Zipping down a big hill, this kid gets a little surprise at the end.
Zipping down a big hill, this kid gets a little surprise at the end.
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Health is asking anyone who travelled on the Blue Puttees ferry to or from Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques between Dec. 29 and Jan. 16 to call 811 to arrange for COVID-19 testing. The request comes on the heels of a crewmember testing positive for the disease. Marine Atlantic said Wednesday it’s the first such case it has had to deal with since the pandemic began. “We have been in contact with public health officials in Nova Scotia and with Marine Atlantic occupational health and safety, and are co-ordinating a response,” Newfoundland's chief medical officer of health told reporters. “We’d like to indicate that the risk is low for these people, but we are doing this out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. Testing can also be arranged by completing the online assessment tool at covidassessment.nichi.nl.ca. Fitzgerald would give no further details about the case because of privacy concerns. However, a Marine Atlantic spokesperson said it’s clear the crewmember contracted the disease on board because he only developed symptoms after leaving his two-week shift. The incubation window for COVID-19 is 14 days. Fitzpatrick said the risk is low for passengers because there are less spaces for people to intermingle on board. “Marine Atlantic certainly has put a lot of protocols in place since the beginning of the pandemic to reduce the amount of interaction that their staff and the passengers will have,” she said. “They’ve certainly got masking protocols and all of that as well, and they’ve reduced common spaces.” When contacted, the Marine Atlantic spokesperson didn’t have specific details on the number of passengers who have travelled on the ferry during the timeframe in question, but said it would be in the hundreds. He said on one recent crossing, there were about 10 regular passengers and 50 commercial passengers, but those numbers vary day by day. The Public Health Authority in Nova Scotia has already started contact tracing of crewmembers, although Fitzgerald said any contact tracing that involves this province will be conducted by local public health officials. Crewmembers must self-isolate on the ferry after the testing. With the Blue Puttees moored indefinitely, Marine Atlantic cancelled its morning crossing from North Sydney, N.S., to Port aux Basques and Wednesday evening’s crossing from Newfoundland to Cape Breton. The company says the MV Highlanders will remain in service, and the MV Atlantic Vision is currently being prepared to enter service should it be required in the days ahead. The Atlantic Vision has been moored in North Sidney on standby, but it may take up to 48 hours to establish a crew and get it into service. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Five of six cats abandoned in a remote area on Pigeon Lake Road at Short Drive south of Bobcaygeon have been found and brought to the Lakefield Animal Welfare Society. On Monday morning, a local farmer and Bell Canada worker named Ryan were able to round up three of the cats — one of which is pregnant — according to LAWS manager Janet Evans. To help find the other three cats, volunteers with Operation Catnip was contacted, she said. “They’re a local organization that does trap, neuter and release (of feral cats),” Evans said. On Tuesday morning, the organization was able to capture a grey cat and, in the evening, they were able to catch an orange one. They were still out looking for the sixth one on Wednesday. Four of the five cats were found in good physical condition. The fifth cat had a bit of frostbite on one of its ears, she said. “We took them to the vet this morning and as it turns out only one of them was pregnant,” Evans said. “They’re all between three months to just over a year. They all know each other because when we reunited them here at LAWS, they just kind of sniffed each other. There was no reaction.” She said she doesn’t believe the cats were strays. “Only because if you were to look at a cat that is actually a stray or a feral at this time of the year, they’ve grown really thick coats and they usually look a little worse for wear and that’s because they’re always worried about where their next meal’s coming from or who’s going to eat them,” Evans said. “So, visually there’s a difference between a cat that’s just been dumped and one that has been living out there for quite some time.” Because of the current pandemic, she said it’s been difficult for some people with pets. “If they lose their job or they get laid off due to COVID, then other things come first in some situations and that’s when decisions have to be made,” Evans said. There are a number of organizations in the Peterborough region unwanted pets can be brought to as opposed to being abandoned or sold on Kijiji, she said. “There’s the Kawartha Lakes Humane Society, ARC, which is a smaller rescue in Lakefield, there’s ourselves, LAWS, and there’s also the Peterborough Humane Society,” Evans said. “Please, please do reach out to an organization. At least this way if you contact a shelter, you’re going to be confident that they’ll get vetted and be placed in a loving home.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Regina police are investigating the city's second homicide of 2021, after a man who was assaulted died. On Tuesday, police responded to the 1700 block of Quebec Street following a report of an attack. Police and emergency medical responders found the victim with injuries that were described as serious. The man was taken to hospital, where he died on Wednesday, Regina police said, and they are treating the death as a homicide. His next of kin have been notified. Police described him only as an adult male in a news release Wednesday. "Police will release the victim's name publicly, but wanted to give the family some time before doing so," the news release said. No other details have been provided at this time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Regina Police Service at (306) 777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.
The City of Vaughan’s lone decision to close its outdoor amenities amid Ontario’s stay-at-home order has sparked a debate on whether some restrictions to curb the spread can do more harm than good. Vaughan announced last Friday it would close its outdoor skating rinks, a toboggan hill and a dog park effective immediately. The decision, the city said, is in response to rising cases of COVID-19 and follows the province’s stay-at-home order, which came into effect late last week. The closure has left experts perplexed and residents upset — one of whom taped a video that has since circulated across social media of a city employee salting a skating rink to prevent people from using it. Many have argued the move is a misguided public health measure that could have adverse effects on the mental and physical health of residents. Vaughan remains the only city in the Greater Toronto Area to have taken this measure. Toronto’s public skating rinks remain open to allow residents to exercise. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown tweeted on Monday his city will not be closing its outdoor amenities, “regardless of what some municipalities have been doing on their own accord.” “Outdoor activities are low risk, good for physical fitness and much needed for mental health during the current lockdown,” Brown said in a series of tweets, adding Brampton will move to add four new artificial rinks in addition to existing ones. In its release, the City of Vaughan said decisions to close or open amenities are “informed by Vaughan-specific data and reflect guidance issued by York Region Public Health.” York Region has 1,833 active cases as of Wednesday, accounting for 5.7 per cent of current cases in the province. Meanwhile, Toronto, where rinks remain open, is home to 26 per cent of Ontario’s cases. The differing policies on outdoor amenities by GTA cities may also be tied to messaging by the Government of Ontario, which has been criticized by some as confusing. In response to a request for clarification, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said “outdoor ice rinks, tobogganing hills and parks and recreational areas are permitted to open” during Ontario’s stay-at-home order, but municipalities can have additional targeted restrictions in their region if they choose to. A spokesperson for the City of Vaughan said in a statement that the city was “the first municipality in York Region to declare a state of emergency” in response to COVID-19, and closing its rinks is yet another example of the city’s “disciplined, responsible and measured approach.” The decision to close outdoor recreational amenities has already been challenged by Vaughan councillor Alan Shefman, who put forward a motion asking the city to reopen outdoor rinks with additional safety measures. Council will vote on the motion on Jan. 26. But for now, rinks in Vaughan will remain closed — a decision that Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, believes is misguided. “Any steps and policies that promote safe outdoor activity is clearly the right path forward,” said Bogoch, who also serves as a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force. Bogoch said he agrees more with Brampton’s decision to keep rinks open and build on existing outdoor amenities as they pose a minimal risk for COVID-19 spread. “We know that outdoor venues are much, much safer compared to indoor venues,” Bogoch added. “Of course, nothing in the COVID era is going to be a hundred per cent safe, but we know outdoor venues are way lower risk.” Bogoch said it’s important to keep outdoor amenities open, including outdoor skating rinks and hiking trails, so that residents have a chance to catch fresh air and get exercise in the midst of a dreary, dark second wave of infections. He added those activities can be done safely if people wore a mask and if population control was regulated on amenities to avoid overcrowding. “With us being neck deep in the second wave, we should be promoting healthy and safe activities and behaviours that promote both physical and mental health,” Bogoch said. Mental health is a big factor to why outdoor amenities should stay open, said Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. “They provide a real good mental health gain at a small physical health cost,” Joordens said. People, he added, have an innate nature of being social, and promoting activities that can allow this with minimal risk will prevent them from breaking the rules and engaging in riskier behaviour and gathering indoors. “The limbic system will always take over the frontal lobe, it’s much older and more powerful,” Joordens said, explaining how emotional needs can often trump practical needs in the human brain. “If we close down all the public areas for people to be interacting, then we’re going to drive them into the private areas where they’re probably still going to do it … and that’s more dangerous,” Joordens said. Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
WASHINGTON — The Latest on Joe Biden's presidential inauguration (all times local): 10:15 p.m. Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Washington Monument to mark the end of Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden. Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched the end of the day’s events from a balcony in the White House on Wednesday night. The Bidens' grandchildren danced and clapped on the balcony. While the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns in Washington vastly scaled back inaugural events, organizers created a celebratory atmosphere with live and recorded celebrity performances, ending with singer Katy Perry. Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, watched the fireworks from the steps of the Washington Monument after Harris delivered brief remarks. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION AS THE 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Joe Biden took the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States. He takes charge in a deeply divided nation, inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors. Read more: — Biden takes the helm as president: ‘Democracy has prevailed’ — Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration — Biden charts new US direction, promises many Trump reversals — Vice-President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics — Analysis: For Biden, chance to turn crisis into opportunity ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 10 p.m. Three former presidents are celebrating the transition of power that saw Democrat Joe Biden enter the White House. In a pretaped video that aired during Biden’s inaugural television special Wednesday night, Republican George W. Bush, along with Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, wished Biden luck. Obama said, “Inaugurations celebrate a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old.” But the mere fact that all three felt compelled to come together to address the issue speaks to the fraught moment the country faces. President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely insisted for months that the November election was stolen from him, and he whipped up a violent crowd of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago seeking to overturn the certification of Biden win. He also snubbed his successor's inauguration. In the video, Clinton urged Americans to get off their “high horses” and reach out to friends and neighbours with whom they may have differences. Bush said he wanted Biden to be successful because his “success is our country’s success.” ___ 9:40 p.m. Kamala Harris talked about the power of “American aspiration” in her first speech to the nation as vice-president. With the Washington Monument lit up behind her Wednesday night, Harris called on Americans to remember “we are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.” She also cast her ascension as the first female vice-president as a demonstration of the nation’s character. Borrowing a line she frequently used on the campaign trail, she said, “We not only see what has been — we see what can be.” Harris gave a nod to American scientists, parents and teachers who are persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged people to “see beyond crises.” She spoke during President Joe Biden’s “Celebrating America” event to mark the inauguration. ___ 8:55 p.m. Bruce Springsteen sang “Land of Hope and Dreams” as he stood alone with his guitar in front of the Lincoln Memorial to open “Celebrating America,” a broadcast special to honour the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Springsteen said, “Good evening, America,” to open the 90-minute special airing across several networks on Wednesday night in place of the usual official inaugural balls. Performing the 1999 song of solace, Springsteen sang, “I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side. You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.” Host Tom Hanks, also at the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the show by saying, “In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancour in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America.” Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria are co-hosting the show, which will also include performances from John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, the Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Jon Bon Jovi. ___ 8:40 p.m. Kamala Harris might be vice-president, but she doesn’t get to enjoy all of the vice-presidential perks just yet. Harris won’t immediately move into the vice-president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. A Harris aide says the delay will allow time for repairs to the home. The house needs its chimney liners replaced, among other fixes, and it’s easier to finish the work with the home unoccupied. The former California senator has a home in downtown D.C. where she typically stayed while in town for work, but it’s unclear if she’ll remain there while waiting for the repairs to be completed. Every vice-president since Walter Mondale has lived at the Naval Observatory, and it’s been the site of visits from foreign dignitaries, events and gatherings hosted by vice-presidents past. ___ 8:05 p.m. A group of protesters carrying anti-President Joe Biden and anti-police signs is marching in Portland and damaged the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon. Police say the group smashed windows and spray-painted anarchist symbols at the political party building on Wednesday. It was one of at least four groups planning to gather in the city on Inauguration Day. Police say officers on bicycles entered the crowd to contact someone with a weapon and to remove poles affixed to a banner that they thought could be used as a weapon. Police say the crowd swarmed the officers and threw objects at them. Portland has been the site of frequent protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days. Mayor Ted Wheeler recently decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and who should be subject to more severe punishment. ___ 7:40 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will allow Congress to decide the way forward on the impeachment trial of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Psaki said Wednesday in the first press briefing of the Biden administration that the president believes members of the Senate should figure out how to proceed with a trial that could consume the opening weeks of his presidency. Psaki says the administration is instead focused on the pandemic and the economic crisis that have engulfed the country for nearly a year, noting that the Senate can handle multiple issues at once. Trump was impeached last week on a charge of inciting an insurrection. It was his second impeachment, a record for any president. ___ 7:30 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office. Psaki said Wednesday at her first press briefing that the subject of the call will be relations between the United States and Canada as well as the status of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose permitting Biden revoked in one of his first acts as president. Psaki says Biden’s first round of calls to foreign leaders will be with allies, adding that the new president plans to repair relationships damaged by former President Donald Trump’s adversarial approach. ___ 7:15 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki is delivering the first news briefing of Joe Biden’s presidency, a once standard part of past administrations that was largely sidelined during the Trump era. Psaki said Wednesday that she will bring truth and transparency to the White House briefing room, a clear reference to her predecessors under President Donald Trump. The Trump administration took an openly combative tone with the news media. Sean Spicer, who was Trump’s first press secretary, set the tenor four years ago by claiming that the audience at Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. ___ 7:10 p.m. The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as the new director of national intelligence, giving President Joe Biden the first member of his Cabinet. The 84-10 vote by the Senate on Wednesday came after senators agreed to fast-track her nomination. Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was fitting that Haines was confirmed first. He said the intelligence post is of “critical importance to the country.” Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that China would be an important focus of the Biden administration. She said she sees her role as speaking “truth to power” and delivering accurate and apolitical intelligence even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for the administration. The Senate was able to vote quickly on the nomination, and bypass a committee vote, after Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton dropped his objection. Cotton had said he wanted to hear from Haines on the Bush-era CIA interrogation program before he agreed to move forward. Haines was a deputy CIA director in the Obama administration. ___ 6:35 p.m. The federal government has launched a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for records from former President Donald Trump’s administration. The National Archives and Records Administration announced the website on Wednesday. Eventually, it will be a repository of archived Trump-era documents, including his White House website and social media accounts. It will also offer information about accessing other records from Trump’s tenure. The agency maintains records going back to President Herbert Hoover’s administration, which ended in 1933. But there are questions about how meticulous the Trump administration was about keeping records. Trump was cavalier about a law requiring their preservation. He had a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out. That’s led some historians and archivists to worry that there will be a gaping hole in the history of Trump’s tumultuous four years in office. ___ 6:30 p.m. President Joe Biden has given the Oval Office a slight makeover. Biden revealed the new décor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office. A bust of Cesar Chavez, the labour leader and civil rights activist, is nestled among an array of framed family photos displayed on a desk behind the new president. Benjamin Franklin peers down at Biden from a portrait on a nearby wall. Biden brought a dark blue rug out of storage to replace a lighter colored one installed by former President Donald Trump. One office feature remains: Biden is also using what’s known as the Resolute Desk because it was built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. Trump used that desk, too. ___ 6:15 p.m. President Joe Biden is reminding his federal appointees and staff that “we work for the people” and is calling on them to be “decent, honourable and smart.” Biden swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday evening. He spoke from behind a lectern, while the appointees appeared at the event via video streams set up on a series of television screens. Biden said that if any of his appointees treat a colleague with disrespect, he will fire them “on the spot.” He said that mindset had been missing in President Donald Trump’s White House. The new president also told the group that “we have such an awful lot to do” and said that containing the pandemic and administering COVID-19 vaccines will be the “most consequential logistical thing that’s ever been done in the United States.” He said he’s “going to make mistakes” but promised during their swearing-in that he will ”acknowledge them” when he does. ___ 5:40 p.m. One of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s signature achievements has met an abrupt end as a large placard enunciating his “professional ethos” was removed from the State Department’s main entrance. Workers removed the giant sign from the department’s C Street lobby on Wednesday shortly after President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The placard had been prominently placed near a plaque honouring foreign service staff who died while serving their country, but many career diplomats considered it insulting and filled with unnecessary platitudes. Department spokesperson Ned Price says, “We are confident that our colleagues do not need a reminder of the values we share.” Pompeo unveiled his “ethos” statement to great fanfare in April 2019 with an eye toward improving morale. But it had the opposite effect, and many complained it was condescending. Pompeo foes had accused the secretary and some of his top aides of failing to abide by the precepts of the ethos statement themselves, particularly during Trump’s Ukraine-related impeachment, when they decided not to publicly defend career diplomats. ___ 5:20 p.m. President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders from the Oval Office hours after his inauguration. Biden wore a mask while seated behind the Resolute Desk with a stack of orders early Wednesday evening. He said there was “no time to start like today.” The first order Biden signed was related to the coronavirus pandemic. He also signed an order reentering the U.S. into the Paris climate accord. While his predecessor Donald Trump broke long-standing practice by skipping Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition and left behind a letter for Biden. The new Democratic president said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But Biden said he wouldn’t reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump. ___ 4:55 p.m. President Joe Biden has directed that federal agencies halt all rulemaking until his administration has time to review proposed regulations. White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the move in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies Wednesday afternoon, hours after Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president. The regulatory freeze order is a staple of presidential transitions, allowing the incoming administration to review the pending actions of their predecessors. ___ 4:50 p.m. Three new Democratic senators have been sworn in to office by Vice-President Kamala Harris. That means their party now has control of the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won Senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, defeating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Alex Padilla was appointed by California’s governor to fill Harris’ seat. Wednesday was Harris’ first time presiding over the Senate. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Padilla is California’s first Hispanic senator. Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish senator and, at 33, the Senate’s youngest sitting member. The Senate is now divided 50-50. Democrats will be in control because the vice-president casts tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Democrats have a 221-211 House majority, with three vacancies. Democrats last controlled the White House, Senate and House in January 2011. ___ 4:40 p.m. The New Radicals reunited after more than 20 years to virtually perform their 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” at the celebration for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The anthem about social and political issues affecting America at the turn of the millennium raised eyebrows when it was announced for Wednesday’s festivities, but has strong connections to the president and vice-president. In Biden’s 2017 autobiography, “Promise Me, Dad,” he wrote that “You Get What You Give” became the family’s theme song when his son Beau was battling cancer. The song was also used on the campaign trail as the theme for Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, at rallies. “This whole damn world could fall apart/You’ll be okay, follow your heart,” go some of the lyrics. “Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live/Can’t forget, we only get what we give.” The new administration also was serenaded — virtually, of course — by some of the funkiest artists in American music: Earth, Wind & Fire and Niles Rogers with Kathy Sledge. Three members of Earth Wind & Fire — Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson — performed their hit “Sing a Song,” while Rogers and Sledge combined for a version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” The performances, interspliced with marching bands, varied performances and stories from Biden-Harris supporters, played on social media and online after the Biden and Harris families concluded the inauguration parade. ___ 4:20 p.m. Vice-President Kamala Harris has entered her new office building for the first time in her new role. Harris was joined Wednesday by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the vice-president’s office and is located near the White House. The marching band of her alma mater, Howard University, helped lead Harris’ procession. She was joined by her extended family and held hands with one of her young grandnieces, who was beaming and wearing a fur coat meant to mimic one Harris wore as a child. Shouts of “We love you!” greeted her as she walked along the procession route. She waved at White House staffers gathered to watch and gave one final wave to the crowd before entering the building. ___ 3:50 p.m. President Joe Biden has entered the White House for the first time as chief executive after walking an abbreviated parade route, still wearing his protective mask amid sounds of “Hail to the Chief.” The 46th president and first lady Jill Biden walked through a military cordon lining the White House driveway with the flags of U.S. states, leading the first couple to the main entrance under the North Portico on Wednesday. Biden was expected to immediately begin working, with a stack of executive orders on immigration and other matters awaiting his signature. The final ceremonial flourish completed an abbreviated inaugural afternoon unlike any Washington has seen, with Biden being seen in person by only a relative smattering of Americans given security lockdowns after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and public health protocols amid the ongoing pandemic. ___ 3:45 p.m. President Joe Biden and his family have concluded his inaugural parade by walking a final short distance of the route to the White House. Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, their children and their grandchildren held hands Wednesday afternoon as they strolled, waving to a mostly nonexistent crowd because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines. Biden jogged over to the sidelines several times to stop to talk to reporters and spectators. The first family arrived on the White House grounds with a band playing and press in tow. Joe and Jill Biden completed the trip by embracing at the entrance to the White House while the band played “Hail to the Chief.” ___ 3:35 p.m. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he hopes Donald Trump will continue to be the leader of the Republican Party after his election defeat and second impeachment. The Republican senator said Wednesday during an interview on Fox News that “if you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.” Over the course of Trump’s one-term presidency, Graham went from being one of his fiercest critics to being one of his most prominent allies in Congress. Graham said it was inappropriate for Republicans in Congress to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory and called Trump’s comments ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “a big mistake.” But he says ultimately that it wasn’t a crime and that he blames “the people that came into the Capitol, not him.” He said he thinks there would be a lot of support for Trump if he ran again in 2024. He added: “But I’m not worried about 2024. I want to help Biden where I can, I want to get this country back on track.” ___ 3:25 p.m. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says it really lifted her heart to see Joe Biden sworn in as president on the same platform that supporters of President Donald Trump climbed when they attacked the Capitol two weeks ago. Clinton and her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, attended Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden. Afterward, she told The Associated Press that she was “relieved and grateful” to see Biden sworn in with a peaceful transition of power. That’s been taken for granted in the U.S. for over two centuries. But two weeks ago, hundreds of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory over Trump. The House impeached Trump a week later on a charge of inciting an insurrection. Clinton says she thinks it was meaningful to many Americans to see Biden take his oath of office where, “just a few weeks ago, marauders and terrorists had been attempting to stop democracy.” Trump defeated Clinton for the presidency in 2016. ___ 3:15 p.m. The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says former President George W. Bush lauded his role as a “saviour” in helping get President Joe Biden elected to the White House. U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Wednesday on a call with reporters that the Republican former president told him ahead of the inaugural ceremony that, if he had not given Biden the boost he did ahead of South Carolina’s primary, “we would not be having this transfer of power today.” Clyburn says Bush went on to say that Biden was “the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Donald Trump. Trump and the Bush family didn’t get along. Clyburn’s pivotal endorsement ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary helped propel Biden to the nomination. Biden won South Carolina by a margin of nearly 30 points. Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democratic representative in Congress, is the dean of the state’s Democrats and the third-ranking member of the U.S. House. ___ 3:05 p.m. President Joe Biden has spent a few of the first moments of his term at Arlington National Cemetery, honouring fallen veterans with three former presidents and their families. The president, first lady Jill Biden, and newly sworn-in Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on Wednesday. After cannon fire rumbled in the distance, Biden saluted as a military band played the national anthem. Biden and Harris later briefly touched the wreath before bowing their heads in prayer. The president also made the sign of the cross, then he and Harris stood somberly for the playing of taps. Joining them at the ceremony were former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary. Former President Donald Trump flew to Florida before Biden was sworn into office. The Associated Press
A union representing workers at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver has filed a class action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court alleging the hotel wrongfully terminated 100 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unite Here Local 40 says the workers — many of them women and immigrants with years of service — are owed as much as $3 million in severance pay. In a statement, the union said the Pan Pacific "concocted a plan to drastically reduce its staff from 450 workers to 80." "Instead of informing workers of their plans, the company sent workers repeated messages delivering false hope suggesting they intended to bring workers back." Local 40 president Zailda Chan said the hotel circumvented group termination payout regulations in the Employment Standards Act by firing workers in three batches of fewer than 50 workers. Chan also said the hotel offered some workers $250 to sign a contract taking away their regular full-time status to become casual, on-call workers with no severance rights. Those who refused to sign were among those fired. "Had the hotel properly notified workers of its plans to drastically reduce its workforce, this class of workers could have been entitled to receive significant payouts," said Chan. CBC reached out to the Pan Pacific Hotel for comment but has not heard back. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented upheaval in the tourism and hospitality sector. Statistics Canada has estimated travel restrictions could lead to a loss of 74 per cent of tourism industry jobs and a reduction in tourism industry gross domestic product of between 50 per cent to 70 percent from 2019 to 2020. The lawsuit said lead plaintiff, Romuel Escobar, started working at the Pan Pacific in 1996 as a houseman and worked his way up to become a senior concierge in 2008. It said Escobar held that position until he was fired "without cause and without notice" in August 2020, after working his last shift in March 2020. The hotel has not filed a response and none of the allegations have been tested in court.
One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Six months after Edmonton banned shisha smoking inside lounges, city administration will look at creating a separate business licence class to allow establishments to resume the activity. Council's community and public services agreed Wednesday to direct city staff to consider a new category for shisha lounges. Coun. Aaron Paquette said after the city banned shisha smoking in lounges in July, he heard a lot of feedback. He suggested in December the city develop a new kind of licence. "This is something that's important to them and that they miss," Paquette said. "I would feel like I wasn't being responsive to the community if I didn't ask the question." The four-councillor committee, chaired by Paquette and includes Jon Dziadyk, Andrew Knack and Mike Nickel passed the motion unanimously. The proposed licence category would include the following conditions: no minors would be allowed in designated smoking areas a physically separated smoking area from the rest of the premises no food or drink service within the smoking area mandatory signage identifying smoking areas work to eliminate any second hand impact on employees Before the committee voted, three advocates spoke in favour of allowing the activity inside lounges. Mahlet Belete, a manager at One XVII Lounge, argued that shisha smoking is a cultural activity that's been done for centuries in Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. "I don't believe people will stop consuming shisha just because shisha lounges are not operational," she said. "It will only drive people to consume within their homes." Mohamad El-turk, with the Edmonton Hookah Cultural Committee, asked the city "to create some establishments and facilities where people can come and just smoke and practise their shisha enjoyment away from kids and away from their families." El-turk's colleague Jarrett Campbell acknowledged the issue is complex. "Finding an exact solution or a nice, easy, bright line is probably not available," Campbell said. "But I think that on the merits, this would stand up because of those two reasons: It's herbal — it's not tobacco — and it's cultural." 'I used to be a smoker' Two councillors who don't sit on the committee expressed concern. Coun. Scott McKeen pushed for the ban in past years but acknowledged that the topic is complicated. "I used to be a smoker; I get it," he said. "We have gone at this several times, in this committee, in previous years." McKeen noted that shisha lounges were given allowances in the past to give them time to prepare for the ban. "My major concern will remain that we do not open up a bag of snakes," McKeen said. "Because restaurants and coffee shops in this city went through a tough, tough, period of transition in no smoking and many of them were deeply concerned." Later, new customers started going out to restaurants because there was no smoking, he said. Coun. Ben Henderson said some people might argue smoking cannabis and tobacco are cultural activities. "We've had this debate," Henderson said. "I think we're being naive if we think this doesn't open up this question again. "These changes were difficult all the way along — going back 20 years — but we've adapted." Administration will return to the committee to present bylaw changes likely within two months. A new business license category would have to go to a public hearing before being approved. @natashariebe
A third pandemic lockdown appears to be having little impact on rates of COVID-19 in England, researchers warned on Thursday, with prevalence of the disease "very high" and "no evidence of decline" in the first 10 days of renewed restrictions. Until rates of COVID-19 are reduced substantially, health services "will remain under extreme pressure" and the number of deaths will continue to rise rapidly, researchers leading Imperial College London's REACT-1 prevalence study said. "The number of COVID-19 in-patients (in hospital) is extremely high at the moment, and we can't expect that to drop unless we can achieve lower levels of prevalence," said Steven Riley, a professor of infectious disease dynamics who co-led the work.
WASHINGTON — Vice-President Kamala Harris broke the barrier that has kept men at the top ranks of American power for more than two centuries when she took the oath Wednesday to hold the nation's second-highest office. Hours after she was sworn in as the first female U.S. vice-president — and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent in the role — she cast the moment as one that embodied “American aspiration." “Even in dark times we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be," she said in brief remarks outside the Lincoln Memorial. “We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up." For Harris, the day was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one. She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of colour on the court, on a Bible that once belonged to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She wore a deep purple dress and coat created by two emerging Black designers. Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary falls away, expanding the idea of what's possible in American politics. But it's particularly meaningful because Harris takes office at a moment when Americans are grappling over institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated Black and brown communities. Those close to Harris say she'll bring an important — and often missing — perspective to the debates on how to overcome the many hurdles facing the new administration. “In many folks' lifetimes, we experienced a segregated United States," said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and longtime Harris friend and mentee. “You will now have a Black woman who will walk into the White House not as a guest but as a second in command of the free world." Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — “carries an intersectional story of so many Americans who are never seen and heard." Later during the procession to the vice-presidential office building, she was led by her alma mater Howard University's marching band and walked while holding the hand of her grandniece and alongside her husband, stepchildren, sister, brother-in-law and nieces. She then quickly got to work, presiding as Senate president for the first time to swear in three new Democratic senators: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California, Harris' replacement. Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she'd served as attorney general and as San Francisco's district attorney. She had expected to work with a White House run by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump's victory quickly scrambled the nation's capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars. Her own presidential bid fizzled, but her rise continued when President Joe Biden chose her as his running mate. Wednesday evening, she urged Americans to join Biden's call for “the courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good." With Trump absent from the inauguration, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, took on the symbolic duty of escorting former Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, out of the Capitol. It's a gesture that would normally be performed by incoming and outgoing presidents. To celebrate the historic day, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the nation’s oldest sorority for Black women, which Harris joined at Howard University, declared Wednesday as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day. Members of the sorority watching the celebrations across the country were clad in pearls, as was Harris, and the sorority's pink and green colours. “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” said Elizabeth Shelby, a member of the sorority's Alpha Psi chapter, who watched from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us.” Biden, in his inaugural address, reflected on the 1913 march for women's suffrage the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, during which some marchers were heckled and attacked. “Today, we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice-President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change," Biden said. As vice-president, Harris will expand the definition of who gets to hold power in American politics, said Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All." People who want to understand Harris and connect with her will have to learn what it means to graduate from a historically Black college and university rather than an Ivy League school. They will have to understand Harris' traditions, like the Hindu celebration of Diwali, Jones said. “Folks are going to have to adapt to her rather than her adapting to them,” Jones said. Her election to the vice presidency should be just the beginning of putting Black women in leadership positions, Jones said, particularly after the role Black women played in organizing and turning out voters in the November election. “We will all learn what happens to the kind of capacities and insights of Black women in politics when those capacities and insights are permitted to lead,” Jones said. __ Ronayne reported from Sacramento, California. Associated Press journalist Christine Fernando in Chicago contributed. Kathleen Ronayne And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
A recent spike in COVID cases at Horse Lake First Nations is cause for concern, says its chief executive officer Azar Kamran. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre reported 21 active COVID-19 cases there Monday; 13 homes have been placed under isolation. That represents an increase of nine cases in just a week. On Wednesday Horse Lake reported five recoveries and 16 active cases, accounting for 59 per cent of the total number of cases in west county as of Wednesday. West county active cases are currently sitting at 27; the west county local geographic area (LGA) includes First Nations communities, said Tom McMillan, Alberta Health communications assistant director. “We find this concerning, as does the whole province,” Kamran told the News. Still, he said the Horse Lake numbers are “stable” and attributed the rising numbers to increased testing. As of Monday nurses had completed 304 tests in Horse Lake, compared to 243 last Monday. The reserve has a population of 437, according to Indigenous Affairs Canada. Kamran said he believes COVID made its first appearance in the community approximately two months ago. By early January there had been seven recovered cases, according to the wellness centre. On Jan. 4, there was only one active case. “Our advice would be to maintain hygiene and all safety precautions, including maintaining (two-metre) distance,” Kamran said. He said band administration is promoting the precautions through the community newsletter and social media. Travel is also being discouraged though administration recognizes residents can leave and enter the community, Kamran said. Horse Lake has a small school for Grade 1 to 3 students, with approximately 24 students. Kamran said it’s been closed since November at band council’s direction; buses to schools outside the community haven’t been operational since November. The 13 homes were placed under isolation in accordance with Alberta Health guidelines, Kamran said. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre is also discouraging visits between members of different households. Some residents are observing this directive and others aren’t, Kamran said. Outdoor and indoor gatherings were banned across the province in December, with the province lifting the ban on outdoor gatherings Monday, with a limit of 10. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre has discouraged indoor gatherings and advised residents who witness them to call 1-833-415-9179, the number to report health violations, or the RCMP. Rick Wilson, Alberta’s indigenous relations minister, acknowledged Monday in a statement a delay in getting vaccines to indigenous seniors 65 and up due to a shortage in doses. Kamran said Horse Lake is hoping to receive vaccines as soon as possible and has remained in contact with AHS about the matter. No vaccinations have been made yet, he said. At press time there are 46 active cases across the County of Grande Prairie, including 19 in the east and central portions, and there have been four fatalities in the east and central county. The City of Grande Prairie has 180 active cases and has had 14 fatalities. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Hamilton’s public school board is asking the province for pandemic pay for educators supporting students learning in the city’s schools. “Educational assistants and teachers are providing direct care and in-person instruction for students who are not able to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks or physically distancing,” Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) chair Dawn Danko wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The letter calls on the Ontario government to administer an additional payment for education workers who have been “attending in-person at a physical school” in Hamilton — many since Jan. 4 — “in recognition of the elevated risk to staff performing the essential work of supporting students with significant special needs during the lockdown and remote period.” Temporary pandemic pay was initiated by the Ontario government last spring to provide financial support offered to “eligible front line and support workers,” including health-care and long-term-care staff. The program ended in mid-August. As of Jan. 14, there were approximately 330 staff supporting students learning in-person at public schools in Hamilton. On Jan. 15, the Catholic board told The Spectator that approximately 360 educators were working in schools. Chair Pat Daly said the Catholic board, through the Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), has advocated for “additional funding and support” since March, but pandemic pay isn’t something that has been requested. Susan Lucek, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 527, which mainly represents educational assistants, said the HWDSB’s request is “a step in the right direction.” “We are happy that somebody is finally listening,” she said. But, Lucek said, pandemic pay isn’t enough to address members’ health and safety concerns. “Schools should be closed for everybody at this time,” Lucek said. “Everybody should be remote, even though it’s not ideal for parents, students or educators.” In an email to The Spectator, Daryl Jerome, president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), said the letter penned by Danko “was certainly welcomed.” “However, I would have hoped for more of an emphasis on just how unsafe our membership is when delivering curriculum to students who cannot social distance or wear masks and some who require hands-on supports,” he said, adding that approximately 80 members are currently working in schools. Not included in the request are principals, vice-principals, administrators and custodial staff. “They typically are a step removed, they’re not working directly with the students,” Danko told The Spectator. Danko said “it seemed that a focused request would likely be more successful.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Canada Basketball president and CEO Glen Grunwald says he was blindsided by sanctions levied against the program on Wednesday. The International Basketball Federation, or FIBA, fined the Canadian governing body for the sport up to $227,138 and threatened to dock Canada's national team a point in the standings after it chose not to attend a FIBA AmeriCup qualifier in November on the advice of medical experts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We're going to try and be positive," Grunwald told CBC Sports. "We're going to appeal this because we do think it's unfair and wrong. But we'll play by the rules as they're dictated. And I hope FIBA can be bigger than what they've been here instead of, you know, trying to be strong arming teams to violate public health protocols." The third and final stage of AmeriCup qualifying is scheduled to be held Feb. 18-22, with Canada's group — including Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands — playing in San Juan, Puerto Rico. WATCH | CBC Sports' Vivek Jacob, Jevon Shepherd break down FIBA decision: The games have no bearing on qualification for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. However, failing to qualify for the AmeriCup would end Canada's Paris 2024 Olympic bid. Even after missing two games, Canada could still clinch its AmeriCup spot with two wins in February. One victory would still open the door, while two straight losses spells the worst-case scenario. 'I didn't expect this' In November, Canada Basketball said it was working with FIBA to reschedule the games it would miss. Grunwald said progress was made on that front in the interim. Just two months later, the 62-year-old former Toronto Raptors executive says the program was surprised by its punishment. "I didn't expect this, actually," Grunwald said. "So then for this to come out of the blue, when I had been advised earlier that if we were not participating because of medical reasons, it would not be any penalties. So, again, very disappointed and a bit disillusioned with the approach." CBC Sports contacted FIBA, asking a number of questions including how it came to the ruling, what the criteria for the ruling was, as well as if Canada Basketball was made aware of the decision prior to making it public. "As proceedings are in progress, FIBA, unfortunately, cannot make any comment on the matter," it said. In its statement on Wednesday, FIBA said that Canada would only be fined half the amount and would not lose a point if it attends the February tournament. If not, those sanctions would remain in place. "It is kind of a threat. We're working really hard and our medical staff has been awesome," Grunwald said. "One of the great things about the Canadian sport community is we're all working together in this very difficult time." Exploring more testing, longer quarantine Head coach Nick Nurse agreed with Grunwald's sentiments about FIBA's sanctions. "I back the decision [not to play] by Canada Basketball," he said. "It was all about player safety for us. And we just didn't feel like we could execute it and keep our players as safe as we wanted to at that point, which I think is understandable. "We look forward to getting playing hopefully in February and getting on to the Olympic qualifier and going from there." Grunwald said Canada Basketball is hopeful to participate in that February window and is working with health experts to stiffen protocols from what they were in November. Those measures could include more frequent testing, verification of those tests and longer quarantine periods. The program is working with lawyers to sort out the next step in the appeals process. An official appeal must be filed within the next 14 days. "Ideally, we will win the appeal, and we won't have to pay it, but if we do have to pay it, I would hope that FIBA contributes that money to COVID-19 front-line workers and other people that are working in this area where they really do need support instead of pocketing the cash," Grunwald said. Canada currently sits 1-1 after splitting a pair with the Dominican in February 2020. Games against Cuba and the Virgin Islands had been scheduled for November, with the same opponents set for February 2021. The top three teams in each group qualify for the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup. WATCH | Vivek Jacob of CBC Sports breaks down Raptors' outlook: 'Dangerous precedent' set by ruling, says COC Canada Basketball said in a release Wednesday that not only would its participation have directly contradicted the mandates of the federal government "but also the directive of our chief medical officer and other medical professionals throughout Canada's sport system, including those with Canada Basketball, Sport Canada, Own The Podium, the Return to Sport Task Force, and the Canadian Olympic Committee." As for the COC, CEO and secretary general David Shoemaker said the organization is "extremely disappointed with this ruling." "Canada Basketball should not face punitive sanctions for prioritizing the health and safety of its athletes, coaches and staff during a pandemic of this magnitude." Shoemaker went on to say the COC is very concerned with the decision. "It sets a dangerous precedent and sends the wrong message to sport organizations while the world remains locked in a battle with COVID-19," Shoemaker said to CBC Sports. "In essence, FIBA is saying that Canada Basketball should have sent its team into harm's way, notwithstanding clear medical and public health advice." Shoemaker said the ruling could also negatively impact Canada Basketball's finances, which, he said, were "already decimated by COVID-19." That could have lasting consequences for its operational capacity and "funding for programs that grow the game of basketball across Canada." Shoemaker said the COC continues to stand by Canada Basketball's decision not to travel to the November qualifier in the midst of a pandemic.
The township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands has passed its 2021 budget and there's slightly better news for property owners. The township's preliminary budget had proposed a 6.7-per-cent increase to the municipal tax rate, but new money received from the province means the township will only be increasing the municipal rate by six per cent. "The 2021 revised budget information includes the Safe Restart funding in the amount of $72,000 which reduces the revenue required to be raised by the property tax levy," wrote Kate Tindal, township treasurer, in her report to council. The education portion of property taxes is remaining flat this year, and while the county was proposing a 1.5-per-cent increase, there seems to be little appetite around the county table for such a hike. "I had county budget today, and it's very clear to me that the majority will not accept a 1.5-per-cent increase, although no decisions have been made," Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke told council members on Monday, adding "it's likely to be a one-per-cent increase or less." If the counties raise taxes by one per cent, that will translate to a 3.1-per-cent overall annual increase in property taxes for residents of Leeds and the Thousand Islands or an additional $56.90 per year on the average home valued at $196,000. The 2021 township's budget includes a freeze on both step increases and annual cost of living adjustments to all council, non-union, management and supervisory salaries. The salary freeze was not initiated by council though it was readily supported by all council members. "The salary freeze was my initiative with the support of the senior management team," said Stephen Donachey, the township's chief executive officer. The biggest impact on the township budget in 2021 is the drastic reduction in casino revenues. The township has for years relied on about $1.5 million in casino money to fund township reserves, but this year, Tindal is taking a cautious approach and only projecting revenue of about $100,000, a dizzying $1.4 million drop. That means that the township has to fund its own reserves from tax rates and service revenues. "We're now dealing with the same reality that every other municipality that doesn't have a casino has to deal with every year – we don't have the golden goose to top up our coffers," pointed out Coun. Terry Fodey. Although Coun. Brian Mabee retained some concerns over passing the final budget before the county levy is known, every council member expressed support for the budget that was created. "Our budget this year was very tight and very skinny and I appreciate the effort that went into developing it," said Coun. Mark Jamison. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
SAN DIEGO — For the opening salvo of his presidency, few expected Joe Biden to be so far-reaching on immigration. A raft of executive orders signed Wednesday undoes many of his predecessor’s hallmark initiatives, such as halting work on a border wall with Mexico, lifting a travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries and reversing plans to exclude people in the country illegally from the 2020 census. Six of Biden's 17 orders, memorandums and proclamations deal with immigration. He ordered efforts to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program known as DACA that has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the U.S. as children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012. He also extended temporary legal status to Liberians who fled civil war and the Ebola outbreak to June 2022. But that's just the beginning. Biden’s most ambitious proposal, unveiled Wednesday, is an immigration bill that would give legal status and a path to citizenship to anyone in the United States before Jan. 1 — an estimated 11 million people — and reduce the time that family members must wait outside the United States for green cards. Taken together, Biden's plans represent a sharp U-turn after four years of relentless strikes against immigration, captured most vividly by the separation of thousands of children from their parents under a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings. Former President Donald Trump's administration also took hundreds of other steps to enhance enforcement, limit eligibility for asylum and cut legal immigration. Biden's package dispels any belief that his policies would resemble those of former President Barack Obama, who promised a sweeping bill his first year in office but waited five years while logging more than 2 million deportations. Eager to avoid a rush on the border, Biden aides signalled that it will take time to unwind some of Trump's border policies, which include making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. The Homeland Security Department said that on Thursday it would stop sending asylum-seekers back to Mexico to wait for hearings but that people already returned should stay put for now. It "will take months to be fully up and running in terms of being able to do the kind of asylum processing that we want to be able to do,” Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, told reporters. The administration has been mum on a 100-day moratorium on deportations that Biden promised, though he is revoking one of Trump's earliest executive orders making anyone in the country illegally a priority for deportations. Susan Rice, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said any moratorium would come from the Homeland Security, not the president. Despite the deliberative pace in some areas, Biden's moves left pro-immigration advocates overjoyed. Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, called the legislation “the most progressive legalization bill in history.” “We made it,” she said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. "We made this day happen." It is even more striking because immigration got scarce mention during the campaign, and the issue has divided Republicans and Democrats, even within their own parties. Legislative efforts failed in 2007 and 2013. More favourable attitudes toward immigration — especially among Democrats — may weigh in Biden’s favour. A Gallup survey last year found that 34% of those polled supported more immigration, up from 21% in 2016 and higher than any time since Gallup began asking the question in 1965. Seven in 10 voters said they preferred offering immigrants in the U.S. illegally a chance to apply for legal status, compared with about 3 in 10 who thought they should be deported to the country they came from, according to AP VoteCast. The survey of more than 110,000 voters in November showed 9 in 10 Biden voters but just about half of Trump voters were in favour of a path to legal status. Under the bill, most people would wait eight years for citizenship but those enrolled in DACA, those with temporary protective status for fleeing strife-torn countries and farmworkers would wait three years. The bill also offers development aid to Central America, reduces the 1.2 million-case backlog in immigration courts and provides more visas for underrepresented countries and crime victims. The proposal would let eligible family members wait in the United States for green cards by granting temporary status until their petitions are processed — a population that Kerri Talbot of advocacy group Immigration Hub estimates at 4 million. Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens who have been waiting outside the country for more than six years are just getting their numbers called this month. Waits are even longer for some nationalities. Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico have been waiting outside the United States since August 1996. The bill faces an enormous test in Congress. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said Wednesday that he would lead the Senate effort. Skeptics will note that Ronald Regan's 1986 amnesty for nearly 3 million immigrants preceded large numbers of new arrivals and say to expect more of the same. In a taste of what's to come, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, described the bill as having “open borders: Total amnesty, no regard for the health and security of Americans, and zero enforcement.” To be clear, enforcement has expanded exponentially since the mid-1990s and will remain. Biden's bill calls for more technology at land crossings, airports and seaports and authorizes the Homeland Security secretary to consider other steps. Biden warned advocates last week that they should not hold him to passage within 100 days, said Domingo Garcia of the League of United Latin American Citizens, who was on a call with the president. “Today we celebrate," Carlos Guevara of pro-immigration group UnidosUS said Wednesday. "Tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get to work.” ___ Associated Press writers Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
Do you remember the first time you experienced snow? Check out this dog's priceless reaction!
VANCOUVER — Residents of a tiny community in northeastern British Columbia are suing the local and provincial governments over two slow-moving landslides they claim caused their property values to plummet. In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week, 35 residents in Old Fort, B.C., allege negligence and breach of their charter right to security of the person. Evacuation orders and alerts were issued in October 2018 and June 2020 after a slope above the community of about 50 homes slumped, damaging the only road in and out. "The Homeowners have suffered and will continue to suffer loss, damage, cost and expense and threats to their health and security until access to Old Fort is stable and assured," the lawsuit says. The statement of claim alleges that activity at the Blair Pit gravel mine, located atop the slope, caused or contributed to the first slide. The ground moved over the course of at least one week, while movements below the surface were detected for another 25 days. The homeowners also allege it was foreseeable that construction at the Site C dam project a kilometre away, as well as sewage lagoons connected to Fort St. John's sewer system east of the mine, would cause or contribute to a slide. The allegations haven't been proven in court. The Peace River Regional District and gravel pit owner Deasan Holdings declined to comment as the matter is before the courts. The B.C. government and City of Fort St. John said they had yet to be served, while BC Hydro, the utility building Site C, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The June 2020 landslide was a "reactivation" of the 2018 slide, the lawsuit says. During that event, about 100 metres of Old Fort Road was destroyed and shifted about 235 metres south toward the Peace River. Some evacuation alerts remain in place for certain areas of Old Fort, the claim says. The legal action alleges property values have sunk because of the vulnerability of the road, which has affected their ability to market the properties and obtain mortgage financing. The evacuation alerts also make the properties uninsurable or only insurable at rates well above the standard premium, it alleges. "Where a property becomes inaccessible, or, where there is uncertainty as to assured, reliable access to a property, the value of that property is significantly decreased or diminished," the court document says. Nobody has been able to sell their property since the 2018 landslide, it says. The residents also endured financial and economic hardship because of the evacuations, including paying for expenses out of pocket, it claims. The homeowners are seeking damages and costs. They allege that each of the defendants should have foreseen the possibility of a landslide, taken action to avoid it and warned residents of the hazard. In addition to breaching their duty of care to the residents, Site C and Deason are also accused of nuisance and breaching the homeowners' right to have their soil supported in its natural state. "BC Hydro, in causing or permitting excavation of earth and diverting water at Site C, disturbed the subsurface in the vicinity of Site C and, in doing so, caused a substantial, non-trivial and unreasonable damage" to the properties, it alleges. The homeowners accuse the province, regional district and city of the alleged charter right infringements. "These actions or omissions have caused the homeowners to fear living at the homeowner properties, resulting in serious interference with each individual homeowners' psychological integrity, which is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
Bradley Barton had to be urged to call police after he awakened in his hotel room and found a bleeding, unresponsive woman, in the bathtub of his hotel room, a witness testified Wednesday. John Sullivan said he questioned Barton about the woman that morning and told him to call police right away. Sullivan told the jury he asked Barton, "Did you poke her or try to wake her?" and testified, "I believe he said he tried and there was no response." A Calgary truck driver and mover, Sullivan was hired by Barton in June 2011 to help with a moving job near Edmonton. "I told him right away, I said, 'You have got to phone the cops,' " Sullivan testified. Barton, an Ontario moving company truck driver, is accused of killing 36-year-old Cindy Gladue. Her body was discovered in the bathtub of Barton's room at the Yellowhead Inn in Edmonton on the morning of June 22, 2011. The accused told police he found a naked woman in his hotel room bathtub covered in blood but said he had done nothing wrong. He told a 911 operator that the woman came back to his room to have a shower after they had partied together. Sullivan's testimony focused on how Barton came to make the call to police. Crown prosecutor Lawrence Van Dyke sought to establish that Barton knew he was in trouble when he spoke with Sullivan before police were called that morning. Under questioning from the prosecutor, Sullivan said he met Barton in a rented van in the hotel parking lot. Sullivan told Barton they were going to have a good day. "Brad said to me, 'Not until the cops come,' " Sullivan said. When Sullivan asked what he meant, Barton said a woman had knocked on his hotel room door the night before and asked to use his shower. Sullivan said Barton told him he must have passed out, and when he awakened that morning he found a woman in the bathtub. Testimony inconsistencies Barton's lawyer, Dino Bottos, emphasized the inconsistencies in Sullivan's memory. Sullivan, 67, admitted his recollection about whether he had breakfast that morning, and whether he had spoken to Barton at the hotel restaurant, had changed from statements he made to police and testimony he gave during both the 2012 preliminary hearing and Barton's previous trial in 2015. The prosecutor had previously taken Sullivan through the transcript of his recorded interview with homicide detectives that day in June. In that 2011 interview, Sullivan said Barton told him they were going to have a good day "if" or "until" — Sullivan could not recall the exact wording — the police showed up. That contradicted Sullivan's testimony Wednesday, in which he insisted he was the one who told Barton they were going to have a good day. Sullivan testified that Barton had his overnight bag in the van. He said during their conversation, Barton seemed "bewildered." He said after urging Barton to call the police, he told Barton he would handle the unloading job. Barton parked the van and left. Sullivan said he did not see him again until the next day. Forensic toxicologist Graham Jones testified that Gladue's blood alcohol level was .340, more than four times the legal limit, at the time of her death. The trial continues Thursday.