Iain Rankin, who was elected leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party earlier this month, was sworn in as premier of Nova Scotia on Tuesday, becoming the province's 29th premier.
Iain Rankin, who was elected leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party earlier this month, was sworn in as premier of Nova Scotia on Tuesday, becoming the province's 29th premier.
Bruce Springsteen was fined $500 on Wednesday after the rock 'n' roll legend pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming alcohol at a federally run New Jersey beach in November, and prosecutors dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges. Springsteen, 71, whose songs have chronicled life in his home state of New Jersey and its shore scene for more than 50 years, entered his plea in an online arraignment before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Anthony Mautone in Newark. He admitted to downing "two small shots of tequila" on Nov. 14 at Sandy Hook beach, part of the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area, where alcohol consumption is prohibited.
(CBC - image credit) Despite early signs of overheating in Canada's housing market, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem so far has no plans to raise interest rates until the economy and employment are back on track following the slump caused by COVID-19. Speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, Canada's top central banker said that the economy would continue to need monetary stimulus, likely until 2023, even though there are already signs it could be distorting the residential real estate market. "In that low-for-long world, there are risks that housing could get carried away, so that is something we will be looking at very carefully," Macklem said in response to a question from a member of the remote audience. Some observers have already expressed worries that the Canadian housing market is rising at an unsustainable pace, leaving critics — including some in the real estate industry — nervous of a boom, followed by a devastating bust once interest rates finally start to rise. Women and youth hardest hit But while Macklem also expressed concern, he said that even though the bank predicts the economy will begin to surge by the end of this year, high unemployment among Canada's most vulnerable groups means the economy will continue to need a helping hand. "Because women and youth hold so many of the jobs in the hardest-hit sectors, they have borne a disproportionate share of the job losses," Macklem told his audience, and he said that many of the jobs that have disappeared will not come back. Already, long-term unemployment — measured as people who want to work but have not found a job in more than 26 weeks — is currently holding at more than half a million people, a level not seen in the economy in 30 years. Macklem said failure to get those people into jobs will lead to what he called "labour market scarring." In other words, it would result in permanent damage to the Canadian workforce. He suggested that while the bank is holding rates at rock-bottom levels, in return employers in his audience need to contribute by helping to train the types of employees they needed. That applied especially in the digital economy. WATCH | COVID-19's unequal economic recession in Canada: Low-wage jobs were hit the hardest. Not only did technology-related employment not fall as far, but the demand for tech workers has bounced back to levels higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And he said that employers must help create their own workforce in an economy that is increasingly digital and automated. "Technology is no longer a sector," Macklem said. "It's every sector." But he said that rebuilding the workforce and the economy in that new form will be a process of months and years, and he reiterated that there is little fear of inflation and thus rate hikes because there remains plenty of slack in the economy. Beware 'extrapolative expectations' But just as low rates have led to increased borrowing by businesses that has helped spur expansion and share prices, low mortgage rates have made it easier for prospective homeowners to bid up the price of houses. So far, Macklem said, the move toward bigger houses further away from city centres has not been speculation so much as the need for more working — and learning — space for employees who no longer have to commute to the office. Part of the evidence for that is that larger, more distant homes are rising in value, whereas inner-city properties are attracting fewer buyers and renters. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. But there are signs that the practical motivation for rising prices may be changing to the kind of speculative frenzy seen in 2016 and 2017 that the government tried to quell with tax measures and stress tests some of which were relaxed last year. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolative expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price rises we've seen recently go on indefinitely, and they're basing their decision on those kinds of assumptions," he warned. And while he did not describe what kind of actions he would take to stimulate jobs without overstimulating housing, Macklem said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. "When we see people starting to buy houses solely because they think prices are going to go up, that is a warning sign for us," he told the audience. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
BANGKOK — Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis gathered pace Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coupmakers to stand down and Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to be returned to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, as part of her efforts to co-ordinate a regional response to the crisis triggered by Myanmar's Feb. 1 military coup. Also making the trip to neighbouring Thailand was the foreign minister appointed by Myanmar's new military government, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, said a Thai government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information. Another Thai official said Wunna Maung Lwin met with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as well as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former army chief who first took power in a military coup. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information. There was no immediate word whether Marsudi also met the Myanmar diplomat. Indonesia and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are seeking to promote some concessions by Myanmar's military that could ease tensions before there is more violence. The regional grouping, to which Thailand and Myanmar also belong, believes dialogue with the generals is a more effective method of achieving concessions than more confrontational methods, such as sanctions, often advocated by Western nations. Opposition to the coup within Myanmar continued Wednesday, with a tense standoff taking place in the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, where police holding riot shields and cradling rifles blocked the path of about 3,000 teachers and students. After about two hours, during which demonstrators played protest songs and listened to speeches condemning the coup, the crowd moved away. On Saturday, police and soldiers shot dead two people in Mandalay as they broke up a strike by dock workers. Earlier the same week they had violently dispersed a rally in front of a state bank branch, with batons and slingshots. Also Wednesday, about 150 people from a Christian group gathered in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, to call for restoration of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders held since the coup. International pressure against the takeover also continues, with more than 130 civil society groups issuing an open letter to United Nations Security Council calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. The letter released Wednesday cited concerns about Myanmar’s citizens being deprived of a democratically elected government and ongoing violations of human rights by a military with a history of major abuses. “Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” the letter said. In addition to a sweeping arms embargo, the letter said any Security Council measures should make sure there is “robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.” There have been past arms embargoes on Myanmar during periods of military rule but not on a global basis. China and Russia, both members of the security council, are among the top arms suppliers to Myanmar, and would almost certainly veto any effort by the U.N. at a co-ordinated arms embargo. How effective the regional efforts at resolving Myanmar's crisis could be remains unclear. If Indonesia's Marsudi met in Thailand with her Myanmar counterpart it would have allowed them to talk face-to-face while sidestepping possible controversy stemming from a visit to Myanmar by Marsudi. Critics of the coup, especially in Myanmar, charge that such a visit would be tantamount to recognizing the military regime as legitimate and its takeover as legal. There had been news reports that such a visit was imminent. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Wednesday that Marsudi left open an option to visit the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, but had put off any plan for the time being. A statement from his office said that taking in account current developments and following consultations with other ASEAN countries, “this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit to Myanmar.” Demonstrations were held outside Indonesian embassies in Yangon and Bangkok on Tuesday in response to a news report that Jakarta was proposing to fellow ASEAN members that they offer qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year. Faizasyah denied the report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
(Adam Walsh/CBC - image credit) Josh Smee is the CEO of Food First NL, a non-profit organization that operates the Community Food Helpline in partnership with the Jimmy Pratt Foundation. With the shift back to pandemic lockdown, Newfoundland and Labrador's Community Food Helpline is experiencing a surge in call from people in need of emergency food aid but face barriers to getting it. Alison Bennett, who staffs the line, says the past couple of weeks there have been a lot of first-time callers, many of whom are calling because of issues specific to the lockdown. "We've actually been getting a lot of calls from single parents in the metro area who had relied on breakfast programs or lunch programs and now have to find two other meals a day to feed their kids," said Bennett. Before the lockdown, a big day for the line was 10 calls, said Bennett, but in recent weeks there have been days when the line has received 100 calls from a range of people needing help. "I get people under the age of 18, I get young families, I get single parents, I get seniors or people who were doing really well in life and then COVID struck and now they're just needing that little bit of extra help," said Bennett. The Community Food Helpline started in May as a way to better connect the province's food banks and programs with people in need of emergency food aid. The line is operated by the non-profit Food First NL in partnership with the Jimmy Pratt Foundation. It also provides direct help in the form of hampers, grocery cards and arranging delivery of food aid. Alison Bennett is a program assistant with Food First NL and works on the Community Food Helpline. This winter, about 60 percent of calls to the line have requested a delivery of some form, whether that's a gift card, hamper or hot meal, said Bennett. "Anxiety is high due to COVID and the variant. People are nervous to leave their homes and delivery is a necessity." The current call volume means the line is operating on a voicemail-only system. People are being contacted based on time passed and urgency, with responses taking three or four business days, and Food First NL is hiring another person to staff the line because of the high rates of calls. Echoes of the spring At the start of the pandemic some food banks had to close their doors as the volunteer base of mainly elderly people largely vanished over health concerns. But with lower case numbers, more understanding of COVID-19 and the use of personal protective equipment, food banks reopened and found pandemic-friendly ways to operate. Food First NL CEO Josh Smee says the onset of the new virus variant is reminiscent of last March. "I think there's definitely some similarities. So we have heard from a couple of programs that have had to close, either because they're short on people or because they have someone in their network of employees and volunteers who might be self-isolating," said Smee. His says that services seem to be holding on but there is some risk to the system right now. Susan Halley is the chair of Emmaus House, a food bank in downtown St. John's. The downtown St. John's food bank Emmaus House is a case in point. In a recent CBC interview, chair Susan Halley said there was a scramble to make sure volunteers were in place when the province shifted to Alert Level 5, because some volunteers didn't feel comfortable leaving their home bubbles to work at the food bank. Halley said the plan is to assess operations weekly. "If we can't stay open five days a week, we can actually reduce it to maybe less days and even for a longer period open for the public," she said. "We still want to be open." Smee said anyone who wants to contact the Community Food Helpline should call 211 and indicate they need food help support, or call 709-703-4544 directly. People can also reach the line by calling 811, the provincial health line, but wait times on the line have been longer on the line with an increase of people booking COVID-19 testing appointments. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
STONY PLAIN, Alta. — A pastor of an Edmonton-area church that has been allegedly holding Sunday services in violation of COVID-19 rules is to appear in court today. James Coates with GraceLife Church in Spruce Grove was arrested last week. RCMP have said he was remanded in custody after refusing to agree to bail conditions. The church has been holding services that officials say break public health regulations on attendance, masking and distancing. Police fined the church $1,200 in December and a closure order was issued in January. Coates was twice charged in February with violating the Public Health Act and violating a promise to abide by rules of his release, which is a Criminal Code offence. Coates has addressed the province's health restrictions in his sermons, telling worshippers that governments exist as instruments of God and there should be unfettered freedom of worship. An associate pastor of the church, Jacob Spenst, conducted last Sunday's service and told the congregation that messages of support have been pouring in for the jailed pastor. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Human rights campaigners hope the landmark ruling will set a precedent for other cases.View on euronews
(Submitted by the Bennett family - image credit) John Bennett and his family take a picture before quarantining. It's a nightmare scenario for many families in Newfoundland contending with the latest rise in COVID-19 numbers: Parents testing positive and having to divide their home for self-isolation, all while taking care of young children. For one St. John's family that's already a reality. John Bennett's 10-year-old son, John, has cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease. Last week, Bennett, his wife Gillian, and their other son Noah, 6, all tested positive for COVID-19. Bennett initially booked a swab after visiting Bigs Ultimate Sports Grill in Mount Pearl, around the time the B117 variant started its spread through the metro region. While his first test came back negative, Bennett said he and his wife developed symptoms a few days later. "She just wasn't feeling all that well — a little bit under the weather," said Bennett. A day after her test, she got the result: positive. Bennett said the news came as a shock to his family, and soon after, he and his two sons got tested as well. Bennett's returned positive that time, though both of his sons' results came back negative. Noah was tested again on Monday, and the result came back positive. The Bennetts have two boys, John and Noah. John, the oldest, has cystic fibrosis. Right away, the family tried to divide the house, with Bennett's sons, wife, and himself each taking separate parts of the home. But having young kids, especially one with a lung condition like cystic fibrosis, made staying apart a challenge. "It feels like a bit of a yo-yo effect. At one moment you're feeling OK, the next minute emotions are kind of all over the place," said Bennett. "You're trying to take care of yourself, you're also trying to take care of your kids, your wife, and then trying to figure out some logistics of all living in the house together." Cystic fibrosis heightening anxiety Bennett's foremost worry at the moment is John falling ill, too. Since the pandemic began last year, Bennett said, they've learned a little more about how the virus affects those living with cystic fibrosis. "I'm certainly not minimizing it whatsoever, but from what we've seen over the last year, it doesn't necessarily have a bigger impact," Bennett said. While there's no evidence to show conditions like cystic fibrosis make individuals more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, people with the condition may be susceptible to more serious symptoms. Meals delivered by friends and family have been a big help, says Bennett. Bennett described his son as healthy and active, a kid who diligently follows a cystic fibrosis treatment regimen. The uncertainty of the virus, however, is still a cause of concern. "It's been worrying. We don't want him to have it," Bennett said. "But if he does have it, and sometimes I guess you just have to mentally prepare yourself for those things, we'll deal with it the best we can." John was tested again this week and his results came back negative: welcome news for Bennett and his family. For the time being, Bennett said John is in isolation with plenty of games to keep him entertained. "He's been in kind of his own isolation mode; he's got his Xbox, and he's got some friends online that just kept him company and whatnot." A father's advice? Get tested While they never expected the pandemic to hit so close to home, Bennett said, they shared their story over social media in order to keep friends and family informed, and encourage others to get tested. "I tested negative and had some symptoms probably three or four days after. Hindsight is 20/20. I should have probably gotten retested," said Bennett. His overall message is no matter how mild your symptoms may be, he hopes others take them seriously. Bennett, whose family has been vocal about John's condition in the past, said they've received overwhelming support. "All of the support from family and friends to be quite honest with you has helped us get through this," he said. "Messages of support, food being dropped off, snacks being dropped off. Just the outreach has kind of left us sometimes a little bit speechless." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Brian Morris/CBC - image credit) Health officials are cautioning that Ottawa's COVID-19 case numbers could rise rapidly as businesses reopen and variants spread across the province — pushing the city ever closer to the red zone. Ottawa's key COVID-19 indicators are currently in the orange zone, although some sit on the verge of the red zone, according to the province's colour coded COVID-19 framework. Health officials say the city's numbers have ebbed and flowed since the start of the pandemic and the worry is they could flow once again — and quickly. "We're inching up, but we've got a few factors, major factors in play that haven't started influencing those cases yet," said Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital. One of those factors is the new COVID-19 strains which can be more contagious that have crept their way into the country. "One thing we've learned over the last year is that the earlier the better [to implement restrictions]," he said. "The longer we wait to modify that course, the longer it will take to get [infections] back down." A couple pushing a pug in a stroller checks out the menu of a restaurant in downtown Ottawa. Scientists warn the city's COVID-19 numbers could easily increase if people aren't careful, especially with new variants making their way across the province. Manuel said the number of contacts of people who test positive for the illness are concerning. On Tuesday, that number was at 5.8 over a seven-day period that ended Feb. 14, two days before the stay-at-home order ended. "During lockdown and last summer, you know, we were around ... two people per case. So five is pretty high," he said. Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches also urged people to be cautious just before the stay-at-home order ended. "We've seen what happens with socializing," she said. "It adds up to, you know, potentially a rapid rise in COVID again, and more things shut." Variants cause for concern Earl Brown, a professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, agrees the variants are a cause for concern that could rapidly push numbers upward. "It's nice to be as open as we can with our economy, but I'm somewhat pessimistic in the short term," he said. "The variants are going to make us ... pay more dearly for the time we buy." Brown said there's a balancing act between keeping businesses and schools shuttered and trying to control the spread of COVID-19. "You definitely want to control the pandemic, but it's always the question — at what cost?" Under the province's colour-coded framework, being in the red zone would mean people would be, once again, limited to only essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, and going outside for physical activity. Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury is also urging people to remain cautious, even as businesses and facilities have reopened across the city, so that the city doesn't move up a step. "I know it's exciting," he said. "We have to support our local businesses, but we also have to be cognizant that the virus is within our community and we continue to be vulnerable."
(CBC - image credit) Data from Elections NL requested by CBC News this week is raising red flags for opposition party leaders, who say a record-low turnout would threaten election results. Elections NL estimates there have been 120,000 requests for mail-in ballots, in addition to the 68,259 special or advance ballots already received. If all those ballots are returned, it would equal a 51 per cent voter turnout rate — a historic low for Newfoundland and Labrador, which during its last election in May 2019 saw 60.7 per cent of eligible voters mark a ballot. The current lowest voter turnout, 55 per cent, came in 2015. "The right to have unimpeded access [to vote] … is absolutely central to the legitimacy of government," said PC Leader Ches Crosbie, in reaction to those numbers, in an interview Tuesday. The Tories have repeatedly pointed a finger at Liberal Leader Andrew Furey for triggering an election prior to widespread vaccine availability. Crosbie contends Furey ought to have pushed back his 12-month deadline to drop the writ, or at the very least, waited until summer. "That negligence, that's why we are where we are right now," Crosbie said. Furey wouldn't do an interview, instead sending a statement through his campaign office. "Our Liberal team is hearing from many voters who are looking forward to voting, and we hope this will contribute to a good turnout," the emailed statement said. "While it is too early to know what the voter turnout rate will be, our party hopes that Elections NL's work to navigate this unprecedented election will allow voters to safely cast their ballots." Furey has previously said that when he called a January election, he did so based on epidemiological modelling, which did not account for the current COVID-19 outbreak throttling the province. That outbreak led Elections NL to postpone election day, and cancel all in-person voting. It had originally been scheduled for Feb 13, just one day after the province's top doctor ordered strict lockdown measures to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus variant. Turnout not yet certain Elections NL said because it had a wide array of application methods — including fax and phone — not all its requests have been processed, and it can't yet supply a final total. But Crosbie is betting on a portion of mail-in ballot requests not making it back to Elections NL in time for the March 12 deadline. Factoring in spoiled, late, and unreturned ballots against the number of requests, Crosbie thinks it's "simple mathematics to see that the voter turnout is likely to be less than 50 per cent." When questioned directly, Crosbie wouldn't go so far as to say his party would challenge the election results, but called the prospect of legal action "almost inevitable." NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie are expressing concerns over the estimated voter turnout rate. "The whole situation — things being made up, ad hoc, that affect voting rights [that] are constitutional in nature, invites litigation," he said. "It's such a mess." He also wouldn't say whether he would accept an argument for illegitimacy if the PCs were to win. "Whoever emerges from this," he replied, "is going to have a dubious mandate to get things done." Meanwhile, NDP Leader Alison Coffin stressed the tasks directly ahead of the electorate. At the moment, she said, anyone who did get a ballot should focus on submitting it in time. "Then we can figure out the ramifications of everything that's happened," she said. Given the obstacles voters face, however, she's not shocked to hear about Elections NL's data. Much of what happened, she said, could have been examined and managed by the Liberals to address types of access. "I think it would have been the responsible thing for the Furey government to look at modernizing the Elections Act," Coffin said. While Coffin says her party has not yet decided on whether they'll pursue a legal challenge, the NDP are asking for online feedback to reform the Elections Act once a government has been formed. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 24 ... What we are watching in Canada ... Joe Biden granted Justin Trudeau at least one of the items atop his wish list as they met for the first time as president and prime minister. Biden pledged to help get two Canadians out of a Chinese prison, saying "humans being aren't bargaining chips." Strenuous expressions of presidential dismay were nowhere to be seen during the final two years of Donald Trump's tenure as Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor languished behind bars. That all changed yesterday as Biden and Trudeau -- one in Washington, D.C., the other in Ottawa -- wrapped up a warm and comprehensive, if virtual, summit meeting. It was Biden's first since taking office. Spavor and Kovrig were detained in China in an apparent act of retaliation after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 on American charges of violating sanctions on Iran. They have remained in custody ever since. Biden offered no hints about how the White House might help secure their release. --- Also this ... TORONTO -- CTV says it made an "error" by placing an "offensive image" of actress Delta Burke in blackface among its TV program highlights for Black History Month. A spokesman for the broadcaster says the blackface picture, taken from an episode of 1980s hit "Designing Women," is one that "should not have been used in any context." CTV has since removed the blackface image as well as the full episode of "Designing Women." The photo was part of a rotation of images in the CTV Throwback section of its mobile app that directed viewers to popular Black-led sitcoms on the streaming service from decades past, including "The Jeffersons," "Good Times" and "Sanford and Son." Sandwiched between those images was a still photo from "Designing Women," which featured the blackface-wearing Burke alongside her Black co-star Meshach Taylor. It was taken from a 1989 episode titled "The Rowdy Girls," which revolves around the sitcom's stars being booked to perform at a talent show as Motown legends the Supremes. The group debates whether to play their parts in blackface and ultimately concludes it's not the best decision. However, Burke's character doesn't get the message and shows up with her face painted anyway to sing alongside her friends. "Designing Women," set in Georgia, often grappled with the rapidly changing social issues of the U.S. South, such as race and sexuality, in a way that would be considered outdated by today's standards. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... In a career filled with remarkable comebacks, Tiger Woods faces his toughest recovery of all. Woods was driving through a sweeping, downhill stretch of road through coastal suburbs of Los Angeles when his SUV struck a sign, crossed over a raised median and two oncoming lanes before it toppled down an embankment, coming to a halt on its side. The crash caused “significant” injuries all down his right leg that featured rods, pins and screws during what was described as a “long surgical procedure” at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer, said Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones on his right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized by a rod in the tibia. He said a combination of screws and pins were used to stabilize additional injuries in the ankle and foot. A statement on his Twitter account said he was awake, responsive and recovering. The single-car crash was the latest setback for Woods, who at times has looked unstoppable on the golf course with his 15 major championships and record-tying 82 victories on the PGA Tour. After four back surgeries that kept him out of golf for the better part of two years, he won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, a victory that ranks among the great comebacks in the sport. Now it’s no longer a matter of when he plays again — the Masters is seven weeks away — but if he plays again. No charges were filed, and police said there was no evidence he was impaired. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis have gathered pace, as protests continued in Yangon and other cities in the Southeast Asian country calling for restoration of the civilian elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Indonesia's foreign minister visited Thailand on Wednesday as part of her efforts to co-ordinate a regional response to the Feb. 1 coup. A Thai official said Myanmar’s new foreign minister was also in the Thai capital. Elsewhere, more than 130 civil society groups and other organizations concerned about the military takeover have called for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. --- On this day in 1986 ... Tommy Douglas, remembered as the father of medicare, died at age 81. As Saskatchewan premier from 1944-61, he implemented Canada's first public hospital insurance program. In 1962, a year after Douglas became the federal NDP leader, Saskatchewan introduced North America's first socialized health plan. --- In sports ... The return of elite domestic curling competition after a nearly 12-month absence saw a significant drop in Canadian viewership. Numeris ratings for the opening weekend of the Canadian women's curling championship in Calgary were down 17 per cent from the same time period in the 2020 competition. An average audience of 331,000 viewers tuned in on the opening weekend of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, TSN says. That compared to an average audience of 398,000 viewers who watched the opening weekend of last year's Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. Play began Friday night with the preliminary round opener in a bubble setting at Markin MacPhail Centre. The 18-team competition continues through Sunday. Ratings included viewers from all TSN platforms, including online and mobile. The highest-rated weekend draw was a Sunday night game between Alberta's Laura Walker and Ontario's Rachel Homan. That matchup between undefeated skips pulled in an average of 427,000 viewers. --- ICYMI ... One of the world's better known fans of mystery novels, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is now writing one. Clinton is teaming up with her friend, the Canadian novelist Louise Penny, on “State of Terror,” which has a plot that might occur to someone of Clinton's background. It features a “novice” secretary of state, working in the administration of a rival politician, tries to solve a wave of terrorist attacks. The novel comes out Oct. 12, and will be jointly released by Clinton's publisher, Simon & Schuster, and Penny's, St. Martin's Press. “Writing a thriller with Louise is a dream come true," Clinton, who has expressed admiration for Penny and other mystery writers in the past, says in a statement "I’ve relished every one of her books and their characters as well as her friendship. Now we’re joining our experiences to explore the complex world of high stakes diplomacy and treachery. All is not as it first appears.” Penny, an award-winning author from Quebec whose novels include “The Cruelest Month” and “The Brutal Telling,” says that she could not “say yes fast enough” to the chance of working with Clinton. “What an incredible experience, to get inside the State Department. Inside the White House. Inside the mind of the Secretary of State as high stake crises explode," she said. "Before we started, we talked about her time as Secretary of State. What was her worst nightmare? ‘State of Terror’ is the answer.” Fiction writing and worst-case scenarios have become a favourite pastime for Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton. He collaborated with James Patterson on the million-selling cyber thriller “The President is Missing,” and on a new novel, “The President's Daughter,” which comes out in June. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
Italian brands Missoni and Fendi kicked off the first day of Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, with designers once again forced to swap the buzzing catwalks for digital presentations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for its zig-zag "Fiammato", or flamed, pattern and colourful designs, Missoni was the first fashion house to stream a video of its latest womenswear, blending clothes for autumn/winter with those for spring/summer. Filmed at Milan's Assago Forum, a venue that has been shut for months, models re-enacted social gatherings from bowling games to catch-ups with friends.
(Jean Delise/CBC - image credit) There are growing concerns in some parts of Ottawa hit hardest by COVID-19 that mistrust and vaccine hesitancy could make the situation worse. The South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre is aiming to bust myths about COVID-19 and vaccines during a townhall-style virtual meeting for on Wednesday evening. A panel of health experts will answer questions and share "honest information" about vaccines in this diverse community, organizers say. Soraya Allibhai, the health centre's COVID-19 coordinator, said with illness, isolation and lost jobs, some residents are struggling. "There is a predominance of COVID cases in Ottawa South, and so we want to provide education ... when it comes to vaccinations and building confidence around that as well," said Allibhai. "People are struggling financially, emotionally. There's a challenge with the school closures and lockdowns. Each and every day is harder." Soraya Allibhai is the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre's COVID-19 coordinator. Sudesh Gurung, who came to Canada from Nepal several years ago and now works as a resident leader with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre, said building trust with the community is important during the pandemic. A lot of people in the community are essential workers, and some have been exposed the virus in the workplace, said Gurung. He spends time going door to door, providing information to residents in multiple languages including English, Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, Spanish and sign language. "There are a lot of myths circulating in our community, because the community is reluctant to trust the people," said Gurung. "So we want to try to engage them and share information about COVID vaccines." Concerns include the speed at which the vaccines have been developed, and Gurung said often misinformation is being spread through social media. Given the language barrier, he said, correct public health information can be drowned out by the myths. Sudesh Gurung came to Canada from Nepal several years ago and now works as a resident leader with the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre. He says building trust with the community is important during the pandemic. "The myths are circulating through their circles," said Gurung. "They're not sure what other things are in the vaccine. Is it halal [Arabic for "permissible under Islamic law"]?" While Wednesday night's session will be in English, the team is working on handouts in other languages, as well as other outreach events in a variety of languages including Arabic and Somali. "People can feel comfortable in their language to actually ask questions," said Allibhai. She said the centre also wants its neighbours to know support is available, including food, baby supplies and technology. Wednesday's event will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre's Facebook page.
Wildberries, one of Russia's largest shopping sites said on Wednesday it was entering France, Italy and Spain. The Moscow-based company now operates in 13 countries, branching out into the European Union last year with the opening of a distribution centre in Warsaw, Poland. The retailer, which offers about 4 million products from 40,000 brands, said that items will be delivered using logistics partners, with thousands of partner pickup points in France and Spain.
Fresh off an election in which former President Donald Trump made false claims of fraud, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to ponder the legality of a restriction on early voting in Arizona that his fellow Republicans argued was needed to combat fraud. The Republican-backed law, spurred in part by a video purportedly showing voter fraud that courts later deemed misleading, made it a crime to provide another person's completed early ballot to election officials, with the exception of family members or caregivers. Community activists sometimes engage in ballot collection to facilitate voting and increase voter turnout.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images - image credit) As Ottawa's network of shelters, respite centres and physical distancing centres reach capacity, outbreaks within the system continue to grow and support systems are left playing "catch up," trying to get them under control. According to Ottawa Public Health's (OPH) COVID-19 dashboard, there are four active outbreaks at shelters across the city. While OPH does not list the names of shelters on its dashboard, cases at one in particular have continued to grow. Two weeks ago it reported 70 positive cases. There are now 108. OPH also declared an outbreak at the physical distancing centre on Nicholas Street on Tuesday, with a number of workers and clients testing positive. In a memo to the city, OPH added that there have also been cases at the Dempsey Community Centre and Tom Brown Respite Centre. Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, said it's unclear exactly why cases in the city's homeless shelters rise, but winter has brought "a different set of challenges." With the colder weather, shelters have become more crowded and many staff are staying home because they're sick, Muckle said. 'We try as much as possible to distance people, although it's very tough in an overcrowded situation with this outbreak,' says Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health. "It's been very difficult to catch up once you have an outbreak that's that significant," Muckle said. As for emergency overflow physical distancing centres, Muckle said those too are getting full. "They were set up at a time when we thought that they would have lots of extra capacity but the number of people entering the shelter system has really increased quite rapidly," she said. "We're in that proverbial rock and a hard place at this point in time." Testing within shelters Ottawa Inner City Health and OPH are conducting tests at different locations throughout the week and are testing different groups within those locations to help curb the spread. "The transient nature of the population and the ability of positive clients to self-isolate away from others will also contribute to the prolonged outbreaks," wrote OPH in a statement to CBC. OPH says it's working closely with facilities experiencing outbreaks to implement disease control measures including enhanced cleaning, self-isolation for those who have tested positive and surveillance testing "to identify the extent of the outbreak."
India on Wednesday approved a 73.5 billion rupee ($1.02 billion) plan to boost local manufacturing and exports of IT products such as laptops, tablets, personal computers and servers, the technology minister said. The production-linked incentive (PLI) plan will help India export IT goods worth 2.45 trillion rupees, minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news conference. "The focus of the scheme is to get global champions to India and to make national champions out of local manufacturers," Prasad said, adding that the plan could create roughly 180,000 jobs.
(Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit) Although Pink Shirt Day is this coming Friday, that didn't stop some students who are out of school this week in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., to celebrate the day a little early. Last Friday, students at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School posted reminders to be kind throughout the community in honour of the day that is celebrated nationally with people wearing pink shirts to show they are against bullying. "The kids have come up with some great ideas and some great positive words and blurbs and quotes to be put out there. Together we've all created some pink ice bricks, put some posts in them, so these positivity signs spread kindness throughout all of Ulukhaktok," said Sandra Summers, a teacher at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School who, along with her fellow teachers, is on professional development this week. Two students from Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. show the signs they made to celebrate Pink Shirt Day. Each sign the students made were in English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases of kindness. Summers and Kathy Blouin both teach kids in composite classes of grades two to four. Pink Shirt Day started in Nova Scotia in 2007 with one small act of kindness. For the teachers, it was important that the kids be educated about the day and celebrated it even though they aren't in school. "It fits in really well with our health unit right now with mental health and emotional well being ... our goal is to bring kindness to these kids and then for these kids to then go on and spread kindness throughout the community." 'Our words are powerful' The pink signs were written in both English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases like "throw kindness around like confetti" and "kindness is among us." Students worked on it throughout the week, and posted them throughout the community on Friday with help of the RCMP. "So ideally, when somebody when someone walks into the Co-op or the Northern [store], they are going to see one of the signs and it will make their day," said Summers. Eight-year-old Sarah Joss said she had fun making the sign but was really looking forward to "bringing kindness around the town." "Our words are powerful, they can make people sad or happy." With bright smiles, the kids delivered the messages with their classmates and teachers. "The biggest thing we want them to take from this is we want to inspire them to inspire others," said Summers. "We want to let them know if they are in a tough situation that they can always choose kindness."
TORONTO — The National Film Board of Canada is creating two key positions and improving hiring practices as part of new measures it says are aimed at eliminating injustice and systemic racism not just in Canadian society, but also within the institution. The diversity, equity and inclusion changes come amid a racial reckoning that has many in Canada's screen industry calling for an increase in funding and representation for creators from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities. The announcement also comes just over two months after the film board released its strategic plan for 2020-2023, which was delayed from July 2019 as the NFB further consulted with stakeholders who were concerned about the institution's spending priorities. The new initiatives include the creation of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion position, to be filled by a candidate from an underrepresented community. The senior role will oversee equity and anti-racist practices, and will be a member of the NFB’s executive committee. The NFB is also establishing a new director of Indigenous relations and community engagement position, which will involve forging closer ties with communities. That role will be filled by an Indigenous candidate and help improve Indigenous representation among film board employees, and advise on issues related to production and distribution of NFB works. "One of the reasons I feel it's so important to have those two people embedded with us in everything is that we are a white, white, white management committee," Claude Joli-Coeur, government film commissioner and NFB chairperson, said in an interview. Having a director of Indigenous relations and community engagement working closely with the top brass will also be greatly beneficial in situations like what the NFB is facing with the documentary "Inconvenient Indian," he said. The NFB co-production is on hold for distribution after a CBC News report questioned director Michelle Latimer's claims of Indigenous identity. Joli-Coeur said the NFB and producers are still "assessing all the different possibilities" for the film, noting "it's a very complicated situation" their Indigenous Advisory Committee is providing guidance on. "That's an illustration of why we need change, why we need more Indigenous colleagues, and why we need also a champion of Indigenous (projects) to help us to navigate in those very turbulent waters." The NFB says the new measures were designed with the input of many internal and external partners, and are in addition to the government agency's Indigenous Action Plan, now in its third year, as well as its plan for gender parity. The two new positions will work closely together, report directly to Joli-Coeur, and work with other decision-makers at the organization on a daily basis. They'll "have an important influence on anything" the NFB does, from the way it thinks to how it approaches things and finds solutions, he said. "They will also be our eyes on the floor, because I'm expecting that they will be deeply connected with all of our employees. Anything that we don't see that is kind of hidden or not on the spotlight that we're missing, will be brought to our attention." Other new measures announced Wednesday include a pledge to make the NFB staff "fully reflect Canadian society" by March 31, 2023. Figures based on voluntary declaration from the NFB's fiscal year 2019-2020 show that out of 365 full-time permanent employees, the NFB staff base includes: 211 women, 52 visible minorities, three Indigenous employees, and eight people with disabilities. The organization says it wants to ensure its slate of directors and producers always includes individuals from underrepresented communities. And it pledges that at least half of all new hires will be drawn from people in those groups — Indigenous, Black, racialized, and LGBTQ2+, and people with disabilities. "It's a transformation of the organization," said Joli-Coeur. "We want to set up goals that, within the next two years, will have an important impact on the fabric of our employees and how we work with creators and how we fulfill our mandate." Joli-Coeur's second and final term as commissioner is done at the end of November 2022. He said he's "preparing the ground" for his successors with specific target dates to help ensure goals are met and the NFB makes significant and lasting changes. "When I leave the organization, I want see already that change happening, and that's something that is achievable," he said, "and after that the ambition should be that we exceed that representation." Other new commitments include prioritizing recruitment of individuals (two out of three people) from the aforementioned underrepresented communities for all other management positions as the positions open, "until the NFB accurately reflects the composition of Canada's population." The film board also vows to ensure its programming equitably includes the voices of creators from those underrepresented communities, and that those groups are represented within the NFB's Creation and Innovation committees. To help find a wide range of people and companies of diverse backgrounds for contract work, the NFB plans to establish "a respectful, clear, convenient and transparent method of data collection." The NFB also pledges to: - Continue to highlight creators and promote works from diverse communities in the NFB's distribution and marketing activities, focusing on themes of social justice, equality, intersectionality, and immigration. - Put described video and subtitles on each new film. - Work with organizations representing equity-seeking groups to develop greater sensitivity and openness. - Create annual action plans with measurable targets for matters of diversity, equity and inclusion at the NFB. - Issue independent quarterly reports to the NFB’s executive committee and its board of trustees on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, unconscious bias and systemic racism at the NFB. - Also issue annual reports on these issues and the progress made. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package now making its way through the U.S. Congress would provide $350 billion to help pandemic-hit state and local governments balance their budgets, more than twice the amount lawmakers approved last year. But not every state comes out ahead: urban, Democratic-led states like Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts that took drastic steps to stop the coronavirus' spread would get about three times as much money per person as they did in the package passed at the beginning of the health crisis in March. Rural, Republican-led states including Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota that did less would see less cash.
TORONTO — Advocates say migrant and undocumented workers should have access to COVID-19 vaccines.The Migrant Rights Network is calling on all levels of governments to guarantee that access.The group is expected to make the call in a news conference today along with doctors and labour leaders .They say they are concerned that thousands of migrant and undocumented workers will not get the vaccine because of their immigration status.The group says government vaccination plans do not include measures that would guarantee safe access to the shot for the workers.The Ontario government has not said if temporary foreign workers employed on the province's farms would have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press