This guy has been waiting his whole life for this storm. EPIC! Credit: @alexisfeltz
This guy has been waiting his whole life for this storm. EPIC! Credit: @alexisfeltz
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
Kelly McLeod has been elected the new president of Inuvik's Nihtat Gwich'in Council, according to preliminary results published Thursday morning. McLeod defeated acting president Robert Charlie 108 votes to 64. According to a post on McLeod's Facebook page, official results will be posted in five days, as per the council's election policy. "Just want to say Mahsi Cho to everyone that was able to vote in the Nihtat Election. Very great turn out of 174 voters, a significant increase from 65 in the last election," he wrote on Facebook Thursday morning. "Extremely excited here, very humbled by the amount of support from membership. Truly thankful for that.... Very excited to get started working with the newly elected council and create a positive future for the Nihtat Gwichin Membership!" Elections were also held for eight council positions on Wednesday, with the preliminary results as follows: Chris Smith: 147 votes (elected) Michael Francis: 132 votes (elected) Mary Ann Villeneuve: 125 votes (elected) Lenora McLeod: 111 votes (elected) Wanda McDonald: 101 votes (elected) Tony McDonald: 100 votes (elected) Barry Greenland: 86 votes (elected) Richard Ross: 83 votes (elected) Bobby Ross: 82 votes Sallie Ross: 76 votes
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
A mechanical whir fills the room as a sling slowly lifts a patient out of her hospital bed. "Wow, it's fun to see you like that," says nurse Caroline Brochu, as the woman is lowered into a chair. After spending nearly two weeks on a ventilator, severely sick with COVID-19, the patient had been extubated a few days earlier. She's slowly being weaned off the oxygen and has regained enough strength to start physiotherapy. In her early 70s, the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cité-de-la-Santé hospital in Laval in early February. Like many of the patients the hospital has treated, she was generally healthy before she contracted the virus. "No comorbidities," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist. "Just high blood pressure and a little bit of asthma." Psychologists regularly check in with the ICU staff to see how they are coping with the exhaustion and emotional strain of COVID-19.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) The unknown road ahead In mid-February, CBC Montreal was granted exclusive access to the hospital's intensive care unit. A year into the pandemic, it's still difficult to predict who will only need a few days of oxygen to bounce back and who will be on a ventilator for weeks. But what is clear is the virus spares no one. The ICU has treated severely ill patients as young as 24. Back in January, about two-thirds of the patients were under 60. At the time of CBC's visit, there were five patients. Over the past 11 months, the ICU has treated a total of 175 patients. Twenty-five have died. During that time, the ICU has worked in uncharted territory, with personnel at times risking their own health to ensure those suffering the most severe COVID-19 complications get care. WATCH | Staff inside the ICU talk about the cases that still haunt them and the unknown road ahead: "Trying to keep the morale has been the hardest aspect of all of this," said Joanie Bolduc-Dionne, the ICU's head nurse. "Right now, we have some fantastic psychologists that come day, evening, night to support the team." The psychologists visit to get a sense of how staff are coping, and what they might be struggling with, she said. Family has to stay at a distance Life inside the ICU can be an emotional roller-coaster — for the staff, the patients and their families. The daughter of the woman who was recently extubated has arrived for a visit but she has to stay outside the room because her mother could still be contagious. The distance is painful for both of them. Exhausted from the effort of sitting and eating, the woman is back in her bed. Her eyes fill with tears as she looks at her daughter through the glass door. "It's harder to see her now, like this," said the daughter, turning to a nurse. "When she was intubated that was bad, but at least she didn't realize she was in that situation. Now, she knows what's going on. Dr. Joseph Dahine, pictured at right, consults with the ICU team at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval. Treating COVID-19 patients requires constant re-calibration to pinpoint what may be causing a patient's deterioration.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Startling deterioration Following CBC's visit, the woman had an unexpected setback overnight. During her sleep, her heart started to race. The ICU team managed to bring her heart rate back down, but the doctor on shift is concerned about her breathing, which is rapid and shallow. "If we can't give you enough oxygen and you are tired with the mask, and if we don't intubate you, well, it's death," Dr. Dahine tells the woman. With a resigned nod, she agrees to be re-intubated as a last resort. As she continues to deteriorate over the next few days, doctors have no choice but to put her back on a ventilator. It's a sobering reminder of just how unpredictable this virus can still be. At the beginning of March, the patient was brought out of the induced coma, but still needs a ventilator to breathe. She had to undergo a tracheotomy. She can only communicate with her family and the staff by blinking. "She still has a long way to go to recovery but at least she is no longer in a coma," said Bolduc-Dionne. At the height of the first wave, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital had 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The week CBC visited, there were five. Although the number of cases appears to be stabilizing, health officials are worried variants of the coronavirus could trigger a third wave.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although the number of COVID-19 cases may appear stable, the volume of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus is rising rapidly. 'The fight is not over' On Tuesday, Quebec's health minister continued to warn people to remain vigilant over the March break. This week, Laval's ICU accepted two new patients to the red zone, which is strictly for those who are severely ill with COVID-19. "The fight is not over," said Bolduc-Dionne. As the vaccination effort in Quebec gathers steam, staff here hope people don't forget there's a parallel battle being fought in the ICU, a battle the public doesn't see. "I hope they realize that [the virus] is really dangerous and that you can infect people you love," said nurse Caroline Brochu.
MADRID — Artists at one of Madrid’s best-known flamenco bars put on a final outdoor show Thursday, marking its closure after 140 years because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that have shuttered entertainment venues. A female flamenco dancer dressed in black performed in the street outside Villa-Rosa, while others threw flamenco costumes from balconies into the street and male singer Juañarito performed a flamenco song. Others laid flowers at the venue’s entrance, lit candles and put up handwritten signs saying “R.I.P.” The Villa-Rosa, with its distinctive tiled facade, is a landmark of the Madrid neighbourhood called Las Letras, known for its nightlife. “The situation is now unsustainable, with so many overheads for a year with the bar closed without any (financial) assistance," the flamenco show’s director, Rebeca Garcia, said. "It has forced us to take the drastic decision to shut down.” The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress are jamming their agenda forward with a sense of urgency, an unapologetically partisan approach based on the calculation that it’s better to advance the giant COVID-19 rescue package and other priorities than waste time courting Republicans who may never compromise. The pandemic is driving the crush of legislative action, but so are the still-raw emotions from the U.S. Capitol siege as well as the hard lessons of the last time Democrats had the sweep of party control of Washington. Republicans are mounting blockades of Biden’s agenda just as they did during the devastating 2009 financial crisis with Barack Obama. Democrats, in turn, are showing little patience for the GOP objections and entertaining few overtures toward compromise, claiming the majority of the country supports their agenda. With fragile majorities in the House and Senate, and a liberal base of voters demanding action, Democrats are operating as if they are on borrowed time. For many lawmakers, it's personal. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., led the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to House passage Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King beating by police in Los Angeles that she thought at the time would spur policing reforms. Instead, more Black Americans and others have died in police violence, even after Floyd's death at the hands of law enforcement last summer. “It’s examples like that that lead to the urgency,” Bass said Wednesday. The start of the first congressional session of the Biden administration was supposed to be a new era of bipartisan deal-making. The Senate evenly split, 50-50, and the House resting on a slim majority for Democrats set prime conditions for Biden to swoop in and forge across-the-aisle compromises. But the rush through Biden's first 100 days is shaping up as an urgent era of hardball politics, with Democrats prepared to go it alone, even if that means that changes to the Senate filibuster rules are needed to work around Republican roadblocks to legislation that many Americans support. “We said we’re going to do X, Y and Z, but we didn’t say we were going to be magicians,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “We can’t magically make the Republicans be for what the people are for.” Days before Biden entered office, White House chief of staff Ron Klain highlighted the urgency with which the incoming administration would seek to act. “We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” he wrote in a memo. “All of these crises demand urgent action.” From his first hours in office, Biden sought to take deliberate steps to deliver relief, but also to raise awareness about those and other priorities on the theory that moving urgently would increase public support and raise pressure on Republican lawmakers who might stand in the way. And within the White House there's another kind of urgency: Biden has staffed his administration with veterans of government service who are not looking to stick around that long. Some aides are open about their commitments to help Biden for just a year before returning to private-sector jobs. Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is coursing ahead on party-line votes under budget rules that will allow Senate passage by a simple 51-vote threshold, denying Republicans the ability to block the bill with a filibuster that would take 60 votes to overcome. House leaders have reworked this month’s schedule for legislation to include voting rights, gun background checks and immigration in the queue — many of them do-overs of bills blocked last session by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans. They still face a long haul to becoming law without GOP support in the Senate. But lawmakers and advocates are racing to capitalize on House rules that allow any bill to bypass lengthy committee hearings if brought forward by April 1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer often hark back to the lessons of 2009, when Obama took office during the financial crisis and Democrats cut back the recovery package to win a few Republican votes only to face an onslaught of attacks against the bill. Many of the same Democrats in leadership today are unwilling to risk a repeat, especially as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other economists now say that paring back the 2009 rescue package stunted the recovery. “One of the biggest lessons that Republicans learned in the '09 and '10 era is they could basically obstruct everything and not suffer at the ballot box,” said Tre Easton, a senior adviser at the liberal Battle Born Collective. The strategy is on display again. House Republicans used procedural objections to stall the COVID-19 package until well past midnight late last week after a marathon rules session spilled voting into early Saturday. Senate Republicans are now threatening similar delays. “We’ll be fighting this in every way that we can,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said about the COVID-19 package. McConnell wants Senate Republicans to vote in lockstep against the virus aid, calling it a bloated liberal wish list, following the lead of House Republicans who gave it zero support. That leaves Democrats negotiating with themselves on the COVID-19 package, with Biden warning they won’t like every aspect as he courts centrists. Progressives are being forced to abandon, for now, a provision to lift the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Wednesday, Democrats decided to more narrowly target $1,400 direct payments to households. Yet Democrats are holding together, so far, because there’s also the urgency that was not readily apparent until Biden was sworn into office. Perhaps nothing has stiffened the Democratic resolve like the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, which carved new fault lines between those who confirmed the presidential election results and those willing to side with the mob seeking to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden. Democratic lawmakers who arrive at the fenced-in Capitol under the watchful protection of armed National Guard troops appear to have “zero” patience, as one aide put it, for engaging with Republicans — some of whom still question the election results. A new threat of violence sent lawmakers to wrap up work for the week late Wednesday. Republicans are protesting the partisan start, even though they relied on a similar budget mechanism to try to pass Trump-era priorities. They set out to repeal “Obamacare,” an effort that shockingly failed when Sen. John McCain gave it a thumbs-down vote. Later they passed $2 trillion in tax cuts on a party-line vote. The third-ranking Republican, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said Biden should go back to his campaign and inauguration themes of bipartisanship “and try to live up to it.” Bass and others are still hopeful working to find bipartisan Senate support for the policing bill. But a generation of House leaders who have served decades with Biden and are nearing retirement are increasingly pushing for Senate filibuster rules changes to counter broader Republican opposition. Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., the majority whip, said of Republican obstruction: "If that’s what they're going to do, then they're going to have to live with it, because we’re going to serve it up.” Lisa Mascaro And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Last December, Afghan media worker Shahnaz Mohmand rushed to comfort her female colleagues as they reeled in shock after fellow employee Malala Maiwand was shot dead in the eastern city of Jalalabad. "Don't lose yourself, you have to be strong," she said as she hugged Nadia Momand, the 21-year-old producer recalled. Now the same newsroom is mourning Shahnaz.
The Haliburton Highlands is being spotlighted on international streaming services through the docuseries “For Heaven’s Sake,” launching March 4. The series chronicles an adventure for filmmakers, Jackson Rowe and Mike Mildon, who unravel the mysterious disappearance of Mildon’s great, great-uncle Harold Heaven in Minden in 1934. The eight-episode series - filmed predominantly in the township in 2019 and 2020 - will launch in its entirety on CBC Gem and Paramount+. “It feels very, very strange, but good,” Mildon said about releasing the series. “It’s been a long journey that’s come to the end. We’re so excited to show Minden and the rest of the world the journey we went on.” The series tracks the two as they travel around the community, speaking with people to investigate the family mystery. Heaven’s body was never recovered after he disappeared from his Horseshoe Lake cabin; it was ruled a suicide by authorities at the time, but the filmmakers pursue alternate theories, including murder. Although they had considered a movie, Mildon said the amount of content they got made it better for a series. “We felt the different leads we got, we could explore one per episode,” Rowe said. Those who followed along with the production locally might have an idea of how the series will unfold. But the duo said the series has many aspects people likely missed, including the ups and downs of being detectives and the moral challenges they faced. “We just wanted to make sure any moral wrongdoing fell on the shoulders of Mike and myself,” Rowe said. “It was hard to find a proper perspective where we gave respect to all the faces along the way. It’s all in there. It’s something we didn’t want to shy away from – warts and all.” The pair – who previously did short-form skit comedy – said what comes next for them is up in the air. For now, they are focused on promoting the series. Mildon said the series will have lots to see for locals. The two expressed their appreciation for the area. “Minden was such an important character in the story. The community and the town were so wonderful to us,” Mildon said. “Just seeing familiar faces and seeing how this town came together to help these unlikely detectives try to solve this way-too-old of a case. It’s a very, very heartwarming, interesting story.” “It’s exciting,” Rowe said. “It’s hard to do something unique nowadays and I feel we actually have, so we’re proud of that.” The series premiers March 4 on Paramount+ and CBC Gem. CBC Gem is available for free online at cbcgem.ca, as an app for iOS and Android devices, or on a television via Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
When Aisha Yusuf finished writing her book about a Black Muslim teen who moves to a new town and grapples with racism and isolation, she couldn't find a publishing company that would publish it. So she and her three sisters launched their own. "To this day, I still have never seen a Black Muslim girl on a front cover of a [young adult] novel," Aisha said. "And in 2021, it's unacceptable, it's very unacceptable to not have that kind of diversity in the publishing industry." Aisha, 23, and her sisters Samia, Maymuuna, and Juweria started Abāyo House to publish Aisha's first book, Race to the Finish Line. The four Edmonton sisters with Somali roots are hoping the publishing house will turn into a beacon of belonging for other Black Muslim girls. Race to the Finish Line is about Aaleyah, a 17-year-old girl who moves to a small town in the U.S. and teams up with her friends to discover the truth about a dark secret that threatens her and her family. The mystery novel is set to launch on March 12, the first of several books the sisters have in the works. The cover features a Black Muslim teenager face-to-face with a person wearing what appears to be a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe, holding a torch near her face. "Some people would say that it's very shocking, but I feel like what's even more shocking is how the book just actually reflects what's been happening in our city," Aisha said, a day after protesters, some carrying tiki torches, marched to the Alberta Legislature as part of an anti-restrictions rally on Feb. 20. The rally, dubbed the Alberta Freedom Convoy, coupled with a spate of recent attacks on Black Muslim women in Edmonton, underscores the need for more representation in media and literature, the sisters said. "For us, a huge part of why we started Abāyo House, why she wrote her book, even the books that we have in the works that are yet to be revealed — goes back to, 'We will not be intimidated,' " Maymuuna said. "We will not be silenced. We have a voice and we will tell those stories." The sisters all have writing and communications backgrounds. However, their publishing house was started out of necessity, not passion. The siblings struggled to find stories in mainstream presses that reflected their experiences. The Yusuf sisters hope their publishing imprint will also provide a platform for other Black Muslim women to tell their stories. 'The next Harry Potter' "Hopefully through us and through other mediums … students and kids of all different colours and adults can just see themselves as being the next Harry Potter, you know, just seeing themselves as being the next superhero," Maymuuna said. Race to the Finish Line will be sold at Abāyo House online, and at the Glass Bookshop. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
An afternoon traffic stop on Keith Ave. in Terrace led to the seizure of substances which police suspect are methamphetamine and purple fentanyl, according to an RCMP media release. On March 2, 2021, police received a report from a member of the public of a potentially impaired driver. RCMP located the vehicle on Keith Ave. and conducted a traffic stop. A roadside screening of the driver led police to believe the driver was impaired by drugs, and police observed the passenger trying to hide bags of a white substance between their legs. RCMP arrested the passenger for possessing a controlled substance and failure to comply with an undertaking. The vehicle was impounded and the driver was given a driving prohibition and several violation tickets. A search incidental to arrest turned up gloves, which contained suspected methamphetamine and purple fentanyl. The matter has been forwarded to court. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
There are five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, pushing the province to more than a thousand total cases since last March. Of the cases, four are in the Eastern Health region. All of the new cases in the Eastern Health region are either close contacts of previous cases or travel-related. There is a new positive case in the Western Health region, and it's related to international travel. There have been 33 new recoveries. The total number of active cases is now 121, while the total number of cases in the province in the past year is now 1,002. There are eight people in hospital. Of these patients, two are in intensive care. Meanwhile, passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 8996 that departed Halifax and arrived in St. John's on Thursday, Feb. 25 should call 811 to arrange to get a COVID-19 test. Positive case closes Trepassey Community Health Clinic One of the new cases announced on Thursday in the Eastern Health region is a health-care worker at the Trepassey Community Health Clinic. Contact tracing by Public Health officials is underway. The clinic is closed for the day, following a positive test for the virus, according to a media release from Eastern Health. Since testing positive, the person has been isolating themselves at home. Patients who have appointments at the clinic will be rebooked and anyone who requires immediate care should call either the Ferryland Health and Community Service Clinic at 709-432-2930 or the St. Mary's Health Centre at 709-525-2980. Anyone who has one symtpom of COVID-19 can complete the online self-assessment tool at www.811healthline.ca to arrange testing. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
NEW YORK — Long before she became a Tony Award-winning choreographer, Ann Reinking waited tables to save up enough money to move to New York City. She arrived with $500, no job lined up and no connections. When she died at 71 last year, Reinking left behind many fans, friends and students as well as a legacy of a cool, muscular dance hybrid of jazz and burlesque. In her honour, friends and admirers have established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, a $5,000 annual award and mentorship for a young dancer moving to New York City to help support them in their artistic endeavours. “She was one of the most profoundly generous people that I’ve known,” says Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who co-starred with Reinking in “Chicago” on Broadway. “This honours that in a way that also references her story of coming to New York.” The scholarship is being awarded by Off the Lane, a mentorship program for young performers moving to New York. It will be open to anyone, from anywhere, with a cut-off age of 21. “Teaching to her was such an important part of her, mentoring and nurturing new artists and helping them along the way,” said Neuwirth. “I think to have a scholarship in her name keeps that generosity of spirit going.” Trained as a ballet dancer in her native Seattle, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the hit revival of “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world. Mindy Cooper, who was a swing in that 1996 “Chicago” revival, recalls once asking Reinking career advice that changed the arc of her career. She also remembers Reinking one day bringing her son to rehearsals at “Chicago,” an encouraging signal that Broadway dancers could also have a family life. “She created such a safe environment for performers to bring to the room with courage and artistry,” said Cooper, now a professor of theatre and dance at University of California, Davis. “Annie grew up in the ballet world like myself and came to theatre from ballet. So we wanted to make a scholarship that could embrace all forms of dance.” The advisory board for the scholarship includes Cooper, Neuwirth and such Broadway luminaries as Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle, Charlotte d’Amboise, Reinking's husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Chris Reinking Stuart. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
A New Tecumseth councillor has been asked to make a formal apology for her postings on social media. In a rare move, council determined two motions were necessary to deal with Coun. Stephanie MacLellan’s “flippant and sarcastic” postings on Facebook and other local sites of public discussion. “I’ve never gone through this in 25 years on council,” said Ward 4 Coun. Fran Sainsbury during the discourse of a secondary motion Monday night. The motions were based on a complaint made Oct. 5, when MacLellan questioned the need for a special council meeting to discuss an interim control bylaw halting applications for new cannabis operators. Simcoe.com sought a response from MacLellan for this story, but calls were not returned by deadline. According to the code-of-conduct report written by integrity commissioner John Mascarin of Aird Berlis, “no notice or hearing is required prior to the passing of an interim control bylaw," under the Planning Act. In her comments online, however, MacLellan questioned the need for a hastily called meeting if council was already scheduled to meet Oct. 19, and advised the public of her opinion on the cost of the meeting: “SPECIAL COUNCIL Meeting tomorrow Thursday Oct 1st at 5 pm. Apparently it’s a huge rush to slam through this Interim Control bylaw.” In another posted reply, MacLellan wrote, “In attendance should be if all councillors can make it 10 members of council @ $100 a pop and 8 staff members which includes our 4 highest paid… but hey it’s only your tax dollars right?” This was followed by a "face with rolling eyes" emoji. The integrity report quotes the municipal code of conduct states “members shall observe and act with the highest standard of ethical conduct and integrity.” The report also reminds councillors to be cognizant they are “held to a higher standard of conduct than members of the public.” What troubled Mayor Rick Milne was the disruption to the council as a whole. “It split our council up,” Milne said Tuesday. “I think of our councillors as a family. Sure, we don’t always get along, have the odd spats — but not like this.” The report asked for MacLellan to be censured — or admonished — but not to lose pay or be removed from any committees. That motion passed 6-4, but a second motion was called for by Ward 7 Coun. Shira Harrison McIntyre after Ward 3 Coun. Paul Foster refused to add her request for an apology to his initial motion of censure. “In the spirit of moving forward and healing from the past, we need to identify who the harm was done to and who perpetrated the damage,” said Harrison McIntyre. She asked council for a motion for an apology to cover the public areas where MacLellan’s comments were posted, such as Facebook, the Tottenham Community Soap Box, the Tottenham and New Tecumseth Community Group, Save the Beeton Woods members, council and the media. The second motion carried with six members for and four against. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27. Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour. Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access. “Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said. The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself. “It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.” Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant. “It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.” She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing. “You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.” Arts and Crafts Festival on pause But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic. “We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.” Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out. For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community. “We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.” “Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or railsendgallery.com. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
TRURO, N.S. — A Canadian undergarment company that quickly retooled its factory last spring to make personal protective equipment is laying off 150 workers after failing to win a new federal contract. Stanfield's Ltd. of Truro, N.S., famed for its long johns and boxer shorts, switched to making medical gowns for front-line health workers at the outset of the pandemic. The company's $27.9-million federal contract was a small piece of the $1.87 billion Ottawa has spent on hospital gowns as of Dec. 31. A new request for proposals for "disposable medical isolation gowns" closed Nov. 20. But in a Facebook post, Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann says the company was not successful in their bid on the new tender for medical gowns. She says she's "terribly concerned and disappointed" to hear about the layoffs at Stanfield's as a result. Local MLA Dave Ritcey calls the loss of 150 jobs in the largely rural area "devastating." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
BEIJING — China's ceremonial legislature will deliberate changes to Hong Kong's electoral system during its annual session, a spokesperson said Thursday, adding to concerns that Beijing intends to shut opposition voices out of the city's political process entirely. National People's Congress spokesperson Zhang Yesui said the changes are aimed at ensuring that Hong Kong's political system will “keep abreast of the times” under the principle of “patriots" administering the city. Zhang gave no details about the changes, although speculation has focused on the possibility of reassigning votes in the 1,200-member committee that selects the city’s leader to deprive a small number of elected local district counsellors from taking part. Officials have also increasingly insisted that only those who prove themselves sufficiently loyal to Beijing and the ruling Communist Party may hold office. The NPC opens Friday morning with a lengthy address from Premier Li Keqiang reviewing the past year and spelling out priorities for the coming 12 months. The vast majority of the roughly 3,000-member body's legislative work is handled by a standing committee that meets throughout the year. The crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong has intensified since China imposed a sweeping national security law on the city last year, bypassing Hong Kong’s local Legislative Council, saying it was necessary to provide stability after widespread anti—government protests in 2019, as well as to inculcate love of country in the former British colony. Critics say the law and accompanying crackdown are stripping the city of many of its rights promised by Beijing at the time of its 1997 handover to Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” framework. In other comments at Thursday night's news conference, Zhang promoted China’s development of COVID-19 vaccines and its provisioning of doses to developing countries, including 10 million donated through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative. In doing so, China is seeking to protect global health without attaching “political strings” or pursuing a larger geopolitical strategy, Zhang said, echoing other recent statements from government spokespeople. China has been criticized by the U.S. and others for being insufficiently transparent about its handling of the pandemic in its initial stages, when the first cases were discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Questioned on this year's defence budget, Zhang declined to give a figure but said the spending level was appropriate for China's security needs and to meet its international obligations. China has the world's largest standing military and its defence budget is second only to the U.S., which sees in China's assertions of territorial and maritime claims an attempt to supplant the U.S. as East Asia's leading military power. “We are committed to the path of peaceful development," Zhang said. China's military “doesn't target or threaten any country,” he said. Asked about relations with the new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, Zhang echoed the broadly positive comments coming from Chinese officials, listing important converging interests including battling climate change and the pandemic, aiding the global economic recovery and “maintaining regional peace and stability.” “It is in the fundamental interest of both countries and both peoples for the two sides to work together ... and steadily advance U.S.-China relations," Zhang said. “This is also the expectation of the broader international community." The NPC's advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, opened its annual session on Thursday, with chairman Wang Yang pledging support for calls that only “patriots” who show undivided loyalty to the ruling Communist Party should be allowed to hold elected office in Hong Kong,. “We will strengthen unity and friendship with our compatriots overseas and in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and conduct studies and consultations on fostering patriotism among young people in Hong Kong and Macao,” Wang told delegates in the hulking Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing. Taiwan is a self-governing democracy that China claims as its own territory. The CPPCC has no legislative powers of its own but is mandated to conduct research and offer proposals to the National People's Congress. With COVID-10 on the wane in the country, the leadership decided to hold the sessions on the usual dates in March, rather than delay them until May as they did last year. However, the meetings are shorter this year and media coverage is being conducted remotely. Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press
County of Haliburton council decided not to up its 15 per cent corporate emissions reduction target despite staff presenting options for higher goals. It targets a 15 per cent reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. But McKay presented other options such as increasing that figure to 30 per cent to align with federal and provincial targets, or 45 per cent to follow the best science and help further limit global warming. McKay provided examples of similar municipalities aiming for different goals, from Sault Ste. Marie at 10 per cent to the District of Muskoka targeting a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. “We are seeing unprecedented levels of action by all levels of government, shifting from incremental action toward transformative action,” McKay said. “Experts are warning us this is the critical decade to maintain a livable climate … A 45 per cent reduction is one that is based in science. "Cutting our emissions essentially in half would require bold leadership but we would not be alone in this endeavour.” Councillors expressed concerns about upping the target. Deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said the County faces pressure with more people moving to the area permanently. “Fifteen (per cent) is still an admirable goal to achieve with what’s coming,” Kennedy said. Coun. Carol Moffatt said the municipalities passed budgets and she would want more information on financial implications before approving a higher target. “I would like a multi-year rough projection of what it’s going to do to our budget so we can plan and prepare for it adequately, as opposed to taking a leap of faith for the good of the world,” Moffatt said. “We need to do both.” Environment Haliburton! vice-president Terry Moore said he was upset by how the conversation played out. “The financial budget, they’re not going to matter much when we don’t have a climate that’s conducive to civilization,” Moore said. He said there is not enough of a community movement on the issue versus a place like Muskoka. He lamented the County’s approach to finish a corporate plan before beginning consultations for a separate community plan. “There is nowhere near enough pressure. Council’s not going to lead on this,” Moore said. Warden Liz Danielsen said council will look for more information from McKay as she continues her work. “We’re all recognizing it is a moving landscape,” Danielsen said. “Just because we’re not making a change today, does not mean we won’t do that down the road, and even not too long from now.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander