WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
La Ville de Saint-Sauveur a acquis deux terrains par dons écologiques pour créer la réserve naturelle du Mont-Christie. Les travaux débuteront au printemps et les sentiers seront accessibles dès l’été 2021. Un nouveau projet parmi les nombreux autres de la Ville. Ces dons proviennent du promoteur Immo-Mc inc et de Madame Nancy Guillemette qui ont donné chacun une partie de leur terrain. Au total, cela représente 1,6 million de pieds carrés dans le domaine du Mont-Christie, en bas et à l’est de la montagne du même nom. Il s’agit d’un milieu humide et un lac se trouve également au centre. La création de la réserve permettra de préserver ce territoire naturel et d’y faire de l’interprétation. « Il s’agit d’un don écologique, car c’est un milieu humide et il n’est pas possible de toute façon de construire dans ce genre d’endroit », a précisé le maire de la Ville, M. Jacques Gariépy. La Ville profitera donc de ce territoire pour y installer des sentiers d’interprétation de la faune et du milieu naturel. « Dans ce coin, la faune est très diversifiée. Des écologistes vont d’ailleurs travailler avec nous pour développer cette partie. » Des passerelles en bois seront également construites pour que le terrain ne soit pas abimé, mais aussi parce qu’il s’agit d’un milieu humide, donc il y a souvent de l’eau. Comme il s’agit de dons, la Ville a eu moins d’investissements à faire, sauf pour les infrastructures de bois et l’aménagement. Dans le budget 2021, le montant est estimé à 600 000$. En été, les sentiers seront accessibles pour la randonnée pédestre et pour y faire de l’interprétation. En hiver, il sera possible d’y faire de la randonnée pédestre également, mais aussi de la raquette et du ski de fond. « On regarde pour peut-être permettre le fatbike à l’hiver », précise le maire. Il y aura également un belvédère avec une vue sur le lac et le terrain pour y faire de l’interprétation. « Les écoles et les camps de jour pourront également en profiter. Du point de vue académique, c’est très intéressant. » Il y aura deux accès pour entrer dans la réserve : un sur la rue de l’Église et un autre à l’extrémité du chemin Papineau. Des stationnements sont prévus aussi à ces endroits, mais il reste à la Ville d’acquérir ces deux terrains situés au nord et au sud. Selon le maire, il est aussi important de prendre en compte cet enjeu avant de lancer le projet. « Le problème qu’on a dans les sentiers des Pays-d’en-Haut, c’est que les gens se stationnent n’importe où dans les milieux résidentiels et dans les rues, car il n’y a pas assez de stationnements. » La Ville souhaite donc travailler en amont, et ouvrir la réserve lorsque des stationnements auront été prévus à cet effet. Cela fait déjà plusieurs années que la Ville de Saint-Sauveur travaille pour créer cette réserve. « C’est un long processus, autant du point de vue écologique qu’au niveau interne. Mais toutes ces étapes sont maintenant passées et nous sommes prêts à passer à d’autres choses », explique M. Gariépy. Dès le printemps, la Ville entamera l’aménagement des sentiers et des passerelles en bois et travaillera avec des écologistes pour le volet interprétation. Mais la réserve du Mont-Christie n’est pas le seul projet qui prendra forme cette année. En effet, grâce au don écologique de la famille De Volpi, la Ville a acquis un terrain de plus de 3 millions de pieds carrés. Ce dernier est situé près du Lac des Becs-Scies et de la municipalité de Mille-Isles. À cet endroit seront aménagés des sentiers de randonnée pédestre et de vélo qui seront accessibles dès cet été. Certains sont déjà en place, mais il restera à les baliser par la Ville. Dans les autres grands projets de Saint-Sauveur, il y a également l’acquisition du Cap Molson pour y faire des sentiers balisés et y construire un belvédère. « Nous sommes actuellement en procédure d’expropriation. Dans les prochaines semaines ou mois, la procédure devrait être finalisée. On devrait commencer les travaux prochainement. » La Ville souhaite principalement sécuriser les sentiers, comme ils sont déjà beaucoup utilisés. Les sentiers du sommet de la Marquise seront aussi accessibles dès cet été. Il reste à la Ville d’acquérir un terrain pour en faire un stationnement à l’entrée sud des sentiers pour empêcher les gens de se stationner dans les rues. Selon M. Gariépy, ces projets aboutissent presque tous maintenant, mais la Ville travaillait sur eux depuis des années. « Les projets étaient liés à des échéanciers écologiques, avec le ministère de l’Environnement notamment. Par exemple, pour les sentiers du Mont-Christie, on attendait des autorisations de leur part qu’on a eues. » Voyant l’engouement pour le plein air cette année en raison de la pandémie, ces projets s’inscrivent parfaitement dans le mouvement. « On n’avait pas prévu la COVID-19 il y a deux ou trois ans lorsqu’on avait commencé ces projets, mais la concrétisation de ces derniers tombe pile avec ce besoin. » Marie-Catherine Goudreau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
OTTAWA — Canada's top court has decided against hearing a pair of appeals brought to it by Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and a number of cable companies seeking to overturn a CRTC decision that lowered the wholesale rates those companies charge smaller competitors. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the appeals is a victory for Canada's independent internet service providers and may lead to lower internet prices for consumers. The independent ISPs compete with bigger internet network owners, such as Bell and Rogers, and say lower wholesale rates would let them cut retail prices The Federal Court of Appeal in September had dismissed the appeals. Thursday's decision means the ball is back in the court of the CRTC, which has not yet implemented the new prices and is instead reviewing its decision, though the federal government has indicated it could step in at some point if it thinks the arms-length regulator doesn't strike the right balance. As is usual, the Supreme Court didn't give a reason for its dismissal. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:RCI.B) The Canadian Press
(Sue Reid/CBC - image credit) The father of a man whose phone captured a Peel police officer making racist remarks inside a cruiser says the lack of consequences for the officer is "ridiculous" and has led to him losing all faith in the force. After a two-and-half-year-long wait for the family of Masood Masad, this week a verdict came down in a disciplinary hearing for Peel police Const. Bernard Trlaja. Trlaja, Ontario's police watchdog previously determined, was responsible for two forms of misconduct when he arrested Masad after a 2018 verbal altercation at the restaurant where Masad, 24 at the time, was picking up an order for the food delivery service DoorDash. On Wednesday, Trlaja was found guilty of discreditable conduct, for which he'll be subject to 20 days without pay, and will also have to undergo 16 hours of anger management classes within a 90-day timeframe. A second charge, unlawful arrest, was withdrawn in the first days of the hearing. "I laughed for two minutes," the young man's father, Bashar Masad, told CBC News. 'What's the message we're sending?' "Now... he'll be back on the same job he left two-and-a-half years ago. So what's the message we're sending to the public and to the other officers? The message is: 'You can do whatever you want, even if you're recorded, even if the evidence is very, very clear,' like in our case." It was November 2018 when a restaurant called police after an altercation where Masad allegedly claimed its employees were 20 minutes late with an order he was meant to deliver. Security camera video of the cruiser where Const. Bernard Trlaja was recorded making disparaging remarks about Masood Masad. Trlaja called Masad's home. His mother believed it was a spam call at first and asked the officer to come to the house in person. When he did, there was a confrontation. Masad tried to record the incident, but police instead arrested him and confiscated his phone, with Trlaja placing it on the front seat of his cruiser. At some point, the phone began recording again, capturing Trlaja making disparaging remarks about Masad's mother and about his background. Among the comments: "Forget it, this kid obviously doesn't understand the rules, the nature and the culture of Canada." Trlaja also said: "OK, he wants to be violent and bring that violence with him, then he's going to have to learn the way." All of the charges against Masad — who came to Canada when he was six years old — were dropped. 'This does hurt trust with the community' The hope, said Bashar Masad, was that Trlaja would be subject to a more meaningful penalty: administrative leave and an admonishment, for example. He also hoped the force would look at broader changes, such as cameras inside cruisers and examining whether police should be allowed to make anonymous phone calls. Instead, "it's like invitation to all other police officers that you can do whatever you want. There are no consequences," he said, adding the family is now exploring leaving not only Peel Region but Canada altogether to start a new life in the U.S. Speaking to CBC News on Thursday, Peel Regional Police Sgt. Joe Cardi called what happened to Masad "very unfortunate." WATCH | Mississauga family accuses an officer of unprofessional and racist conduct: "What he had to go through is extremely difficult. The hearing officer had to take all the evidence in, weigh it down and determine what's the appropriate punishment that deters our officers from behaving this way in the future," Cardi said. Trlaja, he added, has been very remorseful for his actions, apologizing to the family and pleading guilty, indicating he understands his behaviour was inappropriate. Twenty days without pay amounts to a loss hit of nearly $9,000 in salary, said Cardi, though he added he knows trust cannot be bought back. "This does hurt the trust with the community," he said, but added, "As a community for us, we have to move forward. We can't take this as 'us versus them' or the community hates police. when we start working together, we're going to get the results that we need." Family awaits police force's apology Exactly when Trlaja will return to work hasn't yet been determined, Cardi said, but a misconduct event will be listed as part of his file. Cardi also thanked the family for their cooperation throughout the process, saying they chose not to look for "revenge" but rather how the service could be improved. For his part, Masad says, he awaits an apology from the force — something he says his family sought all along but has yet to receive. If that doesn't happen, the family plans to file a complaint with Ontario's human rights commission, before exploring additional options. His son, now 27, is still struggling as a result of the ordeal, he says — unable to work or build the future they dreamed of. "It looks like they don't care."
Ce jeudi, les résultats d’une consultation sur l’autonomie alimentaire menée auprès des citoyens de la Haute-Gaspésie ont été dévoilés par le LAB Nourrir notre monde. Ils donnent une bonne idée des volontés de la population, et des infrastructures concrètes qui pourraient voir le jour dans cette MRC. Le LAB Nourrir notre monde est un projet d’innovation sociale et de revalorisation des savoirs d’antan qui vise à mettre en place des infrastructures bioalimentaires collectives en Haute-Gaspésie. Celles-ci permettront de produire, transformer et conserver des aliments locaux, et in fine d’améliorer la résilience de la population face aux changements climatiques. Pas moins de 275 personnes ont répondu à la consultation, qui a débuté en novembre : 113 l’ont fait en ligne, et 162 par le biais de cartes postales imprimées à cet effet et distribuées dans les commerces d’alimentation locaux. Agente de mobilisation pour le LAB Nourrir notre monde, Mireille Jalbert y voit la preuve d’« un engouement, un besoin et un désir de se mobiliser pour les projets du LAB ». Un participant sur deux s’est d’ailleurs dit intéressé à s’impliquer dans la suite du processus. Sur les cartes postales et le formulaire en ligne, plusieurs suggestions d’infrastructures collectives étaient données. Six d’entre elles ont été plébiscitées par la population, recevant plus de 90 votes chacune : pépinière, biodigesteur pour faire du compostage, poulailler communautaire, caveau pour conserver les légumes, serre solaire passive et fumoir à poisson. Les participants à la consultation y sont également allés de leurs idées personnelles, allant du rucher communautaire jusqu’à la cuisine collective de transformation et la bibliothèque de semences, en passant par des idées très originales comme l’achat de chaloupes collectives afin de pouvoir partir à la pêche au large. Une entrée dans le vif du sujet dès mars Au courant du mois de mars, l’équipe du LAB Nourrir notre monde va effectuer une tournée virtuelle des différentes localités de la Haute-Gaspésie. Dans chacune d’entre elles, la population sera informée des résultats de la consultation au niveau local. C’est à partir de ce moment-là que les choses sérieuses commenceront : les projets seront choisis puis mis en place en collaboration avec les citoyens. Ces derniers pourront s’impliquer à deux niveaux : soit dans les comités citoyens qui piloteront les projets de A à Z, soit plus ponctuellement lors de corvées. Selon la co-coordonnatrice du LAB Marie-Ève Paquette, « le comité citoyen qu’on va mettre en place après nos rencontres locales va être central pour aller fouiller : est-ce qu’on a un terrain ciblé pour le projet qu’on aimerait voir naître dans notre municipalité? Combien ça pourrait coûter? Est-ce qu’il y a des gens qui ont des connaissances sur notre territoire pour nous aider à construire cette infrastructure? Tranquillement, il y a des projets qui vont nous sembler de plus en plus viables. » Il faudra également s’assurer que toutes les règlementations municipales sont respectées. Le budget sera ensuite distribué entre les différents projets selon les besoins, donc pas nécessairement en parts égales partout sur le territoire. D’après Mme Paquette, des infrastructures pourraient être construites dès cet été. Lancé en octobre, le LAB bénéficie d’un budget de 800 000 $ pour trois ans, financé majoritairement par le ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, dans le cadre du programme Climat municipalités-Phase 2. Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
OTTAWA — A British Columbia businessman who made an illegal contribution to New Democrat MP Peter Julian's 2015 election campaign has been ordered to pay $7,500 to the receiver general of Canada. Elections commissioner Yves Côté says Robert Gibbs, co-owner of Romar Communications, provided free website development services to Julian's campaign. Gibbs told Julian's campaign that the work was done by volunteers, after work hours. However, unbeknownst to the campaign, Côté says three workers were paid $1,000 each for their work, the commercial value of which Côté says was actually $6,000. In its report to Elections Canada, Julian's campaign reported non-monetary contributions worth $2,000 from each of the three workers. Since that exceeded the $1,500 individual donation limit, the campaign paid $1,500 to Gibbs' company on the understanding that it would be given to the three workers, but Gibbs kept the money. The $7,500 Gibbs must now pay the receiver general represents the commercial value of the work done plus the $1,500 from the campaign that was never given to the workers. Côté announced the payment as part of a compliance agreement with Gibbs. Compliance agreements are commonly used by the elections commissioner to deal with relatively minor violations of the Canada Elections Act. They do not constitute a criminal conviction in a court of law and do not create a criminal record for the offender. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
The popular “Reply All” podcast has been put on hiatus and is cancelling two remaining episodes of a series that explored allegations of structural racism and a problematic work culture at food magazine Bon Appetit. The reason? Former employees at Gimlet Media, the podcast’s publisher, charged that two people behind “Reply All” had exhibited behaviour similar to what they were investigating at Bon Appetit. Alex Goldman, one of the hosts of “Reply All,” said in an audio statement Thursday that “we should never have published this series as reported.” He apologized to current and former colleagues, listeners and sources for the series on Bon Appetit, called “The Test Kitchen.” “Former colleagues of ours at Gimlet publicly described multiple instances of troubling behaviour from Sruthi and P.J.," Goldman said, referring to senior reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, who narrated “The Test Kitchen,” and co-host P.J. Vogt. Both have left the podcast, he said. Spotify, which acquired Gimlet in 2019, said Pinnamaneni and Vogt are still at Gimlet. Neither Pinnamaneni nor Vogt responded to messages seeking comment. The editor of Bon Appetit, Adam Rapoport, resigned last year after an old photo of him and his wife dressed in stereotypical Puerto Rican costumes surfaced on social media. Upset employees, especially those who had been working on racial inequities at the food magazine and its popular YouTube videos, seized the moment to press for changes at the publication. Those events took place in mid-2020 during a reckoning in media and other industries that emerged following the death of George Floyd and protests against police brutality toward Black people. The “Reply All” series on Bon Appetit was reported over eight months. Two of four episodes have aired, telling the stories of current and former Black, Latino, Indian-American and Asian-American staffers at the magazine. After the second episode of “Test Kitchen” came out, Eric Eddings, a former Gimlet employee, tweeted that Vogt and Pinnamaneni had “contributed to a near identical toxic dynamic at Gimlet.” He said that Pinnamaneni tried to rally others against a 2019 unionization drive, while Vogt sent harassing messages to organizers and denigrated colleagues. In the second episode of the podcast, Pinnamaneni confessed to regrets about her own past behaviour and how she reacted to the union drive. “To the extent I talked about it, I talked about the way that their fight was stepping on my toes,” she said on the podcast. “It took eight months of reporting on Bon Appetit for me to see how wrong I was about all that, and if I’m honest, I’m still processing the anger that I feel toward myself.” She and Vogt apologized on social media last week for their behaviour during the unionization push at Gimlet. “Reply All” is one of Gimlet's biggest shows. Spotify started as a music streaming service but in recent years has made a big push into podcasting. It has an exclusive deal with Joe Rogan, one of the most popular podcasters, and announced this week that it had signed up former President Barack Obama and rocker Bruce Springsteen for an eight-episode podcast series. “These accounts prompted a reckoning on our team about the work culture at 'Reply All' and left us asking whether we could continue airing this story without interrogating ourselves and what has unfolded at Gimlet,” Goldman said Thursday. Staffers want to tell what happened and the podcast is paused as they try to understand what went wrong, he said. “We want to tell you as best as we can what happened,” he said. “You'll hear more from us soon.” Tali Arbel, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
Businesses in Strathmore could start paying different licensing fees, depending on their size or other characteristics. A motion passed during the on Feb. 17 town council meeting directs town administration to explore whether Strathmore could adopt an approach used in other municipalities, where different license fees are charged depending on business size. Under the town’s current business license bylaw, passed in 2010, general business licenses cost $100 for residential businesses and $200 for non-residential businesses. Under this model, a large “big box” retailer pays the same fee as a small downtown storefront. Strathmore town Councillor Jason Montgomery said Canmore uses a tiered structure, where different businesses pay different amounts, depending on certain variables. In Canmore, license fees vary by square footage (for retail, commercial, wholesale and industrial businesses), by number of rooms (for hotels) and by seating (for restaurants), among other business-specific classes. Chestermere also employs a tiered approach for home-based businesses. It differentiates home businesses into two classes based on whether clients or customers visit, with a major home business (where customers visit) is charged $100 annually for a business license, compared to $50 for a minor home business (where customers do not visit). The intent of the possible change would not be to take in more revenue from business license fees overall, but rather to ease fees on smaller businesses that use less resources than larger ones, said Montgomery. Adopting the change would make the system fairer among different sized businesses in the community, said Mayor Pat Fule. Councillor Denise Peterson also spoke in support of the motion. “I think our community has grown to the point that it’s time for a review of how we operate,” she said. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
CAMEROON, Cameroon — Linda Thomas-Greenfield presented her credentials as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, officially taking on one of the most challenging jobs for the Biden administration of helping to restore the United States as a top multilateral player on the global stage after former President Donald Trump’s unilateral “America First” policy. The longtime American career diplomat thanked Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, who swore her in on Wednesday, for choosing her for the “distinguished position.” “That was made all the more wonderful because I knew you were here,” she told Guterres who served as the U.N.’s refugee chief before his election to the U.N. post. “I worked with you in the past on refugee issues so I’m looking forward very anxiously to getting to work and working on many of the key issues that we know are before the United Nations and we know that people around the globe are looking to us for.” Guterres warmly welcomed Thomas-Greenfield, calling her a “distinguished global citizen" with great compassion for refugees. Thomas-Greenfield and Guterres then moved to his private office on the 38th floor of U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River for private talks. She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on Friday. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday that “the red carpet” will be rolled out for Thomas-Greenfield and Moscow is ready to work with President Joe Biden’s administration -- but “it takes two to tango.” “We are looking forward to interactions with her,” he told a group of reporters Wednesday. “You can count on our most favourable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member of our Security Council family.” Noting Thomas-Greenfield's decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said “it's always easier to interact with professionals." But he said America’s view that Russia is “an enemy” and a “threat” hasn’t changed under Biden, so “it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new administration.” Nonetheless, Polyansky said, “there are a lot of things Russia and the United States can do together” and “we will judge the new administration by what it does.” “We’re in favour of co-operation,” he said. But “it takes two to tango, and really we’re ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows all the moves and who respects us” as a country with certain positions, “doesn’t view us as a threat” and sees “our obvious national interests in many issues.” Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post. Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump’s “America First” unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe Biden’s return to multilateralism. At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its human rights abuses a mistake. The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N. Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not only with allies “but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into strict compliance” with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question. Polyansky said Russia welcomes the “positive developments” on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement, adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions “first and foremost in the area of strategic stability.” Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging internationally and promoting American values -- “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as “a top priority.” “She should abandon the Trump administration’s selective approach to human rights – enthusiastically condemning its enemies’ abuses while ignoring rights violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But there’s room for continuity on China and Syria," Charbonneau said. “She should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against Beijing’s human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Twitter is branching out from advertising to find more ways to make money — both for itself and for its most prolific users, whether those are businesses, celebrities or regular people. In an investor presentation Thursday, the social media company announced a new feature called “Super Follows,” which will let users charge for extra, exclusive material not shown to their regular followers. This can include subscriber-only newsletters, videos, deals and discounts. Users would pay a monthly subscription fee to access the extra content. Twitter users — and the company's investors — have long been asking it to launch a subscription-based model. This as a growing number of internet creators and influencers use tools like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans to make money from their online popularity. The subscriptions will also allow Twitter to tap into a broader range of revenue sources in a world where online advertising is dominated by a Facebook-Google duopoly. Twitter did not detail what percentage of the revenue it would share with celebrities and others who sign up paying subscribers. “Exploring audience funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves," the company said in a statement. Super Follows is not available yet but Twitter says it will have “more to share" in the coming months. Another coming product, “Revue,” will let people publish paid or free newsletters to their audience. There's also “Twitter Spaces,” a Clubhouse competitor that lets users participate in audio chats. It is currently in private beta testing, which means it's not yet available to the general Twitter audience. The San Francisco-based company also said its revenue goal for 2023 is more than $7.5 billion, more than double its 2020 revenue of $3.7 billion. Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
Sudbury's first ever COVID-19 mass vaccination event began Thursday at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive. It's a joint effort of Public Health Sudbury and Districts, Health Sciences North, Greater Sudbury Paramedics Service and the City of Greater Sudbury. The clinic is taking place Thursday and Friday this week. Members of the Sudbury media were ushered through the building Wednesday to see how the vaccinations will be carried out. Media will not be allowed in the building when patients are receiving vaccines. The arena's main area has been transformed into a large room filled with partitions, arrows pasted on the floor, tables and chairs and waiting areas where people will be gathered to get their first shot of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The target is to vaccinate 1,200 people a day. "So when people come to the arena, the most important thing is that it is by appointment only," said Karly McGibbon, the lead public health nurse assigned to the event. She said all those who are receiving vaccines have been contracted and given a time for when to visit the arena "Once the people are registered and checked in they will come here," McGibbon said at the entrance to the rink surface. "There will be staff members telling them where to go and then they will be sent to one of our twelve vaccine stations." Each person will be screened for any conditions such as allergies or other health matters before the vaccine is given. At each station, a nurse is on hand to swab each patient's arm and then give a needle with the vaccine. McGibbon said the actual needles are the same as the small-gauge sharps used for flu shots. The needles are considered relatively painless for anyone accustomed to getting a flu shot. Once the shot is complete, each patient will be directed to a waiting area to sit for 15 minutes to ensure they're feeling well. There is then a formal check-out area where each patient will be handed a printed receipt outlining the time and place of their first dose. The patients will then be moved out of the building through the back doors to ensure there is no mix up with people coming in the front doors. McGibbon said the entire process should take about 30 minutes. "People should plan to be here for half an hour," she said. "The vaccine itself will take maybe five minutes." She said anyone with a history of allergies might be asked to stay a bit longer so that the health-care staff can check them out before they leave. McGibbons said the target group at this event are priority workers who up until now have not been able to get their first dose of the vaccine. "The people coming this week, Thursday and Friday, are staff members and essential care givers from long-term care homes. So these are people that have been identified by facilities and so their place of work, or where they're an essential care giver, notified them to say, it's your turn. Please call this number and book your appointment." All the booking was done by the City of Greater Sudbury in collaboration with PHSD. Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also be booked to take place in about one month's time, said McGibbon. McGibbon said there is no immediate word on future clinics beyond the one happening this week. "Well, we have the two clinics right here this week," said McGibbon. "We may move to other locations. It all depends on vaccine availability when the clinics can be booked. We may use a different venue. We may return to this venue. That hasn't been set up yet." McGibbon said the vaccines are being stored in extreme freezers at Health Sciences North. "What we'll do is pick it up in the morning. We'll bring it here. It has to thaw and then we have to mix it, so it is a little bit of a different process from Moderna," she said, referring to the other vaccine approved by Health Canada. McGibbon said all those who provide the vaccines are well-trained and experienced in giving the needles. "We are using a multitude of immunizers. We are using nurses from public health that have experienced immunizers, we are using nurses from other sectors, so we certainly have nurses from HSN coming, we have nurses from community centres, and we are also using community paramedics." Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
La campagne de sociofinancement pour les rénovations du Bar à Pitons bat son plein. En moins d’un mois, plus de 8000 $ ont été amassés, sur un objectif de 30 000 $, afin de permettre l’agrandissement de ce lieu culturel et d’ainsi assurer sa survie. Avec ces rénovations, l’établissement pourra revoir sa capacité d’accueil à la hausse et bonifier son offre d’activités. C’est la Coopérative de Solidarité V.E.R.T.E qui est responsable du bar et qui a mis en place la campagne de sociofinancement appelée Pour l’amour du Bar à Pitons. Selon Christine Rivest-Hénault, coordonnatrice générale de la coopérative, le Bar à Pitons est devenu, au fil des années, un endroit unique pour la scène émergente artistique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. « La signature du Bar à Pitons, c’est que tout le monde peut être une vedette. Ils peuvent tous venir chanter ou lire leurs textes. On accueille aussi beaucoup de groupes émergents. On a une offre qui, je pense, est importante pour la région culturellement », explique-t-elle, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Alors que les gestionnaires avaient pris la décision, en février 2020, de concentrer leurs activités sur le Bar à Pitons et de fermer l’auberge, ils ont été frappés de plein fouet par la pandémie. Le bar a dû fermer ses portes tout l’hiver, avant de rouvrir quelques mois à l’été. La terrasse extérieure a permis la tenue de certaines activités. Cet automne, la coopérative a dû faire face à la réalité. Les normes sanitaires ne permettent pas au bar d’ouvrir ses portes à l’hiver. Les gestionnaires devaient donc décider de le laisser fermé tout l’hiver ou d’amorcer des rénovations qui permettraient au lieu d’être adapté aux règles sanitaires. « Ça faisait déjà deux ans que nous pensions à ces rénovations et, comme tout le monde, nous ne savons pas combien de temps nous serons dans cette pandémie. Nous nous sommes donc lancés. Nous savons qu’il y a plein de gens qui nous aiment, qui tiennent au Bar à Pitons. Nous avons décidé de prendre le pari que tous ces gens-là, qui voient que notre mission est importante, allaient nous aider », se réjouit-elle. Déjà, les rénovations sont amorcées. La coordonnatrice est fière du montant amassé jusqu’à maintenant et reconnaît que son objectif est ambitieux. L’important pour elle est d’amasser le plus de sous possible, pour que la relance de l’établissement soit le plus facile possible, à la réouverture. Jadis un lieu touristique Le Bar à Pitons a bien changé avec les années. Lorsque la coopérative a acheté la Maison Price, où se trouve le Bar à Pitons, le but était de transformer cette maison en auberge. Au sous-sol, une salle de réunion avait été aménagée, surtout pour les visiteurs. « C’est comme ça qu’est né le Bar à Pitons, une toute petite salle principalement pour les utilisateurs de l’auberge. Rapidement, les gens qui habitent autour se sont approprié le lieu », souligne la coordonnatrice générale. C’est cet engouement qui a motivé les gestionnaires à faire des rénovations en 2015 et à mettre sur pied le Bar à Pitons. Le bar a eu le droit à un léger agrandissement, mais plusieurs espaces étaient toujours réservés à l’auberge. En 2018, l’auberge a commencé à perdre de la clientèle, tandis que le Bar à Pitons lui, en gagnait. C’est ce qui a amené les gestionnaires à fermer l’auberge, en février 2020, pour de bon et se concentrer sur le lieu culturel. « C’était rendu le Bar à Pitons qui faisait vivre l’entreprise. Notre programmation culturelle était de plus en plus riche, aimée et fréquentée, donc nous avons concentré nos activités là-dessus puisque c’est ce qui fonctionne et ce qui attire les gens », continue Mme Rivest-Hénault. La mission de l’établissement alors touristique a officiellement changé pour devenir plus culturelle. Tous les intéressés à participer à la campagne peuvent se rendre sur le site de la coopérative pour faire un don. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
BRUSSELS — European Union leaders vowed Thursday to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and pressed pharmaceutical companies to respect their delivery commitments, as concern mounts about the spread of new variants of the virus. However, the leaders could offer no prospect of short-term respite for curfew-weary, mask-wearing citizens, many of whom have often worked from home over the last year — if they have not lost their jobs. The leaders also said that restrictions, including on travel, should remain in place in many parts of the 27-nation bloc. COVID-19 has killed more than 531,000 people across the EU. “Our top priority now is speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines and vaccinations,” EU Council President Charles Michel said, adding a warning for vaccine makers: “We want more predictability and transparency to ensure that pharmaceutical companies comply with their commitments.” The European Commission has sealed deals with several companies for well over 2 billion vaccine shots — far more than the EU population of around 450 million — but only three have been authorized: jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Officials say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be approved next month. But some seniors officials at the big pharmaceutical companies, a few of whom were grilled by EU lawmakers not far from where Michel was chairing the videoconference summit in Brussels, said it's no simple matter to build new vaccine production sites. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said production problems are inevitable as companies work around the clock to do in one year what normally takes 3-4 years. Most of the company chiefs said they expect an improvement in the second quarter. “Every time there is a human error, equipment breaking down... or raw material from one of our suppliers late by a day, you cannot start making the product because it will not be safe, you will not have the right quality,” Bancel said, explaining the technological issues facing producers. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said a big challenge is to improve yield — the number of doses that can be extracted from a litre of vaccine. He also rejected the idea that companies can simply open new production sites to solve the problem, saying that engineers must spend a lot of time training staff. “Our teams are absolutely stretched to the maximum. There’s no way they could train any more people,” he said. Soriot insisted that most companies developing vaccines probably face the same constraint. Soriot came under fire after he confirmed that the company would deliver less than half the vaccines it had committed to in the first quarter. The EU has partly blamed supply delays for lagging far behind nations like Israel, the United States and Britain when it comes to vaccinations. By early this week, 6.5% of the adults living in the EU had been vaccinated, compared to more than 27% in the U.K. Soriot said AstraZeneca would deliver 40 million doses to the EU in the first quarter, attributing the delay to complicated production issues, including “lower than expected output in our dedicated European supply chain.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted pointedly that in terms of companies honouring the delivery commitments in their contracts with Europe, “there is room for improvement” at AstraZeneca. Still, despite the slow vaccine rollout in Europe, delayed by almost a month compared to former member the U.K., von der Leyen said the bloc still aims to inoculate 70% of all adults — around 255 million people — by September. “This is a goal that we are confident we will reach,” she said. Border checks remain a sore point. Divisions among EU member countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic, on restrictions to stave off transmission has again raised the spectre of travel delays and long traffic backups in a bloc that prides itself on being a seamless market. Michel told reporters that “non-essential travel may still need to be restricted, but measures should be proportionate.” The leaders were also updated on the movement of fast-spreading new variants of the virus within Europe, with the so-called U.K variant now present in 26 member countries. The variant first detected in South Africa has been identified in 14, while the Brazilian type is known to be in 7. This means that restrictions could well continue through coming months. “There is a growing COVID fatigue among our citizens. It has been a very trying year, but we should not let up now,” said von der Leyen. Also debated was the issue of "vaccine certificates," which could help smooth a return to air travel and possibly avoid another disastrous summer holiday season, as the tourism industry and broader economies suffer from restrictions. Southern European countries dependent on tourism, like Greece and Spain, support such a system, but their northern EU partners, like Germany, doubt whether the certificates would work. Von der Leyen said it would be technically possible to develop a “green pass” using a minimum of data indicating whether a person has been vaccinated, tested negative, or is immune after contracting the disease, within about three months, but that many political issues must first be resolved. French President Emmanuel Macron insisted the EU nations should move in lockstep. “None of us will accept that to attract tourists, one country would have looser rules than another and would be taking risks by making people come from the other side of the world to fill up its hotels,” he said. “The most important question remains whether you can still transmit the disease. It is a crucial question,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters. He also raised concern about other issues, like the exclusion of those who have not been vaccinated, or cannot be. Rutte also said Europeans should consider whether the discussion on vaccination certificates should involve other international institutions such as the World Health Organization, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Air Transport Association. “You have to be careful that by adding more weight to it, the whole thing does not collapse onto itself,” he warned. ___ Sylvie Corbet contributed from Paris, Frank Jordans from Berlin Lorne Cook And Raf Casert, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The number of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases reported at the military service academies dropped in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 school year, the Pentagon said Thursday. The report, which is required by law annually, comes as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that reducing sexual assault is one of his top priorities. He was recently briefed on the military service's programs to counter the problem. “We have been working at this for a long time in earnest, but we haven’t gotten it right,” Austin said last week at his first Pentagon news conference. He promised stronger efforts. “You can look for us to take additional steps in looking in detail at ourselves and what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what measures we need to take going forward to ensure that we provide for a safe and secure and productive environment for our teammates,” he said. “Any other approach is, in my view, irresponsible.” Thursday's Pentagon report said the number of reported sexual assault cases at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy fell to 129 from 149 in the previous academic year. Sexual harassment reports dropped to 12 from 17. The report said the reason for the declines is unclear, but it noted that in-person classes at the military academies were suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials altered most academy activities, including holding graduations virtually and postponing commissioning ceremonies. Thus, it said, the academies offered only about three-quarters of normal levels of interaction. Separately, an in-person survey of military academy students that is normally conducted to give the Pentagon a better understanding of the sexual assault problem and its prevalence was cancelled because of the pandemic. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Canada's Auditor General Karen Hogan on Thursday delivered her 2021 report, including five performance audit reports to the House of Commons. Hogan's report found that Canada's ship building strategy was slow to deliver combat and non-combat ships.
(Brian Morris/CBC - image credit) The Rideau Canal Skateway will not reopen this season, the National Capital Commission (NCC) announced Thursday. The news comes after the skateway was temporarily closed Monday night, due to warming weather conditions this week. Tuesday and Wednesday saw above-zero temperatures, and Environment Canada's forecast shows warmer days in the coming week. "Along with three subsequent warmer days of weather, in addition to a snowstorm and warmer temperatures in the forecast for early next week, continued maintenance efforts would unfortunately not return the skateway to safe conditions," wrote the NCC in a news release, adding it is "saddened" by the closure. The 51st season lasted 26 days, starting when a portion of the canal opened on Jan. 28. The full length of the skateway opened early February. "Winter is not yet over!" reads the statement, citing its 450 kilometres of trails still open for skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing in the region.
Facebook Inc ended a one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site on Friday and announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small local publishers. The moves reflected easing tensions between the U.S. company and the Australian government, a day after the country's parliament passed a law forcing it and Alphabet Inc's Google to pay local media companies for using content on their platforms. The new law makes Australia the first nation where a government arbitrator can set the price Facebook and Google pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail.
(Aqua Maof Group/Submitted - image credit) A Norwegian company's proposal to open a salmon farm and hatchery in Placentia Bay, N.L., got a major boost Thursday from Canada's OceanSupercluster, a federal innovation funding organization. The organization announced that Grieg Seafood, an on-again, off-again salmon facility planned for Marystown, will be used to develop ocean sensors that allow open-net pens to be monitored and managed remotely from shore. The Ocean Supercluster will contribute $12 million with industry partners putting in $14.8 million. The project will use communication towers installed around Placentia Bay to receive data gathered by sensors in the water. The information will be transmitted to control centres on shore. Grieg NL is an aquaculture company in Marystown. Some of this technology is already in use at fish farms operated by Cooke Aquaculture, a Grieg competitor, elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. But Tim Stone of Halifax-based InnovaSea, a partner in the project, said the systems planned for the Grieg operation represent a leap forward. Its sensors are installed in more than 300 fish farms around the world. "We're not talking about making incremental improvements to technology," Stone told reporters Thursday. "We're talking about actually changing the way people do things." They can tell when a fish is hungry, or full High-definition cameras, sensors and machine learning will come together in Placentia Bay to measure the size of the fish, the amount of feed eaten and wasted along with real-time ocean conditions. For example, video will reveal when fish are hungry, or full. When satiated, salmon stop feeding on pellets and let them go through the water. Operators will be able to instantly stop the feeding process. Tim Stone is the general manager and vice-president of product development at Halifax-based InnovaSea Systems. "Those technologies, although individually they may exist in some parts of the world, no one has ever brought them together to provide multi-factor feeding in aquaculture-industry sensing technologies," he said. One of five partners InnovaSea is one of five partners, led by Grieg Seafood Newfoundland. The other partners are SubC Imaging, AKVA Group and High-Tech Communications. It is a two-year project with work beginning later this year. For Grieg, Thursday's announcement is a step forward after a major setback last fall when it shut down construction of its hatchery in Marystown, citing poor salmon prices caused by the pandemic. Grieg halted a post-smolt unit that houses hatched salmon before being transferred to ocean cages. Perry Power of Grieg NL calls the development a 'win-win.' The company said at the time work would continue on the other elements of the project. Grieg spokesperson Perry Power said Thursday the installation of the communication towers will be a boon for the Placentia Bay area, where wireless communications are limited. "This is a win-win for everyone," he said. "It's going to create not just for us but for mariners and pleasure craft operators out in the bay … a level of enhanced safety of connectivity," he said. OceanSupercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald said the project puts Atlantic Canadian companies in a position to export their wares. "We see this is a really exciting project from the perspective that it is building on existing technology," MacDonald said. "It's developing expanding technology solutions and these technologies can be taken to the rest of the world to really help with the journey to transform the aquaculture sector. So we do see that this is transformational." MORE TOP STORIES
WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project is looking toward the next phase targeting funding broadband projects in lower-density areas. SWIFT is a non-profit that aims to subsidize broadband projects in rural southwestern Ontario areas that have poor or no connectivity. George Bridge, Minto mayor and SWIFT board member, and Barry Field, SWIFT executive director, gave an update on the project to Wellington County council at Thursday’s meeting. In the presentation Bridge noted some highlights from the first phase of the project, called SWIFT 1.0. He explained they are exceeding their target of 50,000 premises served by a few thousand and are very close to reaching their kilometre of fibre laid goal. He was also happy to report that despite earlier concerns from smaller companies about SWIFT becoming a “Bell and Rogers show,” projects from small internet service providers (ISPs) accounted for about half of the funding given through SWIFT’s first phase. The small ISPs will become more important for SWIFT 2.0, the next phase of the project where SWIFT intends to focus on projects in lower density areas. “The bigger ones, Bell and Rogers, they go after so many people per km but your small ISP, for example they’ve gone down as low 3.1 density per km or three houses on a km,” Bridge said. “Our next round we’ll get into, some of the low hanging fruit has been done, now we need to get out to that last mile.” The funding is a big question for the next phase as there has been no commitment on what the province and federal governments will give, if anything at all. A third of SWIFT is funded by the province and a third from the federal government, with the private sector filling in another third and municipal governments providing some capital contributions. Coun. David Anderson asked if there’s anything they could do to give projects a better chance at a successful grant application. Field said municipal financial support or just letter of support for a grant application — which Field noted applies for other funding beyond SWIFT — can go a long way. He also said it might be helpful to encourage local ISPs to apply for funding if they haven’t done so. Wellington North mayor Andy Lennox questioned how to ensure funding gets distributed more equitably so lower density projects aren’t missed again. Field said by the time SWIFT 2.0 comes around those will be most of the projects left and to lower the number of premises per kilometre required, which in the first phase is at around 17 premises per km on average. “There are things we can do in the (request for proposals), the procurement itself, to not only encourage but ensure that we’re not getting at that easiest of the remaining premises,” Field said, noting this was a valid criticism of SWIFT 1.0. “We did have a very high premises count target we had to achieve and that kind of led to policies we had to encourage more premises passed.” Coun. Jeff Duncan asked if a possible federal election this year could delay or impact the next phase. Field said he wasn’t sure but did stress there is no commitment from upper levels of government to fund SWIFT 2.0. Bridge said they’ve been advocating through the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to all political parties and there is no question from any of them that this is needed. The presentation was accepted as information from council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com