Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet discusses the variety of ways his squad needs to improve on defense. He also touches on Chris Boucher's breakout game and what he's seen from the 27-year-old.
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet discusses the variety of ways his squad needs to improve on defense. He also touches on Chris Boucher's breakout game and what he's seen from the 27-year-old.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
Le Centre d'hébergement et de soins longue durée (CHSLD) Idola-Saint-Jean est touché par une importante éclosion de COVID-19 dans ses installations qui a débuté le 3 janvier. Depuis, 52 résidents et 29 employés ont contracté le virus. Parmi ceux-ci, huit résidents sont maintenant rétablis, tandis que neuf sont malheureusement décédés. «Tout le monde est à pied d'œuvre pour stopper l'éclosion, mentionne Judith Goudreau, porte-parole du Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Le fait d'avoir concentré les ressources et résidents infectés dans les mêmes zones contribuera certainement à réduire la propagation. On le souhaite sincèrement.» Les personnes touchées ont été déplacées sur deux étages communs. Trois conseillères en prévention et contrôle des infections, deux coachs en équipement de protection individuelle et plusieurs autres membres de l'équipe PCI (Prévention et contrôle des infections) sont d'ailleurs sur place cette semaine pour apporter du soutien. D'autres mesures ont aussi été mises en place, telles que le dépistage à large échelle de tous les résidents et obligatoire pour tous les employés, ainsi que le déploiement d'une équipe psychosociale sur place pour offrir de l'aide au personnel. Notons également que les résidents des unités en éclosion n'ont pas été vaccinés lors de la vaste opération effectuée dans les CHSLD publics. Cela devrait se produire quand l'éclosion sera terminée. Pour le moment, 113 résidents et 65 % du personnel de l'endroit ont reçu leur première dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. Avec un bilan de 20 814 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 148 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès augmente à 803 (+2) depuis le début de la pandémie. Le CISSS de Laval cumule également 18 428 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 1583 cas actifs confirmés (-62) sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 97 sont hospitalisées, dont 29 aux soins intensifs. 89 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. 12 résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) de Laval et 7 CHSLD sont présentement touchés par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Par ailleurs, les résidences Bégonias, Boulay et Roi du Nord ont été placées dans la catégorie des RPA en situation critique en raison du taux d’infection. Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 247 236 cas et 9208 décès. Au total, 1467 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 216 aux soins intensifs.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
OTTAWA — The head of the Ontario Medical Association says dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines is spreading on social media among all age groups. The association's analysis of more than 65,000 recent online posts in Ontario shows that conspiracy theories about the origin of the novel coronavirus and fears that vaccines are dangerous and untested run particularly rampant among people under the age of 35. Dr. Samantha Hill says any delay to vaccinating Canadians will cost lives, whether it stems from untruths that dissuade people from getting a shot in the arm or current issues slowing down delivery of doses to Canada. Canada's small supply of vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech will shrink even more over the next four weeks as the company slows production while upgrading its facility in Belgium. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn't doing enough to pressure Pfizer to limit the effect on Canada and is urging him to get company CEO Albert Bourla on the phone right away. A Trudeau spokesman says they will not confirm who Trudeau has spoken to about the matter, and will not negotiate in public. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials say delays in getting COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech will force the province to sharply reduce the number of injections planned for February. The province says it is planning for incoming supplies to be cut in half. The federal government announced Tuesday that Canada is not getting any COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech next week. "We originally were told we would be receiving 18,720 doses (in the next two weeks) and our new estimate is 9,360," Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province's vaccine committee, said Wednesday. There are enough doses for all appointments currently booked, but fewer appointments will be scheduled next month, Reimer said. The goal of administering an average of 2,500 doses a day in February is being reduced to 1,496 daily. In the unlikely event that supply delays continue and the province does not receive any doses in the first week of February, its current supply of the Pfizer vaccine would be used up and appointments would begin to be cancelled, Reimer said. The revised outlook comes just as Manitoba is ramping up its vaccination capacity. A so-called supersite, which can handle hundreds of vaccinations a day, opened this week in Brandon and another is planned for early February in Thompson. Because of the supply issues with the Pfizer vaccine, the Thompson site will instead use the Moderna vaccine, the only other one approved in Canada to date. Health officials reported 153 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Wednesday. Manitoba's numbers, including the number of people in hospital and the percentage of people testing positive, have dropped since a spike in the fall. The provincial government is considering easing some of the restrictions that were put in place in November by this weekend, subject to public feedback. The proposals include letting non-essential stores reopen, as well as hair salons and barber shops, and easing a ban on social gatherings in private homes to allow two visitors at a time. "I know that people are eager to reduce restrictions, especially businesses," said Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief public health officer. "But we need to be cautious. We can't open everything at once." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
In the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak that has already killed four residents, a family member of a resident at Amberwood Suites said staff there did everything they possibly could have to protect residents’ lives. Linda Vlach is the daughter of 94-year-old Amberwood resident Gertrude Phillips, who is doing well right now after coming through her own bout with the virus and having to isolate herself. Vlach said she credits her mom's survival with the intense level of care at the home. "I felt really that Amberwood did everything they possibly could,” she said. “Once it was found out there were positive cases in the building, they just flat out ordered in all the PPE (personal protective equipment) they would need.” Vlach said rolling PPE carts were set up outside each suite so that staff and care givers could get fresh equipment every time they went into a room. Vlach said she is not worried for her mom's safety. She said Amberwood has been especially careful about the virus right from the beginning, and that with so many people being asymptomatic, it was the kind of thing that could have happened anywhere. Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) revealed earlier this month that an outbreak was discovered at the home Jan. 5. As several days passed, PHSD revealed that five staff members and 33 residents of the home were also infected. Several of those who tested positive were transferred to Health Sciences North. Several others were put into self-isolation in their suites. On Jan. 15, PHSD reported one resident had died. On Jan. 18, PHSD reported two more residents had died. Then on Jan. 19, PHSD reported a fourth Amberwood resident had died. Vlach said her mother was one of the residents who had tested positive and was put into isolation. It was an uncertain time for her family, but her mother seemed to adjust well, she said. "Well she is very much a social creature. She is one of the gals that likes to be out for everything, the exercises, or the bingos or anything that was going on. She was always there early, with bells on," Vlach said. "It was almost bizarre for my mom to hear she had tested positive. So we all braced ourselves and expected the worst, maybe. Then for her to have no symptoms; you know she is just baffled by it. At her age, she is diabetic. She has a heart condition. She just managed to be asymptomatic and come through it all." Vlach said as much as residents had to endure complete isolation, she said it has also been difficult for the staff at Amberwood. "I think it has been very hard on the staff,” she said. “I think for them it has been devastating. I think it is very hard really on the staff not just to have lost people they probably feel were friends, I think it is very hard on them going to work everyday to have to worry about COVID itself.” She said that the lockdown has changed the entire atmosphere at the home, but it is something that is so necessary. "It has changed dramatically the way the building functions, you know, as far as people not being able to get together, to people not being able to leave or to go out to things they would normally go out to," Vlach said. She added that she is the only family caregiver that was approved for her mother, as per provincial rules. She had to undergo in-house training and COVID-19 testing for that role. Although there are five siblings in her family, Vlach is the only child allowed to actually go and see her mother on a daily basis. "Yes, they have closed off any visitation in the suites themselves. For family members to go in they were able to visit on the outside patio as long as the weather allowed, or the inside private dining room. And those spaces were sanitized and controlled as far as how many people were allowed in," she explained. That is no longer allowed, but Vlach said her mom is still able to use the phone to stay in contact with family members. "She has plenty of activities in her suite. She has always kept herself busy and with lots to do. She has DVDs and music and digital photo screens, and reading. Once she realized the building was in lockdown and isolation in the suites, she just settled in and made herself comfortable. We have a big family too so we all keep in touch with her, with lots of phone calls and things that perk her day up." In the meantime, the lockdown continues, said Vlach. She said staff and management at the home are doing all they can to make things comfortable, but there's no mistaking the seriousness of the situation. A screener is posted at the main door. Masking is mandatory. Things have even changed at meal time, said Vlach. No one sits four to a table. People sit alone and eat by themselves. "Yes, it's hard, but they felt it was important, and it certainly increased the workload on the staff," said Vlach. "I don't have any concerns. It is certainly so unfortunate that this happened in the building, this outbreak. People lost their lives. That's so tragic. This is devastating for the families," said Vlach. "But today if you ask my mom, she will say, I couldn't be in a better place. I feel safe here." Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — The People's Alliance party says the New Brunswick government's recent decisions to curb the spread of COVID-19 are confusing for the public. Leader Kris Austin has been a member of the all-party COVID-19 cabinet committee for the last 10 months but says he's confused and frustrated by some of the government's actions. "We have to have rules that make sense," Austin said in an interview Wednesday. "They have to be concise and they have to be clear and they have to be consistent. If we're changing rules on the fly it just creates confusion." New Brunswick has been reporting more than 20 new infections every day since Jan. 13. Austin said the decision this week to move more than half the province into the "red" pandemic-alert level has closed churches and hair salons without evidence they are hot spots. "My understanding was when you went to red, that was the lockdown," he said. "That was the final step. But now we're hearing red is the new version of orange and there's a lockdown that could be coming. People are just scratching their heads unsure of what it all means." Premier Blaine Higgs said this week that the government would consider imposing a lockdown if current measures to control the spread of the virus aren't effective. The COVID cabinet committee meets Thursday morning to discuss whether more restrictions are needed and if so, what they would look like. "A lockdown is an extreme measure," Austin said. "I supported it last spring because this whole thing was new. We were trying to grapple with the health-care system to ensure it was ready should COVID cases spike. I think it was justified back then. I'm not so sure it's justified at this time." Health officials reported 21 new infections Wednesday and said the province had 317 active reported cases. Two patients were hospitalized with the disease, including one in intensive care. There have been 13 COVID-related deaths and 1,025 reported infections since the start of the pandemic. Officials said Wednesday a case had been identified at Edith Cavell School in Moncton and one at Ecole Saint-Jacques in Saint-Jacques, N.B. They declared an outbreak at Manoir Belle Vue, a special care home in Edmundston, following a recent confirmed case of COVID-19 there. Meanwhile, the Opposition Liberals are calling on the Higgs government to provide financial support for businesses impacted by the pandemic. Gilles LePage, critic for economic development and small business, says people are following advice to stay home and only go out for essentials, and that's affecting businesses. "The province has the duty to step up and provide the financial aid necessary to keep these businesses afloat," LePage said in a statement. He said it's more critical than ever for the government to identify what businesses need help and to provide temporary financial aid. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
COMMUNAUTÉ. C’est finalement un montant de 40 235 $ qui aura été amassé via Gofundme afin de créer une bourse d’études pour Jacob, le fils de l’urgentologue Karine Dion. «Je suis vraiment émue. Je pensais faire une petite campagne pour mon hôpital, mais c’est tout le Québec qui est solidaire pour aider Jacob et honorer la mémoire Karine», constate avec reconnaissance la Dre Geneviève Simard-Racine qui s’était d’abord fixé un objectif de 10 000 $ à recueillir pour créer une bourse d’études pour le fils de son amie. «Il y a eu aussi le 13 janvier, en soirée, un parcours commémoratif dans l’hôpital de Granby. Nos gens pouvaient se recueillir et déposer une étoile dans un cadre. Il y avait également un livre qui sera remis à David, le conjoint de Karine, où l’on pouvait laisser un mot», rapporte-t-elle. À son tour, la Dre Simard-Racine a invité «les aidants à accepter de se faire aider». Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) is a not-for-proft organization that focusses on the proper recycling of electronic products to ensure health and safety is not compromised when dealing with these items. EPRA operates regulated recycling programs across Canada to ensure that end-of-life electronics are handled in a safe, secure, and environmentally-sound manner. Electronic devices cannot be recycled in the same manner as other items, nor can they be thrown in the garbage, due to what is inside electronic items. These devices are filled with resources that can be reused and recycled. Through the EPRA/Recycle My Electronics network of over 2,500 drop-off locations throughout Canada, the program ensures that the resources in electronic devices are safely recovered for reuse, helping to preserve the environment. Drop-off at EPRA/Recycle My Electronics locations is free of charge. EPRA keeps 100,000 metric tonnes of old electronics out of landfills each year with end-of-life electronics being dropped off at authorized collection sites and has diverted approximately 100 million devices from landfills and illegal exports since the program began. Products dropped off at EPRA locations are then sent to audited and approved specialized cyclers for processing. New technology is used to break down old technology and harvest the raw materials that went into them, including glass, plastics, and precious metals like gold and copper. EPRA wants to ensure the substances inside electronic devices are handled responsibility to protect both the environment and the health and safety of the workers handling them. Recovered materials are then put back into the manufacturing supply chain and used to make new products. The Olympic and Paralympic games have been using an increasing amount of metal recovered from end-of-life electronics in their medals. Beginning in Vancouver with 1.5 per cent and then 30 per cent in Rio. The medals for the next games in Tokyo will be made with 100 per cent received metals from end-of-life electronics. When the resources are recycled correctly from electronic devices they can be reused over and over again without losing their properties, in turn helping to reduce the carbon footprint and lessening the dependence on traditional mining for new resources. EPRA/Recycle My Electronics only works with recyclers who have been verified under the national Electronics Recycling Standard (ERS), which was designed by the electronics industry to ensure that end-of-life electronics are managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner. These processors must meet over 150 safety protocols to ensure the safety of their employees and the environment. This means that all EPRA/Recycle My Electronics recyclers are prohibited from exporting electronics or substances of concern to non-OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations. Bring old end-of-life electronics to EPRA-authorized locations helps to: Keep old electronics out of landfills. Prevent them from being illegally exported or handled by irresponsible recyclers. Recover and recycle valuable resources that can be put back into the manufacturing supply chain. Ensure the safe and secure destruction of personal data stored on hardware. Protect health and safety of workers and handlers. With the importance of electronic devices in everyday life, EPRA was to ensure there isn’t piles of these dangerous electronics sitting in landfills and harming the environment. EPRA believes using and enjoying electronics today, also means responsibly recycling them for a cleaner tomorrow. Electronic devices that can be recycled at EPRA drop-off locations: Display devices (televisions, monitors, flat panels, etc). Non-cellular telephones. Home audio/video systems. Desktop computers, portable computers, and computer peripherals. Desktop printers/multi-function devices. Personal/portable audio/video systems. Home theatre in-a-box systems. Vehicle audio/video systems. Countertop microwave ovens. Vide gaming systems and peripherals. Floor-standing photocopiers/multi-function devices. Personal portable GPS and vehicle GPS. External storage drivers and modems. E-book readers. Desktop and portable scanners. EPRA Program Director Gayleen Creelman emphasizes how important it it to take electronic devices to drop-off locations rather than putting them in the blue bin or garage because of the harmful resources that are inside them. “These types of electronics cannot be recycled in the blue bin like regular recyclable products,” said Creelman. “What’s on the inside of electronics can have lasting impacts on the environment if not dealt with in the correct manner. “Instead of having electronics in a landfill negatively effecting the earth, our programs handle them in an environmentally friendly way and can use those resources that are inside them. Not only are we correctly handling and disposing of electronic devices for the environment and keeping them out of landfills, but we’re getting those valuable resources out of them. “If electronics are just thrown into the garbage it becomes a safety risk,” she said. “The glass can break and cause damage, the resources on the inside can cause damage, and it’s waisting important products that can and should be recycled. The resources inside electronic devices like lead can be very dangerous and should be dealt with carefully. Throwing these products in with the regular garbage will likely end up breaking them and having their contents leak which is obviously a major concern.” There are drop-off locations all over Canada, including eight within an 100 kilometre radius of Moosomin. Creelman says there’s an easy to use location finder on their website for anybody in need of dropping off electronics. “On our website (recyclemyelectronics.ca), you can find a list of all the EPRA-authorized drop-off locations near you,” she said. “Also on EPRA.ca there’s a thorough explanations as to who we are and what we do, why the proper recycling of electronic devices is important, there’s a learning hub and activities for children, a list of all the electronic devices that can be recycled through us, FAQs, a step by step explanation of how to wipe your devices before recycling them, and plenty of interactive options like seeing the journey of an end-of-life electronic.” Creelman knows people often forget about old electronics as they pile up in their homes, but EPRA’s program allows for a quick, easy, and free option to get rid of electronic devices and their accompanying electronic equipment. “Everybody has that drawer in their house filled with old junk,” she said. “I’m guilty of it too. Those drawers filled with old electronic devices like cellphones or cords—we recycle the paraphernalia for electronic devices like chargers, headphones, cables, etc.—people let those gather dust in their homes because they don’t know what to do with them. If you take them to our EPRA drop-off locations, we deal with them safely and then they’re not taking up space in your house. Nobody wants to have old monitors sitting around that they have no need for anymore.” Electronic devices can be detrimental to the health of the planet says Creelman, but with today’s technology, the proper recycling of them ensures there are less environmental concerns and that the resources from them can continue to benefit the industry as they’re reused. “When electronics end up in landfills they emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and other harmful toxins. Safely and securely recycling electronics ensures the recovery of reusable resources and reduces our carbon footprint by preventing greenhouse gas emissions, but also prevents illegal export and handling by irresponsible recyclers.” Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator
The B.C. government should apologize to families who were the subjects of birth alerts, says the province’s Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), Jennifer Charlesworth. “We believe that these families are due a public apology from the provincial government, which should acknowledge how wrong and harmful this practice was,” the RCY said in a statement released Jan. 14 in response to IndigiNews’ ongoing investigation into the legality of birth alerts. “We also believe that, if information regarding previous birth alerts remains on the current personal health records of any women, such information should be removed.” A “birth alert” or “hospital alert” is when a social worker flags an expectant parent to hospital staff — without their consent — because they feel the parent may put their newborn at risk. The hospital then notifies the social worker when the baby is born. “In some cases, these alerts contributed to separating babies from mothers and families at what are critical bonding times,” reads the RCY’s statement. According to government records obtained by IndigiNews, birth alerts led to babies being apprehended approximately 28 per cent of the time in B.C. And in 2018, 58 per cent of the parents who were subject to birth alerts in B.C. were Indigenous. The RCY provides independent oversight for the province’s child welfare system. Charlesworth has served as B.C.’s RCY since August 2018, and her team is responsible for monitoring, investigating, and advocating for children and youth in or from government care. She says she is “very concerned about the content” of documents obtained and published by IndigiNews. These records show that months before B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) formally put a stop to birth alerts on Sept. 16, 2019, the ministry was advised by the province’s Ministry of the Attorney General that birth alerts are “illegal and unconstitutional.” “For years and years and years, I’ve been opposed to the notion of birth alerts,” says Charlesworth. “In starting in this role, I felt it was really important that we continue to push against the use of birth alerts, so we were certainly heartened when [they were stopped.]” In reviewing the records obtained by IndigiNews, Charlesworth says what stood out to her was that months before then-minister Katrine Conroy officially put a stop to birth alerts, there were discussions happening within MCFD about privacy breach concerns. “Even though the practice of birth alerts was discontinued, I want to know: what other stones do we need to turn over to make sure that things are made right?” says Charlesworth. “I want to understand more about what happened.” “We’ve had a lot of discussions, both with the privacy commissioner and with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, about what our next steps are.” She says her team is also reaching out to the Ministry of Health and the health authorities to ask what is written on a patient’s file following a birth alert. This is important to understand because notes on a person’s record can create “the condition for the possibility of ongoing bias or discrimination,” as documented in a recent report on anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination in B.C.’s health care system, Charlesworth says. “Given what we now understand, that would be a breach of privacy, and it would need to be addressed and removed.” Birth alerts involve the sharing of a parent’s personal information between social workers and health care workers without the parent’s consent. As previously reported, this constitutes a breach of privacy, according to Michael McEvoy, B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. “Our office has looked at this issue, and it is our view that the practice of ‘birth alerts’ is not authorized by FIPPA [B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act],” a spokesperson for the commissioner told IndigiNews via email. “I certainly think that, at a minimum, a public apology is in order,” says Charlesworth. IndigiNews asked MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean whether she plans to issue an apology to parents and families impacted by these alerts. “Any discussions around a formal apology need to be held first with Indigenous communities and developed in collaboration with those communities,” said a ministry spokesperson via email. “The Ministry is engaging with Indigenous leadership on these issues,” they added. As to the question of reparations for families, Charlesworth says that’s outside of her mandate. But she believes each family’s situation should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Some families may not know that social workers shared their personal information with hospital workers in the form of a birth alert. In an email to IndigiNews, MCFD said it hasn’t let parents know that it breached their privacy by issuing a birth alert about them because it “didn’t want to retraumatize affected families by providing notifications of past birth alerts.” “I think that’s a relatively weak response,” says Karin Kirkpatrick, Liberal MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano, and the official opposition critic for children, family development and childcare in B.C. “I think we have privacy legislation that would dictate otherwise,” she says. “As with a privacy breach of any other kind, people deserve to be informed of it in a timely manner.” Kirkpatrick says she supports the RCY’s call for a public apology. So does Sonia Furstenau, leader of B.C.’s Green Party and MLA for Cowichan Valley. “That is a starting point, not an ending point,” Furstenau says. “And then there is an enormous amount of work and change that should flow from that apology.” “I just cannot think of something more traumatizing for a mother and a baby then to be separated — unwillingly separated — within hours or days or weeks of birth,” she says. And we have to “recognize the ways in which this is a systemically racist system,” Furstenau adds. “The contrast between a white woman of privilege going into hospital with zero expectation that there’s any chance that I’m not leaving with my baby after I give birth … Indigenous women do not have that privilege.” As for MCFD’s stated reluctance to notify families who were subjected to birth alerts for fear they may be retraumatized, Furstenau says, “the damage has been done.” MCFD needs to “reconnect with these families, assess what the extent of the trauma was because of that action and then work to repair it,” she says. “That’s the work that they need to do.” The RCY has committed to doing a review, which could result in a public report or policy recommendations for the government. As an oversight body, Charlesworth says her office has a mandate to investigate any trend, practice or policy that may be harmful to or not supportive of children, youth and families. She says their review will likely take a few months, depending on the volume of information and how easy it is to access. “It’s going to be quite tricky to determine how many birth alerts were issued and for whom,” she says. “It’s not a field that’s collected.” The RCY will need to track down that information “in a number of different ways,” she adds. Charlesworth says she appreciates the opportunity to review MCFD’s records and the process that preceded the ministry’s decision to ban birth alerts. And she says B.C.’s privacy commissioner has offered to provide advice and counsel as they review what happened. “Anything that calls the system to take a closer look at itself and its practices and where it might have caused harm is a good thing,” she says. At the same time, she adds it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture — the drivers pushing people into the child welfare system such as “poverty, domestic violence, mental health … [and] substance use concerns within the family [and] multiple moves.” “This is generations old. All the crap that we’re seeing down in the States? That’s absolutely indicative of white supremacy and the kind of big power dynamics that have resulted in the kinds of things that we’re seeing. So, yes, kids are at risk. And, yes, kids are unsafe. And we have to intervene. But we also simultaneously have to be saying, so what’s given rise to these vulnerabilities in the first place?” she says. “We have to take at poverty, we have to take a look at housing, we have to look at social attitudes … I don’t want to just keep nibbling at the edges of our system. Okay, well, we don’t have birth alerts — are we done? No, we’re not done. We’re not done at all.” Brielle Morgan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
OTTAWA — "Canada and the United States have worked side by side to tackle some of the greatest challenges we have faced in our history. We will continue this partnership as we fight the global COVID-19 pandemic and support a sustainable economic recovery that will build back better for everyone. We will also work together to advance climate action and clean economic growth, promote inclusion and diversity, and create good middle-class jobs and opportunities for our people while contributing to democracy, peace, and security at home and around the world." — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau --- "Congratulations to President Biden and Vice-President Harris on your inauguration. Looking forward to working together to get Canadians and Americans back to work." — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole --- "Today is historic. As Kamala Harris is sworn in as the first woman and woman of colour to become vice-president of the United States of America, (an) entire generation of women will reimagine what is possible in ways they have never before." — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh --- Ontario and the U.S. both benefit from our strong economic partnership. Congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. I am looking forward to building on our strong relationship and working together to grow our economies and create good-quality jobs. — Ontario Premier Doug Ford --- Congratulations to President Joe Biden on his inauguration! We will continue working to strengthen our relationship to make Quebec the green battery of Northeast America. I also want to congratulate the new vice-president of the United States Kamala Harris. You are the pride of Montreal, the city of your youth. You will always be welcome in Quebec. — Quebec Premier François Legault --- "And that’s a wrap on the series finale of Trump. I started his presidency by chugging a beer live on-air with Peter Mansbridge. There's been a lot of orange makeup since. I’ve never been so relieved to lose a gig." — Comedian Mark Critch --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin says he's rethinking his role on an all-party COVID-19 committee because of inconsistent pandemic guidelines that he is finding hard to justify to New Brunswickers. Austin said the recent watering down of red-phase restrictions, and the lack of information being provided to opposition party leaders, causes him to question the value of the committee. "That is something that frankly I have thought about," he said. "At what point do you throw up your hands and walk away?" The Alliance leader said he's not ready to quit yet but his support for the committee is "waning." And he said that's in part because it's difficult for opposition parties to both have a role in recommendations and at the same oppose COVID-19 policies they disagree with. "I'm honoured to be on the committee, and to be able to speak and to be a part of the discussion that happens … but at the same time, as opposition parties we have to have the flexibility to speak when we don't agree." He is also questioning whether moving four health zones to the red phase of restrictions this week was necessary. "I think we should have stuck it out in orange for a bit longer and see where we can go from there." Premier Blaine Higgs struck the all-party committee last March, the same week the first case of COVID-19 appeared in New Brunswick. It includes Higgs, key ministers and the leaders of the three opposition parties in the legislature. I was under the understanding that red meant lockdown, that there was no extra lockdown. - Kris Austin, People's Alliance leader Higgs had a minority government at the time and the committee was a way for the government to present a unified public health message to New Brunswickers that would not be undermined by partisan bickering. The premier kept the committee in place even after he won a majority in last September's election and told CBC News he hopes Austin won't break from the consensus. "It's important that we stay together as a team in our cabinet committee," he said. "This is no time after a successful 10 months to have diverse opinions in the public." But Austin said he's increasingly disenchanted with how the body works and is calling for "a real reset of this committee to determine how it's going to be done better." It has no decision-making power but gives feedback and advice on various COVID-19 measures. Only the actual Progressive Conservative cabinet has the power to approve pandemic measures. Higgs says though that the three opposition parties are getting "all the information" that he is given as premier by Public Health officials. "There's nothing new or different from what I'm presented." Consensus not always reached This isn't the first time cracks have appeared in the consensus. Last spring Green Party Leader David Coon broke ranks with Higgs over restrictions on temporary foreign workers that were later rescinded. At the time, Coon complained that the confidentiality oath taken by him and the other party leaders prevented him from discussing publicly what concerns he raised about the decision in the committee. And this week Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said the committee was given little notice of the change to red-phase rules to allow schools to stay open, a shift that Education Minister Dominic Cardy said had been in the works for some time. Austin said he supports schools staying open but questioned why the red-phase rules were being changed now. Consistency is the key to giving New Brunswickers confidence in COVID-19 measures, he said. But now the government is talking for the first time this week about a new, stricter lockdown phase beyond red. "I was under the understanding that red meant lockdown, that there was no extra lockdown. But now red seems to be another version of orange. Schools are remaining open, and yet we're targeting churches and hair salons." Among other rules in the red phase, only drive-in religious services are allowed, salons, gyms and entertainment centres must close, and restaurants are not allowed to provide in-housing dining. Higgs said keeping schools open is the only change to the red rules and described it as "a bridge" between red and orange restrictions. "The challenge becomes that we're all a bit frustrated with where we are now .. and how far do we go to shut this down?" The Alliance leader said he gets calls from New Brunswickers asking him, as a member of the committee, to explain certain decisions, but without "relevant, specific information" it's often hard to justify them. Austin's riding is part of Zone 3, which saw one new case on Tuesday when it was put in the red phase. The zone had a single new case again Wednesday. "People can't grasp that," he said, and it's made more difficult when he isn't even told where in the zone — which stretches from Minto and Chipman all the way to Perth-Andover and Plaster Rock — the cases are located. Higgs says he understands Austin is getting pushback and believes it's a reflection of rising case numbers. "In two weeks time, if this absolutely turns around, everybody's going to be thankful we made the moves we did. And if it doesn't turn around, people are going be saying 'do more.'"
As the positivity rate of COVID-19 in Scarborough soars to 20 per cent, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Scarborough Southwest MPP Doly Begum are demanding the province implement paid sick days, particularly for frontline and essential workers. At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the two were joined by Yasmin, a frontline worker in Scarborough, who shared her story. She’s a speech language pathologist working in a hospital in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Yasmin chose not to disclose her surname for security purposes. While she’s a part-time worker, she does not qualify for sick leave. “I work in close proximity to patients with COVID-19,” she said. “I’ve had to take time off to get tested because of mild symptoms, I made the decision to get tested and miss work.” Yasmin explained that while the fear of contracting the virus weighs on her, there’s an “added fear” of missing work in the event of illness. “This is the reality for many others, being a frontline health care worker without paid sick days is an added additional burden,” she said. NDP leader Horwath calls it “frustrating.” As she criticized Premier Doug Ford’s inaction on paid sick days guaranteed by the province. “Workers are indeed being forced to make an untenable choice,” she said. “Do I make sure I’m protecting my income to maintain my home and family or do I choose to protect people by not going into work sick?” She further explained that a missed paycheque could cost a worker their rent. Indeed, in Scarborough, there are many who work in frontline or essential work, or multiple precarious part-time jobs, Begum added. Scarborough Health Network recently admitted its 300th COVID-19 patient in its ICU among its three hospitals. Its positivity rate among people being tested for the virus is between 20 and 27 per cent. Additional challenges such as crowded public transit, and lack of workplace protocol adherence makes the Premier’s “stay-at-home” order a difficult one to follow. Workers in Canada can currently apply for the federal government’s paid sick leave program which offers $500 per week, up to a maximum of two weeks. In a press conference earlier this week, Ford said there was “no reason” for the province to introduce its own paid sick leave program “when less than 27 per cent of the overall program hasn’t been taken up.” Mayor John Tory was also asked by reporters at a briefing on Jan. 18 about the matter and responded “it doesn’t really matter which government resolves” the paid sick leave issue. Horwath called out the Premier for his “weak excuse” and also noted the game of “hot potato” among leaders. “It’s balderdash! Because it’s less than 27 per cent he doesn’t have to do anything?” she said. “This is the kind of ping pong game that’s going on here, it’s easy because it helps those political leaders duck and cover, and not take responsibility.” Begum held a town hall on Monday, Jan. 18, with residents and local doctors, including many from the Scarborough Health Network. She noted that doctors are pointing out workplace issues and issues in long-term care as contributing to an overflow of ICU patients. Begum believes existing marginalization of racialized and low-income communities in Scarborough has exacerbated the pandemic. She believes the provincial government has a responsibility to invest more in these communities and uses transit as an example. “The way we’ve seen transit done in Scarborough for the last few decades, it’s just been plain wrong,” she said. “People are now on crowded buses, unable to physically distance.” Horwath and Begum said while the federal program is available, it’s not what workers and doctors are asking for. Many workers wait to find out if they qualify long after their illness, and the break in income is significant for people living paycheque to paycheque, Horwath said. “It shouldn’t be about saving a buck, it should be about saving lives, protecting people, protecting businesses,” she said. London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler introduced the Stay Home if You Are Sick Act in September 2020. It guaranteed paid sick days for all workers, and received praise from the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Horwath is calling on Premier Ford to reconvene the legislature to pass the act. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
The new shelter director at the Medicine Hat SPCA is approaching 2021 with optimism. The SPCA hired Tom Carney last April as the pandemic was becoming reality. Since joining the shelter, he says he is doing his best to work with the community and to serve the needs of animals. “I wasn’t around before COVID, so I can’t really speak to what went on,” he said. “My focus has been on facing the challenges of the pandemic and to work with the community every day. “I’m hoping to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the SPCA.” The SPCA is still working with animals every day and is allowing visits to meet potential pets on an appointment basis. After a busy December, the SPCA is hoping 2021 can be a successful year. “We had 55 cat adoptions in December,” said Carney. “That was a really busy month, but we’re happy to see so many adoptions.” Carney says last year’s kitten season was quite intense, but he is proud that staff worked through it. “Cat season was robust,” he said. “We were constantly taking in cats and kittens in the spring and summer. “Things finally slowed down in November, then we saw a ton of adoptions in December.” Now in a new year, activity has slowed, letting the organization catch up and get ready for the rest of the year. “Things have slowed down a bit and we’re ready to take on 2021,” he said. “We have a new logo and new signs at the shelter. Our website has a new look and we are getting our forms online so people can fill them out there. “We want to freshen things up and keep up with technology.” Anyone looking for more information on the SPCA can contact Carney directly. “I spend a lot of my time here and can be reached here,” he said. “I try and be transparent and I know we’re doing a better job of it lately. “If people have questions they can call me and I will answer questions to the best of my ability.” The SPCA can be reached at 403-526-7722. Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Provincial officials say dry Christmas trees caused two recent fatal fires in Ontario. A spokeswoman with the Office of the Fire Marshal says most recently, four people were killed south of Ottawa after a dry tree caught fire on Jan. 10. Kristy Denette says the homeowners had two friends over for dinner when the fire started and quickly engulfed the home in flames, killing everyone inside. She says the home was too badly damaged to determine what lit the tree ablaze, but that faulty Christmas lights are often to blame in such situations. Earlier, on Dec. 28, she says a dry Christmas tree caught fire in Halton Hills, Ont., killing one woman. In that case, she says, the woman's partner was able to escape through an upstairs window, but she was caught inside and died. Denette says the couple had been planning on getting rid of the dry Christmas tree later that day. The Office of the Fire Marshal is encouraging everyone to get rid of their dry trees immediately. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
European leaders described the 46th President's inauguration speech as "inspiring" and said it was time to bring "conviction and common sense" to help rejuvenate their relationship with the US.View on euronews
Calgary– Before President Biden was even inaugurated, TC Energy let it be known they would be stopping work on the Keystone XL pipeline. In recent days, it has been widely expected that Biden would use an executive order in his first days in office to rescind the Presidential Permit for the pipeline. Approving that pipeline was one of outgoing-President Donald Trump’s first acts after he took office. Once Alberta announced it would contribute $1.5 billion to begin construction, plus billions more in load guarantees, one of the first acts of construction was the building of a 2.2 kilometre section of pipe that actually crossed the Canada-U.S. border, ensuring there would already be pipe in the ground if there were further difficulties. Work on several pumping stations has already begun, including at least one completion, and 145 kilometres of pipe are in the ground in Alberta. Major construction in southwest Saskatchewan was supposed to take place this year. In a press release the morning of Jan. 20, inauguration day, TC Energy “announced it is disappointed with the expected action to revoke the existing Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision would overturn an unprecedented, comprehensive regulatory process that lasted more than a decade and repeatedly concluded the pipeline would transport much needed energy in an environmentally responsible way while enhancing North American energy security. “The action would directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers and negatively impact ground-breaking industry commitments to use new renewable energy as well as historic equity partnerships with Indigenous communities. The release continued, “TC Energy will review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options. However, as a result of the expected revocation of the Presidential Permit, advancement of the project will be suspended. The company will cease capitalizing costs, including interest during construction, effective Jan. 20, 2021, being the date of the decision, and will evaluate the carrying value of its investment in the pipeline, net of project recoveries. Absent intervening actions, these steps could result in a substantative, predominantly non-cash after-tax charge to earnings in first quarter 2021. TC Energy will also modify its previously announced financing plans as it would no longer expect to issue hybrid securities or common shares under its dividend reinvestment plan to partially fund the project. “Our base business continues to perform very well and, aside from Keystone XL, we are advancing $25 billion of secured capital projects along with a robust portfolio of other similarly high quality opportunities under development,” said François Poirier, TC Energy’s president and chief executive officer. “These initiatives are expected to generate growth in earnings and cash flow per share and support annual dividend increases of eight to ten per cent in 2021 and five to seven per cent thereafter.” The release concluded, “While today’s news is very disappointing, TC Energy is thankful to its customers, American and Canadian workers, our partners the Government of Alberta and Natural Law Energy, labor organizations, industry, the Government of Canada and the countless supporters of this important energy infrastructure project.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Lundi, l’Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) a lancé une campagne afin de contrer l’intimidation dont sont victimes les élus. Le maire de Matane, Jérôme Landry, a profité de l’occasion pour révéler qu’il a reçu plusieurs lettres anonymes contenant des menaces d’agression physique. L’UMQ constate une « dégradation du climat politique dans de nombreuses municipalités ». Les réseaux sociaux sont notamment pointés du doigt par sa présidente Suzanne Roy comme vecteurs d’intimidation. Il n’est en effet pas nécessaire de chercher bien longtemps sur Facebook pour trouver des messages consternants dans lesquels se mêlent méchanceté gratuite, fausses accusations et insultes à l’endroit des maires et conseillers municipaux. Certains élus ont toutefois remarqué que cette campagne ne faisait pas le tour de la question. C’est le cas de Virginie Proulx, conseillère municipale de Rimouski représentant le district du Bic. « C’est important de valoriser le respect. Les attaques personnelles, ça n’a sa place nulle part, en politique comme ailleurs. Mais j’ai l’impression qu’il manque une partie dans leur campagne de sensibilisation, c’est celle qui touche les élus entre eux », note-t-elle. Par le passé, Mme Proulx a évoqué à plusieurs reprises l’intimidation dont elle aurait été victime lors de séances de travail du conseil municipal, tenues à huis clos, « où il n’y a aucun témoin, il n’y a pas de procès-verbaux, personne n’est filmé, il n’y a même pas d’ordre du jour public. Dans ces séances-là, il y a de l’intimidation qui se fait partout au Québec. » Elle a finalement été exclue de ces rencontres en mai dernier suite à un échange de courriels avec un citoyen Dans les derniers mois, la mairesse de Sainte-Luce Maïté Blanchette Vézina et l’ex-maire de Saint-Paul-de-la-Croix Simon Périard ont également affirmé que les réunions derrière les portes closes menaient parfois à de l’intimidation entre élus municipaux. « Tu comprends pas » Quelle forme prend cette intimidation? Personne ne le dira clairement, car si un élu victime d’intimidation rapporte des propos insultants ou menaçants qui lui ont été adressés par un de ses collègues, il brise la confidentialité des échanges et s’expose à des poursuites! À Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Annette Rousseau a été suspendue pendant 10 jours de ses fonctions de conseillère municipale. La raison? Elle a répondu à une question d’un citoyen concernant les projets d’aréna dans la ville, alors que le conseil municipal voulait que ses intentions (discutées dans des rencontres à huis clos) restent inconnues de la population. Suite au référendum qui a finalement réglé cette question en novembre dernier, Mme Rousseau a démissionné. Sonnée par la défaite (elle défendait le non), elle ne supportait plus non plus l’ambiance autour de la table du conseil municipal, où elle se faisait régulièrement narguer et où elle constatait un manque de respect envers la population de son quartier, Notre-Dame-du-Lac. « Je me faisais dire des choses comme "Bon, elle s’en souvient plus…" ou "Non Annette, tu comprends pas" », se souvient-elle. Ces petites remarques ont fini par lui pourrir la vie. « C’était rendu qu’à partir du jeudi, je pensais aux réunions du lundi soir et je dormais mal. C’est quoi que je n’ai pas compris? Pourquoi je suis tout le temps une deux de pique? C’est parce que j’étais contre eux autres! » Tendre la main aux citoyens? Sans excuser les dérapages des citoyens fâchés, Virginie Proulx aimerait que les élus fassent un effort pour comprendre pourquoi la population est parfois frustrée. La pandémie et ses contraintes plombent assurément l’ambiance, mais ce n’est pas tout selon la conseillère du Bic : « Je suis convaincue que le manque de transparence peut choquer les citoyens. On le voit, la CAQ se fait attaquer là-dessus en ce moment. Les gens ont maintenant accès à tellement d’informations, vraies ou non, qu’on ne peut plus juste leur dire "Voici la vérité, avalez-la". Ils veulent avoir un peu plus accès à ce qui se passe. » D’autres élus arguent plutôt que si les débats du conseil municipal avaient lieu en public, cela nourrirait encore plus la machine à sortir les propos de leur contexte que sont les réseaux sociaux – le conseiller de Sacré-Cœur Sébastien Bolduc a notamment défendu cette position. Il existe également des craintes que des personnes se retournent contre un conseiller qui aurait voté contre leurs intérêts. Virginie Proulx n’est pas en désaccord. « Effectivement, dans certains cas, on peut avoir peur de représailles, par exemple d’un promoteur dont le projet a été rejeté. Ça peut alors être justifié de proposer un huis clos. » « Le problème, c’est que la totalité est à huis clos, poursuit-elle. Ça laisse une image d’opacité qui fait en sorte que les citoyens ont l’impression que quand ils apprennent la nouvelle, il est trop tard pour donner son avis. » À plus long terme, cela n’incite pas ces mêmes citoyens à se lancer en politique municipale, pense-t-elle également. En mettant l’accès sur les messages que les citoyens envoient aux élus, la campagne de l’UMQ ne risque pas de mener à un débat en profondeur. Elle élude également un autre aspect de l’intimidation : celle que des élus font parfois subir aux citoyens sous la forme de menaces de poursuites. Par exemple, à Saint-Vianney, le maire a déjà envoyé une mise en demeure à un groupe de résidents du village qui a créé une page Facebook pour surveiller les activités du conseil municipal.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
CHICAGO — The brother of Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher has been pardoned of federal charges that he recruited for a multimillion-dollar illegal offshore gambling ring, Casey Urlacher, the mayor of the tiny Chicago suburb of Mettawa, was among those pardoned in the final hours of President Donald Trump’s term as part of a flurry of clemency action that benefited more than 140 people. Casey Urlacher, 41, was charged last February and pleaded not guilty the next month. He also played football but with limited success, having played at Lake Forest College and in the Arena Football League before becoming mayor of the village of fewer than 550 people in 2013. Brian Urlacher has supported Trump, contributing to Trump's campaign shortly after his brother was indicted and visiting the White House and presenting the president with a No. 54 Chicago Bears jersey days after his brother pleaded not guilty. In a statement announcing the pardon early Wednesday, the White House said that Casey Urlacher “has been committed to public service and has consistently given back to his community,” adding that his mayoral position is unpaid and that he "is a devoted husband to his wife and a loving father to his 17-month old daughter.” The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says Ottawa is working with the provinces to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19.Miller says that there is a need to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Indigenous people living both on reserves and in urban centres. He says the government is focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care facilities and essential workers but other vulnerable Indigenous groups will get the COVID-19 vaccine next.In a news release Wednesday, Indigenous Services Canada said there have been 89 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths in long-term care homes in Indigenous communities on reserves.The number of COVID-19 active cases in First Nations communities reached a new all-time high this week with 5,571 reported cases as of Tuesday.The department said COVID-19 vaccine rollouts have already started in 169 Indigenous communities in all provinces and territories except Nova Scotia and P.E.I.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press