Ontario Premier Doug Ford is lashing out at people protesting COVID-19 lockdown measures outside his house. During his daily briefing, Ford called the protesters "buffoons" and asked them to respect his family and neighbours.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is lashing out at people protesting COVID-19 lockdown measures outside his house. During his daily briefing, Ford called the protesters "buffoons" and asked them to respect his family and neighbours.
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
A former residence for horse racing jockeys is now being used to give Edmontonians struggling with homelessness better odds at finding a home. The former jockey dorms at Northlands have been renovated and operating as a bridge housing facility for the past month. Kevin Chapman, 56, has been staying at the dorms for about a month. He's one of 35 people who have a private room and is provided daily meals through the building's dining service. His stay is expected to be temporary. Chapman has been struggling with homelessness for the past two years and say he's grateful to be staying somewhere private. "I don't have to worry when I get up and crawl from underneath that pine tree or wherever," he said. "Shelters turn me away sometimes, because they're full. So, you look wherever you can. Having a place over your head is a big thing." Like other guests at the dorsm, Chapman has a housing support coordinator from Homeward Trust who helps him get what he needs to find a permanent home, from proper documentation to finding suitable vacancies and setting up viewings. "It's helped get my mind straightened out a little bit more focused on what I do," Chapman said. "So in the end, I think it helps tremendously." Guests at bridge housing facilities are expected to stay for anywhere from one to three months before transitioning into a home. They're referred through Boyle Street Community Street Community Services. The jockey dorms bridge housing facility opened last month after signing a three-year lease with the City of Edmonton. So far, five people have found or are in the process of moving into permanent housing. While the facility is in its early stages, Homeward Trust's CEO Susan McGee says it's allowed coordinators to find housing options specific to individual needs of guests. "It's really meeting a very important gap and certainly it's building off of the experience we've had in our community with the bridge housing offered at the Coliseum Inn," she said. "So as we work and as we grow as a system to make sure that we get that immediate access to really stable environments, a focus of the team has been to really nuance and make sure that as the folks that are being referred there, we're identifying potential barriers, challenges." 2 of 3 bridge housing facilities considered temporary Two Edmonton hotels are also being used as bridge housing. An EconoLodge in south Edmonton has 35 available rooms and The Coliseum Inn on Wayne Gretzky Drive has 95 rooms. Since the Coliseum Inn bridge housing opened in the spring of 2020 there have been 231 people who have moved from the hotel to permanent housing. The two bridge housing hotels have been funded through pandemic relief money, as a part of the City of Edmonton's plan to get people out of encampments and into safe shelter during the pandemic, which also included opening the Edmonton Convention Centre and Commonwealth Stadium as 24/7 shelter spaces. The plan is expected to be in place until the end of March, but it doesn't mean the temporary bridge housing programs will be scrapped. "Those funding programs are time limited. They potentially run out in March, but we are also just continually assessing our needs and ability to continue to keep them open," said Colton Kirsop, manager of project development for affordable housing and homelessness with the City of Edmonton. "So if there is a major need to keep those open, I think we will be continually looking at whether or not we can fund them through a different funding stream. The federal government may extend their funding packages as well." As for Chapman, he's happy that bridge housing now exists in the city at a time when he's ready to find a home. "I'm glad. Finally somebody is doing something about it. it's great. It's good for me, so far and anybody else," he said. "You can just start working on getting your life straight."
During the last three months of 2020, Apple Inc delivered its flagship iPhone 12 model weeks later than normal iPhone debuts and shuttered some of its stores due to the pandemic. But Wall Street is still expecting a near-record sales quarter for the Cupertino, California company's signature device when it reports fiscal first-quarter earnings on Wednesday, with estimates of $59.8 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv as of Jan. 26. If Apple beats the number, it could eclipse its all-time record of $61.58 billion in iPhone sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2018.
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – Last week (Jan. 21) the government relaunched its Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) online portal, https://iaprequest.novascotia.ca . The reboot became necessary after a data breach discovered in April of 2018 on the previous website resulted in a shutdown of the site, a return to mail-in request forms and the creation of a website where the public could only access previously completed requests. The security breach and the length of time it has taken to restart the system is only one of many issues facing access to information in Nova Scotia. The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) is quick to highlight two more: the timeliness of request fulfillment and lack of willingness to provide information by both business and other levels of government. At the regular MODG council meeting on Jan. 20, council was informed that a letter they sent to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, in regard to the future of a contaminated site that belongs to Irving Oil Ltd. in Guysborough, was met with a response advising the municipality to file a FOIPOP request. To say that council was not satisfied with that answer would be an understatement. Warden Vernon Pitts said the response was “unacceptable.” Pitts, in a media interview, went on to outline the lack of success the MODG has had with similar requests. “The municipality made a FOIPOP request a number of years ago in regard to TDR, Tire Derived Aggregate. We FOIPOPed for information from the Province of Nova Scotia because we thought that that contract was awarded illegally—was our opinion at that time -- and the only way we could find out was to have an actual look at the contract. It took us five years to obtain that information and almost all of it was blacked out, so the information was absolutely useless,” he explained. It isn’t only the MODG that has gotten a lacklustre response to a recent FOIPOP request. The PC Party of Nova Scotia has run up against the FOIPOP wall in recent months in regard to a request they submitted to obtain the results for air quality testing in public schools. No information was made available. In a release issued on Jan. 18, PC Education Critic and Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman said, “I worry that the only reason for the Liberals to withhold the schools’ air quality reviews from the public is that they are embarrassed by the results … If that is the case, then swift action is needed urgently.” The PC release also stated, “On January 7, after the Liberal Cabinet meeting, Education Minister Zach Churchill confirmed that data from school ventilation reviews was being tracked and kept, but dodged questions about actually releasing that information.” Tricia Ralph, Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner, told The Journal in a Jan. 22 interview that while she could not speak directly to either of these cases, the office encouraged open access to information. “As a general principal we encourage the ideas of open government and open data,” said Ralph, “but the legislation doesn’t require it. So, it is possible for one government to say to another ‘You have to file a FOIPOP request.’ … I don’t know how common it is, but I suspect it isn’t terribly uncommon. But it is not the only way; government is not restricted or bound by legislation to only reply in the form of a FOIPOP request. They could do it another way. They could just give it out.” More information about how to request information under FOIPOP is available online at https://oipc.novascotia.ca/faq. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Anglers on P.E.I. are being given a chance to fish for perch through the ice this year, in an experiment to see if a regular fishery is viable. The licence is free, but you have to apply and report all you catch. Because the perch are coastal, the province is partnering with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the project. David Richards, owner of Richards Bait and Tackle in Alberton, is one of the Islanders who has one of the new licences. "It's a little struggle to find them because we've never had a nice winter fishery up here for perch before," Richards told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier. He and his sons got organized in advance of the fishery, heading out on the ice, drilling some holes and scouting with a GoPro camera to see where the fish were. He said it was pretty exciting to spot some, but the fish turned out to be smarter than they thought. "Lo and behold the perch were not where we thought they'd be. They swim," he said. But Richards said he and his family, three generations worth, are still having a good time out on the ice. It doesn't take much in the way of gear, he said, just an ice auger and an ice-fishing pole. He said his own family is spoiled, with a gas-powered auger, an ice-fishing tent and propane heaters. "You don't need all that stuff. You can just get there with your bucket and your auger, a little bit of bait. It's a little cooler but it's still nice to enjoy the great outdoors," said Richards. Finding another reason to get his grandchildren outside has been particularly nice during the pandemic, when kids have been even more tempted than usual to sit at home in front of a screen. More from CBC P.E.I.
L’implication du directeur des travaux publics et inspecteur municipal par intérim, Jérôme Durocher, au sein de l’entreprise privée de ski hors-piste Ski Saguenay, soulève des questions parmi les membres du conseil municipal de L’Anse-Saint-Jean. À la suite de la publication, dans les derniers jours, d’un reportage dans Le Progrès portant sur l’ouverture de deux secteurs de ski hors-piste par l’entreprise exploitée par Philippe Pichon et M. Durocher, certains citoyens et élus s’interrogent afin de savoir si le fonctionnaire n’est pas en situation de défaut de loyauté envers son employeur. En effet, L’Anse-Saint-Jean exploite également une telle activité via la station de ski du Mont-Édouard, dont elle est propriétaire. Ski Saguenay a été fondée et enregistrée auprès du registre des entreprises en novembre dernier. Lors d’une réunion plénière virtuelle tenue par le conseil lundi, des membres ont fait part de leur surprise d’apprendre que le cadre municipal allait procéder à l’ouverture d’un centre privé de pistes hors route sans en avoir informé la municipalité, sans demande de permis ou autres démarches. La surprise s’ajoute au fait que les deux associés projettent de développer un secteur d’hébergement doté d’un sauna et de bains nordiques, ainsi qu’une remontée sur chenillette tel qu’indiqué dans l’article. Interrogé à ce sujet, le maire Lucien Martel est visiblement mal à l’aise et admet qu’il s’agit d’un sujet plutôt délicat qui soulève des interrogations. « Je sais qu’au conseil, des gens posent des questions. Je voudrais prendre le temps d’analyser les dessous ainsi que le contexte », a déclaré M. Martel. Il a ajouté qu’il revenait à l’administration de la municipalité de répondre aux questions soulevées. Un appel logé auprès de la direction générale n’a pas obtenu de retour. Parmi les conseillers, Anicet Gagné a mentionné qu’il a proposé de discuter du sujet avec ses collègues, mais qu’il a été convenu qu’il revenait au maire Martel de faire toute déclaration. M. Durocher est présentement en congé de maladie à la suite d’un accident de travail. Il a subi des blessures lors d’une altercation physique survenue en septembre dernier avec un entrepreneur en construction. L’incident avait été rapporté par Le Quotidien.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Halifax regional council will hold public consultations on a request from the province to buy parkland to build a new school. The parkland is located next to Park West, an existing school in Clayton Park West that's overcrowded. Park West was opened in 2000 and was designed for 560 students. There are currently close to 900 students and the school has set up nine portables. "This is a wonderful opportunity," said Coun. Iona Stoddard. "We have a chance to work with our staff and the province to get some badly needed infrastructure." The new school would accommodate 700 pre-primary to Grade 8 students. An existing soccer field would remain, but a wooded area would be affected. Stoddard acknowledged that some residents have concerns about the loss of parkland, bussing and traffic, as well as the safety of pre-primary children in the area. That's why city staff decided community consultations should be done, even though the province does have the ability to exempt itself from such a process. "All that is legally required is notification in the newspaper," said Denise Schofield, executive director of parks and recreation for the city. "But the fact that this is a piece of parkland, we asked, and they agreed to do a true consultation." Provincial officials first showed interest in the site in June 2020 and sent a formal request to city officials in December asking the site selection process be expedited due to enrolment increases. Some councillors wondered if selling the land to the province is the best option and asked about leasing it instead. "We are not taking the lease option off the table," said chief administrative officer Jacques Dube. "There are also ongoing discussions about swapping various parcels of land." Halifax officials were not sure when the public consultations will take place. MORE TOP STORIES
Quantum Genetix, a laboratory licensed to perform COVID-19 testing in Saskatchewan for profit, has expanded its licence to include anyone in the province who is asymptomatic and wishes to be tested. The Saskatoon lab started processing samples at the beginning of December. At that time the company was only doing travel- and business-related testing in Saskatchewan. Testing kits are $150 and results are emailed to clients within 48 hours. For same-day rush service, testing kits are $250. Quantum Genetix has been very busy since December, according to Heather Deobald, the lab's general manager. The lab has served more than 100 businesses and more than 1,000 travelers so far. "We requested to have our licence expanded because from the start we've been getting requests from Saskatchewan residents who didn't fall under the business or travel related scope that we were given our licence through." Individuals and businesses can order testing kits by mail from Quantum Genetix. Kits contain self-administered nasal and oral swabs, and detailed instructions on how to use them. "Before we were able to do the testing, people were struggling sometimes with having turnaround times that they could utilize and still be able to go out and do their work or whatever they needed the test for," said Deobald. "So I think people are just relieved that they had another option." Deobold says there are many reasons Sask. residents are willing to pay for a quick test. "People waiting for surgery, people who have compassion permission to go into a care facility, families with immunocompromised family members. Single family members who are having another family member come into their home. Or two single people wanting to get together," said Deobald. After receiving the kit, clients can either courier their specimen to the Saskatoon laboratory or drop it off on-location at a kiosk there. Deobald said Quantum Genetix is working on making the process easier for anyone in the province, including those in the north. "We're actually right now working with another private business in Saskatchewan who will help us to expand into all areas of the province," she said. "We should have the news on that and more information on that hopefully next week."
City council will decide at its next meeting whether Calgarians can have a say on whether the default speed limit should be lowered. Council voted 8-6 last November to see if it was feasible to hold a plebiscite on whether the speed limit on most residential streets should be lowered from 50 to 40 km/h. Coun. Druh Farrell said city administration is recommending council reject the idea of a plebiscite. "The test questions that administration had put together, the people they tested them with were confused. They found the issue quite confusing," said Farrell. "It doesn't lend itself to a simple yes or no answer." If council accepts administration's position, then she said they'll get back to the main question of whether the default speed limit should be lowered. A safety measure Farrell favours 30 km/h but is prepared to go along with a recommendation to approve 40 km/h. She said it will make a big difference. "We know that there are over 9,000 collisions every year on Calgary's neighbourhood streets and [more than] 550 result in death or injury. So we know that reducing speed limits will save money and will save lives," said Farrell. She added that vehicles are bigger today and many drivers sit higher up than when the 50 km/h speed limit was set decades ago. One councillor who voted in November to have the speed limit issue put to a plebiscite isn't planning on changing his mind. Contentious issue Coun. Sean Chu is opposed to lowering the speed limit. He said that given this issue will affect every driver in Calgary, he'll continue pushing for a plebiscite despite administration's recommendation against it. "It's a very contentious issue," said Chu. "I think it's prudent for any politician to ask the public what they think. And that's actually, I believe, good governance." Several of Chu's colleagues, like Farrell, disagree. They say they were elected by Calgarians to make decisions on their behalf so a plebiscite is not needed. Chu's position is that those council members are not willing to widely consult with voters because they may not like the answer. "They're afraid to listen to the public. These are the same people who support the Olympics but were against an Olympic plebiscite." In the last plebiscite held in Calgary, voters rejected pursuing a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The result was 56 per cent opposed. Recommendations approved by a council committee last fall suggest the speed limit be reduced to 40 km/h in April 2021. Council's next vote on the issue will determine if that speed reduction goes ahead. If it does lower the speed limit, it will join the ranks of other municipalities like Airdrie, Banff and Edmonton, which have approved slower speeds for residential streets.
BERLIN — A German woman has been charged with preparing a far-right attack and other crimes on allegations she was in the process of building a bomb to target Muslims and local politicians in Bavaria, Munich prosecutors said Wednesday. Susanne G., whose last name wasn't given in line with privacy laws, also faces charges of making threats and violations of weapons laws, among other things. She has been in custody since her arrest. Prosecutors allege that the woman started planning a firebombing attack no later than May 2020, motivated by her xenophobic and extreme-right views. She is alleged to have downloaded information on bomb building online and have gathered materials for the construction, including gasoline, fireworks and fuses, by the time of her arrest in September. Between December 2019 and March 2020 the suspect is alleged to have sent six anonymous letters, five including a live bullet, with death threats to a local politician in the Nuremberg area, a Muslim community association, and an asylum seeker aid organization. During the summer of 2020, she started focusing on local police officers and a different local politician than the one threatened by letter as other possible targets, and began scouting their homes and cars. The Associated Press
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
MOSCOW — The lower house of Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it’s due to expire. The State Duma voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years. The vote came a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty. They agreed to complete the necessary procedures in the next few days, according to the Kremlin. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week. The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – This past year has given us a lot of time to reflect, to think globally – as well as locally – about things that matter, things that don’t and about what we want the world to look like when we finally get to see it again in person and not through a computer monitor. But what can we do with so many thoughts and so few people to talk to? ArtWorks East, an association of artists and crafters who live in Guysborough County, has an answer to that question: create. Just as the new year was about to dawn, with the weight of many hopes for the coming months, ArtWorks East (AWE) announced a new project, Letter to the World, on Facebook. The project asks potential participants, “As we enter 2021, what would you like to say to the world? Write a letter, take a picture, and post it … The world needs you!” AWE member Renee Sagebear spoke to The Journal about the genesis of the project last week. The idea started in the form of a calendar which had as its cover the tarot card for ‘The World.’ “I got out my tarot decks and, sure enough, number 21 in the tarot deck is the world. That, to me, was pretty fantastic…. Then I looked through the calendar and one of the contributors had written her letter to the world and I thought ‘This is the year of the world, and it would be so fantastic if we all just realized that,’” Sagebear said. The idea took another step forward due to Sagebear’s familiarity with the Facebook page, View From My Window, where contributors from all around the world post pictures and videos from their location. The page started as an online remedy to the isolation brought on by COVID-19 lockdowns. “I was inspired by that,” Sagebear said, adding that once she had the two ideas together she brought them to AWE President Jack Leonard, “To ask people to contribute a letter to the world on the ArtWorks East Facebook site with the intention, at the end of the year, to have an exhibit of all of the letters, photographs or paintings.” Now that Sagebear’s idea has launched, she said, “I thought, ‘What would I write?’… I’ve only just scratched a few words so far because when you write a letter to the world, that’s quite phenomenal … People will probably come up with ideas that we can’t even fathom.” Studying the tarot has done that for Sagebear. She told The Journal that the addition of the numbers that make up this year, 2021, equal five and, “The number five in the tarot is the peacemaker.” Perhaps a good jumping off point for her letter to the world. The concept is large and initially daunting, but Leonard suggested people start their submission by thinking “about your target audience, think about your context; what’s on your mind. It could be climate change, or it could be the pandemic, or it could be the elections, and then you have to think about your medium.” The medium could be as diverse as anything that can fit on a page or canvas, “We wanted to leave the door wide open for people to create whatever they wanted.” Speaking to the motivation AWE has in hosting this event Leonard said, “The nice thing about it is it invites a lot of people to participate who might not be members of the organization and may not feel that they are visual artists in any way… It’s nice to have something occasionally where you invite everybody, regardless of age or talent, to make a contribution.” Submissions to the Letter to the World project are welcome from anyone, everywhere, in any style of writing. And if words are too small to hold your thoughts, you could see your letter to the world and submit an image. The project is evolving, and the result depends on how many and what kinds of submissions AWE receives. Those interested in submitting an entry have the next eleven months to cogitate and create a Letter to the World. Information about the project and the location for submissions can be found on the ArtWorks East webpage under Events or on the ArtWorks East Facebook page. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A Cree pilot says he was honoured to be the person who delivered vaccines to some Cree communities in northern Quebec. Air Creebec pilot Willard Petagumskum flew vaccines to all of the coastal Cree communities in Quebec on Jan. 16. It marked the start of a regional vaccination campaign across Cree territory and an important step in the Cree fight against COVID-19. "I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. Because with everything we have been going through with this pandemic ... that it would help our people," said Petagumskum in Cree. As of Tuesday, there were 86 positive COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at the start of the new year in the region. Two Cree communities — Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou — have been hit particularly hard. There are 52 positive cases in Mistissini and 28 in Oujé-Bougoumou, according to the latest numbers from Cree public health. I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. - Willard Petagumskum, Air Creebec pilot For Petagumskum, who is from Whapmagoostui, the vaccine is an important way to protect vulnerable people in Cree communities. "There is a vaccine for [COVID-19] to help many ... elders and all our people," said Petagumskum. So far in the vaccination campaign, more than 8,200 people have received the vaccine that Petagumskum delivered, according to health officials. "I'm glad to be a part of this with the nurses and doctors, they do a lot to help our people. The small part of me being able to help out with this, that made me happy." The vaccine delivery happened in the middle of a snowstorm on Jan. 16, but after 30 years as pilot, Petagumskum took it in stride. "When I woke up Saturday morning to get ready for work, I noticed it was snowing a lot. There was a snowstorm in Montreal." Petagumskum needed to have a negative COVID-19 test before he could make the flight. He said he will get the vaccine himself as soon as he's able. 'I want people to look after themselves even after you receive your shot of this vaccine. You still have to be careful," he said. WATCH | Resident Fred Tomatuk watches the flight carrying the vaccine land in Eastmain, Que.:
A slugfest between Wall Street and Main Street took an unexpected turn late on Wednesday after moderators of a stock trading forum that has helped fuel massive rallies in the shares of GameStop temporarily closed its doors. Shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, Koss Corp and BlackBerry all dropped at least 20% moments after the shuttering of the forum, highlighting the role it has played in fueling stock rallies that many say have been driven primarily by retail investors.
Indigenous women traumatized by birth alerts continue to be haunted by them long after the alerts were first entered into the health-care system, says Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) — and she's not alone in saying simply ending the practice doesn't go far enough. "We have to repair the harm. [Government] has to acknowledge it," said Turpel Lafond, whowas the First Indigenous woman appointed to the bench in Saskatchewan. She is now a professor at the University of British Columbia's school of law and recently headed an intensive study that found widespread racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in B.C.'s health-care system. Saskatchewan posted an anouncement online Monday saying it would stop using birth alerts on Feb. 1. Under the practice, social workers or health-care workers would place an alert on the file of a mother-to-be — in Saskatchewan, most often an Indigenous woman, according to government data — considered high-risk before they entered labour. The baby would often then be seized by government and put into provincial care. Turpel-Lafond says women who were flagged were labelled as bad parents, drinkers or drug seekers. "Instead of working prenatal and postnatal with mums and families, it was just putting the alert in the system, doing the harsh removals [of babies]," she said. She's spoken to women affected years after having an alert placed upon them. "They're so traumatized to this day … they will not access the health care because they don't feel it's culturally safe," she said. "All of this extremely hostile profiling that came with the child welfare … goes with them, especially through the emergency departments." Turpel-Lafond said the data should be deleted and the government should apologize, acknowledging the harm caused by birth alerts. "There wasn't really appropriate attention to whether that was even legal, and in my respectful view as a lawyer, a law professor, I don't think it is legal to take private information and blast it through the health-care system." The government did not apologize in its recent announcement. "Our decision aligns with recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the federal Indigenous child welfare legislation," Janice Colquhoun, executive director of Indigenous Services with child and family programs at the Ministry of Social Services, said in a statement Tuesday. The TRC's final report was released in 2015. In 2019, the Saskatchewan government said it would continue using birth alerts, despite calls to immediately abandon the practice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. B.C. announced an end to birth alerts in 2019, with Manitoba and Ontario following in 2020. Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services said its latest decision came after "recognizing concerns raised by various Indigenous partners and community stakeholders across Saskatchewan." Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, Saskatchewan issued 76 birth alerts — 53 involving Indigenous women, according to a Ministry of Social Services spokesperson. Data dating back to 2016 shows Indigenous moms had their children taken away at rates far higher than non-Indigenous moms. A spokesperson said the ministry is actively working on reunification. Gaps in support for expecting moms Jamesy Patrick, interim executive director at Sanctum Care Group in Saskatoon, said the alerts were essentially another discriminatory extension of colonial programs such as residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. Patrick, who holds a master's degree in law and focused her research on Indigenous children and youth in the child-welfare system, says the government needs to turn focus to supporting vulnerable women who would have been flagged. "There are significant gaps for prenatals in our community who interface homelessness, addiction, substance abuse, who are potentially HIV-positive or at risk of becoming, and also who have other children in care," she said. Patrick said they've served 54 moms (most postnatal) in a two-year period, and consistently have dozens of women on the wait-list. She advocates for the province to develop prenatal case management teams to connect vulnerable women to agencies providing support. She said case workers could help make women feel more comfortable accessing health care. "We know that many of our moms don't access prenatal care because they're worried about being alerted or they're worried that they're going to be discriminated against or marginalized, or they're going to face stigma in accessing care." Turpel-Lafond said anecdotes indicate Saskatchewan Indigenous women in the province receive less health-care in pre- and post-natal periods. "I think this is also connected to this tradition of birth alert, judging, shaming and and well and segregating Indigenous health care," she said. Patrick said stronger prenatal supports for vulnerable women are needed province-wide. She said this should be supported by government by lead by Indigenous leadership and frontline community organizations. The Ministry of Social Services said it will work with the Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and other partners to ensure supports are available. Turpel-Lafond said in addition to supporting vulnerable moms-to-be, much more work is needed to make the health-care system as a whole accessible for Indigenous women who no longer feel safe accessing it. "Let's hope people in Saskatchewan will begin to use anti-racism tools in their workplace, in health and social services and child welfare, and eradicate the scourge of racism that is in the system."
Lying is something we all do, and we start at a very early age. Research has found that children as young as two tell lies; by the age of seven, we have the art of lying pretty much mastered. There are many reasons for lying, but often it's something we do to contain the damage that unfiltered honesty might unleash. And there are different types of lies: from outright fabrication, to altering some of the facts or to simply leaving out some information. There's a reason why we pledge to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," in court — that's the only way to get the full and honest story. Contact tracing When it comes to controlling the spread of infectious disease, getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is vital. Contact tracers depend on accuracy, details and the completeness of information as they try to recreate the past two weeks of someone's life if they're carrying the novel coronavirus. That includes getting a full list of people who were within six feet of contact for five minutes with the person who is infectious. Those people, the ones who have been inside that personal bubble, are at greatest risk of getting infected themselves so contact tracers make every effort to identify and alert them. Any gap in information can be a potential escape route for the virus. Withholding information What happens when someone lies? The consequences of lying are significant, as set out in the Health Protection Act and the Emergency Management Act in Nova Scotia. Communicable disease control is serious business, and the medical officer of health as well as public health inspectors have far-reaching powers if a person is deemed to be putting public health at risk. Fines, into the thousands of dollars, mandatory quarantine at a special facility, involuntary medical treatment and even a prison term are possibilities if you break the rules. But, in all honesty, no one in government wants to use those penalties. They are expensive to enforce, make enforcement officials look bad and are really just a last resort when people refuse to "do the right thing." If fines are imposed, they're often accompanied by great publicity in order to deter others — and to demonstrate how serious a breach of trust can be. By the end of 2020, more than 600 Nova Scotians were fined for breaching pandemic rules, like gathering limits or self-isolation. No one had been jailed and it is unlikely that anyone will be in the future. Contact tracing to control the spread of communicable disease is nothing new; in fact, it's one of the oldest public health tools we've got. In recent history, it's been used to track the spread of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, head lice and HIV/AIDS, so the techniques for collecting information are well established. So, too, however, is the stigma associated with having a disease that's being contained — and the likelihood of public shaming that may go with it. Stigma and shaming often happen when there is something we fear or don't understand. Mental illness and addiction are examples that quickly come to mind. Fostering honesty Think back to what happened with trying to trace HIV/AIDS, when stigma and shaming prevented people from disclosing what was considered high-risk behaviours to doctor. It made those people less likely to get tested, even if they thought they had a disease, and made them feel unsafe sharing their exposure with close friends and family. People wanted to protect themselves from being judged, even by their loved ones. Does this sound familiar? It should: it's exactly what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic — and continue to see throughout it. 'To keep everyone healthy, we need to create a safe environment for open disclosure that's met with compassion and support.' - Mary Jane Hampton, health-care consultant Shaming didn't deter risky behaviour in the past. Instead, it deterred disclosure, and we've spent the last 40 years repairing the damage created by stigmatization. We're still working to build that trust, on both sides. A study done last summer at Brock University in Ontario found that that at least one-third of the respondents with COVID-19 lied about having symptoms, and also about the degree that they physically distanced from others. About a quarter of respondents said they lied about how closely they were following health protocols, while those with COVID-19 were even more likely to lie about it. People who hid symptoms said they were afraid of stigma and social judgment, even more so if they had broken public health rules. In short, shaming people and creating a stigma results in less reliable public health data — and that's bad for all of us. Listen to the interview To get the truth, we need to create the conditions for it, but we often do just the opposite. When people hear about a COVID case, their first response is usually to speculate about what bad choices the person must have made to contract it — "Did they travel? Attend a party? Break a rule?" That's quickly followed by blame and the person testing positive with COVID can be set adrift in a sea of guilt. To keep everyone healthy, we need to create a safe environment for open disclosure that's met with compassion and support. We still have a long road before enough people are vaccinated to put the virus behind us and, until then, contact tracing will be one of our best defences. Open disclosure protects everyone and potentially saves lives. This virus is a great equalizer. While some people are at higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, as humans we all share the same means of spreading and contracting it: we breathe. And there is no shame in that.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive body warned the Polish government Wednesday that it has a month to address long-standing concerns about laws that Brussels fears undermine the independence of Supreme Court judges or Poland faces possible legal action. The European Commission considers Poland in violation of EU law for allowing the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court to make decisions which have a direct impact on judges and the way they do their jobs. It says the chamber's independence and impartiality are not guaranteed. The commission warned that it “may refer the case” to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s top court, unless Poland takes action to fix the problem and replies to Brussels’ concerns in time. A series of legislative acts approved in late 2019 governs the way Poland's justice system operates. The laws entered force in February of last year. The European Commission started infringement proceedings against the government in Warsaw in April, and took further steps in October and December. The EU is concerned about cases involving the lifting of judges’ immunity to bring criminal proceedings against them, moves to temporarily suspend them and to cut their salaries. The Supreme Court disciplinary chamber can also rule on labour law, social security and the retirement of judges. The European Commission, which supervises the way EU laws are applied in the 27 member countries, said “the mere prospect for judges of having to face proceedings before a body whose independence is not guaranteed creates a ‘chilling effect’ for judges and can affect their own independence.” In November, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber suspended Judge Igor Tuleya and cut his salary by 25%. Tuleya, who has been critical of the changes to the justice system, has become the symbol of the struggle for judicial independence in Poland. Tuleya’s immunity was also waived, allowing prosecutors to press charges against him, for having let the media hear the verdict in a politically sensitive trial. He's the third judge critical of Justice Ministry policy who has been suspended by the chamber, which is largely composed of government loyalists. Poland’s largest association of judges, IUSTITIA, has condemned the decisions. The EU commission's case is part of a long-running row between Brussels and the nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary over concerns that they are undermining democratic standards and the rule of law in the world's biggest trading bloc. The Associated Press