'Do you regret voting against extending free school meals?'
Piers Morgan challenges Health Secretary Matt Hancock on whether he regrets voting against extending free school meals.
He says he is 'really glad the situation has been resolved.'
'Do you regret voting against extending free school meals?'
Piers Morgan challenges Health Secretary Matt Hancock on whether he regrets voting against extending free school meals.
He says he is 'really glad the situation has been resolved.'
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley reaffirmed her party's vision for the province's economic recovery in a Zoom presentation at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. She said she would work with Calgarians to reinvigorate the city's downtown core and finally get the Green Line LRT built. The Official Opposition has an initiative called Alberta's Future that encourages Albertans to submit suggestions and ideas on its website for rebuilding the economy. The site is also where the party's proposals for rebuilding the economy are published, and include strategies for affordable child care and renewable energy. Speaking in Calgary, Notley reiterated the NDP's proposals for economic recovery and development, and stressed the importance of planning for when the pandemic is over. "We need to start planning for what comes next, we need a vision for after the vaccine," Notley said. "When the pandemic is over, we will need a longer-term strategy to grow small businesses — they are the backbone of our economy, after all — and we also need to look at new supports to assist their workers." Downtown core, Green Line priorities, Notley says Notley said the NDP hopes to work with Calgarians in order to "breathe new life" into the city's downtown core, which struggled with a vacancy rate near 30 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. According to Notley, the NDP wants to consult with business owners, executives, tech startups, post-secondary leaders, community groups and "every single Calgarian that wants a say" in the future of the city's unused office space. She also pledged that the NDP would work to get the long-embattled Green Line built, citing its importance to the 20,000 Calgarians its construction would employ and the 60,000 who would use it. The project is the largest in Calgary's history, with a potential price tag of $5.5 billion and plenty of ongoing controversy. Since October, the city has been working with the province in order to deal with concerns raised in a consultant's report the province still hasn't shared with the city. "This project should not be a political football," Notley said. "It should be a governance field goal." Child care and renewables Notley also stressed the importance of the NDP's proposal for implementing provincewide, universal $25-a-day early learning and child care. "Child care is the next medicare, and it will make a fundamental difference in both the lives of parents and our ability to recover the economy faster, and more equitably," Notley said. "It boosts household income and reduces poverty, it improves educational outcomes for children and their earning potential later in life … there is no economic recovery without affordable child care. Period." Proposals for the exploration of hydrogen and geothermal resources to diversify the energy industry have also been drafted by the NDP, and were underscored by Notley at the presentation. "This is where the world is going," Notley said. "According to Goldman Sachs, global investment in the suite of renewable energy as a whole is set to surpass oil and gas for the first time ever this year."
Renfrew – It’s expected the Community Safety and Well Being Plan the town is to have prepared by the extended deadline of July 21 will be met. Councillor Sandi Heins, who is co-chair of the advisory group creating the plan, is happy the Solicitor General extended the deadline from January 21. “We will meet the date,” she said. There are four areas in each local plan that will help make communities safer and healthier: social development, prevention, risk intervention and incident response. As part of the Police Services Act effective January 1, 2019, municipalities are required to develop and adopt community safety and well-being plans working in partnership with a multi-sectorial advisory committee comprised of representation from the police service board and other local service providers. For the area of Renfrew, the committee was formed in late 2019 and in early January 2020, hired Pat Finnegan to lead them through the steps of creating the plan, said Coun. Heins. There are six municipalities partnered with Renfrew: Admaston/Bromley, Horton, Whitewater Region, Arnprior, McNab/Braeside and Greater Madawaska. “Each of those municipalities have representatives on the advisory committee,” she said. “We are working with the Renfrew (OPP) Detachment Commander and of course under the leadership of Pat Finnegan to put together that plan.” Fire Chief Kevin Welsh, fire committee chair Jeff Scott and herself represent Renfrew, she said. “We’ve been working through various exercises to get the writing of the plan,” she said. Currently, they are working on qualifying the risks and how they may be handled. Next is the public consultation, which could be challenging in these COVID times, she said. “We have a unique committee and they have lots of expertise on how we might handle that (public meeting),” Coun. Heins said. Following the meeting, the report should be finalized and into council’s hand by mid-June, she said. Each municipality must pass it and it will then be listed on the website. There will be work with the plan for the rest of 2021. In Renfrew and the municipalities in the lower part of the Valley, a situation table has already been formed, which retired OPP Sgt. Brian Schutt has been leading since January 2017 under retired OPP Detachment Commander Colin Slight, Coun. Heins said. “We’re a big step ahead already having that Situation Table in place,” she said. The Situation Table is composed of many social service agencies, family and children’s services, health unit, mental health and housing, she said. “Representatives of those groups come together once a month and deal with the various situations, so that we’re not wasting our services on having everybody go to a situation when it should be housing, or a mental health issue,” she said. “They are co-ordinating that, so we’re really well-established in that and we’re lucky to have that here already in place and working very well.” Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
A man who police say stole a Victoria harbour ferry has been arrested after cops and the coast guard had to chase the wannabe pirate through city waterways Tuesday morning. According to a statement from the Victoria Police Department, officers were called to the waters off the 400-block of Swift Street at approximately 3 a.m. after a boat was reported stolen and heading up the Gorge Waterway. When officers arrived on the scene, the alleged thief changed direction toward the inner harbour and appeared to be trying to flee the area. With the assistance of a nearby harbour ferryemployee, officers boarded a separate boat, took off after the stolen vessel and were able to get close enough to speak with the suspect and convince him to surrender. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape St. James brought additional VicPD officers to the scene to help. Police say the stolen ferry and suspect were then towed to a dock in the 900-block of Wharf Street where the man was arrested. The short-lived ride resulted in recommended charges of theft over $5,000.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia joined other provinces Tuesday in having to rapidly recast its plans to provide Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month and next. Provincial officials initially provided an estimate that it would have 13,500 fewer doses than expected over the next six weeks. However, by mid-afternoon, chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said that with Ottawa's announcement that Pfizer was shipping no vaccine next week, plans were underway to cope with a "substantive reduction in the weeks ahead." The province had forecast, as of midday on Tuesday, that due to the slowdown it would receive only 16,575 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer's Belgium plant by the end of the month and 28,275 in February. An official later confirmed Nova Scotia would no longer be receiving the 975 doses of vaccine it had expected next week. The federal government has said it's expected that the shipments will ramp back up after the company has made changes to its production facility in Belgium. Nova Scotia public health officials say it is among the best positioned jurisdictions in the country to cope with the vaccine delays due to its low case counts of the illness. As of Tuesday morning, the province has just 22 active cases, with four new cases of COVID-19 detected on Monday. Asked about the Pfizer announcement's impact, Strang said the news was still fresh. "We'll be able to talk in more detail in the next few days about what our vaccine supply will mean for the next few weeks," he said. However, Premier Stephen McNeil said the closure of a production line to allow for the increased production rate in the near future is "short-term pain for what we believe will be long-term gain." "The lack of shipment will be made up in the following month and the next six months for sure." The premier said the province will meanwhile focus on setting up vaccination sites in every region of the province. "When Pfizer starts ramping up, or a new vaccine gets permitted by Health Canada, we (will) have a system that allows us to ramp up vaccinations very quickly across our province," he said. The province had hoped to provide 78,750 vaccinations in March and then have a mass rollout of 333,333 doses in April at clinics in pharmacies and doctors offices. Over the next month, the first wave of shots will go to health workers and long-term care staff and residents, along with a pilot project for African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities. Special care homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities will also have vaccinations for staff and residents. The second phase, happening over the next 60 days, will include a pilot project for community clinics for residents over 80 years old in Halifax and Truro, more vaccinations of health workers and special care facilities and a pilot project for delivering vaccines at pharmacies. The 90-day plan is to have mass immunization clinics established in all communities with cold storage locations. As of Monday evening, about 2,200 Nova Scotians had received both vaccine doses, and 8,520 total doses had been administered from the province's supply of 23,000 doses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
A new OPP detachment has opened its doors in Moosonee. The $20-million facility has 11 holding cells, closed-circuit television technology (CCTV), a modern infrastructure design to meet technological requirements and other security features, according to a Ministry of the Solicitor General news release Located at 16 Butcher Rd., the approximately 18,000-square-foot facility is a satellite station that is a part of the OPP James Bay Detachment. "This modern, new workspace allows our Moosonee detachment members to enhance their policing services and support to many vast, remote communities and First Nations territories that present significant land and air accessibility challenges," OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in the news release. "This important modernization project demonstrates the commitment we share with our government to preserve public safety and uphold the law." The new building is accessible and was designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Standard, which recognizes buildings with reduced environmental impacts, according to the government announcement. It was built as part of the $182-million OPP Modernization - Phase 2 project. Announced in 2018, the modernization project replaced nine aging OPP facilities across the province. All nine detachments were built by Bird Capital OMP Project Co Inc. The initiative was delivered by Infrastructure Ontario through its public-private partnership (P3) model. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Yukon's first community vaccination clinic for COVID-19 wraps up Tuesday in Watson Lake, and local officials say it's been well-received. "As a community, we're just very thankful, and we really appreciate being put at the front of the line," said Mayor Chris Irvin, who was the second person to get the Moderna shot on Monday. Irvin said he experienced no side effects, and that he felt "great." "I almost felt like it was a bit euphoric, honestly, just because it's kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel is long and dark, we don't know where the end of it is, but there is a light." Two mobile vaccination teams will spend the coming weeks travelling across the territory to provide the Moderna vaccine. They bring everything they need with them — including tables, metal folding chairs and even their own sink. Stephen Charlie, chief of the Liard First Nation in Watson Lake, was first in line for a shot on Monday. He says the First Nation has been urging citizens to get the shot. "Well, I think some individuals are really excited about it, the opportunity to combat the virus," he said. "We've been going door to door. We've been having the resources available to our health team from Liard First Nation getting the word out and offering rides to the individuals that would like to go to the to the clinic." Under Yukon's vaccine strategy, priority is given to people living in long term care homes and shelters, health care workers, people over the age of 70 and residents of remote or rural communities, including First Nations citizens. The territory is expecting enough doses to vaccinate about 75 per cent of the adult population in the territory, between now and March. After Watson Lake, mobile vaccine clinics will be set up this week in Old Crow and Beaver Creek. Appointments can be booked on the government's website. 'A lot of apprehension' Charlie says hundreds of people registered ahead of time for the Watson Lake clinic. But he says some in his community are still reluctant to get the shot. "There's a lot of apprehension out there. There's a lot of misinformation. There's a lot of stuff online," he said. Doris Bill, chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in Whitehorse, agrees. This week, she posted a video online, urging citizens to get informed about the vaccine. "I see it online all the time. And I see people talking about the vaccine and the information that they have is just not accurate," she said. She says there is still some "unease" about how new the vaccine is, and that some people have suggested those at the front of the line are like "guinea pigs." "You try and assure people that things are going to be OK and that, you know, we're doing this to protect our community," Bill said. "You know, if you're not going to take the vaccine, at least know why you're not going to take it. And at least know the information that's out there."
NEW YORK — After leaving the White House, President Donald Trump may lose his SAG card, too. The Screen Actors Guild said Tuesday that the SAG-AFTRA board voted “overwhelmingly” that there is probable cause that Trump violated its guidelines for membership. The charges, the guild said, are for Trump's role in the Capitol riot on January 6, “and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members.” If found guilty by a disciplinary committee, Trump faces expulsion. Trump has been a SAG member since 1989. His credits include “The Apprentice,” “Saturday Night Live” and many cameos in films and TV series including “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Sex in and City.” The SAG board acted in response to a request from Gabrielle Carteris, the guild's president. “Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred — democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press,” said Carteris in a statement. “There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.” A White House spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Losing SAG membership doesn't disqualify anyone from performing. But most major productions abide by union contracts and hire only union actors. Online petitions have recently circulated to have Trump removed from some films. One is trying to rally support to have President-elect Joe Biden digitally substituted for Trump in “Home Alone 2.” Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Brayden Harrington, the teenager whom President-elect Joe Biden befriended as a fellow stutterer — and will be part of a primetime inaugural special — has a book coming out this summer. Brayden Harrington's picture story “Brayden Speaks Up” will be released Aug. 10, HarperCollins Children’s Books announced Tuesday. Harrington, 13, is a New Hampshire resident who met Biden in February while the Democratic candidate was at a town hall event in Concord. They later spoke backstage and Harrington, who has praised Biden for giving him confidence, addressed the Democratic National Convention last August in a video that was viewed millions of times. “When I learned I had the opportunity to speak at the Democratic National Convention, I was so nervous!" Harrington said in a statement. "What got me through and helped motivate me was knowing I could be a voice for other children who stutter as well as anyone else who has faced challenges. I only hope my story provides a little extra support and motivation for those that need it,” Harrington, whose first book will be illustrated by Betty C. Tang, has a middle-grade novel scheduled for 2022. He will be among the featured guests Wednesday night during a 90 minute “Celebrating America” program that will help mark Biden's inauguration as president. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
A Saskatchewan First Nation near North Battleford will receive about $127 million to settle a land claim that dates back to 1905. The Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man First Nation lost over 5,800 hectares of reserve land in the Battlefords area in 1905. In a claim filed with the Specific Claims Tribunal in 2014, the band alleged the federal government illegally took and sold the land. The government denied the claim in 2014. But in a joint statement regarding validity and compensation filed with the tribunal on Dec. 21, 2017, the federal government agreed the loss of land was "invalid." The compensation hearing looked at the agricultural production in the lost land to determine the loss of its use and benefits since 1905. The tribunal determined the current market value of the land at $15.5 million, effective Sept. 21, 2017. The tribunal assessed the value of its loss through Dec. 31, 2019, at $111,433,972. The combined amount is $126,933,972. "Although the agreement did not describe the events and actions that breached Crown fiduciary duty, the evidence introduced in the compensation phase of the proceeding reveals that the Crown took a surrender vote in contravention of the statutory requirement that permitted only members of the Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man Bands to vote, and later accepted and acted on the surrender," the tribunal wrote in its decision. "This was, from the outset, a breach of the duty of ordinary prudence. This breach occurred within a Treaty relationship, with respect to a Treaty reserve, and the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land from the Claimant." The First Nation began the land claim back in the 1990s and spent decades fighting the government for compensation.
Renfrew -- The memorial tree in Low Square is not slated to be cut down, although a story saying the opposite is circulating. “I’ve had several questions from people, and phone calls, in regard to the very big tree in Low Square, which is decorated with the RVH (Renfrew Victoria Hospital) Memory Lights at the moment,” Councillor Sandi Heins said at the January 12 council meeting, held via Zoom. “They have heard rumours that that tree, in regards to some plans that are coming forth for Low Square, is going to be cut down. “I’d like to hear it, and be able to assure people, that that isn’t going to happen.” The memorial tree was planted by the Cadet family who lost their firefighter son, she reminded council. There should be a lot of discussion before that should happen. “When we planted that tree, it was maybe five feet high, and it’s grown into quite a lovely tree and is very momentous to the space and we certainly get a lot of comments on it, how beautiful it is,” Coun. Heins said. “It’s really important to reassure the public that when things are underway in regards to planning of new, maybe a new layout of Low Square…things like the tree and anything that’s very momentous to them, deserves a lot of discussion before it is taken down,” Coun. Heins said. Reeve Peter Emon, who has attended all economic and administration meetings, said the tree has never been discussed. Councillor Mike Coulas said this discussion never occurred at Development and Works Committee. There has been discussion about the refurbishing of Low Square and making it user-friendly or updating it, but nothing was ever said of the tree, he added. “If that comes to be, I’m most assured there will be a ton of discussion about it, I’m sure,” he said. Coun. Heins said it just takes one person who is on municipal staff to say something, or to assume that, and say it in the wrong place, and then people assume that that’s exactly what’s happening. Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
There was a clear but unusual path for three Alberta-based teams to play in the Tim Hortons Brier this season. Curling Alberta made a difficult choice that will send two rinks to the Calgary event and leave that third team on the outside looking in. Jeremy Harty's team issued a statement Monday night that congratulated the provincial representatives while expressing disappointment that only two Alberta-based men's teams would go to nationals. "Alberta men were fortunate enough to have a Tour this year with three very well-run events and all competitive teams in attendance," the team said on Twitter. "We were No. 1 on the Alberta Tour both this season and last season and felt we had the merit to be named Team Alberta knowing that (Kevin) Koe and (Brendan) Bottcher would be guaranteed the wild-card spots. "We understand that it was a tough decision and we appreciate all of Curling Alberta's efforts this year." The association decided to invite last season's champions -- Brendan Bottcher and Laura Walker -- to wear Alberta colours again, dropping Koe into a wild-card spot. Curling Alberta waited 10 days after cancelling its championships before announcing its picks. Bottcher, ranked fourth in the country and a Brier finalist last year, was obviously a worthy selection. But Curling Alberta also had to consider Koe, since his team didn't compete in provincial playdowns thanks to its automatic Brier entry as Team Canada. Further muddying the waters was Harty, a young team that had a slight edge on the second-place Koe in the Alberta Tour points race. Bottcher and the sixth-ranked Koe were essentially Brier-bound no matter what. But picking Harty -- ranked a respectable 15th in Canada -- as the provincial rep would have meant all three could go. "We think Team Bottcher are going to be great reps," Harty third Kyler Kleibrink said Tuesday. "They're good guys and they're good mentors to us. Team Koe will be great as well. "We're not saying we're better than these teams or that we deserve it more than these teams. We just think Alberta had a good chance to send three reps." Helping ease the disappointment was a phone call from Bottcher third Darren Moulding, who Kleibrink said reached out to voice his support and say he thought the team's time would soon come. "Lifted the spirits for sure," Kleibrink said. "His words of encouragement and telling me his story and path was great." Curling Alberta's decision to send reigning champions to the so-called curling bubble was one that other provinces have used in recent weeks. The Walker pick for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected but the men's selection for the Brier was the subject of more debate. Harty's teammates were buoyed by recent decisions from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to consider results beyond 2020 provincial championships for their picks, Kleibrink said. Before the pandemic, many elite Alberta-based teams were focused on top-flight events around the country rather than just provincial bonspiels. The association also had to consider that the 2020-21 women's Alberta schedule had to be cancelled. It all left Curling Alberta board members with plenty to think about before selections were made. The decision left Koe to join Manitoba's Mike McEwen in a secure wild-card position based on the 2019-20 Canadian rankings. A Harty pick as Team Alberta would have given Bottcher and McEwen wild-card spots and Koe would have been a slam dunk for the third. "I think that it's good for Alberta that there is a discussion over situations like this because it just shows the depth that we have," said Koe lead Ben Hebert. "What we've created here in Alberta is a good curling culture. "I think that's how young teams get good is they have good competition to play against and there's a couple good, young, up-and-coming teams in Alberta here as well that are going to be around for a while." Ontario's Glenn Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is a favourite for the final wild-card entry as the highest-ranked team without a berth. Harty is a longshot to get the entry as he's in the mix with other underdog teams that may be considered by Curling Canada. The federation is expected to make its selection next month. For the Scotties, it's possible there could be a whopping five Manitoba-based teams in the 18-team draw depending on how the wild-card picture plays out. Tracy Fleury is a lock for one of the three wild-card spots, so her team will join Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and Team Canada's Kerri Einarson in the field. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the Prince Edward Island title this month but she'd get the second wild-card spot with a loss. Mackenzie Zacharias would be next among eligible teams on the rankings list, a whisker ahead of fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson. The criteria for the third wild-card pick in both draws has not been finalized. As a result, it remains possible that higher-ranked teams skipped by Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan could be considered. Both teams have two returning players, one short of the normal required minimum. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — In a last-minute slap at President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court struck down one of his administration’s most momentous climate rollbacks on Tuesday, saying officials acted illegally in issuing a new rule that eased federal regulation of air pollution from power plants. The Trump administration rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled, adding that the Environmental Protection Agency "fundamentally has misconceived the law.” The decision is likely to give the incoming Biden administration a freer hand to regulate emissions from power plants, one of the major sources of climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions. EPA spokeswoman Molly Block called the agency’s handling of the rule change “well-supported." The court decision "risks injecting more uncertainty at a time when the nation needs regulatory stability,” she said. Environmental groups celebrated the ruling by a three-member panel of the Court of Appeals. “Today’s decision is the perfect Inauguration Day present for America,'' said Ben Levitan, a lawyer for the Environmental Defence Fund, one of the groups that had challenged the Trump rule in court. The ruling “confirms that the Trump administration’s dubious attempt to get rid of common-sense limits on climate pollution from power plants was illegal,'' Levitan said. "Now we can turn to the critically important work of protecting Americans from climate change and creating new clean energy jobs.” A coalition of environmental groups, some state governments and others had challenged the Trump administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule for the power sector. The rule, which was made final in 2019, replaced the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature program to address climate change. The court decision came on the last full day in office for the Trump administration. Under Trump, the EPA rolled back dozens of public health and environmental protections as the administration sought to cut regulation overall, calling much of it unnecessary and a burden to business. Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to bring back the struggling coal industry, repealed the Obama administration’s plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants that power the nation's electric grid. The Clean Power Plan, one of President Barack Obama’s legacy efforts to slow climate change, was blocked in court before its 2017 repeal. The Trump administration substituted the Affordable Clean Energy plan, which left most of the decision-making on regulating power plant emissions to states. Opponents said the rule imposed no meaningful limits on carbon pollution and would have increased pollution at nearly 20% of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Market forces have continued the U.S. coal industry’s yearslong decline, however, despite those and other moves by Trump on the industry’s behalf. Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s “global warming solutions” campaign, said Trump's “Dirty Power Plan” was "clearly a disastrous and misconceived regulation from the start. As the Trump administration leaves office, we hope this ruling will be reflective of a much brighter future'' for renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, denounced “activist judges” on the appeals court who "seem intent on clearing the decks for the incoming Biden administration to issue punishing new climate regulations'' that he said will shut down power plants and raise energy costs. But Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, called the ruling a timely rejection of Trump's effort to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. “It looks like we’re kicking off a new era of clean energy progress a day early,” Castor said. "It’s almost poetic to see our courts vacate this short-sighted and harmful policy on Trump’s last full day in office.'' —- Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City. Matthew Daly And Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's health minister says the province is still on track to begin administering second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine despite the news that no vials will be delivered to Canada next week. Adrian Dix said Tuesday that B.C. had expected to receive about 5,800 Pfizer-BioNTech doses next week, which is "very significant" but a relatively small amount compared with the roughly 25,000 expected in the coming days. "Every time we get news that we're getting less vaccine, that news is obviously disappointing," he said. "Hopefully this is a one-time interruption. But what we can do in British Columbia is use the vaccine that we receive and use it effectively and on vulnerable populations, and that's what we're going to do." The volume of doses is expected to increase to about 25,000 weekly following the shortage, he said. The province will devote more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it's set to receive this week, along with the "small amount" it has on hand, to completing first doses in long-term care homes across the province and beginning to administer second doses, Dix said. Second doses are crucial to the strength of the program and B.C. remains committed to a 35-day interval between doses, he said. The minister said second doses will begin Wednesday, which marks 36 days from the first 3,900 doses being administered in hospitals in Vancouver and Abbotsford, B.C. The following week, 8,000 doses were given out, and 12,000 the week after that, so the demand for second doses will increase over time, he said. Still, he said the loss of 5,800 vaccines next week does not pose a risk to second vaccinations. "The risk is not to second doses. The risk is 6,000 fewer first doses," he said. "Every single one of those doses is directed to a vulnerable person or someone working with vulnerable people ... and every one of them is important." A higher percentage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines given out in the coming weeks will be second doses, he said, while the Moderna vaccine will become the province's "workhorse" for first doses. The province began receiving the Moderna vaccine later, so the 35-day interval for second doses will also end later, Dix said. The federal government announced Tuesday that Canada's shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be cut by nearly one-fifth this week and then go down to zero next week. Pfizer told Canada last week its shipments would be affected because the production facility in Belgium is being upgraded to produce more doses overall. Asked whether B.C. is looking at trying to obtain vaccines outside of the supply chains set up by Ottawa, as it did with personal protective equipment, Dix said that was unlikely. There's no "back door" source for vaccines, he said. He said he expects the federal government to lead efforts to obtain more vaccine for the provinces and he's confident in Ottawa's work. Dix was in Vancouver Tuesday to announce a new urgent and primary care centre in the city’s northeast opening on Feb. 16. The centre will be the 22nd of its kind opened by the New Democratic government since it took power in 2017. The facilities are open for long hours and are aimed at providing urgent care for people suffering from injuries or illness that don’t require an emergency room visit. Urgent and primary care centres have played a "central and important role" during the pandemic, Dix said. "They have made an extraordinary difference." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
North Simcoe's environmental association seems to be under the microscope in another municipality. This time, it's Tiny Township, which is also the residence of the Severn Sound Environmental Association's (SSEA) board chair Steffen Walma. The matter came up at a recent budget meeting when Coun. Tony Mintoff questioned the increase in municipal contributions toward the SSEA. "I’d like to get a specific cost for the SSEA," he said. "I noticed the actual in 2019 was $93,000 and for 2020 it was $176,000. I would like to know which services are mandated and the cost for those services and any other services they provide and their costs and benefits for the residents." The issue also came up recently at Tay Township's council meeting. Budget documents shared with council show that the township budgeted $93,672 for the SSEA costs in 2019 and paid a total of $119,136, which includes costs for Sustainable Severn Sound (SSS) and an invasive species coordinator. For 2020, the township budgeted $176,911 for SSEA costs and paid $181,600, which includes the SSS cost. For 2021, Tiny is being asked for $228,805, which breaks down to a $11,155 for the SSS portion, $187,630 for the SSEA core services and $30,020 for municipal drinking water source protection. Walma, who is also Tiny's deputy mayor, ventured to sum up the reasons for why the costs are the way they are. "In 2019 to 2020, we made a board decision to stop Band-Aiding our way through operations," he said, adding there was a leadership change and SSEA relocated its office to Tay Township. "In 2019, we presented a 65% increase to our municipalities. That included a change in staffing and office and upgrading of our networks." As part of its water quality sampling mandate, staff needs to visit various locations in North Simcoe, said Walma. "We’ve been borrowing vehicles from municipalities and never owned our vehicles," he said. "(From a) liability standpoint, municipalities were no longer willing to loan us vehicles, so we ended up having to purchase our own. "We had been testing wells in the municipality, so we had the responsibility to decommission those wells at the end of their life. We started budgeting a reserve we’ve never had in the past. We also found some liabilities in our existing staffing policies. We modernized our existing budget for the 65 percent." This year, the increase is five percent, according to Walma. "That was listed in the five-year plan," he noted. "We do expect to see some savings on 2020, but those savings won’t be realized by our partners this year because we don’t know what they are yet." As for the services, Walma said, every municipality pays a board-approved service level, there’s no a-la carte. Members, however, have the choice to opt out of core services on a two-year notice period. "(Core services) include cold-water stream sampling, fish habitat mapping, inland lake-water quality sampling, and invasive species programs," he said, adding he can bring to council a more comprehensive list. "The SSS portion of things, they have been rolled in together, is optional. This is a service municipalities choose to participate in." Where contracting the SSEA itself is not mandatory, "the only legislated piece is the source-water protection modelling that’s been put in place by the province," said Walma. "In short, at least until council opts out of the program, we’re obligated to the pay $187,000, not the $11,155 for the SSS." Mintoff said he would bring forward a notice of motion at a future meeting so council could take a closer look at it. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
VICTORIA — The British Columbia government must do a better job of protecting its computer systems from cybersecurity threats, says auditor general Michael Pickup. An audit of five government ministries found only Education and the information branch of Citizens' Services provided strong protections against potential threats, he said Tuesday. The audit concluded the ministries of Finance, Health and Natural Resources as well as much of Citizens' Services did not have adequate cybersecurity practices to manage its information technology systems, Pickup told a news conference. The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally. Pickup said organizations with poorly managed security practices are vulnerable to attacks. "These weaknesses could hinder the ability of the ministries to develop and implement appropriate safeguards to protect their IT assets from cybersecurity threats," he said. The audit found security standards at the ministries lacked specific definitions of roles and responsibilities, said Pickup. It also found inappropriately maintained inventories, including unauthorized devices on networks and records that were missing important data, he said. "The established policies and standards, they lack specific guidelines to identify and manage IT assets for the purpose of managing cybersecurity risks," Pickup said. The audit makes seven recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the government. Pickup said he expects the audit's findings to be discussed by members of the legislature who sit on committees overseeing information technology services. "These reports are tools for the folks in the legislature to then look to government and hold them accountable on why are these things happening to start with and how does government improve," he said. Pickup said his office is also planning a future review of the government's computer systems during the COVID-19 pandemic because many government employees are working from home. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press