Check out this horse making the most of an active sprinkler. Time for a shower!
Check out this horse making the most of an active sprinkler. Time for a shower!
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
GENEVA — The candidate for FIFA’s top decision-making body who lost after facing gender bias and improper influence said on Tuesday the Asian Football Confederation should re-run its tainted election. Mariyam Mohamed said the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict Monday -- after she alleged misconduct by the AFC and Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah -- undermined the winning candidates at Asian soccer elections in 2019. The court found the allegations of discrimination against women and inducements offered to be proven in Mohamed’s appeals but let the election results stand. “The currently elected officials at the AFC and FIFA have no legitimacy and there should be new elections as soon as possible,” she said in a statement to the Associated Press. The AFC said on Tuesday it would “review the CAS awards to understand what appropriate action(s) can be taken.” “The AFC notes that it is always determined to maintain the highest possible standards in these important areas.” Mohamed filed formal complaints to the AFC in April 2019 saying pressure put on her by its officials and Sheikh Ahmad left her feeling “unsafe (and) threatened.” She alleged the Kuwaiti sheikh offered her inducements to withdraw from a vote to join the FIFA Council as Asia’s female delegate. In 2017, U.S. federal authorities implicated him in buying influence in soccer elections. He denied wrongdoing but was forced out of his own FIFA Council seat. She said Sheikh Ahmad told her at a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur she would have no future in soccer if she stood against his favoured candidate. Mohamed lost to her opponent from Bangladesh 31-15 in a poll of AFC member federations. All 15 candidates for AFC positions on a list circulated before the vote, and reportedly backed by the Olympic Council of Asia which Sheikh Ahmad leads, ended up winning. The OCA declined to comment after the elections. Mohamed filed two appeals at CAS in the Olympic home city of Lausanne, Switzerland. The court said its judges agreed with both, finding fault with the AFC election committee’s refusal to investigate Mohamed’s complaint of discrimination, and the disciplinary committee’s failure to do a timely investigation of improper third-party influence. “The CAS panel found denial of justice, serious corruption and discrimination,” Mohamed said, hailing the verdict “a fabulous result.” However, it was a partial win for the Maldives soccer official as the three judges did not annul the vote or order new AFC elections. The court decided the proven offer of inducements had no effect because Mohamed did not withdraw her candidacy. The judges also said the AFC’s electoral and disciplinary committees had no authority to annul or re-run polls, nor amend the soccer body’s legal statutes. The AFC legal director in 2019, Benoît Pasquier, declined comment on the case on Tuesday to the AP. He cited having left the soccer body and now being on the CAS list of approved arbitrators. The court has not yet published the full written verdict of its judging panel chaired by John Boultbee, an Australian barrister and former long-time official at rowing’s governing body. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
Organizers of a food bank for Black Edmontonians say there will be many families left behind if the service ends in March. Each week, dozens of families of African and Caribbean descent ranging from two to 10 members collect hampers packed with culturally relevant food. Despite demand, organizers had to cap the program at 90 families so staff and volunteers could keep up with collection, packing and distribution. The service was launched in May thanks to the collaboration of multiple Black-led Alberta organizations under the banner of African Diaspora COVID-19 Relief. But the funding and food from donors such as the Edmonton Community Foundation, Islamic Relief Canada, The Ghana Friendship Society and Loblaws, as well as personal donations, will soon run out. "It is a need that needs to be filled," said Emmanuel Onah, youth program manager at the Africa Centre, where the program is coordinated, clients pick up hampers and donations are being accepted. "It's a gaping hole in all of the resources that are currently available." The Liberia Friendship Society of Canada, the Jamaica Association of Northern Alberta and the Black Students Association University of Alberta are also among more than a dozen groups involved that will meet Sunday to determine next steps. Nii Koney, executive director of the Nile Valley Foundation, who rallied the coalition to action, said the program emerged from weekly meetings among Black organizations looking for ways to best respond to the pandemic. Initially they were surprised by all the middle-class community members who needed help. "People are bringing nice cars, they will come and park in the front, they will come with their wife and husband, they will sometimes come, the whole family," Koney said. "So now I know that if we didn't provide these services, it would be a great disservice to the community." Onah said a large part of the appeal comes from offering culturally relevant food tailor-made for each family whether it's injera, an Ethiopian fermented flatbread, or turtle beans, popular in the Caribbean. "The peace of mind you get when you're eating something that you're familiar with or you grew up with and is inline with your culture and your background — that all contributes to overall wellness. That all contributes to mental wellness, especially in the time where we're in a pandemic," said Onah. The initiative also supports local businesses largely by sourcing food from community stores on 118th Avenue and Stony Plain Road.
NDP MP Charlie Angus urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop disputing Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings on First Nations child welfare. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the Liberal government is committed to fair compensation for those affected by inequitable First Nations child welfare and welcomes the appointment of a mediator to help Ottawa go through the process.
An Australian gold mining company was arraigned on a slew of environmental charges in provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S., Tuesday morning. Atlantic Mining NS Inc. faces 32 charges under the province's Environment Act related to its gold mining operation in eastern Nova Scotia. Atlantic Mining NS Inc. is a subsidiary of St Barbara Limited, but is better known for its corporate name, Atlantic Gold Corp. The company is accused of "failing to comply with the conditions of an approval" and "releasing substances into the environment in amount, concentration or level in excess of approval level or regulations." The offences allegedly took place between February 2018 and May 2020. Most of the charges are related to the area of Mooseland and Moose River Gold Mines, where the company has an open pit gold mine. The other alleged offence locations named in the charging information are 15 Mile Stream, Jed Lake and Seloam Brook. The company was granted a request to adjourn the case until March 15, when it will enter a plea. Atlantic Gold plans to develop three more open pit gold mines on the Eastern Shore and truck the ore to a central processing facility at Mooseland where it operates the Touquoy mine. The company recently told investors it will proceed next with 15 Mile Stream and Beaver Dam locations. The startup date for its controversial Cochrane Hill site on the St. Marys River has been delayed by several years. There is uncertainty over whether the province will allow the company access to the water supply it wants to use at Cochrane Hill. There is some local opposition because of its proximity to the St. Marys River, home to a remaining Atlantic salmon population. MORE TOP STORIES
Sharon Bala knows the power of recognizing yourself in a story, and the pain of seeing your identity smeared across the page. The Sri Lankan-Canadian author says misrepresentations in fiction can feel like a form of literary violence, warping the way some readers see the real-life harms against people who aren't like them. "When we see ourselves misrepresented on the page, it just feels like the writer has taken their pen and shoved it into our eyes," said Bala, who won awards acclaim for her 2018 debut novel "The Boat People." "We can't pretend that we live in some rarefied bubble as writers where we are separate from the world." From using sexual violence against women as a plot point in a male hero's arc, to killing off an Indigenous character for dramatic tension, Bala said storytelling tropes often serve as a mirror of the systemic indifference toward the suffering of marginalized groups. But as society reckons with these injustices, the St. John's, N.L.-based novelist said a long-simmering conversation among authors about how to responsibly write about identities other than their own, whether that be a character of a different race, gender, sexuality, ability or class. In the past, she said, the public discourse about literary representation has been dominated by a privileged few stoking fears over perceived threats to authors' purported "right" to pluck inspiration from other communities as they please, said Bala. Examples include the 2017 CanLit controversy over an online campaign to fund a writing prize for cultural appropriation, or the tastemakers who rose to American author Jeanine Cummins' defence after the January release of her much-hyped book, "American Dirt," drew criticism from Latino writers and activists for trading in stereotypes about Mexicans. But Bala, who hosted an online workshop on literary representation earlier this month, says the strong turnout shows that writers know they can no longer afford to weaponize "the other" as a cudgel in someone else's narrative. Rather, she said, creators are grappling with questions that in some ways cut to the core of the mission of fiction: How do you write about who you don't know, and should you? "None of us are perfect. We're all going to make mistakes," said Bala. "But I think that if we ... have tried and still made the mistake, there's actually a lot of empathy for that within the writing community." Bala said she only writes about communities she has ties to, and people she'll have to answer to for any distortions. She's also a proponent of bringing in "sensitivity readers" — cultural experts who review manuscripts for inaccuracies — early in the writing process to catch misconceptions before they become embedded in the narrative. Emma Donoghue, the London, Ont.-based author behind "Room," said she's also enlisted the help of cultural consultants as part of her process. But ultimately, Donoghue said she and other white writers have a responsibility to assess their own abilities and motives before depicting different demographics. "I think it's a richer cultural landscape," she said. "If that means that the writers who used to sort of costlessly write about anything have to be a bit more careful, then that just comes with the territory." Acclaimed author Thomas King, who is of Greek and Cherokee descent, said he tries not to stray too far from his realm of experience in writing his protagonists. Characters of diverse backgrounds often populate his narratives, but King said he wouldn't write from another community's point of view because he wouldn't feel comfortable "taking on that skin." King said some of the most persistent pop culture narratives play into cliches and stereotypes to reinforce the audience's pre-existing biases. "While they're not authentic, to the public mind, they appear to be," he said. "Certainly, for Native people that happened with non-Native writers writing about Native characters." Novelist Andre Alexis holds that being too beholden to the burden of accurate representation can restrict the imaginative possibilities of literature. The Trinidad-born, Ottawa-raised writer said problems can arise when playing pretend with someone else's reality, and writers should have to answer for their misrepresentations. However, Alexis maintains that imagining "the other" serves a vital function not only in the arts, but for society at large. "It's important for the Americans to imagine what it's like to be a member of one of the countries they've attacked and ruined," said Alexis, who won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for "Fifteen Dogs." "That imagining of the others who you have made to suffer is a tremendously significant moral step." Sanchari Sur, a genderqueer writer who uses the pronouns "she" and "they" interchangeably, said growing up they never saw queer characters, particularly South Asian ones, represented in fiction. "When you don't see yourself represented, or when you see yourself represented as a stereotype or negatively, that does impact you," said Sur, who is earning a PhD in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Still, Sur said there needs to be space for writers to make mistakes and engage with critical feedback. Sur confronted this issue during a writers' retreat when they received a negative response to a piece they wrote that centred on a transgender woman's experience of familial emotional trauma. Sur, who was wrestling with their own gender identity at the time, said some trans participants at the retreat took issue with a non-trans author writing about the trans body in relation to trauma. Sur said the critiques caught them off guard, and it took months to work up the wherewithal to return to fiction. In the time since, Sur has come to see that there were technical problems with the story that contributed to the blowback, and feels they're a better writer because of the incident. "If you're being called out for something that is inherently wrong or dehumanizing in some way, then you have to acknowledge that and you have to learn from it." Kim Davids Mandar, an emerging writer in Guelph, Ont., said the complexities of literary representation have personal resonance for her as the daughter of immigrants who fled post-apartheid South Africa to provide a better life for their mixed-race family in Canada. When a publisher approached her about conducting a series of interviews for a collection, Davids Mandar said she jumped at the chance to ask some of Canada's finest literary minds about how they work through questions of difference, identity and appropriation. The editor of "(In)Appropriate," which was released earlier this month, said she didn't reach any tidy conclusions during her conversations with the book's contributors, including Sur, Eden Robinson, Michael Crummey and Ian Williams. One theme that emerged was the role that publishers and booksellers play in amplifying certain voices at the expense of others, she said. A 2018 survey by the Association of Canadian Publishers on diversity found 82 per cent of the 279 respondents who worked in the industry identified as white. "I think we can't pretend that we don't live within this context, and that it doesn't actually impact the books industry," said Davids Mandar. Overall, Davids Mandar said she walked away from the book with a renewed sense of urgency for Canada's literary community to engage in these shifting, sometimes messy conversations. "It really reflects where we're at, each of us as individuals, but also as a community, in truthfully embracing the fact that we need unity, but we also need diversity and we have to have them together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
KERWOOD - As the township begins work on the 2021 budget, council hopes to cross one big-ticket item off their to-do list - updates to the Kerwood Waste Water Treatment Plant (KWWTP) user fees. A report from December outlined what must happen to balance the books. The current KWWTP fee schedule was passed on 18 October 2010 and has remained unchanged since. Users pay an annual fee of $675, added to their tax bill. The municipality rakes in around $36,450 from those users. Past budgets show the municipality losing money on the facility. In 2019, KWWTP expenses were $96,954, but only $91,422 was generated from sewer fees and taxes. In the 2020 budget, $112,160 was allocated to operational costs with $83,410 projected for revenue. That difference ($28,750) is the amount the municipality hopes to recoup from the 56 connected properties, by way of updated fees. User fees in most municipalities are updated yearly, meaning incremental increases. However, that just isn’t something the small municipality has done. Increasing the fees entirely would mean huge jumps for affected residents. Staff say it is likely that new fees would be phased-in over a number of years. The municipality contributes $25,000 yearly for the KWWTP reserve, which currently sits at around $516,000. The facility is 11 years old; maintenance needs often increase after 10-15 years for this type of facility. Additionally, the current fee schedule does not account for multi-unit residences, of which the village has a few now. One example came during a 21 December 2020 council meeting when a landowner sought approval for two additional units in their home (basement apartment plus garage apartment). Currently, that ratepayer would pay the same as a single-family household. As multi-unit housing becomes more common, and if Kerwood sees future growth, consideration for that will be needed. It’s a common story - the numbers likely just aren’t there to support this type of facility, but Ministry requirements still must be met. Council directed staff to collect information; a user fee report will come before council in the first half of 2021. From there, council will be tasked with the tough decision. McKinley Leonard-Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that travellers flying from city to city within Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test. In fact, the requirement is for air travellers coming from international destinations.
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina state senator announced Tuesday that he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022, hoping to flip fortunes for Democrats from his state to serve in the chamber after a string of defeats. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte business attorney, Afghan war veteran and National Guard soldier, unveiled his bid, saying he is committed to “honest and decent politics” and “working people and working families.” Jackson, 38, is the second Democrat to enter the race to succeed three-term Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who is not seeking reelection. Erica Smith, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020 to challenge Republican incumbent Thom Tillis, is in again. Tillis ultimately narrowly defeated Democrat Cal Cunningham in November. Those two campaigns and outside groups spent $287 million combined, an all-time record before the two Georgia Senate elections that went to Jan. 5 runoffs swamped that total. In contrast with North Carolina's hyper-nationalized Senate race in 2020, Jackson said he'll attempt to turn his campaign inward, by pledging to visit all 100 counties as the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. He said he'll hold town halls in each to “build an agenda that’s actually tailored to our state, not an agenda that’s imported from D.C. or from donors.” “People want a different approach. They want an approach that they can respect and one that respects them,” he said in a video that features his wife and three young children. “Look, folks, you should have higher expectations for this office than you currently do.” North Carolina Republicans have now won four consecutive Senate races dating to 2010. Cunningham’s bid for U.S. Senate was derailed in the campaign's final weeks by his acknowledgement of a recent extramarital affair. But Democrats nationally are heartened by victories elsewhere, including those for both Georgia seats. That caused a 50-50 split in the chamber that gave Democrats control because Vice-President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, breaks ties. Other Democrats are weighing whether to enter the contest, which will still require massive fundraising even in the coming months to gain the attention of voters in the March 2021 primaries. On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro announced he's running last month and is already travelling on the GOP meeting circuit seeking support. North Carolina native Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, is also considering a bid. Jackson decided against running for Senate in 2020 after meeting with then-Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer ultimately backed Cunningham's bid. Jackson's military career is similar to that of Cunningham. He enlisted in the Army Reserve after the Sept. 11 attacks and served in Afghanistan. He's a military attorney in a North Carolina National Guard unit and a former local prosecutor. Jackson was ordered to guard training in the final weeks of his state Senate race this past fall, handing his reelection campaign to his wife. While Jackson's file of legislative accomplishments in Raleigh is thin — largely the result of serving in the minority party — he's made splashes with recorded floor speeches and social media posts that have gone viral. That social media presence has buoyed his fundraising and profile. State Republicans already tried to link Jackson to Cunningham on Tuesday, calling him “Cal Jr.” “North Carolina needs leaders who get results and Cal Jr. believes success equals retweets,” state GOP spokesman Tim Wigginton said in a news release. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
At 10 a.m. on Monday, Chatham-Kent’s first COVID-19 vaccine shipment was dropped off at public health to the surprise of the chief medical officer of health; hours later, vaccinations were underway at local long-term care facilities. Dr. David Colby, C-K’s chief medical officer of health, knew the shipman was coming sometime during the week, but did not have an exact time or date. Within the next four hours, the first shot was given at Riverview Gardens. By the end of the night, hundreds of doses were gone. “We had a team primed and ready to go so it didn’t stress us out at all. We were eager to get going and had all our ducks in a row,” Colby said. There were 750 long-term care (LTC) residents waiting for a vaccine and almost 400 were given out, according to Jeff Moco, spokesperson for CK Public Health. Moco added that public health was still trying to figure that out if there are any more doses left to give and will provide more details throughout the day. The Ministry of Health asked the local public health units not to divulge how many doses they received in their first shipments. LTC residents received doses of the Moderna vaccine after Pfizer announced there would be delays in shipments as it refits its factory in Belgium. Colby said although there are delays in vaccine shipments, he will not be reserving second doses and plans to use up the vaccines as they come in. The provincial government set a hard deadline of Feb. 5 to get the first vaccine dose in all its LTC residents. Colby said he would not comment on the ministry’s decision to have public health units keep the shipment numbers from the public. He had no comment as to why public health was only aware of the shipment once it arrived. “I’m just grateful to have gotten the vaccine,” he said. “It’s an epic and momentous occasion for Chatham-Kent to begin vaccinating its high-risk residents.” In late fall, C-K Public Health partnered with IPSOS on a local survey, asking 540 residents by phone how they felt about the vaccine. The survey was conducted before Moderna and Pfizer had been approved by Health Canada. The results found that only 33 per cent of the local population will “definitely” take a COVID-19 vaccine, while 21 per cent will “probably” follow suit. Seventeen per cent are likely to not get vaccinated. The remaining 29 per cent are undecided. Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said he wanted to encourage everyone to get the vaccine when they have the opportunity to do so. “I’m just thrilled that we're getting some and let's get the party going here,” he said. It still remains unclear whether LTC homes will loosen visitor restrictions once all residents and staff have received their two doses of the vaccine, and whether or not staff will still have to get tested daily. Colby said these decisions lie with the province. Moco said CK Public Health is expecting a second supply next week. As of Tuesday morning, there were 28 COVID-19 recoveries reported with 18 new cases bringing the active total down to 93. Three individuals remain hospitalized and the death toll sits at five. Chatham-Kent continues to deal with three institutional outbreaks, four workplace and two congregate living outbreaks. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
When the COVID-19 pandemic first turned video calls into the prevailing platform for social interaction, there was a voyeuristic thrill to peering inside people's homes in all of their poorly lit, pixelated and bare-walled non-glory. But in the months since Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video chats became a facet of daily life, new standards have been set for virtual presentation, prompting people to consider how to best frame themselves on a computer screen. The Canadian Press asked experts for tips on how people can take their video calls to the next level by upgrading their production skills, digital manners and background décor. If you wouldn't do it in person, don't do it on camera While the shift from the boardroom to the Zoom room has given rise to a new digital etiquette, many of the rules of in-person decorum still apply, says Carolyn Levy, president of technology for human resources consultancy Randstad Canada. For example, she said most professionals wouldn't check their emails, get some work done or talk to a colleague in the middle of an office presentation, but such attention slips have become all too common online. "The rule of thumb is (if you wouldn't do it) when you were in person, don't do it if you're virtual." Eye contact is crucial to virtual communication, Levy said, so participants should look directly into the camera when talking, and turn their gaze to the speaker's window to show they're listening. Levy said hosts can help prevent digital faux pas by establishing expectations in their meeting invites, such as whether cameras should be on and when to use the mute button. She also urged attendees to check their setups before they click to join a meeting to avoid technology-related mishaps. Lights, camera, Zoom Cinematographer and photographer Gary Gould says all it takes is a few simple steps to put yourself in the best possible light on your next video call. The Ryerson University professor said one way to show your best angles is to put your laptop on a stack of books so the camera is at eye level. Gould suggested people position themselves as if they were posing for a "passport photo" — your face should take up most of the frame, but leave some space around your head and shoulders so it doesn't seem claustrophobic. Placing yourself close to the camera has the added benefit of ensuring that your laptop's microphone can pick up the sound of your voice when speaking at full volume, said Gould. While a little sunshine never hurts, Gould warned that having a window in the back of your shot will likely obscure your face in shadows. He said the issue can often be fixed by turning the camera 180 degrees. He also recommended arranging your desk lamps so the light is shining toward your face, noting that warm-coloured bulbs such as LEDs tend to be the most flattering. Learn from the pros: YouTubers and video-game streamers Kris Alexander, an assistant professor at Ryerson University's media school, warns his students that it takes more than an impressive resume to win a position. In the Zoom marketplace, Alexander says, "your camera feed is a job interview." For tips on professional virtual presentation, Alexander encourages people to turn to those who have built lucrative livelihoods based on at-home digital production — the stars of YouTube and the video-game streaming platform Twitch. "Currently, we are all in competition with Twitch streamers and YouTubers, whether we want to believe it or not," said Alexander, a video games researcher and Twitch streamer. Thankfully, these video gurus have uploaded their secrets in tutorials on lighting, sound, colour correction and graphics, often using tools that can be found in your own home, said Alexander. "The beautiful thing about it is it starts with you," he said. "It starts with what technology you have available to you." You should be the focal point of your video call Toronto interior designer Nike Onile says the background for your video calls can serve as a palette to show off your esthetic tastes, but the centrepiece of every Zoom room should be the same. "You want you to be the focal point," said Onile, founder of the spatial design studio Ode. "The backdrop should be subtle enough that you still remain the thing that people are looking at." You don't want to compete for your audience's attention by overwhelming the frame with cluttered walls, contrasting loud colours or busy patterns, said Onile. She suggested adding a large piece of art, curtains or a plant to liven up a plain background and create dimension. Décor with uniform, repetitive patterns, such as a bookcase, is also visually engaging without risking distraction, she said. Onile said video call users should also consider how their outfit fits into the frame. Wearing black against a dark backdrop can make you seem like a floating head, she said, while clothes that contrast with the colour of the wall can help you pop onscreen. There's nothing like a personal touch Jessie Bahrey of Port Moody, B.C., and her partner, D.C. politico Claude Taylor, have established themselves as the reigning connoisseurs of video-call backdrops as the minds behind Room Rater, a Twitter account that has racked up more than 350,000 followers by scoring the setups of at-home news segments on a scale out of 10. Bahrey said Zoom rooms with a personal touch tend to earn higher points than those with professional-grade production. She said media figures can show a more relatable side of themselves with details such as sports jerseys, political messages, meaningful quotations, family heirlooms and children's artwork. Some even shake up their set dressing with hidden symbols, she said. Bahrey said simple knick-knacks can serve as conversation starters that help people feel more connected on video calls, even when they can't be in the same room. "I think working from home is going to be the new norm," said Bahrey, who works at a greenhouse. "So people better get their rooms ready." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says even one case of COVID-19 coming in from abroad is a case too many. He says new restrictions on travel are coming and he is urging Canadians to cancel all travel plans they may have. He says that includes travel abroad and travel to other provinces. He says while the number of new cases linked to travel remains low, the government won't hesitate to impose stricter measures at the border. He says the bad choices of a few won't be allowed to put others in danger. The Liberal government has been hinting that tougher border controls are coming and Trudeau says they are working on what can be done without interrupting trade flows. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are set to roll into the country in the next few weeks, and Canadians will be wondering where they stand in the inoculation line.Which segment of the population will get the first doses, once Canada approves them for use, and how long will it take before most of us are inoculated and we can reach that point of herd immunity?The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already recommended early doses be given to: residents and staff of long-term care homes; adults 70 years or older (starting with those 80 and over); front-line health-care workers; and adults in Indigenous communities — but there's still some debate among experts on whether that's the best strategy for a vaccine rollout.Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health, agrees with NACI's recommendations, but he says there's also an argument to be made for vaccinating those more likely to spread the virus first — including people with jobs in the community that can't work from home."There is quite a vigorous debate and ... quite a varied set of arguments about who should go first and the priority list," Upshur said. "And that's because people have very deep and different intuitions about what fairness means, and which fundamental values should illuminate the distribution of scarce resources." Upshur says prioritization, which will fall to the provinces and territories to determine, will depend on the goal of the vaccination strategy.If the main objective is to ensure economic recovery by limiting community spread, essential workers might get vaccinated first, Upshur explained. But if the goal is to limit deaths by preventing our most vulnerable populations from getting COVID, older people, especially those in long-term care, should jump to the front of the line."Each one of those aims leads to favouring a different kind of population," he said. "So priority-setting is a complex task."But because there's going to be a limited number of doses available, choices will have to be made soon."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil by the end of the month, with the first doses delivered next week.Canada, which is currently reviewing several vaccine candidates, has purchased 20 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and is set to receive four million doses — enough to inoculate two million people — by March.Kelly Grindrod, a researcher and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, says the concept of prioritizing the COVID vaccine may be hard for some to grasp. Grindrod agrees with NACI's recommendations of where the first stage of vaccine distribution should go, but subsequent stages of rollout become trickier.Certain individuals may perceive themselves to be in a higher-risk group and therefore more deserving of a vaccine than others, she said, and it will be hard to determine for example, if a 50-year-old with asthma who works from home should be vaccinated over a taxi driver."What I always say is: if you don't know anybody who's gotten the virus, you're probably one of the last to get the vaccine," Grindrod said. "So that might mean you have a middle-class income and you don't work in a factory or a grocery store."If you're feeling like COVID is something that's not really in your world, that's probably a suggestion that you're fairly low-risk for getting the virus in the first place."Grindrod says it's important to remember that immunizing the majority of Canadians will take a long time. The first stage alone could take months, she said, estimating that Canada will be able to vaccinate roughly three million people (in a country of 38 million) in the first quarter of 2021. "If we're all vaccinated by next Christmas, we will have done a great job," she said.Upshur agrees that getting to herd immunity will take time, but having multiple vaccine candidates reporting high efficacy rates should speed up that process — at least in theory."As exciting as it is to have these studies showing really good results, there's still a lot more questions," he said. "There's a lot more that needs to be done before we can be sure that these vaccines are going to achieve the goals that we hope."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Movies US charts: 1. Tenet 2. News of the World 3. Promising Young Woman 4. American Skin 5. The War with Grandpa 6. National Treasure 7. Honest Thief 8. The Croods: A New Age 9. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets 10. Let Him Go Movies US charts - Independent: 1. Promising Young Woman 2. Our Friend 3. MLKFBI 4. The Dissident 5. No Man’s Land 6. Some Kind of Heaven 7. Love Sarah 8. Assassins 9. Kajillionaire 10. PG: Psycho Goreman The Associated Press
Orangeville Hydro plans to borrow $1 million to sustain its capital works plan, half the amount it originally planned, as it attempts to cut costs. A report, presented to Grand Valley council on Jan. 12, states this is done to fund regulatory-related payments, such as increased Hydro One low voltage, network and connection charges. “Historically, Orangeville has provided safe and reliable and cost-effective power to our customers, and our business plan shows that,” said Rob Koekkoek, president of Orangeville Hydro. A $2-million loan was previously budgeted in 2021, but with some expenditures deferred due to COVID-19, as well as a corporate-wide attempt to reduce expense, including financing costs, the forecasted loan was reduced to $1 million. The business plan calls for another $1 million increase in borrowing in 2022 and $2 million in borrowing in 2024. In terms of revenue, the total cost per customer is calculated as the sum of Orangeville Hydro’s capital and operating costs and dividing this cost figured by the total number of customers it serves. Orangeville Hydro’s cost performance increased in 2019 to $568 per customer, above the cost performance in 2018 at $551 per customer. Koekkoek states the number of the company’s customers go up, as the population continues to grow, and infrastructure is constantly upgraded. Orangeville Hydro’s service areas have a population of about 32,000 and are expected to grow to 42,540 by 2036, according to forecasts contained within the Dufferin County Official Plan. Koekkoek said he understands the devastating impacts COVID-19 may have had on customers' budgets and he discussed a way for them to save money. “For businesses and residential that are struggling with their bills, that have been economically impacted by COVID-19, we have the energy response program available for residential and business customers,” he said. “They can get, basically a rebate, on their electricity bills to help them with their costs if they are falling behind.” Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
Le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord, réuni en séance ordinaire le 19 janvier, a présenté un projet de règlement permettant la création d’un fonds de roulement de 200 000 $ qui servira d’outil de financement pour des acquisitions ou immobilisations futures. À ce jour, la MRC ne possède aucun fonds de roulement et l’article 1094 du Code municipal du Québec lui permet de s’en constituer un d’un montant maximal de 2 200 000 $, soit une somme n’excédant pas 20 % des crédits prévus au budget de l’exercice courant. Les fonds nécessaires seront puisés à même le surplus accumulé du 31 décembre 2019, selon le rapport financier adopté en mai dernier. « À cette fin, le conseil peut, par résolution, emprunter à ce fonds des montants dont il peut avoir besoin et qui ne dépassent pas 200 000 $ sur une période n’excédant pas 10 ans », est-il expliqué dans le projet de règlement. Pour pourvoir aux dépenses engagées relativement aux intérêts et au remboursement en capital des échéances annuelles de l’emprunt, le règlement prévoit prélever annuellement, à même le surplus accumulé de la MRC, les sommes requises pour maintenir ou ajuster la valeur du fonds de roulement en vigueur chaque année dans les prévisions budgétaires de la MRC. L’entrée en vigueur de ce nouveau fonds de roulement se tiendra après l’adoption du règlement à la prochaine réunion publique du conseil des maires. PSPS Dans le cadre de la Politique de soutien aux projets structurants (PSPS), la MRC de la Haute-Côte-Nord a accordé une aide financière à deux projets. Tout d’abord, comme la Ville de Forestville a dû modifier son projet Modernisation des infrastructures aéroportuaires, la MRC a accepté de lui verser les fonds prévus de 20 000 $. « Le projet rencontre toujours les critères d’admissibilité de la PSPS et le comité consultatif a analysé la modification apportée au projet et il est toujours favorable à l’octroi de financement », indique la résolution adoptée par le conseil des maires. Quant au deuxième projet accepté, il s’agit de l’aménagement de la cour de l’école Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur. La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord participera au projet pour un montant de 50 000 $. PDZA La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord s’est lancée en 2020 dans l’élaboration d’un plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). Pour ce faire, elle doit former des comités directeur et consultatif composés d’intervenants du secteur agricole et agroalimentaire. « L’accompagnement d’expertises et l’appui des autorités compétentes sont essentiels pour l’accomplissement de ce mandat », a mentionné le directeur général Paul Langlois, lors de la séance du conseil des maires tenue le 19 janvier. Participation au PMVI La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord est admissible au Programme de mise en valeur intégrée (PMVI) en raison de la réalisation par Hydro-Québec du projet de ligne à 735 kV Micoua-Saguenay sur son territoire. Une somme de 1 906 921 $ lui a donc été allouée dans le cadre de ce programme. Par résolution, elle s’est engagée à utiliser cette somme pour réaliser, via un fonds de développement régional, des initiatives qui relèvent de l’un des domaines d’activité admissibles et respectent les conditions générales de réalisation du PMVI. Système de ventilation Le conseil des maires a accepté de lancer un appel d’offres sur invitation pour effectuer le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation de son centre administratif situé aux Escoumins. « Le bâtiment a été construit en 2003 et le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation n’ont pas été effectués depuis ce temps », a déclaré Paul Langlois. Dons et commandites Depuis 2015, la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord octroie des aides financières aux organismes de son territoire via sa Politique sur les dons et commandites. Cette année, deux appels de projets seront lancés comparativement à un seul habituellement. Le premier appel, qui a pris fin le 30 novembre, a permis de remettre 5 000 $ sur un budget total de 9 750 $. Action-Chômage Côte-Nord reçoit 1 000 $ tout comme Centraide Haute-Côte-Nord Manicouagan, l’Organisme des bassins versants de la Haute-Côte-Nord (J’adopte un cours d’eau), la municipalité des Escoumins (175e anniversaire) et la municipalité de Sacré-Cœur (Fjord en fête). Les promoteurs qui devront reporter leur événement en raison de la pandémie pourront conserver l’aide financière octroyée. Toutefois, ceux qui seront contraints d’annuler complètement le projet devront rembourser le montant reçu par la MRC. Fusion de Desjardins Tel qu’annoncé par l’Assemblée des MRC de la Côte-Nord le 18 janvier, le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord a entériné son opposition à la fusion de Desjardins Entreprises Côte-Nord avec Desjardins Entreprises Saguenay. « La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord appuie la démarche initiée par la MRC de la Minganie, et s’oppose à cette fusion ainsi qu’à ce transfert d’expertise financière, et dénonce les effets et pertes qu’elle engendrera pour l’ensemble de la Côte-Nord », dévoile la résolution.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
It was a bit chilly as Dave Vettese, his son Matteo and daughter Maya were dashing around an ice rink Tuesday afternoon. The young family was one of many laughing joyously as all six skating ponds opened up at the Island Lake Conservation Area for the season. “Outdoor skating on a natural lake or pond is different from a man-made rink in terms of that skating may not always be available,” said Sandy Camplin of Credit Valley Conservation (CVC). “If we get warmer weather or certain precipitation, snow can build up and create slush around the rinks.” Crews have to monitor the conditions of the ice surface, plow snow off and ensure there’s no flooding. Three rinks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, while three other ones are open for a $20 reservation. To book, visit the conservation authority’s website at CVC.ca or call 905-877-1120. No same-day reservations can be made. “We’re asking people limit their time to an hour if there is anybody waiting for a rink because there is only the five people limit,” said Camplin. “If you are at the rink with someone outside of your household, we ask you to wear a mask while on the rink as well, because you can’t guarantee your proximity if someone happens to skate by you.” The authority planned to have another surprise in store, but weather conditions have not been favourable. “We are working on a skating trail around our new natural playground, but winter has not been super co-operative to us this year with the lack of snow,” said Camplin. “That is still under construction right now. Hockey is not allowed, at this time, as all municipalities in the province remained under lockdown. “That can change depending on what the province says with certain advisories and recommendations,” said Camplin. “We’re following everything the government has put in place." Residents are able to leave their home to skate on the pond as exercise is considered essential by the provincial government. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
P.E.I. has no new cases of COVID-19 to report, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said in her regular weekly briefing on Tuesday. The Island has had 110 confirmed positive cases since the pandemic began in March. Six cases were still considered active as of Tuesday morning. Morrison said that despite the low number of active cases in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, it is too early to consider a bubble involving just those two provinces in which residents could travel back and forth without self-isolating — a partial Atlantic bubble, as it were. She said non-essential travel off P.E.I. is still strongly discouraged. While Nova Scotia has just 15 active cases, New Brunswick has not been as fortunate. It currently has 348 active cases. We learned that this virus is not easily contained and that half measures are not effective. — Dr. Heather Morrison "While we all yearn for a time when we can travel more freely within Atlantic Canada and elsewhere, now is not the time to leave P.E.I. unless it is absolutely necessary," she said. "We learned that this virus is not easily contained and that half measures are not effective." Hockey team must self-isolate Morrison said anyone who leaves the province — including the Charlottetown Islanders hockey team — must self-isolate for 14 days upon return unless they receive an exemption. Morrison said the team can apply to work-isolate, which means they can go directly back and forth to the rink for games and practices, but must self-isolate at all other times. That would rule out players, coaches or team staff going to school or off-ice jobs. So far, Morrison said, 85 people have been charged for violating public health measures during the pandemic, including eight new charges in the past week. She warned that people will continue to be charged if they fail to self-isolate when required. If a restaurant looks too crowded it likely is. We all have a responsibility to make good choices. Do not enter an establishment if it looks too crowded. - Dr. Heather Morrison Morrison also said there will be additional evening inspections at restaurants to ensure COVID-19 health protocols are being followed. She has heard concerns about crowded restaurants where social distancing is not taking place. "If a restaurant looks too crowded, it likely is," she said. "We all have a responsibility to make good choices. Do not enter an establishment if it looks too crowded." More vaccines next week Morrison said new shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines are due next week, and the province remains on track to have all front-line health-care workers, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities, vaccinated by Feb. 16. As of Saturday, a total of 7,117 doses had been administered. The province is now posting vaccine data online showing the breakdown between first and second doses; the dashboard shows that 1,892 Island adults had received both doses as of Jan. 23. Morrison told the briefing that a phone number will be set up next week for people over 80 to call to set up vaccine appointments starting in mid-February. Marion Dowling, P.E.I.'s chief of nursing, also took part in the briefing. She urged people visiting patients in Island hospitals to not bring food or drinks to their loved ones, and keep their masks on at all times. She also asked that visitors not congregate in waiting rooms after visiting patients. Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Valeria Melia felt a tug on her heartstrings when her daughter asked if the pandemic would force Santa Claus to cancel his visit to their Toronto home this year. Seven-year-old Michela and her four-year-old brother Massimo had seen other holiday events nixed over the last nine months, and their mother wanted to make sure they knew Christmas was still on the table. So Melia turned to her computer, typing up a letter from Santa that would ensure her children he was safe and on his way. "I wanted to tell them Santa's been given the all-clear to fly, saying 'don't worry, I'm still coming,'" Melia said. "Even before Christmas, (Michela) would say things like: 'I can't wait until this virus is over so I can go hug my friends again.' So when she asked about Christmas, it was heartbreaking." Melia's children are among many Canadian kids who will experience the holidays differently this year as public health officials urge us to modify our traditions. While some families don't want pandemic reminders to cloud Christmas within their own homes, others are finding whimsical ways to incorporate COVID-related elements into their rituals. London, Ont., mom Ursula Goncalves is leaving hand sanitizer for Santa this year, placing a bottle next to the milk and cookies her eight-year-old daughter Halina and six-year-old son Daniel usually set out for the clandestine gift-giver. "I thought it would be kinda cute, considering the year we're having," Goncalves said. "It was my idea, but the kids actually did wonder about Santa's safety, asking if he was still coming." Dr. Todd Cunningham, a child psychology expert at the University of Toronto, says adding pandemic themes to our merry festivities can be helpful by reinforcing messages kids have been hearing for months. "We've talked often about ways of keeping ourselves safe," he said. "So it would make sense to them in terms of our current context to (incorporate) those things." It also isn't surprising some kids are expressing concern for Santa's safety, Cunningham added, especially if they understand his advanced age might make him more susceptible to the virus. So it's a good thing Santa is a magical being, as some of Canada's top doctors have clarified. B.C.'s Dr. Bonnie Henry said recently Kris Kringle is likely immune to COVID-19, while Prince Edward Island's Dr. Heather Morrison announced that Santa and Mrs. Claus had been granted essential worker status along with their elves and reindeer. Sheri Madigan, a child development researcher at the University of Calgary, says introducing COVID safety elements may help calm worried youngsters, and further their understanding of the virus. "A lot of these concepts around COVID are hard to grasp because it's this germ they can't see," she said. "So Santa coming presents an opportunity to say: 'we're leaving sanitizer so he can wash his hands, and that keeps another family safe.'" Melia won't be doling out the Purell for Santa, but she did purchase an Elf on the Shelf for the first time, adding a pandemic twist by sealing it in a glass jar to "quarantine" for 14 days. Goncalves did the same, sequestering her family's elf for one week. The mischievous doll is meant to be a scout for Santa, typically arriving from the North Pole a month before Christmas. Parents place the elf in quirky tableaus each night for kids to spot in the morning. While the elf isolation is a charming reminder of pandemic precautions, Melia admitted that keeping Sugarpuff in a jar for two weeks serves another purpose. "This is gonna sound terrible," she said with a laugh, "but it's nice to not have to figure out what to do with it for 14 days." The quarantined sprite has added an element of excitement for Melia's children, with Michela periodically checking in on the "isolation station" and gleefully counting down the days until Sugarpuff is free. The Goncalves's elf, named Sparkle, was liberated from quarantine last week. "Oh God, there was so much excitement in this house when we let her out," Goncalves chuckled. Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious disease pediatrician at McMaster Children's Hospital, says another option for parents of anxious children is to double down on the messaging that Santa and his helpers are immune from the virus. "You can leave the hand sanitizer or you can say: 'Santa is not affected by COVID and elves are not human so you don't need to worry," she said. Fulford cautions, however, that adding pandemic motifs to holiday flair could dampen some kids' Christmas spirit. It's up to individual families to determine how their children would react to those inclusions, she added. Fulford says she's more concerned with children feeling disappointed in having certain Christmas traditions, like gathering with family, taken away — though she suspects that might be harder on some parents and grandparents than the kids themselves. Cunningham agrees, adding it's important that parents "give themselves a pass" this year when it comes to trying to replicate extravagant celebrations of the past, especially for families facing financial hardships. He suggests parents welcome input from their children on ways to modify their favourite traditions. "A lot of the holidays is about anticipation of what's to come, and we can continue that excitement by co-planning activities together," Cunningham said. "When we invite children into those conversations, it's amazing what they come up with." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect surname for Valeria Melia's children.
Canada will seek exemptions to a U.S. effort to ensure federal agencies buy American-produced goods, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, as business groups expressed concern about the potential impact. U.S. President Joe Biden vowed on Monday to leverage Washington's purchasing power to strengthen domestic manufacturing by clamping down on foreign suppliers. Asked whether he would seek exemptions to the "Buy American" program when it is unveiled, Trudeau told reporters: "We will continue to be effective in advocating for Canada's interests with this new administration."