B.C. Premier John Horgan is facing increasing pressure to introduce travel restrictions for people who don't live in the province, as COVID-19 cases spike in popular tourist destinations.
B.C. Premier John Horgan is facing increasing pressure to introduce travel restrictions for people who don't live in the province, as COVID-19 cases spike in popular tourist destinations.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
The invitation to a foot race set Dave Murphy on the path to changing his life. In 2018 he was leaving the neighbourhood park with his daughter. The pair were walking back to their Calgary home when she asked her father if he wanted to race home. The now 45-year-old Murphy was pushing 400 pounds and still dealing with the ramifications of a late-night altercation in Ontario more than two decades earlier. He was 17 then and that altercation left the Grand Falls-Windsor native without part of the muscle in his left leg. Parents can have a hard time saying no to their children, and Murphy is no different. However, due to his health, he had to tell his daughter they couldn’t race. The look he was met with sparked something. “That look of disappointment on her face, I will never forget. That lit a fire under me,” said Murphy. “That was the thing and the biggest reason for her and my wife, to be around longer for them. “I was headed in a bad direction.” He was 391 pounds when he started, and he now sits at 235 pounds. Almost three years later, Murphy has dropped 155 pounds and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. When he started, Murphy set himself a 100-pound goal to reach. To help keep himself in check, he added a stipulation to that goal. For every pound he lost, he would make a $1 donation to military veterans and first responders. “First responders saved my life in 1994. I was attacked and knifed 13 times, so I wouldn’t have even made it if it wasn’t for first responders,” said Murphy. “So, I needed a way to stay motivated, so I made a pledge online that I was going to lose 100 pounds and donate a dollar a pound.” The son of preachers — his parents were Salvation Army officers — Murphy always believed in paying it forward. At each of his family's stops, he saw the benefits of giving and supporting something bigger than himself. First responders saved his life in Ontario, and he has spent the last two-plus decades paying them back. It started with dropping off a tin of coffee at fire stations every week and that morphed into several other initiatives that supported military veterans. Things like sending Tim Hortons gift cards to soldiers and The Gratitude Project were a way for Murphy to say thank you. “I just want to pay it forward and help as many people as I can,” said Murphy. To date, Murphy figures he’s donated more than $3,000 with the help of people who have matched his donations to the volunteer organization Can Praxis. Can Praxis is an organization that offers mental-health recovery programs to Canadian military veterans and first responders who have an operational stress injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. Founded in 2013, the Alberta-based group uses equine therapy to accomplish its goals. “Dave has done great and his support for Can Praxis and for veterans and first responders has been meaningful,” said Steve Critchley, a facilitator with Can Praxis. Weight loss journeys are never easy. Ask anyone in the middle of one. For Murphy, there were days when he didn’t want to hit the gym or head to his boxing sessions. On those days, he’d think of his family and of the first responders he was raising money for. “They're running into burning buildings and fires while people are running out of them, and here I am not wanting to go (to the gym),” said Murphy. “Whenever there is a day I don’t want to go, I think about those guys and I’m like, ‘alright, let's go.’” Benchmarks for success come in different forms. When looking at the work Murphy has done for his well-being, these benchmarks come in the form of his family. It was an interaction with his daughter that started him on his fitness journey and it’s another interaction with his daughter that reaffirms his commitment. Often the pair would go to a play centre near the family home. Whenever his daughter would hit the obstacle course, Murphy would sit on the benches and watch. There was no way he could muster the energy to join her. Before the centre’s shutdown due to the pandemic, Murphy was able to hit the course alongside his daughter. “I got a second chance at life,” said Murphy. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's prime minister on Thursday promised sweeping changes to the country's laws and labour regulations to combat sexual abuse and misconduct in the wake of an assault allegation made by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that has prompted more cases and triggered a nationwide debate. Speaking in parliament, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will introduce tougher sentencing guidelines, propose changes to statute-of-limitation rules for cases involving minors, and create a dedicated government agency to deal with abuse claims in workplaces and organized youth activities. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since former Olympian Bekatorou alleged she was sexually assaulted by a national sailing federation official in 1998. The people coming forward with accusations include other athletes, current and former university students, and stage actors. Mitsotakis said reports that unaccompanied minors were vulnerable to abuse at migrant camps on Greek islands also motivated him to take action. “There were children at the camps...and in Greek cities that were being exploited for sex for 5 and 10 euros ($6-12),” the prime minister told lawmakers. He noted that children and teenagers travelling alone no longer live at the island camps or are held in police cells for protection but have supervised, separate living quarters. The reports include a 51-page document from the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in 2017 that said, citing camp informants, there were serious indications of child abuse at Greek migrant camps. Separately Thursday, a former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations. The 56-year-old suspect, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested Saturday and remains in police custody. Opposition parties have demanded that Mitsotakis replace his culture minister over the alleged scandal. A government official told the AP Thursday that new sentencing guidelines and details of the proposed legal changes would be announced “in the coming days.” ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos Derek Gatopoulos, The Associated Press
BALA — When Linda and Jack Hutton opened Bala’s Museum nearly 30 years ago, they never dreamed the year a pandemic occurred would be good for business. Bala’s Museum — with memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery is tucked away on Maple Avenue, but for a slew of new and returning customers this summer, its location is on Facebook. Adapting to a digital-friendly operation during the COVID-19 lockdown has turned a stressful year into a record-breaking one thanks to worldwide sales from a converted home office. The museum has always had a loyal following on social media, said Linda, who — stocked up on memorabilia for the museum’s gift shop — turned to the social platform to see if there might be interest in purchasing items there. On the heels of the cancellation of the biennial Lucy Maud Montgomery conference held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, messages from fans and collectors started pouring in. “All of a sudden they have some extra money and they were really willing to support our museum because they realized what a tenuous situation we were in,” Linda said. Because the museum is such an interactive experience — visitors can dress in costume, participate in re-enactments from Anne of Green Gables and children’s games — coronavirus was a real cause for concern. As well, the Huttons are seniors and more vulnerable to the virus. With the help of their son, who taught them how to read Facebook’s analytics, Linda began posting items for sale. Buyers have appeared from as far away as Argentina, Australia, the Philippines and Poland. “They all realized how vulnerable we are since we don’t get any government money and never have,” Linda explained. “Every single sale, whether it’s just five dollars and I have to mail it, it’s another five dollars in the pot.” International connections are nothing new for the museum, it is outfitted with Japanese translation and the Huttons have welcomed more than 120,000 guests from 30 different countries over three decades. Still, the transition to e-commerce has been a “huge learning curve” said Linda, as she manages international shipping and how to gauge the growth of the business through Facebook. Jack admits he was skeptical at first, unsure at just how many bites they would get online. According to stats he compiled, the museum’s Facebook page saw a 459 per cent jump in likes during May. Before coronavirus the average post reached 400 people; it now reaches an average of 700 users. “We had the best financial return we have ever had for the month of May thanks to Linda’s idea,” he said. As for the museum, the Huttons anticipate opening by appointment only when COVID restrictions lift. There have been disappointments, including a group of women from Arkansas unable to cross the closed border. “I’m very thankful,” Linda said. “I feel very blessed and very honoured that people who have known about our museum are looking in on us every day. It is a huge help.” Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
ROME — Italy paid tribute Thursday to its ambassador to Congo and his bodyguard who were killed in an attack on a U.N. convoy, honouring them with a state funeral and prayers for peace in Congo and all nations “torn by war and violence.” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the pope’s vicar for Rome, presided over the solemn funeral at the Santa Maria degli Angeli basilica that was attended by Premier Mario Draghi, top lawmakers, representatives of the armed forces and relatives of the young men. Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci were killed Monday north of Goma when an armed group stopped them as they travelled in a two-car convoy to a World Food Program school feeding project. WFP's Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, was also killed in the attack. Italy has formally asked the U.N. for an inquiry into what happened amid questions about whether the U.N. security arrangements were sufficient for the mission. In his eulogy, De Donatis decried the “stupid and ferocious” attack and said it was right that Italy, Congo and the community of nations weep over such violence that “tore Luca and Vittorio from this world." “Let us pray together that today is a day in which the prayer for peace in Congo and in all nations torn by various forms of war and violence is raised to heaven," he said. He denounced how so many Congolese feel the constant threat of danger from rebel groups “knocking at their door,” saying the country had been “cruelly devastated by violence that sees their children die every day.” But he praised the men for working for peace and looking out for others “even at the cost of their own lives.” “If this the fate of peace workers, what will be the fate of the rest of us?” he asked. The funeral, carried live on state RAI television, featured masked Carabinieri officers as pallbearers and altar servers, with a military band performing Chopin’s haunting “Funeral March” as the flag-draped coffins were carried in and out of the basilica. After the service, the socially-distanced crowd applauded as the two hearses pulled out of the piazza carrying the coffins for burial, flanked by a police escort. Attanasio is survived by his wife and three young daughters, at least one of whom attended the funeral, as well as his parents and siblings. Iacovacci is survived by his fiancee and other family members. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
India's largest brokerage Zerodha is facing a backlash from traders who saw their equity positions abruptly closed during an exchange glitch, amidst criticism that a lack of communication from the country's top bourse caused losses. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) suddenly shut down for nearly four hours on Wednesday, blindsiding traders. As the NSE did not swiftly update whether, and when, it would reopen, brokers began closing intra-day equity positions on another exchange later, leading to sharp losses for some investors.
An expected dash by big corporations for offsets to meet their climate targets has prompted financial exchanges to launch carbon futures contracts to capitalise on what could be a multi-billion dollar market. Carbon offsets, generated by emissions reduction projects, such as tree planting or shifts to less polluting fuels, have struggled for years to gain credibility, but as climate action has become urgent, their market is expected to grow to as much as $50 billion by 2030. Among the major corporations that say they expect to use them to compensate for any emissions they cannot cut from their operations and products are Unilever, EasyJet, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, which all have climate targets.
BERLIN — A German man has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing information on properties used by the German parliament to Russian military intelligence, prosecutors said Thursday. The suspect, identified only as Jens F. in line with German privacy rules, worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to check portable electrical appliances by the Bundestag, or the lower house of parliament, federal prosecutors said in a statement. As a result of that, he had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved. The Bundestag is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites. Prosecutors said, at some point before early September 2017, the suspect “decided of his own accord” to give information on the properties to Russian intelligence. They said he sent the PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin who was an officer with Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. They didn't specify how his activities came to light. The charges against the suspect, who is not in custody, were filed at a Berlin court on Feb. 12. The court will have to decide whether to go ahead with a trial. Relations between Germany and Russia have been buffeted by a growing list of issues in recent years. In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU agency over a cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015. In addition, a Russian man accused of killing a Georgian man in broad daylight in downtown Berlin on Moscow’s orders in 2019 is on trial in Berlin. And last year's poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment and then arrested immediately after he returned to Russia, has added another layer of tensions. The Associated Press
This baby sea otter is in distress and lost after a storm in Cambria, California. It needed help and was rescued by the Marine Mammal Rescue Center located in Morro Bay, Ca.
NEW YORK — “Caste,” Isabel Wilkerson's exploration of racism in the United States, and “The Dead are Arising,” an acclaimed biography of Malcolm X, are among this year's nominees for awards presented by the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project. The project announced Thursday that Wilkerson is a finalist for the Lukas Book Prize, along with Becky Cooper's “We Keep the Dead Close,” Seyward Darby's “Sisters in Hate,” Barton Gellman's “Dark Mirror” and Jessica Goudeau's “After the Last Border.” The Lukas project, based at Columbia University's journalism school and named for the late investigative journalist, also announced nominees for the Mark Lynton History Prize and the Lukas awards for works in progress. The awards honour “literary grace and commitment to serious research and social concern.” Winners will be announced March 24. Winners of the Lukas Book Prize and Lynton history prize receive $10,000 each. The project awards two works in progress, each worth $25,000. “The Dead are Arising,” which won the National Book Award last fall, is a finalist for the Lynton prize. The book was co-written by Les Payne, who died in 2018, and daughter Tamara Payne. Other Lynton nominees are Martha S. Jones' “Vanguard,” Geraldine Schwarz's “Those Who Forget,” Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America” and Dwayne Betts' “A Question of Freedom.” Finalists for the work-in-progress awards are David Dennis Jr.'s “The Movement Made Us,” Emily Dufton's “Addiction, Inc.,” Channing Gerard Joseph's “House of Swann,” Casey Parks' “Diary of a Misfit” and Elizabeth Rush's “The Mother of All Things.” The Associated Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus will reopen high schools, gyms, pools, dance academies and art galleries on March 1 in a further, incremental easing of the country’s second nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, the government said Thursday. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said easing the six-week-old lockdown should proceed “slowly, cautiously and in a controlled manner.” He warned that the situation could easily get out of hand again as the country’s infection rate remains slightly above safety limits set by the European Union’s disease prevention agency. According to Ioannou, the number of infections now stands at 164.3 per 100,000 people. Middle school students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 8, Ioannou said, signalling the reopening of all schools after weeks of online instruction. Primary schools are already holding in-person classes. But the minister made it clear that twice-daily excursions requiring SMS approval and a 9:00pm-5:00am curfew will remain in effect. “We'll do without certain things for the next two or three months, some measures will carry on until there's (sufficient) vaccination coverage which is estimated to happen by June," Ioannou said. A ban on public gatherings also continues to apply despite growing public fatigue that culminated with thousands demonstrating last weekend in the capital to protest the restrictions, alleged police heavy-handedness and corruption. Police didn’t intervene in that protest, but used a water cannon, pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse a much smaller group of left-wing demonstrators a week earlier. One young woman required surgery for an eye injury following a blast from the water canon. The force’s actions triggered a public outcry and prompted a probe to determine whether riot police used disproportionate force. On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged Cypriot authorities to lift what it called “an unlawful and disproportionate blanket ban” on demonstrations. Amnesty International Greece and Cyprus official Kondylia Gogou said police made “unnecessary and excessive use of force" during the earlier protest. She said the violence was also part of a “deeply worrying pattern" in Cyprus where “human rights are coming under sustained attack." ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Mississauga–Streetsville Liberal MP Gagan Sikand, who has not participated in a legislative vote since October, will remain absent from Parliament “until further notice” according to his staff. The MP is on an unspecified medical leave that has stopped him from working since the fall and there appears to be no timeline for his return. It means just over 118,000 Mississaugans are without direct representation in Ottawa, reliant on bureaucrats to respond to their needs. None of their concerns or positions on issues are currently being represented in the House of Commons. “With the full knowledge and consent of MP Mark Holland, the Chief Government Whip, MP Sikand is officially on a medical leave of absence until further notice,” a staffer told The Pointer in an email. The Pointer sent a request to the Whip’s office asking if the party was aware of Sikand’s absence. No response was received in time for publication. The Pointer could not find any public notice of the medical leave on Sikand's Twitter feed or his official website, which does not have any press release or other communication informing constituents of the leave. The Parliament website which lists all members also does not indicate that Sikand is on a medical leave. Eight calls to Sikand’s constituency office went unanswered; the number for his Ottawa parliamentary office failed to connect on multiple attempts. An advisor provided a short response by email, but the MP’s staff, tasked with handling matters in his absence, could not be reached by phone. “Our office is experiencing a high volume of inquiries at this time,” an automated email response tells those who reach out to Sikand’s constituency inbox. It is unclear exactly when Sikand’s medical leave began, but parliamentary voting and speech records suggest it was in the latter half of 2020. During the first session of Parliament, between December 5, 2019 and prorogation on August 18 2020, Sikand had a standard participation record for a backbench MP. He spoke in the chamber with relative frequency and voted 18 times. His record compares to Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre, recently elevated to the position of Transport Minister) and Sven Spengemann (Mississauga—Lakeshore) who had 22 and 18 votes respectively. But, when the legislature returned for its second session on September 23 2020, Sikand’s record began to fade. Since September, he has participated in just six votes compared to 53 for both Alghabra and Spengemann. At the end of October, Sikand’s parliamentary participation ended abruptly. He hasn’t spoken or voted in Parliament since October 29, according to records maintained by the government and Open Parliament, an independent, non-governmental website that tracks votes, speeches and committees in Parliament. On social media, Sikand’s activity remained longer than in Parliament. Twitter, where many politicians communicate their core messages to residents, saw Sikand continue engaging with constituents until he took a break. His digital posts included Christmas greetings and messages shared in December and the first half of January. On January 21, the MP congratulated US President Joe Biden on his inauguration, his last tweet before apparently unplugging from social media. He has not replied to or liked a tweet since his absence from Parliament began after his final vote on October 29. A medical absence for a serving MP is not unprecedented. Almost immediately following the 2019 election, Winnipeg MP Jim Carr was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, he stepped back from his parliamentary duties, leaving his staff in charge of helping the constituents who elected him. Sikand was first elected during the Liberal red wave in 2015, when Justin Trudeau’s party swept through Brampton and Mississauga taking every seat. He won reelection in 2019, finishing almost 10,000 votes ahead of his nearest rival, Conservative candidate Ghada Melek. Sikand has been relatively quiet during both his terms as an MP, showing a particular interest in the Criminal Code. Between 2015 and 2019, he introduced one Private Members Bill in 2016 which would have amended the Code, also speaking regularly on the topic. Sikand wanted to introduce the use of a passive detection device that would allow police officers to detect the use of alcohol within a few hours of operating a vehicle. His Bill died in 2017. A lawyer by training, Sikand worked for the Ontario government’s Attorney General before he made the leap to federal politics. It remains unclear how long Sikand will be away, but staff say the Mississauga—Streetsville office continues to operate as normal. “All constituency matters are being handled diligently by our staff without disruption on a remote basis,” one of his staff members said. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
The number of available COVID-19 vaccine doses is steadily rising, but a shortage of physical space that meets standards for pharmaceutical manufacturing is a major bottleneck to further expansion, according to drugmakers, industry construction experts and officials involved in the U.S. vaccine program. The production of raw materials, vaccine formulation and vial filling all require "clean rooms" with features like air cleaners, sterile water and sterilizing steam designed and in some cases built by specialists. Moderna Inc on Wednesday announced plans to expand vaccine manufacturing capacity, but said it will be a year before that can add to its production.
Coinbase, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, moved a step closer to listing on the Nasdaq with a filing on Thursday to go public, revealing that it had swung into profit last year as bitcoin surged. Approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a listing would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates, vying for mainstream endorsement for a sector which has struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors, regulators and the general public. It would pave the way for the highest-profile share listing of a company whose business is primarily focused around the trading of cryptocurrencies, and could also be seen as a tacit regulatory approval of assets traded on its platform.
Just over two weeks after his poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent in Siberia, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny began to respond to the words of his wife Yulia and wake from a drug-induced coma. In the months that followed, Navalny withdrew to a remote corner of the Black Forest. Reuters spoke to more than a dozen people who visited Navalny or communicated with him during his almost five months in Germany.
Starboard, which owns a 7.7% stake in ACI, had urged the company to hire advisers and consider a sale in December, two months after calling it an "attractive" takeover candidate. M&A activity in the payments sector has accelerated over the last few years as companies need scale against the backdrop of increasing complexity and technology requirements for e-commerce.
(Village of Pouce Coupe/Lorraine Michetti - image credit) The mayor of a small northern B.C. village says she won't step down over social media posts she made comparing gun owners to Holocaust victims and another seemingly disparaging how Indigenous people maintain their homes. Lorraine Michetti, the mayor of Pouce Coupe, B.C., insists she is sorry for making the posts and says that she will seek cultural sensitivity training, but she also says calls for her to step down are part of "cancel culture," and that she is being "bullied" by people opposed to her, some of whom she is considering taking to court. Among the posts to surface is one Michetti says was a commentary on the federal Liberals' plans for gun control. "Everyone probably can have them just not Caucasian, that is just about everything. I feel like a Jews [sic] back in the day. Waiting for my cattle car." Michetti says this Facebook comment was made in a discussion about the federal Liberals' plans to enact new gun control laws. She said she has apologized for the post, but also defended the comparison during a council meeting. Councillor questioned mayor On Sunday, Pouce Coupe Coun. Ken Drover told CBC News he is upset that the mayor's social media activity is casting a negative light on the small community of roughly 730 people in northeastern B.C., about a 20-minute drive southeast of Dawson Creek. "We are embarrassed," he said. "It's a black mark ... by no means do those comments represent the voice of council." He questioned Michetti about the posts during a council meeting Monday. "You would liken your position to a Jew in a cattle car waiting to go to..." he said before Michetti jumped in. "Once they take our guns away, back when Hitler, that's what it was all about," she said. "How dare you?" Drover responded. "That is a terrible, terrible comparison." Drover also asked Michetti if she would step down, and she refused. "OK, fair," he said. On Thursday, the village of Pouce Coupe announced Drover had submitted a letter of resignation, which will trigger a byelection to replace him. Drover could not immediately be reached for comment. WATCH | Coun. Ken Drover challenges Mayor Lorraine Michetti over her comments at a council meeting: Multiple problematic posts The exchange between Drover and Michetti came five days after a different post from the mayor began circulating among Facebook users in the Peace region of northeastern B.C. It depicted an image of four homes with garbage in their yards and Michetti's caption: "Don't want Pipeline's? [sic] They want to protect our land. Yeah ok." A Facebook post from Michetti was quickly denounced as anti-Indigenous racism by several officials in the Peace River region of B.C. A number of people interpreted the post as playing into stereotypes of on-reserve housing and calling Indigenous pipeline opponents hypocrites. Connie Greyeyes, a Fort St. John resident from the Bigstone Cree Nation, said even though the post didn't directly reference Indigenous people, the implications were clear. "When you've lived with racism your whole life, when it shows itself to you ... you know it," she said. Greyeyes was among those asking the mayor to apologize and resign. Mayor did not attend special meeting Meanwhile, municipal leaders in the neighbouring communities of Fort St. John, Taylor, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd issued statements condemning the post. "We do not and never will condone racism within our walls or our community," Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman wrote in a Facebook post. "An egregious error was made by one of our colleagues. We will invite them to learn with us." On Saturday, a special village council meeting was held to discuss the post. Michetti did not attend, she said, because she was too upset. From left: Pouce Coupe Coun. Barb Smith, Coun. Donna White, Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Coun. Marlene Hebert and Coun. Ken Drover. Councillors asked Michetti to resign after she published a Facebook post that many people condemned as racist. At that meeting, council received a report documenting several instances of the mayor getting into online arguments with Pouce Coupe residents that were possible violations of the village's code of conduct. By the end, council had voted unanimously to ask Michetti to step down. Posts personal, not official, mayor says Reached for an interview Wednesday, Michetti insisted she had not intended to be racist and that the old posts were resurfacing because of a group of people in town who wanted her out of office. She said she was seeking cultural sensitivity training, and wanted to make a distinction between posts she made from her personal Facebook account versus those of an official mayoral page. "It was Lorraine Michetti, not the mayor" who made the posts, she said. Michetti said she was considering legal action against several people in the community who were making negative comments about her online, and she questioned why she was being held to a different standard than her opponents. "Why do people think the mayor is high stature?" she asked. "They harass and nag me about fireworks. Then they harass and nag me that I'm supposed to get the Shaw internet going. ... It's tiring." But, Michetti said, she is committed to finishing her term, and she intends to run for re-election in 2022. "There's lots of things I have on the go." Few options for removal Mona Brash, a retired political science professor from the University of Victoria and Camosun College specializing in municipal affairs, said unless the mayor steps down voluntarily, those who want her gone have few options. "Their only recourse is political," she said, noting opponents could continue to put pressure on the mayor to step down. In British Columbia, municipal leaders can only be removed if they improperly use their position for financial gain or for missing multiple regularly-scheduled meetings without being excused. The B.C. government has floated the idea of firing the entire Chilliwack school board in order to remove a single trustee who used a slur against people with intellectural disabilities, but Brash said it is unlikely the province would be willing or able to do the same in order to get rid of a mayor. "People don't realize how powerful municipal politicians are," she said. "You elect them for four years and that's it, they're in and it's rare you can remove them." In an emailed statement to CBC, B.C.'s Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne said anti-Indigenous racism and anti-Semitism must be confronted, and that she is "grateful to local leaders for standing up against unacceptable behaviour." She also said the government is exploring the idea of updating the provincial legislation governing municipalities. "We know more can be done to support local officials' accountability to their communities," she wrote. For more on the controversy in Pouce Coupe, tap below:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
Many people in Gander want to see its air connectivity to the rest of the country restored. Since the start of the pandemic, airlines have pulled several flights from the Gander International Airport, further isolating the central Newfoundland region through a lack of air support. On Jan. 23, Air Canada dropped the last of its flights out of Gander. That followed a pair of similar announcements earlier in the summer. That lack of connection has had a ripple effect on businesses and people around the region. “What we’re hearing from our members is that there is a direct impact that goes beyond the obvious,” said Hannah DeYoung, the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce’s first vice-chairperson. With that in mind, the chamber recently created a petition to be sent to the House of Commons in Ottawa with the airport as its focus. The group hopes to draw even more attention to the plight of airlines in the country, with particular focus on what a lack of flights to and from central Newfoundland means for the region. The chamber is calling for the federal government to provide financial assistance to airlines in Canada, which is dependent on helping to re-establish national air service to airports like the Gander International Airport. It also calls for an effort to ensure Gander is re-connected to the mainland, thus lessening the economic impact on the area. Slowly, the petition has been garnering support online. Since it was launched on Feb. 1, it was been signed by 973 people and businesses from around the country. “What we’re hearing from our members is how it affects the supply chain,” said DeYoung. “From getting supplies to small businesses to getting inventory and getting workers in and out. That’s the immediate impact.” The ramifications of the cancellation of flights from the airport have been top of mind of many in the town recently. The Town of Gander has been proactive from the start in its advocacy for the airport. Recently, the town asked people to submit testimonials of how they’re connected to the airport and what the loss of those flights meant for them. Chris Fraser has first-hand knowledge that the ramifications of the airport’s decline reach into many different areas. As the owner and pharmacist of Gander Pharmachoice, he relies on the airport for integral parts of his business. While a lot of his major volume of medication comes from a local supplier in St. John’s, some supplies need to come from a supplier on the mainland. “Now, it’s basically got to be flown in somewhere or trucked in from somewhere else,” said Fraser. It has led to a steady increase in wait times for the pharmacy when it comes to flying in supplies, going from next-day service to a two-day wait and now up to four days. That means it is almost a week to wait for supplies like dressings or gauze. “It does impact on our store. I can’t speak for others … but in the meantime, anyone who needs something quick, can’t get it flown in,” said Fraser. There has also been talk of forming a regional committee to address their concerns and raise awareness of how much the area depends on the airport. The hope is the petition will help magnify that effort and the voices of those directly affected by the cancellations. “There is very much a fear that when we think about recovery and resiliency through COVID-19 and past the pandemic, there is no guarantee these flights are going to come back and that they’re going to come back at the right time,” said DeYoung. “We’re advocating for right now, but also for the recovery piece. “That there is a plan here to make sure that when it is possible to travel and when it is possible to get somewhat back to normal, that there is access for our area.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
On sait que la relâche ne sera pas tout à fait comme les autres. C’est pourquoi l’administration contrecœuroise a entrepris de mettre sur pied une série d’activités destinées aux jeunes de la région. Question de garder leurs pieds, les mains et leurs méninges bien actifs durant cette semaine de pause annonciatrice du printemps. Programmées entre le 1er mars et le 5 avril prochains, ces activités sont regroupées sous quatre rubriques sur le site de la Ville: Les détectives, Le spa à la maison, Les amateurs de nature ainsi que Les Indécis. Le coût d’inscription est de 5 $ pour les résidents de Contrecœur. Chaque catégorie comprend des idées en lien avec la thématique proposée, que ce soit du bricolage, du sport, une expérience scientifique ou un atelier culinaire. Afin de concevoir les activités, les initiateurs du projet ont par ailleurs fait appel à divers partenaires incluant le Zoo de Granby. Les jeunes auront en effet l’occasion d’en apprendre davantage sur le bien-être animal en général et sur nos amis félins en particulier. Ils auront aussi la chance de participer à des activités virtuelles sur la glu galactique et la magie du papier avec Technoscience. Ou encore dépenser de l’énergie lors d’un entraînement familial avec l’entreprise locale KinéCible. Les fans d’humour auront également de quoi s’occuper durant la relâche. Ces derniers pourront en effet assister au spectacle virtuel de Vincent Fecteau. Le programme comprend par ailleurs des jeux-questionnaires sur des séries télé populaires organisées par La Dame de Cœur – Pub Ludique. Des ateliers de breakdance ou de dessin sont aussi offerts par les productions Katomix. Pour participer aux différentes activités proposées, les Contrecœurois doivent s’inscrire d’ici au 24 février sur le site de la Ville. Les places sont disponibles en quantité limitée. Durant la relâche, d’autres activités sont proposées aux familles ailleurs dans la MRC. Les jeunes et leurs parents peuvent notamment emprunter des patins, skis de fond, tubes à glisser et raquettes de 10 h à 17 h au parc Le Rocher à Saint-Amable. Le tout, afin de prendre l’air et se dégourdir les pattes le temps d’un agréable après-midi à l’extérieur. À Verchères, trois ateliers interactifs sont proposés aux jeunes de la municipalité. Le 2 mars, les enfants peuvent ainsi assister à l’atelier de magie de Magislain dès 9 h. Le lendemain à 10 h, à celui de dessin offert par Sheltoon. Le 4 mars à 9 h, les curieux peuvent pour leur part participer à l’atelier de Science en folie. Des activités sont également proposées sur le site de la Ville de Sainte-Julie, dont certaines dans le cadre des Julievernales. Les résidents de tous âges pourront donc profiter des patinoires, sentiers et jeux d’évasion s’ils ont envie de bouger. Ou encore bouquiner à la bibliothèque dont les heures d’ouverture sont disponibles sur le site de la Ville. Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève