‘The High Note’ Starts Strong on VOD as Netflix’s ‘Lovebirds’ Drops Fast

Tom Brueggemann

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Almost four months after indoor theaters shut down, a small fraction are reopening around the country. Drive-ins continue to lead grosses: IFC Films’ “The Wretched” is a standout success. That’s because IFC reports those drive-in numbers. Universal does not: they had the real #1 grosser for the eighth straight week (“The Invisible Man,” just ahead of “Trolls World Tour.”)

Meanwhile, at-home movie-watching habits are evolving into a new normal. This weekend, Focus Features launched “The High Note” as a premium VOD release (along with a few theaters), which marks the second Universal theatrical title (after “Trolls World Tour”) to move to initial home viewing. Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island” is next up on June 12.

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Universal is deftly maneuvering in the VOD space; the homevideo division finally lowered prices for premium-price titles “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man” (which opened in theaters before swiftly moving to VOD), with upbeat results. On the other hand, romantic comedy “The Lovebirds,” which Paramount moved out of April release and sold to Netflix, is fading fast from their top ten list. (It’s too soon to know what that means.)

Some star-driven VOD titles also turned up this week, led by the Bruce Willis actioner “Survive the Night.”

“The High Note” strikes a strong initial chord. 

Working Title’s music-world drama “The High Note,” directed by Nisha Gatrana and starring Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross, is showing initial good results. Released last Friday, it ranks #2 at FandangoNow’s full week revenue-based chart, after only three days. That suggests that it was #1 for the weekend, even at a pricey $19.99 rental. Unlike “Scoob!” (Warner Bros.) and “Trolls World Tour” (Universal), this modest-budget studio PVOD release is the first original, not-franchise offering that’s not aimed at families.

Because the film likely cost less than $20 million, “The High Note” will need a much lower return to see profit than the other two. It was scheduled as a May 8 theatrical release in 2,000 theaters. A rough guess is that it might have opened to around $8 million with an ultimate $25 million total. 1.25 million rentals during the premium stage would reach the same total, with a far higher return to Focus than from film rental. Again, Universal/Focus is learning on the go.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” beats “The Lovebirds” at Netflix.

An alternative route for studios has been to sell to streamers. Paramount did that early by selling to Netflix Michael Showalter’s “The Lovebirds” starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. In its second week, without the branding that comes from a theatrical release, the movie quickly dropped to #5 among Netflix movies, lower still on the streamer’s all-content chart. The two films it trails are two star vehicles that were modest successes in their time: Adam Sandler’s “Just Go With It” and Matthew McConaughey’s “The Lincoln Lawyer.” They show up only because the streamer just added them.

“Scoob!” and “Trolls World Tour” add to their bounty.

“Scoob!” continues to dominate rentals; it’s #1 at three sites and second at a fourth, even with a premium price tag. (Three of these charts count number of transactions, not revenues.) The animated sequel is playing similar to “Trolls,” and is still strong in its third week. And “Trolls,” now nearing its third month, ranks high at three charts (iTunes doesn’t list it), still at premium price.

“The Invisible Man” leads lower-price resurgence.

Universal has successfully switched several initial mid-March premium films into regular price successes. By far the best is “The Invisible Man,” #1 at iTunes, #3 (and best of the standard price entries) at FandangoNow. There is some risk at lowering the price, but ultimately this is no different that stages of cost from movie tickets, initial PVOD, and reduced-cost VOD. “The Hunt” and earlier Focus’ “Emma” have also seen rebounds.

Movie stars still drive breakouts. 

While there’s a range of VOD, cable, and streaming openings, the public is responding best to bread-and-butter offerings like the B-movies that have always flourished under the radar. This week’s successes include “Survive the Night” from Lionsgate, a modestly marketed home-invader actioner starring Bruce Willis, which is on both Spectrum and FandangoNow’s top ten lists.

Spectrum offers two other little-known titles, “The Inheritance,” a Ukrainian horror film, and “Villain,” about a British ex-con returning to crime. Neither boasts marquee cast: they’re just enticing enough to get bored at-home viewers to spend $6.99.

Year-end hits keep scoring.

Number one at Netflix among movies is “Uncut Gems” (A24) after its terrific theatrical run, followed by weeks of VOD rentals. (The streamer partnered on the film overseas.)

But it’s not the only late-year title still going strong. “Knives Out” won’t let up. It was huge in theaters, strong for months on VOD, and now it’s back at $2.99 a pop, getting elevated interest once again. Meantime “Jumanji: The Next Level” is still going strong in its sixth month.

Oddball random pop-up this week is Michael Mann’s 1995 all-star cops and robber film “Heat,” #5 at iTunes. There’s never been a better time for cinephiles to succumb to a nearly three-hour drama starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

Amazon Prime

Ranked by number of transactions, with the daily position as of Monday, June 1

1. Scoob! (Warner Bros.) – $19.99/$24.99 to buy

2. Trolls World Tour (Universal) – $19.99

3. Bloodshot (Sony) – $5.99

4. The Greatest Showman (Disney) – $3.99

5. Knives Out (Lionsgate) – $2.99

6. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony) – $5.99

7. Bad Boys for Life (Sony) – $5.99

8. The Gentlemen (STX) – $5.99

9. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony) – $9.99 to buy

10. Fantasy Island (Sony) – $5.99


Ranked by revenue accrued not transactions, for the week ending Monday, June 1

1. Scoob! (Warner Bros.) – $19.99/$24.99 to buy

2. The High Note (Focus) – $19.99

3. The Invisible Man (Universal) – $5.99

4. Trolls World Tour (Universal) – $19.99

5. The Hunt (Universal) – $5.99

6. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) – $4.99

7. Bad Boys for Life (Sony) – $4.99

8. Bloodshot (Paramount) – $4.99

9. Survive the Night (Lionsgate) – $6.99

10. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony) – $4.99


Ranked by transactions for May 22-28; all $6.99 except as noted

1. Scoob! (Warner Bros.) – $19.99

2. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)

8. Bloodshot (Sony)

3. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)

4. Survive the Night (Lionsgate)

5. Fantasy Island (Sony)

6. Trolls World Tour (Universal) – $19.99

7. The Inheritance (Apollo)

8. Bloodshot (Sony)

9. The Invisible Man (Universal)

10. Villain (Saban)


Ranked by number of transactions, with the daily position as of Monday, June 1; excludes premium VOD rental-only titles

1. The Invisible Man (Universal) – $5.99

2. Scoob! (Warner Bros.) – $19.99, $24.99 to buy

3. Knives Out (Lionsgate) – $2.99

4. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) – $3.99

5. Heat (Warner Bros.) – $3.99

6. The Gentlemen (STX) – $5.99

7. The Way Back (Warner Bros.) – $5.99

8. Bad Boys for Life (Sony) – $5.99

9. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony) – $5.99

10. Like a Boss (Paramount)- $2.99

Netflix Movies

Most-viewed, current ranking as of Monday, May 25

1. Uncut Gems (2019 theatrical release)

2. Just Go With It (2011 theatrical release)

3. The Wrong Missy (Netflix original)

4. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011 theatrical release)

5. The Lovebirds (Paramount, originally intended as theatrical release; now Netflix original)

6. The Intuition (2020 Spanish Netflix original)

7. Despicable Me (2010 theatrical release)

8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018 theatrical release)

9. I’m No Longer Here (2020 Mexican Netflix original)

10. Norm of the North (2016 theatrical release)

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  • Activists meet with Regina mayor about removal of John A. Macdonald statue

    Activists meet with Regina mayor about removal of John A. Macdonald statue

    Two Regina women met with Mayor Michael Fougere Friday to discuss the possible removal of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue in Victoria Park.Kerry Bellegarde-Opoonechaw and Eveningstar Andreas created an online petition to urge the City of Regina to remove the statue of the first Canadian prime minister. The petition, which outlines Macdonald's mistreatment of Indigenous people, has gathered more than 2,500 signatures.Statues of problematic figures are being taken down around the world, some by the public in protest, Bellegarde-Opoonechaw and Andreas said it is Regina's turn.Bellegarde-Opoonechaw said the brief 15-minute meeting with the mayor in front of the statue was polite."I'm quite happy because he was willing to work and liaison and, I mean, it's paperwork." Bellegarde-Opoonechaw said. "We have to understand that [there are] stakeholders involved, there's money involved in this."We also have to have that respect to work with the City of Regina and whoever else."Andreas said she wishes to see the statue in a museum or other appropriate building, such as the Saskatchewan Legislature."Every time we try to come out here and enjoy the park [to see our] kids play, but then you look at this guy and you know what he did to the First Nations kids," Andreas said, pointing to the statue behind her. "How are we supposed to have a good day when we're still looking at this guy?"Altercation at statueBellegarde-Opoonechaw said while recently protesting at the statue, as they have been doing every day for the past 18 days, they had an altercation with a racist man who was angry with their message.There were red dresses hanging around the statue, which honour and represent missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as placards on display."He had come right up to the statue and he had torn down one of our red dresses." Bellegarde-Opoonechaw said. "It had tobacco ties on it, which are very sacred to us."Bellegarde-Opoonechaw said the man also tore down and spat on the placards that were around the statue."He continued to fight, calling us racist things," she said. "It was very demeaning."She said the altercation was intimidating and was also brought up with the mayor."It's not acceptable in this day and age." Bellegarde-Opoonechaw said. "I feel that that is something seriously that we need to work [on with] the city and re-educate our families."City working on a solutionFougere said the city is in the middle of a public consultation process regarding the statue, which includes consulting with Indigenous leaders and communities as well as the public."We will compile that information and ultimately council will make the final decision," Fougere said.He said there are a few options as to what will happen with the statue of Macdonald, including leaving it where it is and adding plaques that address Macdonald's problematic legacy with Indigenous people."Explain the hurt under his leadership that happened in Canada but also who he is and where he came from." Fougere said. "So historical, but also the bad things he did with residential schools, as an example, and just speaking about the hurt that has been done to our country."He said other options are to move the statue to another location in the city or to destroy it.Fougere would not give his opinion on the issues surrounding the statue, but said he had an issue with a Canadian flag on the statue with the word "murderer" written on it."I think that that's a separate issue completely." Fougere said. "In my view, [it] is not necessary. You've made your point.  It's defacing our flag of Canada and, for me, it's not necessary, it's not helpful."Bellegarde-Opoonechaw said the mayor has the right to his opinion."I myself, I'm a treaty member so I don't associate with the Canadian flag, although we do live in what they call Canada," she said.

  • 'I don't think we're going to be able to contain this virus:' Fears of second wave loom large
    Yahoo News Canada

    'I don't think we're going to be able to contain this virus:' Fears of second wave loom large

    Experts largely agree collectively Canada has done a good job against limiting spread, but with the virus remaining active it still has plenty of potential hosts.

  • Three dead after float plane crashes near Edmonton airport: Mounties
    The Canadian Press

    Three dead after float plane crashes near Edmonton airport: Mounties

    LEDUC COUNTY, Alta. — RCMP say three people have died in a plane crash south of Edmonton.Mounties say they were alerted Friday morning that a float plane went down in a field in Leduc County east of the Edmonton International Airport.Three bodies were found in the wreckage.Cpl. Laurel Scott said it's believed no one else was on the aircraft.A manager at the nearby Cooking Lake Airport said the plane's owner, who is from the area, had gone up with an experienced flight instructor to learn how to use new amphibious floats on the light utility Murphy Moose.Sophie Wistaff, a spokeswoman with the Transportation Safety Board, said two investigators were to arrive in the afternoon at the crash site.She said she could not provide other details.RCMP said officers and firefighters were holding the scene.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Racial slur used against South Asians hurled at Halifax cabbie

    Racial slur used against South Asians hurled at Halifax cabbie

    A Halifax cab driver says he was subjected to racial slurs on Thursday after asking one of his passengers to wear a mask because of COVID-19.After picking up a man from a downtown Halifax hotel, Kuldip Dhunna said the passenger began coughing."Very politely, I told him to wear a mask next time due to COVID," Dhunna said. "And he said, 'No, I've already tested for COVID, my COVID is negative.' He scared me, so that's why I said, 'Still, if you have a negative and you have a cough, you have to wear a mask in the cab.'"Dhunna said the man, who was white, then began telling him to go back to his country and started calling him a racial slur typically used against people of South Asian descent.The interaction was captured on Dhunna's dashcam and his daughter, Shivani, shared it on her Instagram page.Dhunna is originally from India, but has been in Canada since 2007 and is a permanent resident. He has a background in pharmacy, but he's been driving a taxi around the city since 2009.This embedded video contains racist languageIn the video, the passenger tells Dhunna he's "sick and tired of immigrants." The man also accused immigrants of "trying to take our jobs."Dhunna tells the man he's a Canadian citizen who pays taxes.The taxi driver then told the passenger the encounter was being recorded and that he intended to report the passenger to police."Go ahead and report me," the passenger said.Dhunna then asked the man to get out of his taxi. He called his dispatcher, who encouraged him to call police.Dhunna said police told him they legally couldn't do anything and to just ignore the man. A police officer met with Dhunna and the passenger and nothing more happened."If taxi drivers call about our security and [police] say they can't do anything, what is the law?" he said.What police are sayingA Halifax Regional Police spokesperson told CBC News there were no grounds to lay criminal charges, but if additional information comes to light, they would consider reopening the investigation.Dhunna said this was his first experience with racism in Canada.Shivani Dhunna said when her father told her what happened, her heart broke."Racism in this day and age needs to be talked about," she said.His other daughter, Simran, posted the video to Twitter and said immigrant parents go through this kind of thing every day. She said this incident just happened to be recorded.'If you're racist, you need to be held accountable'"Even if it's really minor, it needs [to be] addressed. And people, it doesn't matter who it is, if you're racist, you need to be held accountable. We're not just going to walk away," Simran said.She said she was disappointed police couldn't do anything to help her father. She said there should be repercussions for people who are "verbally and racially abusing somebody."Her sister agrees."When police don't hold people like that accountable in the first place, this is how you sweep the racism under the rug," Shivani said.Online supportSimran said she's received a lot of support from people online."This isn't just regarding our dad, this is for every Black person, every Indigenous person, every person of colour who goes through this every day," she said.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Love it or hate it, this is Inuvik's new town sign

    Love it or hate it, this is Inuvik's new town sign

    Designing a new town sign is not for the faint of heart.It's a project that brings together local politics, regional identity, and public art — three things you're unlikely to ever find universal agreement on.But that's the task the town of Inuvik faced, which is replacing a hand-painted mural that has welcomed visitors to the "end of the Dempster" for decades.The winning bid for the project landed with a firm based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Fathom Studio, that produces everything from brochures to master plans for mid-sized communities."They came in with something that was on scope and on budget, and they were the best firm to be selected," said Jackie Challis, the director of tourism & economic development for the town of Inuvik.But that decision, and the designs that resulted, have ruffled feathers in town even before the sign is up."I just don't see anything positive here," said Ron English, a carver, painter, and sign maker born and raised in the community. "Again, we're stuck with something that was thought up down South."Inspired by the landscapeThe final design, which was chosen from three options presented by Fathom Studios, is dubbed the "Delta Borealis." The firm describes it on their Instagram as "a melding of local culture and environment rendered in anodized aluminum and CorTen steel."Challis says the design was the result of "a pretty in-depth consultation process," that included an online survey, an open house, and multiple meetings with councillors and stakeholders.Unusually for the firm, one of the designers, a landscape architect named Nicholas Robins, actually travelled the more than 23 in-flight hours to Inuvik, where he met with elders, councillors, and town administrators.Robins said he wanted to "get a real sense of what the local landscape looked and felt like — what the tree species were, what the types of rock available [were]."On a tour with the head of public works, he visited quarries and learned about dolomite, a local stone type that is "one of the oldest stones on the planet," he said."It has a really dark grey appearance, and really hard and almost luminous," he said. This is the stuff of landscape architects' dreams.The design, Challis pointed out, incorporates elements beyond the landscape. Consultations emphasized the importance of representing all three local languages — Inuvialuktun, Gwich'in, and English — and the base is adorned with the delta braid, an important local pattern found on parkas and other crafted work.'They just seem to bypass us': local artistBut for his part, English is unimpressed."The northern lights theme is hard to even grasp from what I see there," he said. "To me it looks very minimalist and barren and not representative of Inuvik."English wishes the design contained more representation of Inuvik's human character — what Challis called the "braiding together" of three distinct cultures, Gwich'in, Inuvialuit, and settler. He also said it should be more immune to vandalism, an issue for monuments across the town.But beyond the design, English is angry about how it came about. He said the town's process makes it impossible for small operators and local artists to bid on an important project like this one.Aside from his experience as a sign maker, English recently completed a degree from the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Victoria. He said it showed how flawed the consultation process was that he wasn't aware of the designs until they were unveiled."To come back and hear that they made a sign that's going to represent Inuvik without any consultation with artists like me, it again reaffirms what I've always believed," he said. "It doesn't matter what we do as locals around here, they just seem to bypass us."Less public art, more 'functional infrastructure'Challis said, ultimately, "there's a protocol in place.""Obviously, if there was a local or northern firm that submitted a bid that met the price and scope, they would probably have preference. But there wasn't one," she said.John deWolf, Fathom Studio's president, said at the end of the day, these kinds of projects are "less public art and more … functional infrastructure," limited by safety requirements."That said, that doesn't mean they have to be civic-looking," he said. "We can … make them look sculptural … or evocative of a culture."But for English, the end result will always fall short.Minimalist isolation, he said, "is their idea of [our] hopes and dreams."Compared to what the reality is here in Inuvik, it's a bit unsettling."

  • Trump's enthusiasm advantage meets fear and loathing on the campaign trail

    Trump's enthusiasm advantage meets fear and loathing on the campaign trail

    If there was any doubt that June was a miserable month for Donald Trump — thousands more COVID-19 deaths, racial strife, tumbling support in the polls — his campaign manager appeared only to confirm it with an op-ed in the Washington Post this week that gamely tried to argue the president's re-election prospects aren't as bad as they plainly are.Under the headline "Trump is beating Biden on the most important factor in this campaign," Brad Parscale breezed past the recent flood of opinion polls that show the president losing to Democratic challenger Joe Biden — nationally and in the battleground states — and instead asserted that Trump has something that will count for more on election day, something almost magical: an enthusiasm advantage."President Trump is dominating," Parscale wrote. "The unprecedented enthusiasm behind the president's re-election efforts stands in stark contrast to the flat, almost nonexistent enthusiasm for Biden."Corey Lewandowski, one of Trump's 2016 campaign managers, chimed in on the same day with the same pitch at Realclearpolitics.com."President Trump continues to draw huge ratings and massive enthusiasm, while Democratic presumptive nominee and 44-year career politician Joe Biden remains hidden away in his basement," he wrote.It's true the enthusiasm of his devotees is vital to Trump's re-election strategy. He has aimed to keep that enthusiasm as close to fever pitch as possible with inflammatory and divisive rhetoric about his political opponents.His speech to supporters at Mount Rushmore on the eve of Independence Day was typical. He characterized the movement to remove statues honouring Confederate soldiers from the Civil War as a "merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children." He called protesters who took to the streets after the police killing of George Floyd "angry mobs" trying to "tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities."Rather than persuading voters to join his base, Trump has always focused on turning out millions of people who are already wild about him but who didn't show up to vote in 2016. Whether there are enough of those people to turn the election for him is a separate question.But another question is whether the so-called Biden/Trump enthusiasm gap really matters anyway. The more important gap might have nothing to do with Biden at all. It might simply be the gap between the emotional intensity of those who love Trump and those who loathe him.Pew Research, for instance, found 67 per cent of Biden supporters said their choice was more a vote against Trump than a vote for Biden. Trump supporters told Pew their choice was more for Trump (76 per cent) than against Biden.But Pew also noted that "while Biden supporters have more mixed views of their own candidate, their views of Trump's presidency are more united and intensely negative." That's both inconvenient for the Trump strategy and entirely consistent with how U.S. politics is evolving: Negative partisanship drives voters.In his recent book Why We're Polarized, American journalist Ezra Klein describes negative partisanship as "partisan behaviour driven not by positive feelings toward the party you support but by negative feelings toward the party you oppose."And he describes the evolution of negative partisanship over the past 50 years this way: "We became more consistent in the party we vote for not because we came to like our party more — indeed, we've come to like the parties we vote for less — but because we came to dislike the opposing party more. Even as hope and change sputter, fear and loathing proceed."Thus, the fear and loathing gap might be the one that should really worry Trump. A Bloomberg poll in April suggested that among voters who dislike both Trump and Biden ("double haters," the Trump team calls them) Biden has a 50 point lead. In 2016, Trump won the double haters over Hillary Clinton.Polling analyst Rachel Bitecofer factored negative partisanship into her forecasting model a year ago, before the Democratic primary, and the model spit out a Democrat winning the White House no matter who it was.Of course, there are caveatsSo, it's somewhat ironic that Trump, who has been a master of negative partisanship through his crusades against immigrants, the media, the deep state, et cetera, might suddenly find himself running a deficit on the grievance politics ledger because so many people so deeply dislike him.Lately, it's been going even worse for the president. Polls suggest voters' main concern is the pandemic, and Trump has struggled to find a way to convincingly demonstrate he can manage a national response to the crisis. His daily coronavirus briefings, designed to showcase his command of the file and keep him in touch with his followers, were abruptly cancelled when his staff realized they were such disastrous displays of ignorance and self-harm that they couldn't continue.Still, all the usual caveats about the election still being months away apply, because the enduring lesson of 2016 is that Trump can survive what to anyone else would seem an utterly barren political landscape.Plus, there's evidence that even some Democrats worry Biden might not have what it takes to defeat Trump come November. He's been gaffe-prone his whole career, sometimes struggles with sentences in ways that have nothing to do with his stutter, and is even older than Trump, who is the oldest person ever elected president.But the Biden skeptics might be heartened to know that similar things were said about former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien when he returned to politics to take over the Liberal Party almost exactly 30 years ago. He seemed to have lost a step in his time out of politics. He struggled to read a teleprompter, had trouble with syntax, and his caucus was said to be riven with pessimists and doubters who questioned his abilities and stamina for the coming election.He dismissed them all as "nervous Nellies," and when the election finally arrived, watched as his opponents, a tired Conservative government, obligingly destroyed themselves.

  • 7 years on, B.C. woman seeks to forgive hit-and-run driver who left her for dead

    7 years on, B.C. woman seeks to forgive hit-and-run driver who left her for dead

    In the years since a hit-and-run driver left Patricia Anne Peters for dead on a highway north of Whistler, B.C., in the middle of an October night, she has faced plenty of hard choices.Stay angry at a stranger who left her in a wheelchair or try to be positive. Drink and party like she used to or clean up. Look to the future or stay stuck in the past.The 39-year-old mother of two celebrated six years of sobriety last week. And to her amazement, she also saw a B.C. Supreme Court judge hold a man responsible for her injuries.Now Peters faces perhaps her toughest challenge yet: finding a way to forgive logging truck driver Glen Bird."I don't want to hold on to hatred toward him because this is my body, this is my spirit," said Peters."I want to be able to just forgive him and let it go and move forward from here because it's in the past and there's nothing I can do about it. But I can move forward and try to make my situation the best I can."A red pack of cigarettesAlthough Peters won her court battle in February, the written decision finding Bird liable for running over her was only posted this week.Bird has never been charged criminally, but Justice Lance Bernard found circumstantial evidence convincing enough to level a civil court judgment against Bird and the company he worked for at the time of the hit-and-run. They have been assessed 75 per cent liability for damages caused to Peters.The dollar amount of the damage has yet to be assessed.The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, which provided coverage for the driver and was also a party to the suit, is appealing the ruling.Bird could not be reached for comment.Peters has no memory of the accident. She admitted in court to being "pretty intoxicated" after attending a party in Mount Currie, 40 kilometres northeast of Whistler, on the night of Oct. 16, 2013.She was walking home along Highway 99 to the tiny nearby community of D'Arcy. The unlit road runs a single lane in either direction in that area. Peters blacked out close to midnight and woke up in Vancouver General Hospital with most of the bones on the left side of her body broken. She remembers little from that night. But she did recall what turned out to be one crucial detail: she was smoking cigarettes from a red pack of du Mauriers.Washing truck 'like a crazy person'Almost a year after Peters was struck, a Squamish woman named Patricia Harris called the RCMP to say she had been assaulted by her boyfriend, Glen Bird.During that interview, Harris said Bird had told her the previous October that he had just run over and killed a man as he was driving his logging truck through the Mount Currie area.Harris said Bird had told her about the incident through text and telephone calls. She recalled certain details in court."That the collision occurred at an intersection, that the man he struck and killed was lying off to the side of the road and sat up just before he ran over him and that the man had a package of du Maurier cigarettes in his pocket," Bernard wrote.At the time, Harris testified, she didn't know what to make of Bird's admission.She said she picked him up from work where he was "washing down the truck like a crazy person, under the front and back." Harris said Bird deleted his text messages from that night, saying it was "bad karma" to keep them. She searched online news reports, but could find no report of a death.She and Bird moved to Alberta and back to Squamish. And then, Harris said that on a night in October 2014 when Bird assaulted her, he again mentioned killing a "native man."'I am a good driver'In his testimony, Bird said that he "absolutely didn't hit anyone" and that it was not even possible that he might have hit someone and not noticed."I am a good driver," he told the court. "I've hit animals, and even hitting a little animal or a bird, you can feel it in a logging truck."He described his relationship with Harris as "toxic," saying "she was like gum on a suit, she wouldn't go away."The 53-year-old said that he did remember the night of the accident, but only because he's been asked about it so often as a result of Harris's allegations.He said he was stopped for a detour at one point and a taxi driver told him a man had been killed that night. Bird said he "imagined" he talked to Harris while he was waiting for traffic to recommence and that was when he told her someone was dead.'Just relief'In finding that Bird was the driver who hit Peters, the judge relied heavily on Harris's recollection of what her ex-boyfriend told her.A "native man" may not have died, but an Indigenous woman nearly did.And despite the fact she had no other source of information, Harris independently came up with details that matched what happened: a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run, it happened near an intersection and that pedestrian "had smoked cigarettes from a red pack earlier that night.""Bird's version of events is that he knew virtually nothing about the hit-and-run," Bernard wrote."It is significant that [his] version of events does not allow for any misunderstanding by Ms. Harris to the effect that Mr. Bird had killed a man and left the scene that night, let alone account for the details Ms. Harris subsequently reported to the police."Bernard drew on phone records and inconsistencies in Bird's testimony to find he was behind the wheel, going more than twice the speed limit in a 30 km/h zone when his lights caught Peters, who was startled by the glare. She didn't have time to move, and the judge said Bird's speed would have meant he couldn't take evasive action.Peters said she was elated at the verdict."I guess the biggest word I could use is just relief," she said. "It was like finally being able to hold someone accountable for what happened."'Like we're worthless'Peters's lawyer, Jim Hanson, said police investigated and the Crown declined to lay charges. The threshold for criminal prosecution is beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas a civil case requires a balance of probabilities.Hanson said he bankrolled what amounted to a "civil prosecution," paying for expert witnesses and reports."It was very gratifying for us to privately pursue that justice and have a court say that Mr. Bird was the responsible party," he said.Hanson said it may have appeared like it was a needle in a haystack, but the first witnesses on the scene reported having seen a logging truck pass by.He wonders what might have happened had police more aggressively canvassed the records of all the drivers on that lonely piece of road that night.Peters is also chilled by the thought of Bird allegedly shrugging off what he believed was the killing of a "native man.""It's like we're worthless," she said. "And that's not true."

  • Police announce fourth victim stemming from tractor tragedy southeast of Montreal
    The Canadian Press

    Police announce fourth victim stemming from tractor tragedy southeast of Montreal

    MONTREAL — A fourth person has died in connection with a tractor accident earlier this week southeast of Montreal that had already claimed the lives of three young children, Quebec provincial police say.One of the two adults listed in critical condition after being thrown from the front loader of the tractor on Wednesday evening succumbed to their injuries."Unfortunately, Friday evening, we were informed of the death of one of the two adults, who was in critical condition in the hospital," said Sgt. Claude Denis, a provincial police spokesman, said Saturday.The condition of the second adult deemed critical wasn't immediately available.Ten people — six children and four adults — were injured in the incident in Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge, southeast of Montreal, on Wednesday evening.The three deceased children were all under the age of five.Five others — three children and two adults — were also injured in the accident, but are expected to survive.Provincial police said a farm tractor was carrying 10 people inside its front loader, along with pieces of wood.For unknown reasons, all the occupants were suddenly thrown from the loader shortly before 7 p.m. ETA 38-year-old Quebec man was charged with criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm during a court appearance on Thursday in Granby, Que.The accused, whose identity is protected by a court order, was released with several conditions.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • U.S. sends carriers to South China Sea during Chinese drills

    U.S. sends carriers to South China Sea during Chinese drills

    China and the United States have accused each other of stoking tension in the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from the new coronavirus to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea "to support a free and open Indo-Pacific," the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly where the exercises were being conducted in the South China Sea, which extends for some 1,500 km (900 miles) and 90% of which is claimed by China despite the protests of its neighbours.

  • Shelters struggle to keep up with skyrocketing demand for pet adoptions during COVID-19

    Shelters struggle to keep up with skyrocketing demand for pet adoptions during COVID-19

    When Miranda Pearson set out to adopt a pet in June, she had no idea what a challenge it would be.Pearson's sheltie Isaac died five years ago, and during the COVID lockdown, the Vancouver poet and psychiatric nurse felt it would be good time to bring a new pet home.But it turns out many British Columbians are feeling exactly the same way. That means there are very few pets — in particular dogs — available for adoption."I've been trying to find a dog or a cat through several different rescue sites including the SPCA, but also some of smaller [rescue organizations]. And I haven't even heard back from anyone," says Pearson."When I've pushed a little bit, they've said, 'Oh no, that one you applied for is gone.' So they just seem to go right away."Before the pandemic hit, rescue organizations like the B.C. SPCA feared they would face an influx of animals if the virus forced thousands of people into hospitals, as it had in other areas of the world.That spike in hospitalizations never materialized in B.C., while at the same time, many people were either out of a job or working from home. The demand for cuddly companions skyrocketed.'We've definitely seen an increase'Lorie Chortyk of the B.C. SPCA says they still have animals coming in from their regular animal cruelty investigations, from people in need of emergency boarding, and from more remote regions where there are fewer prospective adopters, but dogs in particular get snapped up quickly."We've definitely seen an increase in adoptions throughout the whole COVID crisis," says Chortyk, who says they've seen 200 applications for a single puppy."I think when people were home, they had a bit more time and they thought, 'Well, this is probably a good time to bring an animal into our family,'" she says."Also for many people it was a very lonely time. A lot of people were living alone and self-isolating. So the companionship of an animal became even more important."Shaley Boese has also experienced the shortage first-hand. She fosters small dogs for the local rescue organization I Helped Save Rescue. When she went to help a retired friend with a beautiful home and a fenced yard find a dog, she came up empty-handed.Normally I Helped Save Rescue would have dozens of pets looking for foster homes, but currently they only have two Chihuahuas that come as a pair. "It's like something we've never seen."'I have no dogs to give them'A big part of the problem, says I Helped Save Rescue owner Carmela Manno, is that the U.S. border is closed so it's impossible to bring animals up from the shelter system there which has an endless supply of dogs in need of homes.Manno says many shelters in the U.S. are experiencing an influx of animals because of higher COVID-19 rates, job losses and funding cuts to shelters, as well as lower rates of spaying and neutering, but she can't get them across the border where the demand is so high."We haven't able to bring any across, so they're just kind of piling up in California," says Manno, who has shifted to trying to find the dogs homes within the U.S.At the same time she has received dozens of applications from people in B.C. looking to foster or adopt."We have a website where you can apply to foster or adopt," she says, "and applications are coming in but I have no dogs to give them."'The right animal is out there'Despite the difficulties, some lucky owners do manage to land a pet. Just yesterday, Boese learned about a five-year-old dog being surrendered in Kelowna, and she's going to pick him up for her friend."She is super excited," says Boese. Chortyk also says that animals are still regularly coming into the SPCA — especially cats and kittens — and they're moving animals from other regions into the Lower Mainland to try to meet the demand.She adds that because of the volume of interest it can be hard for staff to get back to everyone, but would-be adopters shouldn't give up. "But I would encourage people to be persistent because we do have animals coming in every single day, and they desperately need homes. The right animal is out there for them," says Chortyk.

  • 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' ignites hope across US
    Canadian Press Videos

    'Lift Every Voice and Sing' ignites hope across US

    The Black national anthem was born more than a century ago, but the popular hymn within the African American community called “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has resurrected a beacon of hope during nationwide protests in recent weeks. (July 3)

  • Are kids key vectors in the spread of COVID-19 or not? U of C scientists want to know

    Are kids key vectors in the spread of COVID-19 or not? U of C scientists want to know

    University of Calgary researchers are leading a North American study that aims to unlock some of the mysteries around how kids spread the virus that causes COVID-19 — information that could inform policy decisions around school re-openings or operations down the line.The study will involve 1,600 children who show up at 20 emergency departments — for other reasons — around Canada and the United States.Four hundred kids who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 — but have no symptoms — will be followed and compared to a group of 1,200 children who test negative.According to University of Calgary pediatrics and emergency medicine professor Dr. Stephen Freedman, children with the virus often have mild symptoms or none at all."The challenge is these children can transmit infection and we're trying to understand how likely they are to transmit it," he said.Freedman also works at Alberta Children's Hospital, which is the lead site for the study.One of the big questions is how likely children are to spread the virus to grandparents or those with weakened immune systems. Those are the groups at highest risk for hospitalization and death.Children in the study will be followed to see whether they go on to develop symptoms, who else in their household and group of close contacts becomes sick, and what role the amount of virus detected in that initial test plays in all of it."Finding that asymptomatic infection does or does not impose a significant risk to household members in terms of transmission will really clarify the importance and concern that we should have regarding children as vectors — or a means to transmit the disease," Freedman said. "And that will then play into the policy determinants related to school, et cetera."According to Freedman, if children are passing the virus to others at school but none of them transmit it to other family members in their household, that would be reassuring."[In that scenario] the transmission is likely not going from child to home but more likely from home to child. And that also implies that even if that transmission does happen within the school it's not too concerning for the caregivers, for the household and for the broader population," he said.If, on the other hand, children spread the virus to other kids in the school who in turn transmit it to their family members at home, that would be concerning, according to Freedman."Now we have a propagation of the disease process that is very different. That would be very worrisome for the context of school opening and how we're managing the potential risks at school," he said.Alberta Health watching researchThe Alberta government is expected to make a decision by August 1 about whether schools will re-open in fall.Earlier this month, education minister Adriana LaGrange said the province is aiming to return to "near normal" operations for classrooms. But school boards have been warned to be ready to pivot depending on what happens with Alberta's COVID-19 rates.A spokesperson for the education minister deferred questions about what role this kind of research would ultimately play in that decision to the department of health.For its part, Alberta Health says it's aware of this study and supports its objectives."There is still much we do not know about COVID-19 and new evidence is emerging daily. This includes the impact of the virus and how it is transmitted by children," an Alberta Health spokesperson said in an email to CBC News. The spokesperson noted the ministry announced funding for four serology studies last week — including two designed to track the spread of antibodies among groups of children in Calgary and Edmonton over the next two years."We are closely monitoring all emerging evidence, including the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta, academic research and the experience in other jurisdictions. All evidence and information will be considered before any final decisions are made on school re-openings," the spokesperson said.The University of Calgary study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is expected to start within the next two weeks.Freedman said some early data will likely be available prior to the start of the school year.The researchers will share their findings with governments as well as a World Health Organization working group.

  • News

    Berlin drops derogatory name for metro station after protests

    Berlin's public transport company BVG said it would rename a city centre metro station that has become notorious for bearing a name based on a derogatory word for Black people. The announcement comes amid a worldwide reckoning with buried legacies of racism and colonial crimes underpinning many western societies that was sparked by the death in the United States of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a police officer. Berlin's BVG said that the "Mohrenstrasse" metro station - literally Moor Street, using the medieval term for people from North Africa, would be renamed after another nearby street, the Glinkastrasse, named after 19th century Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Closing arguments heard in trial of man accused of murdering his wife

    Competing explanations of a man's state of mind were presented to a B.C. Supreme Court judge Friday during closing arguments at his trial for the second-degree murder in the death of his wife. The Crown says Tejwant Danjou was an abusive and violent man who allegedly murdered his wife by causing 52 injuries to her head and face in a West Kelowna motel room. The defence is asking for a manslaughter conviction and describes Danjou as suffering from delusions about his wife's fidelity.

  • Dr. Bonnie Henry honoured at mural exhibition, picks up Fluevog shoes in Gastown
    The Canadian Press

    Dr. Bonnie Henry honoured at mural exhibition, picks up Fluevog shoes in Gastown

    VANCOUVER — Businesses in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood honoured the provincial health officer on Friday with a sneak peek at a mural exhibition featuring her image.Dr. Bonnie Henry visited the new Murals of Gratitude exhibition, which is organized in an alleyway by the area's business improvement association and opens to the public on Monday.There's at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers, said Walley Wargolet, a board member with the business improvement association."It really started with thanking our health-care heroes who are getting us through the pandemic," said Wargolet, who owns Dutil Denim.About 40 local artists created more than 60 murals when businesses boarded up their storefronts after the COVID-19 pandemic forced B.C. into a state of emergency in March, he said."The vibrancy that we come to expect here in Gastown came back because you had all this beautiful artwork as opposed to just plywood."As the province has eased restrictions and businesses have reopened, Wargolet said the Museum of Vancouver helped curate a selection of the murals.They're set to be on display throughout the summer and the museum plans to keep some in its collection once the exhibition is over, he added.While in Gastown, Henry also donned a new pair of shoes she inspired in the wake of the pandemic.Local designer John Fluevog dubbed the two-tone pink leather heels "The Dr. Henry."The province's top doctor has gained scores of fans for her calm demeanour during frequent media appearances, as well as her flair for colourful shoes.The inner soles of the limited edition Fluevog shoes are stamped with a reminder from Henry to "be kind, be calm and be safe," a phrase she has repeated often.The designer's web page for the shoe says Henry has been "an outstanding source of knowledge and reassurance during the current fight against COVID-19."It says all profits from the sale of the shoe will support Food Banks BC.Gastown is a hot spot for tourists and Wargolet said business has slowed while more people are staying home because of COVID-19.But he's hopeful that new patio spaces will encourage people to visit the neighbourhood.He said businesses, restaurants and pubs in Gastown have worked with the city to create about 500 new patio spaces that are set to open next week.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • Lifestyle

    'Mind boggling': Burnaby man wins million-dollar lottery prize — for the second time

    Millions of Canadians dream of winning the lottery. But for a man in Burnaby, B.C., that dream has become a reality — not once, but twice.On May 4, 2016, David O'Brien won a $5-million prize after matching all six numbers playing Lotto 6/49.Then last month, on June 20, he won the $1-million guaranteed prize playing the same game. He had purchased the million-dollar ticket at a 7-Eleven store on Kingsway in Burnaby.O'Brien, who is retired and has played the lottery for as long as he can remember, said the win feels "mind boggling."The odds of winning the lotto 6/49 jackpot are roughly one in 14 million.When O'Brien hit the jackpot in 2016, he said he'd already won life's lotto when he met his wife, and he planned to spend some of the winnings treating her. Then last month when O'Brien broke the news to his wife that he had won for a second time, she didn't believe him."She thought I was joking," he told the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). O'Brien said they celebrated with coffee and cake.In terms of how he plans to spend the money, O'Brien said he loves to travel and has always wanted to go to India.So will he continue playing the lottery, hoping the third time's a charm?"Yes. I really like playing," he said.

  • Rideau Hall suspect owns food business in Swan River, Man.
    The Canadian Press

    Rideau Hall suspect owns food business in Swan River, Man.

    An image linked to a COVID-19 conspiracy theory was posted to the social media pages of a company owned by a Manitoba man 35 minutes before he allegedly drove a truck through a gate at Ottawa's Rideau Hall.The photo about "Event 201" was posted on social media pages for Corey Hurren's GrindHouse Fine Foods, a company known for selling spicy sausage."Event 201" refers to a pandemic training exercise that has been used by conspiracy theorists about the global health crisis.Facebook and Instagram accounts for GrindHouse also shared many recent images about COVID-19, with jokes about whether the year could get worse."I was quite shocked," Swan River mayor Lance Jacobson said Friday after learning 46-year-old Hurren had been arrested in Ottawa on Thursday.Hurren appeared in court Friday afternoon on 22 charges, including possession of a restricted weapon and uttering threats.Swan River, located 385 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, is a small community where everyone knows everyone, Jacobson added.Hurren moved back to the community about one year ago, said Jacobson. Online posts about Hurren say he grew up in the area.Hurren also worked with the Swan River Patrol of the Canadian Rangers, said Jacobson. The patrol was formed in the community about two years ago, the mayor said. The community is surrounded by two forests and thick brush and the patrol helps in emergencies and with searches.Online posts also say that as a ranger Hurren was involved in a hunt in northern Manitoba last summer for two suspected killers from British Columbia."I found out a few months later when I went up as one of the instructors for the Wilderness Survival course that the training area used by the Gillam Patrol was only about 10 km away from where the manhunt subjects were found, just on the other side of the highway where we went into the bush," said a GrindHouse post in January.Social media accounts also say Hurren was a veteran of the Royal Canadian Artillery and a resume posted online on tripod.com says he served from 1997 to 2000.The resume adds that Hurren went to Brandon University for computer science in 1994 and trained at Northwest Law Enforcement Academy in 2002. In 2004, he enrolled in distance learning at Red River College in Winnipeg, again for computer sciences.The resume says Hurren worked in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba as a doorman and in bar security before he started in the meat industry in Swan River in 2005. He started his own company there in 2014.The sausage Hurren made through GrindHouse was very popular with local snowmobilers, said Walter Pacamaniuk, reeve of the rural municipality of Mintonas-Bowsman.He said Hurren called the area home for about 10 years before moving to Swan River. He worked at the local grocery store and seemed pleasant, Pacamaniuk added.The reeve said he learned Hurren had been arrested in Ottawa when people called to tell him photos of the truck involved in the attack had Manitoba licence plates. Photos also showed a leather jacket with a logo for the local rodeo inside the truck.Bill Gade, a councillor for the Municipality of Swan Valley West and owner of the local radio station, said Hurren has a wife and children in the community.He seemed like "a nice normal guy," said Gade.The radio station started a GoFundMe page late Thursday to support Hurren's family. Gade said community members want to help his family and don't condone the alleged crime."His wife and kids woke up this morning and are facing the reality dad's not coming home for a long time," Gade said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020Kelly Geraldine Malone and Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

  • Siksika First Nation institutes curfew after COVID-19 investigations quadruple

    Siksika First Nation institutes curfew after COVID-19 investigations quadruple

    The Siksika First Nation has instituted a curfew after 10 active cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday as 258 people were under investigation for the virus.The curfew will take place starting at 11 p.m. and run until 5 a.m., according to a release from the nation. Any people suspected to be in violation of the curfew will be reported to Gleichen RCMP.Just 58 people were awaiting test results on the reserve on June 27. In only five days, that number increased to 200 and led to community members taking extra precautions.Siksika Chief Ouray Crowfoot told CBC News on Thursday that he was asking the community to limit gatherings to 10 people, even though the province is now allowing that number to reach 200."If someone wants to, you know, not take heed to these guidelines, they're not just putting themselves at risk; they're putting other nation members at risk," Crowfoot said at the time.

  • The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, July 3
    The Canadian Press

    The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Friday, July 3

    The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:13 p.m. on July 3, 2020:There are 105,091 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 55,682 confirmed (including 5,560 deaths, 25,158 resolved)_ Ontario: 35,535 confirmed (including 2,682 deaths, 30,909 resolved)_ Alberta: 8,259 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,532 resolved)_ British Columbia: 2,947 confirmed (including 177 deaths, 2,608 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,064 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 796 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 711 resolved)_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 302 resolved), 11 presumptive_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 158 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive_ Total: 105,091 (12 presumptive, 105,079 confirmed including 8,663 deaths, 68,690 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • City issues trespass order against anti-racism demonstrators at Nathan Phillips Square

    City issues trespass order against anti-racism demonstrators at Nathan Phillips Square

    The City of Toronto has given a group of anti-racism protesters until Monday to remove a tent encampment from Nathan Phillips Square that has been set up since June.Demonstrator Jonathan Taylor-Brown told CBC News the city sent out about 30 security guards early Friday who walked around the square passing out letters and telling people they would have to leave by Monday."They will have to be dragging me away in cuffs to get me out of here by Monday night," Taylor-Brown said."At the very least we know we are a burden on them, we are pressuring them, which is why they have been pushing that forward to get us removed," he said."A lot of the people who came here were committed. They didn't want to leave, and they're not going to leave, and it's not going to be an easy thing."The protest, which has been ongoing since June 19, was organized by Afro Indigenous Rising, which describes itself online as a "collective working towards action for de-funding the police, and for justice for Afro-Indigenous peoples affected by colonial violence."Taylor-Brown said the group wants to see "substantial and meaningful change," and noted it has seen quite a bit of community support.City spokesperson Brad Ross told CBC News that the demonstrators were first given notices on Tuesday, which outlined that acts like camping, open flames, the use of generators and "marking up" the square are in contravention of city bylaws.Ross confirmed that people in the square were then issued trespassing notices Friday morning, which outlined they have until Monday to pack up their tents and stop using flames and generators.That notice also said the city does have "legal options available," he added, which could include the removal of property. It also noted that anyone convicted of trespassing could face a fine of up to $10,000."We're hopeful that people who have been protesting peacefully will leave, and protest on the square if they wish in a manner that is not contrary to the bylaw," Ross said."They can be on the square to protest. We absolutely respect that right, it is a public square. The entire public though has a right to access that square."The encampment is one of several protests against racism that have sprung up in Toronto in recent weeks, alongside calls to defund police.On Monday, city council voted in favour of a series of reforms that could alter the future of policing in the city, including the creation of a non-police response team for mental health calls and a mandate to require all officers to have body-worn cameras by 2021.The changes do not, however, include a targeted reduction of the policing budget.

  • City pools will begin opening Monday — here's how it will work

    City pools will begin opening Monday — here's how it will work

    Swimmers seeking refuge from the heat will soon be able to take a dip in city pools for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place — but this summer, things will be a little different.Starting Monday, wading pools and public swimming pools will begin opening with measures in place to allow physical distancing between swimmers.The first batch of pools will open July 6, with the rest following one week later, as part of a phased approach to getting people back in the water. "Our life's pleasure is to see people in the pool," said City of Ottawa recreation supervisor Chris Wagg. "It's really important for people ... to get out to the pools and swim and have fun in the summer."WATCH: Ottawa pools to begin staged reopeningWagg said the city will be limiting the number of people who can swim at one time based on the size of the pool. All swimmers are expected to stay six feet, or just under two metres, away from others both in and out of the pools. Visitors will have to book swim times in advance. At public pools, people will be able to schedule one-hour sessions for public and lane swimming online.At wading pools, they'll have to secure a spot in person."We're anticipating some lineups," said Wagg. "[But] we've been doing socially distancing activities so I think people are used to this."Staff will ask pool users screening questions about whether they've had any flu-like symptoms or if they've travelled recently. Physical distancing will also change how lifeguards and wading pool staff handle injuries and rescues, Wagg said."We're used to [being] hands-on and going right to the kids that have fallen and scraped their knee," said Wagg. "Now, we're going to be engaging the parents to help us do the first aid, because we have to socially distance. So we'll only be doing contact rescues if we must."Risk of spread low Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said in a statement there's little scientific evidence showing that the virus can spread through properly treated water.But OPH did warn that common areas and surfaces could be places where transmission occurs."Individuals should consider that the areas around pools and lakes, such as change rooms, beaches and docks can be transmission points for the virus because of crowding and lack of use of masks," their statement said. "Concern about close contact should also apply when in the water and you should practice physical distancing while in the water since people may be breathing heavily, sputtering or shouting."The City of Ottawa said there will be enhanced cleaning procedures in place for common areas, change rooms and washroom facilities. Equipment that is not regularly in contact with chlorinated water will be disinfected every four hours at a minimum.For information about pool scheduling and the new rules, visit the city's website.

  • As Vancouver tent city expands, some neighbours voice support for campers' demands

    As Vancouver tent city expands, some neighbours voice support for campers' demands

    As the tent city at Strathcona Park expands, some neighbours are voicing support for a new list of demands the campers have issued to the city, as well as the provincial and federal governments, including permanent housing for all. In three weeks, almost 150 tents have popped up at the camp, which campers call KT, short for Kennedy Trudeau — referencing the mayor of Vancouver and the prime minister of Canada.  The campers moved to Strathcona Park after Vancouver police enforced an injunction granted by the B.C. Supreme Court against another camp on Port of Vancouver land next to Crab Park. Their list of demands, outlined in a news release, includes "permanent housing for all, an end to the cycle of displacement, and repatriation of unceded Indigenous land."The new camp takes up about a quarter of the park in East Vancouver and edges on Cottonwood Community Garden, which neighbours have been building for almost 30 years.About 95 per cent of the gardeners support the new camp, according to garden president, Beth McLaren."I mean, what they're asking for does not seem unreasonable to me," McLaren said from the garden."Some kind of permanent location, they want to go back to both parking lots in Crab Park and are asking for things like water and toilets and the basics."McLaren says she shared some of the gardeners' needs — including access to a wood chip pile and a clear entrance point to their garden — in a recent meeting with camp organizer Chrissy Brett.Gardeners have provided campers with a water hook-up, wood chips for the camp's fire, and herbs from the gardens.'They seem well organized'But not all neighbours are in favour of the camp.Theo Lamb, executive director of the Strathcona BIA, told CBC's Early Edition she is worried about crime and even violence that the camp could bring.However, McLaren said there was already crime — including break-ins, fires and open drug use in the gardens — before the campers arrived."The way they've set up, it's clean, they seem very well organized," said neighbour William Azaroff, who also leads a non-profit housing group called Brightside Community Homes Foundation. Azaroff said he attended a free barbecue the campers put on for the neighbours last weekend, where they held information sessions about their intentions — namely that they want to find a new permanent home."If you told me a year from now that camp was double the size and fully entrenched and not going anywhere, I'm not sure that's a good outcome for anyone and it's not what they want," Azaroff said.Campers still trying to get housingIn late April, B.C. enacted a public safety order to move homeless people living in encampments into hotels in Vancouver and Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic.The province identified 686 hotel and community centre spaces in Vancouver to house the city's homeless until more permanent housing is made available.But not everyone made it into those spaces. One of those is James, who didn't want his last name used since he is still trying to find housing.He has cancer and is a veteran."It's been a really rough go, I've been homeless now for three years," he said from the camp, where he now lives.He said he has been on the B.C. Housing list for 10 years and looks for housing every day. The provincial government has said there is not enough affordable housing stock available.Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, said in a statement that the province is asking the federal government "to step up and contribute capital dollars for acquisitions, modular housing and other long-term solutions."Advocate says tent city more than housingAdvocates like Anna Cooper of Pivot Legal Society, say tent cities offer people a sense of community they may not feel elsewhere. She said living on the street — in doorways or under bridges, for example — is not safe, while single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) sometimes come with violence, unsafe drinking water and bugs.Cooper added that people living in SROs have not been allowed visitors due to COVID-19, making it challenging for drug users to safely inject with someone watching over them."Some people, as long as they're forced to live outside, will feel safest in a tent city community," Cooper said.

  • Masked battleground: While the U.S. goes to war over masks, it's apathy in these parts

    Masked battleground: While the U.S. goes to war over masks, it's apathy in these parts

    Just as the Atlantic bubble kicked into gear on Friday, business at St. John's International Airport changed in a notable way. While travel among the four Atlantic provinces has become easier, everyone going into YYT will have to wear a face mask — staff and passengers alike.There was no great uproar about this news. "What took so long," one person responded to CBC's tweet on Thursday about the news, while another said, "I would have thought they were already."What an incredible difference from the U.S., where wearing masks has become intensely politicized, so much so that the very image of a face mask is now incendiary to some people. President Donald Trump has notably refused to wear one, on evident grounds that he will look weak, even though he has since early April passed on guidance from his government's experts that there are medical benefits to wearing one.It's hard to keep up with the mask news from America. Consider the case of Herman Cain, whose name you may remember as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.On June 20, Cain attended the Trump rally in Tulsa last month and tweeted a photo of himself and others. There were no masks, no physical distancing. On July 1, Cain tweeted the latest in a series of anti-mask posts, saying people are fed up with them. That very night, Cain was admitted to a Georgia hospital to be treated for COVID-19 because his condition had become serious enough to warrant that level of care. (His office later said he had tested positive on Monday.)Cain was hospitalized the same day that the U.S. set a record for single-day cases of coronavirus: 50,203. (To illustrate how the curve in the U.S. is still escalating, it's worth noting it took the U.S. just over two months to record its first 50,000 cases.)The next day, the governor of Texas signed an executive order making it mandatory to wear masks in counties where there are at least 20 active cases of COVID-19. (This is currently about two-thirds of the state's counties.)At least 20 states now have some sort of mandatory requirement for wearing masks, and as cases continue to escalate, there likely will be more. The U.S. continues to lead the world in both cases and deaths from COVID-19.Even so, there's a ferocious public argument in the States about masks, so much so they've become locked into the same populist fury that underlines so many other issues. There are so many videos of protests and counterprotests, of furious customers refusing to comply with company requests. (The most disturbing one for me was a woman deliberately coughing in the face of other customers at a New York bagel shop.)In Canada, things are more mellow, although mandatory masks are still an issue. Earlier this week, the city council in Toronto voted to make it mandatory to wear them indoors. With more than 35,000 confirmed cases of the virus (and a death toll over 2,600), Ontario represents a third of the national caseload.Flattened curve, dwindled worryHere in Newfoundland and Labrador, things are markedly different. We flattened in April, and have been COVID-free (that is, no active cases at all) since June 18.Perhaps because of this, you don't see a lot of masks around. At grocery stores, wearing them is optional for staff, who (in my experience at least) seemed to wear them more diligently in the spring. Some retailers still require their staff to wear them; others definitely do not.And then there are the customers. The majority I see do not wear masks, although some do. (As a point of disclosure, I carry and wear a cloth mask.) To a friend of mine, "damn apathy" and a relaxed thinking has made masks practically moot.It might be a nuisance for some people, and others may point to the fact that a mask will not stop a virus from getting into your lungs. The argument, of course, is about the other direction: there is excellent evidence now that shows masks stop the virus from getting out of your mouth. That is, wearing one protects those around you, in the same way you would be protected by others who wear them.Having gone day after day after day with no new cases, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador have become complacent with coronavirus — even as we've seen records fall south of the border in the numbers of new cases. COVID-19 is a worsening and deepening problem in the U.S., but it simply doesn't feel that way here on the street.This disconnect bothers some people I know. One of my friends remains anxious about the lack of masks she sees. "It bothers me so much," she told me, although she said she bites her lip. She said she takes comfort in stores where staff are masked. "It means they're probably taking hygiene" measures more seriously too, she added.'The virus is out there'Another friend isn't much bothered by people not wearing masks, and he doesn't wear one either. That may change. "I am at the point where I'm going to start, because I now feel like an irresponsible jerk if I don't," he told me.He added that when he got a haircut this week, no one in the shop — staff and customers — was masked.Masks are of course not the only response to COVID. Physical distancing and thorough handwashing can't be beaten.But as we reopen the province — and as travel between provinces increases — masks are a helpful tool to keep the rate of infection as low as possible."The virus is out there, so it will find its way back to our shores," Memorial University nursing professor Donna Moralejo told CBC last month. "We need to identify people quickly who have it and protect ourselves from those who don't know they are carrying it."At the airport, visitors to the province will be required to wear a mask when they land — but only on the airport grounds. They will not be required to have their temperature taken or to answer a medical questionnaire. They will, though, be advised to call the 811 HealthLine if they develop symptoms.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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    The Canadian Press

    Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, Amnesty, sex worker advocates say

    Canada's sex work laws are creating undue harm and contribute to human rights violations during COVID-19, sex workers and human rights advocates say, which is why they're now pushing Ottawa to stop enforcing them. Amnesty International Canada has joined a number of rights and sex work advocates in a lobby effort asking federal Justice Minister David Lametti for a moratorium on prostitution laws. "We need to make sure the existing laws on the books aren't enforced," said Jackie Hansen, women's rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada.

  • Brazilian cowboy finishes journey from Alaska to Calgary
    Canadian Press Videos

    Brazilian cowboy finishes journey from Alaska to Calgary

    It wasn't quite the parade that Brazilian long rider Filipe Masetti Leite was expecting but he was happy to reach the finish line in Calgary today.The 33-year-old completed a journey on horseback from Alaska to Calgary today, the same day the Calgary Stampede was supposed to begin. The Stampede was cancelled was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic, but Masetti Leite was crowned parade marshal and his parade included his girlfriend, the Stampede president and two police officers. Masetti Leite started eight years ago when he rode from Calgary to Brazil and then Brazil to Patagonia.