Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet explains why a lack of toughness on offense was a problem against the Indiana Pacers.
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet explains why a lack of toughness on offense was a problem against the Indiana Pacers.
Almost one year later, there has been little progress in the case against a man accused of holding a girl against her will at a remote northern Saskatchewan cabin. There have been numerous adjournments and delays in the case against Aaron Gardiner, 42, since his arrest in April 2020 because he has gone through about five lawyers. Gardiner has either fired the lawyers or they have withdrawn from representing him. He had another appearance scheduled in Meadow Lake Provincial Court Feb. 22 and the matter was adjourned to March 1. Gardiner remains in custody and is charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Gardiner allegedly held a girl captive for four days at a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake. A specialized RCMP tactical unit was flown to the isolated cabin by two military CH-146 Griffon helicopters to rescue the girl and arrest Gardiner. Three months after his arrest, police added more charges after more alleged victims came forward. In July 2020, police additionally charged Gardiner with four counts of sexual assault, three counts of forcible confinement, uttering threats, assault, reckless discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm in commission of an offence, obstruction and breach of an undertaking. The charges against Gardiner haven't been proven in court. Île-à-la-Crosse is about 380 kilometres north of Prince Albert. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Regional municipal CAOs have been discussing the potential for a collaboration framework for more than a year and Hinton recently Drayton Valley in the first steps to developing this framework. Similar challenges occur in communities of Hinton’s size and region, such as budget and resource constraints, difficulty recruiting for key positions, and specialized skill and training requirements, said CAO Emily Olsen during the regular council meeting on Feb. 2. “The intention of an intermunicipal collaboration project is to explore what is possible with partner municipalities and sharing resources, including internal skills, best practices, document content and templates, or cost effective partnerships for purchasing software, external services, or other other areas where financial impacts can be spread out,” said Olsen. Drayton Valley submitted a grant application to the Alberta partnership grant under the intermunicipal collaboration component, which Hinton supported during the Feb. 2 meeting. The intention of the grant and its use is to support exploration, development, and piloting of an intermunicipal collaboration framework. That framework could be shared with the rest of the province if successful. Olsen noted that this grant will allow research into the possibilities and opportunities but doesn’t tie them to the framework yet. There is no financial commitment required by the Town of Hinton, but staff time will be needed to explore and determine where benefits and opportunities are, Olsen said. Other municipalities supporting the grant are Rocky Mountain House, Mayerthorpe, Edson and Drayton Valley. It’s still unknown when work will start and if they were successful in receiving the grant. “If it gains success, then the province may use our model to roll out to other municipalities of like size across the province. The first steps would be securing the grant funds and then meeting with counterparts to prioritize projects, timelines and determine available resource sharing,” said Faiaz Mir, Hinton’s communications coordinator. Instead of competing against each other, Mayor Marcel Michaels pointed out that municipalities will help one another in areas where they may be deficient. Working with partners that have similar needs and struggles as Hinton allows each partner to provide or share services that some municipalities can’t afford on its own, Michaels explained. For example, an engineer may only work 15 hours in the Town of Hinton, but if they can work across municipalities, as partners they are able to provide a full time position, Michaels added. “A lot of municipalities purchase plans just for their municipality. What if we had someone who could provide plans and then share them amongst municipalities, thus saving money. I think there are unlimited possibilities with this approach especially with communities under 15,000 who struggle to have the resources available but still have to provide a lot of services to their community,” Michaels said. Generally, municipalities work together with their County but they often provide different services, he added. Many municipalities of Hinton’s size don’t have their own legal department like larger centres would, but by combining three or four municipalities and their budgets, they may be able to have a dedicated legal department, Michaels continued. This would help save costs on their overall legal bills. At the moment, Michaels couldn’t identify any known specific gaps in Hinton’s service, but part of this application will be researching and developing those needs, gaps, and frameworks in each community. “It could be engineering, GIS, legal, asset management, corporate services, there’s a long list of things municipalities could share and not purchase and deliver on their own,” Michaels said. Besides operational services, another option could include the sharing of capital equipment. “Let’s say we have two snow plows, if one breaks down, we could have an agreement in place to borrow with a fixed cost or some form of compensation with another municipality. So that we can borrow their backup equipment and vice versa,” Michaels said. He noted that he hasn’t heard of municipalities sharing services and equipment like this in the past, and that the provincial government is excited about the prospect of municipalities working together. At the end of the day, the provincial government would save money too because municipalities lean on tax revenue, service fees, and grants from the provincial government. “They see this as an opportunity to save money overall which is not only the municipalities taxpayers, but taxpayers on every level. Provincial and federal,” Michaels said. Participating communities will gain access to a larger talent pool through the various municipal partners, stated administration’s Feb. 2 report. This will lead to eventual standardization of processes, access to a central database containing a library of templates, specific standardized contracts, studies, and project plans. Regional municipalities face limitations with smaller personnel budgets, and larger workloads which impact employee retention and recruitment as compared to larger centres, according to the report. In some areas the opposite is true, that the work requires a specialized skill set but the amount of work only requires a part time employment arrangement. A tele-conference was conducted on Dec. 9, 2020 between the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ministers’ Chief of Staff, MLA for Drayton Valley/Devon and the CAO of Drayton Valley where the concept of this intermunicipal framework, its rationale, and progress to date was elaborated upon. CAOs for the Towns of Mayerthorpe, Hinton, Rocky Mountain House, Edson and Drayton Valley were contacted to collaborate and jointly apply for the ACP grant. If the competitive grant application is successful, coordination of the various components and resources will begin to ensure that the completion of the pilot will fall within a period of 12 to 18 months. The ACP grant was applied for on Jan. 5, 2021 with Drayton Valley as the lead, with letters of support from participating municipalities. For more information, reach out to the Town of Hinton administration at firstname.lastname@example.org Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
Land acknowledgments will now be an official part of council proceedings in Lake of Bays. The township voted unanimously to read a verbal statement at the start of meetings taking place in council chambers on land “traditionally occupied by Indigenous peoples.” The acknowledgement goes on in part to say, “Their legacy and respectful stewardship for this land continues to shape Lake of Bays today and we want to show our respect.” The statement will also be read at events outside municipal hall where council or senior staff are invited to speak. Through a District-led committee that met on Wahta Mohawk Territory, it was determined the acknowledgement be left open to augmentation. “It is a living document,” Mayor Terry Glover said, recognizing the learning process and working relationship between the municipality and First Nations is ongoing. This includes specifically naming the nations on which Muskoka, as it is known, was built. Ultimately, Glover stressed the importance of getting something on the books that was created collectively, with respect and with sincerity. “There’s lots of time to get this right,” he said. “It’s important we understand each other’s viewpoints.” Some of the calls to action outlined in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation report fall under education. Through consultation and sharing with local First Nations leaders, Glover said he learned a great deal about Indigenous history in Canada, information he did not receive through the Ontario school system. “How can I be my age and not know about this stuff?” he said. Land acknowledgments have been commonplace in other provinces for decades at government and community events. Ontario is a very conservative place, Glover noted — one that is “very financially driven” and as a result, “this kind of thing is put on the back burner,” he said, The mayor acknowledged the action is a delayed response comparatively. Glover pointed to the Black Lives Matter and racial justice movements happening worldwide as proof that there is work to do and part of it is incumbent on municipal leadership. “We have this problem here, too, and we’re not recognizing our diversity the way we should,” he said. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Wayne Vallevand/CBC - image credit) The Yukon government says small- and medium-sized businesses in the territory can apply to a new loan program aimed at helping them stay afloat through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The government also announced on Thursday it would the extend several other business relief programs into the fall. "We were one of the first governments in Canada to launch programs to support individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19," said Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai at a news conference. "Our response was a model for other Canadian jurisdictions." Pillai said the government's new Regional Relief Loan Program will provide loans of up to $100,000 to eligible businesses. The loans, he said, will be interest-free until the end of 2022, and principle payments can also be deferred until then. If at least 75 per cent of the loan is repaid by the end of 2022, the balance will be forgiven. Several other programs already in place will be extended, Pillai said. Those include: Yukon Business Relief Program, which provides non-repayable grants to help businesses cover fixed costs. Businesses that have already received grants can reapply for further help until Sep. 30. Paid Sick Leave Rebate, which helps businesses pay workers who need to stay home if they're sick or required to self-isolate. It has also been extended to Sep. 30. Tourism Relief and Recovery Plan, which aims to help the struggling tourism sector survive beyond the pandemic through funding supplements and other investments. Struggling bars and licensed restaurants will continue to receive a 25 per cent discount on the retail price of alcohol until Sep. 30. Missed Thursday's news conference? Watch it here: No active cases in territory As of Wednesday, the territory had no active cases of COVID-19. The two most recent cases were announced nearly two weeks ago, and are now counted as recovered. Also as of Wednesday, the territory had administered 14,364 Moderna vaccine shots — 10,781 first-dose shots, and 3,583 second-dose shots. The territory's next shipment of 16,100 vaccine doses is expected in the territory by Sunday, the government said. That will allow vaccine clinics for the adult general population in Whitehorse to begin on Monday. "This is an exciting time," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley who was at Wednesday's news conference alongside Pillai. "We are well on our way to immunizing a majority of our population." Appointments for the Whitehorse general-population clinics can be booked online or by phone. The government's online booking site crashed repeatedly after those clinics were announced last week, but officials said on Monday that the problem had been fixed. The general-population clinics will be held daily, except Sundays, from March 1-20 at the Whitehorse Convention Centre. The earliest available appointments on the government's site as of Wednesday afternoon were on March 15. Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's chief medical officer, says the territory is well on its way to immunizing a majority of its population. No Yukon-N.W.T. travel bubble yet Hanley was also asked at Thursday's news conference about the possibility of opening a travel bubble with the N.W.T. The idea has generated discussion recently, after N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said she was hoping for "good news" on a possible travel bubble — or looser travel restrictions — between the two territories by the end of March. Hanley was non-committal on Thursday, but said he was in regular contact with N.W.T. officials. "It's definitely something we've been keeping in touch over. We love our neighbours," Hanley said. "We'll be continuing to discuss those possibilities." The N.W.T.'s chief medical officer said on Wednesday that a travel bubble with Yukon was not something she was considering at this time. Contact tracing app not a priority Hanley was also asked on Thursday whether Yukon might yet sign on to use the federal government's COVID-19 tracing app, as N.W.T. has done. The smartphone app allows users to report a positive coronavirus test and alert others of a potential exposure. It exchanges random codes via Bluetooth with nearby phones which have the app installed. Hanley said it's not a high priority as it's not clear what the added benefits would be right now for Yukon, "in our situation of having a containment approach, a small jurisdiction, and very good contact-tracing capacity." He said that may change in the future, when Yukon eases restrictions and people are travelling more.
Le CLD de Brome-Missisquoi invite les très petites, petites et moyennes entreprises qui ont un manque de liquidité à le contacter pour déterminer si elles sont admissibles à un programme d’aide d’urgence (PAUPME), dont une partie peut se transformer en subvention. « Le salon de coiffure, la petite boutique du coin et même la cantine, ils peuvent passer par le prêt pour avoir un pardon de prêt qui va jusqu’à 80 % du prêt initial. On ne demande pas la rentabilité de l’entreprise, on vise la viabilité, indique Isabelle Dumont, conseillère en développement d’entreprises au CLD. Il faut que leurs problèmes découlent de la pandémie et non d’avant la pandémie. » Le prêt permet d’éponger un manque de liquidité résultant de la pandémie. Il est accessible à toutes les PME, même si elles n’ont pas été obligées de fermer leurs portes depuis le début de la deuxième vague de COVID-19. Le pardon de prêt, soit le AERAM, qui permet aux entrepreneurs d’être libérés d’une partie de cette dette, s’applique aux frais fixes des PME qui ont été fermées par décret gouvernemental. Gym, restaurant, services non essentiels ne sont que quelques exemples des entreprises admissibles. Selon Mme Dumont, ce ne sont pas toutes les PME qui sont au courant de l’existence de ces programmes. Le CLD joue le rôle de facilitateur dans la demande. La conseillère prend le temps de bien vulgariser le programme et le CLD a même élaboré un formulaire simple pour déterminer l’admissibilité. Une pression de moins La Galerie Artêria, à Bromont, a eu droit à un prêt ainsi qu’à un pardon de prêt puisqu’elle a dû fermer à partir des Fêtes. La propriétaire Geneviève Lévesque a eu une « petite panique » quand le gouvernement a annoncé que les commerces non essentiels allaient devoir fermer à partir du 24 décembre. Elle avait déjà vécu une première fermeture de trois mois au printemps. De plus, ses employés ne peuvent plus voyager à travers le monde pour vendre des tableaux d’artistes québécois. Le chiffre d’affaires de la petite entreprise bromontoise a donc fondu depuis maintenant un an. Le programme d’aide a permis la survie de la galerie d’art. « Ça enlève une pression, ça nous donne de meilleures nuits, confie Mme Lévesque. On pense qu’on va passer à travers, mais on ne sait pas combien de temps il faut survivre, donc tous les petits coups de pouce font la différence. De sentir qu’on n’est pas laissé à nous-même, de sentir que les gens croient en notre projet, ça fait du bien. » L’exportation d’œuvres d’art se poursuit, mais repose sur la réputation que la galerie auprès de clients réguliers qui leur font confiance. Processus simplifié par le CLD La coiffeuse Nathalie Dépeault, de Coiffure Ovima à Farnham, peut mieux respirer grâce au programme d’aide d’urgence pour les PME et au pardon de prêt. Elle a trouvé le processus simple et efficace avec le CLD. « Quand on a fermé le 24 décembre, on devait fermer jusqu’au 8 janvier seulement. J’avais assez d’argent d’accumulé pour le loyer, mais la fermeture s’est prolongée. Je ne me qualifiais pas pour de l’aide au loyer au fédéral et quand je regardais les critères des autres programmes, je ne fittais dans rien. Ça commençait à m’apeurer parce que je voyais les prochains mois s’en venir vite. » En deux semaines, le processus pour accéder au PAUPME était complété et Mme Dépeault obtenait de l’aide financière. « Ça réduit beaucoup d’anxiété de savoir qu’on peut compter sur de l’aide. Je me suis sentie bien accompagnée. Je me sentais moins seule. » Quelques éléments du programme de pardon de prêt ont été modifiés. Les mois de novembre et de décembre ne sont plus admissibles pour les nouveaux demandeurs. Par contre, si l’entreprise a dû fermer plus de 90 jours, elle aura droit à un ou deux mois supplémentaires de pardon de prêt, indique Isabelle Dumont. Elle invite les entrepreneurs et travailleurs autonomes à la joindre au 450 266-4928, poste 301, ou par courriel au email@example.com pour obtenir des informations et vérifier leur admissibilité. Au cours des derniers mois, le CLD de Brome-Missisquoi a reçu 375 demandes d’information et 120 demandes d’aide financière. Les membres de son équipe de conseillers ont ouvert 95 dossiers et approuvé 85 demandes de prêt. Dix dossiers sont toujours à l’étude. L’organisme s’est déjà vu attribuer une demi-douzaine de subventions gouvernementales, dans le cadre du Fonds local d’investissement (FLI) d’urgence, pour soutenir la communauté d’affaires locale. Une bonne partie de cette somme, soit environ 2,65 M$, a déjà été redistribuée à quelque 77 entreprises sous forme de prêts d’une valeur moyenne de 34 400 $. « Nous disposons présentement d’une réserve de 869 000 $ pour répondre aux nouvelles demandes d’aide financière », souligne Mme Dumont. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
OTTAWA — A new estimate suggests the move to a hybrid Parliament could save as much as $6.2 million a year. The system — which sees some MPs and senators participate in person and most others logged in remotely — has been in place since April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the nuances of how MPs and senators participate have changed since then, the parliamentary budget officer's report suggests the primary driver of savings is reduced travel. The report notes that a decrease in travel also has the effect of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2,972 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The budget watchdog says the financial savings offset the increased costs of running a hybrid model, which include the required technology and a major increase in interpreters' services. The provision of those services has been a sore spot in recent weeks as some parties say not enough resources have been allotted to ensure enough interpreters are available and can work safely. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
To keep residents informed during the constantly changing COVID-19 situation, the Muskoka Lakes Association is holding a free webinar. “A Muskoka COVID Summer — a Conversation with your Mayors” will take place Thursday, June 18 at 6 p.m. Panellists include John Klinck, chair of the District Municipality of Muskoka; Mayor Phil Harding of Muskoka Lakes; Mayor Paul Kelly of Gravenhurst; Mayor Graydon Smith of Bracebridg; and Ann MacDiarmid, mayor of the Township of Seguin. The webinar will take an open discussion format with questions for each panellist and opportunities for responses from other participants, moderated by Deborah Martin-Downs, vice-president of MLA. The goal of the webinar is to shift the conversation from an “us versus them” narrative that was becoming apparent as a result of the coronavirus, said Lawton Osler, MLA president. “I think there is a certain amount of fear involved,” he told this newspaper. “COVID-19 brought everything to the fore.” Questions for panellists will be provided in advance of the event to ensure each has time to consider a response. This isn’t a debate, Osler said, but a respectful conversation that addresses the concerns of MLA members as well as year-round and seasonal Muskoka residents. To attend the webinar, viewers must register at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lDDA2S3jQz6aTTtX2WuLsg. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
LONDON — Police in eastern England say they have received a long-delayed letter from an Emirati princess asking them to investigate the disappearance of her sister 20 years ago. The letter is the latest episode in the long-running family drama of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the hereditary ruler of Dubai and a horse-racing acquaintance of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. One of his daughters, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, made headlines last week when the BBC broadcast video diaries she said were recorded inside a Dubai villa where she claimed she was being held against her will. Sheikha Latifa was detained by commandos in 2018 after she tried to flee Dubai in a yacht. Now Sheikha Latifa’s friends have given police in Cambridgeshire a letter from the princess asking authorities to look into the abduction of her sister Shamsa, now 38, who was snatched from Cambridge on Aug. 19, 2000, and hasn’t been seen since, the BBC reported Thursday. “We can confirm officers have recently received a letter, dated February 2018, in relation to this case which will be looked at as part of the ongoing review,” Cambridgeshire police said in a statement. “In addition to this, we are also looking at the contents of the recent BBC Panorama documentary to identify whether it includes anything of significance to our case.” Police declined to release further information, saying this is a “complex and serious” case that would be “inappropriate to discuss publicly.” The BBC reported that friends of the princess turned the letter over to police on Wednesday. It was written in 2019 after Latifa had been detained, but she dated it February 2018 so that her captors wouldn’t know she had a way of communicating with the outside world, the BBC said. “All I ask of you is to please give attention on her case because it could get her her freedom,” Latifa, 35, wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the BBC. “Your help and attention on her case could free her.” Shamsa was staying at her father’s estate in the village of Longcross, west of London, in the summer of 2000 when she tried to escape. She later disappeared from a hotel in Cambridge and was spirited back to Dubai. The cases are particularly sensitive in Britain because of economic and historic links to Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates that has built hotels and resorts to diversify an economy once based on exploiting large energy reserves. Sheikh Mohammed is the founder of the successful Godolphin horse-racing stable and is on friendly terms with Queen Elizabeth II. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week called Latifa’s videos “very distressing” but suggested there was little the government could do because she is not a U.K. national. The United Nations human rights office on Feb. 19 said it had raised concerns about Latifa’s treatment with the UAE and asked it to provide evidence that the princess was still alive. In response, the UAE’s embassy in London issued a statement saying the princess was being cared for by her family and medical professionals. The sheikh’s family life was thrust into the news in 2019, when his estranged wife, Princess Haya, fled to London and sought custody of her two children through the British courts. Last year, the judge hearing that case ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against Princess Haya and had ordered the abduction of Shamsa and Latifa. The sheikh had told the the court he was relieved at having found his “vulnerable” daughter Shamsa after she went missing. Latifa’s supporters last week urged Joe Biden to pressure Sheikh Mohammed to release her, saying the U.S. president is one of the few world leaders with the stature to win her freedom. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Learn how to cook lentils in the Crock-Pot Express - it couldn’t be easier! Enjoy!
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
Out on a walk with his dog Taiga, Dorset resident Ryan Morin took the path he regularly does along Kawagama Lake Road and up toward the Nordic Inn. Morin, an ecologist, likes to explore the area there, where he often finds rare plants. It was on his way up Nordic Inn Road where he found hogweed, an uncommon but growing sight along the border where the Township of Lake of Bays meets the Algonquin Highlands. “This one is just getting humungous and almost coming out to the road,” said Morin, who counts this as the third location he has spotted the plant currently growing. Hogweed is a common name used for multiple kinds of the genus, Heracleum. The plant can grow up to 14 feet in height and, in late summer, blooms a white flower. However, its stems are home to prickly red particles and full of toxic sap because they contain chemical compounds called, furanocoumarins. When exposed to UV rays, Phytophotodermatitis occurs — an inflammation of the skin that leads to blistering, burns and in extreme cases, blindness. “It’s obviously a big human safety issue if you happen to not know what it is,” Morin said. Complicating matters further is that hogweed is often mistaken for cow parsnip and vice versa, because of their similar appearance. “It takes a bit of a plant eye to be able to tell the difference,” he said. From an ecological perspective, Morin said the hogweed doesn’t seem to be invading the habitat, despite spotting it in multiple locations. It’s kind of a unique thing, at least to me, to have in Dorset,” he said, because to his knowledge, it is more prevalent in southern Ontario. “Obviously, there is something that’s brought it here.” The Township of Lake of Bays does keep an eye out for hogweed, said public works superintendent Steve Peace. If found in the road allowance, the municipality takes care of removing or treating it, but also encourages people to report it directly. “We see the odd little bit in Lake of Bays,” Peace said. Between the township, the district and the Ministry of Natural Resources, he said, “everybody is doing what they can to stay on top of it.” Morin said he has warned his neighbours and made phone calls to both townships to report the hogweed and some has been removed as a result. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
TEMAGAMI – A young Temagami boy is on his way to living a life without an abundance of limitations. Elliot Lacroix Belanger, seven, underwent tendon lengthening surgery on February 16 at Health Sciences North in Sudbury. “Elliot had to quarantine from the sixth of February until the 16th of February, he needed to do a five-hour pre-op and then a COVID swab, which he didn’t enjoy too much,” said Elliot’s parents, Dan and Miranda Lacroix Belanger, in an email message to The Speaker. They noted that prior to his surgery, Elliot was “very nervous and scared” and that he needed medication to calm himself down. “It was even harder that only one parent was allowed in the hospital with him,” the parents said. “We had to spend two nights at the hotel, because he was the first surgery of the day, and we have a family history of Malignant hyperthermia (where your blood boils under anaesthetic), so they wanted us to stay close by to make sure. We are 17 kilometres short for the Northern Health Travel Grant, so it does not cover the hotel room.” The couple noted that Elliot’s surgery was conducted by a surgeon from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa who came to Health Sciences North in Sudbury to do the surgery because of COVID-19 precautions. Elliot’s health issues began early on as he suffered a stroke at birth, causing Cerebral Palsy and a right Hemiplegia (limited use of his right side.) He had been undergoing Botox injections for the last four years, but unfortunately they were no longer working. Elliot’s foot brace also wouldn’t fit anymore because it was so tight around the leg. The orthopaedic and paediatric teams believed Elliot would benefit from serial casting to help stretch the muscles. FINANCIAL CONCERNS The Lacroix Belangers said that for seven years the family has been steadily going back and forth to medical appointments and making it work financially. However, the orthopaedic team mentioned to them that the serial casting procedure wouldn’t be covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, but recommended that the family reach out to local organizations to see if they would help with covering the costs. The family was looking at three casts at $275 apiece for Elliott, along with the cost of travelling back and forth to North Bay to get the casts put on and taken off, which is a total of four trips. In order for all of the casting procedures to happen, a 50/50 draw fundraiser was set up on the Jamie’s Army Facebook page, raising a total of $1,050 for the family. “We weren’t expecting it to blow up as much as it did, but we are forever thankful,” the family said of the Jamie’s Army efforts. “We also got many people sending us donations privately, as far (away) as Ohio. There was so much generosity from the people in our community and abroad, we can’t thank everyone enough. When they say it takes a village to raise a child, we truly know what it means.” On January 20 the family travelled to North Bay to the Nipissing Orthopaedic Lab, where Elliot was supposed to be serial casted. Instead, they say he was fitted for a new ridged brace that he will need after the tendon lengthening surgery. “Karen of the Orthopaedic team decided it would be of our best interest not to do the serial casting, for a few reasons,” said Dan and Miranda. “If they were going to do the surgery, they didn’t want him casted beforehand, it’ll be too much on him. Secondly, if he needs to self-isolate, the dates wouldn’t work out, so they will be post-surgery.” MOVING FORWARD After undergoing the tendon lengthening surgery on February 16, the Lacroix Belanger family says Elliot will continue to have many follow-up appointments and they have “great hope” that he will be able to fit back into his brace, skates and boots, and be able to be a child without so many limitations. They also say the support keeps rolling in for the family from Jamie’s Army, the purchasing of the 50/50 tickets, various donations, sharing of posts and getting their story out there, offering to bring them coffee or whatever they need, offers of places to stay, simply reaching out, sending thoughts and prayers, bringing get-well gifts, and so much more. “We can’t begin to tell you how much it means,” stressed the parents. “There are so many people to thank and you are all amazing.” They also noted that even CBC Canada reached out to the family about Elliot’s health journey. Elliot now is scheduled to have a follow-up appointment on March 29 in hopes that he can take the cast off, see how the surgery went, and then he will be required to wear a ridged AFO brace. “Elliot is sore and it hurts to put pressure on his foot,” noted Dan and Miranda. “He’s finding it hard not being able to play outside, have a normal shower, go to hockey, or walk properly.” Along with follow-up appointments, the family says they also have out-of-town orthopaedic appointments and brace fittings, Botox injection appointments for Elliot’s right wrist, and an upcoming trip to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto where they’re looking at five trips or more in the month of March alone. “As always, any and all appointments and updates get posted under #strengthforelliot on Facebook, so make sure to follow that to follow Elliot’s journey.” Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
MUSKOKA LAKES — Norah Fountain is used to wearing many hats as the executive director of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges and longer workdays for Fountain, as local business owners have turned to the chamber for guidance in an uncertain time. Advocacy quickly became a focus for the chamber in the early days of lockdown, Fountain explained, because, “we knew right away there would be businesses who would fall through the cracks.” The chamber helped to get the Muskoka Business Recovery Fund off the ground, which has received $750,000 from the District of Muskoka and an additional $2.1 million from the federal government. Still, the chamber has its own business to operate and this year will be different. The Township of Muskoka Lakes has pulled back on its financial support for the chamber, to the tune of $20,000, “to keep their budget in line,” Fountain said. As a result, the Port Carling Visitor Information Centre will not open this summer. The chamber will receive $27,000 from the Township to maintain its operations, which this month include a virtual job fair as well as outreach to attract Canadian travellers. “We are their front line tourism arm,” Fountain said, of the chamber’s 24-year relationship with the Township. “We put the money right back into the local economy.” COVID-related questions meant the chamber was “inundated with phone calls,” according to Fountain who has worked on developing resources like a set of COVID guidelines businesses can use as they reopen. As well, the chamber has provided hiring assistance for seasonal workers and helped local businesses move into e-commerce. The chamber also began a Facebook group, Muskoka Lakes Resiliency to connect businesses and extend their reach, posting the menus of local restaurants to encourage takeout business. Fountain also raised the idea of assembling a Muskoka Recovery Task Force to help aid businesses now dealing with coming back to a COVID economy after also suffering losses in the 2019 floods. Some of the chamber’s 312 members fast-tracked their annual renewals to help provide stability for the chamber, as revenue-generating events have been cancelled. And, new members like CrossFit Muskoka have joined, “because they’re seeing our advocacy work,” Fountain said. Not everyone has been able to make it through COVID-19, said Fountain, who called it “heartbreaking” that Clevelands House Resort will not be offering accommodations this summer. It is the impact this year will have on local business owners that Fountain is thinking of as she looks further ahead. “We’re actually concerned about what 2021 will look like.” Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
NEW YORK — The exclusion of The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights" at the 2021 Grammy Awards shocked many, but he's in good company: Prince's “When Doves Cry" never scored a nomination either. Here's a look at every Billboard No. 1 hit of the year since 1958, Grammy-nominated or not. NOTE: Songs with an asterisk represent tracks that earned a Grammy nomination; songs with two asterisks won a Grammy. ______ 2020: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” 2019: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2018: Drake, “God’s Plan” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2017: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2016: Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself” (asterisk) 2015: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2014: Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz, “Thrift Shop” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2012: Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2011: Adele, “Rolling In the Deep” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2010: Kesha, “Tik Tok” 2009: Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2008: Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, “Get Low” (asterisk) 2007: Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable” (asterisk) 2006: Daniel Powter, “Bad Day” (asterisk) 2005: Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2004: Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah!” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2003: 50 Cent, “In Da Club” (asterisk) 2002: Nickelback, “How You Remind Me” (asterisk) 2001: Lifehouse, “Hanging by a Moment” 2000: Faith Hill, “Breathe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1999: Cher, “Believe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1998: Next, “Too Close” 1997: Elton John “Candle In the Wind 1997” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1996: Los del Río, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” 1995: Coolio, “Gangsta’s Paradise” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1994: Ace of Base, “The Sign” (asterisk) 1993: Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”(asterisk)(asterisk) 1992: Boyz II Men, “End of the Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1991: Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1990: Wilson Phillips, “Hold On” (asterisk) 1989: Chicago, “Look Away” 1988: George Michael, “Faith” 1987: The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986: Dionne Warwick & Friends, “That’s What Friends Are For” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1985: Wham!, “Careless Whisper” 1984: Prince, “When Doves Cry” 1983: The Police, “Every Breath You Take” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1982: Olivia Newton-John, “Physical” (asterisk) 1981: Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1980: Blondie, “Call Me” (asterisk) 1979: The Knack, “My Sharona” (asterisk) 1978: Andy Gibb, “Shadow Dancing” 1977: Rod Stewart, “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” 1976: Wings, “Silly Love Songs” 1975: Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1974: Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1973: Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” (asterisk) 1972: Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1971: Three Dog Night, “Joy to the World” (asterisk) 1970: Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1969: The Archies, “Sugar, Sugar” 1968: The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (asterisk) 1967: Lulu, “To Sir with Love” 1966: SSgt. Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Berets” 1965: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, “Wooly Bully” (asterisk) 1964: The Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (asterisk) 1963: Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” 1962: Acker Bilk, “Stranger on the Shore” (asterisk) 1961: Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin’” 1960: Percy Faith, “Theme from A Summer Place” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1959: Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1958: Domenico Modugno, “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (asterisk)(asterisk) Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A New York prosecutor has obtained copies of Donald Trump’s tax records after the Supreme Court this week rejected the former president’s last-ditch effort to prevent them from being handed over. The Manhattan district attorney’s office enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday and now has the documents in hand, a spokesperson for the office, Danny Frost, said Thursday. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had been fighting for a year and a half for access to Trump’s tax records for a criminal grand jury investigation into his business dealings. The documents are protected by grand jury secrecy rules and are not expected to be made public. Vance, a Democrat, is conducting a wide-ranging investigation that includes an examination of whether Trump or his businesses lied about the value of assets to gain favourable loan terms and tax benefits. The district attorney is also scrutinizing hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf. Vance’s office issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, in August 2019 seeking eight years of his tax returns and related documents. Trump’s lawyers immediately went to court to block its enforcement, first arguing that he was immune from being investigated while president. When the Supreme Court rejected that argument 7-2 last July, Trump’s lawyers returned to a lower court and argued the subpoena was issued in bad faith, overly broad, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment. An appellate court rejected that argument and the Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene. In a three-word statement after the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, Vance said only: “The work continues.” Trump has called Vance’s investigation “a fishing expedition” and “a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history.” Vance is leading the investigation along with his general counsel, Carey Dunne, who made arguments on behalf of the office at various appellate court hearings. Vance recently hired former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz as a special assistant district attorney to assist in the probe. Vance, whose term expires at the end of the year, hasn’t announced if he will seek reelection, leaving questions about who will lead any Trump-related prosecutions in the future. Vance’s subpoena sought from Mazars USA not only the final versions of Trump’s tax returns, but also draft versions of those returns and “any and all statements of financial condition, annual statements, periodic financial reports, and independent auditors’ reports” held by the company. Mazars did not object to the subpoena and, in a statement at the time, said it would “respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.” The Mazars subpoena also sought engagement agreements that define the accountants’ role in creating the tax returns and financial statements; source documents providing the accountants with raw financial data; and work papers and communications between the firm and Trump representatives. Those would include communications showing how the raw data was analyzed and treated in the preparation of the records. The New York Times separately obtained years of Trump’s tax data and published stories last year detailing some of his finances, including that he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2017 and no income tax in 11 of 18 years because of major losses. Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic appears set to force a modernization of Canada's justice system. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has introduced a bill the government says will make targeted and permanent changes to the Criminal Code to give courts flexibility. Among them are clarifying the law to allow the accused to appear remotely in certain criminal proceedings and providing for remote participation for jury selection.The government says that even with the proposed changes, in-person proceedings would remain the norm, but the new provisions would ensure a remote approach remains an option. Canada's justice system was already wrestling with case backlogs in the courts when the pandemic hit last year, closing courthouses and pausing many trials.Courts were forced to look at different ways of working and accelerate steps toward modernization that many felt were long overdue.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Stephen King doesn't think of himself as a horror writer. “My view has always been you can call me whatever you want as long as the checks don't bounce,” King told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “My idea is to tell a good story, and if it crosses some lines and it doesn't fit one particular genre, that's good.” Readers may know him best for “Carrie,” “The Shining” and other bestsellers commonly identified as “horror,” but King has long had an affinity for other kinds of narratives, from science fiction and prison drama to the Boston Red Sox. Over the past decade, he has written three novels for the imprint Hard Case Crime: “Joyland,” “The Colorado Kid” and “Later,” which comes out this week. He loves sharing a publisher with such giants of the past as James M. Cain and Mickey Spillane, and loves the old-fashioned pulp illustrations used on the covers. At the same time, he enjoys writing a crime story that is more than a crime story — or hardly a crime story at all. “Joyland" is a thriller set around an amusement park and could just as easily be called a coming-of-age story. “The Colorado Kid” has a dead body on an island off the coast of King's native Maine, but otherwise serves as a story about why some cases are best left unsolved. “It's the beauty of the mystery that allows us to live sane as we pilot our fragile bodies through this demolition derby world,” he writes in the book's afterword. His new novel has a lot of crime in it but, as King's narrator suggests, it might actually be a horror story. Jamie Conklin is looking back on his childhood, when he was raised by a single mother, a New York literary agent. Like other young King protagonists, Jamie has special powers: He not only can see dead people, but when he asks them questions, they are compelled to tell the truth. “Later” also features a bestselling novelist and his posthumous book, and a police detective who for a time is the girlfriend of Jamie's mother. The 73-year-old King has written dozens of novels and stories, and usually has three to four ideas that “are half-baked, kind of like an engine and no transmission." He doesn't write ideas down because, he says, if something is good enough he's unlikely to forget it. For “Later,” he started with the idea of a literary agent who needed to get her late client's manuscript finished, and thought of having a son who communicates with the dead. He then decided the mother needed a companion. “And I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to make the love relationship female.' Then I thought to myself, ‘Cop,’ and the cop is dirty and everything fell into place," he says. King, who publishes most of his work with Simon & Schuster, is part of the founding story of Hard Case Crime. Back in 2004, Charles Ardai and Max Phillips were launching a line of books to “revive pulp fiction in all its lurid mid-century glory." Hoping for some publicity, they wrote to King and asked for a blurb. A representative for the author called and said King did not want to write a blurb for Hard Case Crime; he wanted to contribute a book. That became “The Colorado Kid.” “I sat on the other end of the phone while this sank in and tried to sound cool, like this was the sort of phone call I got every day and twice on Fridays,” Ardai wrote in an introduction to “The Colorado Kid,” which came out in 2005. “But inside I was turning cartwheels.” King's passions also include politics and current events, and over the past few years he regularly tweeted his contempt for President Donald Trump. But he doubts that Trump's loss to Democrat Joe Biden will have an effect on his work. Fiction has been an “escape” from politics, he says, not a forum. And though he has written a famous novel about a pandemic, “The Stand,” he passed on a chance to write about COVID-19 in a work of fiction coming later this year, “Billy Summers." He originally set it in 2020, but decided instead on 2019. Toward the end of “Later,” Jamie observes that his writing has improved as the story went along, “improved by doing, which I suppose is the case with most things in life.” Asked during the interview to evaluate his own writing, King, the baseball fan, likens himself to an aging but resourceful pitcher. “I've gotten better in some ways, but you lose a little of the urgency. In my 40s, the ideas were like people jamming into a fire door to get out. There were so many ideas, and you couldn't wait to get to the typewriter and the words would pour out,” he says. “Nowadays, you're almost feeling people are looking over your shoulder and they're apt to be a little more critical. You slow down a little bit. I'm aware I'm getting older. You lose the blazing fastball and start to count more on your changeups and curves and be a little more careful and mix them up.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Canada Day celebrations look a little different this year and though we won't be able to gather in person, the federal government has assembled a virtual party for Canadians to tune into from across the country. “This year isn’t like other years. But even these challenging times are a good opportunity to think about what it means to be Canadian," Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault said in a statement. "I’m inviting you, whoever and wherever you are, to take part in all the great activities we have planned. Today Canada’s history—our values, our talents and our creativity—are on display for the whole world. Today is our day. Happy Canada Day!” Starting June 29, visit Canada.ca where online activity packs have been assembled to test your knowledge of Canadian history, indulge in our arts and culture, try some fun Canadian recipes or put yourself to the test the way a Canadian athlete would. On July 1, tune in at 1 p.m. ET via the CBC and Canadian Heritage social platforms for the Canada Daytime Show as hosts Serena Ryder and Pierre-Yves Lord connect with artists and musicians from Sudbury, Montreal, Quebec, Moncton, Winnipeg, Yellowknife and Calgary. Stay for a celebration of the country's cultural diversity including Indigenous culture and languages, excellence in sport, with a special appreciation for front line workers. Check the social media pages of your local municipality to see how people in your community are celebration online using #CanadaDay Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit) A tentative deal has been reached between Unifor and ZF/TRW, one of the factories that supply parts for the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant. A vote will be held virtually on Saturday to ratify the new collective agreement, Unifor Local 444 said in social media posts on Wednesday evening. If passed, Unifor hopes the deal can serve as a pattern for the other plants that make up the "feeder four." Workers at each of the plants have previously indicated they support going on strike if necessary. Union members at Avancez, Dakkota and HBPO, as well as ZF/TRW, voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike mandate, Unifor announced on Tuesday. Avancez is next in line for negotiations, the union said. More from CBC Windsor: