Dog playing and exploring in the snow in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Dog playing and exploring in the snow in Moncton, New Brunswick.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos is stepping aside due to illness.Duclos says in a statement that he felt persistent chest pain over the past several days.He went to hospital on Sunday and was told he had a pulmonary embolism.He says he is home again and feeling well, but his doctor recommended he rest for a few days.Joyce Murray, the minister of digital government, will assume his duties for now.Duclos has been the Liberal MP for a Quebec City riding since 2015, and was the minister for social development in the Trudeau government's first mandate.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
The review of Grimsby's council structure continues. Grimsby council recently narrowed down the options on the table, voting in favour of considering three to eight wards, seven to nine councillors and keeping an election by ward voting system. Grimsby council heard this report at the committee of the whole meeting on Feb 16. Among other conclusions, a report from StrategyCorp suggested that current ward boundary structures in Grimsby no longer accurately represent the population, given the already unequal spread of residents across the town. The report further suggested that this problem is likely to worsen in the future as the population is expected to grow, specifically in Ward 4. Another question that arose was the possibility of minimizing or increasing the number of councillors and number of wards. The conclusion, per the report, said “the current structure is not obviously broken in a way that would require a change. At the same time, a reduction in the size of council to seven, or even five, is preferred by many as a means of improving decision-making.” John Matheson of StrategyCorp, who was presenting the report to council, said a decision didn’t need to be made right away, and various scenarios would be explored and shared in a later report, likely presented in June. As for election systems, the report suggested that the town’s current election by ward system should suffice for the time being, as opposed to an at large election system. Per the report, this is primarily because of “risk that the loss of wards could lead to the loss of local representation,” and there is “no obvious problem” with the current system. Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,330.09, down 86.65 points.) Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Down 18 cents, or 0.73 per cent, to $24.44 on 18.6 million shares. Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 44 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $26.34 on 15.3 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down 1.5 cents, or 4.84 per cent, to 29.5 cents on 12 million shares. Toronto-Dominion Bank. (TSX:TD). Financials. Up $1.19, or 1.55 per cent, to $78.03 on 10.5 million shares. Zenabis Global Inc. (TSX:ZENA). Health care. Down half a cent, or 3.57 per cent, to 13.5 cents on 9.2 million shares. Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Energy. Up 17 cents, or 1.88 per cent, to $9.23 on eight million shares. Companies in the news: Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Down one cent, or 1.7 per cent, to 56 cents. Bombardier says it has been the target of a cybersecurity breach that compromised confidential information related to its employees, customers and suppliers. Hackers gained access to the data by exploiting a vulnerability in a third-party file transfer application, Bombardier said in a news release. The breach affected approximately 130 employees based in Costa Rica, the company says. Bombardier did not specify when the incident occurred, saying only that it happened recently. The company says it was not specifically targeted and the vulnerability affected multiple organizations using the software. Gibson Energy Inc. (TSX:GEI). Up 27 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $21.26. The CEO of Gibson Energy Inc. says "clarity" about the future of the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline has prompted increased interest from potential customers in an expansion of its diluent recovery unit now under construction at the Hardisty crude transport hub in east-central Alberta. Diluent, a light oil mixed with sticky, heavy bitumen from the oilsands to allow it to flow in a pipeline, makes up as much as a third of the volume of blended bitumen or "dilbit'' headed to U.S. refineries. Gibson's project is designed to remove the diluent from dilbit transported by pipeline to Hardisty, allowing transfer of the concentrated heavy crude to railcars for shipping south, while the diluent can be recycled to Alberta oilsands producers. Scotiabank (TSX:BNS). Up $2.02, or 2.8 per cent, to $74.10. Scotiabank was one of two banks to report that it is in a better financial position now than before COVID-19 became widespread in Canada. Scotiabank said on Tuesday that it had a profit of $2.4 billion or $1.86 per diluted share in the three months ending Jan. 31, up from nearly $2.33 billion or $1.84 per share in the same period last year. Although the novel coronavirus was identified in Canada in late January last year and sent the economy into a downturn by March, Scotiabank executives said that Canadian and international banking "showed marked improvement" by this winter. Provisions for credit losses for the quarter amounted to $764 million, down from $926 million a year ago. BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO). Up $3.06, or three per cent, to $104.90. BMO Financial Group beat expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit was up compared with a year ago, before the pandemic began, as clients found ways to make their loan payments. The bank's executives also said on Tuesday that U.S. clients are benefiting from a faster vaccine rollout compared with Canada. BMO beat expectations as it reported a profit of nearly $2.02 billion or $3.03 per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, up from $1.59 billion or $2.37 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier. The profit came as BMO's provisions for credit losses for the quarter amounted to $156 million, down from $349 million a year ago and $432 million in the fourth quarter of its 2020 financial year. Thomson Reuters Corp. (TSX:TRI). Up $10.89, or 10.7 per cent, to $112.15. Thomson Reuters Corp. raised its dividend as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of US$562 million and beat expectations. The company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 40.5 cents per share, up from 38 cents. The increased payment to shareholders came as Thomson Reuters says it earned US$1.13 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from a profit of US$1.32 billion or US$2.64 per diluted share a year ago when it benefited from a large one-time gain. Revenue for the quarter totalled $1.62 billion, up from $1.58 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Josh Norris scored the shootout winner to give the Ottawa Senators a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre. Tim Stutzle also beat Montreal goalie Carey Price in the shootout. Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk opened with a miss and Senators netminder Matt Murray stopped Corey Perry and Jonathan Drouin. It capped a wild and entertaining game between the two rivals. Both teams had excellent chances in the overtime session. Stutzle had two glorious opportunities but couldn't convert and Montreal's Tyler Toffoli was stoned on a breakaway with about a minute to go. It looked like Montreal's Brendan Gallagher had scored the winner with 2.1 seconds left in regulation but the goal was waved off after a review due to goaltender interference. Tkachuk scored twice for Ottawa with Drake Batherson and Erik Brannstrom adding singles. Shea Weber had two goals for Montreal. Drouin and Toffoli had a goal apiece. After a slow start, the last-place Senators have picked up their play of late. Ottawa (6-14-1) entered with three wins over its last five games, including a 3-2 overtime victory over the Habs last Sunday. The 9-5-4 Canadiens, meanwhile, were 5-1-2 last month but entered with just one win in their last five games to drop them into fourth place in the North Division. The Senators needed just 96 seconds to open the scoring. Derek Stepan delivered a low saucer pass to Batherson, who extended his goal streak to three games by beating Price with a high backhand. Ottawa was rewarded for its steady power-play pressure at 9:57. Tkachuk flipped the puck under Price's arm on a shot the veteran goalie would no doubt like to have back. With Tkachuk and Montreal's Ben Chiarot off for fighting, the Canadiens caught a break to halve the lead at 16:03. Weber fired the puck toward the net from the boards and it deflected off Nikita Zaitsev's skate and past Murray. Tkachuk was in on the action again early in the second period, catching a high stick to the face that resulted in Weber being sent off on a double-minor. Ottawa restored its two-goal cushion as Brannstrom's low shot from the high slot went through a maze of players and between Price's legs at 3:41. It was his first career NHL goal. The Canadiens quickly answered as Thomas Chabot mishandled the puck and Drouin swooped in to collect it before beating Murray at 4:52. Weber then tied it at 10:06 with a trademark rocket from the point. Toffoli gave Montreal its first lead of the game at 8:06 of the third period. He fooled Brannstrom on his way in before snapping the puck past Murray on the short side. Tkachuk pulled Ottawa even with a softie goal less than two minutes later. He steered the puck towards the net and it fooled Price at 10:11. Chabot returned to the lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury. Defenceman Brett Kulak drew into the Montreal lineup with Victor Mete sitting out as a healthy scratch. Ottawa will continue its five-game homestand on Thursday against Calgary. It will be the first of three straight games against the Flames. Montreal visits Winnipeg on Thursday. The Jets will also host the Canadiens on Saturday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Google Maps - image credit) A former Calgary high school teacher recently charged with 17 sexual offences against former students has died but police say the investigation continues. The body of Michael Andreassen Gregory, 57, was found on Vancouver Island. His death is not considered suspicious. The BC Coroners Service confirmed it is investigating the death of a man who matches Gregory's description. Last week, Gregory was charged with six counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of sexual exploitation in connection with incidents alleged to have taken place while he taught at John Ware Junior High School in southwest Calgary between 1999 and 2005. Gregory was a teacher at the school from August 1986 until September 2006. Police say the investigation will continue and are encouraging anyone with information to still come forward. "When a suspect or accused passes away before an investigation is complete, we still finish examining all the evidence to try to learn what happened," said police in a release Tuesday. "This hopefully allows us to give some closure and supports to victims, and helps ensure that no one else who still can be charged was involved in any offence." Police began their investigation last September when a woman reported she and other female students had been undressed by Gregory, exposing them to him and their peers during an unsanctioned canoe trip. Detectives from CPS's sex crimes unit identified five other women who reported sexual interactions with the same teacher between 1999 and 2005. "It is believed that the teacher used his position of trust to groom female students and get them into situations where a range of sexual activities could occur … young people cannot give free and informed consent for any sexual activity with a person in a position of trust," police said in an earlier release.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. "We're launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050," Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. U.S. Special Climate Change Envoy John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, will host the ministerial.
La crise de logements dans les communautés, dont celle de Uashat mak Maliotenam met en lumière les besoins criants liés à la surpopulation au sein d’une même maison, mais également de l’itinérance. De bonnes nouvelles viennent enfin d’être annoncées. Un projet visant l’aboutissement de plus de 200 logements abordables, sur une période de 5 ans, a été confirmé grâce, à l’aide de Services Autochtones Canada. L’étape, actuellement embryonnaire, permettra d’entreprendre des démarches afin de construire des maisons supplémentaires dans les communautés. Les constructions sont évaluées aux environs de 45 M$, sur 5 ans. Il s’agit, en moyenne, de 40 maisons par année. «La surpopulation dans les maisons et la difficulté d’accès à des logements sociaux qui conviennent aux besoins des familles sont au cœur des préoccupations de plusieurs communautés des Premières Nations partout à travers le Canada. La construction de nouvelles unités de logements et de maisons adaptées chez nous permettrait de combler une partie de nos besoins.», mentionne le Chef Mike Mckenzie. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
SURREY, B.C. — Teachers marched today outside an elementary school in Surrey, B.C., where a confirmed case of a COVID-19 variant has been reported to demand more safety measures. Members of the Surrey Teachers Association dressed in red and also marched with their colleagues outside Woodward Hill Elementary in a physically distanced protest before classes began. Matt Westphal, the president of the Surrey Teachers Association, says the biggest concern is that students in elementary schools are not required to wear masks inside their classrooms. Earlier this month, the province changed safety protocols to require students in middle and secondary school, along with staff working in kindergarten through Grade 12, to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas of their schools, including while in their learning groups. Deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said Monday there are no plans to make any changes to provincial guidelines on masks in schools. Seven schools in the Fraser Health region reported cases involving a COVID-19 variant of concern, with all of them linked to the strain first detected in the United Kingdom. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
BUCHAREST, Romania — Olivier Giroud’s bicycle-kick goal awarded after video review gave Chelsea a 1-0 win against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday. It took nearly three minutes for Giroud and his teammates to be able to celebrate the important 68th-minute away goal that was initially disallowed for offside. Giroud was clearly in front of the defenders when he pulled off his acrobatic shot, but VAR determined that the ball came from Atlético defender Mario Hermoso, thus annulling the offside. Atlético was the home team but the match was played in Bucharest, Romania, because of travel restrictions preventing visitors from Britain entering Spain. The second leg will be on March 17 in London. In the other round-of-16 match on Tuesday, Bayern Munich defeated Lazio 4-1 in Italy. It was the second consecutive loss for Atlético after a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. It was also the eighth straight game in which the Spanish club has conceded a goal, extending its worst run without a clean sheet since coach Diego Simeone arrived in late 2011. Chelsea is yet to lose in its eight matches since coach Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm. It had been a lacklustre match until Giroud’s goal, with neither team managing to create many significant scoring opportunities and with the goalkeepers not having to work too hard. Chelsea controlled possession and looked a bit more dangerous, but both sides appeared to be satisfied with the scoreless draw and didn’t take too many risks. Hermoso was trying to clear the ball from the area and ended kicking it backward in a ball dispute with Mason Mount. Giroud reached up high with his left foot send the ball toward the corner of Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Mount and Jorginho were shown yellow cards and will miss the second leg because of accumulation of cards. Simeone had to improvise with midfielder Marcos Llorente as a right back against Chelsea because of several absences on defence, including Kieran Trippier following an English betting investigation. The teams had played in the group stage of the Champions League in the 2017-18 season, with Chelsea winning 2-1 in Spain before a 1-1 draw in London. Atlético eliminated Chelsea in the semifinals in 2014. It was in Bucharest that Simeone won his first title with Atlético, the 2012 Europa League. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Nonfiction 1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates, narrated by the author and Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio) 4. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 5. Think Again by Adam Grant, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 6. How to Train Your Mind by Chris Bailey, narrated by the author (Audible Originals) 7. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, narrated by the author and Adam Skolnick (Lioncrest Publishing) 8. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F(asterisk)ck by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne (HarperAudio) 10. Winning the War in Your Mind by Craig Groeschel, narrated by the author (Zondervan) Fiction 1. Relentless by Mark Greaney, performed by Jay Snyder (Audible Studios) 2. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas, narrated by Stina Nielsen (Recorded Books, Inc.) 3. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Julia Whelan (Macmillan Audio) 4. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Susan Ericksen (Brilliance Audio) 5. The Wife in the Attic by Rose Lerner, performed by Elsa Lepecki Bean (Audible Originals) 6. The Shadow Box by Luanne Rice, narrated by Nicol Zanzarella and Jim Frangione (Brilliance Audio) 7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, narrated by Carey Mulligan (Penguin Audio) 8. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 9. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, narrated by Sarah Naughton and Katherine Littrell (Brilliance Audio) 10. Like You Love Me by Adriana Locke, narrated by Ryan West and Lidia Dornet (Brilliance Audio) The Associated Press
More than 250 COVID-19 tests were performed over two days as the Nova Scotia Health Public Health Mobile Units rolled into Liverpool. “It was a great weekend. We had a huge community response, which was awesome, and we were really, really happy with everything,” commented Holly Gillis, public health manager, public health mobile units. “We had a great location and the legion was a fabulous host.” The testing took place February 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and February 14 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 38 on Henry Hensey Drive. Those wanting tests could pre-book appointments or simply drop in. The Public Health Mobile Unit project hit the ground with a fleet of 10 vans in December 2020, with the goal of reaching out to communities across the province and thereby increasing the number of people getting tested for the coronavirus. “We know in Nova Scotia that getting tested is fast, easy and free, and it’s a good way to protect ourselves and our communities from the spread of COVID-19,” said Gillis. The mobile clinics offer another option for Nova Scotians in addition to the primary assessment centres that exist across the province and the rapid pop-up testing clinics that are also being held in various locations across Nova Scotia. Gillis conceded the different options may be a bit confusing, but their goal is the same – to get as many people tested as possible. “Some people may find it tricky to go online or call 811 to book an appointment,” she said, explaining that she’s been advised seniors in particular find it difficult. Whereas the idea of the mobile clinics is that people can just show up and get the test done. While all Nova Scotians are encouraged to review the screening tool located on the Nova Scotia Health website and check for symptoms regularly, Public Health Mobile Units offer support for outbreak, contact tracing and testing for people without symptoms. At the mobile clinics, Nova Scotia Health staff use the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test administering a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, or gargle/swish option for those under 18 years of age. According to Gillis, NP swabbing is the optimal specimen collection method for COVID-19 PCR testing because it pulls from deeper in the nasopharynx and has been proven to have a high viral concentration. This is why the NP swab is the standard for reliable testing, she explained, adding that all samples collected through the Public Health Mobile Units go to the lab. The rapid (Antigen) test detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus. This allows the results to be obtained quickly, however it is not considered to be as accurate as the PCR alternative. To do a self-assessment or book a test, call 811 or go to: www.covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca. For testing locations go to www.nshealth.ca/coronavirustesting. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
P.E.I.'s Public School Branch (PSB) needs to keep the wheels on its buses going round and round – especially considering it's running low on bus drivers. To help recruit more, it started its own driver training program last year, which was partly put in place as a result of COVID-19. Many bus drivers would speak to how rewarding it is ensuring P.E.I. students arrive at school safely, transportation supervisor Mike Franklin said. "They treat the kids like they were their own." Dave Gillis, the PSB's transportation director, said the program has already seen its first few graduates. During a virtual board of directors meeting on Feb. 10. he noted P.E.I. has about 250 drivers, many of whom are reaching retirement age. Up until now, the PSB had relied on JVI Driver Training to train drivers and provide the licence necessary to operate a bus, but the pandemic forced JVI's courses to temporarily shut down. As a result, the PSB had a six- to eight-month period without any new drivers coming in. "Our pipeline was completely dry," Gillis said. "(And) we foresee a strong retirement of drivers in the future." Franklin was brought in to help develop and run the program – he has taught similar courses before and can grant the licence. He noted that they're still working with JVI, but that JVI has other groups it's committed to helping, such as the French Language School Board or the P.E.I. Regiment. "We're just trying to help them out," he said. By training bus drivers itself, the PSB can ensure the gaps being left by retiring drivers are filled and that there are enough substitute drivers on hand if regular drivers need time off. "We're willing to put the money up to train them," Franklin said, noting the PSB will waive the program's cost of about $3,000 as long as applicants agree to work for at least 10 months after they are trained. That’s because a bus driver’s licence also allows drivers to operate other vehicles, such as dump trucks, meaning many drivers could end up looking to other industries for work. The course has two elements – in-class that focuses on the technical elements of driving a bus and in-the-field that focuses on the practical elements of actually driving it. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
EDMONTON — Alberta's energy minister says public consultations on coal mining will begin on March 29. Sonya Savage says her staff are still working out the details. The United Conservative government revoked a policy last May that had protected Alberta's Rocky Mountains from open-pit coal-mining since 1976. Widespread public outrage forced Savage to reinstated the protection earlier this month with a promise Albertans would be consulted on a new coal policy. The government has said it won't lease any more of the land in question for coal exploration until it gets input from the public. Leases for thousands of hectares have already been sold and the government says it will honour them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Perhaps it will come as a surprise to few, but Nordic skiing is taking off in B.C. For many, it’s the perfect pandemic activity—(relatively) affordable, easily accessible for those living in the beautiful Thompson Okanagan region, and good for your overall health and well-being. And, oh yeah—it’s sort of COVID-proof. “A lot of people have gravitated to the sport because of [COVID-19],” said Ivor McMahen, president of the Sun Peaks Nordic Club. “COVID restrictions have shut down a lot of other sports, but because of the nature of cross country skiing, being outside and not requiring close proximity to other people, we’re able to continue almost normally.” Across B.C., the popularity of the sport has grown by around 50 per cent, according to McMahen and a recent interview Sun Peaks Independent News had with a representative from Tourism Kamloops. McMahen said he has definitely noticed the uptick in usage of Sun Peaks’ acclaimed trail system, and that membership levels in the club, which have increased to 111 this year from 92 the year previous, don’t fully capture the picture. “I think the actual popularity and interest in the sport is up much more than that,” he said. Unlike other local clubs—such as the Overlander Nordic Club and the Stake Lake trail system—the Sun Peaks Nordic Club does not manage the local trail system, which is operated by Sun Peaks Resort LLP. Adding to the usage of local Sun Peaks trails is the fact that anyone with a downhill pass can now utilize them. “Overall, I think it’s a really great thing that the resort is doing that,” said McMahen of the deal, which it has been offered for the past couple years. “It really encourages people to get out without having to buy an extra pass, but it makes it harder to tell how many people are getting out, and doing Nordic as opposed to alpine.” The club plays a pivotal role in supporting Sun Peaks’ cross country skiing community and fostering the next generation of skiers through events and programs. While it’s had to shut down its popular group skis sessions, the club has had success promoting its popular junior development program. It provides instruction for kids and youth from four to 16-years old. The program is informally known as the “Jackrabbits” program. It has a total of 32 kids involved this year. And for the first time in club history, it’s had to put a cap on its numbers. “It was named after Jackrabbit Johannsen, who was a legendary fellow in eastern Canada who skied everyday until he was over 100 years old.” McMahen said the idea of the program is to get kids turned onto the sport in an organic way and develop all-around athletes. “The main philosophy, especially in the really young ages at this, is not to aim to produce elite skiers,” he said. “It’s aim is to produce healthy, well balanced, physically capable kids. The word that they refer to as physical literacy, so it’s balance, agility, the ability to jump, run and just self-propel yourself.” McMahen added the club hopes to get a masters program up and running next year, where more experienced (and mature) skiers can get some tips on how to improve their performance. “There’s a few tricks to the sport, it’s not as simple as it looks,” he said with a laugh. The Thompson Okanagan provides a number of options for people to enjoy cross country skiing if you’re looking to try something new. – The Stake Lake Trails, located south of Kamloops and operated by the Overlander Ski Club, boasts a 60-km trail system. – Harper Mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail system that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. -The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, offers 60 kilometres of trails. – The Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club offers 75-km of trails. – Sovereign Lake, located in SilverStar Resort, is also open. It offers 105 kilometres of daily groomed trails and is the largest network of cross-country ski trails in Canada. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Melaine Simba will never forget the months she spent inside her home on Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation, south of Yellowknife, with her windows tightly shut to prevent wildfire smoke from seeping in. It was the summer of 2014 and she was following public health orders to stay inside during the Northwest Territories’ worst wildfire season on record. “There were fires all around us,” Simba told The Narwhal. “I couldn’t go outside, and I couldn’t take my son outside.” “It was just so hard to breathe in that smoke with all the falling ash.” According to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the wildfires caused extremely poor air quality during the more than two months of unrelenting smoke exposure. This led to a sharp increase in respiratory illnesses, with vulnerable populations, such as children and Indigenous people, disproportionately affected. The study also found that public health advisories asking people to stay inside during the wildfires were “inadequately protective,” possibly because people grew tired of the long period of isolation. With climate change contributing to longer and more intense wildfire seasons, the study authors say there’s an urgent need to be far more prepared in the future. “A really big take home of this study is that climate change is bad, and it is going to get worse,” Courtney Howard, the lead author of the study and an emergency physician in Yellowknife, told The Narwhal, adding that smoke exposure levels during the wildfires were believed to be some of the worst ever studied globally. “We are going to need new, proactive approaches as we go into a warmer, smokier state on this planet.” Warmer temperatures caused by climate change can spur drier conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. In 2014, moderate to severe drought conditions and lightning strikes were the catalyst for 385 fires that impacted 3.4 million hectares of forest in the Northwest Territories. According to the federal government, temperatures across the North are warming more than twice as fast as the global rate. In Yellowknife, between 1943 and 2011, the annual average temperature in the city increased by 2.5 C. The average level of particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air was five times higher than normal during the 2014 wildfires, compared with the two previous years and 2015. PM 2.5 — inhalable particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter — is associated with a range of respiratory conditions. The study found this increase in particulate matter was associated with an increase in visits to the hospital for asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma-related emergency room visits doubled, with the highest rates found in women, people older than 40 and Dene. Visits for pneumonia increased by 57 per cent, with men, children and Inuit particularly affected. And visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increased by 11 per cent, with men, the Inuit and Dene populations and people over 60 showing the greatest risk. While the results suggest that Indigenous people were more affected, Howard said it’s difficult to say for sure because they may have been more likely to go to the ER due to lack of access to medical clinics. The demand for medicine that helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma surged, too. The dispensation of salbutamol, the agent found in puffers, increased by 48 per cent. “In fact, one of the pharmacies ran out over the course of the summer,” Howard said. Supply chain problems “demonstrated a lack of resilience,” she added. The study also sheds light on systemic issues that contribute to worse health outcomes in vulnerable populations, including Indigenous people. “Climate-related health effects impact all populations but are likely to disproportionately affect communities living at the frontlines of rapid climate change, as well as those experiencing systemic racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and/or the enduring effects of colonization,” the study states. Protracted periods of isolation, a lack of exercise, fear and stress during the wildfires also had negative impacts on people’s mental health and way of life, according to a 2018 report that Howard was also involved with. “Livelihood and land-based activities were disrupted for some interviewees, which had negative consequences for mental, emotional and physical well-being,” the report states. During the summer, Indigenous people across the territory fish, hunt and visit old villages and the gravesites of relatives, Jason Snaggs, the chief executive officer of Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told The Narwhal. The wildfires prevented people from taking part in these cultural activities, he added. “This leads to depression, and you have sort of a compounding effect, in terms of colonialism, the effects of residential schools, intergenerational trauma,” Snaggs said. “Some people were visibly traumatized by this event.” Sheltering in place can lead to increased rates of family violence, including violence against Indigenous women, Snaggs added. During the 2016 wildfires that tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., calls to a local family crisis centre increased by upward of 300 per cent, according to Michele Taylor, executive director of Waypoints, an emergency shelter for women and children. Howard said the 2014 wildfires were a seminal event in people’s understanding of climate change in the region. “At the time, ecological grief and eco-anxiety hadn’t really shown up in the evidence base,” she said. “Looking back at our analysis, I think we can easily apply those terms to what we found and say it was a trigger for ecological grief and anxiety for a lot of people.” Howard said communities — particularly Indigenous communities — need to be better equipped to withstand wildfires. Some homes in Indigenous communities are overcrowded and aren’t built to the same standards as those elsewhere in the territory. Howard emphasized the need to address this problem first and foremost. The BMJ study recommends governments install ventilation systems in old and new homes ahead of wildfire season. Doing so would ensure residents have access to clean air without having to leave the house. “Our infrastructure decisions need to be based on the temperature and precipitation patterns that we’re anticipating for the coming century as opposed to the ones we had in the last one,” Howard said. The study also recommends primary health-care practitioners identify people who may grapple with respiratory illnesses and ensure that air filters and puffers are readily available prior to wildfire season. “That will allow people to manage their symptoms at home and never get to the point where they’re stuck in the emergency department,” Howard said. “The sooner particularly vulnerable people have access [to air filters and puffers], the better.” In 2014, the City of Yellowknife waived user fees for a multi-purpose recreation facility so residents could go there to breathe clean, filtered air and exercise, Howard said. But not everyone in Yellowknife is afforded the same level of access. N’Dilo, which is part of Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is located in Yellowknife proper, only has one space people can gather in during a wildfire — a 45-year-old gym that isn’t equipped with a filtration system to keep air clean. The study suggests that public health practitioners use satellite-based smoke forecasting to determine whether clean air shelters are needed in advance of wildfire season and, if necessary, make more available. The 2018 report — which documented the experiences of 30 community members from Yellowknife, Dettah, N’Dilo and Kakisa who lived through the wildfires — found there was a consensus among participants about the need for improved communication and coordination at the community and territorial levels as wildfires intensify. Howard said residents and health-care providers need to proactively prepare for wildfire season every year. “We need to be viewing wildfire season the same way we view cold and flu season.” Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's top elections administrator on Tuesday urged state lawmakers to move all of this year's municipal elections to 2022 and bump back next year's primaries from March to May due to delayed Census data. Census numbers play a crucial role in how legislative districts are redrawn every decade. But even though the data was supposed to be delivered by next month, the federal government does not expect to have it ready to be released until September because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina is now either the first state in the nation or among the first to put forward a plan that pushes local government contests to 2022. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, cited the Census setbacks as the driving force behind her recommendation to postpone the elections. She noted that 62 of the more than 500 municipalities across the state need the Census data because candidates submit paperwork or voters cast ballots based on their specific ward or district. While it's possible for many of the remaining local governments that do not require districts or wards to go forward without the Census data, Bell called on lawmakers to follow her advice in order to address redistricting and avoid confusing voters. “It is very difficult for voters to understand why one municipality would be having an election, while another is not, especially when they're accustomed to those elections being held at the same time,” Bell said. She noted it's unlikely redistricting would be completed in time for the December filing deadline ahead of the March 2022 primary. Every 10 years, states are tasked with creating new maps for state legislative and congressional races. Because of the delayed Census, Bell is asking leaders to endorse her 2022 recommendations for a May 3 primary, July 12 runoff primary and Nov. 8 general election. “We would propose that the municipal elections coincide with those election dates." The 2022 primaries include bids for U.S. Senate and House, judicial races and state legislative seats. Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said she was not aware of any other places where Census delays could cause municipal elections to be delayed. Underhill noted there's a bill in Connecticut that would move municipal elections to November, but that is likely more of a reflection of a national trend of states adjusting their calendars for local races to boost voter turnout than a response to the delayed Census. Michael Li, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center who focuses on redistricting, noted that a bill was filed in Texas earlier this month that would give the governor, lieutenant governor and state House speaker the ability to move the state's 2022 primary if a redistricting plan is not in effect by Sept. 1. He believes the Census lag could become a catalyst for states like North Carolina to transition local elections to even-numbered years. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has the ultimate decision on when to hold the elections, and the state elections board is tasked with carrying out the plan. Some state elections officials are concerned with the proposed overhaul to the voting timetable, particularly in places where updated Census data is not needed to carry out local contests. “It causes me some heartburn to think about making a sweeping change that's going to affect the election schedule proposal," said Stacy Eggers, a Republican member on the state board of elections. Scott Mooneyham, a spokesman for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said Bell's plan could actually lead to more confusion among longtime voters whose communities are unaffected by the Census but will experience later elections. “I’m not suggesting the Board of Elections can do magic and fix this problem, but I’m not at all convinced that having a one-size-fits-all approach to this is the best approach,” Mooneyham said. Damon Circosta, the Democratic chairman of the board, said he shares concerns about a lack of timely voting but added, “There's really no good solution, and I trust the General Assembly will do what they need to do to give us the direction we need.” ___ Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson. ___ Anderson is a corps members for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Bryan Anderson, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Rod O'Connell - image credit) Two retired foresters from the Bathurst area have identified the largest known specimens in the province of two different kinds of trees, in an area they've nominated for provincial protection. Rod O'Connell and Karl Branch found a yellow birch tree measuring 145 centimetres in diameter and a black ash tree measuring 69 cm in diameter while walking along one of the three Portage Lakes, about 60 kilometres south of Campbellton. They first noticed the big trees about 10 years ago, O'Connell recalled. At the time, the men were taking part in an annual Christmas bird count in the Upsalquitch Valley along Route 180, also known as the Road to Resources. But it wasn't until O'Connell's daughter gave him a copy of the second edition of David Palmer's Great Trees of New Brunswick as a Christmas present that he decided they deserved further investigation. "I looked in the book and I said, 'Oh, my! Our trees up there might be bigger,'" said O'Connell. "So, this December we took a measuring tape and an instrument to measure the height. … And sure enough, they were bigger." Karl Branch stands next to a yellow birch tree at Portage Lakes that is estimated to be over 400 years old. The yellow birch at Portage Lakes is not quite the tallest known. O'Connell measured it at 20 metres. And the book lists one at Ayers Lake that's 28.5 metres. But its trunk is almost 50 per cent wider than the next largest birch Palmer has documented. There are three in the book that are each 1 metre in diameter. "It's just absolutely amazing and exciting," said the author, who may soon have enough material for a third edition. "I keep getting calls and emails from people saying, 'Oh, I've got a tree bigger than any in your book. You should come and look at this horse chestnut. It was planted back in 1902 by so-and-so. And did you know about this white spruce? It just keeps on going." O'Connell said he may know of a balsam fir that beats the record, too. It's located on the Nepisiguit Mi'gmaq Trail. He plans to measure it this spring. Palmer estimated the yellow birch tree at Portage Lakes may be five centuries old. "It's obviously been there for a while. Yellow birch is not a fast growing tree. It puts on a few millimetres of growth a year." "I wouldn't hesitate to say it's maybe four or five hundred years old." Palmer said it looks to be in good condition and might even live another 200 years. Yellow birch are "one of the iconic trees of the Acadian forest," said Palmer. "In mature stands," he said, you can usually find "a good sprinkling" of them. They're the longest lived of the three birch species in the province. White birch are old at about 100 years, he said. And gray birch typically only lasts 30 to 40 years. Karl Branch stands next to the large black ash tree found near Portage Lakes O'Connell estimates the black ash at Portage Lakes is about 150 years old. He measured it to be 20.75 metres tall. Palmer's book has one in Exmoor, north of Metepenagiag, that's 24 metres tall, but it's only 55 cm in diameter. The one O'Connell and Branch found is 14 cm wider. "These are two exceptional trees for sure," said Branch. "Just thinking that this birch tree was growing on that site probably before permanent European settlement in North America is difficult to envisage. The odds of a tree surviving all those seasons along with the wind storms, droughts, insect epidemics, fungal attacks, forest fires and more recently logging, are astonishing." Besides their size, he's also surprised by how close they are to each other. "They're only 20 feet apart," said Branch, "— practically twins." Branch didn't want to reveal the exact location of the trees because he's concerned it might put them at risk. "There's always a danger when you bring too much attention to the trees then people want to go see them and destroy what you're trying to protect in the first place." They've been able to survive there for so long, he said, because of "a combination of excellently adapted genes and lots of luck." For one thing, the land is "part of a wetland complex," so the trees are not easily accessible for harvesting and "it wouldn't have been easy ground to work on." This black ash tree near Portage Lakes is thought to be about 150 years old. For another, the forest make-up in the area is primarily hardwood, while softwood was traditionally sought for logging. "It's really only the last 20 to 30 years we've been actively harvesting hardwoods," said Branch. "So, it's been kind of ignored, basically." Palmer noted that yellow birch does have commercial use in high-end furniture and flooring. He described the wood as "beautiful" with a "rich, yellowish brown" colour. But over the long span of these trees' lives there would have been greater threats than forestry, said Branch. "Logging is relatively recent compared to the age of these trees," he said. "They really survived there because they're partially sheltered in the valley bottom. And they're growing obviously on a rich site. So that all contributed. And being a wetland complex there's a lower fire risk of fire. That would have been a much higher risk to them in the long term. They're sheltered from the wind storms … These trees lucked out and just germinated in a great spot, obviously." Owl surveys are done in the Portage Lakes area each spring, said O'Connell. This barred owl was photographed in December about 50 metres away from the site of the two large trees. O'Connell and Branch have submitted a proposal to protect the land that the trees are on. The trees themselves are worth protecting, said Branch, but he also sees them as part of a bigger picture. "It's the whole idea of allowing for older habitat to develop," he said. "It shows us what potentially the forest could look like." Big trees are becoming rarer in New Brunswick forests, said Branch, due to "more intensive forest management activities." "Short" harvesting cycles of 50 to 60 years don't allow most trees to "attain their full ecological potential," he said. Barred owls like large old trees for habitat. O'Connell said the Portage Lakes area has good habitat for barred owls. He participates in owl surveys there from April to mid-May. "It's sort of a protected spot along the lakes," said O'Connell. "Therefore we have a tendency to find more mature-forest-type birds like the black-backed woodpecker, which is fairly rare." Branch said other birds of prey use the large branches of "veteran" trees for perching and nesting. A few types of ducks and owls use their cavities for breeding. And mammals such as pine martens and fishers make dens in them to birth and raise their young. Unlike other ducks, wood ducks prefer to nest in cavities of old trees. "Clearly it's a very rich site and should be protected," said Palmer. The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development acknowledged the Portage Lakes area is of "known interest for conservation." Part of the area is already protected. The department said O'Connell and Branch's nomination is one of 111 that have been submitted for the latest round of possible "nature legacy" protection. It said each site will be considered by a team of biologists, foresters and geologists. Candidate areas for protection as shown on an interactive map on the Natural Resources and Energy Development website. Those who submitted nominations prior to the most recent Jan. 31 deadline can expect a status update by "this spring," said department spokesperson Nick Brown. After the initial screening, said Brown, proposed new protected areas will be released for review by First Nations, industry rights holders and the public before the government makes any final decisions. Since November, DNRED has opened comments on possible protection of more than 150,000 hectares, said Brown. He said two more batches of sites should be released in April and June.