Catherine McDonald reports on how Alek Minassian had never shown aggressive behavior before the deadly rampage.
Catherine McDonald reports on how Alek Minassian had never shown aggressive behavior before the deadly rampage.
WASHINGTON — The patter of paws is being heard in the White House again following the arrival of President Joe Biden's dogs Champ and Major. The two German shepherds are the first pets to live at the executive mansion since the Obama administration. Major burst onto the national scene late last year after Biden, then president-elect, broke his right foot while playing with the dog at their home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association. Champ joined the family after the 2008 presidential election that made Joe Biden vice-president. The dogs moved into the White House on Sunday, following Biden's inauguration last week. “The first family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware,” said Michael LaRosa, spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden. “Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace and Major loved running around on the South Lawn.” The dogs were heard barking outside near the Oval Office on Monday as Biden signed an executive order lifting the previous administration's ban on transgender people serving in the military. Last week, the Delaware Humane Association cosponsored an “indoguration” virtual fundraiser to celebrate Major's journey from shelter pup to first dog. More than $200,000 was raised. Major is the first shelter dog to ever live in the White House and “barking proof that every dog can live the American dream," the association said. The Bidens had promised to bring the dogs with them to the White House. They plan to add a cat, though no update on the feline's arrival was shared on Monday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki predicted, while on video answering questions from members of the public, that the cat will “dominate the internet” when it arrives. Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, a self-described germaphobe, does not own any pets and had none with him at the White House. Just like they do for ordinary people, pets owned by the most powerful people in the world provide their owners with comfort, entertainment, occasional drama and generally good PR. “Pets have played an important role in the White House throughout the decades, not only by providing companionship to the presidents and their families, but also by humanizing and softening their political images,” said Jennifer Pickens, author of a book about pets at the White House. Pets also serve as ambassadors to the White House, she said. Pickens added that she hoped the Bidens' decision to bring a rescue dog to the White House might inspire others to adopt. President Theodore Roosevelt had Skip, who is described by the White House Historical Association as a “short-legged Black and Tan mongrel terrier brought home from a Colorado bear hunt.” Warren G. Harding had Laddie Boy, who sat in on meetings and had his own Cabinet chair. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his beloved terrier Fala. At night, Fala slept in a special chair at the foot of the president’s bed. More recently, George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel Millie was featured on “The Simpsons” and starred in a bestseller, “Millie’s Book: As dictated to Barbara Bush.” Hillary Clinton followed Bush’s lead with a children’s book about family dog Buddy and cat Socks: “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets.” When he declared victory in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama told his daughters: “You have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” Several months later, Bo joined the family, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy. A few years later, fellow Portuguese water dog Sunny arrived. Among the stranger White House pets was Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidge’s raccoon Rebecca. She was given to the Coolidge family by a supporter who suggested the raccoon be served for Thanksgiving dinner, according to the White House Historical Association. But instead she got an embroidered collar with the title “White House Raccoon” and entertained children at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Some notable pets belonged to first kids, including Amy Carter’s Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, and Caroline Kennedy’s pony Macaroni. The Kennedy family had a veritable menagerie, complete with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa. President Harry Truman famously said that “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog” — and many successors have followed Truman's advice. The first President Bush once said, “There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog to help you get through the rough spots.” ___ Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump's former chief spokeswoman, announced she's running for Arkansas governor at a time other Republicans are distancing themselves from the former president facing an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. But the former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, ran the other direction with an announcement Monday that embraced Trump as much as his rhetoric. “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defence,” Sanders said in a nearly eight-minute video announcing her 2022 bid that prominently featured pictures of the president as well as some of his favourite targets. Trump, who publicly encouraged Sanders to run, wasted no time putting his seal of approval on her bid. The former president on Monday night backed Sanders' candidacy — his first official, public endorsement since leaving office — and called her a “warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct." The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the most high-profile Trump official to seek major office and is doing so less than a week after the tumultuous end of his presidency. Her candidacy could showcase just how much of a hold Trump still has on the GOP. “Trump is simply not a liability here,” said Janine Parry, a political scientist at the University of Arkansas. “At least for the time being, we’re in a state where he remains an asset.” That’s even as the Senate is preparing for an impeachment trial over the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters that was aimed at halting the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked the president last week, saying he “provoked” the siege. Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters days before Biden’s inauguration he wanted Trump’s administration to end, though he also opposed the president’s impeachment. Sanders’ announcement makes a brief reference to the Capitol siege that left five dead, equating it with violence that occurred at some protests last year over racial injustice and the 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball practice that injured U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and four others. “This is not who we are as Americans,” Sanders said in the video, but not mentioning Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters who stormed the Capitol. She joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed Hutchinson, who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat. Griffin and Rutledge had already spent months positioning themselves ahead of Sanders’ entry by lining up endorsements, raising money and trying to stake their claims as the most conservative candidate. Griffin has called for the outright elimination of the state’s income tax, while Rutledge signed on to Texas’ ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the result of the presidential election. Following the riot, Griffin and Rutledge issued statements condemning the storming of the Capitol but not addressing Trump’s role in stirring up his backers. Combined, the two have raised more than $2.8 million for the race. Griffin on Monday criticized Sanders for promising in her video to cut off funding to so-called sanctuary cities that violate immigration laws. He noted a 2019 measure Hutchinson signed into law already does just that by cutting off funding to cities that don’t co-operate with immigration authorities. “It sounds like she needs to catch up on what’s been going on in Arkansas,” Griffin said in a statement. Rutledge, meanwhile, said in a statement the race was about “who has a proven record and not merely rhetoric.” The race could also get even more crowded. Republican State Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of Hutchinson’s, is considering a run for the seat and said he hoped to make a decision within the next three weeks. “Right now we have three announced candidates but they all do represent the far right part of the Republican Party,” said Hendren, who has been much more willing to criticize Trump and hasn’t ruled out an independent bid. “The question I have to decide is, is there room for a more pragmatic, centrist type of approach?” Sanders was already well known in Arkansas politics, going back to when she appeared in ads for her father’s campaign. She managed Sen. John Boozman’s 2010 election and worked as an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton’s in 2014. During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure at the White House, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary ended after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her. She faced questions about her credibility, but she also earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media. She remains an unknown on many issues and wasn’t made available for interviews Monday, though she staked out some positions in her introductory video that include reducing the state’s income tax. Her introductory video indicates she’s leaning more on her time with Trump, with it featuring images of or calling out those who frequently drew his ire including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and CNN. Republicans hold a firm grip on Arkansas, with the GOP holding all statewide and federal seats. They also hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Trump in November won the state by nearly 28 percentage points, one of the biggest margins in his ultimate loss to Biden. State Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray on Monday called the GOP primary a “race to the bottom.” But national party leaders indicated Sanders’ candidacy may draw more resources and attention to a long-shot race that will coincide with 2022 congressional midterm elections. “As we close the book on a dark chapter in our history, we must make sure Trump’s brand of politics stays in the past," Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted. “Now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running on his record." Hutchinson, who has remained generally popular since taking office in 2015, said he didn't plan on endorsing anyone at this time in the race. “I am a voter, so I will follow the campaign with interest, but I have a job to do for the next two years, and I will devote my energies to bring Arkansas out of the pandemic and to revitalize our economy," he said in a statement. ___ Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press
Canada's natural resources minister accused the Opposition of beating their chests in a show of support for the oil and gas industry, during an emergency debate in the House of Commons regarding the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project Monday evening. "Do we, as some are suggesting, start a trade war with our closest ally and largest trading partner, with the single largest customer for Canadian crude? ... I have not yet heard a single argument that would convince me a trade war is in the best interests of our oil and gas workers," Seamus O'Regan said. O'Regan said the new U.S. administration represents an opportunity to work together with a government aligned with Canada's priorities on clean energy, pointing to TC Energy — the Calgary-based company behind the Keystone project — committing to buying renewable energy to achieve net zero emissions. Last week, on his first day in office, U.S. President Joe Biden scrapped the pipeline's permit as one of multiple actions intended to fight climate change, effectively killing the $8-billion US project. If completed, the 1,897-kilometre pipeline expansion project, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of oilsands crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, where it would then connect with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Opposition Leader Erin O'Toole called for the debate earlier on Monday, accusing the government of not doing enough to advocate for the expansion. During the evening's debate, which stretched until just past midnight in Ottawa, O'Toole described empty office towers and job losses in Calgary. "Canada has been dealt a serious blow … these are Canadians, thousands of them, being totally forgotten and left behind by this government," he said. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has repeatedly said it supports the project, and Trudeau expressed his disappointment with Biden during a call between the two nations' leaders on Friday. "We will stand up and have our workers' backs.… Let's talk TMX. We approved it, we bought it, we're building it," O'Regan said, referring to the federal purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is under construction. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has called for sanctions against the U.S. in response to the permit's cancellation. Kenney's government invested $1.5 billion Cdn in equity in the project alongside billions in loan guarantees.The provincial opposition NDP is calling on the Alberta government to release documents containing details of that deal, calling it a risky one. The project had been rejected under former president Barack Obama's government. It was later approved under former president Donald Trump, but Biden had repeatedly stated he intended to rescind that permit once elected. Canada's ambassador to the U.S. has said it's time to respect that decision, however disappointing it may be to proponents, and move forward. WATCH | Keystone XL pipeline project 'appears to be dead,' says Rachel Notley Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Heather McPherson said Biden's decision should have come as no surprise given Biden's opposition and legal challenges of the project. "Remember when Jason Kenney gambled on Donald Trump. He didn't gamble his money — he gambled ours … that was his plan to get jobs for workers in my province," she said. "Now, he wants to start a trade war with the U.S., the customer for 95 per cent of our energy exports." Lakeland Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs said while the decision did not come as a shock, it underlines that Canada is in a vulnerable position when it comes to its energy industry as the U.S. has increased domestic production. "With the stroke of a pen thousands of people are out of work in the middle of a global crisis ... Canadians whose livelihoods depend on the oil and gas sector are rightfully anxious about their future," she said. O'Regan referred to climate change as an "existential crisis." "The market has an important role here. It is the leading role in determining how investment decisions should be made, but it is our government's duty to set the parameters on that and to incent what we believe to be extraordinarily important goals, namely net-zero emissions by 2050. That is the goal we have set for ourselves, and many of our friends, colleagues and competitors around the world have also set that goal for themselves. This is an existential crisis, there is no question." It's also an economic crisis for the many people across the country who worry they may be left behind, he said. "We cannot allow that to happen." Former Green Party Leader and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May said it would be extremely unfair to say those who think the Keystone expansion cancellation was a good decision don't care about workers losing their jobs. "I would no more say that people who are supporting the oilsands are deliberately and consciously threatening my grandchildrens' future than I would say it's right to be celebrating when people suffer an immediate downturn in their economic prospects."
TORONTO — Public health officials in Ontario are taking further measures to trace a more contagious strain of COVID-19 that's been found in a number of regions since it was first detected in the Toronto area a month ago. As of Monday, 38 cases of the new variant, which was first reported in the U.K. late last year, had been confirmed in the province. The new variant is deemed to have caused a deadly outbreak at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., that has infected more than 200 people. The local public health unit was investigating whether it was a factor in another regional care home outbreak. The head of microbiology and laboratory science at Public Health Ontario said a clearer picture of the variant's prevalence would emerge in the coming days. Dr. Vanessa Allen said all positive results from COVID-19 tests taken in the province on Jan. 20 will be assessed by public health to give a snapshot of the variant's prevalence. Public Health Ontario is also deploying tests to find possible cases of the "variants of concern" before sending them up for genomic screening, which can take days, Allen said. The screening test is focusing on cases considered "high-risk" for the mutations, such as aggressive outbreaks known as "superspreader events" and cases affecting known travellers. "The goal based on the data right now is to do everything we can to contain every single case we find and increase our capacity to find them, recognizing that we still don't have the full picture because we have not tested everybody to date," Allen said. Dr. David Williams, the province's top doctor, said people should remain vigilant and continue taking precautions like wearing masks and physical distancing to avoid infection. "We're going to have to be on our guard," he said. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that the province is testing samples to look for three new variants -- separate strains that first emerged in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil -- to determine where they are and how they spread. So far, only the U.K. variant had been found in Ontario. Cases had been confirmed by public health units covering Toronto, Ottawa, York, Durham and Peel regions, as well as Simcoe, Middlesex-London and the Kingston area as of Monday. Elliott said the province had tested more than 9,000 samples for the new variants as of Monday, and is aiming to assess 1,500 samples per week starting next week. "We are very much on top of it and we are detecting it very quickly so that we'll know how to deal with different geographic areas where it may show up," Elliott told a news conference. Confirming its first case of the U.K. variant on Monday, the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington health unit advised anyone who had recently travelled or had visitors from outside the region to consider getting an asymptomatic test for COVID-19. The region's top doctor said with the new variant now in the area, it's "crucial" to make changes to COVID-19 control strategies to find and isolate cases early and prevent outbreaks. The public health unit is expanding the criteria for contacts considered to have high risk of exposure -- now including anyone who was not wearing a mask and less than two metres from someone with a confirmed infection. Simcoe Muskoka District Health, which had confirmed seven cases of the U.K. variant, announced a strategy Monday with similar measures aimed at mitigating spread. Measures include more frequent testing for residents, visitors and staff at care homes dealing with outbreaks where the variant is suspected -- currently two care homes in the region. The U.K. variant has been confirmed by Simcoe Muskoka health officials as "the causative agent" in the outbreak at Roberta Place, in Barrie, Ont., after six cases were confirmed in samples. The seventh individual with a confirmed case of the new strain was a close contact of someone infected in another outbreak at a long-term care home in Bradford, Ont. Public health officials were still investigating the link on Monday. The public health unit said 44 residents at Roberta Place had died from COVID-19, and the outbreak had infected 127 residents and 86 staff. Five other people assisting with the outbreak had been infected, the health officials said Monday, including two essential caregivers. One of the caregivers had died from the illness. Ten cases of the U.K. variant had also been confirmed in Toronto, the local health unit reported. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford called for stricter border measures including mandatory testing at entry points to keep new strains of the illness out. "I can't emphasize enough: close down our borders and make sure anyone that's coming in gets tested," Ford said Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — California officials say hackers, identity thieves and overseas criminal rings stole an estimated $11.4 billion in unemployment benefits last year. But the extent of the fraud might grow far larger: billions more in jobless payments are under investigation. California Labor Secretary Julie Su told reporters in a conference call Monday that of the $114 billion the state has paid in unemployment claims during that time, about 10% has been confirmed as fraudulent. Nearly $20 billion more is considered suspicious, and a large part could be confirmed as fraud. Su says the state did not have sufficient security measures in place and criminals took advantage of the gaps. Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press
The Merritt RCMP is reporting a recent rise in theft from vehicle calls. “We have been busy to say the least,” said Sergeant Josh Roda. “We saw a recent increase in theft from vehicle files, where we were able to apprehend one of the perpetrators. It appears that most of the offenders are coming from out of town. The CPO is doing a 9 p.m. routine campaign to encourage the public to lock their vehicles and doors at night.” Despite the most recent increase, Roda did say that from-vehicle thefts were down significantly compared to last year’s reports. “Overall, our thefts from vehicles are down over 50% from last year.” The Herald reached out to Marlene Jones, CPO coordinator, for an update on the ‘9 p.m. routine’. “We’re hoping that people will set an alarm on their phone, and then when the alarm goes off take a moment to think,” explained Jones. “Did I lock the car? Did I bring my purse in? Have I locked the shed? Are my exterior lights on? Are my windows shut? Have I closed the overhead garage door? Sometimes those are accidentally left open because somebody thought that someone else closed it.” If you get into the habit of checking that these things are done, Jones said you are less likely to forget something. “You do a little check, you clean up your loose ends, and then you can settle in for the night, so you’re not an easy target.” While Jones said that shaming victims or potential victims isn’t the goal, RCMP have noted that many times when they receive a call about a theft from a vehicle, the vehicle was unlocked. “Sometimes people say they leave their vehicle open because they don’t want them to break a window,” said Jones. “But, if your vehicle is cleaned out, where you can’t see anything, there is less of a chance that someone is going to break a window. If you accidentally leave a purse or a wallet in view and your car is locked, yes there is a higher chance that somebody might break that window.” Jones advised that people also keep their vehicles clean, so that thieves can easily see that there is nothing of value inside. “If your vehicle is full of stuff that you might think is garbage, like leftover food containers, stuff like that, at night when somebody is just looking through the window, that might look like it’s something of value,” said Jones. “And they may take a chance. So, we’re saying clean out your vehicle as one of these things, too, and then lock it.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
WASHINGTON — These suspects weren't exactly in hiding. “THIS IS ME,” one man posted on Instagram with a hand emoji pointing to himself in a picture of the violent mob descending on the U.S. Capitol. “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” one woman texted someone while inside the building. “I just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” another wrote on Facebook about a selfie he took inside during the Jan. 6 riot. In dozens of cases, supporters of President Donald Trump downright flaunted their activity on social media on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos and comments and sent them to the FBI. Their total lack of concern over getting caught and their friends' willingness to turn them in has helped authorities charge about 150 people as of Monday with federal crimes. But even with the help from the rioters themselves, investigators must still work rigorously to link the images to the vandalism and suspects to the acts on Jan. 6 in order to prove their case in court. And because so few were arrested at the scene, the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have been forced to send agents to track suspects down. “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of criminal activity inside the Capitol,” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, said earlier this month. “Bottom line — the FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation.” In the last few weeks, the FBI has received over 200,000 photos and video tips related to the riot. Investigators have put up billboards in several states with photos of wanted rioters. Working on tips from co-workers, acquaintances and friends, agents have tracked down driver’s license photos to match their faces with those captured on camera in the building. In some cases, authorities got records from Facebook or Twitter to connect their social media accounts to their email addresses or phone numbers. In others, agents used records from license plate readers to confirm their travels. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol, although it's likely not everyone will be tracked down and charged with a crime. Federal prosecutors are focusing on the most critical cases and the most egregious examples of wrongdoing. And they must weigh manpower, cost and evidence when charging rioters. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges against the rioters, which carry up to 20 years in prison. One trio was charged with conspiracy; most have been charged with crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct. Many rioters posted selfies inside the Capitol to their social media accounts, gave interviews to news outlets describing their experience and readily admitted when questioned by federal investigators that they were there. One man created a Facebook album titled “Who’s House? OUR HOUSE” filled with photos of himself and others on Capitol grounds, officials said. “They might have thought, like so many people that work with Trump, that if the president tells me to do it, it’s not breaking the law,” said Michael Gerhardt, an expert on impeachment and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Others made blunders, like a Houston police officer, who denied he went into the Capitol, then agreed to let agents look at the pictures on his phone. Inside his deleted photos folder were pictures and videos, including selfies he took inside the building, authorities said. Another man was wearing a court-ordered GPS monitor after a burglary conviction that tracked his every movement inside the building. A retired firefighter from Long Island, New York, texted a video of himself in the Capitol rotunda to his girlfriend’s brother, saying he was “at the tip of the spear,” officials said. The brother happened to be a federal agent with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, who turned the video over to the FBI. A lawyer for the man, Thomas Fee, said he “was not part of any attempt to take over the U.S. Capitol” and that “the allegation is that he merely walked through an open door into the Capitol — nothing more." Another man who was inside the Capitol was willing to rat out another rioter who stole House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and emailed the video to an FBI agent, even signing his own name to it. “Hello Nice FBI Lady,” he wrote, “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.” In another case, a man was on a flight leaving D.C. two days after the riot when he kept shouting “Trump 2020!” and was kicked off. An airport police officer saw the man get off the plane and the man was booked on another flight. Forty-five minutes later, the officer was watching a video on Instagram and recognized the man in a group of rioters. The man, who was wearing the same shirt as the day he stormed the Capitol, was arrested at the airport, authorities said. Even defence attorneys have acknowledged that the evidence poses a problem for them. “I’m not a magician,” said an attorney for the man seen in a photo carrying Pelosi's lectern. “We’ve got a photograph of our client in what appears to be inside a federal building or inside the Capitol with government property,” he told reporters. Police at the Capitol planned only for a free-speech demonstration and were overwhelmed by the mob that broke through and roamed the halls of the Capitol for hours as lawmakers were sent into hiding. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. Trump was impeached after the riot on a charge of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Opening arguments will begin the week of Feb. 8. He is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. Unlike criminal cases, impeachment trials do not have specific evidence rules so anything said and done that day can be used. And several of the people charged have said in interviews with reporters or federal agents that they were simply listening to the president when they marched to the Capitol. ___ Richer reported from Boston. Michael Balsamo, Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged B.C. residents to stay home, not travel and not engage in social interactions, saying COVID numbers have plateaued at an average of 500 cases a day — a number she said was still dangerously high. She said the shortage of vaccine, combined with the presence of more infectious variants, means the province is at a critical point. "For the last few weeks, we have plateaued at 500 new cases. This is too many. We are at a precipice. The virus continues to circulate in our communities. We are at the threshold of where we were in late October and November when cases started escalating," she said. "Over the next two weeks, I believe we can bend our curve. Not just plateau, but bend it back down ... More than you've ever done before, stay home, stop social interactions." B.C. has recorded 1,344 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 deaths over a three-day period. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provided the update on Monday at a news conference. Of the new cases, there were 527 cases between Friday and Saturday, 472 cases between Saturday and Sunday and 346 cases between Sunday and Monday. Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads with British Columbians to stay home Henry said that over the weekend the province received further updates on future shipments of vaccinations — and that B.C. will not be receiving new doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over the next two weeks. As a result of the shortage, the second doses of the vaccine will be delayed to day 42, rather than 35 in order to provide protection to a greater number of people. "The next two weeks we will receive very little new vaccine," she said. "We are not sure how much vaccine we'll be receiving in February. We know the federal government is doing as much as possible to obtain vaccine ... We have little vaccine, and we need to target it where it will do the most good." There are 4,392 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with 328 people in hospital, 68 of whom are in intensive care. Eleven outbreaks in long-term care homes have been declared over. On Friday, a report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirmed six cases of the variant from the U.K. have now been discovered in B.C., as well as three cases of the variant from South Africa. But at Monday's news conference Henry put the number of U.K. cases in B.C. at five. She said, so far, there has been no ongoing transmission detected from the U.K. cases. The South African variant cases detected in B.C. are not connected to travel, and Henry said public health officials are now conducting contact tracing to determine where they may have come from. These newer variants, first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, are transmitting more easily than the original strain, with data on the U.K. variant suggesting it is 50 per cent more transmissible from person to person than the common strain of the coronavirus. "I'm very concerned. I'm concerned that if those variants start to spread, it's just going to make our job that much more difficult," said Henry. "We do not have enough vaccine to protect everybody who needs our protection right now. The sooner we get our numbers down, the sooner we get back to the things in our lives. Now is a dangerous time." Henry painted a picture of what could come if COVID-19 case numbers begin to once again increase. "When we have lots of people infected, even young people get severely infected and end up in hospital. We will have more of our health-care workers under strain. More restrictions will be needed to slow down the spread," she said. Dix also apologized for the delay in releasing a report on the impact of COVID-19 on B.C.'s long term care homes. The firm Ernst & Young was hired to put the report together in the summer of 2020. "The report should have been released earlier. It was only brought to my attention 10 days ago. But I take responsibility for that. I am the minister of health," he said. "I apologize, in terms of frustrations people may feel about that, put it in context. When you read the report you'll see action has been taken on that."
A look inside two Toronto hospital ICUs one year after Canada's first case of COVID-19, and at the doctors and nurses both exhausted and determined to keep fighting.
A variety of community groups and individuals will seek support from Tay council at Wednesday's meeting. The packed agenda begins with a service pin presentation to volunteer firefighters, followed by a number of delegations. The first one is by Patricia Michener, who wants to the township to consider a different approach to roadside mowing to help encourage pollinators to come to the area. "In the past years, however, mowing has been taking place, so far as I’ve observed, three times a year," she writes. "The question is whether it might be reduced to perhaps once a year, in the fall. Sight-lines are important, and have to be maintained, but this should be compatible with less mowing. The result would be a win-win, increasing pollinator habitat while reducing carbon emissions and expense." Then the baton will be handed to the Waubaushene Action Group (WAG) that hopes to convince council to purchase the Waubaushene Pines School and use it as a community space. "We believe two promising options exist for the realization of a multi-purpose public centre in Waubaushene: the renovation of the existing Catholic School Building or an addition to the fire hall in Bridgeview Park," says the group's presentation. The former Pine Street School is an existing structure that will likely require retrofitting to make an ideal home for the multi-purpose community space, says WAG, adding the building’s location along Waubaushene’s main street and proximity to the Veteran’s Memorial park playground, makes it easily accessible by township residents of all ages. A third delegation is by Dan Travers, who wants to Keep Keewatin Home. He and Fred Addis, curator for Friends of Keewatin, are requesting the township endorse this new initiative by designating the S.S. Keewatin as a historically significant structure in Tay. Travers lists two reasons for this move. "It would provide a public declaration by council, on behalf of the citizens of the township, many of whom have signed both petitions, that the S.S. Keewatin is historically significant and therefore worthy of local designation," he writes in his presentation. "Under the protections offered by local designation through the Ontario Heritage Act, it would require the owners of the ship to provide notification to council in the event that the ship is significantly altered or moved within or from Tay Township." Council will also receive a presentation on an age-friendly community plan on how to make the township more accessible for seniors allowing them to age in place while living in affordable housing and being socially included through increased transportation and support services. Council will also discuss the issue of council composition and the future of the ward system, as well as look at an updated open air burn permit and revisit council's previous decision around winter trail maintenance. The meeting that begins at 7 p.m. can be viewed online or residents can call in at (705)999-0385 and enter meeting ID 836 2919 7656 for an audio-only version of the events. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Monday, Jan. 25 marks one year since the first case of COVID-19 was found in Canada. ‘Novel coronavirus’ as it was called then, was discovered in a man who had just returned from China and was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital with symptoms similar to a mild case of pneumonia. However, having heard of the new viral disease outbreak in China, doctors suspected they may be dealing with the first case to touch down in Canada. They were correct, and ‘Patient Zero’ was pronounced the first patient in the country to have what would later be called COVID-19. His wife, who had travelled to Wuhan with her husband, was soon pronounced the second presumptive case and was kept in isolation at home. Now, positive cases have been detected in every province in the country. BC has counted more than 63,000 cases and 1,128 deaths. “One year ago today, the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Canada was announced,” said Premier John Horgan. “The first lab-confirmed case in British Columbia was announced later that week. Within six weeks, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Over the past year, British Columbians – like people around the world – have faced challenges, hardships and loss. COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down.” Now that the vaccine roll out has officially begun in BC, Premier Horgan believes that we will see an end to the pandemic, but that every precaution must still be taken in order to ensure the spread of the virus remains low. “While the end of the pandemic is in sight thanks to the availability of vaccines, the threat is not over,” said Horgan. “We must remain vigilant. Today is an appropriate time to commemorate the more than 1,000 British Columbians we have lost so far to COVID-19. It is also the time to acknowledge the countless efforts and sacrifices people have made to help protect and take care of others over the last year. Today, we recommit ourselves to protecting people’s health and livelihoods from the threat of COVID-19, knowing that better days are ahead.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
VANCOUVER — A third-party report examining how the British Columbia government responded to COVID-19 in long-term care homes during the first wave of the pandemic reveals confusion over policies and infection prevention. The report, by Ernst & Young, says specific policy orders from the provincial health officer were interpreted differently by health authorities and there were gaps in infection prevention and control as well as emergency preparedness. It also highlighted a lack of consistent provincial policy on how health authorities and facility operators handled residents who tested positive for COVID-19. Ernst & Young did praise the government for its decision to create a health emergency command centre as well as restricting staff from working at multiple long-term care facilities, which it says contributed to stopping the spread of COVID-19 infections in care homes. But it added that those restrictions also highlighted staffing shortages and other underlying issues. Health Minister Adrian Dix said last week that his government has implemented all the recommendations in the report and its assessment of the province's actions was "overwhelmingly favourable." The report was completed last fall and stakeholders and the Opposition Liberals have questioned why it was not released sooner. More than 650 of B.C.'s over 1,100 deaths from COVID-19 have been in long-term care facilities. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Five people were arrested in Sydney in largely peaceful Australia Day protests on Tuesday with thousands defying public health concerns and rallying across the nation against the mistreatment of the Indigenous people. The Jan. 26 public holiday marks the date the British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788 to start a penal colony, viewing the land as unoccupied despite encountering settlements. But for many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, it is "Invasion Day".
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. travellers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. He also added South Africa to the list. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said South Africa was added to the restricted list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation. “This isn’t the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” Psaki said. The prohibition Biden is reinstating suspends entry to nearly all foreign nationals who have been in any of the countries on the restricted list at any point during the 14 days before their scheduled travel to the U.S. Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called Biden's decision to reinstate the travel restrictions—and add South Africa to the list— “prudent” in a round of television interviews Monday. “We have concern about the mutation that’s in South Africa," Fauci told "CBS This Morning." "We’re looking at it very actively. It is clearly a different and more ominous than the one in the U.K., and I think it’s very prudent to restrict travel of noncitizens.” Biden revered an order from President Donald Trump in his final days in office that called for the relaxation of the travel restrictions as of Tuesday. Trump's move was made in conjunction with a new requirement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all international travellers to the U.S. obtain a negative test for COVID-19 within three days of boarding their flight. Last week, Biden expanded on the CDC requirement and directed that federal agencies require international travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the U.S. and obtain another negative test to slow the spread of the virus. Those requirements also go into effect Tuesday. The State Department said in a statement that U.S. citizens should reconsider non-essential travel abroad, noting that access to testing in some nations remains difficult. The agency also cautioned Americans to consider ahead of international travel how they'd pay for health care and additional lodging costs if they became infected or hospitalized while travelling. The 26 European countries impacted by reinstatement of the ban are part of the border-free Schengen zone. They include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Biden's team had announced that he would reimpose the travel restrictions, but the addition of South Africa to the restricted travel list highlights the new administration’s concern about mutations in the virus. The South Africa variant has not been discovered in the United States, but another variant — originating in the United Kingdom — has been detected in several states. Fauci said there is “a very slight, modest diminution” of the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against those variants but “there’s enough cushion with the vaccines that we have that we still consider them to be effective against both the UK strain and the South Africa strain.” But he warned that more mutations are possible and said scientists are preparing to adapt the vaccines if necessary. “We really need to make sure that we begin, and we already have, to prepare if it’s necessary to upgrade the vaccines,” Fauci said. “We’re already taking steps in that direction despite the fact that the vaccines we have now do work.” Aamer Madhani And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Some provinces were forced to push back vaccination for health-care workers and vulnerable seniors on Monday as deliveries from a major manufacturer ground to a temporary halt. Canada is not due to receive any Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this week as the company revamps its operations, and deliveries are expected to be slow for the next few weeks. Ontario announced Monday that it was pausing COVID-19 vaccinations of long-term care staff and essential caregivers so that it can focus on giving the shots to all nursing home residents. Premier Doug Ford said the delay has taught the province that it can’t take vaccine shipments for granted. "I want to be clear: we’re using every single vaccine we can to protect our most vulnerable," Ford told a news conference. "But delivery delays are forcing us to be careful and cautious as we plan, to ensure we’re able to offer second doses." The news came as more cases of the more contagious U.K. variant of COVID-19 were detected across Ontario, including in at least one long-term care home. Some provinces have used up nearly all their vaccine supply and have been forced to push back their vaccination schedules. Saskatchewan announced Sunday that it had exhausted all the doses it received. However, even after technically running out, the province still managed to vaccinate another 304 people as it continued to draw extra doses from the vials it received. It had administered 102 per cent of its allotted doses by Monday, and it expected the remaining excess doses to be gone this week. Quebec has used up more than 90 per cent of its supply. It confirmed that the delivery delay would force it to postpone its vaccination rollout in private seniors' residences, which had been scheduled to start Monday. "Let's be realistic: our vaccination momentum will be reduced as of this week," Marjaurie Cote-Boileau, press secretary to Health Minister Christian Dube, said in a text message. "Given the important reduction of Pfizer doses we'll receive in the next two weeks, we have had to review our vaccination calendar." Quebec finished giving first doses to long-term care residents last week and has vaccinated some 9,000 seniors in private homes by using leftover doses. The province gave less than 2,000 shots Sunday, compared to an average of more than 9,600 a day over the previous week. In British Columbia, the provincial health officer said the government is extending the interval between the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Bonnie Henry said further delays in the production and delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the next two weeks caused the time period between the shots to be extended from 35 days to 42. She said about about 60 per cent of more than 119,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in the province so far have gone to protecting residents of long-term care homes. The Manitoba government also said it may soon have to put off some second-dose vaccine appointments as a result of the disruptions to the supply of the Pfizer vaccine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stressed that the delay is only temporary and that Canada is expected to receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of March. As Parliament resumed Monday, Trudeau faced a barrage of questions from MPs of all parties as they blasted the Liberal government for what they described as a botched approach to rolling out vaccines. Both Trudeau and Procurement Minister Anita Anand repeated the government’s promise that by the end of September, all Canadians wishing to be vaccinated will have received their shots. Trudeau added that the country is still receiving shipments of the Moderna vaccine. Earlier Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said there is “tremendous pressure” on the global supply chain for vaccines that the government has tried to mitigate. “We are working on this every single day, because we know how important vaccines are to Canadians, to first and foremost the lives of Canadians and also to our economy," she told a news conference in Ottawa by video. Despite the vaccine delay, some provinces continued to report encouraging drops in the number of new cases and hospitalizations. Ontario reported fewer than 2,000 cases, as well as fewer people in hospital. It was a similar story in Quebec, where hospitalizations dropped for a sixth straight day. Newfoundland and Labrador also reported no new cases of COVID-19 for a third straight day. Alberta reported only 362 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, compared with daily numbers peaking as high as 1,800 in mid-December. But the big concern for health officials was a case of the U.K. variant that could not be directly traced to international travel. Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said that while it is one case, the variant could quickly overwhelm hospitals if not checked. “There’s no question that this kind of exponential growth would push our health-care system to the brink,” Shandro told a news conference. “It would significantly impact the health care and the services available to all Albertans.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. — With files from Shawn Jeffords, Jordan Press, Dean Bennett and Stephanie Levitz. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
A man is in critical condition following a two-vehicle collision in Mississauga, Peel Regional Police say. Police earlier said the man had died but later issued a correction indicating he had lost vital signs and was revived. Emergency crews were called to the area of Dixie Road and Winding Trail at 2:47 p.m, where the man had been found with life-threatening injuries. He was rushed to a trauma centre and by 4:23, police said he had died. Shortly afterwards, they said the man had in fact lost vital signs and that medical staff were able to revive him. Dixie Road has been shut down in both directions from Burnhamthorphe East to Winding Trail, with drivers asked to use alternate routes. Peel police's major collision bureau has taken over the investigation. Anyone with dashcam or surveillance footage is being asked to contact police.
MONTREAL — The Quebec government came under pressure Monday to ease lockdown restrictions, from the opposition who called for the homeless to be curfew exempt, to regional mayors who said the rules are unjustified in their towns. Mayors in less-populated parts of the province where COVID-19 infections rates are low said health authorities should ease restrictions after they are set to expire Feb. 8. Marc Parent, the mayor of Rimouski, Que., said his region shouldn't be treated like Montreal, which reports hundreds of new cases every day. Rimouski, by contrast, located about 540 kilometres northeast of Montreal, reported a single new case on Sunday, he said. “When you look at the lower St-Lawrence, the Gaspe and the North Shore, we are in the neighbourhood of about 10 cases per 100,000 residents,” Parent said in an interview Monday. He said residents are looking for health orders to reflect the COVID situation in their region. “I believe the Quebec government must take into consideration the regional realities … it’s a must," Parent said. Much of Quebec has been under some form of lockdown since October, when in-person dining at restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues were closed. But in early January, following a rise in COVID-related hospitalizations, the premier ordered all non-essential businesses across the province to close and imposed an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for virtually all Quebecers. Rejean Porlier, mayor of Sept-Iles, Que., said he’s had conversations with Quebec’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, about identifying thresholds that would trigger certain extra measures as needed. “That’s what was behind the colour-coded system in the beginning, but we’re in a completely different place now: it’s oatmeal for everyone,” Porlier said. He said curfews and restaurant closures don't make sense in Sept-Iles, located about 650 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, which reported zero new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and five cases last week. “We’ll have to respect the decisions that are taken but we’re hopeful our concerns will be heard and we’ll be able to resume certain activities here,” Porlier said. “When there are zero cases, our (hospital) beds aren’t occupied, what could justify such extreme measures?” Also on Monday, opposition parties joined community groups for a virtual news conference during which they repeated demands the government exempt the homeless from the provincewide curfew. Meanwhile, lawyers argued in Quebec Superior Court that the curfew violates homeless people's Charter rights to safety and security and to be protected against cruel and unusual punishment or treatment. The judge hearing the case is expected to rule later in the week. Last week, Premier Francois Legault rejected the Montreal mayor's request for an exemption, saying he had concerns people would fake homelessness to defy the curfew and avoid the fine, which can be as high as $6,000. Montreal's request came following the recent death of Raphael Andre, a 51-year-old homeless Innu man found dead in a portable toilet. New data indicates the daily infection rate and number of hospitalizations are trending downward. Quebec has reported a drop in hospitalizations for the past six reporting periods, representing 179 fewer patients in hospital. Health officials reported 1,203 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 43 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 12 that occurred in the past 24 hours. The Health Department said hospitalizations dropped by six, to 1,321 and 217 patients were in intensive care, a decrease of two. Fewer hospitalizations in recent days are starting to impact hospitalizations, Heath Minister Christian Dube said. "Case data continue to be encouraging," Dube said in a tweet announcing the daily count. "It shows that our efforts over the past few weeks are bearing fruit." Health officials said Monday 1,672 more people have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 228,887, adding that Quebec has 16,424 active reported cases. Officials said 220,715 doses of vaccine had been administered as of Sunday, representing 2.58 per cent of the population that had been vaccinated. Quebec has reported 254,836 infections and 9,521 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. — with files from Morgan Lowrie Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Two Edmonton high schools have moved classes online after a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases among students and staff. There have been 20 confirmed cases at M.E. LaZerte School in northeastern Edmonton, where nearly 1,300 students been attending in-person classes. At J. Percy Page High School in the city's southeast, 715 students who had been receiving classroom instruction are now learning at home. Thirteen cases have been confirmed at that school. Between the two schools, 666 students and 60 staff were asked to quarantine. Edmonton Public Schools Supt. Darrel Robertson says he sought permission from the Alberta government Sunday for two-week "circuit-breaker" shutdowns. The Education Ministry approved the request within hours and parents were informed by letter shortly after, he said Monday. Robertson said Alberta Health has told the school division that most of the new cases reported in the past week came from outside, but there has been some in-school transmission. "I have full confidence that the contact tracers are going to ... try to provide more of an explanation as to why these particular two areas in the city experienced that number of cases in a short period of time," Robertson said. Several cases emerged last week, but additional ones reported over the weekend compelled the school division to act, Robertson said. It also made sense to make the switch to home learning before a new school quarter began and students broke off into new cohorts. A large backlog in contact tracing had previously been an issue. But Robertson said since the holidays, schools in his division have received notifications of positive cases within a day or sometimes hours. Monday was being treated as a "transition day" for students and staff to adjust, he said, and equipment loans and technological support are available. "There is a lot of anxiety around a pandemic, as everyone can appreciate, and we're doing our best to take care of each other." Learning for Alberta students in grades 7 to 12 shifted online in late November amid a general surge in cases. Face-to-face instruction resumed two weeks ago. Chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday that 11 per cent of Alberta schools currently had COVID-19 infections and that nine had five or more cases. She said 51 schools had transmission within the institution, with about three quarters of those having only one new case as a result. Hinshaw said her office is closely monitoring new, more transmissible variants of the novel coronavirus that have been detected in Alberta. "There is no time when we can let our guard down. It doesn't matter if it's lunch time, break time, after school or after work," she said. The Alberta Federation of Labour said the school shutdowns should be a "wake-up call" for the province's United Conservative government. The labour group is calling for mandatory paid sick leave and isolation pay, "dramatically" increased funding for schools and investments in proper ventilation in schools and workplaces. It also wants proactive inspections of workplaces and a strategy to "crush and contain" COVID-19 as other jurisdictions, such as New Zealand and Australia, have done. An email from Education Minister Adriana Lagrange's office said the government approved the requests for the shutdowns out of an abundance of caution. "We consider the operational needs of the school — such as having numerous staff in isolation that makes it hard to continue with a high level of learning for students in school — when making this decision," wrote Justin Marshall, the minister's press secretary. — By Lauren Krugel in Calgary This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden imposed stringent new made-in-America rules for U.S. government spending Monday. They come with a caveat likely troubling to Canada: exceptions to those rules will be allowed only under "very limited circumstances." Monday's Buy American executive order was the result of a cornerstone Biden campaign promise. It was designed to corral swing-state support among the protectionist, blue-collar voters who previously elevated Donald Trump to the White House. The policy is to ensure that American manufacturers, workers and suppliers are the primary beneficiaries of U.S. government largesse, including an estimated $600 billion a year in procurement contracts. Biden says the Trump administration liked to talk about Buy American, but ultimately did little to toughen or even enforce the rules. "That is going to change on our watch," he said, signing an executive order to enact a series of measures to raise standards for U.S. content, increase oversight and provide for more stringent enforcement. They include a "Made in America" office attached to the White House Office of Management and Budget to oversee waivers — the exceptions that allow Canadian contractors, manufacturers and suppliers access to a lucrative and often essential source of business. "I'm directing the Office of Management and Budget to review waivers to make sure they are only used in very limited circumstances — for example, when there's an overwhelming national security, humanitarian or emergency need here in America," Biden said. "This hasn't happened before. It will happen now." Waiver details will also be posted on a U.S. government website to provide more public transparency about who is getting around the rules, and why. The plan would also increase the amount of U.S.-produced materials or components a project or product would need in order to qualify as American-made, and make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to access procurement opportunities. It requires government agencies to provide twice-yearly progress reports on their efforts to follow the new rules. It also voices support for the Jones Act, a law that requires goods being shipped between domestic ports to be delivered on U.S.-flagged vessels that are built, owned and operated by American citizens or permanent residents. "I don't buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past," Biden said. "American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War Two, and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now." Mark Agnew, the director of international policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said Canada will find little of comfort in Monday's news. "Buy American restrictions remain a perennial problem for Canadian businesses seeking to access government contracts with our largest trading partner," Agnew said in a statement. "Although the rules have progressively tightened over the years, (Monday's) announcement represents another unhelpful step to make it more difficult for Canadian businesses to secure contracts in the U.S." In the midst of a deadly pandemic and resultant economic free fall, Canada and the U.S. should be looking for ways to join forces and leverage their strengths to fortify existing cross-border supply chains, Agnew said. "Although the full impact of (Monday's) announcement will take time to cascade to different parts of the U.S. government, its chilling effect on business will be acutely felt north of the border." At the same time, a more stringent and orderly system of approving and enforcing waivers might eventually prove to be a "silver lining" for Canada, said Dan Ujczo, a Canada-U.S. trade lawyer based in Columbus, Ohio. The enforcement of procurement rules can sometimes be haphazard, particularly when they are confusing and poorly understood, said Ujczo, senior counsel with the U.S. firm Thompson Hine LLP. "Canada has a network of agreements with the U.S. to address Buy American programs, but the nuance often is lost on procurement officers that do not want to risk using non-U.S. products," he said. "If Canadian companies can use this new Made in America office at OMB to emphasize Canada’s 'exemptionalism,' it could prove worthwhile." The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the replacement trade deal for NAFTA negotiated under Donald Trump, does not include specific government procurement provisions between the U.S. and Canada. The deal envisioned relying instead on the terms of the World Trade Organization's general procurement agreement, to which both Canada and the U.S. are signatories. Biden "remains committed to working with partners and allies to modernize international trade rules — including those related to government procurement," the White House says. Even so, Canadian suppliers and contractors will need to remain on guard, Ujczo added. "Make no mistake: Canadian companies, supported by federal and provincial governments, will need to remain vigilant and aggressive on this file. There is a risk that Canada gets lumped in with everybody else. " The latest order comes just five days after Biden "disappointed" the Canadian government and enraged Alberta Premier Jason Kenney by rescinding a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Kenney, whose government has invested US$1.1 billion in the project and secured US$4.2 billion in loan guarantees, has threatened legal action against the U.S. in order to get some of that money back, and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join the effort. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
The American Film Institute on Monday announced its top 10 films of the year, including Pixar’s jazz themed “Soul” and two of Chadwick Boseman’s final films: the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Spike Lee’s Vietnam drama “Da 5 Bloods,” both of which are Netflix films. Netflix featured heavily in the AFI’s list, which took up four positions on the list including David Fincher’s “Citizen Kane” origin story “Mank” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Amazon, too, got two spots with the hearing loss drama “Sound of Metal,” with Riz Ahmed and Regina King’s “One Night in Miami...”. Chloé Zhao’s awards and festival favourite “Nomadland” with Frances McDormand was also named an honoree in advance of its theatrical rollout in the coming weeks, as was “Minari,” with Steven Yeun, which opens Feb. 12. AFI also selected Warner Bros.’ Black Panther Party film “Judas and the Black Messiah” which will have its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Feb. 1. The AFI also named its top 10 television shows, including Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” the Disney+ phenomenon “The Mandalorian” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso.” The selection jury included filmmakers Rian Johnson and Lulu Wang. The group also included a special citation for “Hamilton.” In lieu of the annual luncheon celebrating the honorees, AFI will hold a virtual benediction on Feb. 26 streaming on YouTube and the AFI website. Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press