legal advocate Paul Lagace with the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Centre filed a complaint with the B.C. Employment Standards Branch on her behalf, arguing she should be entitled to eight weeks' severance. More than a year later, Wilson is dead, and the branch has yet to look at her case. Lagace is now acting on behalf of her estate. "I'm so frustrated and I'm tired of the runaround," Lagace said. 'Severe stress' on workers The Employment Standards Branch is the service that oversees B.C.'s Employment Standards Act. It deals with complaints like severance, working conditions and lost wages. Legal advocates like Lagace say wait times at the branch have become unacceptable, especially given that many of the people who file complaints are low-wage workers with no other recourse. David Madiros, a lawyer with Kent Employment Law, says his clients have had to wait 10 months or longer before the branch will even touch their case. "It puts a severe stress on people," Madiros said. "Many people who are in the service industry or who are hourly wage workers don't have a lot of a cushion to fall back on." Madiros says he advises his clients to take their matters to B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal for small claims when possible. But he says some cases have to be filed through the Employment Standards Branch. Backlog due to pandemic, increased services Lagace says even trying to just call the branch for an update has become unbearable, with wait times of two hours or more. In a written statement, B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains admits there is a backlog of complaints. Although it's been more than three years since they were in power, Bains blames it on the previous Liberal government. "In 2017, our government inherited a system that was failing to serve workers," Bains said in the statement. Other reasons the ministry gave for the backlog include the elimination of the branch's self-help kits in 2019, doubling the time to submit a complaint to a year, the new inclusion of temporary foreign workers and, of course, the pandemic. "I think everyone understands that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on British Columbians," Bains said. "The pandemic has certainly contributed to the increase in worker complaints coming into the branch." Complaints nearly double in 4 years The ministry says the Employment Standards Branch received about 7,700 complaints in 2020, compared to 4,260 complaints in 2016. But legal advocate Lagace says Wilson's case was filed months before the pandemic was declared. Regardless of what's causing the problem, Lagace says, wait times of more than a year to even get a case started, let alone resolved, is unacceptable for the people who rely on the Employment Standards Branch for lost wages. 'It was very difficult' Wilson's husband, Henry Richard Wilson, says waiting to find out about her severance put a lot of stress on his wife, who died in June from heart surgery complications. "Just seeing her reaction to her job was extremely devastating," Wilson said. "It was very difficult." Wilson, a stroke survivor, says waiting to hear about his wife's case has been frustrating, and a resolution would help put him and his two daughters at ease. Lagace wants the Labour Ministry to apologize to Wilson, and make significant changes at the branch so cases like hers can be expedited. Bains says in 2019 the ministry did invest an additional $14 million in the branch over three years, including hiring 35 more staff, streamlining processes and triaging cases.
On Monday, December 21, 2020, Churchbridge Mayor Bill Johnston called the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council present and accounted for. He then called Julian Kaminski forward to recognize the work Julian has done as the caretaker of the hall for over the last ten years. Brittney Maddaford, CPA next gave an auditor presentation to the council and members of the public that were in attendance. Maddaford walked the council through their financial statements and what’s included in them. Councillor N. Thies made a presentation to the council about setting up two electric chargers in town for electric cars. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to move this idea to the planning committee; motion carried. Moving on, the council reviewed the agenda prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept the agenda as amended; motion carried. The council reviewed the minutes of the November 23, 2020, regular meeting as well as the December 1, 2020, special meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the minutes which was carried. Council standing committee notes were next. N. Thies attended a fire department meeting and updated the council regarding the fire department. Administrator Renea Paridaen was next to give the administrator report. The sidewalk was replaced on Vincent Ave. but it has cracks on it now; there is no warranty. Some maintenance to the heating units was done to various town facilities including the town office furnace which wasn’t working. Council members have been registered for the Municipalities of Saskatchewan meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the reports which was carried. Under old business, R. Thies made a motion to have a third reading of Bylaw 2020-014, The by-law for incurring Debt; motion carried. The World’s Biggest Bike, stationed in Churchbridge was next to be discussed. Councillor Antosh-Cusistar made a motion to have the former owner of the big blue bike remove it by June 1, 2021; motion carried. Council Procedures Bylaw 2020-015, Council Procedures Bylaw received its second reading with a motion by R. Thies; motion carried. The third reading of Bylaw 2020-015 was made by Councillor N. Thies; motion carried. Cedar Crescent East Development was discussed next. Councillors N. Thies and R. Thies declared a conflict of interest and left the meeting, Mayor Johnston had a discussion with a resident beside the development who has a few concerns, it will be looked into having a public meeting to openly discuss the development with a motion from Councillor Antosh-Cusitar; motion carried. The topic of pest control officers was next to be discussed. The town requires pest control officers with a valid Possession and Acquisition Certificate, a criminal record check and liability insurance. The council reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Membership requisition was received; tabled. The Go out and Play Challenge request was sent to the town, asking if they would participate in the challenge and rally the community. The Murals Committee has sent a request to the town and Councillor Vaughan made a motion to defer this matter to the strategic planning committee; motion carried. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to file the correspondence; motion carried. The list of accounts for approval was reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pay the accounts; motion carried. The November financial statement and bank reconciliation were reviewed next, prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept which was carried. Under new business, Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016 was discussed prior to Councillor R. Thies making the recommendation to change the bylaw; motion carried. Councillor N. Thies made the motion to have the first reading of Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016; motion carried. A by-election proposal was next discussed. On April 7, 2021, there will be a by-election. After the resignation of Ralph Soltys, there is a need for a by-election to fill the empty council chair. Councillor Antosh-Cusitar motion to accept which was carried. Christmas office closure was discussed. Councillor Antosh- Cusitar made a motion to close the town office on December 24th which was carried. Councillor N.Thies asked if there is a way a councillor can donate their remuneration back to the town. The bylaw respecting buildings (2020-017) was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made the resolution to have the first reading, which was carried. A motion was made to have the second reading, made by N. Thies; motion carried. A motion was made by N. Thies to go ahead to the third reading; carried unanimously. A Fibre Optic Cable Proposal was next to be discussed. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to have the administration help develop a Municipal Access Agreement; motion carried. The appointment of the Town of Churchbridge Administrator was next to be discussed. Council made a motion to appoint Renea Paridaen as Administrator for the Town of Churchbridge. She had not been officially appointed; motion carried. Backflow Prevention Testing was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to test the backflow as required; motion carried. Policy Manual 2021 Revisions were reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pass the revisions which was carried. The council then moved in-camera. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Canadian scientists in a nationwide network of labs are on a mission to detect and disrupt the new and highly contagious coronavirus variants in the U.K. and South Africa. Dawna Friesen takes us inside the hunt for the new variants.
Collette Catto of Whitehorse loves to cook. She also likes to be creative. She's been making bannock since she was a young girl, but she recently hit on something that's proving to be a mouth-watering hit — stuffed bannock. "I make bannock with stuffed bacon and cheese. People like the bacon and cheese," she said. Catto started off with her basic bannock recipe and then she had the idea. "I started rolling it out and making it flat, so I added a bit more flour to make it pliable so that I could use it when I was making Indian tacos," Catto said. "So then I started messing around with it one day, and started testing things out on my family to see if they liked it." Bacon-and-cheese was one successful recipe, bannock-wrapped burgers was another. Cooking through a pandemic Catto is originally from Haines Junction, Yukon. Her family moved to Whitehorse in September. They noticed immediately the higher costs of living in the city and wanted to help those that were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. She's been taking bannock orders online for people to pick up, and sometimes she delivers. Demand has been going up. "I usually sell to individuals, raise money and then just donate it to who needs it for some of their bills or to help pay their rent. You know, things like that," Catto said. "It's a small world and we're all going through a lot of stuff, so we're just trying to help out where we can." Catto says at peak times, she's been selling hundreds of pieces of bannock. The most important meal of the day Catto's most recent experiment was a breakfast-stuffed bannock. She says the feedback she has received already is encouraging. "The people that have picked them up, they love it. They're like, 'where has this been? It's incredible,'" Catto said. Catto says she plans to continue experimenting with what she can put in a piece of bannock "We were thinking chicken tacos. We were thinking maybe pizza. It's an endless supply of thoughts. We just enjoy cooking and it keeps me busy."
WASHINGTON — When Joe Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday outside a wounded U.S. Capitol, he will begin reshaping the office of the presidency itself as he sets out to lead a bitterly divided nation struggling with a devastating pandemic and an insurrection meant to stop his ascension to power. Biden had campaigned as a rebuke to President Donald Trump, a singular figure whose political power was fueled by discord and grievance. The Democrat framed his election as one to “heal the soul” of the nation and repair the presidency, restoring the White House image as a symbol of stability and credibility. In ways big and small, Biden will look to change the office he will soon inhabit. Incendiary tweets are out, wonky policy briefings are in. Biden, as much an institutionalist as Trump has been a disruptor, will look to change the tone and priorities of the office. “It really is about restoring some dignity to the office, about picking truth over lies, unity over division,” Biden said soon after he launched his campaign. “It’s about who we are.” The White House is about 2 miles up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, where broken windows, heavy fortifications and hundreds of National Guard members provide a visible reminder of the power of a president’s words. Trump's supporters left a Jan. 6 rally by the president near the White House to commit violence in his name at the Capitol, laying siege to the citadel of democracy and underscoring the herculean task Biden faces in trying to heal the nation’s searing divisions. Few presidents have taken on the job having thought more about the mark he wants to make on it than Biden. He has spent more than 40 years in Washington and captured the White House after two previous failed attempts. He frequently praises his former boss, President Barack Obama, as an example of how to lead during crisis. “Biden’s main task is going to be need to be to reestablish the symbol of the White House to the world as a place of integrity and good governance. Because right now everything is in disarray,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “But Biden is uniquely situated to do this, his whole life has been spent in Washington and he spent eight years watching the job up close.” The changes will be sweeping, starting with the president's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 400,000 American lives. The sharp break from Trump won’t just come in federal policy, but in personal conduct. Trump flouted the virus, his staff largely eschewing masks in the warren of cramped West Wing offices while the president hosted “superspreader” events at the White House and on the road. Biden’s team is considering having many staffers work from home; those who do enter the building will wear masks. Biden has already been vaccinated, something Trump, who got the virus last fall, has chosen not to do despite suggestions that it would set an example for the nation. Biden’s approach to the day-to-day responsibilities of the office will also be a break from his predecessor. For one, Twitter won't be a principal source of news. Trump’s trail of tweets has roiled the capital for four years. Across Washington, phones would buzz with alerts anytime the president used his most potent political weapon to attack Democrats and keep Republicans in line. Biden’s tweets tend to be bland news releases and policy details with the occasional “Here’s the deal, folks” thrown in for good measure. Allied lawmakers are unlikely to have to pretend not to have seen the latest posting in order to avoid commenting on it. Biden has said he wants Americans to view the president as a role model again; no more coarse and demeaning language or racist, divisive rhetoric. His team has promised to restore daily news briefings and the president-elect does not refer to the press as “the enemy of the people.” But it remains to be seen whether he will be as accessible as Trump, who until his postelection hibernation, took more questions from reporters than any of his recent predecessors. While Trump filled out much of his Cabinet and White House staff with relatives, political neophytes and newcomers to government, Biden has turned to seasoned hands, bringing in Obama administration veterans and career officials. Policy papers will be back in vogue and governing by cable chyron likely out. Trump was mostly indifferent to the machinations of Congress, at times appearing to be an observer of his own administration. Biden, a longtime senator who will have Democratic control of both houses, is positioned to use the weight of his office to push an ambitious legislative agenda. His team will be tested, though, by the tumult at home: a virus that is killing more than 4,000 people a day, a sluggish vaccination distribution program, a worsening economy and contention over the upcoming second impeachment trial for Trump. Biden also has as much work ahead repairing the image of the presidency overseas as he does on American shores. Trump repositioned the United States in the world, pulling the U.S. out of a number of multilateral trade deals and climate agreements in favour of a more insular foreign policy. His ever-shifting beliefs and moods strained relations with some of the nation’s oldest allies, including much of Western Europe. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, Trump fostered competition, not co-operation, on research and vaccine development. Trump also abandoned the tradition role the president plays in shining a light on human rights abuses around the world. Biden, who spent years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and had a vast foreign policy portfolio as vice-president, has pledged a course correction. He has promised to repair alliances, rejoin the Paris climate treaty and the World Health Organization and said he would shore up U.S. national security by first addressing health, economic and political crises at home. Offering the White House as a symbol of stability to global capitals won’t be easy for Biden as Trump’s shadow looms. “He has a structural problem and needs to make the U.S. seem more reliable. We’re diminished in stature and less predictable,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He noted that even after Biden’s win, the European Union bolstered ties to China with a new investment treaty. “Everyone around the world is hedging, they have no idea if Biden’s a one-term president or what could come after him,” Haass said. “There is a fear across the world that Trump or Trumpism could return in four years.” ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
NASA's deep space exploration rocket built by Boeing briefly ignited all four engines of its behemoth core stage for the first time on Saturday, cutting short a crucial test to advance a years-delayed U.S. government program to return humans to the moon in the next few years. Mounted in a test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the Space Launch System’s (SLS) 212-foot tall core stage roared to life at 4:27 p.m. local time (2227 GMT) for just over a minute — well short of the roughly four minutes engineers needed to stay on track for the rocket's first launch in November this year. "Today was a good day," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a press conference after the test, adding "we got lots of data that we're going to be able to sort through" to determine if a do-over is needed and whether a November 2021 debut launch date is still possible.
Thousands of genomic sequences have been identified from the original strain of the novel coronavirus. Depending on the rate of transmission and efforts to curb infections, the variant will either die out or dominate. Crystal Goomansingh explains how researchers are tracking the virus as it evolves.