Former President Barack Obama took part in a virtual rally for two Georgia Senate races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. (Dec. 4)
Former President Barack Obama took part in a virtual rally for two Georgia Senate races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. (Dec. 4)
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A former executive with British Columbia's lottery corporation became emotional Tuesday after two days of testimony at a public inquiry into money laundering.Robert Kroeker took several moments to compose himself but his voice still cracked with emotion when he was asked to describe his experience as a focal point in B.C.'s probe into money laundering.Kroeker, who was fired as vice-president of corporate compliance in 2019, spent much of his testimony explaining what the Crown corporation knew about illegal cash circulating at casinos and what was being done to prevent it."You are not a floor manager. You are not on the business side of casinos. You are not wining and dining high rollers," said Marie Henein, Kroeker's lawyer. "That's not what you do. You've spent your life in compliance and trying to deal with money laundering and making casinos secure places in B.C."Kroeker's voice cracked as he tried to describe the impact of allegations that the lottery corporation did not act on large amounts of illegal cash at casinos."It's been devastating, not being able to respond, particularly when I was at the corporation, and especially for my team," said the former RCMP officer. "They're professionals and to see them continually attacked and maligned, it's really unfair."Former gaming investigator Larry Vander Graaf, who is also a former Mountie, told the commission last November that the B.C. Lottery Corp. did not move quickly enough to protect the integrity of gaming from organized crime more than a decade ago.Vander Graaf, the former executive director of the province's gaming policy branch, testified that large amounts of suspicious cash started to appear at B.C. casinos in 2007 and by 2010, loan sharks were circulating nearby parking lots with bags of money believed to be from proceeds of crime.Kroeker testified Tuesday he received a high-level briefing about suspicious cash activities at provincial casinos with possible links to organized crime on his first day on the job at the lottery corporation in 2015.He said he reviewed a document that concluded lottery officials appeared unwilling to address police concerns about suspicious cash and its potential connections to organized crime. The document also included the lottery corporation's concerns over the potential fallout if the information became public, he added."Certainly by this point BCLC knew there was a concern around the cash being brought into casinos being proceeds of crime," B.C. government lawyer Jacqueline Hughes asked Kroeker."Yes, for sure," said Kroeker.On Monday, Kroeker testified that Attorney General David Eby appeared uninterested in the lottery corporation's anti-money laundering efforts during a meeting in 2017 shortly after the New Democrats took power.The Ministry of Attorney General said in a statement on Monday that Eby would not comment on evidence or proceedings while the commission is underway.But in a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said "this government's actions to tackle financial crime in B.C. speaks for itself."Kroeker testified Tuesday that the money laundering issue in B.C. had become "politically charged" and was used by the two main political parties to criticize each other.The province appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead the public inquiry into money laundering after three reports outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected the province's real estate, luxury vehicles and gaming sectors.— By Dirk Meissner in VictoriaThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
A Saskatchewan woman says she is scared for her life after she was brutally arrested by three RCMP officers after a trip to the local emergency room to get her two-year-old son’s arm examined at the end of December. Emily Kammermayer, a member of Lac La Ronge Indian Band, is facing multiple criminal charges including assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer, in what RCMP called a physical altercation between officers during her arrest at the La Ronge Health Centre on Dec. 29. The 20-year-old woman said the RCMP officers tackled her to the ground, punched her repeatedly in the head and face and that one officer placed a knee on the back of her neck. Ms. Kammermayer said the officers then hog-tied her, carried her to a police vehicle and drove her to the detachment. While in custody, she said, officers continued to violate her as she lay on the ground, still bound by her wrists and ankles behind her, telling her to hop like a bunny into the cell and laughing. “I felt as if my limbs and neck were being torn apart,” she said. “It was worse than childbirth or surgery.” She said she was eventually untied and allowed to speak to legal aid. Complaining of a headache and blurry vision, Ms. Kammermayer, who is also epileptic and being investigated for possible multiple sclerosis, was given Advil by paramedics. When she was released that evening, Ms. Kammermayer said she travelled to a Prince Albert hospital more than 200 kilometres away where she was examined for a concussion and possible broken vertebrae. RCMP said they responded to a complaint of an assault between an adult woman and physician at the La Ronge Health Centre around 1 p.m. on Dec. 29. A communications officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority confirmed in a statement that staff members called RCMP regarding an incident on Dec. 29, citing there is zero tolerance for violence against patients, staff and physicians. Ms. Kammermayer said she took her son Holden to the emergency department for an X-ray on the advice of her mother, a nurse. She said a doctor’s refusal to do an X-ray frustrated her and she yelled at him and slammed the door of the examination room. The door is alleged to have hit the physician, which she says led to the assault with a weapon charge against her. Ms. Kammermayer said as she was gathering their belongings, she lunged to catch her son who was running and that’s when she was tackled by the RCMP officers. Kim Beaudin, the national vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents non-status and off-reserve status Indigenous and Métis groups, said what happened to Ms. Kammermayer is a case of systemic racism in health care and unprofessional conduct and police brutality. “All because a mother, an Indigenous woman, was trying to get medical attention for her son,” Mr. Beaudin said. “It’s a classic move by the RCMP to overcharge and underprotect Indigenous peoples.” Ms. Kammermayer said she filed an online public complaint with the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission against the three constables on Dec. 31. The RCMP confirmed its Professional Responsibility Unit is investigating the complaint and that the North District Management Team is also reviewing the incident. NDP public safety critic Jack Harris said the report involving Ms. Kammermayer is “unfortunately consistent” with concerns that have been raised over the past six months during a study on systemic racism in policing. He called on Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to follow up with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on the incident. Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Mr. Blair, said the allegations made by Ms. Kammermayer are deeply concerning. Ms. Power said the government has confidence in processes under way at the RCMP and in the courts to bring clarity to this situation and to advise whether any corrective action should be taken based on facts and evidence. Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond, the director of the University of British Columbia’s Residential School History and Dialogue Centre who reported on racism against Indigenous people in B.C.’s health care system in November, said that while she does not know the circumstances of the Saskatchewan case, it shows many of the attributes that she examined in hundreds of B.C. cases. She noted the cases involved hospital security, emergency services and police interacting with Indigenous peoples in a disturbing way that often reflected “racism, prejudice, bias and profiling.” Senator Yvonne Boyer, a Métis lawyer who has studied systemic racism in health, also said that the allegations brought forward by Ms. Kammermayer do not surprise her. When Joyce Echaquan died in a Quebec hospital in September after live-streaming abuse she endured, the senator said there were hundreds of others Indigenous women who had endured similar experiences. “Emily is one of those hundreds,” she said. “I hope that by coming forward there will be some more focus on eradicating systemic racism within the health care system.” With reports from Kristy Kirkup and Patrick White Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
Saskatchewan’s premier and Chief Medical Health officer Tuesday both spoke publicly for the first time since a group of protestors picketed outside the chief doctor’s home over the weekend. Scott Moe explained that he has worked closely over the past 10 months with Dr. Saqib Shahab and appreciated his work. “I would say that Saskatchewan is a better place with Dr. Shahab doing what he does each and every day, Saskatchewan is a much better place with Dr. Shahab’s family doing what they do, contributing to this province each and every day,” Moe said. The premier expressed that the protest on Saturday crossed a line. “Whether it is a legal line or whether it is just a line of where we are as a society in this province and where Saskatchewan people are headed that we most certainly, and the vast majority agree, that line was crossed,” Moe said. The Regina Police Service (RPS) responded to reports of a protest at Shahab's residence on Saturday at around 2:30 p.m. According to a RPS media release, police stayed on scene until protestors left at roughly 3:30 p.m. An investigation into the protest is ongoing. Moe was not aware whether the protest against Shahab also had racial motivation. Shahab thanked the Regina Police Service and explained that he felt sorry for his neighbours and his family who did not deserve to be harassed. Weekends are workdays for Shahab. “On Saturday I kept doing my work and I couldn’t clear my snow for about three hours, Shahab joked, “ but went out and did my snow clearing afterwards when it was -30 instead of -20. Like the Premier said, protest outside the legislature if that is what you want to do instead of having a policy debate, so writing out your question in a coherent manner, that’s your choice,” Shahab said. Shahab added that he expects vigorous debate over every policy in a democracy. “Right now we are in a pandemic, it’s a long year and it is creating pressures for everyone. Even outside of a pandemic in a democracy you will debate vigorously and you express your opinion through many channels,” Shahab said nobody should be targeted because of race, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation. “I think successful countries, successful societies are inclusive and do well. You can slice it as closely as you want to find differences when you want to find differences.” He added that the public outcry after the incident also expressed his views more eloquently than he could. “I think there is a small minority, I think, social media while it is great, the internet is great to remain connected but the social media also creates a zone of toxic echo chambers and it does unfortunately perpetuate hate and I would say radicalize those that are susceptible to it,” Shahab said. Security has been offered to Shahab by the Government of Saskatchewan to ensure his and his family’s safety. Moe would not discuss the options for security publicly. Throughout the press conference Moe expressed that there is a place and a time for protest of decisions by the government and that protest was not one of them. “(Public health orders) are made most certainly on the advice of Dr. Shahab and put into action under Dr. Shahab’s signature but they are decisions that are made by the government of Saskatchewan and they are with the very capable and competent advice that is provided to us by Dr. Shahab,” Moe said. Moe said that protests can happen in front of the Legislature and he has seen them since he became elected. “The government does take note when there is a protest outside of public institutions. Those protests are protesting a government decisions. What we saw this weekend was a protest had moved from protesting a government decision to protesting a person, that is enough in this province, it needs to stop,” Moe said. Moe also said anyone who doesn't like the government's COVID policy should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call their local MLA. -With files from Jason Kerr, Prince Albert Daily Herald. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A group of doctors and advocates are calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address what they call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in long-term care homes by bringing the military back for support and embarking on hiring and training drives.
The mittens worn by American Senator Bernie Sanders to the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden have garnered considerable attention online, and generated humorous images that place a hunched-against-the-cold Sanders everywhere from a scene in Forrest Gump to downtown Saint John. They also caught the attention of a New Brunswick foundation which has been making mittens for charity for the past 15 years. Katie Tower, executive director of the Pedvac Foundation in Port Elgin, said when they saw Sanders’ mittens all over the internet, they thought, “Hey those look like Pedvac mittens!” The organization decided to point out the similarity on their Facebook for anyone trying to create their own Bernie look, Tower said. The post was shared many times and retailers who carry their mittens have started calling asking for more, she said. "The great thing about our mitts is it is a social enterprise," said Tower, “We pay people in our community of Port Elgin to make them.” They aren’t, however, copying the Bernie mittens pattern. “We came up with our own pattern many years ago," Tower said. "We have revised it a bit, but the pattern in the Bernie mittens just happens to be similar enough to ours.” The teacher who originally made the mittens as a gift for Sanders spoke about using recycled or donated wool, and Pedvac mittens are also made from wool that is "second hand or donated too,” said Darcie Kingswell, coordinator of Pedvac's "Wools to Wishes". “We use a variety of different wool, different fleece,” said Kingswell, adding that it could come from a sweater or another knitted item. Buying Pedvac mittens “goes to support our programs including mental health workshops, food programs in school or free income tax preparation programs,” said Tower. Pedvac’s mittens are currently available at Starving Artist Gallery in Moncton, Wheaton's locations in the Maritimes, Happenstance in Antigonish, Threadwork in Almonte, Ont. and at the Pedvac boutique in Port Elgin, although that location is closed while Zone 1 is in red, said Kingswell. The most common similarity between these New Brunswick-made mitts and Bernie Sanders’ mitts is a lot simpler. “It looked like Bernie Sanders was just trying to stay warm," Tower said. "Ours help you do that too.” Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador first felt the onset of COVID-19 on Sunday and was tested after returning to the capital on a commercial flight from an event in central Mexico, his spokesman said on Tuesday. Spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that passengers on the flight were being contacted, and that journalists traveling with the president were recommended to isolate. Lopez Obrador had a fever on Sunday and was still experiencing some mild symptoms by Tuesday, including a minor headache, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in an evening news conference.
WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was taken to a hospital Tuesday evening after not feeling well and later sent home after tests, a spokesman said, hours after the 80-year-old Democrat began presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Leahy, who'd been in his Capitol office, was taken to George Washington University Hospital “out of an abundance of caution" after being examined by Congress' attending physician, Leahy spokesman David Carle said. The senator underwent an evaluation before his release from the hospital and looks forward to returning to work, Carle said. Leahy had commenced his role of overseeing Trump's latest impeachment trial by swearing in his fellow lawmakers. The actual trial will begin next month. Leahy is presiding because he is the Senate's president pro tempore, a largely ceremonial post. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Trump's first impeachment trial a year ago when Trump was still president. The Senate president pro tempore job normally goes to the longest-serving member of the Senate's majority party. Leahy was first elected in 1974, making him the longest-serving current senator of either party. Leahy will be chairman once again this year of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a panel that controls a large chunk of the federal budget and will be in the middle of President Joe Biden's effort to provide more spending to combat the pandemic and recharge the economy. Leahy is the fifth-oldest current senator. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 87, is the oldest. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
The province of Saskatchewan set another new record for deaths related to COVID-19 Tuesday with 14. There were two additional deaths reported in the North Central zone , one in the 40-49 age group and one in the 80 and over age group. The Saskatoon zone reported two deaths in the 60 to 69-year-old age group, two deaths in the 80-years-old and over age group and one in the 70 to 79-year-old age group and 50 to 59-year-old age group. Regina reported deaths in the 70 to 79-year-old age group, 50 to 59 year-old age group and 80-years-old and over age group The Far North West and South East also reported one death in the 80-years-old and over age group. The South East also reported a death in the 70 to 79-year-old age group. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 268. There were 232 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 31 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 139 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 55 active cases and North Central 3 has 98 active cases. There was one case with pending information added to the North Central zone. There are currently 208 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 175 reported as receiving in patient care there are 28 in North Central. Of the 33 people reported as being in intensive care there are two in North Central. The current seven-day average is 254, or 20.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 22,646 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 2,665 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 19,219 after 839 more recoveries were reported. Tuesday. There were 362 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan, bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 34,080. As of Jan. 25, 104 per cent of the doses received have been administered. This overage is due to efficiencies in drawing extra doses from vials of vaccine received. There were no doses administered in North Central on Monday. However 23 doses were administered in the adjacent North East zone, which includes Melfort, Nipawin and Tisdale. There were 2,160 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 25. As of today there have been 495,292 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A decade-long warming trend in the Gulf of St. Lawrence continued in 2020 with deep waters reaching record highs, according to ocean climate data released Tuesday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Water temperatures at depths of 200, 250 and 300 metres were higher than any measured in the Gulf since records started in 1915, hitting highs of 5.7 C, 6.6 C and 6.8 C. All were well above the normal variations. "It is scary to me because we're completely outside of the known envelope," Peter Galbraith, a longtime federal research scientist, said in an interview. "When you are one degree, a half a degree outside anything that's been known before those 100 years, then that's like uncharted territory for fisheries management." No record of this before The report on physical oceanographic conditions also said temperatures last year were notably warmer in deep water at the entrance to the Gulf in the Laurentian Channel and the Cabot Strait between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Gauging the effects on marine life is a key task, but there's nothing to compare it to in the record, said Galbraith. "A whole lot of species will be affected. The scary part is that we can't rely on past observations that would be similar to guess at what the ecosystem is responding because it was never similar," Galbraith said from DFO's Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli, Que. "The bottom temperature of the Gulf has increased by about a degree and a half, which might not seem a whole lot. But for biological species that are used to really, really stable temperatures, increasing from 5.2 to 6.7 is a big deal." Wild surface-temperature swing The inland portion of the Gulf in Quebec, known as the Estuary, recorded the highest surface temperatures in July since those records started in 1982. By September, surface temperatures hit record lows after strong winds whipped up ocean waters. "We lost 3.7 degrees in one week basically," said Galbraith. "The warmest week in nearly 40 years of observations to the coldest September in 40 years." He said January 2021 has already seen its own anomaly — no sea ice in the Gulf. A recent cold snap was not enough to produce ice because most of the water is above 1 degree. "Outside of coastal ice, there's really nothing, anything offshore," said Galbraith. Gulf could stay warm for years He said the warmer deep water, which is slowly sucked into the Gulf from the Atlantic, will likely keep the Gulf warm for years. An unusually cold year could provide a reprieve, but it has not materialized in the past decade. Two currents supply the deep water that flows into the Gulf: the cold Labrador Current from the north and the Gulf Stream from the south. Scientists are trying to understand what is happening with those currents and what warmer water means in the near term. MORE TOP STORIES
Manitoba’s first rapid testing site had no shortage of available appointments for school staffers during its inaugural week of operations. Yet, same-day tests remain out of reach for teachers who want them in the province’s COVID-19 hotspot. Between Jan. 18-24, the province took 111 nasal swab samples — an average of 16 each day — at the rapid testing site at 1066 Nairn Ave. in Winnipeg. The province set an initial goal of completing 20-40 tests daily, with an aim to ramp up to 160/day in the coming months, when it unveiled details about the “Fast Pass” pilot project earlier this month. The number of tests administered during the first week reflect the number of appointments that have been made, a provincial spokesperson said Monday, adding there have been no processing nor administrative issues at the site. Ruth MacKenzie was among the educators who booked an appointment for Monday morning, after she woke up with a sore throat. The educational assistant said she was offered numerous times when she called the booking line (1-855-268-4318) at 7:30 a.m. She picked a 10:30 a.m. slot so she could travel to Winnipeg. MacKenzie said she was pleasantly surprised by how easy the appointment was to set up, the test itself — which took under seven minutes, and that she was told to expect a result within hours. “It’s nice to know there’s a place you can go and get tested and get back to work as soon as possible,” she said. “I love my job. I enjoy it very much. I’m very thankful that I’m working.” The Monday experience was a stark contrast to her first COVID-19 test in the summertime. MacKenzie waited an hour-and-a-half before she was able to get her nasal cavity swabbed, and two days to receive a result in early August. For a positive result at the rapid site, it takes four to eight hours before the notice is posted online. Negative results take longer because they are to be verified at a lab. The province retests the latter because, according to a provincial spokesperson, the Songbird Hyris bCUBE rapid test is new to Manitoba, and many rapid-test types have been shown to have a higher volume of false negatives. The spokesperson said the turnaround for official negative results are “aligned” with those for the general testing stream; the current response time for a test processed at community sites, including the adjacent drive-thru site on Nairn Avenue, is 1-2 days. The Fast Pass site was originally open only to school staff, including teachers, educational assistants, custodians, bus drivers and workers in school-based early learning and child care facilities in Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, River East Transcona, Seine River and Hanover divisions. Over the weekend, the province broadened eligibility criteria to give all school employees in Manitoba access to quick turnaround tests, citing its ability to increase the number of daily appointments. Such an expansion was anticipated to take place in February. The president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society said Monday he is pleased the pilot has been expanded on behalf of teachers in the metro region and those who live nearby, but noted educators work all over the province. There are concerns about test accessibility in rural and northern regions, said James Bedford, who represents 16,000 public school teachers. The province has hinted Winkler and Brandon could be home to future rapid test facilities. “We need to recognize that we can’t ignore the northern part of the province,” Bedford said. To date, 27 students have graduated from Red River College with a micro-credential in how to administer rapid COVID-19 tests. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Sarnia police are warning the public to secure their homes after a possible fourth homicide in the region in less than a month. A man was found dead by police Tuesday afternoon inside a home in the 500 block of Devine Street. Police say the death is suspicious and they are treating the incident as a homicide. The home is being held as a crime scene by the Sarnia Police Service Criminal Investigations Branch and the Ontario Provincial Police have also stepped in to help with the investigation, according to a news release. This death follows another suspicious one that took place on Saturday in the 200 block of Essex Street, where 66-year-old Sue Elin Lumsden was found dead. The Criminal Investigations Branch was also called in to investigate. About a week earlier on Jan. 14, police arrested and charged a 45-year-old Sarnia man with first degree murder following the death of 39-year-old Natalie Bartlett. And just days before, a 32-year-old man was arrested and charged with second degree murder after 26-year-old Luis Enrique Hernandez was found injured and died in hospital. In all of 2020, the city had three homicides. Department resources stretched Sarnia mayor Mike Bradley told CBC News he's reached out to police and offered support should they need more resources given the spike in deaths in the first month of the year. "[It's] a relatively small department and they are stretched with what's going on and that makes it difficult for them," Bradley said, adding that it's evident the department is taxed as it called in the Ontario Provincial Police to assist. A police board meeting is taking place on Thursday that Bradley said may be when police address the need for more assistance. Check on elderly; secure doors, windows In a news release Tuesday, Sarnia police urge home owners to be cautious by securing their doors and windows, and have outdoor lights that are on. "We are also asking residents who have elderly family members, that live alone, to reach out to them and periodically ensure their wellbeing," reads the news release. "We would also like to reassure the public that our officers and detectives have been diligently working on these investigations and utilizing all available resources and personnel to solve these recent crimes." Police are asking that anyone with video camera footage from 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 to 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 26 within the 500 block of Devine Street, including nearby Russell St South, Ontario Street, and Conrad Street, contact the Criminal Investigations Branch Information Line at 519-344-8861, extension 5300 or the Sarnia Lambton Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
Critics of Baffinland Iron Mines’ proposed Mary River mine expansion questioned the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability and integration of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or traditional knowledge, during the second day of a Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing. It revealed that a clear divide between company and community still exists, despite CEO Brian Penney’s assertion Monday his company has addressed community concerns about the mine’s phase two expansion. Baffinland says it needs to build a 110-kilometre railway from Milne Inlet to the Mary River mine to make the mine financially sustainable. But the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization was one of the more outspoken presenters during Tuesday’s proceedings in Pond Inlet, repeatedly asking Baffinland staff if they considered Inuit traditional knowledge in their proposals, especially when regarding the environment. “Does Baffinland understand that proper incorporation of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is a requirement of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, not only an expectation of communities?” Eric Ootoovak, a member of the hunters and trappers organization asked. He also asked if Baffinland respects traditional knowledge as “factual information that is essential to the environmental impact statement.” Megan Lord-Hoyle, Baffinland’s vice-president of sustainable development, and Lou Kamermans, senior director of sustainable development, said the company has adapted its proposal to the needs of affected communities, even if it hasn’t been to the extent that groups such as the MTHO would like. “We can agree to disagree on the conclusions of our assessments, but your disagreement doesn’t mean that we haven’t carried out the studies that are included in our assessment,” said Kamermans, in reference to incorporating traditional knowledge. “That information is objectively there, there’s no debate on that. We have considered the information.” Critics’ questions about whether their environmental concerns will be addressed and honoured by Baffinland have persisted since November 2019. That was when the hearings were postponed after Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk brought forward a motion to postpone the hearing because were too many questions remained about the proposal. Since then, Baffinland has held meetings with affected communities and revised its proposal. Vessels would operate for four, rather than 10, months a year, to help avoid disturbing marine life. The company also introduced the Inuit stewardship plan to allow Inuit to “report on social, environmental, and cultural impacts” of the phase two proposal, which will be run by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and paid for by Baffinland. As well, the Inuit Certainty Agreement, a multimillion-dollar agreement between the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Baffinland, was signed in July 2020 and outlines community benefits, Inuit participation in the project and incentives for affected communities. “Science and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit will be considered in parallel and on equal footing as part of the adaptive management planning,” Lord-Hoyle said. But community representatives have yet to be won over. On Tuesday, Amanda Hanson Main, technical advisor to the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization, asked Lord-Hoyle three times if, during the 2019 proceedings, Baffinland supported any requests or motions by communities to slow down the hearings when they felt their concerns weren’t being answered. The third time, Lord-Hoyle referred to Baffinland’s legal counsel to answer. “We believe that an answer has been given to this question, and the answer is that the position of the company on the motions is on the record and is well known to the board,” said Brad Armstrong. Hanson Main replied, “Noting the non-response at this oral hearing, I’ll move forward, recognizing that Baffinland not only did not support the motions or the requests, and in fact pressed forward despite the protests of communities.” The nine-member Nunavut Impact Review Board assesses the environmental and socio-economic impacts of development projects and advises the federal and territorial governments on their findings. The hearing will continue until Feb 6. Afterwards, the review board will send a report to federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal recommending whether the project should go ahead. David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News
Mental health and wellness supports are in place at Jasper schools, and just being at school can be a great mood booster itself. Kelly Harding, assistant superintendent with Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD), described in an email the excitement over the recent return from an extended winter break. “The division has heard from many parents their appreciation for the province's decision to return to in-school learning, noting that their children are happier and more excited about their learning when they are with their teachers and their peers at school,” Harding said in an email. GYPSD includes Jasper Elementary School and Jasper Junior/Senior High School. “The best mental health a school can offer to students is to be open,” added Marie-Claude Faucher, principal of Ecole Desrochers, via email. “Just by being at school, with friends and teachers, it makes an enormous difference!” Harding said the division has had positive feedback from parents who are accessing the division's learn-at-home option this year, because it affords those families an extra level of safety if they are not comfortable returning to in-school learning at this time. “In addition to great teaching and learning opportunities,” Harding said, “the division has extensive mental health and wellness supports - including 10 family school liaison counsellors, three BEST (Bringing Empowered Students Together) coaches and a division psychologist. Parents can access any of these supports through their principals, as well as a number of resources and links on the GYPSD website.” Faucher said there are programs at the school to combine with the positive attitudes there. “Added to the fact that they are now back at school, with big smiles, we also have programs to teach students about Growth Mindset, to help them develop resilience and perseverance,” she said. “We also teach them to be attentive and take care of each other.” Faucher noted if the school has serious concerns about a student, they reach to Alberta Health Services and/or Jasper Outreach Services. “They are really helpful,” she said. Dealing with the pandemic is done by balancing COVID protocols with the social side of life, Harding said. “While no one is excited about having to wear a mask indoors or not being able to share a hug or high-five, the measures put in place by the government are there to keep our staff, students and communities safe,” she said. “We are deeply appreciative to our staff and to our students and families for their commitment to the protocols. Teachers miss seeing their students' smiles! We look forward to when COVID is gone and we can return to normal.” Faucher added, “Causes of mental health issues are when students are cut off from relationships, when they confront the challenges associated with virtual school, when they are playing video games alone. It's not COVID measures that challenge mental health, we are all used to it now, it is part of a routine. Schools are a safe and happy place to be. “As long as we can have all the students here, the atmosphere is focused on learning, and learning is fun!” Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
From a dream to an award-winning short story to a novel to be published by HarperCollins Canada. It’s all “surreal,” says author Jessica Johns. Johns’ debut novel “Bad Cree” was the subject of a bidding war between three publishing houses. “Everybody connected with my work in such a deep and meaningful way,” said Johns. But she was drawn to work with HarperCollins because of the connection she felt with the editor Aeman Ansari. Johns felt that same connection with agent Stephanie Sinclair from the CookeMcDermid Agency. In fact, after reviewing the list of authors Sinclair represented – including Billy Ray Belcourt, Lee Maracle and Joshua Whitehead – Sinclair was the only agent Johns approached. They also connected on another level: both women are Indigenous. Johns is a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation located in Treaty 8 territory in Alberta, and Sinclair is of Cree, Ojibwe and settler descent. “As an Indigenous person I think I have a fundamental understanding of some of the underlying themes that many other writers that I'm working with are talking about in a way that I don't know another agent would,” said Sinclair. But it was the story Johns was telling that pulled Sinclair in. “I think we need more books that are truthful in all of its complexities of characters, complexities of plots and scenarios but that are also infused with joy, and I think that Jessica struck that balance perfectly. I think that’s really hard to find. I found it immediately just wonderful to read,” said Sinclair. The book also fit into Sinclair’s goal to curate a list of works with “political leanings” as says her profile on the literary agency’s website. “In many ways (Johns’) sort of normalizing and humanizing an urban Indigenous experience in a way that I think challenges how people think about stereotypical Indigenous people. I think that she's also offering insight and perspective into the joy that exists within many, many Indigenous families we don't hear enough about,” said Sinclair. “What I hope to accomplish with my list is to have the books that I contribute to bringing into the world change the conversation and change the landscape and challenge how people think about each other generally not just Indigenous people,” Sinclair said. The short story “Bad Cree” won the Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize in 2020. Johns said when she was writing the short story it had not been her intention to turn it into a novel. “Once I finished it, the story didn't really leave me. I felt like there was more to say. The characters were still kind of there for me and there is more I wanted to do,” she said. Writing the novel was “completely different” than writing a short story. “The short story was supposed to be short, so I’m cutting words, I’m trying to condense and make it concise. And with the novel I'm trying to open it up. I'm trying to expand. I'm trying to dig into scenes,” explained Johns. She is also a poet and says her poems are more narrative and her short stories integrate poetic elements. “Bad Cree” is about a Cree woman who is able to take things to and from the dream world. The ability manifests suddenly and she doesn’t know why. When the dreams escalate and become frightening she returns home to Treaty 8 territory in northern Alberta to find answers. She hasn’t been home for a while because of family issues but upon her return she reconnects with her mother, sister, aunt and cousin. They band together to figure out what’s going on, sort through why this is happening and what she has to do. Considering the content of the short story-turned-novel, it’s not surprising that the concept came from a dream Johns had. The supernatural, mystical aspect of novels have long been a popular draw for readers. “I think right now there may be a greater appetite for sure,” said Sinclair. “There were many, many publishers who were very eager to talk to her about it.” “Bad Cree” won’t be on the bookshelves until 2023. “It’s an industry standard actually which Jessica is experiencing. We sell the book and then the editor takes a year or two to work on the substantive changes, the stylistic changes, the copy edit, then getting it all typeset and designed and then it goes to print and gets published,” said Sinclair. Substantive edits ensure that characters are fully developed, that there are no holes in the plot line, and that the point of view remains consistent. Those “big picture” changes, said Sinclair, don’t change Johns’ story. “It just strengthens it.” Johns, who resides in Vancouver, will be balancing that ongoing work with her job as managing editor of the literary magazine “Room.” “Working on the novel is worked into my everyday life. I do it every single day. I have deadlines with my editor. It’s changed my immediate goals,” she said. Sinclair sees her job as matchmaker between author and publisher and it’s a role she’d like to have with Johns for a long time to come. “I hope that we will work together for the next 20 years … and I hope to see her next many, many books,” said Sinclair. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
South Korean authorities were scrambling on Wednesday to rein in coronavirus outbreaks centred on Christian schools as the country reported a jump in infections, dampening hopes of a speedy exit from a third wave of the pandemic. At least 323 COVID-19 cases had been traced to churches and mission schools run by a Christian organisation in two cities, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) data. More than 100 cases were confirmed overnight among people linked to churches and its mission schools in Gwangju, about 270 kms (168 miles) south of Seoul, officials said.
LOS ANGELES — Don Johnson is getting his funny on with help from a couple of “Saturday Night Live” stars. Known for his dramatic roles in the hit series “Miami Vice” and “Nash Bridges,” Johnson co-stars with Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd in the upcoming NBC comedy “Kenan.” Thompson plays a widower juggling his job as a morning TV host with raising two young daughters. Johnson is his meddling father-in-law, and Redd is his brother. Johnson's most recent forays into series work came in ABC's “Blood and Oil” in 2015 and HBO's “Watchmen” in 2019. Hardly laugh fests. The 71-year-old actor calls doing comedy “amazingly joyful, hard work.” “The good thing about it is I get to work with these guys, who are just so good and such professionals,” he said Tuesday on a video call. “They pick me up, and they’re supportive. I just watch them and say, ‘OK, I got to try and keep up with that.’ ” Johnson was working on a movie last March when production was shut down by the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He got a call from “SNL” producer and friend Lorne Michaels, who sent him the show's script. “Kenan and I got on the phone and I felt instant chemistry with Kenan,” Johnson said. “I feel blessed. I’m working with these great comedians and writers. Come on, man, this is like the cherry on top for me.” His co-stars include real-life sisters and pre-teens Dani and Dannah Lockett, who admit not knowing Johnson's previous work. “I made stuff they couldn’t watch,” he joked. Thompson will juggle shooting the series in Los Angeles and doing “SNL” in New York. Like many productions, the global pandemic forced changes, including doing table reads over video calls, which led to a stilted feeling. “When we were able to get in person, they just clicked,” Thompson said. Even then, the newly assembled cast wasn't able to sit around and build chemistry between takes. “When we started rehearsing under COVID protocol," Johnson said, "during the first 10 days the only time I saw their faces was when I was in a scene.” The show debuts Feb. 16. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
The Saskatchewan government is looking at the tools it has to prevent targeted protests at the homes of public servants. On Saturday, a crowd gathered outside the house of Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, protesting against public health orders implemented by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Scott Moe called the act "disturbing" and "unprecedented" in the province. "What happened this weekend is not what Saskatchewan is about," Moe said during Tuesday's provincial COVID-19 update. "That protest is moving beyond the decision of a government, and moving to protest a person." The premier says his government is looking at what laws other jurisdictions have for similar incidents, and whether or not Saskatchewan should consider them. "It's a bridge too far for me, personally. I don't know what levers the government has to address that line that has been crossed, but we're looking at tools to use to do so," Moe said. WATCH | Moe condems protest outside Saskatchewan chief medical officer's home: In the meantime, the government has offered "as much security as necessary" to Shahab and his family to ensure they are safe and comfortable. Shahab feels sorry for 'good neighbours,' family Shahab said he was made aware of the protest at his home as he was working, as he normally does on a Saturday and Sunday. "I feel grateful for the Regina Police Service and I feel sorry for my good neighbours who didn't deserve to be harassed like this, and to my family who didn't deserve to see and hear the comments," Shahab said during Tuesday's press conference. He said the protests delayed him from clearing the snow at his house for about three hours. He was able to get to it once the crowd dispersed, he said, but by that time the temperature dropped from –20 C to –30 C. Shahab says that's how it personally affected him — but philosophically, he says protests should be held in public spaces, like in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature. "In a democracy you expect vigorous debate over every policy. Right now we're in a pandemic — it's a long year and it's creating pressures for everyone," Shahab said. "And you express your opinions through many channels that are available in a democracy. But you also obey the law, and in my view there is precedence that you don't picket outside any residence." WATCH | Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer responds to protesters outside his home: Regina police continue to investigate the matter. On Monday, Regina police Chief Evan Bray told reporters that police are working alongside the Crown to determine if charges should be laid. Protests escalate Bray says the protesters that showed up to Shahab's home are the same group of people who have previously protested at the Saskatchewan Legislature. From there, they have moved to protesting in front of Shahab's office on Albert Street, and in one occurrence, followed him to his car. Dr. Shahab was escorted by security during that time. "Social media also creates its own toxic echo chambers, and it does unfortunately perpetuate hate, and does radicalize those who are susceptible to hate," Shahab said. As protests escalate, so does the support for Shahab. On Twitter, people shared their gratitude to the doctor with messages using the hashtag #IStandWithShahab. Shahab says he is appreciative of the support. "The response to this protest by the vast majority of the public was more eloquent than I can be, and it gives wind to my sails, certainly," Shahab said. "And that's what Saskatchewan is all about and Canada is all about."
Calgary Board of Education (CBE) trustees voted unanimously at a public board meeting Tuesday to close Rosscarrock School in the city's southwest. Trina Hurdman, trustee for wards 1 and 2 said with roughly 70 students enrolled at the school this year, it's an unfortunate, but necessary decision. "[Community schools are] really the living beating heart of their communities, and we want to support them as much as possible ... But unfortunately, there are sometimes other realities that get in the way," she said. "This time, it's not only financial impacts, but the low student enrolment has started to impact the learning opportunities in quite a significant way, even more so than two years ago." Wards 11 and 13 trustee Julie Hrdlicka said after six decades serving students this is a "tough decision." But, low enrolment not only limits student opportunities, but impacts funding. "The province requires you to have 85 per cent capacity rate for schools to receive all of their maintenance dollars, and those dollars, of course, are used to invest in infrastructure for the school," she said. "As we've heard, Rosscarrock has capacity of 18 per cent and this just means that we're going to receive less dollars to maintain that building." Hurdman said students and the overall system will be better served by designating these students to other nearby schools, where there is more robust programming and better social opportunities. "Two schools that are still close by, but unfortunately not perhaps as close as they were" she said. The CBE said last fall only six students pre-registered for Rosscarrock's kindergarten class. As a result, they were asked to enrol at two nearby schools where they will now continue. Administration at the CBE first recommended the closure of the school in 2018. In 2019, Rosscarrock School was saved from closure in a 4-3 vote. Next September, students usually designated to Rosscarrock will either attend Wildwood School to the north or Glendale School to the south.
“There's not enough words in the English language to share how much this will impact First Nations; how much every time the land is destroyed, how much that that tears apart who we are as Niitsitapi,” said Latasha Calf Robe. The member of the Blood Tribe (Kainai Nation) and founder of the Niitsitapi Water Protectors spoke at a town hall Jan. 21 focused on the changes to the provincial coal policy brought in by Alberta’s current UCP government. A Coal Development Policy for Alberta, known also as the 1976 Coal Policy, was rescinded effective June 1, 2020 by the government. The policy protected large portions of land, like the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, from strip mining. After intense public backlash to a December 2020 coal mining auction, the UCP government, through the office of Minister for Energy Sonya Savage, cancelled 11 pending leases for coal mining. In a statement issued by the ministry Jan. 18, Savage said the “pause will provide our government with the opportunity to ensure that the interests of Albertans, as owners of mineral resources, are protected.” But participants at the town hall made it clear that they do not believe the government is looking out for their interests, and the best-case scenario is to have the coal policy reinstated completely. One of the main concerns is the potential for toxic amounts of selenium to enter the headwaters of the Old Man River, contaminating the drinking water of more than 200,000 Albertans, including the Blood Tribe. The town hall was organized by NDP Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips, the former minister of Environment and Parks and minister responsible for the Climate Change Office. She said at least 10 per cent of her constituents are members of Blackfoot Nations and will be affected by the government’s coal policy changes. In addition to concerns about selenium entering the drinking water, Phillips said the significant change in land use sets a dangerous precedent for the possibility of backroom deals on water licensing that would impact the availability of water for the Kainai Nation. She said the Grassy Mountain Mine is getting access to water in large volumes in order to operate, alleging this would only be possible by some sort of skirting of the rules when it comes to water licensing. “We are already in a very water-stressed area made only worse by the effects of climate change,” Phillips said. “Already, we see communities all across this corridor struggling with (lack of water) or even their water infrastructure… because climate change changes when you have more water and the volumes and, you know, extreme weather events and so on.” The mounting criticism over the lack of consultation with First Nations, as well as concerns over the potential environmental impacts, have resulted in stakeholders from across the province coming together to file a judicial review of the rescission of the coal policy. That is set to begin today, Jan. 26 in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench. The review argues for the policy to be restored. “These kinds of projects have zero legitimacy from seven generations beyond me, beyond us,” said Diandra Bruised Head, a member of the Blood Tribe council, at the town hall. The mayor of Lethbridge, Chris Spearman, and the former premier of Alberta, now Leader of the Opposition, Rachel Notley, both spoke out against the rescission of the coal policy. “Albertans have overwhelmingly said that the eastern slope should be devoted to watershed protection, recreation tourism, and just, of course, that the land itself should be respected for the way it has interacted with original peoples for so many years before anybody else was here,” said Notley. Mayor Spearman talked about the potential dangers to commercial and drinking water for the residents of Lethbridge and the surrounding areas. “To have this go forward and have the headwaters potentially contaminated is a huge betrayal of trust,” said Spearman. CJWE By Tsering Asha, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CJWE