On Christmas Eve, House Democrats urged US President Donald Trump to sign a long-overdue COVID-19 relief bill after House Republicans blocked Trump's longshot demand of increasing direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000. (Dec. 24)
On Christmas Eve, House Democrats urged US President Donald Trump to sign a long-overdue COVID-19 relief bill after House Republicans blocked Trump's longshot demand of increasing direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000. (Dec. 24)
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
Curiosity about a free newspaper in his mailbox turned into surprise when former St. John's mayor Dennis O'Keefe found his name printed inside — in a story that said he, along with the mayor of Calgary and other officials, was a target of interest for the Chinese Communist Party. "I couldn't believe it," said O'Keefe outside his St. John's home while holding a recent copy of the Epoch Times, which was distributed this month for free to households in the region. "I mean, I've had a lot of surprises in my life, believe me. But this one really takes the cake." The article said O'Keefe's name was found in a 2019 document that came from the Foreign Affairs Office in Daqing, a city in northeastern China. The paper said it obtained the document that included names "spanning a wide range of sectors and countries in which the Chinese regime seeks to cultivate talent." O'Keefe retired as mayor before the 2017 municipal election. "It's just inexplicable," said O'Keefe who called the article "terribly misleading," and said nobody from the Epoch Times contacted him for comment. The Epoch Times has been distributing free copies of its paper throughout Canada over the course of the last year in an effort to grow subscribers. The newspaper has often been controversial for publishing articles that promote unfounded conspiracy theories, some of them embraced by alt-right groups, and many of them about China. The newspaper has, for instance, promoted the belief that the novel coronavirus was produced in a lab in China, and that the American deep state stole November's presidential election from Donald Trump. What is the Epoch Times? The Epoch Times started 20 years ago in what the paper called a "response to communist repression and censorship in China." The paper is headquartered in New York and says it operates in 22 languages in 36 countries. Simon van Zuylen-Wood, a New York based journalist who recently did a deep dive on the paper's embrace of Donald Trump for The Atlantic magazine, said the paper has found favour with the conspiratorial strains of the American right wing. His Atlantic article was called "MAGA-land's Favorite Newspaper," with the subhead, "How the Epoch Times became a pro-Trump propaganda machine in an age of plague and insurrection." In a phone interview with CBC News, Zuylen-Wood called the Epoch Times a fast-growing newspaper that changed tack in the Trump era. He said what makes it unique is that it's backed and run by members of the Falun Gong sect — a spiritual movement that was persecuted and banned by the Chinese government in the late 1990s. The paper's connection to the Falun Gong has been widely reported in mainstream publications, including CBC News. When Trump ran for president, the paper saw that for "the first time in decades a major party's presidential nominee was running an overtly protectionist campaign, with China in his crosshairs." He wrote the "Falun Gong came to see Trump as a kind of killer angel, summoned from heaven to smite the Chinese government." The article goes on to say "The Epoch Times ramped up its spending on Facebook ads and hitched its wagon to the 45th president." That hitch has also proven lucrative. Van Zuylen-Wood said the paper's revenues have quadrupled in the last four years. The paper also has a large online presence. A recent NBC News report said the Epoch Times now has one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet. Van Zuylen-Wood says the paper has become one the "leading purveyors of content suggesting that the American election was stolen." He noted it also prints recipes, lifestyle stories and wellness tips. "So it's a strange mix of pedestrian and often kind of irrelevant news and then sort of hard right, often sort of conspiratorially laced content," he said. 'Utter nonsense' concerns resident That mix is what worries Lesley Burgess about the paper she found in her St. John's mailbox recently. She is among those who have voiced their concerns on social media about the paper and its content. "It has all these kinds of health and lifestyle stories woven in with all of this misinformation, basically," said Burgess. She said she had heard about the paper before but it wasn't until she looked through that she realized there was "utter nonsense" everywhere. CBC's request for comment from the Epoch Times has gone unanswered. "If you don't know any better, you might think this is a run-of-the-mill paper. And I think that's really dangerous," Burgess said. Kurt Phillips, a board member with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has been following the subscription drive of the Epoch Times. He said the paper's content is of concern because it keeps disseminating disinformation about conspiracy theories on the far right such as "Spygate" and QAnon. Phillips said he's seeing stories from the paper shared in some mainstream conservative circles, which has the potential to radicalize people with misinformation. "It is contributing to an ever-growing divide between reality and a fictionalized version of the world that is especially dehumanizing and dangerous," he said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Nova Scotia Police Review Board is looking into claims from convicted murderer Christopher Garnier's family that accuse Cape Breton Regional Police officers of conducting an illegal arrest and seizure of evidence in 2017. Garnier was taken into custody for breaching bail conditions after failing to present himself to the municipal force at his mother's basement door in Millville, N.S. during a compliance check His mother, Kim Edmunds, said she does not believe police were at her home as they have stated. "I honestly don't think they were," Edmunds told members of the board's three-person panel. "When somebody knocks on the door, it wakes me up." Alleged breach In February 2017, while awaiting trial for murder, Garnier took a trip to Cape Breton, where his mother lives. He was allowed to live at his father's house in Bedford or at his mother's residence in Millville as part of his bail conditions. Garnier was to submit to regular compliance checks from either members of the CBRP and Halifax Regional Police. Before his trip, Garnier called a Halifax police answering service to advise he was going to stay at his mom's place, although he did not leave his cell phone number with the service at that time. A CBRP officer testified under oath at a bail revocation hearing that he went to the Millville home in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2017, but Garnier did not present himself at the door. A Supreme Court judge later ruled Garnier did not intentionally breach his conditions, as he was likely asleep. That same year, Garnier was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. Complaint launched Christopher Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, is representing himself as a complainant at the police hearing into the actions of four officers. The men accused of misconduct are Const. Steve Campbell, Const. Gary Fraser, Const. Dennis McQueen and Const. Troy Walker. Each officer is represented by a lawyer, while a member of Cape Breton Regional Municipality's legal team is acting on behalf of the police organization. "We'll dig deep into the practices of the [CBRP] which I believe violate the constitution, violate the charter and violate aspects of the criminal code. Those are the informations I would like to bring forth over the next two weeks," Vincent Garnier said during a break in the proceedings. "The police, without a warrant, and without any consent of the property owners, accessed private property, walked into a private residence and placed a person under arrest." The board heard that photographs of the property were taken without the knowledge of the homeowner. Hearing continues Vincent Garnier said his family incurred more than $35,000 in legal fees as a result alleged breach. After his son's arrest, he filed a complaint with CBRP. An internal investigation found that if a breach had occurred, it was only minor. Members of the police review board, Hon. Simon J. MacDonald, Stephen Johnson and chair Jean McKenna are hearing arguments on both sides of the case at a Sydney hotel. Police will have a chance to explain their actions on the weekend in question once Vincent Garnier finishes calling witnesses. In total, 14 people are expected to testify at the hearing that is slated to run over two weeks. So far, the board has heard from Christopher Garnier's mother and stepmother, his uncle, and his former common-law partner. MORE TOP STORIES
The N.W.T. government has signed a five-year deal with a Florida-based firm to supply and deliver fuel to radar sites in the North. The deal with Crowley Solutions will see the company work in partnership with the territorial government's Marine Transportation Services (MTS) to supply fuel to 21 coastal sites in the N.W.T., Yukon and Nunavut. The radar sites are part of the North Warning System, a chain of unstaffed surveillance sites across the North that act as an early warning system for potential threats entering North American airspace. It is part of Canada's NORAD agreement with the U.S. "Reliable re-supply of these radar sites is important for Arctic military efforts by the United States and Canada," reads a joint news release from the N.W.T. government and Crowley Solutions, on Wednesday. For decades, the re-supply service was provided by the Northern Transportation Company Ltd., the predecessor to the MTS. Diane Archie, the N.W.T.'s Infrastructure minister, said in a statement that the new deal will provide significant revenue to the government's MTS, "while providing northern employment and economic opportunities." The news release does not state the value of the five-year deal.
Après une période d’appropriation du masque, les réticences se manifestent au fur et mesure que la pandémie dure. Voici pourquoi.
L’autorité administrative française a estimé en décembre dernier que la politique de collecte de données sur l’usager des géants américains restait trop opaque.
European leaders described the 46th President's inauguration speech as "inspiring" and said it was time to bring "conviction and common sense" to help rejuvenate their relationship with the US.View on euronews
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Provincial officials say dry Christmas trees caused two recent fatal fires in Ontario. A spokeswoman with the Office of the Fire Marshal says most recently, four people were killed south of Ottawa after a dry tree caught fire on Jan. 10. Kristy Denette says the homeowners had two friends over for dinner when the fire started and quickly engulfed the home in flames, killing everyone inside. She says the home was too badly damaged to determine what lit the tree ablaze, but that faulty Christmas lights are often to blame in such situations. Earlier, on Dec. 28, she says a dry Christmas tree caught fire in Halton Hills, Ont., killing one woman. In that case, she says, the woman's partner was able to escape through an upstairs window, but she was caught inside and died. Denette says the couple had been planning on getting rid of the dry Christmas tree later that day. The Office of the Fire Marshal is encouraging everyone to get rid of their dry trees immediately. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
Durham students are expected to find out today whether or not they will be returning to school for in-person learning next week. Students have been learning from home virtually since returning from winter break due to the province’s state-of-emergency and stay-at-home order as part of the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. While the province already announced schools in hot zones, including Toronto, York, Peel, Windsor-Essex, and Hamilton, will continue learning from home until at least Feb. 10, an update is expected by the province today regarding a return to school date for the rest of the province. Students in northern Ontario went back to in-person learning on Jan. 11. While a decision has yet to be made in terms of a return-to-school date, the province has already made changes to enhance safety measures at school for both students and staff. The Ministry of Education is making masking mandatory for students in grades one through three. Masking has already been mandatory for students in Grade 4 and above, with masking strongly encouraged in the younger grades. Durham District School Board Director of Education Norah Marsh says masking will still also be encouraged in Kindergarten as part of the updated guidelines. With so many students learning from home, access to devices has been an issue for some students. Currently, due to the shortage in devices across the province, Marsh says the DDSB has been deploying one device per family and 1-1 device for grades seven to 12. She adds with the synchronous learning occurring, there may be some sharing of devices. “We have collected the information in terms of what 1-1 would look like, and we don’t have the supply to satisfy that requirement,” says Marsh. She notes there are a small percentage of students who are learning in-school. As some students with unique special education needs couldn’t access remote learning due to their learning needs, schools have been open for those students. Marsh adds out of DDSB’s 15,000 students in the IAP, approximately 390 students are learning in-person. At a recent board meeting, Marsh acknowledged both staff and families for adapting to virtual learning, noting a lot has been learned during this time. “We have seen come from it some fantastic practice that I think will continue on even after we leave this pandemic behind us,” she says. “This period has flagged for us yet again how important public education is for our community.” Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
In shaping Peel’s 20-year outlook, the Region’s Strategic Plan tagline sets the tone, and establishes the pillars, for its vision: “Living, thriving and leading”. That was five years ago. Today, the word “surviving” would be more apt. Councillors in the pandemic hotspot are about to debate the 2021 budget in a region with Ontario’s highest cumulative per capita novel coronavirus infection rate. In Mississauga and Brampton, each City Council says it is poised to weather the financial challenges of collapsed revenue during the pandemic. The Region is opting for “temporary resources” to support the community through the crisis, according to budget documents released on January 14. The recommendations translate to a tax increase for Peel’s portion of the 2021 property bill, which is blended with each municipality’s share and the Province’s education levy. Staff are proposing a 1.3 percent increase in property taxes, compared to the 3.6 percent hike seen in the 2020 budget. This represents an extra $11.30 per $100,000 of assessed value for a residential property. Increasing the utility rate by a proposed 5.5 percent – lower than the 2020 hike of 7.2 percent, but about three times the rate of inflation in Ontario – will mean the average household can expect to pay about $43 more this year, and about $111 more for small businesses. It follows a worrisome trend of dramatic utility-rate increases in Peel over the last decade. Including 2010, the utility rate in Peel has risen annually by the following percentages: 5, 9.1, 6, 7, 7, 7, 9, 5, 6.5, 6.5, 7.2. The Region’s utility rate was a topic of discussion during debate over the 2020 budget. “We need to get a better handle on smoothing those utilities rate increases going forward...we just have not been really consistent,” Mississauga and Regional Councillor Pat Saito said. Referring to the past 15 years of regional budgets, she added that “there were years where we reduced the rate, there were years where it was zero and then a year later we skyrocket it to 7 or 8 percent.” Her Mississauga colleagues Karen Ras and Chris Fonseca echoed Saito’s sentiment, asking for a fixed or variable utility increase to be put in place for future years. In response to the request, Region of Peel’s former commissioner of public works, Andrew Farr (who now works for Halton Region) said a team was working to review the utility rate and was looking to adopt a more structured, long-term strategy in time for the 2022 budget. The new interim commissioner, Andrea Warren, who moved over from Peel Housing, will now lead any efforts to better manage the utility-rate supported budget. With $2.7 billion in projected operating costs and $1 billion in capital expenditures, the overall proposed Peel Region budget addresses the challenges of a hyper-growth area. As the Region adapts to its rapidly growing population (about 20,000 newcomers per year) it also has to manage services for its aging residents. Budget deliberations are scheduled to begin on January 28 and will run until mid-February. Funding for affordable housing in Peel has become a race against the clock. The Region’s COVID-19 emergency funding for homelessness supports ends in March. With the average length of shelter stays on the rise, staff are recommending a $2.7 million request in the operating budget as part of its Emergency Shelter Operation, which would see the addition of 60 new shelter beds. Staff are also asking for $120 million in the capital budget to fund the Housing Master Plan, which was previously criticized for being “significantly and disproportionately” backed by the Region compared to what was described as inadequate contributions from the provincial and federal governments. The Housing Master Plan also includes $10.8 million in loans for state-of-good-repair projects and $1.8 million for technology licenses. The lack of certainty around provincial funding for certain programs, including adult day services, has pushed the Region to allot program funding for seniors at a time when programs that tend to their well-being are underfunded, the budget states. These services include physiotherapy, nursing care, reading and gardening groups, medication supports, transportation and a range of other functions critical to the well-being of seniors, and many are carried out in long-term care settings. The tragedy that has unfolded across Ontario’s senior-living sector during the pandemic has highlighted the chronic lack of funding and attention to support the elderly. Regional Staff recorded more than 7,000 contacts with seniors virtually since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, the wait list for these services has grown by 22 percent. The Region operates five publicly funded long-term care facilities in Peel: Tall Pines and Peel Manor in Brampton; Malton Village and Sheridan Villa in Mississauga; and Davis Centre in Caledon. This year’s proposed budget for the Region’s long-term care needs is $41.7 million, up about $1.5 million from 2020, when the provincial government increased its funding by $700,000. Capital projects for 2021 are being allotted about $5 million, for repairs including driveway repaving, upgrading elevators and fire prevention. A popular paramedicine program, introduced as a pilot project at several Peel Living seniors’ buildings, was made permanent last year and will be provincially-funded to the tune of $132,000. The program was designed to reduce calls to paramedics and push the border of care outside the emergency room and into the community, when possible, through preventative approaches. Other strikethroughs in the budget indicating provincial funding cuts have forced staff to reallocate money to support vital programs, including supplementing $1.8 million in the Region’s operating budget to replace provincial employment support funding for agency grants. The Region is also continuing to invest in its 2018 strategy to combat human-trafficking, funding $600,000 for its second of a three-year program to assist victims. The Region’s paramedic service is slated to receive about $19.5 million in capital funding toward a new reporting station, as well as $4.6 million for state-of-good-repair projects and $2.3 million to replace 15 ambulances. The proposed operating budget will absorb another $1.3 million to support an increase in 911 call volumes and $300,000 to create mental health programming for frontline workers, many of whom deal with a range of challenges. Public health funding from the Province, to the tune of $3.3 million, will support 64 school-focused nurses until July 2021. With school closures and mandatory online learning still in place, it’s unclear whether the funding will be put on hold or reallocated in the community. The three Conservation Authorities whose watershed jurisdiction includes Peel (Credit Valley, Halton and Toronto and Region) which are at risk of having their work curtailed by the Ford government, are asking for a combined $45.3 million from the Region of Peel in 2021, including about $4.9 million for capital projects designated for flood forecasting, infrastructure upgrades, invasive species programs such as the containment of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation (which has devastated Peel’s tree canopy over the past decade) and at the conservation agencies themselves. The largest share of the total would go to Credit Valley, $25.2 million; $19.5 million would go to TRCA; and Halton would get just $496,000, as it only has a small piece of its watershed in Peel. The total represents a 2.6 percent increase compared to what Peel Region gave the agencies last year. Calls for Peel’s “fair share” in funding from higher levels of government reflect the needs in a chronically under-resourced region that is outpacing growth in any other part of the province. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has highlighted the need for more money to support healthcare in the city, and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is promising to fight for vaccine allocations commensurate with the city’s higher per capita rate of infection. Read More: Police budget balances fight against increasingly complex crime and calls for new funding model Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
COMMUNAUTÉ. C’est finalement un montant de 40 235 $ qui aura été amassé via Gofundme afin de créer une bourse d’études pour Jacob, le fils de l’urgentologue Karine Dion. «Je suis vraiment émue. Je pensais faire une petite campagne pour mon hôpital, mais c’est tout le Québec qui est solidaire pour aider Jacob et honorer la mémoire Karine», constate avec reconnaissance la Dre Geneviève Simard-Racine qui s’était d’abord fixé un objectif de 10 000 $ à recueillir pour créer une bourse d’études pour le fils de son amie. «Il y a eu aussi le 13 janvier, en soirée, un parcours commémoratif dans l’hôpital de Granby. Nos gens pouvaient se recueillir et déposer une étoile dans un cadre. Il y avait également un livre qui sera remis à David, le conjoint de Karine, où l’on pouvait laisser un mot», rapporte-t-elle. À son tour, la Dre Simard-Racine a invité «les aidants à accepter de se faire aider». Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
A Nunavut community was under a state of emergency Wednesday after a fire destroyed one of its grocery and retail stores. Photos on social media from Igloolik, a community of about 1,600, showed orange flames and black smoke bursting from the Arctic Co-op store. Another photo showed the store's structure slumped on the ground. In a statement, Igloolik Mayor Merlyn Recinos assured the community it would not run out of food. He said the town's only other grocery store, the Northern Store, would bring in extra product. "Orders will be bulked up to ensure the community has enough," Recinos said. "Our community is now under a state of emergency. "Please don't panic." Recinos said airlines have agreed to give priority to food bound for Igloolik. Prices will be frozen at the Northern Store and flyers with coupons will be distributed to the community, he said. Qaatani Sarpinak, a town resident, said he saw ammunition exploding and vapour coming from propane tanks inside the Co-op store. Nunavut RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Tammy Lobb said police in Igloolik were called to the scene around 3:45 a.m. Firefighters were still battling the blaze, supported by RCMP and members of the Canadian Rangers, in the late-morning. A firefighter crew from Iqaluit was on its way to help, Recinos said. Recinos said several housing units around the store had to be evacuated. Those who were forced to leave were able to go to the community hall for shelter, food and warmth, he said. A nursing station was being set up at the community hall to check people for smoke inhalation. The mayor asked residents to avoid the area around the burning store because of dangerous goods. Duane Wilson, vice-president of stakeholder relations with Arctic Co-operatives, said it was too early to tell what caused the fire, but no one was hurt. The damage is extensive, he added. "Our primary focus is ensuring the continuity of essential services such as fuel delivery and the ability to resume a degree of retail and financial services for the community," Wilson said in a statement. An emergency response team had assembled at the Co-op to support urgent needs, he said. Lena Ijjangiaq, who lives in Igloolik, said she fled her home and went live on her Facebook page to share footage of the fire as it continued to burn in the near darkness. "It's serious. It's scary. Tell your kids and grandkids to stay home," she can be heard saying. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
A 46-year-old Pictou County, N.S., man has been charged with multiple firearms offences after police say his attempt to euthanize his dog with a handgun ended up injuring another man. According to an RCMP news release, police responded to a complaint of a firearms discharge resulting in injury at 8:19 p.m. on Jan. 16. The release said the man was outside his Bigney, N.S., home when he tried to shoot his dog, which had bitten several people, but missed. The bullet struck a 21-year-old man inside the house. A subsequent search of the home resulted in the seizure of 29 long guns and nine handguns, according to police. The man was arrested and later released on conditions. The victim was taken to hospital and released with minor injuries. The dog is alive and was seized by animal control. The man is scheduled to appear virtually in Pictou provincial court on March 29 to answer to multiple firearms charges. MORE TOP STORIES
OTTAWA — A majority of Conservative MPs have voted to remove Derek Sloan from the party's caucus, according to sources not authorized to speak publicly about caucus business. The vote follows revelations Sloan accepted a donation to his leadership campaign from a white nationalist. Party leader Erin O'Toole initiated the caucus removal process late Monday after news of the donation surfaced. Sloan did not dispute he received the money but has said he was unaware of it, and it was unfair to expect him to scrutinize the backgrounds of all donors. Sloan was first elected to the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and unsuccessfully ran for leadership of the party last year. His socially conservative views have been a thorn in the party's side and O'Toole had faced pressure for months to kick him out to prove the Tories are the moderate party the leader claims. More Coming... The Canadian Press
Declining numbers of cases and positive tests for COVID-19 in Alberta show that restrictions put in place last year have been effective, the province's top doctor says. Alberta reported 21 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 669 new cases of the illness. Laboratories conducted about 14,900 tests over the past 24 hours putting the positivity rate at about 4.5 per cent. "It's very encouraging to see our positivity rate steadily declining since the peak in December," Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday at a news conference. "And I would say that the data that we have indicates that the restrictions put in place in November and December have achieved, so far, their intended outcome." It's critical that the province maintain enough restrictions to continue to drive those numbers down, Hinshaw said, given the high number of people still being treated in hospitals. "We need to build on our collective success by going slowly toward allowing some additional activities and not experiencing a rebound if we open too quickly," she said. Hospitalizations remain high Hospitals in the province are treating 744 patients for the disease, including 124 in ICU beds. "It is important to remember that it is the number of people currently in hospital that I am providing, not all those who have ever needed hospital care since the spring," Hinshaw said. "To put this into context, over the last 10 years, we have had an average of just over 1,500 total hospital admissions for influenza annually. For COVID-19, the comparable number comes from less than a year of data. More than 5,000 people have needed hospital care since the pandemic began for COVID-19 in Alberta." A total of 5,086 people with COVID-19 have been treated in hospitals since the pandemic began last March. That represents about 4.3 per cent of the total cases, which now sits at 118,436. Of those, 106,387 were listed as recovered and 10,565 were active. Of the patients hospitalized with the illness so far, 816 have ended up in ICU beds. Far greater toll on older people Slightly more than one per cent of all people infected have died. Alberta Health data shows the illness has taken a far greater toll on older people. To date, 1,265 of the 1,484 reported deaths (85 per cent) have been people aged 70 and older. A total of 109,089 people under the age of 70 have contracted the illness. In all, 218 of them have died, a rate of .0.19 per cent. To date, 9,347 people aged 70 or older have become sick. In all, 1,265 of them have died, a rate of 13.5 per cent. Older people also have a much higher chance of ending up in hospital. Those in their 20s who contract the illness have about a one in 100 chance of being hospitalized. Those aged 60 and older have about one in six chance. Here's a breakdown by age of those who have been infected, and those who had symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization. Under one, 644 cases, 34 hospitalized, 10 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.3 per cent) one to four, 3,671 cases, 14 hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.4 per cent) five to nine, 5,094 cases, eight hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.2 per cent) 10 to 19, 13,606 cases, 68 hospitalized, nine in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.5 per cent) 20 to 29, 22,025 cases, 241 hospitalized, 25 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.1 per cent) 30 to 39, 22,470 cases, 388 hospitalized, 40 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.7 per cent) 40 to 49, 18,678 cases, 489 hospitalized, 92 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 2.6 per cent) 50 to 59, 14,075 cases, 721 hospitalized, 164 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.1 per cent) 60 to 69, 8,788 cases, 879 hospitalized, 239 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 10.0 per cent) 70 to 79, 4,370 cases, 952 hospitalized, 172 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 21.8 per cent) 80+, 4,977 cases, 1,291 hospitalized, 60 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 25.9 per cent) A total of 95,243 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province.
Paramedics across B.C. responded to more calls to help someone who had an overdose in 2020 than any other year since record keeping began, according to dispatchers. B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) on Wednesday said they were called to 27,067 overdoses last year — an average of 74 calls every day, or one call around every 20 minutes. The total is up 12 per cent from 2019, according to a statement. "It's hard for every paramedic who goes to those scenes," wrote Pat Hussey, paramedic unit chief in Penticton, which saw an 87 per cent increase in calls last year. The sobering statistics are further confirmation the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the overdose crisis that has devastated the province for years. The overdose death toll for the year surpassed 1,500 in November, solidifying 2020 as a record-breaking year for lives lost due to a lethally toxic illicit drug supply. A drop in Vancouver BCEHS said every one of B.C.'s five health regions saw an increase in overdoses last year, except one: Vancouver Coastal Health saw calls drop slightly, by four per cent. The Downtown Eastside, which has historically seen more than 5,000 overdose calls in a year, saw about 760 fewer calls last year than the year before. A reason for the drop was not immediately confirmed by the service. Brad Cameron, a paramedic manager with BCEHS, said from anecdotal evidence and his own experience, one reason for the drop could be due to the higher availability of naloxone in the Downtown Eastside. "Pretty everybody down in that particular area knows of somebody who's got naloxone or who carries themselves. It's freely available among the safe consumption sites, harm reduction sites," Cameron said. He also noted that there appears to be greater awareness among drug users in the neighbourhood noting, for example, that many people were becoming more aware that they shouldn't be using opioids alone. "If somebody is with you when you're using and notice that you're going into respiratory distress or into arrest, they're there readily to give the naloxone and call 911 for the presence of an ambulance," he said. Dramatic increases outside Lower Mainland The increases in other rural communities were dramatic, relative to the population. There were 20 calls for an overdose in Fort Nelson, up 233 per cent from last year. Keremeos and Sechelt saw increases of 167 and 112 per cent, respectively. Terrace and Houston also saw double the number of calls compared to previous years. The BC Coroners Service said Wednesday it is not yet finished compiling monthly overdose statistics for December, nor has it finished the yearly data for 2020. Those numbers are expected in February. Even with incomplete annual data, the overdose crisis continues to be deadlier than the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 1,540 people died of an overdose in 2020, compared to 1,090 people who died of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the existing overdose emergency. The supply of illicit drugs bought and sold across the province became more toxic when the U.S.-Canada border closed in March and forced suppliers to find other sources. Toxicology findings show a larger number of those who died between April and November had extreme concentrations of fentanyl, compared with previous months, according to the coroners service. Public health measures to combat COVID-19 have also hindered access to key harm-reduction services like supervised consumption sites, meaning more people are using alone. More than half of illicit drug toxicity deaths last year — 55 per cent — happened in private residences. Hussey, the paramedic in Penticton, said overdose calls have become more complex with such a high level of drug toxicity. Overdoses require multiple doses of naloxone and patients often have breathing and neurological complications.
TORONTO — Canadians tuned in Wednesday with a mixture of relief and optimism to watch the swearing in of Joe Biden as U.S. president amid concerns about potential violence south of the border and the omnipresent threat of COVID-19.Given the pandemic, most in-person viewing gatherings of the pageantry gave way to virtual events, with some expressing joy at the lifting of what they saw as the dark cloud of Donald Trump's presidency."Watching as I always do, but this one seems more significant," said Nicole Caron, a former provincial civil servant in Ottawa. "It returns to America the values that hold true for many democracies, with a focus on inclusivity and that everyone has a hand in moving forward, together."While Biden was the main attraction on stage in a heavily patrolled Washington, D.C., many Canadians focused on his newly minted second-in-command, Kamala Harris.At home with her daughter in Montreal, Wanda Kagan watched Harris, her best friend from high school, get sworn in as vice-president. Harris lived briefly in Montreal before graduating in 1981. Kagan, who met Harris at Westmount High School, called the inauguration a special moment, despite the disappointment of not being able to go to Washington.“It’s not the way you’d like to watch it when you were invited to the most historic day of your friend's life," Kagan said. “Anyone can make history but only a great woman can write history and that’s what she’s going to do."Calgary mother Gabriela Gonzalez grew teary watching the inauguration. It was exciting, she said, that young people everywhere, especially girls like her almost three-year-old daughter and children of colour, could see Harris and realize they, too, can achieve big things."I'm excited for my daughter to see that it's important for women and young girls to be involved in the political process," Gonzalez said. "They do have a role to play and they can have a seat at the table."The pandemic placed limits on the size of the mask-wearing crowd that would typically gather in the U.S. capital for the grand inauguration ceremony. So did the lingering threat of violence after Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a futile bid to stop the transition of power, egged on by the former president himself.Thousands of National Guard troops were deployed ahead of the event, further stoking anxiety among Americans and concerned observers. Acknowledging the fractures in his inaugural speech, Biden called for unity and urged his country to "start afresh."Rael Wienburg, a photographer and videographer in London, Ont., who said he was watching a "huge moment," called Biden's speech classy."Finally, a speech by a president with a vision to help bring a divided nation together," Wienburg said. "I'm feeling very positive and emotional after a tumultuous year of horrific and unfortunate times."For Jane and David Schlosberg in Dartmouth, N.S., the inauguration was a moment of cautious optimism.“You try not to be cynical and look forward to a better time,” Jane Schlosberg said as she watched the ceremony.In Owen Sound, Ont., Sergei Lozowski listened to the ceremony via radio."I want to hear official word that the leadership of our closest ally is not a deranged reality TV personality," he said.Others across Canada watched with roommates and in workplaces as they observed pandemic guidelines.Mary-Ellen Unan called it more significant than ever that citizens of North America watched the U.S. handover of power. "In a world where we are all affected by the policies of the American government, too many people still feel disenfranchised," Unan said from Toronto. "The swearing in to the highest office in the world is ceremonial, but it also marks a major change for the future."-With files from Danielle Edwards in Halifax; Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal; Fakiha Baig in Edmonton.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Delta police are investigating a stabbing as a result of a conflict between two students at Burnsview Secondary School Tuesday. Police say the accused youth is not known to them. "This appears to be a conflict between two students that unfortunately escalated to violence," said Delta Police spokesperson Cris Leykauf, adding that "police are taking this incident extremely seriously." Police say they are protecting the identities of the victim and the suspect because they are both under 18 years of age. The accused youth was arrested Tuesday and has since been released into the family's custody on the condition they not return to Burnsview Secondary, while the victim who was injured in the altercation has now been released from hospital. Police say they have recovered the knife that was believed to have been used. They say the youth is not known to them.
Conservative MPs today voted to expel Derek Sloan from caucus after the eastern Ontario MP accepted a donation from a notorious white nationalist. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole initiated the ouster earlier this week after news emerged that Paul Fromm — whose ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi causes have long been documented — had contributed $131 to Sloan's leadership campaign. Sloan fought against the vote, saying he was unaware of the source of the donation because Fromm used his full name, Frederick P. Fromm. Conservatives voted by secret ballot today, with the majority of MPs voting to remove Sloan from their benches. In a statement issued this afternoon, O'Toole called the donation the "last straw." "The Conservative caucus voted to remove Derek Sloan not because of one specific event, but because of a pattern of destructive behaviour involving multiple incidents and disrespect towards the Conservative team for over a year," he said. "These actions have been a consistent distraction from our efforts to grow the party and focus on the work we need to do. Events of the past week were simply the last straw and led to our caucus making the decision it did today." News of Fromm's contribution was first reported by PressProgress, a non-profit news website funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute. Sloan, who was elected in 2019 to represent the riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington, argued his team couldn't vet every donation to his leadership campaign last year. He also accused O'Toole of hypocrisy, pointing out that Fromm was accepted as a member of the party and voted in its 2020 leadership election without raising any red flags with party officials. In a statement to CBC News earlier this week, Conservative Party director of communications Cory Hann said it was Sloan's campaign that sold the party membership to Fromm. He said the party would be revoking Fromm's membership and returning the funds. Controversial player in party Sloan pushed back on that argument, saying new members who signed up for memberships through a leadership campaign website like his were directed to the party's main website. Fromm, who founded the Canadian Association for Free Expression and Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, has appeared at far-right protests, has spoken regularly on the white nationalist radio show Stormfront and is the subject of a Hamilton police investigation into claims that he shared the New Zealand mosque shooter's manifesto on his organization's website. Sloan has been a polarizing figure in Canadian politics, generating controversy with his socially conservative views on LGBTQ rights. He alarmed members of his own party in April when he posted a message and video on Facebook and Twitter claiming Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam had "failed Canadians" during the pandemic and asking if she works "for Canada or for China." Today's move marks a shift in position for O'Toole. During the leadership race, he took out a Facebook ad to defend Sloan's place in the party. But in recent days, O'Toole has said he wants to build a more inclusive Conservative Party. Just hours before the donation news broke, he released a lengthy statement saying there is "no place for the far right" in the party and pushing back at Liberal attempts to link his party to Trump-style politics. In a Facebook post this afternoon, Sloan — who will now sit in the house as an independent — urged his supporters to keep their party memberships and delegation spots ahead of the Conservative policy convention planned for March. "The CPC belongs to you, the grassroots of the party. I encourage you to use your voice, to stand up, and represent true conservative values with this convention," he wrote. 'They will regret this' In a subsequent Facebook video, Sloan used even more forceful language and took aim at O'Toole and the Conservative Party. He compared his situation to that of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott — two former Liberal cabinet ministers who were removed from that caucus after breaking with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin affair. "It shows an absolute cowardice, an absolute failure to address the real issues that animates much of our base," Sloan said. "This was the worst mistake they ever made and they will regret this. I'm positive of it." O'Toole stressed in his own statement that he did not vote to expel Sloan because he's a social conservative. "We have members of Parliament of deep compassion and unmatched character, who like many Canadians, draw strength from their faith," he said. "The Conservative Party is a big tent that is reflective of all Canadians. People of all backgrounds have a place in our party."