In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol after a request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, will tell senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a frantic 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials expected to face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Senators are eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for Jan. 6. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” “We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three different ways,” Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued was “not an acceptable result,” the FBI was looking into what it could have done differently. Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
It’s hard to say what is the more impressive feat — remotely landing a spacecraft on Mars, or a kid from Norfolk County landing a job at NASA. Christopher Heirwegh’s unlikely trajectory took him from a Simcoe Composite School physics class to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where an instrument he helped design is scanning the surface of Mars for signs of ancient life. “It’s been a very exciting past couple of weeks, starting with the anticipation leading up to the landing, followed by the joy of knowing it made it successfully,” said Heirwegh, 39, a few days after watching the Mars rover Perseverance complete its 300 million-mile journey to the Red Planet on Feb. 18. As Perseverance floated down to the surface, Heirwegh was on the edge of his seat at his home in Pasadena, Calif. His wife, Meagan, and their six-year-old daughter, Harper, were by his side, with the rest of Heirwegh’s JPL team sharing in the suspense on a video call. “It hit me right at that moment before landing, around the parachute phase, that things are going to come in fast, and oh boy, if this doesn’t make it, where do we go from here?” Heirwegh said. “There was certainly some tension.” Perseverance’s thrusters soon kicked in to start its powered descent, and a sky crane took over to gently place the rover on Mars. While mission control filled with the cheers of relieved scientists, the Heirweghs tucked into celebratory shawarma and cake. Now that Perseverance is trundling around the Jezero crater, Heirwegh’s work has just begun. The physicist is keeping a close eye on PIXL, a high-tech X-ray machine that has been his sole professional focus since joining NASA in 2016. PIXL — the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry — is one of two instruments mounted on the lander’s robotic arm that will help answer the mission’s central question — has there been life on Mars? About the size of a lunch box, PIXL’s job is to scan Martian rocks for trace elements that could point to the presence of ancient life, while taking what Heirwegh describes as “super close-up pictures of rock and soil textures” that could reveal microbial evidence smaller than a grain of salt. PIXL has an X-ray tube at its heart, similar to what dentists use when photographing teeth. The scanner shoots pinpoint-sized X-ray beams into the rock, a process not unlike how artwork investigators chemically analyze paintings to detect forgeries. “We’re looking at things that tell us what the rock is made of, where the rock might have come from, if it was exposed to water, and also if it might have potentially harboured very primitive forms of life at one time,” Heirwegh explained. PIXL is best at finding evidence of inorganic material — heavier elements like calcium, lead and strontium — while another instrument on the rover, called SHERLOC, looks for “the building blocks of life,” lighter organic molecules like carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Together, they search for “biosignatures” suggestive of fossilized bacteria that may have called a Martian ocean home billions of years ago. “Our two instruments can each produce two-dimensional elemental maps,” Heirwegh said, likening each pinpoint of data collected to the pixels on a television that combine to form a clear picture. “We’re hoping we can eventually overlay the two maps so we can really get a good idea of what the rock is all about.” Reaching for the stars The grandson of tobacco farmers who immigrated to Norfolk County from Belgium, Heirwegh grew up enthralled by the stars in the night sky and the vastness of space. He never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — “mostly just the Rodenberry years,” he clarified — and pored over images of the solar system captured by the Voyager probes. “I found that pretty fascinating, and that kind of led me to what I do now,” he said. Mike and Laurie Heirwegh have followed their son’s career with pride. “Some of the stuff is way above what we understand. Christopher always keeps it as simple as possible for us,” Mike said with a laugh. Mike, a retired pharmacist and business owner, said his “studious” and “reserved” son excelled in a science-heavy course load at Simcoe Composite School. “Whitney, our daughter, said he had this microscope he got at Christmas and would project images up in his room and explain what was on the slides to her and her sister Danielle,” added Laurie, who owns a gift shop in Simcoe. Four years studying undergraduate science at McMaster University in Hamilton led to a master’s in medical physics at Mac, where Heirwegh first tried his hand at X-ray technology. He further studied X-ray fluorescence and radiation science while doing his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in applied physics at the University of Guelph, which involved analyzing data collected by the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers. That piqued NASA’s interest, creating a rare opportunity for a Canadian to join the Jet Propulsion Lab. “There were not too many people who were doing that,” Mike Heirwegh said. “To get a job like he’s doing in NASA, you have to be uniquely different than any American.” The family left their house in Guelph to make a new life in America, with Meagan Heirwegh, herself an accomplished academic, putting her career on hold so her husband could follow his dream. “She was extremely supportive of taking this step,” Heirwegh said. “That’s been a really key part of it, and something that helped me to have the courage to make such a drastic move.” While navigating the immigration process, Heirwegh got to work calibrating PIXL years ahead of its launch on Perseverance. Past Mars rovers have used X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, but PIXL is the first with an X-ray tube, a technological milestone Heirwegh finds “quite rewarding.” In the months ahead, Heirwegh and his fellow scientists will analyze the trove of scientific data Perseverance will transmit across space to the Jet Propulsion Lab, while making sure their high-tech scanner stays properly calibrated. To keep himself calibrated in what can be a high-pressure job, Heirwegh exercises every morning, and he and Meagan solve a Mensa puzzle together over breakfast. “It’s a nice way to jump-start the physical and mental gears,” he said. Heirwegh could not have known what the future held when he decided to leave Canada and boldly go to NASA to reach for the stars. But his parents say their son was destined to work on the Mars project. “I think the term ‘perseverance’ is very much like Christopher,” Mike said. “He persevered to get to where he is.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
TORONTO — Some of the Toronto van attack victims and their families are nervously waiting to learn the fate of the man whose deadly rampage three years ago changed their lives forever.On Wednesday morning, live on YouTube, Justice Anne Molloy will deliver her verdict in the case of Alek Minassian, who deliberately drove a rented van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk on April 23, 2018, killing 10 pedestrians and injured 16 others."I've been anxious for months, much more so than I thought I'd be," said Catherine Riddell, 70, who was out for a walk when Minassian's van hit her from behind.Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, but pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., argued at trial that he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions due to autism spectrum disorder. The trial will turn on Minassian's mindset at the time."He's a mass killer who has autism, that's it," said Riddell, who suffered a fractured spine and broken ribs, scapula and pelvis in the attack. She also suffered a minor brain injury and internal bleeding."I'm really nervous," said Robert Forsyth, whose aunt, Betty Forsyth, 94, was killed by Minassian when she was out for a walk on an unusually warm and sunny April day. "He's got to be guilty, right?"Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie Victoria D'Amico, Munir Najjar, Dorothy Marie Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha died in the attack.The seven-week trial that started in November focused on the inner workings of Minassian's mind. The prosecution opened with a painstakingly detailed examination of how all 26 people were killed or hurt.The trial heard that after weeks of planning, Minassian sat in the driver's seat of his rental van at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in the north end of the city around 1:30 p.m.When the light turned green, he floored it, hopped the curb and hit a group of pedestrians, killing two. He drove for about two kilometres on and off the sidewalk as he killed and maimed unsuspecting pedestrians along the way. Minassian only stopped when one of his victims spilled their drink on his windshield and he worried he'd crash. On a side street he hopped out of the van and tried to get killed by police, "suicide by cop" being part of his plan. Minassian tried to fool an approaching police officer by pulling his wallet, pretending it was a gun, but it didn't work."I'm a murdering piece of shit," Minassian told the booking officer shortly thereafter.Several hours later Minassian told a detective he committed the attack as retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn't have sex with him. Later, he told various assessors that the so-called "incel" motive was a ruse, designed to increase his notoriety. He was still a lonely virgin, however, that part was true.He went on to tell different doctors different reasons for his attack. He said he had "extreme anxiety" over a new job he was about to start. He also wanted to "set a world record" for kills in order to be atop an online leaderboard of mass killers.If he accomplished that, then he wouldn't be viewed as a failure, he told a forensic psychiatrist. Minassian also told them he had a strong desire to commit a mass killing and was infatuated with an American mass murderer.The central question at trial was whether Minassian knew what he did was morally wrong. The legal test in this case focuses on whether he had the capacity at the time to make a rational choice.The defence's star witness, American-based forensic psychiatrist Dr. Alexander Westphal, testified that Minassian's autism left him without the ability to develop empathy.Minassian's lawyer, Boris Bytensky, said that lack of empathy left him incapable of rational choice, and, ultimately, to know what he did was morally wrong. The prosecution argued Minassian knew what he did was wrong, in part because he told many of his assessors he knew killing 10 people that day was morally wrong.Minassian had a decade-long fixation on mass school shootings, the Crown pointed out. That fixation morphed into fantasies of committing a mass shooting at his own high school, where he was picked on.But he never followed through, in part, because he did not know how to get a gun. "There's no evidence he ever lost the fact of the wrongness of his actions," said Crown attorney Joe Callaghan.The prosecution's key witness, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Percy Wright, said Minassian had some empathy and knew what he did was wrong, thereby did not qualify for the test that he was not criminally responsible for his actions.Renowned forensic psychiatrist, Dr. John Bradford, who has evaluated some of the country's most notorious killers, said Minassian did not meet the test to be found not criminally responsible.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Kohl's reported mixed results for its fiscal fourth quarter, delivering a 30% increase in profits but a 10% drop in sales. Results handily beat Wall Street estimates. Online sales growth remained strong, up 22% for the latest quarter, and accounted for 42% of net sales. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, company also issued a per-share forecast for the current year whose top range beat analysts' expectations. It also expects solid revenue growth. The earnings report comes out as Kohl’s is fighting back against an investor group’s efforts to take control of the department store chain’s board, arguing that it would derail its progress and momentum. The investor group nominated nine members for Kohl’s board of directors as it looks to boost the company’s stock and its financial performance. The group owns a 9.5% stake in Kohl’s. Kohl's has been pushing various initiatives to attract shoppers including expanding its activewear and home area. The department store's program with Amazon to accept eligible Amazon items, without a box or label, has done well. It said Tuesday the initiative has resulted in 2 million new customers in the past year of whom a third are younger. Late last year, the department store chain announced that Sephora will replace all cosmetics areas at Kohl’s with 2,500 square foot shops, starting with 200 locations in the fall. It will expand to at least 850 stores by 2023. Kohl's CEO Michelle Gass told The Associated Press during a phone interview on Tuesday that the chain is seeing a momentum in its business, and called the Sephora shops a “game changer." And while shopping at its stores are not yet back at a normal rate, she believes that Kohl's will recover some of that. She also noted that Kohl's will be ready when shoppers start going out more, but that casual dressing will still be important. Kohl's earned $343 million, or $2.20 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 30. That compares with $265 million, or $1.72 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings was $2.22, well ahead of the $1.01 per share that analysts forecast, according to FactSet. Sales reached $6.14 billion, down from $6.83 billion in the year-ago period. But results surpassed the $5.88 billion that analysts had expected, according to FactSet. Kohl’s expects net sales for the current year to increase in the mid-teens percentage range. The company also forecasts that per-share range should be anywhere from $2.45 to $2.95 for the year. Analysts forecast $2.65 per share, according to FactSet. Shares rose 50 cents to $57.49 in late morning trading. Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
Two recent graduates of the Civil Engineering Technology program at St. Lawrence College have launched a bursary to support upper year Civil Engineering students. Braedan Rogers and David Logan, 2020 graduates of the program, wanted to give something back to future students in the Civil Engineering Technology program. Last year was the inaugural year for the bursary, and the duo hope to increase the amount available to the recipients through donations. “We found most, if not all, of our classmates never applied for any funding as the prevailing thoughts on most bursaries was they were so competitive, what was the point," Logan said. "Our classmates worked in industry during summer breaks, and really struggled hard to get decent grades as it is very challenging subject material." The list of bursaries available at St. Lawrence College is quite lengthy, but the duo say most rely on grades, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering, which students with jobs find difficult to fit into their days. The Solid Ground Award is awarded to returning students who are enrolled full-time in the Civil Engineering Technology program, are passionate about their field, and interested in pursuing a career in Civil Engineering. When asked how they fund the bursary, Logan said they decided to run it through SLC Alumni. “It keeps everything really easy and allows for donors to get charitable tax receipts,” he said. “When talking with the coordinators, we expressed how the main goal of this was to support a Civil student who was passionate about future work in the Engineering field,” Logan continued. “As such, we really only had one criteria: the student had to be a second or third year civil engineering student in good standing. This allows the most amount of students to apply. With help from the Civil faculty, one student is selected.” Last year the Solid Ground Award provided $500 to the recipient. The duo say their ultimate goal is to provide a full year’s tuition. “Breadan and I have committed to fund this for a minimum of three years. We each donate $250 a year, with my share coming through my business ‘Wise Cracks Kingston’,” Logan shared. “We feel this is worthwhile and important. There are many roles in the civil [engineering] world that need new bright talented workers,” he said. “Kingston, and eastern Ontario, have many companies that need people with the skills learned through the Civil Engineering program at SLC. The hope is that each year we can grow the amount of donors, and in doing so help the donors get the skilled workers they need!" “We hope to make this a sustainable award that can be counted on for years,” Logan added. Those interested in donating to this bursary are asked to contact SLC Alumni. Mention the Solid Ground Award to ensure your donation goes directly to support the Civil Engineering bursary. Students can apply for the bursary through the SLC website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
SAINTE-SOPHIE, Que. — A second woman has died of her injuries following an assault Monday in a house in Quebec's Laurentians region. Quebec provincial police confirmed Tuesday that a 28-year-old woman who was taken to hospital in critical condition has died. A 60-year-old woman, who is a relative of the other victim, was previously declared dead. Provincial police Sgt. Marie-Michelle Moore says the case is now considered a double homicide. Police received a 911 call around 9:15 p.m. on Monday about an incident in Ste-Sophie, about 65 kilometres north of Montreal. They say they believe the incident is connected to a car crash in nearby St-Jerome, Que., in which a driver hit another car around the same time police discovered the two victims at the Ste-Sophie home. The 33-year-old driver, who is considered a suspect, was seriously injured and taken to hospital along with the other driver involved in the collision. Police say the injuries of the two drivers are no longer considered life-threatening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — One of the most intriguing parts of the costumes at the Broadway play “A Soldier's Story” was something the audience likely never saw. Each of the 12 actors wore uniforms carefully reflecting the attire of real soldiers in 1944. Their boots, too, were faithful replications. But around their necks were dog tags carefully etched with each character's name, age and religious affiliation. The dog tags — usually tucked under the costumes and out of sight — gave the actors something they could physically hold as they got into character. They became touchstones for their roles. It was the brainchild of Dede Ayite, who has earned two 2021 Tony Award costume design nominations. Even if few sitting in the audience knew about the dog tags or what they said, it was her gift to the actors, her attempt to deepen the experience. “Stuff like that brings me joy. I don’t need the audience to know that," said Ayite. "It’s building up of those layers that adds even more texture to a piece.” Showing her versatility, Ayite also is nominated for designing the costumes for “Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’ bracing work about an antebellum fantasy therapy workshop. If “A Soldier's Play” was regimented and historically accurate, “Slave Play” is fantasy and fetishism. “I love the way clothes make me feel. I love the stories you can tell through clothing,” said Ayite, who noted that on this interview day her red sweater had shifted her demeanour. “That’s the power and the beauty of what clothes can do. I want to be able to tap into that.” For “A Soldier's Play,” which explores racism within a Black U.S. Army unit, Ayite created special padding in the elbows and knees for actor David Alan Grier, who was frequently pummeled onstage. The soldiers' boots had to look broken in so she handed them out at the beginning of rehearsals. For “Slave Play,” Ayite put a leather dominatrix outfit under a hoop skirt for one character and mixed contemporary items — like Calvin Klein underwear — with Civil War-era pieces to make the viewer question what they were seeing. “There is a sort of home-grown quality to it. The characters have sort of like put their own spin on each of these costumes,” said “Slave Play” director Robert O’Hara. “I think that people watching the show will say, ‘Wait a minute. That looks out of time with the time period.’ So there are winks in the costumes throughout.” Ayite said she's always been curious about what makes humans tick, and she had one of the more astounding double majors of anyone on Broadway — theatre and behavioural neuroscience. She excelled at both, but at some point had to pick career paths. “I needed to choose the thing that brought me the most joy and the thing that sort of kept my heart intact and my spirit intact. And that was art,” she said. “I just kept saying yes to the thing that spoke to my heart. And it’s brought me here today. And for that I’m grateful.” She has a master’s in design from the Yale School of Drama and teaches at Harvard University. Ayite said she likes the collaborative nature of theatre, and her art is a “soul calling.” “There’s nothing like watching an audience experience the world you helped to create and to see them moved,” she said. "I don’t need to run up there and say, ‘Hey, look at me,’ because I see that, I see the effect.” Her other Broadway credits include “American Son” and “Children of a Lesser God.” Her work has been seen at Steppenwolf, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, Arena Stage and Cleveland Playhouse. Ayite learned she had earned two Tony nominations last fall while at the dentist, who was encouraging. “He said, ‘You know what? I feel good about this. I think it’s going to be a good day’” she said he told her. She was still processing the first text message of a nomination when a second arrived with more good news. “It is it is a huge honour to think that people who see theatre and people who appreciate theatre are seeing my work and they’re recognizing the effort that goes into it,” she said. The pandemic put on hold two plays she also worked on — revivals of “How I Learned to Drive” and ”American Buffalo." Both sets of costumes are in storage, awaiting the return of live theatre. But when it does, Ayite is ready to tweak and enhance. “I definitely would like to look at the costumes again, acknowledge what we’ve done so far, but then also think of them through the lens of what we’ve all gone through in the last year and a half,” she said. “We’re all different today.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
CALGARY — An 18-year-old-man believed to have been driving when a Calgary police officer was killed in a hit-and-run still doesn't have a lawyer to defend him. The accused is charged with first-degree murder in the New Year's Eve death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who had tried to pull over the vehicle because its plates didn't match its registration. Harnett was dragged by the SUV before falling away from the vehicle and getting hit by another car. The accused, who was 17 when he was charged, can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He had a lawyer during his bail hearing, but told court two weeks ago he didn't have counsel for his trial, and was given until today to arrange for that. The teen has now been given until March 23 to retain a lawyer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
An all-candidates forum took place virtually via Zoom on Feb. 23, 2021 for the Coast Mountains School District trustee by-election to fill the Terrace seat vacated when Art Erasmus moved away last year. All seven candidates participated via Zoom, and the forum was streamed live on the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. Sarah Zimmerman, executive director of communications for Coast Mountains College served as the moderator for the event. Dave Crawley, Ed Harrison, Peter Lambright, Roger Leclerc, Lynn Parker, Diana Penner and Kate Spangl are all vying for the Terrace seat. The forum lasted two hours, and there were some disruptions with the online format as some candidates found themselves muted occasionally and had to start their answer over. Two candidates were given one minute to respond to a question, and other candidates could use one of two rebuttals to respond to a question that they were not asked. All candidates were given an opportunity to share what they would most like to accomplish should they be elected. Here are their responses in the order that candidates answered. Peter Lambright: “If I am successful for the next couple years while I sit on the board, I strongly believe we should be lobbying and hitting up the provincial government fast and hard so that we can start updating our failing infrastructure. As Terrace is growing, and it is the hub of the north, we have a lot of young people moving here for work and jobs, and once again if we did this together as Terrace, Tsimshian, Gitxsan, Haisla and Nisga’a, with their support and our support and our working forward for the greater future of our school district, we can start to get a lot of the different benefits if we started doing it all as one, and as someone who’s been in Aboriginal relations and is related to pretty much everybody around here, and as a former chief I know most of the leaders and I know they would step forwards for the greater good of their kids.” Ed Harrison: “I think the five-year plan is actually the critical component of the district’s thrust in terms of the new curriculum because it truly asks the district to seriously look at and analyze what parents, students, guardians are saying about the school system and gives it a basis to build on over the next five years, and it also does seriously hold people accountable for what it is they are saying they want to do, so I would see that as the critical component.” Lynn Parker: “From my platform it is accountability, it is to ensure, and it will go along with what I said before about the five-year plan, if we are to work on more ways to support a student in reading, writing, math or science to excel in their education and acknowledge employees needing to feel value for their work efforts, if we are to help get this five year off the ground by ensuring each child has their say in class about what supports they need, I think we need to hear from the students and hear from the staff, so we need that somehow, so I think our biggest pressure is to ensure that they are heard.” Kate Spangl: “I think for me the biggest priority is what I said in my opening, is communication, is open, flowing, timely, respectful communication that we are seeking from our community, from our parents, from our students. I echo what Lynn and Ed said about our five-year plan, we have to have that communication from all of our partners in order for that five-year plan to be solid and to be meaningful. I think opening up more lines of direct communication is what I would really like to achieve in the next year and a half.” Dave Crawley: “I think for me, first of all would be to help guide the schools through the pandemic to get us past the COVID-19 and onto a better way and then the five-year plan is very important so I believe that having a direction, having goals and then checking along the way to see that we are on track and that we are moving in the right direction is essential to the success of the schools and to the learning of the students, all of them.” Roger Leclerc: “I think exiting out of COVID-19 is going to take a while and its going to really affect the delivery of programs and services at the school district, and I agree with the district’s plan, that we need to get this done but along with that we need to have an implementation strategy, that we take that plan and implement it in the district, just the plan itself needs to have that next step to go with it, so those are my priorities.” Diana Penner: “I think over and above the biggest thing for me is teamwork, I think we’ve discovered more and more that every time when something falls off the radar screen the quickest way that we fall off with it is that we’re not all on the same page, so for me it’s always been teamwork. It’s about our 4,000 students, hearing their voices heard, the 770 staff, hearing their voices heard, it’s about all of our 19 schools being on the same page, all of us wanting the same thing for one another and working with one another. So having said that technology I think right now is the place where we are falling off the quickest so I think that for me, staying abreast with what’s going on with technology and this is a prime example with our mics and all that sort of stuff, it’s a hard track to stay on.” The entire all candidates forum can be viewed on the Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. General voting day is March 6 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room. There is also an advance voting day and that is March 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
A watchdog agency on Tuesday again classified the 2020 census as high risk because of efforts last fall by the Trump administration to shorten the door-knocking and data-processing phases of the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident. The compressed time frame for data collection increased the risk of compromised data quality, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in its High-Risk Report. The GAO has classified the 2020 census as a high-risk area since 2017. Last spring, the Census Bureau was forced to delay field operations because of the coronavirus pandemic. The statistical agency came up with a new plan to extend data collection from the end of last July to the end of last October, and pushed back the deadline for data processing from the end of last December to the end of April. Legislation to change the deadlines stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate last summer after President Donald Trump issued an order attempting to exclude people in the country illegally from the state population counts that are used for dividing up congressional seats among the states. The Trump administration then came up with another plan to end data collection a month early and cut the time for data processing by almost half. That compressed schedule was challenged in court by a coalition of municipalities and civil rights groups who claimed the timeline was shortened so Trump would still be in the White House when the state population counts were finalized. The challenge went to the Supreme Court, which gave the Trump administration the green light to end data collection in mid-October, about two weeks earlier than planned. After missing the end-of-December deadline for the congressional apportionment numbers, the Census Bureau kept pushing back the timeline, because of anomalies it found in the data, until it announced in late January that the numbers wouldn't be ready until the end of April. The statistical agency also announced last month that redistricting data used to redraw congressional and legislative districts won't be ready until the end of September. ___ Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP Mike Schneider, The Associated Press
This story is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians. What's new News Tuesday that the United States is racing ahead to mass-vaccination against COVID-19 months faster than expected is a big deal not only for Americans but could also have implications for Canada, which has so far been prevented from importing U.S.-made vaccines. U.S. President Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday that the U.S. should have enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of May, two months sooner than the previously announced target. So, where will massive American production volumes shift next? One U.S. lawmaker's suggestion: Canada and Mexico. Vicente Gonzalez, a member of the House of Representatives, says the U.S. must make it a priority to ship vaccines across the border to its neighbours once Americans are inoculated. The Texas Democrat says he's looking forward to when the U.S. can ease up on an export ban that has prevented foreign shipments of doses produced in the country. Biden's administration, like the Trump administration before it, has blocked exports and rebuffed requests from Canada and Mexico for supplies. "The borders are closed in my district," the Democratic lawmaker, whose district sits along part of the U.S.-Mexico border, told CNN Monday. "Mexican nationals with visas who normally travel here or own second homes [or] come and do business here are not allowed across the border right now. "So, we definitely need to immunize our friends across the border at some point, once we're finished doing it here in our country." Gonzalez said the U.S. will only truly recover from the pandemic when its neighbours are safe, too. Vicente Gonzalez, seen here at an August 2020 press conference, serves a Texas-Mexico border community in the House of Representatives, and says the U.S. should lift its ban on the export of COVID-19 vaccines. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP) "I think we have five vaccines for every American, so we certainly have some extra vaccines that we could share with other countries — especially somebody like Mexico or Canada, who we do a lot of business with … where a lot of commerce and tourism flow on a regular basis," Gonzalez said in the interview. "So we don't live in this world, isolated. It's a global community, and certainly, North America is a very tight-knit community. We have relatives on both sides of the border, we do business on both sides of the border, whether it's Canada or Mexico." What's next Gonzalez's comments point to a question that will only intensify over the coming months about what happens to the big production capacity within the United States once export bans are lifted on plants such as Pfizer's in Michigan and Moderna's in New England. The United States has vaccinated residents at quadruple the rate of Canada. Biden has said in the past that there should be enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of July before revising that to late May on Tuesday. That puts the U.S. schedule several months ahead of Canada's. Biden says vaccines arriving faster than expected:
At the almost empty "Wall Street" bar and restaurant in Tokyo's Kayabacho financial district, three groups of patrons dine quietly at tables separated by partitions. The sedate scene is a far cry from the area's heyday 30 years ago when traders flush from big wins on the nearby Tokyo Stock Exchange routinely crowded the restaurant's bar, downing glasses of premium whiskey. Even though Japanese stocks are scaling giddy heights not seen since the asset inflation bubble of the late 1980s and early 1990s, bars and restaurants in the financial district aren't along for the ride.
A young woman from Labrador City was recently chosen to participate in Daughters of the Vote, a nationwide initiative with the goal of electing more women to political office. The March 5-8 initiative, will see 338 young women and gender-diverse youth from across the country, one from each federal riding, take part in a four-day program that will include speakers from all levels of government, parliamentary committee simulations, and a virtual House of Commons session on International Women’s Day (March 8). Jenna Andrews, who will represent the riding of Labrador, said there were a number of things that drew her to the program, not the least of was the chance to represent the region. “I’m so proud to be from Labrador, everything about it,” she told SaltWire Network. “The land, the people, the sense of community care. I just really wanted to represent that at this conference.” Andrews said she has always been interested in politics and is in her last year of a bachelor of social work program, which has given her an opportunity to “really dig into learning more about social justice and inequities that are so deeply imbedded in our society across all levels, local, provincial, national. “That really heightened my interest, and Daughters of the Vote seemed like a good place for me to dive into that more and learn about the intersection of social policy, inequity and politics.” Daughters of the Vote is an initiative of Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization started in 2001 and which has been advocating for the equal representation of women in Canada’s Parliament, in provincial and territorial legislatures, and on municipal and band councils. Equal Voice executive director Eleanor Fast said the goal is to expose more young women and gender-diverse youth to politics and hopefully inspire them to learn more about political systems and how they can participate. “Right now in Canada, there are less than 100 women in Parliament. It’s 2021 and less than a third of our parliamentarians are women,” Fast said. “With Daughters of the Vote, we have every single riding in Canada represented by a woman, and we think that’s a really powerful statement.” Fast said it’s a great opportunity for the participants to meet other women interested in politics from across the country and share different opinions on policy issues. Many past participants have kept in touch, she said, helping create nationwide networks of politically active young women. This is the third iteration of Daughters of the Vote, which began in 2017 on the 100th anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in Canada. It ran again in 2019, and this year will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrews said there are issues in Labrador she wants to bring forward at the sessions, including access to mental-health treatment, resources for aging and digital equity. Andrews said she is disappointed she won’t get to meet the other delegates face to face and be in the House of Commons, but the situation will be relevant to digital equity, one of the topics she wants to discuss, “As we move into this reality with COVID and our inability to gather in person, how do we ensure that there is equitable access to the digital spaces and the technology we need to get on to those digital spaces?” she said. “It’s an issue in Labrador and across the country that I hope to bring forward.” Her main hope is to learn from the other delegates and their experiences, and bring that knowledge back to Labrador. The sessions will be live-streamed. More information is available online at https://www.equalvoice.ca/dov. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says all people over 80 will get their second dose based on existing appointments, but after that the interval between doses will be extended. She says having everyone over 16 partially vaccinated by July would bring "the finish line" into much sharper focus. Morrison reported four new cases of COVID-19 in the province today involving three men and one woman, all in their 20s. There are now 22 active cases on the Island, and there have been a total of 136 cases since the onset of the pandemic. Morrison said test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the more transmissible variant first identified in the United Kingdom. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Another GTA region has begun inoculating seniors 80 years of age and older. Shallima Maharaj has the story.
A major spending scandal at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has led to some difficult questions of its board of directors, which includes Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine and Area P Director Mel Rothenburger. In a major investigative series, Kamloops This Week (KTW) reporter Jessica Wallace detailed how the regional district’s former chief administrative officer put to use his tax-payer funded credit card. Over a five year period, Sukh Gill spent over $500,000 on the card. This included $174,000 on coffee shops and restaurants, with Gill charging money on the card an average of once every two days. Former staff and outgoing directors were treated to dinners and pricey parting gifts. A number of gift cards were also purchased and working meals at high-end restaurants were numerous. On Monday, March 1, current board chair Ken Gillis announced the TNRD will commission an investigation into the spending scandal, though the timeline and scope have yet to be determined. “On behalf of myself and the entire Board of Directors, I am here to say that we take full ownership and accountability for the lack of financial oversight on this matter,” said a media statement from Gillis. None of the spending was against policy, and the TNRD has stated publicly that the spending was not the reason for Gill’s departure in February of 2020. The regional district has not explained why he left and called his departure a retirement; it has been reported that he received a $500,000-plus severance and payout upon his departure. The spending scandal has drawn widespread condemnation, with Kris Sims, director of the British Columbia Chapter of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, calling it one of the worst examples of government misspending she has seen. “This is one of the worst examples I’ve seen when it comes to expense accounts,” said Sims. Sims said it isn’t just the “big eye-popping” spends, such as an $8,000 spent at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, B.C., but rather the “constant drip” of spending. “Like every other day, more or less, this person was eating and drinking and not paying for it themselves,” said Sims. Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is one of 11 member municipalities of the TNRD. Raine, who is one of 26 directors for the TNRD, has served on the board since 2010, and currently chairs the organization’s auditing committee, a position he held in 2013 and 2015 to 2017. The audit committee’s role is to approve of the hiring of an audit firm, meet with the auditor to review the plan for audits and then receive the end product. Like other TNRD staff and directors, Raine is mentioned in the reported spending. Raine appears on four line items over the five year period related to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference in Halifax, N.S. in 2018. Raine declined comment for the story, instead directing Sun Peaks Independent News to speak with current TNRD board chair Gillis. Gillis said that while some of the spending highlighted in the KTW investigation was lavish, in other cases, it was justified, and that one must also keep in mind that Gill also often paid for required big-ticket items, such as hotel rooms for directors or working lunch meals for directors, on his credit card. “In mea culpa mode, we obviously should have had some means in place to have the CAO’s expenses reviewed, [which] we do have now,” said Gillis. Gillis added the board was not fully aware of the scale of spending that was taking place as CAO spending was not presented in one clear place for directors to see. Asked if some of the meals that he joined Gill and others at raised a red flag, Gillis said that they did, but they never translated into policy. “I thought [that] this is a bit extreme,” said Gillis, “And I mentioned it to Mr. Gill on one occasion, but he didn’t seem to be particularly concerned about it. You think well, I guess that this is the way things are done? “There were red flags raised on certain issues at certain times, but for some reason, [they] didn’t really seem to go anywhere.” In 2018, Gillis attended a dinner at Whistler’s high end Bearfoot Bistro during the Union of Municipalities Convention. The meal cost taxpayers $8,000 and has a flashpoint for outrage around the CAO spending. Gillis said that while wine may have flowed a bit too freely, the evening was a strong networking opportunity that brought together staff with local and provincial politicians. “It was a wonderful networking opportunity,” he said. “It gave us a great chance to become more familiar with the municipal councillors [and the] issues that they were dealing with at any given time.” Gillis added that while board members were discouraged from “badgering the MLA” with specific issues, they were able to make connections and get the ball rolling on important matters. Gillis said the organization has put in a number of measures to curb spending in recent months. This includes changing the TNRD’s hospitality policy to limit drinks to two (beer or wine) at events. The regional district has also created policies where the chair or vice-chair has to sign off on CAO expenses and staff are not allowed to expense alcohol. “We have made a requirement that all Visa receipts submitted must be accompanied and backed up by the invoice,” he said. “So in other words, you can’t just submit the little tab that comes off the machine at a restaurant, you have to have the restaurant bill attached to that.” Mel Rothenberger, director for Area P, which covers Sun Peaks, said that he would like to see the rules go even further. He noted that he pushed for a cash bar this summer when the board voted for the two-drink limit at events. Rothenburger was elected in 2014 and is tied to numerous meals out with Gill, including a $523 meal at the Boathouse Restaurant in downtown Vancouver in 2015. Rothenburger was also part of a 13-member party from the regional district who stayed at the Pan Pacific between three and five nights at $399 a night during a conference. The total cost of the accommodation for the party was $6,094.66. Asked about his presence at the dinners, Rothenburger said that he kept his orders to a reasonable amount. “I’ve always tried to be careful about my spending and my expenses tend to certainly be on the lower half of the list of the totals over the years,” he said. “Two years ago, for example, I made a motion which was successful that the cost for spouses not be paid, that we clarify that spouses are not eligible to be paid when they accompany directors to various events. That was approved that it was actually reinforced last year.” Rothenburger said that he would like the TNRD to take an “open book approach” to CAO and director spending in the future. “I think if we could produce a report with details of that spending, at least quarterly, maybe even monthly, if that’s possible, that would go a great distance towards restoring public confidence and also giving us a means to pay careful attention to that spending,” he said. Moving forward, Sims of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation said things will need to be different. She said that the incident highlights the need for a strong office of the Auditor General for local government, where staff can report misspending. “We don’t have a strong, effective municipal Auditor General,” she said. “And we don’t have a team of watchdogs keeping an eye on these books. Whistleblowers have next to nowhere to call, and when they get a sense that something is going wrong in their workplace, they’re scared for their jobs.” Overall, Sims said she hopes that the event does not turn people off local government. She added local government is among the most personal forms of government and while scandals like this can result in disillusionment, it is important for citizens to demand for change and better safeguards. Since the publication of the KTW report, one board member—-Area E Director Sally Watson—has gone on record saying that the board of directors was complicit in the CAO spending over the years. Sims added it’s important for all board members to speak up on the issue. “They owe it to the people to give an explanation,” she said. “And maybe they do have an explanation. Who knows? Maybe they honestly didn’t know. Maybe they were somehow being kept in the dark. If that’s true, just say so.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628. The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121. The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public. Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus. The new data is based on 30,737 tests. There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press