A small company in Saskatchewan is building what could become Canada’s first geothermal power plant, which could launch a green revolution for the energy industry and the people who work in it.
A small company in Saskatchewan is building what could become Canada’s first geothermal power plant, which could launch a green revolution for the energy industry and the people who work in it.
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
The township of Muskoka Lakes published its new plan for how it wants to organize and upgrade the community throughout the next four years, with plans to focus on protecting the environment, boosting the township’s economy, upgrading infrastructure and more. Mayor Phil Harding said he is “very excited” to move forward as a township with the finished plan, made public on Wednesday, Jan. 13. “It really is the focus of Muskoka Lakes for the next four years,” he said. The plan is divided into four pillars organizing the goals council decided on throughout 2020 with consultation from the public. Some of the goals are short-term, being set in motion this year, while others are for down the line, in 2022 and 2023. Here are the standout goals in the strategic plan: The township is looking at its official plan to consider development restrictions, and a mandatory septic inspection program, as part of its strategic plan to preserve and protect the environment. Harding said during public consultations, many expressed concern about overdevelopment taking place in Muskoka Lakes affecting water quality and shorelines: the clear-cutting of trees and run-off from hardscaping projects, for example. Council and staff started developing their Community Improvement Plan for Port Carling and Bala and plan to make it a key project in 2021. “We want to try and build a year-round economy,” Harding said. “We need to understand what limitations businesses are having: why is it just seasonal?" He noted COVID-19 has been a challenge for businesses in 2020 but added more people are up in Muskoka Lakes during the fall and winter. One of the short-term goals listed for 2021 for strengthening Muskoka Lakes’ economy is assessing the challenges with broadband and internet connectivity in the township and working to expand internet access for everyone. In November, council discussed an effort to request the Ontario Energy Board reduce or remove the “egregious” charges broadband providers pay in rural Ontario communities like theirs to attach fibre-optic broadband to hydro poles. Internet connectivity became a pronounced issue in several rural Ontario communities throughout the pandemic. The township is working on new master plans for its recreation, parks, trails and facilities: the plan indicates it wants to implement the recommendations it forms in the plans in 2023. He added council and staff are working on a master plan for their fire services. In a previous plan, they considered closing down some of their 10 stations in the township and upgrading the remaining stations, which could have ATVs or fire boats, an idea Harding might consider for this master plan. The final pillar indicates the township wants to forge better relationships with all levels of government. Harding said his relationships with other mayors in the district and the province, including MPP Norm Miller and Premier Doug Ford, have improved since council took office in October 2018. The strategic plan is also for the next term of council that will take over late 2022. He said building good relationships now will help them down the line. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska held the enviable position of having the highest rate of coronavirus vaccinations per capita in the nation as of last week, the state's top health official said. Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said last Thursday that the progress was the result of community efforts to quickly distribute vaccinations and additional allotments for federal agencies within the state, KTOO-FM reported. Zink told the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce that Alaska receives more doses of vaccine because of allowances above the state’s share for the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service. “We have the highest veterans per capita population. We have a large military presence. And we have a large Indigenous population with over 229 sovereign tribes,” Zink said. “And so, because of those reasons, we did get some additional vaccine in the state via those federal partnerships.” The allotment for the Indian Health Service, which works with tribal entities to deliver health care to Alaska Native residents, could have been subtracted from the state’s share of the federal supply, but ultimately was allowed to be added, Zink said. “That’s been transformational for Alaska, that decision for Operation Warp Speed,” Zink said of the Trump administration's name for the national vaccine distribution initiative. More than 14,000 people had received both required doses of a vaccine cycle as of last Thursday, while more than 67,000 people had received at least one of the shots in the series. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
Dès qu’il y aura assez de neige pour assurer des descentes sécuritaires, Ski Saguenay offrira un nouveau secteur de glisse privé à L’Anse-Saint-Jean pour les amateurs de ski hors-piste. Ce sera un des secteurs avec le plus haut dénivelé au Québec, avec 390 mètres d’altitude en descente… et ce n’est qu’un début, car de futurs développements viendront bonifier l’offre, avec notamment de l’hébergement. C’est en voyant la croissance du ski hors-piste au Québec et au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean que Philippe Pichon et Jérôme Durocher ont décidé d’investir pour développer un nouveau secteur privé à L’Anse-Saint-Jean. « Le secteur de ski hors-piste est tellement achalandé au mont Édouard les fins de semaine qu’on a vu un potentiel », souligne Philippe Pichon. Selon les données de la Fédération de montagne et d’escalade (FQME), le nombre d’adeptes a augmenté de 177 % par rapport à l’an dernier. En regardant les opportunités pour surfer sur la vague du ski hors-piste, les deux hommes ont sauté sur l’occasion lorsqu’un terrain accidenté a été mis en vente par la fabrique de l’église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, à L’Anse-Saint-Jean, il y a deux ans, explique Philippe Pichon, un Français qui s’est d’abord établi au Québec... pour jouer plus au hockey. Mais c’est finalement le ski hors-piste qui l’a accroché. « Quand on est allé visiter le terrain, on est tombé en amour et on s’est assuré de miser un bon prix pour avoir la terre », poursuit-il, en évoquant le processus de mise aux enchères. En explorant davantage, ils ont réalisé qu’il existait un excellent potentiel de descente sur le terrain voisin, et après avoir fait une offre, ils ont agrandi leur terrain de jeu, qui fait désormais près de 70 hectares. Le ski hors-piste est en forte croissance au Québec et les premières descentes dans la poudreuse se font de plus en plus rares, ce qui ouvre des occasions d’affaires. Situés à un peu plus d’une dizaine de kilomètres du mont Édouard, les entrepreneurs ont donc lancé l’entreprise Ski Saguenay, qui offrira du ski de montagne guidé sur leur terrain privé. Pour accéder au secteur, les clients devront obligatoirement réserver les services d’un guide, cette année, pour un montant de 115 à 200 dollars par jour, selon le nombre de personnes dans un groupe. « Les gens paieront pour skier un territoire exclusif », souligne Philippe Pichon, avant d’ajouter qu’avec la croissance de l’achalandage, les secteurs de poudreuse vierge se font de plus en plus rares. Ski Saguenay développera deux secteurs de glisse de niveau intermédiaire avancé. Le plus gros aura un dénivelé de 360 à 390 mètres, avec plusieurs passages très accidentés et plusieurs obstacles et sauts naturels. « Il existe un potentiel de 100 mètres de plus au-delà de la limite de nos terrains, sur les terres publiques, mais on devrait aller chercher les autorisations pour faire cet ajout », remarque Philippe Pichon, qui fera partie de l’équipe de guides. Un secteur plus petit, de 80 à 150 mètres, a aussi été développé près du futur chalet, que l’entreprise compte bâtir dès l’été prochain, si le financement du projet se concrétise. « Nous voulons bâtir un chalet plutôt haut de gamme, avec un sauna et un bain nordique, pour offrir un produit différent de ce que l’on retrouve au mont Édouard », remarque l’entrepreneur, en ajoutant que les clients du chalet pourront skier en autonomie dans le petit secteur. Pour le construire, les deux hommes comptent utiliser leur propre bois. En tout et partout, les deux hommes ont investi plus de 70 000 dollars dans le projet jusqu’à maintenant. Dans l’attente d’une autre bordée… et de mesures sanitaires pour guider Il manque encore un peu de neige pour skier en sécurité sur les terrains de Ski Saguenay, comme partout dans la région d’ailleurs. « Avec encore 20 à 30 centimètres, on va pouvoir ouvrir les secteurs », souligne Philippe Pichon. Il faudra aussi attendre de savoir quelles seront les nouvelles mesures sanitaires qui seront annoncées après le 8 février, car il est interdit d’offrir le service de guide à l’heure actuelle, ajoute ce dernier. Au cours des prochaines années, Ski Saguenay souhaite continuer à développer de nouveaux secteurs et construire éventuellement un second chalet. Un service de remontée sur chenillette est aussi dans les cartons. Le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean se positionne Avec l’ajout de l’offre de Ski Saguenay et le nouveau secteur qui a été développé à Petit-Saguenay, la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean compte désormais cinq sites officiels, avec le mont Édouard, le mont Lac-Vert et le mont des Allemands. « La région a un très beau potentiel pour le développement du ski hors-piste », atteste Maxime Bolduc, directeur ski à la Fédération de montagne et d’escalade. NoneGuillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Paris City Hall has instructed the landlord seeking to close down the city's indebted Fan Museum to extend its deadline for payment, the museum said Monday. Director Anne Hoguet said her beleaguered museum — a registered historic monument — owed 117,000 euros in rent arrears due to losses incurred during virus lockdowns last year. The money was due Jan. 23 and the landlord had threatened to seize the museum's priceless artifacts as payment. In response to AP’s reporting, on Thursday UNESCO called on France to do more to protect the small museum that French officials had placed on an intangible heritage list only last year. Hoguet said that Paris City Hall officials confirmed to her that they had intervened to get the landlord to delay the deadline. “It's a huge relief. We hope to live another day,” Hoguet said. Paris Deputy Mayor Karen Taieb told the AP that officials are now meeting with Hoguet on Feb. 5 “in order to think about long-term solutions for this heritage museum which is in a very complicated situation.” Hoguet said that she has been inundated with offers of donations since last week’s media reports. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Some Regina city councillors who originally supported a motion that would prevent fossil fuel companies from advertising or buying naming rights for city property have announced they're backing down. The motion — introduced by Ward 6 councillor Dan LeBlanc at an executive committee meeting last week — would have meant companies like Federated Co-operatives Limited could not have their logos displayed on city property. "Sponsorships are associative in nature and therefore alignment with predetermined city values is necessary," LeBlanc told the executive committee. "I think that's the very reason why we don't want sex, drugs, and rock and roll advertised on our buildings." LeBlanc is now withdrawing support from his own motion. The move came after several councillors who originally voted for the motion — including Ward 8 councillor Shanon Zachidniak, Ward 9 councillor Jason Mancinelli and Ward 10 councillor Landon Mohl — publicly announced they were withdrawing their support. Mayor Sandra Masters and councillors Lori Bresciani, Terina Shaw and John Findura voted against the motion originally. Councillors Bob Hawkins, Andrew Stevens and Cheryl Stadnichuk voted for the motion, along with LeBlanc, Zachidniak, Mancinelli and Mohl. "I acknowledge that the tone set by the amendment was counterproductive," Zachidniak said in a Facebook post late last week. "When this was introduced at the meeting, I should have realized that this was not the appropriate approach and I apologize." Numerous reasons for withdrawal: LeBlanc LeBlanc said Monday that he withdrew his support not only because of the issue fracturing unity on council, but also because he heard from many residents. "I heard from a lot of people who said 'I'm all about sustainability, but this is too much too soon,'" LeBlanc said. "I think I heard ... they are nervous about any one big step. I think what that means is many concrete steps going forward." Another reason LeBlanc cited was he and some of his fellow councillors who supported the motion receiving messages threatening physical harm. "Frankly my view is it ought to take a lot for councillors to be risking physical violence to their families to continue with sustainability motions," he said. "I'm not interested in folks getting hurt because of that." Motion created ripples in other levels of government The motion drew the ire of Premier Scott Moe, who called it "absurd" in a news release last week. He said his government would "seriously consider the future of sponsorships to the City of Regina from provincial energy companies like SaskEnergy and SaskPower," and threatened to claw back millions of dollars the city normally gets from people's power and energy bills. Asked for comment about the councillors' change of mind, a spokesperson for Moe said Monday that he would have no further comment until the motion is formally addressed by city council during its regular meeting on Wednesday. It's expected an amendment will be added to the motion to remove the ban on sponsorship from fossil fuel producers. LeBlanc, meanwhile, said he is hopeful this issue widens the discussion on sustainability. "It's been very good to see people's democratic voice come out when they're opposed to something," he said. "I hope we'll hear from them equally if we're doing things on sustainability that they're in favour of."
BERLIN — Austrian authorities stopped a man at Vienna airport as he tried to smuggle 74 protected chameleons from Africa into the country. They said in a statement Friday that a 56-year-old man, who was not further identified, had hidden the animals in socks and empty ice-cream boxes when he was caught at customs control in Vienna. He had travelled to Austria from Tanzania via Ethiopia. The chameleons were taken to the Austrian capital's Schoenbrunn Zoo, which said that three of the animals did not survive. All the animals were from the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania and ranged in age from 1 week old to adult animals. On the black market they would sell for for about 37,000 euros ($44,9700), officials said. The man who smuggled the animals into Austria has to pay a fine of up to 6,000 euros, the Austrian finance ministry said in a statement. The Associated Press
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Asia’s top club soccer tournament announced changes Monday to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic for a second straight season. The expanded 40-team Asian Champions League will have a group stage played in centralized hubs — in cities not yet decided — over 17 days in the east and west of the continent, the Asian Football Confederation said. Western region matches, including clubs from the Middle East, will be played April 14-30. The eastern region including Australia, China, Japan and defending champion Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea is scheduled April 21-May 7. It follows the 2020 edition being completed entirely in Qatar from when the pandemic-delayed later stages of the groups resumed in September through to the final in December. The 2021 competition schedule also cuts back round of 16 and quarterfinals pairings to single elimination games in September instead of over two legs. The semifinals and final revert to home-and-away games over two legs in October and November — when travel restrictions likely will have eased. “Once again, the AFC will put the safety and welfare of all its stakeholders as its overriding priority,” confederation general secretary Windsor John said in a statement. The Asian Champions League was originally scheduled to start in February. Preliminary rounds now kick off in April to qualify for a 40-team lineup instead of 32. Choosing hub venues for the four-team groups will begin after the draw on Wednesday with national federations invited to host. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are reportedly interested in staging games. The Saudis and Qataris are also competing with India and Iran in a bidding contest for the 2027 Asian Cup. The AFC also cancelled or postponed four other continental tournaments due to take place in 2021. The men’s Under-16 and Under-19 championships were cancelled in Bahrain and Uzbekistan, respectively. Both will host the next editions of the tournaments. Those decisions follow FIFA cancelling editions of the men’s Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, which next take place in 2023. Also scrapped are this year Asian championships in futsal and beach soccer. Kuwait and Thailand will retain hosting rights for 2022 and 2023, respectively. The AFC Cup, a second-tier club tournament reserved for developing nations, will go ahead in a shorter form, starting in May and ending in August. The start of qualifying for the women’s Under-17 and Under-20 Asian Cup tournaments in 2022 was also pushed back from March this year to August. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports John Duerden, The Associated Press
LOGEMENT. À l’exemple de Queen’s Park, Québec solidaire demande au gouvernement québécois de suspendre à nouveau les évictions résidentielles pour toute la durée de l'état d'urgence sanitaire. «Pendant que le Québec a les deux pieds dans la deuxième vague et que les mesures de confinement sont plus strictes que jamais avec l'imposition du couvre-feu, les évictions de locataires se poursuivent de plus belle sans que la CAQ bouge le petit doigt. Même le gouvernement conservateur de Doug Ford a compris l'importance de maintenir les personnes chez elles durant ces temps particuliers et a annoncé un nouveau moratoire contre les évictions pour la durée de la situation d'urgence. Qu'attend le gouvernement Legault pour faire de même?», s'interroge Andrés Fontecilla, le porte-parole solidaire en matière de logement tout en rappelant que le moratoire a été levé en juillet dernier par la ministre de l'Habitation, Andrée Laforest. «Comme c'était le cas en mars dernier, la flambée des cas de COVID-19 se conjugue à une grave crise du logement. Le gouvernement de la CAQ sait très bien que la loi actuelle fait défaut et qu'il doit colmater les brèches qui permettent les expulsions abusives, notamment les rénovictions. Nous allons continuer de veiller au grain afin que la loi soit revue et corrigée, mais en attendant ces changements, il est urgent de décréter un nouveau moratoire sur les évictions. Personne ne doit se retrouver à la rue en plein couvre-feu», martèle Andrés Fontecilla, le député de Laurier-Dorion. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency. The justices threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed lawsuits to go forward alleging that he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel. The high court also ordered the lower court rulings thrown out as well and directed appeals courts in New York and Richmond, Virginia, to dismiss the suits as moot now that Trump is no longer in office. The Associated Press
How adorable is this friendship!
Structure and rhythm are important for Ayden Rana. The six-year-old is on the autism spectrum and requires a little extra help to complete his studies. When the winter break turned into an extended period away from the classroom, keeping most children and teachers at home, it presented a unique challenge for Ayden and his mother, Karen, who found herself playing the role of teacher, therapist, support worker and parent. “He was very receptive the first two days, I would say, to virtual learning because he got to see the teacher and the educational assistants,” Karen said. But the novelty quickly wore off. Studying became much harder. Learning became even more challenging than usual. Touch and sense are key to Ayden’s educational development, meaning the curiously flat, two-dimensional world of pixels on a screen, fell far short of meeting his needs. “The educational assistant realized his needs for tactile material — he’s not grasping the Chromebook — so she put together a binder with all the activities,” Karen explained. “All the math, English, all the subjects he would do at school, along with his puzzles, his timer [and] his favorite pens [are included].” The binder is carefully prepared by his educational assistant every week and left for Ayden to pick up, offering new material to make the best of a difficult situation. For some other students with special needs, learning at home — even with the extra work and resources — isn’t a possibility. As a result, despite the province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home-order, some are still physically in school. A few teachers are on hand, along with a small army of special education assistants. At the Peel District School Board, they are referred to as educational assistants (EAs) and a large number of the board’s 3,800 EAs are reporting for duty. At Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, where they are known as educational resource workers (ERWs) 40 school sites are open and staffed. A major issue for EAs working at PDSB is a lack of coordination and tracking by the board, Natacha Verdiel, president of OPSEU Local 2100, the union representing EAs at PDSB, explained to The Pointer. Unlike students and teachers who cohort together, EAs do not have to sign into classrooms and are not included in contact tracing efforts when an outbreak is declared. “An EA might cross cohorts 14 times on any given day,” she explained. “They might report to 12 different classrooms to provide support to high needs students. They’re now cross contaminating between students, that’s alarming, and no one knows they’ve been in that classroom.” As a result of their specific profiles, many children with special needs are unable to wear a mask. Some even find staff wearing them to be upsetting and can attempt to physically remove them. Depending on a child’s age, size and unique needs, such behaviour can be challenging. In some instances the desire to create normalcy can even lead to aggressive actions by some students. That’s why some personal protective measures to mitigate the risk of viral spread can’t be used. “Here’s what I don’t think the public understands: the students that are reporting to the physical building right now are students who cannot wear masks,” Verdiel said. “They are all unmasked, all of the students are unmasked. Most of them are extremely behavioral, they are our highest needs students in the system.” Verdiel described one situation where a particular student coughs, spits and sneezes as part of their behavioural profile. “The staff in there are covered in bodily fluids, all day long,” she said, lamenting the lack of effective personal protective equipment and how masks can act “as a target” for some students who attempt to remove them or strike the workers wearing them. For the parents of children with special needs, the role EAs, ERWs and the education system play can be nothing short of a miracle. Staff are able to look after children during the day, calm them and tend to their various behavioural and physical needs. “Some of our workers have phenomenal skills… some of them are outrageously amazing at what they can do,” Pam Bonferro, president of the Dufferin Peel Educational Resource Workers’ Association, told The Pointer. “They’re like pied pipers, they walk into a room and the students calm down.” Karen Rana agrees, describing Ayden’s EA as a rock. “He changed three classes [due to COVID-19 attendence variations], so you can imagine,” she said. “Three classes, three teachers, three sets of students, but with the same assistant. She has been the constant and it’s been very positive for Ayden.” The work of classroom assistants is often born of passion. As a vocation, many pursue the work out of a desire to help care for children and assist with their challenging development. “It’s not that they don't want to support the students that are there,” Verdiel added. “They want the Province to acknowledge that those who are reporting in person are unable to maintain any kind of physical distancing at all. Their job is very, very, very high risk in terms of exposure to bodily fluids.” Highlighting the fact the government is working hard during a crisis, but still missing key supports, Bonferro said ERWs and EAs are being inadvertently positioned in opposition to the very families they support. “What they have technically done is they have pitted the EAs against the parents,” she said. “They are taking the EAs voice away, if an EA speaks up, they’re going to be kind of vilified as the bad guy [in the] situation. So they are way beyond stressed and what’s really tearing them apart is: they have a conscience, they care about the kids they work with.” The Ministry of Education did not provide a response in time for publication. Despite working in the same space as teachers, classroom assistants have unique demands, detailed by the unions who represent them. Where teachers can safely distance from pupils, even in the same classroom, EAs and ERWs are unable to make the space. Their duties include helping students use the bathroom, feeding and, when needed, physically helping them to calm down. “The exposure level that a teacher has when they’re standing in front of a classroom teaching versus the exposure that an EA has when they’re being spat in the face or restraining a student [is significantly different],” Verdiel said. The unions have several specific asks of the Doug Ford government to improve the situation. They include pandemic pay, more robust PPE and rapid access to the vaccine. Under the Province’s current vaccination rollout, teachers and classroom assistants find themselves on the list at the same time. The second phase, which also includes older adults living in the community and several other key worker categories, could run as late as July, which risks some EAs and ERWs not being vaccinated until during the summer break. “The government has taken on the position that EAs are now essential workers; however, they are not being provided with the same level of pay or protection,” Verdiel said. “The NDP has long called for pandemic pay for all frontline workers, and believes educators should be included among the groups prioritized to get their vaccine,” NDP Education Critic Maritt Stiles told The Pointer. “Special education assistants, who are now working in classrooms with vulnerable people, should be vaccinated as soon as possible, when the vaccine becomes available.” PDSB provided a statement offering extensive instructions to EAs around wearing PPE. It did not address questions around contact tracing and EAs working in multiple classrooms. “Since returning from the winter break, all students and staff, including EAs, who have returned to in-person learning and working are required to follow the Active Daily Screening process,” a spokesperson told The Pointer. At DPCDSB, contact tracing does not appear to be an issue and ERWs are carefully monitored. “School principals maintain a record of any ERWs that are working in the school and should a positive COVID case be reported, any staff and students that worked with, or could be considered to be a close contact, would be identified for contact tracing,” Bruce Campbell, general manager of communications and community relations for the board, told The Pointer. As most schools remain closed and the majority of children learn at home, EAs and ERWs continue to show up for work feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable. “Everybody is sympathetic, everybody understands,” Verdiel said. “Nobody is willing to do anything.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Environment Canada has lifted the last of its remaining weather warnings for B.C.'s South Coast, as the weather system that was expected to dump heavy snow faded away. A final snowfall warning for Metro Vancouver was lifted just before 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Weather alerts were in effect for much of the South Coast over the weekend, but many residents expecting a dump of snow woke up to rain on Sunday instead. The snow that did fall was not as heavy as expected in areas like the Fraser Valley, though the central and northern areas of Vancouver Island saw a healthy amount of snow. Shelter available Despite the lack of snow, temperatures are still cold. The City of Vancouver has opened additional indoor shelter spaces until Jan. 27 for people experiencing homelessness. The Powell Street Getaway, at 528 Powell St., from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Vancouver Aquatic Centre, at 1050 Beach Ave., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Creekside Community Centre, at 1 Athletes Way., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Odd Fellows Hall, at 1443 West 8th Ave., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. First Avenue Shelter at 1648 East 1st Ave., from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The Gathering Place, 609 Helmcken St., from 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The city said these centres will allow people who have pets and carts, and hot drinks and snacks will be provided. All sites have reduced their capacity to meet the province's COVID-19 physical distancing requirements. In Abbotsford, B.C., people can warm up at the Gateway Christian Reformed Church on Gladys Avenue, which is open from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. whenever the weather dips below freezing or there is snow on the ground. Jesse Weygand, an extreme weather shelter coordinator in Abbotsford, said all shelter guests are screened for COVID-19. "We've been resourced to isolate people who are exhibiting symptoms, who are then brought often to hotel rooms as they await their test results," said Weygand, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition. In Surrey, B.C., seasonal shelters are open at Pacific Community Church at 5377 180th Street and Peace Portal Church at 15128 27B Ave. Tap here, or dial 211, to find a shelter location in Metro Vancouver.
Returning to work after layoffs in the first wave of the pandemic was daunting for Brampton resident Nathan Aitken. Between managing his asthma and fibromyalgia, and having just welcomed a newborn at home, COVID-19 was a significant risk due to his serious underlying conditions. As a welder, Aitken said there was some peace of mind in knowing his mechanic-grade respirator and uniform provided an added layer of protection at the Milton auto-industry plant where he works. “I'm just very diligent about…how I do my job, cleaning and everything else, but it’s definitely something I worry about all day,” Aitken said. In the building, floor markings indicate the pathways for workers to follow to promote safe distancing, and staff are also asked to sanitize their stations every four hours. Despite the protocols, Aitken said he’s concerned about the diligence of individual workers, especially those like him with no paid sick days. “I've never gotten that. If I call in sick, I don’t get paid,” he said. Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has joined the Opposition NDP, labour unions and other increasingly frustrated voices across the province calling for paid sick days. She characterized them as “essential” protection during the pandemic in a report two weeks ago and called for the ruling PCs under Premier Doug Ford to legislate five permanent paid sick days, and 10 during a pandemic like the one causing the current public health crisis. Ford continues to ignore the pleas, claiming there’s “no reason” for sick days. He has said the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program, and its $500 weekly payout (with a maximum of two weeks) to sick workers is enough for Ontario’s frontline employees. He has repeatedly said he would do anything to support these heroic residents who have kept the province running throughout the pandemic. From the early second-wave public health restrictions to the current stay-at-home order, little has changed for essential workers who continue to show up on the frontline, said Tim Deelstra, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 175 and 633, which represent about 70,000 members in the province. Data included in the 2016 Census provide a picture of Peel’s labour force that shows why the region has been particularly hard-hit by viral spread among the essential work force. The sector that employs more Peel residents than any other is manufacturing, including jobs that are deemed essential to keep supply chains running and the flow of needed products uninterrupted. Some 90,000 Peel residents worked in the sector, according to the Census figures. Other job categories that also include large numbers of essential workers are also heavily represented in the region’s labour force: There were 69,920 resident working in transportation and warehousing; 59,270 in healthcare and social assistance; 44,755 in construction; and 42,205 in accommodation and food services. Labour unions like UFCW have been calling on the government to implement more robust protections to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus at essential workplaces, including paid sick days as part of the Employment Standards Act and priority vaccine access for those workers most at risk. For many who may be experiencing minor symptoms, the risk of losing pay or even their job, is enough to keep them going to work, potentially putting their colleagues at risk. “Even before the pandemic, we were very critical of the Ford government, that one of the first things they did upon getting elected was removing the two paid sick days” from the Act, Deelstra said. He points to former Progressive Conservative party leaders, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, as being vocal supporters for sick leave. “They’re now seeing the need for their constituents,” he said. Mayor Brown is spearheading a campaign and motion – endorsed by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie – at the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario and GTHA Mayors group to advocate for higher levels of government to support better sick-day policies. He told Brampton city council on Wednesday the provincial and federal governments would be discussing the issue in a conference call this week. “I hope that there's going to be a mechanism that can be found to bring this to the table,” he said. Some of Peel’s largest employers include Maple Lodge Farms, Fiat Chrysler, and PepsiCo Foods Canada, as well as airport-related warehouses and businesses, including airline food catering company Gate Gourmet Group Inc., in Mississauga. In April, Maple Lodge Farms suspended operations at its Brampton poultry plant after three cases of the novel coronavirus were identified in the facility. At that time, there were about 2,864 confirmed and probable cases of infected residents throughout the Region, with about one-fifth of them in long-term care homes. Now, there have been almost 53,000 confirmed and probable cases in Peel since the start of the pandemic, along with 204 outbreaks, according to the Region’s January 22 epidemiological summary and its most recent data. In the 14 days up to January 21, 232 cases were reported as being linked to a workplace outbreak. The region’s test positivity rate fell to 11.9 percent for the week that ended January 16, down from 13.8 percent the previous week. Anything above 2.5 percent in a jurisdiction suggests viral spread is not under control. Peel’s weekly incidence rate, which has consistently been the highest of all Ontario regions since early in the pandemic, decreased slightly to 247 positive cases per 100,000 residents for the week that ended January 16, compared to 262 the previous week. Once the current emergency order is lifted, to be moved down through the grey-lockdown and red-control categories and into the Province’s orange-restrict category, under Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening framework, a region’s incidence rate has to be below 40 cases per 100,000 residents. Of the federal government’s $19-billion Safe Restart Agreement, about $1.1 billion is dedicated for helping workers through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. It has been criticized by some advocates who say that narrow eligibility criteria, including the requirement of an at least 50 percent reduction in income in the prescribed period, while only $500 per week is offered for a maximum of two weeks, leaves many without proper support. “Paid sick days are necessary. Continuing to lob things off to the federal government is not acceptable. We need people to know that they can immediately take time off, make the right decision, and not have to worry that their next pay packet is going to be short,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at a media conference Tuesday. She urged the premier to call Ontario MPPs back to the legislature to advance a private member’s bill introduced last month by Peggy Sattler, opposition critic for employment standards. Following the current winter break, Queen’s Park is set to resume business in mid-February. Among proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act in Bill 239 (the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act) the NDP are tabling the requirement of 14 paid sick days instead of “unpaid leave in situations related to declared emergencies and infectious disease emergencies.” In Brampton, in addition to the risks facing essential workers in the City’s prominent manufacturing, transportation and food processing sectors, non-unionized workers face even more precarious conditions. “They should be confident enough that if I'm feeling any symptoms, right away, I go [get] tested, and I sit at home…I don't have to worry about three or four days that I lose or how I eat, or how I will pay my bills. That should not be the thing to worry right now,” said Gurbaaz Sra, a community advocate and team member of Humans in Brampton, a social media campaign calling attention to the plight of essential workers. Sra, a mechanical engineer, has heard dozens of stories from members of the South Asian-Canadian community in Brampton who also fear professional reprisal for speaking out, and share their experiences anonymously with Humans in Brampton via their Instagram and Twitter. Despite the reach of social media, Sra said digital literacy among new immigrants remains a barrier for accessing updates about the local COVID-19 picture and public health guidance. “The information is changing rapidly…so that needs to be understood,” he said. “To capture that, they need to make sure that the messaging reaches everyone.” Language barriers can also affect workers who are trying to advocate with their employer for further protections. “In certain cases…they are not really able to express their demands fully because a lot of workers in the warehousing industry are new immigrants to this country,” said Gagandeep Kaur, a postal worker and an organizer at the Brampton-based Warehouse Workers Centre for Peel. Social distancing concerns within warehouses is another common concern, said Kaur, who has worked in warehouses for the last 12 years and with the Centre when it launched last January. “Employers are not doing enough to protect the workers, we know with this new variant of COVID-19 that spreads like crazy…people are scared,” she said. In Mississauga, a recent outbreak at the International Mail Processing Centre, also known as the Gateway Postal Facility located at Eglinton Avenue and Dixie Road, resulted in a total 182 postal employees testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of January 1, Canada Post confirmed in a statement to The Pointer. Rapid tests were used on-site to identify new cases. Responding to The Pointer at a Mississauga press conference on Wednesday, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, explained how rapid tests have been deployed in the community but did not detail where, specifically, this has been done. “The idea would be to try to deploy things in a bit of a concentric circle, around the cases and clusters that have been initially identified,” he said. For Nathan Aitken, the option of on-site rapid testing at his auto-sector plant, complemented by an app-based pre-screening protocol to pass through the security checkpoint, and frequent temperature checks, are “good standards and practises to keep things safe, and keep people safe,” he said. While the advocacy around paid sick days continues in Peel, Aitken is facing work precarity on another front, in his role as a hip-hop and R&B emcee and producer under the moniker TempoMental. He previously toured Ontario and did a small project in Japan right before the pandemic, relying on show and merchandise revenue to fund his art. He is holding back his latest music to release it when touring will be possible, but did one show when some venues could reopen, between the first and second waves. Aitken appeared behind a large plastic screen, with a barricade between the stage and audience, with masks mandatory inside the venue, likening the show to a jazz club experience. “I’m a hip-hop dude so everybody usually crowds the stage and jumps around, and we really can’t do that now,” he said. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
KITZBÜHEL, Austria — Austrian skier Vincent Kriechmayr bounced back from two disappointing results in downhill over the weekend to win a men’s World Cup super-G on Monday, while Toronto's Jack Crawford posted a career-best sixth-place finish. Kriechmayr didn’t have a clean run but he charged all the way down the Streifalm course to edge Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.12 seconds. Kriechmayr posted the fastest time in the final downhill training on Thursday but failed to replicate the same speed in the races. He finished ninth on Friday and 17th on Sunday in the two downhills, which were both won by Beat Feuz of Switzerland. “I’m really proud about my race today and about my skiing,” Kriechmayr said. “After the downhill races, this is pretty cool.” Jeffrey Read of Canmore, Alta., was 18th and Brodie Seger of North Vancouver, B.C., was 21st. "Today was simple. I executed my plan and tried to have no expectations," Crawford said. "This is the first time all the boys have been in the top 30 together and it has to be the best day for us as a team." Feuz was more than 2.3 seconds off the lead in Monday’s race when he missed a gate and didn't finish. With the race rescheduled from Sunday, temperatures were significantly lower than in previous days, making for an icier surface full of bumps. Kriechmayr mastered the difficult conditions for his seventh career victory, but first of the season. “It was a good run. It wasn’t without mistakes but I was pretty much on the limit,” the Austrian said. “I wanted to come down without compromises. I’d rather go out than finish one or two seconds behind again.” The result sent him to the top of the discipline standings, overtaking Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Mauro Caviezel, who are both out with injuries. Ryan Cochran-Siegle, another super-G winner this season, was also missing. The American sustained a minor neck fracture in a downhill crash on Friday. Kriechmayr trailed Caviezel by three points in the standings last year when the season was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Austrian didn't read too much in getting the red bib as the discipline leader. “Last year, it was my goal, but I missed the globe (by) three points," Kriechmayr said. "Now I just want to ski my way, to be as fast as possible. That’s it." Austrian teammate Matthias Mayer placed third on Monday, 0.55 off the lead, for his third podium in four days. Christof Innerhofer trailed Mayer by four-hundredths of a second as the Italian finished fourth, just behind the Austrian for a second straight day. Alexis Pinturault, who sat out the two downhills this weekend, skied into 12th position to strengthen his lead in the overall standings. Kjetil Jansud, who won the race last year, continued his rough season by failing to finish his run. The Norwegian misjudged a jump and lacked direction to make a gate shortly afterward. Over the weekend, he placed 18th and 26th in the downhills. Dominik Paris lost hope of another strong result a few seconds into his run. The Italian, who has won four races in Kitzbühel in the past, slid away in a sharp right turn. He avoided falling with his hand in the snow but was slowed and finished more than two seconds off the lead. Nils Allègre had an awkward crash that sent him through two rows of safety nets, but the Frenchman got up and seemed unhurt. The race was interrupted again when Italian skier Davide Cazzaniga had to be taken off the hill by helicopter with an apparent right knee injury. The men’s World Cup continues with three slaloms: a night race in Schladming, Austria, on Tuesday and two events in Chamonix, France, this weekend. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
“Tropic of Stupid,” by Tim Dorsey (William Morrow) “Tropic of Stupid,” the 24th novel in Tim Dorsey’s series featuring obsessive-compulsive psychopath Serge Storms, finds the anti-hero and his drugged out sidekick, Colman, zipping around their beloved Florida in a borrowed sports car. As usual, they’ve got a kidnap victim whimpering in the trunk. This time, Serge is obsessed with researching his family tree, binge-watching all 155 episodes of an old Lloyd Bridges TV show called “Sea Hunt,” and visiting every state park in the Sunshine State. Along the way, he rubs out a scam artist who’s been preying on the elderly, destroys the national ambitions of a crooked politician and discovers that he’s not the only active serial killer inhabiting his family tree. Although Serge is a prolific killer, his victims are always creeps you might stab, set on fire or feed to sharks yourself if you weren’t squeamish about that sort of thing. The other homicidal maniac in the family prefers innocent victims, so Serge sets out hunt him down. This puts Serge in a competition of sorts with a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent working the same case. If this sounds all crazy to you, you’re right. Crazy is what Dorsey is all about. Like each of his previous novels, “Tropic of Stupid” is a wacky celebration of violence, depravity and the weirdness of Florida. Think the Three Stooges meet Ted Bundy. This one isn’t quite as funny as “Naked Came the Florida Man” (2020) or his tour de force, “The Big Bamboo” (2009), but it does have its moments, and it is told in Dorsey’s customary manic prose style. The book is apt to offend those who insist that drug use and murder are not fit subjects for humour, but it is sure to appeal to readers who think that Carl Hiaasen’s slapstick noir novels are too darned subtle. ___ Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.” Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
POLITIQUE. Le Bloc Québécois et la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche, sont convaincus que le NPD et les conservateurs accepteront de procéder rapidement à un court amendement législatif à la loi C-4 sur la prestation canadienne de maladie pour la relance économique (PCMRE) si le gouvernement rappelle le Parlement. Selon le chef du Bloc, Yves-François Blanchet, «le premier ministre hésite à régler tout de suite et clairement le grave problème de la prime au voyage de 1 000 $ qui découle de cette loi» malgré la volonté louable de remédier à la situation. Face aux critiques contre le versement de la PCMRE aux personnes de retour d’un voyage d’agrément, Justin Trudeau a promis plus tôt de rectifier le tir sans donner plus de détails. Il a précisé que l’objectif n’avait jamais été d’envoyer un chèque à ceux qui décident de partir en voyage, à l’encontre des avis de la santé publique. «La façon la plus rapide et efficace de procéder est un court amendement législatif à la loi C-4 qui réserve la prestation (PCMRE) uniquement en cas des déplacements essentiels. Cela exclut évidemment les vacances», a tranché la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche, selon un communiqué de son bureau. Elle précise que le rappel du Parlement peut se faire avec moins de 50 députés présents afin d’adopter une motion sur les procédures pour une durée de 24 heures et ensuite voter une loi. «Je n’imagine pas que quiconque voudra profiter de la situation pour soutirer des gains partisans». L’élue de Shefford estime que la solution du Bloc évite au gouvernement «un règlement unilatéral» ou de «pelleter vers l’avant la solution jusqu’au moment des impôts à la fin avril». Manque de leadership «Non seulement le gouvernement de Justin Trudeau a manqué de leadership depuis mars et suscité une vive inquiétude au Québec, mais il n’était pas du tout préparé à livrer les vaccins en quantité et en temps opportun, ce que dénoncent les experts en santé», a expliqué Yves-François Blanchet dans le communiqué. Les bloquistes reprochent à Ottawa d’avoir réagi trop tard lors de l’apparition de la nouvelle variante du coronavirus au Royaume-Uni et de n’avoir pas été rigoureux dans les contrôles auprès des voyageurs. Andréanne Larouche exhorte le gouvernement Trudeau à réduire les passages aux frontières aux déplacements essentiels, à demander des tests au départ et à l’arrivée et à « superviser lui-même de façon étroite les quarantaines.» «Il faut qu’Ottawa, comme les États-Unis et l’Europe, impose le remboursement des billets à des compagnies aériennes qu’il s’apprête à aider généreusement. Il est inacceptable que des gens qui ont acheté de bonne foi un voyage pour leur famille, avant même la pandémie, se fassent dire de renoncer au voyage et à l’argent», a-t-elle plaidé sur les vols annulés, assurant les libéraux de la collaboration sincère du parti. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — A 38-year-old man has been charged in connection with the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 16 in Niagara Region.Police say they launched the investigation last July and made the arrest on Friday.The suspect, a man from Niagara Falls, Ont., is charged with one count each of sexual assault and sexual interference.He's being held in custody and expected to appear in court at a later date.Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. The Canadian Press
ÉCONOMIE. Selon un sondage de la Fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante (FCEI), 34 % des dirigeants de PME au Québec affirment que leur entreprise manquera de liquidités avant l’été. «Ce n’est pas parce qu’on a changé d’année que la situation difficile pour les dirigeants de PME a subitement évolué. La situation est toujours aussi préoccupante et l’appui des gouvernements est toujours aussi nécessaire. Quand on considère que la majorité des entreprises de toutes les régions sont petites, il est d’autant plus stratégique pour le gouvernement de s’assurer que les mesures destinées à la relance les mettent à l’avant-plan. La FCEI va s’assurer de faire entendre les demandes des PME», mentionne François Vincent, vice-président de la FCEI, en précisant que les chefs de PME ont toujours fortement besoin (88 %) de l’appui du gouvernement selon le sondage. Ceux-ci voudraient, entre autres, que Québec poursuive la réduction du fardeau administratif (61 %), que l’offre de programmes misant sur les subventions plutôt que sur les prêts (60 %) et que l’imposition de toutes les petites entreprises soit au même taux réduit (57 %). Par ailleurs, la FCEI lance une pétition en ligne pour les dirigeants d’entreprises. «Les consultations prébudgétaires sont commencées, c’est le temps pour les PME de s’exprimer. J’invite tous les entrepreneurs à venir signer la pétition afin que le gouvernement du Québec n’impose pas les plus petites entreprises au même taux que les multinationales, qu’il offre des programmes de subventions aux entreprises qui vivent des répercussions dues aux restrictions gouvernementales et pour que, finalement, le gouvernement du Québec fasse le choix de miser sur les PME pour relancer son économie», indique François Vincent. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal