Thorin is a very sweet dog who loves to spend time with his duckling friends. Cuteness overload!
Thorin is a very sweet dog who loves to spend time with his duckling friends. Cuteness overload!
Canadians had something to celebrate as Catherine O'Hara took home a 2021 Golden Globe award for her role in "Schitt's Creek."
The U.S. Senate will start debating President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday after Democrats backed down from an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 as part of it. The backpedaling did not end hopes of addressing the minimum wage issue in Congress. Democrats and some Republicans have voiced support for the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, for the first time since 2009, although they disagree on how much.
A bulk of the trading in the $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange markets is expected to be on cloud technology over the next five years, according to a survey conducted by fintech firm Integral. Two-thirds of 94 heads and senior managers in currency trading at banks and buy-side institutions, surveyed between September 2020 and January 2021, expect to adopt the secure and cost effective cloud based solutions to "a significant degree" from just 26% now. Cloud technology, as against the widely used on-premise technology in foreign exchange trading, is hardly a new concept with companies increasingly using it to make data management more cost-effective, centralised and efficient.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Mar. 1, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 46,624 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,882,952 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 4,968.306 per 100,000. There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,441,670 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.12 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,827 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 20,285 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 38.739 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 33,820 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,485 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,176 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 76.758 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,987 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 32,019 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.81 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 5,135 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 26,317 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 33.738 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 13,856 new vaccinations administered for a total of 432,255 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 50.517 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 537,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 19,167 new vaccinations administered for a total of 687,271 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 46.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,894 new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,448 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 54.791 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 108,460 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.56 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,725 new vaccinations administered for a total of 78,226 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 66.341 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 104.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 8,982 new vaccinations administered for a total of 227,678 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.721 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.8 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 252,373 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 49.18 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 323,340 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 15,174 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 363.615 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 80.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,454 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 364.68 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 86.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 7,276 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 187.884 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Mar. 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit) As Meghan and Matt Brosens drove from Ontario to their newly purchased Cape Breton dairy farm, Meghan spent much of the trek trying to convince her husband they should open their own creamery. After successfully running their dairy operation for eight years, they have decided to open what will be the only creamery processing cow milk in Cape Breton. Meghan grew up on a dairy farm, but with her parents still active in their own farm, and land being in short supply in Ontario, the couple decided to purchase a farm in Skye Glen, Cape Breton in 2013. "It was quite a bit cheaper," Meghan said. The pair opened Brosendale Farms, which is home to 100 cows. The couple has built up the farm and their family with the addition of two daughters. The couple had never even visited the East Coast prior to moving to Cape Breton. "I always kind of think of it as a diamond in the rough sort of thing.... I think the fact that we came from away to here made us appreciate everything more, said Matt. "You know, it's just a wonderful place, especially raising the kids." Heidi and Sophie Brosens are shown with Temperance the Jersey cow. Meghan always wanted to run her own creamery but it was hard to make that dream a reality in Ontario. "It wasn't really an option to take over my parents' farm because they're still going and, like, I live off of cheese, basically, like I've never had a cavity," laughed Meghan. Although Matt said the farm is running at its highest capacity, he was hesitant to follow Meghan's dream for a creamery. Then the pandemic hit. "I always shot it down, but with COVID, it seemed like that sort of thing was the only thing that took off," Matt said. "These local foods was what took off." Like other farms throughout the pandemic, Brosendale Farms saw customers take a keen interest in food produced locally. According to Matt, businesses making cheese in Quebec have fared well during the pandemic and that provided him with some confirmation this was something that could work on the island. The farm is home to 100 cows. The creamery, to open this spring, will be called Skye Glen Creamery. The Brosens have put up a new building on their farm that will have large windows so customers can see the creamery in operation. Matt would also like to have school classes visit. "It would just give them a better understanding of where their food comes from and everything like that, because where else are they going to get to see that?" The storefront will also feature a machine where customers can pour their own milk into reusable glass bottles, similar to growlers in a brewery. They'll also sell cheese in various forms, butter and other products. Meghan, who has a bit of a sweet tooth, wants to look at chocolate milk, too. According to Matt, the number of dairy farms in Nova Scotia has been decreasing, even since they arrived in 2013. He and Meghan hope having their own creamery will ensure the future of their farm. MORE TOP STORIES:
NEW YORK — With homebound nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and amid a storm of criticism for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with top awards going to “Nomadland,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Crown” and “Schitt's Creek.” The night's top award, best picture drama, went to Chloé Zhao's elegiac road movie “Nomadland," a Western set across economic upheaval and personal grief. Zhao, the China-born filmmaker of, became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. She’s only the second woman in the history of the Globes to win, and the first since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl” in 1984. “'Nomadland at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” said Zhao, accepting the awards remotely. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you." With a cancelled red carpet and stars giving speeches from the couch, Sunday's Globes had little of their typically frothy flavour. But they went on, nevertheless, with winners in sweats and dogs in laps, in a pandemic that has sapped nearly all the glamour out of Hollywood. Facing scant traditional studio competition, streaming services dominated the Globes like never before — even if the top award went to a familiar if renamed source: Searchlight Pictures, formerly the Fox specialty label of “12 Years a Slave” and “The Shape of Water” now owned by the Walt Disney Co. Amazon's “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — one of the few nominated films shot partly during the pandemic — won best film, comedy or musical. Its star guerilla comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen, also won best actor in a comedy. Referring to Rudy Giuliani's infamous cameo, Cohen thanked “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius.” “I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping," said Cohen. Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher). “The Queen's Gambit” won best limited series, and best actress in the category for Anya Taylor-Joy. “Schitt's Creek,” the Pop TV series that found a wider audience on Netflix, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O'Hara also took best actress in a comedy series. Chadwick Boseman, as expected, posthumously won best actor in a drama film for his final performance, in the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — a Netflix release. Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully, emotionally accepted the award. “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” said Ledward. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring.” Apple TV+ scored its first major award when a sweatshirt-clad Jason Sudeikis won best actor in a comedy series for the streamer's “Ted Lasso.” The NBC telecast began in split screen. Fey took the stage at New York's Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes' usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other. “I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy," said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.” They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said. In a production nightmare but one that's become familiar during the pandemic, the night's first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You're doing me dirty!" Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday's Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.” Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association appeared on stage to pledge change. "We recognize we have our own work to do," said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” Whether those statements — along with a diverse group of winners — did enough to remedy anything remained unclear. The moment the show ended, Time's Up sent letters to both the HFPA and NBCUniveral demanding more than lip service. “The Globes are no longer golden. It’s time to act,” wrote Tina Tchen, the group's president. COVID-19 circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside. Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari" (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She's the reason I made this film,” said Chung. “'Minari' is about a family. It's a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It's a language of the heart," said Chung. “I'm trying to learn it myself and to pass it on." John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen's “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") won one of the biggest surprise Globes, for best supporting actress in a film, while, sitting on the couch next her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and with her dog, Ziggy on her lap. Some speeches were pre-taped. The previously recorded speeches by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the wining “Soul" score went without hiccup even though presenter Tracy Morgan first announced “Sal" as the winner. Even if speeches sometimes lacked drama without Hollywood gathered in one place, representation was a common refrain. Pointedly referring to the diversity of the HFPA, presenter and previous winner Sterling K. Brown began, “Thank you. It is great to be Black at the Golden Globes,” he said. “Back.” Jane Fonda, the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree, spoke passionately about expanding the big tent of entertainment for all. “Art has always been not just in step in history but has lead the way,” said Fonda. “So let’s be leaders.” Other awards included Pixar's “Soul” for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot"; Aaron Sorkin ("Trial of the Chicago 7") for best screenplay; and, in the night's biggest surprise, Andra Day ("The United States vs. Billie Holiday") for best actress in a drama, besting Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman") and Frances McDormand ("Nomadland"). As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. The Academy Awards will be held April 25. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
Human Rights Watch and Rohingya Muslim refugees in India urged the government on Monday to provide refuge to 81 Rohingya people whose boat has been drifting in the Andaman Sea for over two weeks. Since last month, India has been providing food, medical and technical aid to Rohingya crammed on a fishing boat that was found drifting in international waters after it left southern Bangladesh. India's coast guard has repaired the vessel but was not permitting it to enter Indian waters, and instead wanted it to return to Bangladesh.
Former Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi says he believes he was surveilled by Canadian intelligence while he lived in Montreal.
TORONTO — Ontario's website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments will begin a "soft launch" in six public health units this week, two weeks before it becomes available across the province, The Canadian Press has learned. But the website will not be available to the general population in those regions, said a senior government source not authorized to speak publicly about the plan. Instead, public health officials will reach out to a small number of individuals who are 80 or older, as well as some eligible health-care workers, starting Monday. The source said the plan will help the province test components of the system before the full launch, determine whether any changes need to be made to the system and organize the vaccination of larger populations. The site is a "public-facing extension" of the COVaxON system the province has been using since the start of the vaccine rollout, the source said, and will also serve to keep track of inoculation data. The regions participating in the soft launch are Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington; Peterborough County-City; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark; Grey Bruce; and Lambton. The source noted the site will not be available to other regions before March 15, even those that have already begun vaccinating members of the 80-and-over age group such as York and Peel. Those regions must use "existing relationships with residents" to book the vaccinations until the online platform launches on March 15, when they're expected to switch to the provincial system. The source said the website will focus at first on appointments at mass vaccination sites, but the province will work with public health units in the coming weeks to make sure it's compatible with other facilities such as hospital sites and mobile clinics. The government has faced criticism for what some describe as the slow rollout of its vaccine booking portal, which is expected to launch the same day the head of the vaccine task force said people aged 80 and over would start getting the shots. Retired general Rick Hillier said his team was "furiously working" to test and refine the site so it would be up-and-running on time. Health Minister Christine Elliott defended the timeline, saying the government was still testing the site and wanted to ensure it won't crash when it goes live. "We don't want to rush to failure,'' she said last week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
(Ka’nhehsí:io Deer/CBC - image credit) For Onowakohton Rusty Nolan, the people's fire in Kahnawake, Que., has become a second home. It's where he feels a sense of comfort, comradery and unity and is able to show solidarity to First Nations across the country facing injustices. "It's a symbol of our resistance," said Nolan. "It's a symbol of who we are, our strength, and lately it's been a place to give us a little bit of hope." The fire, which is located in a green space at the foot of the Honoré Mercier Bridge, was lit on Feb. 8, 2020 when community members blockaded Canadian Pacific Railway lines in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs' ongoing opposition to the Coastal GasLink project in northern B.C. Even though the barricades have since come down, the fire still burns a year later. The people's fire, housed behind this wooden structure, was moved to a green space at the foot of the Honoré Mercier Bridge when the railway barricade was dismantled on March 5, 2020. Nolan, who is one of the firekeepers, said being there evokes a sense of pride. "It's like we're on standby for Wet'suwet'en. We didn't want to give up. We didn't want to go home," he said. "I feel like I'm letting people know that I'm there and they can sleep tight at night. It's a nice big warm fire that is spreading positive vibes far." The fire is moved to its new location March 5, 2020 after the dismantling of barriers that halted rail traffic south of Montreal for more than three weeks. Ongoing fight Roxann Whitebean, a filmmaker in Kahnawake, was asked to read a letter last year to a crowd of reporters on behalf of the people of the fire, explaining the decision to take down the blockade. She said the fact that the camp is still up and the fire is still going sends a powerful message. "It's still a solidarity fire burning for the Wet'suwet'en, and I'm happy that people are still going and that there's a level of visibility there," said Whitebean. "Their fight is ongoing so we have to remind people that they are still dealing with this." A delegation of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs walks toward the Longhouse to meet with members of the Kahnawake branch of the Mohawk Nation in February 2020. The hereditary chiefs still oppose the pipeline, and the support has not gone unnoticed. "It's a continued fight and I really appreciate the fire is still on with the alliance we're building with Kahnawake," Wet'suwet'en hereditary Chief Woos said. "We stood up to create awareness, and that awareness has been a highlight of what is actually out there which is racism. The message that I get to Indigenous people is to continue to stand up against this racism." A place for solidarity In addition to showing solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs throughout 2020, the people's fire also helped raise awareness locally of the Black Lives Matter movement, 1492 Land Back Lane, and the plight of Mi'kmaw lobster fishers. The show of solidarity is something Whitebean said the people's fire has been doing for well over a decade and will continue to do. "Even when the physical structure comes down, the people still carry that same love within their hearts to want to make social change and to try to better our nation and and amplify the voices of people who are dealing with injustice within their communities," she said. As for Nolan, he said he just wants people who pass by the camp to know that it's a place of solidarity, unity and peace rather than harmful stereotypes often portrayed in media when Indigenous people use blockades to raise awareness of injustices. "We're Mohawks. We're still here. We're not going anywhere, and we're here for peace," said Nolan. "The fire is still there because our issues are neverending. Every time our fire is lit, it lasts longer and longer. It just seems like our resistance is becoming brighter and brighter."
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson has support in some accounting and auditing circles for the merit of her request to gain access to the financial records of the pension investment and management body Vestcor, but her office is not saying if she is prepared yet to escalate the effort into a legal fight. "The Auditor General respectfully declines to comment at this time," wrote spokesperson Jolyne Roy about whether a court application is under consideration. Adair-MacPherson appeared before the legislature's Crown corporations committee last week and gave a lengthy presentation to MLAs about her effort to gain access to the internal financial documents of Vestcor. Vestcor is the Fredericton-based organization set up to manage what is now $18 billion in New Brunswick government pension and other funds. It used to be a Crown agency, but in 2016 was reorganized as an independent body to allow it to solicit outside accounts and contends it is no longer subject to Adair-MacPherson's authority. She disputes that on several grounds, but Premier Blaine Higgs has sided with Vestcor and said his government will not pass special legislation Adair-MacPherson has requested to require the body to submit to her oversight. Vestcor president John Sinclair earned $375,000 in salary in 2019 and performance bonuses of $882,721. Adair-MacPherson told MLAs last week that if government took that position she might be forced to mount a legal challenge to assert her right to audit Vestcor. "Depending on how this plays out and what the response is to our recommendations, eventually it might have to be a decision made in the courts," she said. "If they don't agree, then the option to the auditor general is to go the legal route, which I would find very unfortunate." On Thursday, Higgs told CBC News Vestcor no longer has ties to the provincial government and the province has no more responsibility to oversee its affairs than the affairs of any outside body like a big bank. "Vestcor was set up as an independent operation not unlike other financial institutions," said Higgs. "I don't have any responsibility for TD either or the Bank of Nova Scotia." But Adair-MacPherson told MLAs that in her view Vestcor maintains strong connections to the provincial government that make it essential she be allowed to oversee its operations. She said it was created by a special act of legislature and given unique non-profit status by lawmakers. In addition, she said it was handed billions of dollars in government employee pension dollars to manage without having to compete for the business. Premier Blaine Higgs said he views Vestcor as an independent financial institution and New Brunswick has no special role to oversee its operations. Vestcor is jointly owned by the province's two largest public pension funds serving civil servants and teachers. Those funds each have provincial government representation on their boards of trustees, which adds to the connections, she believes. "There are just so many components to it that when I sit back and look at it, to me, it should be held accountable to the public," said Adair-MacPherson. "My office, I feel, should be able to have access the same as we always did in the past to do both financial audit work and performance audits." Steven Salterio, the current Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Accounting and Auditing at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said Adair-MacPherson will have difficulty winning the right to look into Vestcor's operations, but there is merit in the argument she is making. "I think the auditor general is correct in that she should have the mandate to deal with this newly privatized corporation from the point of view this is strictly a government entity," said Salterio. "This is a lot of provincial money going into an organization that is not accountable to the auditor general." Steven Salterio is the Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Accounting and Auditing at Queen's University. He said Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson's interest in looking at Vestcor has merit but is not surprised the body is resisting. According to New Brunswick's public accounts, the province paid Vestcor $327.9 million last year as its share of employee pension contributions. Adair-MacPherson has said she is interested in testing Vestcor claims that it is meeting and beating its investment targets and looking into whether incentive and bonus programs for Vestcor executives are reasonable. In 2019, the last full year it published an annual report, Vestcor posted investment returns of 11.76 percent, which placed it in the bottom quarter of Canadian pension funds for the year, according to a ranking by the Royal Bank of Canada. Still, Vestcor reported those results were $107 million higher than its "benchmark" targets, helping to boost bonuses and incentives to its employees to $5.3 million, including $882,721 to its president, John Sinclair. Sinclair's base salary is $375,000. "We would do a performance audit to determine whether [bonuses] are reasonable given the business they are in," said Adair-MacPherson. "We would audit to determine whether in fact we agree with the claims that they're making in their annual report, but right now there's no way to do that." Salterio said in hindsight the time for the auditor general to win access to Vestcor was back in 2016 while legislation that created the body was being debated and adopted. The Royal Bank of Canada said 119 major Canadian pension funds it tracked in 2019 generated average returns of 14 per cent. Vestcor's investment return of 11.76 per cent placed it somewhere in the bottom 30, although it beat its own internal benchmarks. He said performance audits can be grueling and he's not surprised Vestcor is doing whatever it can to escape that level of scrutiny. "You certainly wouldn't volunteer to give the auditor general a mandate if you were a private-sector organization," said Salterio. "But at the same time you have to have it set up so that the legislative intent is clear and as far as I can see there is no legislative intent that the auditor general have a mandate." New Brunswick's Auditor General Act grants broad powers to look at any "auditable entity," which can include "a service provider" to government or "a funding recipient." Adair-MacPherson told MLAs her office believes that is enough legal authority for her to gain access to Vestcor without an amendment to legislation, although that would be the easier route. "It might have to be a decision made in the courts, but I surely hope it doesn't come to that because that's a costly, lengthy exercise," she said.
RENNES, France — Rennes coach Julien Stephan has stepped down from this position following a poor run of results this year. The French league team thanked Stephan for all the “exceptional results” secured with the club. Stephan took over as Rennes head coach in 2018. He led the Brittany side to a stunning victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the 2019 French Cup final. He also helped the team qualify for the Champions League group stage for the first time last season. But Rennes slumped to a fourth consecutive loss in all competitions last week and has won only one game in 2021. The Associated Press
(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit) It's impossible to know when exactly a minority Parliament will fall apart, and no amount of speculation is ever going to make that any clearer. But if you're the leader of a federal political party, it's never too early to start posturing about who will be to blame whenever that next election actually occurs. That's presumably at least part of the explanation for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's recent declaration that he and his party won't "trigger" an election until a sufficient number of Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the pandemic has been contained. Strictly speaking, there is only one MP in the House of Commons who has the power to single-handedly trigger an election — the prime minister. On any given day, Justin Trudeau could walk over to Rideau Hall and ask the governor general, or the governor general's interim replacement, to dissolve Parliament and sign the writs for a new election. Since he currently commands the confidence of the House and it has been more than a year since the last election, the governor general or the official administrator would have no grounds to refuse such a request. As the leader of the fourth party, Singh's influence over the timing of the next election is more limited. But his party's 24 MPs can provide the swing vote whenever the Conservatives or Bloc Québécois are unwilling to support the government — as the NDP did for last fall's throne speech and when the Liberals said they would regard a Conservative motion as a matter of confidence in October. At the time of that motion, which would have established what was originally billed as an anti-corruption committee, Singh said Trudeau was "looking for an excuse" to call an election, but the NDP was not going to give him one. But how far is Singh willing to go to avoid an election? During a news conference this week, Singh said on "any confidence vote," the NDP will "vote to keep the government going." But an NDP spokesperson said on Friday the party is not promising to support government legislation, including the budget that is expected to be delivered this spring, which would certainly be considered a matter of confidence. So, however much the NDP thinks an election should be avoided — and whatever Singh says about not triggering an election — it very much remains to be seen what that will actually mean in practice. Preparing for an election Last week, Singh also challenged Trudeau to match his own commitment: "Will the prime minister commit today in this chamber that he will not call an election while we are fighting this pandemic, yes or no?" But Trudeau was not willing to offer any such guarantee. "Mr. Speaker, we know well that in a minority Parliament, the government does not have the sole power to decide when we go into an election," he said. "The opposition members have a role to play not only in providing confidence for the House, but also by being able to function appropriately to deliver the help to Canadians that Canadians so seriously need." WATCH | Singh asks Trudeau to pledge not to trigger an election during the pandemic: It's not clear why any prime minister would take the possibility of an election off the table — at least not without a firm guarantee the government's entire agenda would be passed. In a minority Parliament, everything is a negotiation, and a threat to take a dispute to the voters is always a potential point of leverage. Not that any government wants to be seen as obviously agitating for an election, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. After it was reported in January that Trudeau had told the Liberal Party's board of directors that a spring election looked likely, the Conservative Party charged that the prime minister was paying more attention to preparing for a re-election campaign than to dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, seen during a recent news conference, has been featured in television ads recently. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has said an election "should be at a time when the country is not in this acute state of crisis." But then Conservatives have also started nominating candidates and running television ads to promote O'Toole — the sorts of things a party does when it is thinking about the next election. The pandemic undoubtedly adds a degree of complexity to any election calculation. Three provinces — British Columbia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan — got through campaigns without significant problems last year. But they may have been merely lucky, and the disarray in Newfoundland and Labrador is likely cause for any federal leader to think twice about precipitating an election. Notwithstanding that concern, the battle to frame the exact moment of this Parliament's dissolution will now continue for however long it takes to get to another election. In 2011, the interests of the opposition parties aligned enough that they were willing to find Stephen Harper's government in contempt. In 1974, Pierre Trudeau's government managed to draft a budget it was willing to campaign on but fairly certain the NDP would be unable to support. Prime Minister Stephen Harper basks in confetti after winning a second minority government on Oct. 14, 2008, in Calgary. But 2008 offers perhaps the most instructive example. In that case, Harper's Conservatives wanted to go to an election. But the opposition wasn't willing to defeat them in the House and the Conservatives had passed legislation that was supposed to establish that elections would only occur on a fixed date every four years — though the law stopped short of preventing the governor general from dissolving Parliament on the advice of the prime minister. Choosing when to go So Harper went looking for an excuse to call an election. He summoned each of the leaders of the opposition parties to meetings and asked them if they were willing to support the government's agenda until the fixed election date. Quite predictably, they scoffed at the suggestion. At which point, Harper claimed there was obviously no path forward and it was time for an election. Somewhat similarly, a cynical observer might read Trudeau's allusion to Parliament "being able to function appropriately" as a hint of how he might find a reason to go to an election. Harper's decision to ignore his fixed-date legislation was briefly a point of debate in 2008. But it was quickly overtaken by the actual issues and controversies of the election, including the stock market meltdown that occurred in the middle of the campaign. A similar sequence played out in 2011. By the end of that campaign, the finding of contempt was a footnote. The lessons here seem twofold. First, if the prime minister really wants to have an election, he'll probably be able to find an excuse to have one. And, second, there is a decent chance that all of the posturing that preceded the election will rapidly be forgotten as parties and voters turn to talking about what every election is ultimately about: the future.
A battle between lawsuits related to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash is to be heard in a Regina courtroom this week. Eleven lawsuits were filed after the crash on April 6, 2018. Sixteen people died and 13 were injured when the driver of a semi-truck blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the junior hockey team's bus near Tisdale, Sask. Lawyers for a proposed class action waiting for certification plan to ask a judge Friday to delay another lawsuit filed by five of the victims families until that's done. The possible delay has some of the families frustrated. "We want to put certain pieces of this behind us. When they get dragged out longer and longer, it just makes it harder and harder. It causes more pain," said Chris Joseph, a former NHL player from St. Albert, Alta. His 20-year-old son, Jaxon, died in the crash. The proposed class action so far includes the families of 24-year-old Dayna Brons, the team's athletic therapist from Lake, Lenore, Sask., who died in hospital after the crash, and injured goalie Jacob Wassermann, 21, from Humboldt, Sask. The suit names the Saskatchewan government, the inexperienced truck driver who caused the crash and the Calgary-based company that employed him. Vancouver lawyer John Rice said the request for a stay, or delay, is about fairness. "In situations where numerous claimants are harmed from the same event — and where the legal findings in one proceeding could impact all the others — the court needs to strike a balance between the competing interests of individual litigants to ensure that the most efficient and just process is adopted," Rice said. "In these awful circumstances, in this application, the court is being asked to exercise the 'least-worst' option, which is to press pause on the progress of one action until the application for certification is heard." Kevin Mellor of Regina, lawyer for the other lawsuit, said a delay would put his clients' claim at risk. He represents the Joseph family as well as the families of Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.; Logan Hunter, 18, of St. Albert, Alta.; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt, Sask.; and assistant coach Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask. They all died from the crash. That lawsuit, in addition to naming the Saskatchewan government, the driver and his employer, also lists the bus company as a defendant. Mellor said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the crash, but could be deported to India before their lawsuit gets to trial. "If the class action is going to delay ... they're going to miss out on material evidence because this guy will be deported," Mellor said. "We need to giddy-up and go." Co-counsel, Sharon Fox, said their clients shouldn't be punished because they were first to file a lawsuit. "We filed our claim in July 2018, three months after the crash happened," Fox said. "We have been at this for almost two years ... They're trying to hold us back, put us on the sidelines, so they can catch up. We're saying that's not fair and that's going to impact our client's ability to prove our case." Their clients also don't want to put their healing on hold any longer, she said. An affidavit from Herold's father, Russ Herold, was filed in advance of Friday's hearing. "I feel I will suffer psychological harm if my lawsuit is delayed," he says in the document. "I want to advance my lawsuit to hold responsible those that should be held responsible for my son's death." Lawyers for the Saskatchewan government recently argued in court that, because of the province's no-fault insurance, it should be struck as a defendant from the class action. A judge has not yet ruled on that application. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
China's Inner Mongolia will end all cryptocurrency mining projects and stop reviewing new projects in industries which consume large amounts of energy, such as steel, coke and methanol production, as it attempts to meet energy efficiency targets. The region was the only one of 30 mainland areas under Beijing's energy consumption and energy intensity review that failed to meet the targets in 2019, drawing criticism from the central government in September due to its poor achievement. Now China's No.2 coal mining region, a major energy consumer, aims to cap energy consumption growth at around 5 million tonnes of standard coal equivalent in 2021, according to a draft rule issued by the regional state planner.
(Robert Krbavac/CBC - image credit) David Rooney couldn't believe what he was seeing when he looked out his front window in June and saw a Bell Canada contract employee aiming a high-pressure water excavator — the same one he'd been using to dig holes in the ground — at Rooney's car, peeling the paint right off. "There was quite a wash of water, probably 10 feet high," Rooney told Go Public. "So I came up to find that he's washing my car and asked him to stop immediately." By that time though, the damage was done — $1,500 worth. After accidentally splashing mud on Rooney's 2012 Hyundai Genesis, which was parked in the driveway, the worker used a power tool called a hydrovac excavator to try to clean it off. The worker was one of hundreds Bell hired to install fibre optic lines across the country, including on Rooney's street. Rooney figured getting compensation would be simple. After all, the worker admitted it was his fault. Instead, Rooney spent the next seven months battling both Bell and the company it hired to do the work on its behalf, Super Sucker Hydro Vac Service, for the cost of the damage. In many cases, property owners have no choice but to allow telecommunications companies on to their property. Land titles often include rights of way which allow city workers and other service providers to come onto a property when doing work considered essential. Fixing the paint peeled off Rooney's car cost $1,500. But when that work leads to damage, consumers are often treated like a "hot potato" that none of the companies involved want to compensate, says John Lawford, the executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a non-profit organization that provides legal and research services on behalf of consumers. "There's a very low likelihood of getting any money back if the company or the telco resists paying you … chances are you're going to get nothing [or] face a legal battle if you want to fight it," Lawford said. Contractors 'ultimately responsible' Rooney says when his car was damaged, Bell refused to offer any compensation and pointed him to Super Sucker. That company passed him to its insurance provider, Federated Insurance. "And they said that I should not be dealing with them, but going to my own insurance company. So I called my insurance company and found that I have a $500 deductible that will come out of pocket. I didn't think that was fair," he said. It wasn't until Go Public contacted the two companies months later that Super Sucker finally compensated Rooney. WATCH | High-pressure hydrovac digs into the ground: In an email to Go Public, Super Sucker spokesperson Mark Elias says the issue should have been settled by the insurance companies. "This is not a matter that should be handled by anyone internally or by Mr. Rooney himself — that's why we pay for insurance in the first place, not only to cover any of the financial costs of an incident but to handle the whole process from start to finish," Elias wrote. Bell spokesperson Nathan Gibson says the company's contractors are "ultimately responsible" for resolving complaints when they do damage and says Bell provides oversight until there is resolution. But in Rooney's case, Gibson says the situation wasn't handled to the company's standards and that the contractor didn't meet its obligations. It says it apologizes to Rooney for his experience. "There was a serious issue with communication from our contractor and we have addressed the incident with them," Gibson wrote in an email to Go Public. 'It's happening all the time' Rooney got his money, but Grace McLeod of Brantford, Ont., is still waiting for Bell to pay up. McLeod isn't even a Bell customer — her internet provider is Rogers. But when Bell employees installed underground fibre optic lines on her condo property in September, they cut the Rogers lines, cutting off McLeod's internet service and leaving her unable to work for the day. "So I said to the three guys working next to the hydro box, 'Are you guys from Bell Canada? And they said, yes. And I said, 'Did you just cut my Rogers lines?' And they said, no," McLeod told Go Public. But a few hours later, she says a Rogers technician confirmed the lines had been cut, telling her it's happening "all the time." McLeod — who works in collections — tried to get Bell to pay for the wages she lost when she wasn't online working, but was told no since she's not a Bell customer. Grace McLeod says Bell employees cut internet lines near her condo, leaving her unable to work for the day. "Every step I took I was stonewalled, and I guess that's how they get rid of people because they stonewall you," she said. Gibson, the Bell spokesperson, says the company did all the checks required to find lines belonging to its competition, but "no cable location information was provided." "Bell cannot be responsible for such a break," Gibson wrote. "If Mrs. McLeod had been a Bell customer, we could have credited her account for the temporary loss of service, but would not offer compensation for additional claims such as lost wages." Bell says it's about halfway through a major project that involves installing fibre lines to service as many as 10 million homes in seven provinces. The company says it has a "straightforward and reliable" complaint process that "works very well even considering the extraordinary volume of our activity." 'Many barriers' to compensation Legally, Lawford says both Bell and the third-party companies it hires to do its work are potentially liable for damage. Proving lost wages is more difficult, he says. But getting compensation can be tough if the companies don't co-operate. For one, Canada's telecom mediator, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), doesn't deal with property damage or lost wage complaints, so customers are left dealing directly with the companies, going to small claims court or hiring a lawyer. The last two options can be intimidating, time consuming and expensive, says Lawford — leading many people to give up. Bell's terms of service also cap compensation for damage at $20 or an amount equal to what customer paid for the service during the time it was unavailable. But it's more than just legal responsibility, Lawford says. "Is this really a conversation we should be having about which person catches the hot potato? Shouldn't it be the consumer getting redress for something that it doesn't really matter whose fault, strictly speaking, it is legally?" he said. "We need a fix." John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre says if companies responsible for property damage don't want to co-operate, it's tough for homeowners to get compensation. The fix Go Public asked Bell how many property owners have been compensated for property damage and how much it has paid out over the last five years. It didn't answer. The CCTS says it's received 180 reports of property damage from customers over the last five years related to the installation of services by telecoms or their contractors. Lawford says he suspects many incidents go unreported. "I would suspect it's happening often because there are millions of installs and repairs going on," he said. The fix, he says, is expanding the role of the CCTS to deal with property access and damage. He points to Australia, where the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has been resolving rights of way and property damage disputes between customers and telecoms for more than a decade. "There's no real reason to not have that in Canada," he said. It has the power to make binding decisions up to about $50,000 and can direct a telecommunications carrier to compensate a landowner for reasonable costs associated with fixing any damage caused to their property. Telecommunications carriers and eligible service providers are required to be members of the TIO and fund its operation. Lawford says it shouldn't be hard to set up a system like the one in Australia, since Canadian telecoms already have to pay CCTS membership fees annually. The amount is based on the size of the company, and if you have higher complaint numbers, you pay a bit more. McLeod now has a sign on her property, denying Bell access. Rooney supports the idea of a telecom-funded system that deals with complaints like his, so does McLeod. McLeod is one of those rare cases where the telecom providers need her permission to go onto the property, and she says she'll never give it again. "I have a sign out there on my letter box," she said. "If they come back, I'll ask the police to have them removed because I truly don't want any more damage, especially if they're not going to stand behind what they do." Bell says it will honour her request. Submit your story ideas Go Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web. We tell your stories, shed light on wrongdoing and hold the powers that be accountable. If you have a story in the public interest, or if you're an insider with information, contact GoPublic@cbc.ca with your name, contact information and a brief summary. All emails are confidential until you decide to Go Public. Read more stories by Go Public.
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images - image credit) Officials with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation acknowledge the future of Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax will have to be discussed once the pandemic is over. The casino has struggled with declining revenues for a decade and COVID-19 kept it closed for most of a year. Documents released to CBC show one of options on the table is a move away from the waterfront location where the casino has been located since 2000. The documents also show revenues from the casino have been sinking to an "unsustainable" level for about 15 years. "In our peak year, which would have been in the mid-2000s, we probably did about $75 million in revenue, and then over time it decreased by 30 per cent," said Bob MacKinnon, the CEO of Nova Scotia Gaming, the Crown corporation that oversees the gaming business in the province. "So certainly that wouldn't have been sustainable." He said having a viable casino is important. "It's a real gem in our city and it offers a safe, regulated environment. Lots of entertainment happens at the casino. It's a very social place." However, MacKinnon said that the biggest challenge is to understand how people will want to socialize in the future. He said Nova Scotia Gaming would seek to understand this together with the casino's operator, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. Bob MacKinnon is president and CEO of Nova Scotia Gaming, the Crown corporation that oversees the gambling business in Nova Scotia. "Entertainment, music, food, as well as the gaming aspects are all integral parts of the casino. And so the biggest challenge is for us to understand [is], 'Are Nova Scotians wanting to get back into a social environment? And when?'" Shrinking profits When the casino opened in 2000 it employed 750 people but that number has shrunk to 300. It reached peak revenues in 2006-2007, taking in $74.5 million in that year. Over the following years, that steadily dropped to $54.1 million in 2014-2015. Any profits from the casino go to the province, said MacKinnon. In the year preceding the pandemic, revenue from the casino was $65.6 million, and quarterly reports filed by the gaming corporation show all the Nova Scotia casinos saw a loss during the pandemic. The casino shut down last March due to COVID-19. It reopened on Oct. 5, only to be shut down again by a Public Health order that took effect between Nov. 26-Jan. 8. As of the end of February, casinos in Nova Scotia were permitted to be open. A 2016 briefing note at Nova Scotia Gaming attributed some of the decline in revenues at the casino in Halifax to outside VLTs. "If we come in around $9 million in 2021, that's probably a reasonable estimate at this point in time," MacKinnon said. Moving the location In a 2016 briefing note to Nova Scotia Gaming's board of directors, staff attributed the drop in revenues to "changing player preferences," a ban on smoking and "rising competition from First Nations VLTs and the internet." MacKinnon said the need for investment in the building, combined with decline in revenues, caused Nova Scotia Gaming to start considering its options in 2014. As well, the organization thought the proposed Cogswell Interchange redevelopment would have a negative effect on foot traffic to the casino. "We thought, OK, if we're going to be looking at longer-term investments in the building, should we consider whether we should relocate? So that's when we undertook the assessment as to what other options might be there," said MacKinnon. A server organizes the VLT area at a Royal Canadian Legion location in Winnipeg in 2018. Staff came up with a proposal with five options for relocating the casino to other spots around the city. In the documents released to CBC under freedom of information, the proposed locations are mostly blacked out, although two of them are in the Bayers Lake business park area. One of those options suggested taking an existing building to make into a casino, "which would significantly reduce the capital required." Staff considered, but ruled out, the old World Trade and Convention Centre and the former Halifax Library. MacKinnon said some criteria for scoring potential new locations involved ease of access by car or other transportation, an available building and the cost of the space. The plans are shelved for the duration of the pandemic. MacKinnon said it is possible that the best option is to stay at the existing location. "It's really too early for us to say when we're going to open up the file again and give this another another look," he said. There were 550 slot machines at the casino in Halifax when the relocation proposal was being assessed in 2016. "We just need to understand more about what the post-pandemic world is going to look like before we spend much effort and certainly before we spend any money on investment, whether it's an existing location or assessing others." MacKinnon foresees Nova Scotia returning to its pre-pandemic ways at some point. Documents originally withheld CBC first began seeking information about the casino relocation project in April 2017, following a tip from the public. An application for information to Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation under freedom of information rules was denied. The gaming organization declined to release any documents. CBC appealed that decision to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Nova Scotia, and in January 2021 an investigator was assigned. The delay was due to a backlog of cases. The investigator from the privacy commissioner's office helped arrange an agreement between CBC and Nova Scotia Gaming to release the requested documents, which had significant redactions. "At the time, we were doing an assessment and ultimately we would need to get government approval," MacKinnon said. "Anything that we would be putting forth for executive council approval would be subject to protections, exemptions." MacKinnon said Nova Scotia Gaming tries to be open, transparent and accountable, and lists information on its website, which includes documents like financial statements and expenses for senior leadership. "I will acknowledge that we took a broad approach on the exemption. And with the benefit of hindsight, we realized that we could have released some of the content," he said. MORE TOP STORIES However, MacKinnon said that the biggest challenge is to understand how people will want to socialize in the future. MacKinnon said NSGC would seek to understand this together with the casino operator, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation."
The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad held discussions on Monday with a senior Afghan official in Kabul over ways to accelerate the peace process, before heading to Qatar, where negotiations with Taliban representatives are ongoing. U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Afghan government and the militant group began in September but progress has slowed and violence has risen, while there is also uncertainty over whether international forces will pull out troops by May as originally planned. The State Department said in a statement on Sunday that Khalilzad and his team were visiting Kabul and Qatar.
OTTAWA — The federal government hopes to start receiving doses of AstraZeneca’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine this week as the flood of shots that flowed into Canada from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna last week partially subsides. Health Canada announced on Friday that it had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third COVID-19 shot to have received regulatory approval since the start of the pandemic. Canada has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine, with the majority to be delivered from the United States between April and September. But two million jabs have been ordered from the Serum Institute of India, and Verity Pharmaceuticals, which is facilitating the institute’s application in Canada, has said the first 500,000 would reach Canadian shores this week. A senior government official told The Canadian Press on background Sunday that the first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday, though the shipment has not been confirmed. Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, also told the CBC on Sunday that the regulator had received additional information over the weekend from Johnson and Johnson, which is seeking approval for its own vaccine. Regulators in the U.S. gave it the green light over the weekend. Sharma said Health Canada is hoping to approve Johnson & Johnson's vaccine in "the next couple of weeks," but added any decision is contingent on the information presented by the company. As it stands now, the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently only expecting delivery of about 445,000 vaccine doses this week, which is about 200,000 less than last week’s record high of 640,000 doses in a seven-day period. The confirmed doses are all coming from Pfizer-BioNTech, as the two companies settle into a rhythm following a month-long delivery lull in January and much of February due to production upgrades in Europe. The pharmaceutical giants have pledged to deliver 4 million doses by the end of March. Canada received 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine last week, but the company only delivers every three weeks. Clinical trials showed the AstraZeneca vaccine to be less effective at preventing infection than the other two, but it is still keeping people from getting very sick or dying, Sharma said Friday. Pfizer and Moderna both reported their products were 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in immunized patients compared to those who received a placebo. Efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine is believed to be around 62 per cent. It’s not entirely clear yet how provinces and territories will incorporate the AstraZeneca vaccine into their inoculation efforts, but the product offers a more flexible option since shots can be shipped and stored in refrigerators rather than freezers. AstraZeneca vaccines are to be given in two doses between four and 12 weeks apart. Sharma said there is some indication that waiting longer for a follow-up jab leads to a better response, but that data is not yet complete. There have been some concerns raised about the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent weeks, including its effectiveness against virus variants of concern and whether there is enough data to show it works on older recipients. Several European countries, including Germany and France, limited AstraZeneca's vaccine to residents under the age of 65. Sharma said there were a limited number of people over 65 involved in the clinical trials, but that data, coupled with the real-world experience in the United Kingdom, shows strong evidence seniors are protected. Canada’s vaccine program is ramping up after the lengthy slowdown in deliveries. More than 300,000 people were vaccinated in the last week, almost one-fifth of the total doses injected since the first immunizations began Dec. 14. About 700,000 people had received one dose as of Friday afternoon, and more than 500,000 are now fully vaccinated with two doses. Quebec is set to expand its vaccination effort to the general public on Monday by allowing seniors 85 or older to begin booking appointments. The age threshold has been lowered to 80 for seniors in the Montreal area. The AstraZeneca vaccine works differently than the other two already in use in Canada. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use messenger RNA technology, using RNA encoded with the piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the spike protein. The mRNA trains the body to fight off a COVID-19 infection. AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine, which takes a cold virus, modifies it so it can’t reproduce itself, and adds the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. When injected, it too provokes the body to develop infection-fighting antibodies and cells to combat the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Money vanishes in the banking world and an off-Broadway illusionist delivers his own disappearing act in March’s streaming highlights. Here’s a rundown of some TV shows and movies worth a look: “BAD BANKS” An ambitious female banker is pulled into the darker side of Germany’s financial industry when she’s recruited to spy on a rival investment bank. Driven by a propulsive storyline stacked with troubled characters, manipulative antics and grand machismo, this winner of multiple German Television Academy Awards fills the void left by the season wraps of “Succession” and “Industry.” (CBC Gem, March 12) “DEREK DELGAUDIO’S IN & OF ITSELF” Magician Derek DelGaudio’s live theatre show “In & Of Itself” shook audiences with its blend of visual trickery and emotional illusions, and director Frank Oz brings the experience home with a 90-minute film that captures all the wonder. Standing before a packed audience of willing participants, DelGaudio doles out mind-boggling card tricks, engaging stories and an inexplicable connection with everyone in the room. It’s a one-of-a-kind rollercoaster of magic that could leave you in tears. Even if it doesn’t, the show is sure to create plenty of conversation in your living room. (Crave, March 1) “63 Up” Many directors have committed their lives to filmmaking, but few so much as Michael Apted, the documentarian whose groundbreaking "Up" film series was a work in sociology and journalism, as well as hugely influential on the doc genre as a whole. Starting in 1964, he traced the lives of 14 Britons as they navigated race, class and the personal traumas that shaped their identities. The ninth film in the series, “63 Up,” is the most recent update Apted made before he died in January. It arrives on Britbox next to the previous eight installations, which offer a uniquely life-spanning binge experience. (Britbox, March 9) “Generation” A circle of high schoolers navigate the foibles of growing up in the social media age in this darkly comic five-episode series that echoes the progressive, yet controversy-fuelled, bent of “Euphoria.” Starring a cast of buzzworthy newcomers, including Justice Smith, Uly Schlesinger and Haley Sanchez. (Crave/HBO, March 11, episodes weekly) “Alice in Borderland” One wrong turn and three friends suddenly find themselves trapped in the centre of a desolate Tokyo where someone is forcing them to play deadly games using smartphone apps. Based on a Japanese manga, this crafty thriller evokes the action energy of Quentin Tarantino and John Woo with a twisted edge that’ll appear to horror fans. (Netflix, Now Available) OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: “Coming 2 America” – Eddie Murphy reprises his role as an African monarch in a “Coming to America” sequel. (Amazon Prime Video, March 5) “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” – The original director of 2017’s DC Comics superhero mash-up “Justice League” reworks the film he started before leaving the project due to a death in his family. This four-hour director’s cut promises many surprises and moments originally left on the cutting room floor. (Crave/HBO, March 18) “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” – Two Marvel characters forge a new path after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” (Disney Plus, March 19, episodes weekly) “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” – A mother fed up with politics of pee-wee hockey enlists Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) to launch a new team. (Disney Plus, March 26, episodes weekly) This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press