With Mark Robinson
With Mark Robinson
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
Frontenac Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a complaint from a home owner on Yarker Road shortly after 9 p.m, on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021. According to the OPP, an unfamiliar vehicle was parked in the homeowner's driveway. As a result of the investigation Shelly Wood, a 42 year old from Kingston Ontario, was charged with: The accused's driver's licence was suspended for 90 days and the motor vehicle was towed and impounded for seven days. The accused was released on an appearance notice to attend the Ontario Court of Justice in Kingston at a later date to answer to the charges. Wood will be responsible for all related fees and fines. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Près de 8 % des malades hospitalisés pour Covid-19 sont victimes d’atteintes neurologiques. En quoi consistent ces problèmes parfois graves ? Quelles en sont les causes ?
TIRANA, Albania — Albania on Thursday expelled a Russian diplomat for allegedly not respecting the country’s virus lockdown rules. An Albanian foreign ministry statement declared Alexey Krivosheev “person non grata,” asking him to leave the country within 72 hours. The ministry said that since April last year there were continuous violations from the diplomat. It said Albanian authorities first contacted the ambassador but the diplomat still persisted in breaking pandemic restrictions. “A repeated challenging of the protective rules and steps on the pandemic, and disregarding of the concern of the Albanian state institutions related to that, cannot be justified and tolerated any more,” the statement said. The ministry did not provide details on the alleged violations, or give the post of the diplomat. Albania has set an overnight curfew, mandatory use of masks indoor and outdoors and social distancing. “We hope that such a decision ... at such a very challenging time for the globe, will be well understood from the Russian side as a necessary step to protect the health and security" of everyone in Albania, the ministry statement added. Albania resumed diplomatic ties with Moscow in 1991, 30 years after the country's then-communist regime severed previously close relations with Russia. The Associated Press
Russia has ordered TikTok and other social networks to restrict online calls for nationwide protests in support of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.View on euronews
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 624 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 248 860 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 221 327 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 66 nouveaux décès, mais le nombre total de décès s'élève à 9 273 en raison du retrait de 1 décès pour lequel l'enquête a démontré qu'il n'était pas attribuable à la COVID-19. De ces 66 décès, 22 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 39 entre le 14 et le 19 janvier, 4 avant le 14 janvier et 1 à une date inconnue. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 14 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 1 453. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs est resté stable, pour un total actuel de 216. Les prélèvements réalisés le 19 janvier s'élèvent à 32 845, pour un total de 5 533 972. Toujours le 19 janvier, 10 207 doses de vaccin ont été administrées, pour un total de 174 260. Au cours des 7 derniers jours (depuis le 13 janvier), ce sont 66 895 personnes qui ont été vaccinées, pour une moyenne quotidienne de 9 556 personnes vaccinées.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
This column is an opinion from journalist and political commentator Jen Gerson. Dear Alberta Conservatives: Now that U.S. President Joe Biden has followed through on his promise to cancel the Keystone XL permit, I have to ask you all a simple question: How is this working? I'm not trying to be mean about it. I understand why this province elected the UCP with historic turnout in 2019. I get the appeal of that campaign, the lure of nostalgia that it evoked. It was a tempting fantasy, one in which Rachel Notley allied with Justin Trudeau, and Alberta's noble oil industry was beleaguered by a gaggle of environmentalists and socialists, who were conspiring to bring the province down. I also understand why so many bought into the claim that by electing a conservative government, we could just make all of these problems go away; that Alberta would return to the glory days of 2014, or 2005, or 1994. Or 1973. The 2019 campaign promised tax cuts that would bring the jobs back; fiscal discipline; fair deal panels that would put Ottawa in its place and highlight this province's growing, muscular sense of its own independence. A white knight returns Kenney promised to rescind the job-killing-carbon-tax. He promised to be a premier who would win the province glory, a white knight and returning prodigal son who would finally fight for Alberta. He promised "war rooms" and inquiries that would finally unearth Alberta's nefarious enemies. Somehow, this was all going to work wonders for pipeline capacity — which is why it made sense to invest $1.5 billion in taxpayer money in Keystone XL. Whoops. Almost two years into this mandate, I have to ask: How has it been going? Is this working? From the cheap seats, things don't look great. I've been trying to come up with one single solitary win since that election, and I can't find it. It looks to me like the UCP spun a fantasy in 2019 that it now can't make real. And, yeah, this province has been hard hit by COVID-19, but I thought I was being generous by putting that file to the side for a moment. WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reacts to Keystone decision: The jobs haven't come back. Alberta had a competitive corporate tax rate before the UCP was elected. It was always doubtful that cutting the rate even more was going to make a difference. Our public finances are in shambles. A tax hike is inevitable. Kenney did kill Notley's carbon tax — and then replaced it with another, less effective one. Meanwhile, this province's court challenge of the federal carbon tax is unlikely to hold up. Kenney's "war room" is an international joke led by a PC-party loyalist who didn't get elected in 2019. And that inquiry into foreign funding — dogged at the outset with reports that its commissioner, Steve Allan, awarded a sole-source $905,000 contract to the law firm in which his own son was a partner, because, of course — has already devolved into a series of delays and controversies. A clown show The latest, that the inquiry spent $100,000 to commission reports from several external groups, including a U.S. firm called Energy in Depth, which is affiliated with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and a paper from Calgary-based political scientist Barry Cooper, whose contribution was entitled: "Background Report on Changes in the Organization and Ideology of Philanthropic Foundations with a Focus on Environmental Issues as Reflected in Contemporary Social Science Research." Meanwhile, Greenpeace, which has already been publicly excoriated by the Allan inquiry as "a new breed of zealots less interested in saving Planet Earth than in destroying the capitalist system," has yet to be contacted to provide any evidence at all. (In fact, Greenpeace has already issued a legal warning to the inquiry.) It should be noted here that we've spent an estimated $3.5 million on this clown show. Put aside for a moment, dear Conservatives, the question of whether you think anything the inquiry is "investigating" is true. Instead, ask yourselves this question: whom is this inquiry going to convince? Is anyone under the impression that a report informed by Cooper and the climate change denial group Friends of Science is going to turn the tide for Alberta? What's the theory, here? Were we going to FedEx the Oval Office a final report that prompts Joe Biden into an epiphany on climate change? Or is it possible — just maybe — that doubling down on climate change skeptics and conspiracy theories paints a worse picture of Alberta and her priorities than anything the environmentalists themselves have concocted to date? How hard does Greenpeace really need to work to make Alberta look like a cartoonishly villainous backwater right now? In November, Premier Kenney starred in a podcast in which he criticized Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — Biden's campaign co-chair — over their attempts to decommission a segment of Enbridge's Line 5. Kenney noted that those fighting to cut off Alberta's oil and gas exports were "brain dead." Kenney also said: "We thought it was essential to send a message to the interest groups trying to block us, that resistance is futile, that Alberta is determined to take control of our own destiny." Again, I ask: How is this working? Delusions of self-importance For the record, I think Alberta has been treated unfairly and hypocritically; we clearly have been the target of international and national campaigns to obstruct oilsands development. That's not in dispute. Ironically, many of those campaigns began to abate in 2015 when Notley introduced an aggressive carbon tax policy that demonstrated Alberta was taking climate change seriously. And these anti-oilsands actors aren't the cause of all of our problems. The price of oil is down everywhere, and we're now producing a commodity that is extracted in abundance within the United States thanks to the fracking boom. Further, global concern about climate change means more banks and major companies are disinvesting in a jurisdiction that goes full ride-or-die on coal and petroleum extraction. Something needs saying here, and there's no way to say it kindly. Boom times and wealth have conditioned Albertans to believe that we matter a lot more than we do. Money gave this province delusions of self-importance that is reflected in a premier whose bombastic bar-brawl banter is increasingly revealed as short-man bluster. We're the guy who gets drunk and picks a fight but can't actually land a punch. I don't mean to be too mordant about all of this. I love Alberta, and I still think we have a lot going for us. We're good people, we work hard, and we pull together in a crisis. But we're a landlocked jurisdiction of four million on the high plain that happens to enjoy large oil and gas reserves that are costly and emissions-intensive to produce. By population, that puts us somewhere between Oklahoma and Oregon, and all the less important to a United States that is effectively energy independent. In other words: we don't matter to these people. We don't matter to Joe Biden, who would happily torch our entire provincial economy if it bought him two weeks of peace from his own restive left flank. And what's Canada going to do about it, exactly? Issue a letter of protest? Proclaim tariffs and boycotts that will hurt us more than it will hurt the U.S.? Oh wait, Kenney implied that we should do exactly that on Wednesday, or Alberta would "go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation." On and on it goes. This is the same obstinate attitude that led to the cringey display Kenney offered us in a press conference earlier this week. It included an appeal — just short of a demand — to Justin Trudeau to advocate more fiercely on behalf of the Keystone XL. By the feds' own account, Trudeau has attempted to make the case for Keystone XL, and even brought it up in his first phone call with Biden, to the prime minister's credit. But let's reflect on the idea that Trudeau has any special motivation to help Kenney out, here — Kenney, the man who has spent the last three years winning Alberta's heart by drawing blood from Trudeau's. Hey, maybe Kenney could reach out to some international oil and gas players. The very ones led by the CEOs he denounced for supporting the carbon tax in 2019. Get the head of Royal Dutch Shell on the line. I'm sure he's waiting for Alberta's call. Limitless self-aggrandizement The thing that continually baffles me about the UCP is its combination of limitless self-aggrandizement coupled with its incredible parochialism. You see this in who the government selects to head its pet projects. You see it in the habit of tripling down on ideologically derived solutions to complicated problems. You see it in the lack of original thinking; hell, their platform was practically cribbed from the Reform Party. Even the fair deal panel is just a rehash of ideas that were largely rejected as cost-ineffective in 2003. This party acts like it's run by a bunch of jocks in a secret fraternity at a second-rate school who suddenly realize that nobody who matters knows their names. They're kings of the small campus. Oil means nothing if nobody buys it. The only lever we have — the only real lever we've ever had — is vested in the relationships we maintain with the nations, provinces, interests and people around us. And, yes, that includes relationships with people who disagree with us: Ottawa, environmentalists and NGOs. So, hey, all you Free Alberta types, here's some good news for you: Kenney is teaching us all what it really means to stand alone. How is it working? This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please readour FAQ.
Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) Chief Willie Sellars asked for continued co-operation while also being optimistic the community’s COVID-19 numbers among on-reserve members will begin to drop. From his home, with a picture of his late grandfather wearing goalie pads in the background, Chief Willie Sellars began his Jan. 20 community Facebook address on a sad note. “We have heavy hearts in the community today with the passing of another loved one,” Sellars said, confirming the passing of community member Michelle Wycotte. Wycotte’s death follows the recent passing of another WLFN member, Byron Louie. Her cause of death, as well as Louie’s, have not been released. As of 4 p.m. Jan 20, Sellars said 34 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed within the WLFN community of Sugar Cane. “Of those 34, the good news is 11 have now fully recovered and are completing their 14-day isolation,” he said. “That leaves 23 active cases in the community.” Sellars also provided an update on COVID-19 cases within the Cariboo Chilcotin region which does not include 100 Mile House and Quesnel. He said there are 156 active COVID-19 cases and that it was WLFN’s understanding Interior Health would be declaring a COVID-19 cluster within the Cariboo Chilcotin region later today (Jan. 20). “We encourage our membership, the community at large, not to panic or become anxious in light of the declaration,” Sellars said. “This declaration is being done with transparency in mind and will allow Interior Health to provide area-specific COVID-19 numbers and updates to the Williams Lake community.” A limited supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated to be distributed at the Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium by the end of the week. While encouraged and optimistic the number of cases will drop by the end of the week at Sugar Cane, Sellars said it will be individuals’ actions that will prevent any spread. Three of six beds at two fully-furnished duplex units complete with groceries and supplies are available for self-isolation. “The greatest challenge our EOC team has faced to date is being a matter of self-isolation practices and ensuring individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 have the opportunity to isolate away from their family members who have tested negative,” Sellars said. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
THUNDER BAY — For more than five years, the Thunder Bay police force and its partner agencies have been dealing with a high-volume of individuals travelling from southern Ontario to traffic drugs in the northwest. Through a virtual news conference on Thursday, Jan. 21, Thunder Bay police announced the results of a major joint-forces police investigation involving several agencies in southern Ontario which resulted in the seizure of $2.7 million worth of street drugs. Despite the massive seizure of drugs and arrest of 12 individuals, police said they continue to be “plagued” with more individuals ready to take over for those who have been arrested. “Any given day, our highways have couriers bringing more drugs to our communities,” Det.-Insp. John Fennell of the Thunder Bay Police Service said Thursday. “It has been made very clear from our investigations and the people being charged that much of this illicit drug trade is coming from southern Ontario,” he said. Several police forces were involved in the operation called Project Valiant including Ontario Provincial Police, York Regional Police and Canada Border Services Agency. The operation was led by the Thunder Bay Police Service. “Our gang and gun problem is real and it needs to be taken very seriously by our legal system and our government,” Fennell said. "As much effort as we put into these initiatives we continue to be plagued with a steady stream of new persons taking over for those we have been able to charge.” The investigation took place from August 2020 to December 2020. Approximately six search warrants were conducted in Thunder Bay and one major search warrant was executed in Markham, Ont. As a result, police seized 11.9 kilograms of fentanyl, 1.55 kilograms of cocaine, more than 4,000 pills of fentanyl, 846 packages of cannabis edibles for the black market and eight capsules of hydromorphone. Furthermore, police seized several weapons including 10 rifles, four shotguns, one crossbow, two high-capacity magazines, two tasers and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Police also located and seized four cars, one motorcycle, more than $120,000 in Canadian cash, fake government identification and drug trafficking paraphernalia. The project’s lead, Det.-Sgt. Dan Irwin, said during Thursday’s news conference, the long-term impact of initiatives such as Project Valiant aimed to address the high volume of illicit drugs coming into the community from southern Ontario is minimal. “It makes an impact at the beginning but like Det.-Insp. Fennell said as soon as we make arrests unfortunately the highways and the planes are full of individuals coming from the south to continue to sell fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, and various other drugs,” he said. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
American midfielder Mix Diskerud has signed a 1 1/2-year contract with Denizlispor of Turkey's first division. Now 30, Diskerud was with Major League Soccer's New York City in 2015 and 2016, spent the spring of 2017 on loan to Sweden's Goteborg, then signed with Manchester City in January 2018 but never got into a match. He was loaned back to Goteborg for the spring of 2018, to South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai for the 2018-19 season and to Sweden's Helsingborg last June. Born in Oslo to a Norwegian father and American mother, Diskerud has six goals in 38 appearances for the U.S. and was on the 2014 World Cup roster, though he did not get into a game. Denizlispor announced his acquisition Wednesday. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
TUNIS, Tunisia — The Tunisian president has denied claims that he made anti-Semitic remarks this week while trying to calm youths after days of unrest. Kais Saied's statement was in response to allegations by the Conference of European Rabbis that he accused Jews of being responsible “for the instability of the country." The CER statement, issued Tuesday, said such talk “constitutes an immediate threat for the physical and moral integrity of Tunisian Jewish Citizens.” The organization asked the head of state to retract his words. The statement, relayed by some Israeli media, caused an uproar, forcing Saied to address the allegations, which his office firmly denied. In a statement Wednesday night, his office denounced the “propagation of false information,” saying it amounted to “calumny.” Saied visited M’nihla-Ettadhamon, outside the capital Tunis, on Tuesday to speak directly with youths after a spate of vandalism and looting in several towns. The Tunisian president, wearing a mask, was not always fully audible in the recording posted by his office of his encounter with the youths. The groundswell of anger grew out of economic and social ills and failed promises of opportunities that flowed from Tunisia’s revolution 10 years ago, The unrest began amid a four-day lockdown that started Jan. 14 — the day Tunisia marked its revolution. “The president mentioned no religion and there was no reasonable motive to deal with the question of religion in the context of protests,” his office's statement said. It said the president spoke with the chief rabbi of Tunisia, Haim Bittan, to reassure him that Tunisian Jews enjoy “the solicitude and protection of the Tunisian state, like all other citizens.” Saied also used the occasion to underscore his fervent defence of Palestinians' rights “to their land,” referring to Israeli-occupied territory, while saying that position is not linked to religious freedom. There are an estimated 1,500 Jews in Tunisia, mainly on the island of Djerba. The Associated Press
Kingston City Council unanimously passed a motion at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2021, moving that the City of Kingston write to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Minister of Environment, Conservation, Energy, and Parks to request that the Government of Ontario develop and implement a plan to phase-out all gas-fired electricity generation as soon as possible to ensure that Kingston and other municipalities are enabled to achieve climate action goals. The City of Kingston was the first city in Ontario to declare a Climate Emergency, and has a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2040. The province of Ontario is phasing out the Pickering Nuclear Power plant in 2024, and plans to increase the output of natural gas-powered plants as the demand for electricity increases. An increase in gas plant production will see greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rise, which is counterproductive to the province’s goal of a 30 per cent reduction of GHG emissions by the year 2030. Two delegations spoke to council, describing Ontario’s current and forecasted power needs, and the pros and cons of available power generation options. Jack Gibbons, from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, spoke about Quebec’s surplus Hydroelectric power, and shared some ideas for future cross-provincial electrical agreements. He also asked the City to consider joining the other municipalities in Ontario in passing a resolution requesting Ontario start phasing out our gas fired power plants to help Ontario, and the City of Kingston, achieve their climate targets. “We all know that the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine, and therefore wind and solar need a backup or a storage option,” Gibbons said. ”Ontario is very lucky to be located right next door to Quebec. There's a recent study from MIT, which shows that Quebec’s hydroelectric reservoirs are the best and lowest cost storage option, or backup option, for wind and solar.” “The reservoirs can act like a giant battery and help us convert wind and solar from an intermittent source of electricity into a firm baseload source of electricity supplied 24/7,” he continued. “By integrating our wind and solar with Quebec's hydroelectric reservoirs, wind and solar power can be a firm reliable source of supply.” Terry Young, interim president and CEO of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) spoke to council on the province’s electricity needs, how they are currently being met, and what they want to see happen in the future. The IESO is an agency whose primary job is to manage reliability of the power system, ensuring electricity is available when and where it is needed across the province. Young said that each year the IESO produces what they call a Planning Outlook that looks out over the next 20 years and projects what Ontario’s needs might be. Nuclear and hydro power are meeting 85 per cent of Ontario’s power needs, according to Young, with solar and wind providing less than 10 per cent due to their inconstant ability to create electricity. Gas power is used to make up the difference, and has greater flexibility for meeting increased needs, as well as reducing output when needs are low. “The key point I want to make is this that we need flexibility in the system,” Young explained to council. “One of the attractive things that we're starting to look at is pairing wind and solar with storage,” Young continued. “Then you get the opportunity to increase the value of wind and solar cells. If they’re producing, we can store it and then supply it back when and when the demands for electricity are on, then it gives us another option. So, in terms of the future of gas, one of the things that it depends on is how quickly some of these technologies can be developed.” Councellor Bridget Doherty put forth her thoughts on this proactive motion. “We've all been receiving frequently emails from people, or constituents, saying ‘You've declared a climate emergency. What are you doing about it?’ And tonight we have a couple of very positive examples about what we're doing about reducing greenhouse gases.” “I think that this [motion], and the other actions we've taken tonight, clearly address the fact that we unanimously passed a climate emergency motion a year and a bit ago. And so this is our opportunity to show that we mean what we say.” Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
TORONTO — Experts at a leading children's hospital say schools need to ramp up COVID-19 testing and masking in order to have all kids return to the classroom as soon as possible. The guidance comes a day after Ontario said it would permit just seven public health units in southern Ontario resume in-person learning Monday, while students in hot-spot regions will continue with online learning until at least Feb. 10. They join others in northern regions that returned to class last week, but areas including Toronto and Peel were deemed too-high risk to return to class. The new guidelines, led by experts at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, urge COVID-19 tests for all staff and students exposed to a confirmed case, while indoor masking be made mandatory for all those Grade 1 and up. The report's co-author Dr. Ronald Cohn says the current protocol is that testing is only required for those who display symptoms. He also stresses the social and mental-health needs of young children, recommending kindergartners be cohorted so they can play and interact with their peers. Cohn, president and CEO, SickKids, said schools closures should be "as time-limited as possible." "It is therefore imperative that bundled measures of infection prevention and control and a robust testing strategy are in place," he said Thursday in a release. The report also cautions against rapid tests using molecular or antigen tests because of their lower sensitivity and less effectiveness with asymptomatic cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Bernie Sanders won't be the only one needing warm mittens this week. British Columbians are in for the coldest stretch of the year as a winter high pressure zone settles into place across the province. In Metro Vancouver that means clearing skies and sub-zero temperatures beginning Thursday night. Friday is forecast to be clear with a wind chill of –6 C, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, with daytime temperatures rising to 4 C. Friday night into Saturday is set to be the coldest night this season at –3 C to –5 C. Saturday stays sunny until a low-pressure system brings in a wintry mix overnight into Sunday, including a couple of centimetres of snow. The snow will change into rain on Sunday — but the long-range forecast shows a chance of more snow falling next week. Vancouver opening warming sites As part of Vancouver's extreme weather response, the city is opening more shelter space starting Thursday to provide people with a safe place during cold winter months. Directions Youth Services Centre at 1138 Burrard St. can provide overnight accommodation for a small number of youth who are up to 24 years old. Shelter spaces for adults will be available at: Evelyn Saller Centre, 320 Alexander St. Tenth Church, 11 West 10th Ave. Langara YMCA, 282 West 49th Ave Powell Street Getaway, 528 Powell St. More shelter spaces are being added on Saturday at: Vancouver Aquatic Centre, 1050 Beach Ave. Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way. The city says measures are in place at shelters and warming centres to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Une pétition pour soutenir les ainés Si la Covid-19 frappe particulièrement fort chez les ainés, ces derniers font aussi partie des victimes collatérales de la pandémie. En effet, les 65 ans et plus, qui forment 25 % de la population du Bas-Saint-Laurent, souffrent de l’isolement et de la précarité financière induits par les périodes de confinement. Ce jeudi, trois organismes se sont joints aux deux députés fédéraux Maxime Blanchette-Joncas et Kristina Michaud pour lancer une pétition demandant au gouvernement fédéral d’assurer un meilleur soutien aux personnes âgées. Car si Ottawa n’a pas été avare d’aides financières en tout genre dans la dernière année, les ainés font figure de grands oubliés : ils n’ont eu droit qu’à une aide ponctuelle de 500 $ en mars 2020, loin des milliards dépensés en PCU… Cette différence de traitement alimente un « profond sentiment d’injustice », selon M. Blanchette-Joncas, d’autant plus que les personnes âgées doivent composer avec des frais supplémentaires, qu’il s’agisse d’inflation ou de coûts de livraison. Augmenter le revenu des ainés est donc une priorité, ainsi que le martèle le président régional du Réseau FADOQ Gilles Noël : « Nous demandons que le gouvernement mette en œuvre sa promesse électorale faite lors de l’élection de 2019 en rehaussant minimalement de 10% le montant des prestations de la Sécurité de la vieillesse. » Le bénévolat en déroute Du côté de la Table de concertation des ainés du Bas-Saint-Laurent, on souligne l’urgence de briser l’isolement des 65 ans et plus. « Le gouvernement du Canada doit innover afin de mettre en place un réseau d’aide et de soutien direct aux ainés », explique la vice-présidente Kathleen Bouffard. Il devient difficile de trouver des bénévoles (la majorité ayant plus de 70 ans) pour faire des livraisons ou accompagner quelqu’un devant se rendre à l’hôpital pour passer des examens, et il faudrait donc former des travailleurs de milieu pour aller à la rencontre des personnes vivant seules, qui se sentent de plus en plus abandonnées. De son côté, le président du Carrefour 50 + Richard Rancourt alerte sur la situation des organismes qui font vivre les villages : ceux-ci sont portés à bout de bras par des retraités, et leurs revenus s’effondrent suite à la baisse de leur membership. M. Rancourt aimerait que le gouvernement pense à implanter des mesures de compensation pour assumer les coûts fixes, comme cela a été fait dans d’autres secteurs. La remise en route post-pandémie ne se fera pas d’elle-même, ajoute-t-il : « La culture de la peur s’est installée, il va falloir remotiver tout l’engagement bénévole de nos ainés. » Il sera alors probablement nécessaire d’avoir recours à des professionnels en animation, ce qui aura un coût. Internet haute vitesse et transferts en santé exigées Deux autres revendications plus universelles permettraient également d’améliorer le sort des ainés : tout d’abord, l’amélioration de la connexion au réseau internet haute vitesse, qui pourrait permettre de reconnecter les personnes seules au reste du monde si elles sont en mesure d’utiliser les outils web. Le Bas-Saint-Laurent est la région la moins bien branchée au Québec, souligne le député Blanchette-Joncas. La pétition demande également d’indexer les transferts en santé de 6 %. L’autre députée bloquiste de la région, Kristina Michaud, rappelle que pour « chaque [tranche de] 100 $ dépensé[e] par le gouvernement fédéral depuis le début de la pandémie, seulement 33 cents sont allés dans le réseau de la santé du Québec. » La pétition sera déposée à la Chambre des communes si elle atteint plus de 500 signatures d’ici le 20 mars.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
In an effort to continue to send the message that people in Ontario need to stay home, premier Doug Ford posted a video message on Thursday morning to get the message out in 22 languages.
Chatham-Kent approved it’s list 2021 to-do list and longer-term investments for its capital budget at Monday night’s council meeting. Around $6.3 million was earmarked for the 2021 capital budget. On the list of stuff getting done this year is a plan to introduce traffic calming strategies throughout Chatham-Kent’s streets in an attempt to reduce speeding. The costs will amount to $300,000 put aside for 2021. Traffic calming strategies could include items such as speed bumps, raised intersections or narrowing roads. “One of the issues we have within Chatham-Kent is speeding. So often we call upon our police to ensure there's compliance - it’s very effective to have officers issue compliance, but the real solution, the long-term solution, is to design in speed reduction and you do that through what we term traffic calming,” Thomas Kelly said. Kelly said the municipality received a number of complaints regarding three-way and four-way stops installed throughout Chatham-Kent which has proved not to be an effective strategy. He explained that roads such as King Street where parking is available on both sides and the street is narrow, are the ideal design to reduce speeding. A report on specific traffic strategies and the locations will be issued to council at a future date. Also on the list are plans to upgrade cemeteries throughout Chatham-Kent, after starting to save for the project in 2018. Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham, as well as the Blenheim, Dresden and Wallaceburg cemeteries, will all get upgrades and paved roadways for vehicles. Kelly said the upgrades should hopefully last for 30-40 years. The most costly work to be done this year will be Grand Avenue East upgrades set to cost $1.5 million from the budget and a grand total of $7 million. Chatham-Kent is also closer to it’s $24.8 million goal for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) which was announced in 2019. The project involves reinforcing shorelines on the Thames River, Sydenham River and McGregor Creek. The 6th Street Dam will also be replaced in order to reduce potential flooding and ice jams from the nearby rivers. More than $3.5 million sitting in the capital reserve fund was transferred to the DMAF projects. The municipality has 10 years to come up with its target in order to receive a $16.6 million contribution from the federal government. In 2020, the municipality managed to save $16.4 million, resulting in a current municipal shortfall of $8.5 million. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
Commentators across the political spectrum spread anti-Islamic rhetoric, insisting that Islam is intrinsically violent and that Muslims are terrorists. But studies show these claims are unfounded.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Sarah Stoodley figures she's already lost half a day of campaigning going back and forth with police about some of the disturbing emails she's received. Stoodley, a Liberal, is running in the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election to reclaim her seat in the St. John's district of Mount Scio. Before the election was called late last week, she was a cabinet minister responsible for three portfolios. "Since I (was elected), I get lots of emails saying they wish I had cancer, they wish I weren't alive," she said in an interview Thursday. "Now I'm navigating that as a candidate, and that kind of stuff seeps into my candidate email." She used to be able work with the security team at the House of Assembly when disturbing emails landed in her inbox. But now that the legislature has been dissolved ahead of the Feb. 13 vote, she doesn't have that protection — but Stoodley still wants to make sure her volunteers are safe. Stoodley said she warns volunteers against knocking on doors of people who have sent her abusive emails. "I know certain addresses where people live, so I've alerted my volunteers, like, 'Do not knock on these people's homes,'" she said. Politicians get all kinds of correspondence, ranging from angry and demanding to outright unhinged, she said. But women seem to get it worse, she added. "Some of the male colleagues said they've never gotten anything anywhere near that level of, I guess, hatred." Stoodley said she doesn't feel threatened, but "it's always playing in the back of your mind." On the Progressive Conservative team, Kristina Ennis says she gets questions about her age. "I'm a younger candidate, I'm 30 years old," she said. "But the comment that gets me is just immediately asking, 'Are you even old enough to run in this election?' That always comes from men," she said. "Calling my age into question is definitely rooted in some ideas of sexism that people have," she said in an interview Thursday. Ennis said she doesn't think men her age in the same position would be getting those kinds of questions. She has more than a decade of experience in the oil and gas industry, most recently as a research and development analyst with ExxonMobil. Working in a male-dominated environment, Ennis said she grew a thick skin and learned to speak up for herself without apologizing. "That's been coming in handy," she said, about the campaign trail. Like Stoodley, Ennis said the best way people can support women and diverse candidates is to call out the abuse. If it's happening online, respond to it, and be clear about why it's wrong, Ennis said. Gillian Pearson, co-chair of Equal Voice NL, a group working to encourage women and gender diverse people to enter politics, says she agrees with Stoodley and Ennis. Pearson, a former candidate with the provincial Progressive Conservatives, said the vitriol politicians face, online or otherwise, is disproportionately aimed at women. "The criticism tends to be more personal, more cutting," she said in an interview Monday. "It can involve their appearance. And sometimes their personal qualifications, or positions on things, that might not necessarily be challenged with a male candidate." As of Thursday afternoon, 37 of the 114 nominated candidates were women and at least one was non-binary. That's the highest number of women to run in a Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election, according to Pearson's tally. The numbers matter, but what's most important is getting the women elected, Pearson said. "Are parties running these amazing women in districts that they have a reasonable shot a securing?" she asked. "That's something we'll have to discuss as time goes on." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Congress is moving quickly to install retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defence, brushing aside concerns about his retirement inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian leadership of the military. The House is voting Thursday on a waiver that would exempt Austin from the seven-year rule. All signs point to quick action in the Senate after that, putting Austin on track to be confirmed as secretary by week's end. Austin, a 41-year veteran of the Army, has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians and include them in policy decisions. He said he has spent nearly his entire life committed to the principle of civilian control over the military. While the waiver is expected to be approved, the vote puts Democrats in an awkward position. Many of them opposed a similar waiver in 2017 for Jim Mattis, former President Donald Trump's first secretary of defence. Austin, who would be the first Black secretary of defence, said he understands why some have questioned the wisdom of putting a recently retired general in charge of the Defence Department. Much of his focus this week, including in his remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, has been on persuading members of Congress that although he has been out of uniform for less than five years, he sees himself as a civilian, not a general. Some aspects of his policy priorities are less clear. He emphasized on Tuesday that he will follow Biden’s lead in giving renewed attention to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. “I will quickly review the department’s contributions to coronavirus relief efforts, ensuring we are doing everything we can — and then some — to help distribute vaccines across the country and to vaccinate our troops and preserve readiness,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Under questioning by senators, Austin pledged to address white supremacy and violent extremism in the ranks of the military — problems that received relatively little public attention from his immediate predecessor, Mark Esper. Austin promised to “rid our ranks of racists,” and said he takes the problem personally. “The Defence Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies,” he said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Austin said he will insist that the leaders of every military service know that extremist behaviour in their ranks is unacceptable. “This is not something we can be passive on,” he said. “This is something I think we have to be active on, and we have to lean into it and make sure that we’re doing the right things to create the right climate.” He offered glimpses of other policy priorities, indicating that he embraces the view among many in Congress that China is the “pacing challenge,” or the leading national security problem for the U.S. The Middle East was the main focus for Austin during much of his 41-year Army career, particularly when he reached senior officer ranks. He served several tours of duty as a commander in Iraq, including as the top commander in 2010-11. An aspect of the defence secretary’s job that is unfamiliar to most who take the job is the far-flung and complex network of nuclear forces that are central to U.S. defence strategy. As a career Army officer, Austin had little reason to learn the intricacies of nuclear policy, since the Army has no nuclear weapons. He told his confirmation hearing that he would bone up on this topic before committing to any change in the nuclear policies set by the Trump administration, including its pursuit of nuclear modernization. Austin, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army. A year later he assumed command of Central Command, where he fashioned and began implementing a strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, who will speak his mind to Congress and to Biden. Robert Burns And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press