Remy the husky would rather enjoy some more time on that cozy chair!
Remy the husky would rather enjoy some more time on that cozy chair!
President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
(Submitted by Gerald McKenzie - image credit) First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021. According to Indigenous Services Canada, during the first seven weeks of 2021, there were 2,779 new cases in reserves in Saskatchewan — more than in any other province. By comparison, in that same time period, there were 2,290 cases on reserves in Manitoba and 2,389 in Alberta. In a Wednesday news release, Indigenous Services said it is "closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country." However, there is some good news — active case counts are declining, and there has not yet been a confirmed case of any of the new coronavirus variants of concern on reserve. Vaccine deliveries are also ramping up, and as of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. In Saskatchewan, as of Feb. 14, the federal department estimates that vaccine uptake in First Nations communities was at or above 75 per cent. Indigenous Services also said it is working to support the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults living in urban areas. "ISC is working closely with [the] National Association of Friendship Centres, as well as provinces and territories, First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners, and other urban community service organizations to support planning efforts," the department said in its news release this week. "This includes working to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake and ensuring the vaccine is available in culturally safe and accessible locations." According to the department, vaccine clinics for Indigenous adults are currently being planned for Saskatoon and Regina.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced scoring attack in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire CentreJuuso Valimaki, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames, who ended Ottawa's three-game win streak.Drake Batherson, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk replied for the last-place Senators. Ottawa (7-15-1) remain in the NHL basement with 15 points.Calgary (10-10-2) moved into a fourth-place tie with Montreal in the North Division with 22 points. The Canadiens were scheduled to play the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.The Flames opened the scoring four minutes into the game. The speedy Johnny Gaudreau zipped around a couple of Ottawa players before sending a backhand saucer pass to Valimaki for the one-timer.The Flames scored again 37 seconds later as Backlund flipped a rolling puck past a handcuffed Matt Murray.The Sens goalie stopped 27-of-33 shots on Saturday.Perhaps in an effort to spark his teammates, Austin Watson fought bruising Flames forward Milan Lucic on the ensuing faceoff. Lucic, who had a 35-pound weight advantage, won the decision.Calgary took advantage of some sloppy defensive play ahead of its third goal. Josh Norris turned the puck over deep in the zone and Lindholm snapped it in at 11:05.Batherson extended his goal-scoring streak to five games with a power-play effort at 13:05. He beat David Rittich with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle.Another Senators' defensive lapse proved costly early in the second period as Chris Tierney coughed up the puck down low. Gaudreau fed it to Monahan for the power-play goal at 4:02.A Calgary shorthanded goal followed at 9:36. Mangiapane hit the post with a redirect attempt before tapping in the rebound. White responded 40 seconds later by scooping a loose puck off the faceoff and snapping it past a screened Rittich. The netminder posted 31 saves in Calgary's win.The lone goal in the third period came when Brady Tkachuk scored on the Ottawa power play at 10:00.The Senators dumped the Flames 6-1 on Thursday night. The teams will face off again Monday in the finale of Ottawa's five-game homestand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) Jeremy Ratt, 20, remembers how good it felt when he first entered the Gathering Room at his Kelowna, B.C., middle school and found himself in a space with other Indigenous students, as well as staff who could provide culturally relevant academic and emotional support. Experts say that spaces like the one Ratt — the 20-year-old host of the CBC podcast Pieces — found solace in are important for the wellbeing of Indigenous students, as is having Indigenous history and representation in curriculums. Ratt's five-part podcast follows his journey of self-discovery as he seeks to understand his roots as a mixed Indigenous and white man and all of the distinct "pieces" that form who he is today. Someone he says played a pivotal role in starting that journey was Jackie Westgate, an Indigenous student advocate at Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna. Westgate, who is Mi'kmaq, said the school's Gathering Room helped many Indigenous students who passed through the school. Students are welcome to smudge there, or just relax or study. Westgate says staff will also help students who don't know much about their background learn more about where they came from. "When kids come in, we expose them to all sorts of different ways that they can connect with their heritage and feel good about learning in a way that works for them," she said. "It is the room of welcoming and the room of belonging." The Gathering Space at Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna, B.C. is overseen by Indigenous student advocate, Jackie Westgate, who worked with CBC podcast host Jeremy Ratt when he was a student. Shannon Leddy, an assistant professor in Indigenous Education in the Curriculum and Pedagogy department at the University of British Columbia, echoes the validity of gathering spaces. Leddy, who is Métis, focuses on decolonizing education in her work. She says it's important students have somewhere to go to be themselves and experience a sense of acceptance — "a place where someone is going to understand the kinds of micro-aggressions and erasures that Indigenous students face daily within curriculum and pedagogy," she said. No 'tokenistic art activities' But efforts are underway to change that curriculum, too, by offering more First Nations content in the classroom. Fiona LaPorte, who has Anishnaabe, Blackfoot and Métis roots, teaches at ¿uuqinak'uuh (Grandview) Elementary School in Vancouver and says and her curriculum is almost entirely made up of Indigenous teachings. Having spaces in schools where Indigenous students can learn about and participate in their cultures and connect with other Indigenous students and staff is important to the wellbeing of Indigenous students, experts say. She has a medicine wheel carpet in her classroom and all of the imagery on her walls is Indigenous focused. "I don't do tokenistic art activities in my classroom. I teach about cultures of different nations, especially nations whom I've worked very closely with — and, of course, my own background," she told host Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition. LaPorte acknowledges that while non-Indigenous teachers should be teaching this as well, it's especially important that it comes from an Indigenous perspective. "There's a value in having somebody who's actually walked in those moccasins to teach about that," she said. She says she gets asked a lot from non-Indigenous educators how to be allies. "It's really about making connections and relationships with folks that have those experiences, or have those cultural tools or knowledge and bringing them in as guests and, of course, appropriately honouring them in ways that show your respect for their time," said LaPorte. Jackie Westgate is Mi'kmaq and works as an Indigenous student advocate at Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna. Connecting through culture Nadine McSpadden, from the Secwepemc Nation, is a helping teacher for Aboriginal learning in Surrey, B.C. In that role, she provides resources and workshops for teachers in the district to encourage them to weave Indigenous teachings into their curriculums. "This is what I talk to teachers about all the time — the importance of having authentic resources in the classroom," she said. McSpadden said it's important for Indigenous kids to see themselves represented in the curriculum and throughout their schools for the sake of their Indigenous identity. "When we showcase Indigenous culture in the classroom in a way that makes our kids feel like, 'Wow, we are definitely something of value,' then they're more willing to connect," she said. Pieces is a five-part CBC podcast that explores what it means to be Indigenous. Join 19-year-old Jeremy Ratt on a journey of self-discovery as he seeks to understand his roots and all of the distinct "pieces" that form who he is today. You can subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.
Pembroke – Once again local MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) has found herself in the middle of a very public controversy after a video emerged in which she accused the Liberal government of becoming “radicals” who want “all illicit drugs to be legal” and “to normalize sexual activity with children.” These and other statements made by the longtime Conservative MP are contained in a video that recorded a virtual meeting between the MP and a group of young Conservatives at Queen’s University in Kingston earlier this month. The video remained relatively obscure until Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell, (Pickering-Uxbridge) posted it on both her Twitter and Facebook Social Media accounts. When she posted the video she accused Mrs. Gallant of spreading “disgusting and dangerous lies” and goes on to state her fearmongering is “a threat to our democracy.” Although Mrs. Gallant went on to make a number of questionable and unsubstantiated statements including that Marxists have taken over university administrations across the country in an effort to stifle free speech and to push a socialist agenda, Ms. O’Connell accuses the MP of promoting anti-Semitic rhetoric. On her YouTube page, she labels the video as “Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant spews anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” and her Twitter posting goes one step further and infers that other Conservative MPs share Mrs. Gallants beliefs when she wrote “Gallant is yet another CPC MP (to a growing list of them) who repeats anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” Although several of Mrs. Gallant’s statements can be considered outlandish and offensive, she does not make any direct reference to anti-Semitism. Ms. O’Connell also compared her to supporters of former President Donald Trump and said the MP is promoting “deranged conspiracy theories.” Within the video she accuses Liberals of lacking any common sense, stating they have become “a bunch of radicals” and because of this “they want all illicit drugs to be legal. They want anything goes in every aspect of life. They want to normalize sexual activity with children.” Last Friday Mrs. Gallant provided a very brief statement in which she said “comments on the Liberals choosing to lower the age of consent were taken out of context.” She did not address any of her other comments and said she “will not be commenting further on this matter.” In the video, she goes on to complain “the liberal media have been bought and paid for” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and are now backing Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault — whom she dubs the “censor in chief” — in his plans to make Google and Facebook pay for news content they disseminate on their platforms. She also accused the prime minister of purposely driving a wedge between Google and Facebook and the Canadian government in order for the tech giants to follow the recent Australia example and remove all news contents from their platforms in Canada. “Why do you think Trudeau would want Canadians to be unable to search or share news right as he’s planning a snap election?” she asks. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who has been attempting to put a more moderate face on his party, said the Liberals are trying to distract from their failure to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. “Canadians have other priorities and so do I,” he said in a brief statement late Friday. Similar to Mrs. Gallant, Mr. O’Toole has not made any other comments despite the video being seen by thousands of Canadians and commented on by all major news outlets and several Social Media platforms. Familiar Pattern Mr. O’Toole joins a long line of party leaders who have either disciplined or did their best to distance themselves from Mrs. Gallant in order to isolate her and not have her actions become the namesake of the federal party. What has become a familiar pattern since she was first elected as a member of the former Canadian Alliance in 2000, her controversial statements have caused embarrassment for both her party and her former leaders. In 2002, she made anti-gay remarks to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, when during a heated exchange, she kept interrupting "Ask your boyfriend" or "How's your boyfriend?" Although she at first refused to apologize for her statements, behind the scenes, Stockwell Day, leader of the Canadian Alliance at the time, had Mrs. Gallant apologize on the floor of the House of Commons. During the 2004 election, a controversy erupted when she compared abortion to the beheading of Iraq War hostage Nick Berg. Stephen Harper had just been elected leader of the newly-formed Conservative Party and his office announced she was suffering from laryngitis, and she did not appear at some scheduled debates and was not allowed to make any statements to both local and national news outlets. In 2005 she suggested Christians were being persecuted by the Liberal Party in a flyer she sent to her constituents. Confronted with the news, Mr. Harper said "I'll let Cheryl Gallant explain those remarks herself; I haven't seen them." In February 2011, during Defence Committee hearings in St. John's before an audience which included the family and co-workers of mariners lost at sea in recent accidents on the Atlantic, Mrs. Gallant remarked, "In Ontario we have inland seas, the Great Lakes, and it would never occur to any of us, even up in the Ottawa River, to count on the Coast Guard to come and help us." Her comparison of recreational boaters in sheltered inland waters to mariners on the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles from land drew outrage from many who had lost family at sea. Once again Mr. Harper attempted to distance himself and the party from her and suggested reporters contact her directly for any further remarks. She initially refused to apologize saying her remarks were misinterpreted, but a few days later she said she was sorry and did not mean to minimize ocean dangers. There were other incidents including a 2016 scandal when she used the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo as a means to generate money for her campaign through an Easter ham lottery. Cpl. Cirillo was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Oct. 22, 2014. In 2017, newly-elected leader Andrew Scheer called for a “whipped vote” in support of Canada’s commitment to the Paris Accord. However, when the roll was taken, Mrs. Gallant defied the Leader’s Office and voted against the Accord. She was the only MP from all parties who voted against it, thereby denying unanimous consent and caused great embarrassment to Mr. Scheer. Neither the Conservative Party, its members or the local riding association have made any public statements on the recent controversy and calls to the MP’s office were not retu Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Several rounds of staff reports, public comments, and consultant presentations later, Tiny council still remains at square one around an effective strategy to address short-term rental (STR) issues in the township. At the end of the day, staff were sent back to prepare a public survey and to continue drafting an STR licensing bylaw and renters code of conduct with public input. In the process' latest round, council's committee of the whole received an open deputation Friday from a resident, who had concerns around the third-party monitoring system, a presentation from the third-party service provider and another staff report. "I read through the supplier and I have concerns about the cost and the Big Brother feel," said Kim Romans, who is a year-round Tiny resident with two rental cottages on her property. "This is not a registry, this is about regulation. "We are a small township and a small number of units," she added. "People who are offering STRs should come to the table and work with council to design something that works for the people and township. We shouldn't be burdening people with over-regulating and the costs associated with them." Coun. Tony Mintoff clarified for Romans that the township's intent was always to come up with some sort of regulation around STRs in the area. "It's always been the intent to have a registration and a licensing program," he said. "As for survey of the members of the public and property owners, that's part of the plan." Council also sat through a presentation by Samantha White, account executive with Granicus - Host Compliance, whose services were giving Romans the jitters. The company, White said, focuses and specializes in helping local governments address their short-term rental related challenges. "We pull down the data from the top 60 STR platforms and match that with your assessor data to drive greater compliance using the solutions we have," White said. The five tools that Granicus offers include digital registration and tax collection, address identification, compliance and rental activity monitoring and a dedicated hotline for complainants, she explained. Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer, said staff had brought forward Granicus as an efficiency tool. "Staff see this as a very important efficiency tool to get us up and running very quickly for 2021," he said. "It's a critical component to rolling this out. Recreating something similar to this would take a lot of time and be cost prohibitive. (Granicus costs) $36,000 a year and we're asking council to consider them as sole-source provider." In addition to the $36,000 cost for bringing on Granicus, Harvey said, staff was also proposing an additional bylaw officer at a cost of $51,000 for eight months. Some council members still had concerns if the township had the right way of approaching the issue. "What are we trying to achieve and more particularly what are we trying to achieve for the 2021 season?" said Mayor George Cornell. "I don't think we're at a point where we can start writing up our bylaw and engage Granicus. There's a whole public consultation piece here that hasn't been looked at. We haven't made any decisions yet. I would caution council not to get ahead of ourselves." That's exactly where Mintoff was coming from. "I think it's premature to be thinking about engaging a third-party consultant and hiring a staff now when we haven't even put the issue of what the program is going to look like," he said. "I do agree with the bylaw approach versus the zoning approach because it would help us administer a monetary penalty system." Instead, Mintoff said a survey is a good first step in which to begin. He also wasn't convinced if the definition of an STR should focus on any period less than 28 consecutive calendar days since the problems lie with those renting for weekends. "We should be looking at under eight days," he said, adding, "We can get our feet wet and look at the ones that are causing the most problems. "If we just say, if you're going to rent less than eight days, you have to register," said Mintoff. "That doesn't say you can't rent for 28 days." All council members agreed that engaging Granicus services at this time wasn't necessary, however, White and her colleague offered to help staff in crafting the licensing framework. Meanwhile, staff will continue with the strict enforcement policy already in place. Council is hoping to have a report back with an implementation date for the end of May. The decision was ratified at the council meeting held later the same day. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
MILAN — The fedora Humphrey Bogart wore in “Casablanca” may have secured Borsalino’s place in fashion and cinematic history, but it will be something like the cow-print bucket hat that will help ensure its future. The storied Italian hatmaker still makes its felt hats by hand in a Piedmont region factory, using the same artisanal techniques from when the company was founded in 1857 and some of founder Giuseppe Borsalino’s original machinery. It is updating its offerings for next fall and winter, with a focus on customization and youth-trends. The new collection displayed during Milan Fashion Week takes inspiration from the Arts & Crafts design movement in mid-19th century Britain. Hat pins with leaf and floral motifs allow women to uniquely shape the hats, to take up an oversized brim, say, or to create an elegant fold in the crown. A leopard fedora can be paired with a long chain, to wear over the shoulder when going in and out of shops, while a clochard has an optional leather corset. “You cannot change a hat so much,’’ Giacomo Santucci, Borsalino’s creative curator, said. “You can change the attitude of the hat.” Unisex styles, including baseball caps, berets and bucket hats, come in updated new materials - including a spotted cow print, black patent leather and rainproof nylon. Such genderless looks are becoming an increasingly important part of the collection, Santucci said. “The hat is no longer a tool to cover yourself, but to discover yourself,’’ he told The Associated Press. The company, which relaunched three years ago, was in the process of scaling up production from 150,000 hats a year to a goal of half a million when the pandemic hit. “To be honest, it is such a small company, in a way it is very simple to react,’’ said Santucci, who is also the current president of the Italian Chamber of Buyers. “The smaller you are, the more reactive and prompt." Beyond new styles, that means getting people talking. Santucci, who was Gucci CEO during the Tom Ford era, created a new film for this season, featuring Milanese women who chose hats to match their styles, striding through the centre of the city. Last season’s film featured dancers from Alessandria, site of the original Borsalino factory, dancing through the factory floor. "My strong belief is that fashion is becoming more and more a discussion,'' Santucci said. New social media platforms like Clubhouse are giving people the chance to create a limited and select group to discuss relevant topics, which Santucci said has been key during the isolation imposed by the pandemic. He also has pursued collaborations with ready-to-wear brands, including Borsalino X Valentino. “Brands are changing. It is getting closer to entertainment, to give people the chance to engage with the brand, to understand it better. Not only to understand what was done in the past, but to really interact and to have the chance to be part of the same community,’’ Santucci said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe says Matthews won't play due to a wrist injury that he's been dealing with for much of the year. Matthews has 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in 20 games for the Leafs this season. Toronto (15-4-2) will get some other key pieces back in the lineup — forward Joe Thornton returns from a lower-body injury, defenceman Jake Muzzin slots back in after missing two games with a facial fracture and goalie Jack Campbell is available after dealing with a leg injury. The Leafs currently sit atop the all-Canadian North Division, but the Oilers (14-8-0) are just four points back. Saturday's game kicks off a three-game series between Edmonton and Toronto. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Government of P.E.I. - image credit) Prince Edward Island is reintroducing some public health restrictions — including no indoor dining at restaurants —after six new cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday. The restrictions will begin Sunday and be in effect until at least March 14, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said in a COVID-19 briefing Saturday. P.E.I. has had 12 cases in the past four days, and a handful of potential exposure sites have been identified. "This outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better," Morrison said. Other "circuit-breaker" measures announced Saturday include: Takeout only at restaurants. Personal gatherings limited to household members plus 10 "consistent" people. Organized gathering limit of 50 for activities including concerts, worship services, and movie theatres Weddings and funerals limited to 50 individuals plus officiants. Not eligible for multiple gatherings. No funeral or wedding receptions. No sports games or tournaments, though practices are permitted. Gyms, museums, libraries and retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity. No changes to current measures for long-term care facilities. Unlicensed and licensed child-care centres can operate at 100 per cent capacity, with physical distancing. The Chief Public Health Office has asked all people aged 14-29 in the Summerside area to get tested this weekend even if they are not experiencing symptoms. People with symptoms are asked to get tested at clinics in Slemon Park or on Park Street in Charlottetown. By 3 p.m. Saturday, Morrison said close to 1,000 tests were done at the temporary clinic at Three Oaks High School. The clinic is open until 8 p.m., and will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone in the Summerside area aged 14-29. Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside was identified Saturday as a possible exposure site. The new cases, five men and one woman, are all in their 20s. Five are close contacts of previous cases. Four new exposure sites were also identified on Saturday — Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside, Pita Pit locations in Summerside and Charlottetown, and Burger King in the Summerside Walmart. Premier Dennis King said the province does not know if the new cases are variants, but the assumption is they are. He said it's not the news he wanted to deliver, but said circuit breakers have proven effective in the past. "I think it's discouraging from the perspective for all Islanders simply because we've done very, very well to date and we can see the finish line, but we do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID that it won't really let us firmly out of its grip." P.E.I. has had 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began almost a year ago. Thirteen remain active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. The Atlantic bubble remains suspended, as well. Here is a list of possible public exposure sites on PEI. Public health officials are urging anyone who was at these locations on these dates and at these times to immediately self-isolate and get tested. Pita Pit, Summerside: Feb 19, 11 a.m.-9 pm.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb 22, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 24, 2-4 p.m.; Feb 26, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Callbeck's Home Hardware, Summerside: Feb. 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (all dates) Burger King, Granville Street, Summerside: Feb 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 17, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb 18, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb. 20, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 22, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 25, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Dominos Pizza, Summerside: Feb 17, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb. 18, 4-11 p.m.; Feb. 19, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Feb 20: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Feb. 21, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 22, 4-11 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Shoppers Drug Mart, Summerside: Feb 21, 10-11 a.m. Dollarama, Summerside: Feb 20, 3-4 p.m. Superstore, Montague: Feb 24, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Feb 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tailgate Bar & Grill, Montague: Feb 25, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Iron Haven Gym, Summerside: Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m.; Feb 23, 6-8 p.m. Toys R Us, Charlottetown: Feb 23, 10 a.m.-12 noon Taste of India, Charlottetown: Feb 20, 4-10 p.m.; Feb. 21, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 22, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Breakfast Spot, Summerside: Feb 20, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. New Brunswick reported two new cases on Saturday as the active total, 41, continues to drop. New Brunswickers can now travel and visit people in different regions after a series of changes to the orange phase took effect. Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as tighter restrictions came into force to stem a recent increase in case numbers. The province has 39 active cases. Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases, as well as another death. It has 217 active cases. More from CBC News
Thousands of flag-waving marchers demonstrated Saturday in Tunisia's capital in a show of support for the majority party in parliament. The demonstration follows political tensions between Tunisia's president and its prime minister, Hichem Mechichi. Mechichi has sought to reshuffle his Cabinet but has seen some of his proposed ministerial appointments blocked by President Kais Saied. Marchers in Tunis chanted “The people want national unity.” The demonstration was called by the Islamist Ennahdha party that holds the largest block of seats in Tunisia's parliament. Tunis,Tunisia, The Associated Press
Pembroke – The Barry’s Bay area was identified by the local health unit as the hotspot for COVID-19 in Renfrew County last week, making not only local news, but national news for the small village of about 1,300 people in the southwestern part of the county. “It put us in a very bad light as a community,” Madawaska Valley (MV) Mayor Kim Love told the Leader. “The concern from the business owners was the very negative impression this was giving of our community. We have been working very hard. The vast majority of the population has been working very hard to comply.” In an open letter to the community, she alsocalled out those who are not complying with directives from the Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU). “To anyone simply unwilling to follow the guidelines of public health, if you can’t join the rest of society in wearing a mask, washing your hands and staying six feet apart, then please stay home,” she said. In a release last Friday from the RCDHU, Barry’s Bay was highlighted not only as an area of concern because of merchants who complain about customers not complying with mask wearing, but also “anti-mask demonstrations and concerns about post-secondary students not complying” with health unit directives. Since January 1st, the Bay area has had 27 cases of COVID-19 whereas the remainder of Renfrew County and the district covered by the RCDHU has totaled only 47. This is 36 per cent of all the cases in an area with only 12 per cent of the total population in RCD. However, a clarification on Monday given by the health unit to MV, where Barry’s Bay is located, stated the issue is not just seen as isolated to the village by the health unit, but the entire township, as well as neighbouring townships. These are: Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards (KHR); Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (BL&R) and South Algonquin. Mayor Love passed this on in a letter to the community, pointing out Barry’s Bay is the main service and employment centre for the area. “It has a combined population of approximately 12,600 people,” she wrote. “Of the 27 cases of COVID-19 referenced and attributed to the Barry’s Bay area by the RCDHU press release, 22 cases have been in Madawaska Valley, four in Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan and one in South Algonquin.” KHR has the distinction of being one of two municipalities in the county with no cases of COVID since the pandemic began, the other being Head, Clara and Maria. Pikwakanagan First Nation has also had no cases. Blindsided By Release It’s been a couple of challenging days for Mayor Love since Barry’s Bay was named a hotspot. The municipality and business owners were basically blindsided by the press release, she pointed out. “We had no notice, so that puts you in reactive mode,” she said. “We would prefer to be a partner in assisting in getting the message out.” Since then, the emails, calls and messages began to go back and forth between the township, the mayor and the health unit, as well as members of the local board of health. The township was also dealing with inquiries by business owners and community members who were concerned and upset. Impact on Business A Barry’s Bay business owner who spoke to the Leader on the condition of anonymity called the press release from the health unit “damaging, reckless and very careless” to frame the community as a hotspot. “It has affected business in Barry’s Bay and people’s perception of Barry’s Bay and coming into town,” he said. “And things like this last a long time.” Their business saw a “noticeable” decline in business since Saturday. Speaking to other business owners, they reported the same impact with declines in foot traffic or cancellations of reservations for services or appointments. “The damage they did to Barry’s Bay is unbelievable,” they said. “To get the title of hotspot thrown at us is unbelievable.” The fall out in social media has been tremendous as well, they noted. “People are criticizing businesses if they see snowmobiles parked at their locations,” they noted. “It is inciting back and forth comments that are not fair. “Everyone in the business community is feeling the fallout. There is no other way to describe it,” they noted. “It has been felt since the weekend.” Of added concern they said the health unit had never singled out another community like this and they questioned if it had a co-relation to the anti-mask protest on a Sunday earlier in the month in the community. They also said singling out post-secondary students was not fair since the post-secondary institution in the community, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, has worked hard to ask students and staff to comply with local health directives. Ironically, as their business saw less foot traffic, the question was where people were going for their shopping. If they are choosing to travel to other communities to shop, it just increases the impact of travel. “They have scared people and put people in a worried state,” the business owner said. Timing of Release Mayor Love said while the spike in cases occurred in the first two weeks in January, the press release and notification of concern did not occur until the third week in February. “We wanted the health unit to know if they communicate with us as soon as they see a spike in numbers, we are there for them, to assist them with messages directly to our public,” she said. “We are there to help and also keep our communities healthy and safe.” Mayor Love said she understands MV had one case of COVID-19 early on in 2020 and no cases at the time of the December 26 provincial lockdown. By January 11, the township had 15 cumulative cases and seven active ones. “It could be someone travelling into Madawaska Valley from an infected area or someone travelling to an infected area and coming back to Madawaska Valley,” she said. “The travel that brought COVID-19 here might have involved cities like Ottawa or Toronto, but it could just as easily have been local travel within Renfrew County.” The mayor also described it as “unfortunate” a reporter travelled to the community from an Orange Zone to Barry’s Bay on Saturday to report on the situation. “I’m not sure that would be essential travel,” she said. The mayor said moving forward she is glad to have an open line of communication with the health unit and is anticipating a good working relationship as a partner in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Health Unit Warning Renfrew County and district has been classified as a Green Zone throughout the time the province had applied the COVID-19 Response Framework and was among the first regions to re-open following the provincial lockdown in December. With a total of 321 cases since the pandemic began and 11 active cases reported on Tuesday and two deaths since the pandemic began, the district is one of those with the lowest infection numbers in Ontario and well below the provincial average. Although early on the COVID numbers were isolated to the larger centres in the county like Arnprior or Renfrew and those closest to Ottawa, it is rare for one community to be highlighted as an area of concern within the county as has occurred with Barry’s Bay and region. One exception was when an outbreak occurred among a Mennonite Community in Whitewater Region, but that situation was always identified as being confined to the self-contained community. Dr. Robert Cushman, the acting chief medical officer of health for the health unit, stressed the county and district has had low numbers overall. “The exception is the Barry’s Bay area which, surprisingly, has seen more COVID-19 cases in 2021 than all of last year,” he said in a release. “While there is no obvious direct cause and effect link, and the spread has mostly been within families, we have to ask, why is this area not following the downward trend we see across the rest of RCD?” he asked. He did not rule out implementing more stringent rules in the Barry’s Bay area if the number of cases continues to rise. “Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers delayed needs,” he added. “The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the neighbourhood of Barry’s Bay compared to elsewhere in Renfrew County and district. “This is concerning as it will be a challenge with forecasts of a third wave driven by COVID-19 variants that are more infectious and spread quicker than the original strains of the virus.” Dr. Cushman said constant attention needs to be paid to masking, distancing and proper hygiene. Moreover, what stands out amongst the latest cases is the number of contacts and the additional spread. “COVID-19 is a very social virus, especially the new strains and it goes without saying that we need strict adherence to our household and workplace contacts to limit the spread,” he said. “We are all in this together and I would urge everyone of us, and especially the folks living in the Barry’s Bay area to be vigilant to protect themselves, others and the economy. As the old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” Mayor Love Reaches Out Since the community was identified as a hotspot, Mayor Love sent two open letters to the community. “The municipality has repeatedly asked everyone to comply with provincial orders and follow the guidelines of public health,” she said in an open letter. “Not doing so jeopardizes the health of our essential workers, healthcare providers, families, seniors and the economic viability to the local businesses we all depend on. “To the vast majority of Madawaska Valley residents and visitors who are staying within their household bubbles, wearing masks, washing their hands, staying six feet apart and limiting their exposure to others, you are putting the well-being of our entire society first and we sincerely thank you,” she said. “To anyone who, for medical reasons can’t wear a mask, please contact a friend or a volunteer group that is willing to pick up food and essentials for you while you stay safe at home.” The mayor also addressed some of the concerns raised by Dr. Cushman. “To anti-mask protesters, please note that protests will not end this pandemic,” the mayor stated. “COVID-19 doesn’t care if you protest. Everyone who is following the guidelines of public health does care. If you can’t join us, then please stay home.” Mayor Love concluded by asking everyone in the community to follow the established protocols. “Let’s make sure the Barry’s Bay area doesn’t require stricter enforcement measures,” she said. “We are all in this together. We all need to stay vigilant right now to protect the local economy and our community.” As the focus shifted to Barry’s Bay late last week, the entire county and district saw a slow increase in COVID-19 numbers. Earlier last week an outbreak was reported at Valley Manor, the long-term care home in Barry’s Bay. An outbreak is declared at a long-term care home when one individual tested positive. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit) Some Halifax restaurants are questioning the latest COVID-19 restrictions, with at least one taking dining rules a step further. On Friday, the province announced new restrictions in the Halifax area to act as a circuit-breaker as case numbers moved higher. Four new cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total of active cases to 39. As of Saturday, restaurants and bars must stop serving food and drink by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m. The rules will be in place for at least one month. But Brendan Doherty, co-owner of the Old Triangle pub in downtown Halifax, said it seems like an "empty restriction" that won't accomplish much beyond hurting businesses during an already slow season. "We do feel like something extra does need to be done at the moment, we do need to be more cautious," Doherty said. "And … there are many tools in the tool chest that could have been used. "We decided to be proactive and put our heads together and say, 'You know, what can we do given the circumstances that actually gives a chance to help the situation we're currently in?'" To go that extra step, the pub will limit the number of people allowed at a table to six, which is below the 10-person cap mandated by the province. The business will be closed on St. Patrick's Day after Doherty said the government rejected a proposal for a pandemic-era plan on how to navigate the day. The pub is also working to bring in a sick-day program, Doherty said, so staff that feel unwell and go to get a COVID-19 test will still be paid for their scheduled shift. He said the move is important because this time of the year is always rough in the service industry, even without a global pandemic. Doherty said he doesn't want staff to feel financially obligated to come to work if they're not feeling well. Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang give a COVID-19 briefing earlier this week. Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, has consistently asked Nova Scotians to stay home if they have any symptoms of the virus. On Friday, Premier Iain Rankin said it's important to keep having discussions about paid sick days for people who need time off for testing. He said the point was raised when he reached out to speak with an opposition leader, but did not specify which one. "I met with him to discuss options so that we can support our workforce," Rankin said during the COVID-19 briefing. "It is something that we'll continue to discuss moving forward." The Nova Scotia NDP proposed a bill last year that would have allowed all workers, unionized or not, to be able to accrue up to six paid sick days per year, an idea the Liberals rejected during the spring sitting at Province House. Resources available now There is a federal program, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which provides $450 after taxes per week for up to two weeks. But some critics, workers' advocates and public health professionals say the program is flawed, and is an insufficient replacement for having employers guarantee paid sick leave. Doherty said he's not a health professional and doesn't know what the ideal plan would be to address the spread of COVID-19. But he suggested that zeroing in on travellers coming into the province, and big-box stores or businesses with far more customers in close proximity, might be more effective. He added that he's heard from many other restaurant and bar owners about their disappointment with the lack of communication and collaboration with the province, which Doherty said is different from earlier in the pandemic. Obladee, a wine bar in downtown Halifax, echoed that sentiment with a social media post on Saturday. It called on the government to show its evidence to support the 9 p.m. restrictions, and pointed out that their industry was given less than 24-hours notice before the changes went into effect. "Meaningful consultation with public stakeholders improves decision making and is a matter of transparency and fairness," the post said. "These decisions have major impacts on the livelihoods of thousands of Nova Scotians. We can do better." During Friday's briefing, Strang said cutting an hour of service is an attempt to balance public health risks while ensuring bars and restaurants can stay open. Any setting where people are in close proximity for a long period of time, without masks, carries a "significant risk" of virus transmission, Strang said. He said that the restriction sends a "very strong signal" that patrons need to limit their dining and drinking habits. "The restaurants themselves are not problematic, they're doing a very good job," Strang said. "But how the public are using the restaurants, the frequency, the going to restaurants [at] different times with different groups of people — the choices people are making when they go out to dine, is problematic." MORE TOP STORIES
It's a year of change at the Canadian women's curling championship in the Calgary bubble. The field was padded to 18 teams this year for the first time. There are no spectators at the Markin MacPhail Centre due to the pandemic. The Page system was dropped in favour of a three-team playoff. Coaching benches are at opposite ends of the ice rather than beside each other. Traditional post-game handshakes are verboten with some players tapping brooms instead. Curling fans and athletes are still thrilled to have the sport back on the domestic stage after a long absence. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the first of six events to be held in the protected "bubble" environment — has been a success entering the final weekend. Championship pool play continues Saturday and the playoffs are set for Sunday. Many classic traditions specific to the Hearts are on hiatus for 2021. The HeartStop Lounge, a party barn with entertainment, food and drink, is obviously idle this year. The annual women's curler banquet and full-field group photo should also return in 2022. And in a change to a long-standing routine that Hearts competitors have held dear since 1981, many teams will not receive jewelry this year. Longtime event sponsor Kruger Products decided it will only award jewelry to the four teams — P.E.I., N.W.T., Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador — who were able to play provincial/territorial playdowns. The nine provincial teams who accepted invitations after the pandemic forced the cancellation of their respective association championships are out of luck. "Players/teams that were acclaimed entry into the 2021 Scotties and any alternate players that were not part of a winning provincial/territorial team are unfortunately not eligible to receive jewelry," said Kruger corporate marketing director Oliver Bukvic. "This is a very unique year, with many changes due to COVID, and we will recognize the winners who earned a berth in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts." That's a change from last season when Nunavut — the other territorial entry in the field — received jewelry despite not playing down. Jewelry is not given out to defending champions (automatic entry) or wild-card teams (entry via ranking). Unlike the nine pandemic-affected provincial entries, Iqaluit was able to host championships this year. However, women's playdowns weren't held because the Nunavut team — which did not receive jewelry this year — was unopposed for a second straight season. Bukvic didn't comment on previous setups but said this year's plans came down to eligibility. "We look forward to next year when we'll hopefully be back to normalcy and we'll be able to recognize all of these provincial and territorial winners with their jewelry for winning their playdown," he said. First-year players who are eligible for jewelry receive a gold necklace with a four-heart pendant. A diamond is added to the pendant for each of the next four appearances. After that, a tennis bracelet is awarded with a diamond addition for every return to the Hearts. "We knew that that wasn't really on the table this year, which is fine," said Alberta vice Kate Cameron. "I think we were really excited to have this opportunity to even be here right now. "I think given the state of the world and everything we're going through and then being selected to represent Alberta, I think was something that we were really honoured to do. So I think we're just happy to be here." The jewelry is a significant perk for all teams who receive it, but particularly those who finish on the low end of the event payout structure. Teams cut after the preliminary round receive $2,500 apiece. The winning Hearts team receives $100,000 of the $300,000 total purse. Curlers who reach the podium will still receive traditional rings. The champions have rings set with a diamond, the finalists with a ruby and the third-place team with an emerald. The Hearts finalist receives $60,000 and the third-place team receives $40,000. Other championship pool teams receive $15,000 apiece. Kruger is celebrating its 40th year of Hearts sponsorship this season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
A Vancouver-area health authority says people at three schools in the region have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern.A news release from Fraser Health says it is working with the Surrey school district to manage COVID-19 exposures at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School and M.B. Sanford Elementary School. It says the cases involving an unspecified COVID-19 variant appear to be linked to community transmissions, but the schools will remain open. The health authority also declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital on Friday.It says five patients at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19 after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit.It says the emergency department remains open and no other areas have been impacted.Meanwhile, an outbreak at the CareLife Fleetwood long-term care home in Surrey was declared over.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Award-winning Canadian film director Tyler Simmonds has suffered from mental health issues since his teenage years. He decided to use his craft to push for dialogue and discussion on mental health and mindfulness — especially within the Black community.
NEW YORK — With the nation's financial system on the brink of collapse, all but three Republicans voted against the massive stimulus package designed to protect millions of Americans from financial ruin. It was early 2009, just weeks after Joe Biden was sworn in as vice-president, and the vote marked the beginning of a new era of partisan gridlock in Congress. And for beleaguered Republicans coming off a disastrous election, it was their first step back to political power. Democrats voted alone to stabilize the economy, and two years later, a Republican Party unified only by its unwavering opposition to Barack Obama's presidency seized the House majority. Now, just weeks into the Biden presidency, the GOP is gambling that history will repeat itself. Early Saturday morning, 210 House Republicans joined two Democrats in voting against a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that would send $1,400 checks to most Americans and hundreds of billions more to help open schools, revive struggling businesses and provide financial support to state and local governments. Senate Republicans are expected to oppose a similar measure in the coming weeks, arguing that the bill is not focused enough on the pandemic. But with near-unanimous Democratic support, the measure could still become law. It's far too soon to predict the political fallout from the first major legislative fight of the Biden era. But as the nation struggles to recover from the worst health and financial crises in generations, strategists in both parties agree that it's risky for Republicans to assume their 2009 playbook will lead to the same ballot-box success this time around. “I think that the Republicans’ misread here is that it is the same, or that they can just oppose it and there’s no ramifications,” said John Anzalone, the Biden campaign’s chief pollster. “It’s a different world.” Veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Republicans now bear the burden of clearly articulating their opposition — a task made more difficult by the distraction of former President Donald Trump's high-profile war against the Republican establishment. “The definer of the legislation wins this battle,” Luntz said. “This could end up being the most important vote of 2021.” There are reasons to believe that politics have changed since Republicans last unified against a sweeping stimulus package, not the least of which is Trump's omnipresence in the party. At the same time, the scale of the economic devastation and disruption wrought by the coronavirus pandemic dwarfs that of the 2008 financial crisis. At its peak, roughly 9 U.S. million jobs were lost in the Great Recession, compared with 22 million jobs lost to the coronavirus. A year after the pandemic began, nearly 10 million U.S. jobs remain lost, more than 20 million children are out of school, half a million Americans are dead, and roughly 100,000 businesses are feared closed forever. Polling suggests that an overwhelming majority of voters — including a significant number of Republicans — supports the Democrats' pandemic relief plan. And the business community along with state and local leaders in both parties are crying out for help. On the eve of the House vote, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt joined 31 other Republican mayors in a letter encouraging leaders in both parties to approve the package. “The major part of the bill that relates to cities is sorely needed,” Holt told The Associated Press, citing pandemic-related cuts to his city's police and fire departments. “I don’t know any blue or red state or blue or red city that doesn’t have a revenue shortfall due to COVID-19’s fallout.” In another deep-red state, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice also broke with Washington Republicans and said Congress should “go big or go home” on the new stimulus package. “We have tried to underspend and undersize what was really needed to get over the top of the mountain,” the Republican governor told reporters during a Friday coronavirus briefing. “You got a lot of people across this nation who are really hurting.” Yet no Republican in Washington voted to support the sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package early Saturday. Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines, joining 210 Republicans to vote against the legislation that ultimately passed 219-212. “The swamp is back,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said shortly before the final vote, decrying what he called extraordinary “non-COVID waste” and a “blue state bailout.” “Most states are not in financial distress,” McCarthy said. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traditionally a Republican ally, declined to support or oppose the Republican position. Neil Bradley, the chamber's executive vice-president and chief policy officer, said there is a need for a rescue package that is “targeted, timely and temporary.” “There’s a lot to like in the plan,” Bradley told The AP. “But there's also a whole lot of elements that fail the test of targeted and timely and temporary.” The chamber, like congressional Republicans, opposes Democratic efforts to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 hourly by 2025 from its current $7.25 floor. The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the progressive priority could not be included in the Senate version of the bill, although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is considering a provision that would penalize large companies that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour. Whether the minimum wage provision is included or not, Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the final package. While there could be political fallout from the GOP's strategy in next year's midterm elections, Republican officials privately concede they are more concerned about the intense intra-party feud pitting Trump and his loyalists against leading establishment Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. That divide is playing out this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, where Trump himself is expected to attack his party's establishment on Sunday as he returns to the public stage for the first time since leaving the White House. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, another CPAC speaker and a 2024 Republican presidential prospect, said party unity is paramount moving forward. “I think that Republicans need to recognize that what brings us together right now is the left-wing agenda of the Biden-Harris administration," Cotton told The AP. "The more that we focus on what they’re trying to accomplish in the Congress and through the president's executive actions, the more united we will be, and the more we will move public opinion in our direction.” Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political powerhouse, opposes the Democratic-backed package as well, but its president, Tim Phillips, says it’s unclear whether the GOP strategy will be enough to unite the deeply fractured Republican Party. “This feels a lot like 2009 — that united the Republican caucus and the activist base in a way that probably nothing else could have,” Phillips said. “It served them well in 2009. I wonder if that’ll happen this time.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 as stricter rules take effect to stop the spread of the virus. Provincial health officials say three of the most recent cases are in the Halifax region and are close contacts of previously identified patients, while the fourth case in eastern Nova Scotia is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The latest infections bring the total number of active cases to 39 as new measures to control the virus take effect in Halifax and some neighbouring municipalities. Nova Scotia's chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang says while the number of new cases is low, he remains concerned that some recent cases do not have an obvious source of infection. He says the new restrictions will act like a "circuit breaker" to stop the potential spread of a new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom. The new measures include closing restaurants and bars by 10 p.m. as well as restrictions on visitors to long-term care homes. All sporting games, competitions, tournaments and in-person performances have been banned, though sports practices and training or arts and culture rehearsals can continue with a cap of up to 25 people without spectators. Nova Scotians are also being asked to avoid all non-essential travel within the province, especially to and from the Halifax area. Premier Iain Rankin reiterated the need for stricter restrictions despite the low number of new cases on Saturday. "While today's case count is lower than the last two days, I am still greatly concerned about the trend we have been seeing in recent case numbers in Halifax," he said in a statement. "We must follow the public health restrictions to reverse the recent trend. No matter whether you live in Halifax or elsewhere in the province, I encourage you, even if you don't have symptoms, to book an appointment at one of the primary assessment centres or drop into a pop-up testing site." The new measures cover areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality up to and including Porters Lake, as well as the communities of Enfield, Elmsdale, Lantz, Mount Uniacke and Hubbards. The new rules took effect at 8 a.m. Saturday and will be in place until March 26, with an extension possible. Meanwhile, the province has also changed rules for rotational workers. They will now be required to undergo three COVID-19 tests during their modified 14-day quarantine. Irving Shipbuilding, one of the largest employer's in the province, temporarily suspended production at the Halifax shipyard for the day Friday after a member of its workforce tested positive for COVID-19. The company is holding a pop-up testing site to test its employees this weekend. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 858 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 287 003 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 268 645 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 13 nouveaux décès, le nombre total de décès s'élève à 10 385. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 21 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 599. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 7, pour un total actuel de 112. Les prélèvements réalisés le 25 février s'élèvent à 28 226. Finalement, 15 902 doses de vaccin ont été administrées dans la journée d'hier, pour un total de 418 399. Jusqu'à maintenant, 537 825 doses ont été reçues. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored after setting up Ousmane Dembele for the opener to secure a 2-0 victory at Sevilla on Saturday, lifting Barcelona into second place in the Spanish league. Dembele netted in the 29th minute when Messi played him clear on a quick attack to end Sevilla’s excellent defensive streak of five straight clean sheets in the league. Messi then capped a complete performance by his team in the 85th when he dribbled through the area and beat goalkeeper Yassine Bounou on a second try. It was Messi’s league-leading 19th goal. Barcelona will meet Sevilla again on Wednesday needing to overcome a 2-0 first-leg loss in the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. Barcelona’s victory left it two points behind leader Atlético Madrid, which has two more matches to play. Sevilla was left in fourth place after the end of its run of six straight victories in the league. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press