The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
Curl P.E.I. suspects the province's self-isolation rules are behind a poor turnout in this year's Scotties and Brier provincial qualifiers. Both events are going ahead this weekend in O'Leary, with just two women's and two men's teams competing for the right to represent the Island at the national curling championships in Calgary, slated for late February and early March. "This is the smallest provincials I've ever been a part of," said Suzanne Birt, the skip for one of the two women's teams competing, and the Island's representative at the Scotties the past two years. "It's a little different for sure." But Birt said she's hardly surprised. P.E.I.'s representatives will have to enter a curling bubble in Calgary for up to two weeks, sticking to their hotel rooms and the arena. There'll be no friends, family, or other fans allowed inside the bubble. Then upon their return to P.E.I., curlers will have to self-isolate for another 14 days. "[Curling] is what we love to do," said Birt. "But at the same time, it's a little disheartening thinking about your family, that you have to be away from them for a month.… It's a lot to take on, and a lot of commitment from the team and our families." You need almost a month of time from your employment, from school, whatever it might be. — Peter Gallant While Birt and her teammates have been able to juggle their schedules and make it work, Curl P.E.I. says that likely wasn't an option for many teams. "I think it's strictly due to the whole situation with the bubble. There are a lot of teams that decided not to enter, just because you need almost a month of time from your employment, from school, whatever it might be," said Peter Gallant, Curl P.E.I.'s performance director. "But I think everybody's happy that there's a couple teams that can have a championship." Fortunate on P.E.I. P.E.I. is one of just a few places going ahead with Scotties and Brier qualifiers. In some provinces, given their COVID-19 situations and tougher restrictions, curling is off the ice all together. Most provinces have nominated representatives to head to Calgary, or selected last year's winners. "We are so fortunate here in P.E.I., and we are so thankful that we've had curling ice to practise on, and play games. And I'm very very thankful we live here," said Birt. "The teams that are on P.E.I., they ultimately have a distinct advantage over some of the other teams, just because of the time on ice," added Gallant. "Now, that being said, they still have to work hard to do well at a national championship. But I think the extra ice time is certainly going to benefit them." 'Eat, sleep, and curl' In both the Scotties and Brier qualifiers this weekend, the two teams will curl in a best-of-five championship. In Birt's case, even if her rink loses, they'll still be heading to Calgary. Curling Canada has expanded this year's field to include a few wild-card teams. Based on their national rankings, Birt and her rink have already earned a wild-card spot. The prospect of travelling to Alberta, where COVID-19 is much more prevalent, doesn't have her concerned. "Me personally, I think it's going to be the safest environment possible," she said. "We go to Calgary, we go straight to the bubble and we don't leave. We eat, sleep, and curl." More from CBC P.E.I.
A slugfest between Wall Street and Main Street took an unexpected turn late on Wednesday after moderators of a stock trading forum that has helped fuel massive rallies in the shares of GameStop temporarily closed its doors. Shares of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, Koss Corp and BlackBerry all dropped at least 20% moments after the shuttering of the forum, highlighting the role it has played in fueling stock rallies that many say have been driven primarily by retail investors.
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
A Cree pilot says he was honoured to be the person who delivered vaccines to some Cree communities in northern Quebec. Air Creebec pilot Willard Petagumskum flew vaccines to all of the coastal Cree communities in Quebec on Jan. 16. It marked the start of a regional vaccination campaign across Cree territory and an important step in the Cree fight against COVID-19. "I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. Because with everything we have been going through with this pandemic ... that it would help our people," said Petagumskum in Cree. As of Tuesday, there were 86 positive COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at the start of the new year in the region. Two Cree communities — Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou — have been hit particularly hard. There are 52 positive cases in Mistissini and 28 in Oujé-Bougoumou, according to the latest numbers from Cree public health. I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. - Willard Petagumskum, Air Creebec pilot For Petagumskum, who is from Whapmagoostui, the vaccine is an important way to protect vulnerable people in Cree communities. "There is a vaccine for [COVID-19] to help many ... elders and all our people," said Petagumskum. So far in the vaccination campaign, more than 8,200 people have received the vaccine that Petagumskum delivered, according to health officials. "I'm glad to be a part of this with the nurses and doctors, they do a lot to help our people. The small part of me being able to help out with this, that made me happy." The vaccine delivery happened in the middle of a snowstorm on Jan. 16, but after 30 years as pilot, Petagumskum took it in stride. "When I woke up Saturday morning to get ready for work, I noticed it was snowing a lot. There was a snowstorm in Montreal." Petagumskum needed to have a negative COVID-19 test before he could make the flight. He said he will get the vaccine himself as soon as he's able. 'I want people to look after themselves even after you receive your shot of this vaccine. You still have to be careful," he said. WATCH | Resident Fred Tomatuk watches the flight carrying the vaccine land in Eastmain, Que.:
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season is set to resume Friday in Nova Scotia after a nearly two-month break. The league suspended the season on Dec. 1, saying play could resume as early as Jan. 3. The Quebec-based teams returned to action last week. Public health officials in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island approved the league to start playing games again on Jan. 29, with no fans in attendance. When the season started in the fall, limited crowds were allowed to attend games in Nova Scotia. Jacob Squires is a 17-year-old defenceman for the Cape Breton Eagles from Prince Edward Island. He said it will be a change with no fans in attendance, but the game will be business as usual. "Even though it's unfortunate we can't play in front of our fans here in Sydney, we still get to play games so it's positive," said Squires. Games in the Maritime division start off with the Charlottetown Islanders facing the Eagles on Friday at Centre 200 in Sydney. On Saturday, the Halifax Mooseheads will take on the Eagles in Sydney. 'Thrilled' to play again Mooseheads president Brian Urquhart said they are fortunate the team was able to get back on the ice to finish this season. "We're thrilled that we're in a part of the world that allows our kids to get back on the ice," said Urquhart. When the season started in the fall, Nova Scotia allowed its two QMJHL teams to have limited fans in the arenas. Season ticket holders and a limited number of people holding single game tickets were allowed to attend each game. The province will reassess restrictions on Feb. 8. "We're hoping that this is a short-lived situation and we can get back on the ice in front of our fans," said Urquhart. Only those essential to the game and rink staff will be at the arenas when it's game time. Nathan Larose, a 20-year-old defenceman with the Eagles, said there is no worry that scouts won't be able to attend these games in person. "I think lots of scouts or teams in the pro world, they're watching online and they're making the best out of it because they need to adapt as well," said the Quebec native. New Brunswick is not yet allowing its QMJHL teams to return to action. MORE TOP STORIES
Pope Francis on Wednesday marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by urging people to keep a close watch on ideological extremism, because "these things can happen again". He spoke three weeks after displays of anti-Semitism surfaced at the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 and two weeks after one of Montreal's largest synagogues was vandalised and almost set on fire. Speaking at his general audience, held inside the papal library because of coronavirus restrictions, Francis said it was imperative that the world did not forget.
Halifax regional council will hold public consultations on a request from the province to buy parkland to build a new school. The parkland is located next to Park West, an existing school in Clayton Park West that's overcrowded. Park West was opened in 2000 and was designed for 560 students. There are currently close to 900 students and the school has set up nine portables. "This is a wonderful opportunity," said Coun. Iona Stoddard. "We have a chance to work with our staff and the province to get some badly needed infrastructure." The new school would accommodate 700 pre-primary to Grade 8 students. An existing soccer field would remain, but a wooded area would be affected. Stoddard acknowledged that some residents have concerns about the loss of parkland, bussing and traffic, as well as the safety of pre-primary children in the area. That's why city staff decided community consultations should be done, even though the province does have the ability to exempt itself from such a process. "All that is legally required is notification in the newspaper," said Denise Schofield, executive director of parks and recreation for the city. "But the fact that this is a piece of parkland, we asked, and they agreed to do a true consultation." Provincial officials first showed interest in the site in June 2020 and sent a formal request to city officials in December asking the site selection process be expedited due to enrolment increases. Some councillors wondered if selling the land to the province is the best option and asked about leasing it instead. "We are not taking the lease option off the table," said chief administrative officer Jacques Dube. "There are also ongoing discussions about swapping various parcels of land." Halifax officials were not sure when the public consultations will take place. MORE TOP STORIES
The Himalayan nation of Nepal launched its largest immunisation campaign on Wednesday with its first coronavirus vaccinations for medical workers, following a gift of one million doses from giant neighbour India. Wearing a traditional black peaked cap and sleeveless red vest, a doctor at a teaching hospital in the capital, Kathmandu, became the first recipient of a dose taken from a bed of ice in a cubical blue cooler and injected by masked and gowned staff. "We have a new weapon now and I hope we will be able to defeat the coronavirus soon," said Dinesh Kafle, 50, after he was applauded by those queuing for their turn while he sat in a white-walled room before a poster advertising the campaign.
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
MOSCOW — The lower house of Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it’s due to expire. The State Duma voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years. The vote came a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty. They agreed to complete the necessary procedures in the next few days, according to the Kremlin. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week. The Associated Press
At the outset of the final environmental hearings for an expansion at Nunavut's Mary River Mine, five communities in the territory's northern Qikiqtaaluk region are saying they can't support the project as it is being proposed. For those communities — especially Pond Inlet, which is nearest to the mine — the primary concern is what impact a new railway and increased shipping from Milne Inlet could have on local wildlife like caribou and narwhal. The Nunavut Impact Review Board hearings are this week and next week in Pond Inlet and Iqaluit, and can be joined virtually. If approved, the expansion would see the mine double its current annual production of iron ore to 12 million tonnes. To move that ore, Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation would build a railway to replace an existing trucking route. To ship the iron ore out of Nunavut, the company says there would be one or two vessels travelling to and from Milne Port each day. That's around 176 round-trip ore carrier transits each summer, plus support vessels, like tugboats and fuel ships. Milne Inlet opens into Tasiujaq or Eclipse Sound, a primary habitat for narwhals in Nunavut. It's also located within a national marine conservation area, Tallurutiup Imanga. "We are not convinced the benefits outweigh the adverse impacts," reads a joint press release sent Monday by the North Baffin Working Group, a collective of hunters and trappers organizations and hamlets of Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Igloolik and Sanirajak. The group said the mining company hasn't "provided enough evidence that it can do the expansion safely," and argues there is still "too much uncertainty" for Inuit to make a decision right now. "For that reason we decided to unite and back Pond Inlet until they are happy with all the things that are involved in phase two," Clyde River Mayor Jerry Natanine told CBC News. "None of us will go on the side and say, 'oh, we support it, even if Pond doesn't.'" The Hamlet of Pond Inlet has asked for a gradual increase in production over the coming years. Don't say you've done enough, QIA tells mine These are supposed to be the final hearings for the longstanding project. Previous final hearings were adjourned in the fall of 2019 when consensus could not be reached. Inuit remain "deeply conflicted" about economic development and protecting the land, Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) president P.J. Akeeagok said on Monday as technical meetings started. Next week, a community round table will allow the public to make presentations and ask questions. While the QIA and Baffinland signed a huge benefits contract last summer called the Inuit Certainty Agreement, Akeeagok says environmental disputes from last October are still unresolved. Akeeagok had this message for the mining company. "Baffinland, I ask you to be adaptive. I ask you to challenge the depth and the form of your commitments to Inuit," he said. "Don't simply say, you have done enough, and now it is up to the Nunavut Impact Review Board to decide between your position and that of Inuit." The board of directors for the QIA has yet to say if it will support the expansion. Baffinland says the railway and production increase are needed to make the mine profitable. If the expansion is approved, president Brian Penney says $2.4 billion in royalties would be paid to Inuit over the life of the mine based on "conservative assumptions about iron ore prices." That breaks down to about $1 billion for the QIA between 2021 and 2038, he said, and $1.4 billion to Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, a territorial land claim group. He added that, to date, the QIA has been paid $66 million in royalties and land rent by Baffinland. The mine is already permitted to build a rail and port at Steensby Inlet, a more southern location, from which it could ship up to 18 million tonnes of iron ore each year. But the mine has said that it needs the revenue from the production increase being proposed now to finance an operation at Steensby. Mine says it has consulted and will keep doing so In the last five years, Baffinland has has held over 200 community consultation meetings, the mine's manager of northern affairs, Joseph Tigullaraq, told CBC. "Baffinland has asked, complied and changed with community concerns," he said. Upon the requests of communities, the mine says it changed the location of its rail line, added caribou crossings in locations approved by Inuit and shortened its shipping season, at a significant financial loss. Now, the company is offering to fund an Inuit-led and -administered environmental monitoring program that would work independently from the mine's own monitoring projects. "We want Inuit traditional knowledge to be involved and integrated into the plans we have for this project," Tigullaraq said. But the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization and the Hamlet of Pond Inlet say they don't want to plan for environmental mitigation after the project is already started. They want to know now that building, mining and shipping at that level will not harm community lifestyles that are crucial to food security and cultural autonomy. "This sudden increase in the amount shipped would not allow for careful monitoring of subtle and important changes to the marine environment and marine mammals," reads a letter from the Hamlet of Sanirajak released before the start of the hearings Monday. While the mine is a large employer for Sanirajak, the hamlet said it's critical to know if the expansion will "result in the extinguishment of Pond Inlet Inuit's ability to harvest narwhal in Eclipse Sound." Hearings are scheduled to run until Feb. 6. For members of the public outside of Iqaluit and Pond Inlet, the live proceedings are being broadcast on Uvagut TV.
Marian Turski, a 94-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, marked the 76th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet troops on Wednesday only virtually, aware that he might never return as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. Survivors and museum officials told Reuters they fear the pandemic could end the era where Auschwitz's former prisoners can tell their own stories to visitors on site. Most Auschwitz survivors are in their eighties and nineties.
Indigenous women traumatized by birth alerts continue to be haunted by them long after the alerts were first entered into the health-care system, says Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) — and she's not alone in saying simply ending the practice doesn't go far enough. "We have to repair the harm. [Government] has to acknowledge it," said Turpel Lafond, whowas the First Indigenous woman appointed to the bench in Saskatchewan. She is now a professor at the University of British Columbia's school of law and recently headed an intensive study that found widespread racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in B.C.'s health-care system. Saskatchewan posted an anouncement online Monday saying it would stop using birth alerts on Feb. 1. Under the practice, social workers or health-care workers would place an alert on the file of a mother-to-be — in Saskatchewan, most often an Indigenous woman, according to government data — considered high-risk before they entered labour. The baby would often then be seized by government and put into provincial care. Turpel-Lafond says women who were flagged were labelled as bad parents, drinkers or drug seekers. "Instead of working prenatal and postnatal with mums and families, it was just putting the alert in the system, doing the harsh removals [of babies]," she said. She's spoken to women affected years after having an alert placed upon them. "They're so traumatized to this day … they will not access the health care because they don't feel it's culturally safe," she said. "All of this extremely hostile profiling that came with the child welfare … goes with them, especially through the emergency departments." Turpel-Lafond said the data should be deleted and the government should apologize, acknowledging the harm caused by birth alerts. "There wasn't really appropriate attention to whether that was even legal, and in my respectful view as a lawyer, a law professor, I don't think it is legal to take private information and blast it through the health-care system." The government did not apologize in its recent announcement. "Our decision aligns with recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the federal Indigenous child welfare legislation," Janice Colquhoun, executive director of Indigenous Services with child and family programs at the Ministry of Social Services, said in a statement Tuesday. The TRC's final report was released in 2015. In 2019, the Saskatchewan government said it would continue using birth alerts, despite calls to immediately abandon the practice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. B.C. announced an end to birth alerts in 2019, with Manitoba and Ontario following in 2020. Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services said its latest decision came after "recognizing concerns raised by various Indigenous partners and community stakeholders across Saskatchewan." Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, Saskatchewan issued 76 birth alerts — 53 involving Indigenous women, according to a Ministry of Social Services spokesperson. Data dating back to 2016 shows Indigenous moms had their children taken away at rates far higher than non-Indigenous moms. A spokesperson said the ministry is actively working on reunification. Gaps in support for expecting moms Jamesy Patrick, interim executive director at Sanctum Care Group in Saskatoon, said the alerts were essentially another discriminatory extension of colonial programs such as residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. Patrick, who holds a master's degree in law and focused her research on Indigenous children and youth in the child-welfare system, says the government needs to turn focus to supporting vulnerable women who would have been flagged. "There are significant gaps for prenatals in our community who interface homelessness, addiction, substance abuse, who are potentially HIV-positive or at risk of becoming, and also who have other children in care," she said. Patrick said they've served 54 moms (most postnatal) in a two-year period, and consistently have dozens of women on the wait-list. She advocates for the province to develop prenatal case management teams to connect vulnerable women to agencies providing support. She said case workers could help make women feel more comfortable accessing health care. "We know that many of our moms don't access prenatal care because they're worried about being alerted or they're worried that they're going to be discriminated against or marginalized, or they're going to face stigma in accessing care." Turpel-Lafond said anecdotes indicate Saskatchewan Indigenous women in the province receive less health-care in pre- and post-natal periods. "I think this is also connected to this tradition of birth alert, judging, shaming and and well and segregating Indigenous health care," she said. Patrick said stronger prenatal supports for vulnerable women are needed province-wide. She said this should be supported by government by lead by Indigenous leadership and frontline community organizations. The Ministry of Social Services said it will work with the Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and other partners to ensure supports are available. Turpel-Lafond said in addition to supporting vulnerable moms-to-be, much more work is needed to make the health-care system as a whole accessible for Indigenous women who no longer feel safe accessing it. "Let's hope people in Saskatchewan will begin to use anti-racism tools in their workplace, in health and social services and child welfare, and eradicate the scourge of racism that is in the system."
GUYSBOROUGH – Three times wasn’t the charm, so the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) invited representatives from ambulance provider Emergency Health Services (EHS) – Derek LeBlanc and Phil Stewart – to council, once again, to answer questions about the provision of service in the area. And, once again, council was disappointed. The EHS representatives joined council by video link at its regular meeting on Jan. 20. They answered questions from Warden Vernon Pitts, CAO Barry Carroll and councillors for almost an hour, but they failed to satisfy the concerns council has about lack of service and long wait times for ambulance transfers between hospital facilities. These issues are, in part, due to staffing shortages. The EHS representatives noted that the company, like any health care service in the province, has had difficulty attracting employees. A full-time job was posted for Canso three times and couldn’t be filled, said Stewart. Councillor Desmond asked if there was a minimum or maximum response time for EHS service. Warden Pitts reiterated that question and was told by Stewart that the complexities pertaining to the question didn’t allow him to provide the answers they were looking for. After council adjourned, Pitts told media present, “In regard to medical first response by EHS what really blew me away, as the warden, was there are no expected minimum or maximum response times within our municipally and to me, that is totally unacceptable … We should be given a minimum time – if your live in a city or whatever, I expect a minimum time in regard to response; same as the fire department or police. If you don’t have a minimum response time what are you measuring it by – this is totally unacceptable. “What it comes right down to is we’re playing Russian roulette and the gun is going to go off one of these times, if it hasn’t already gone off, and it has lately. We want a minimum level of service within MODG and surrounding areas – that’s not too much to ask for,” said Pitts. ‘Unacceptable’ continued to be the theme of the council meeting, with MODG receiving a response from the Department of Environment stating that a freedom of information request would need to be filed in order for the municipality to gain access to information regarding Irving Oil’s plans for a contaminated lot on Main Street in Guysborough. “That’s the only way they will release that information to us,” said Pitts, “And that is also totally unacceptable. “My understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan; now I haven’t got this from a legal source, but my understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan. It’s waiting approval from the province. Apparently, there are two avenues that this can go down. I don’t know exactly what those avenues are, but we just want to be made aware of what the plan is now; that we can have some input into it as a municipal unit as well as the residents. This is not acceptable. This is Main Street in Guysborough and this is impacting people’s lives and property values,” said Pitts. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A motion to prohibit fossil fuel producers and sellers from sponsoring city events or advertising on city property has been withdrawn unanimously at Regina's city council. At the executive committee meeting a week ago, councillors voted 7-4 in favour of a motion that would prevent fossil fuel companies from sponsoring city events, advertising or buying naming rights for city buildings. City administration said in a report that these sponsorships are expected to produce between $100,000 to $250,000 in net revenue annually for the city. Coun. Dan LeBlanc says he proposed the motion because the city has a policy to be energy sustainable by 2050, and it's up to the current council to help reach that goal. "I heard from a lot of people in the last week, and most of those I heard from support sustainability and understand that we need to get moving on it," LeBlanc said. "Despite support, I don't think this is one to push on. We don't have enough support at this point. I think taking a step back, let us cast a wider net for sustainability." Ward 4 Coun. Lori Bresciani, who had voted against the ban, says council reversing the decision was admirable and she thanked the councillors who did. "It's listening to your residents," Bresciani said. "And I will speak for all of the councillors that are here that have done that and vocally said that, 'You know what? We made a mistake. We heard you loud and clear,' and that is the job of a councillor." A total of 20 delegations, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Canadian Labour Congress. Krystal Lewis, one of two delegations who spoke in favour of the amendment, says climate change is an important issue with voters. "Young people want movement on this and they are less afraid than us to talk about it," said Lewis, a member of the Regina Public Interest Research Group that advocates for climate change action. "I hope that we can be a lot more courageous in our thinking and not be afraid despite some backlash or negative feedback, we still need to move forward with these conversations. "We owe it not just to ourselves, but all of these young folks and leaders of tomorrow who will be dealing with the consequences of our decisions today." Twenty of the 21 delegations spoke against the amendment, including John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. Hopkins requested the council defeat the amendment. "The Saskatchewan energy sector is vital to our province. It is one of our big economic factors employing thousands of unionized workers as well as businesses," Hopkins said. "These employees are family, friends and neighbours." Hopkins says energy companies are using unique and innovative ways to reduce emissions and their carbon footprints. The fossil fuel producer and seller change wasn't the only amendment to the policy. Executive committee had also approved prohibiting political candidates or parties from sponsoring city events. On Wednesday, council voted unanimously to allow political parties or candidates to advertise or sponsor events as long as they indicated who it was paid by. Report on ew process for approving downtown parking lots postponed 'City council was set to discuss a report showing that 46.7 per cent of Regina's private land downtown is currently either surface parking or structured parkades. However it was pushed to the next meeting due to time constraints. If approved, the report would create a new process for approving new downtown lots and decommissioning lots when the allotted time ran out. The report was commissioned by the previous city council in August. It had asked city administration to look into amending the official Design Regina community plan to accommodate temporary surface parking lots. City administration looked into allowing lots for three to five years, researched how other cities consider downtown surface lots and consulted with the Regina and Downtown Business Improvement District, downtown property owners and developers. Administration also looked into how to decommission a temporary parking lot. Regina city councils have previously approved three temporary parking lots. The report shows none of them went on to be developed as expected. One such site is at 1755 Hamilton Street. It was approved as a three-year temporary parking lot in 2012, but was supposed to be developed afterward. It remains a vacant lot. A second is at 1840 Lorne Street. In 2015, it was approved for a three-year term. In 2019, another three-year term was approved. It is still a parking lot. "There is a risk that allowing surface parking lots, even on a temporary basis, would cause several demolitions downtown if left uncontrolled," city administration said in the report. Administration is recommending limiting future temporary surface parking lots and creating an underutilized land improvement strategy to redevelop existing sites.
If you have high-interest consumer debt, getting control of your money in the new year might sound overwhelming. Most Americans say the COVID-19 outbreak has caused financial stress, according to a survey released in October by the National Endowment for Financial Education, with 30% listing debt as their top stressor. Despite the pandemic, you can still pay down your debt with the right plan. Here’s how. CONFRONT YOUR DEBT The first step is simple, but it can be the hardest: You have to face the problem. Angela Moore, a Miami-based certified financial planner and founder of Modern Money Advisor, which offers virtual advising and education for consumers, says it’s common for her clients to know they’re in debt but not know how much. She recommends compiling your debt onto one document or spreadsheet, listing all balances, minimum payments and interest rates. Though the task is daunting, most of her clients feel relief once it’s finished. “Debt is an emotional burden,” she says, “but a lot of times that overwhelm goes away once you have clarity.” COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDERS After listing your debt, it’s time to get on the phone with your creditors. Ask for a temporarily lowered interest rate, reduced monthly payment or waived late fees. Make sure to explain how the pandemic has influenced your finances. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, says Dan Herron, a California-based CFP at Elemental Wealth Advisors. “It doesn’t hurt to say, ‘I’m still trying to do the right thing, I’m still trying to make payments. Where can we meet in the middle?’” he says. Any break you get, take that money and apply it to your debt. If you need help negotiating, contact a credit counsellor at a reputable non-profit organization, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Counselors have relationships with creditors and can negotiate on your behalf. Services are typically free for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. CONSIDER CONSOLIDATING If you have multiple types of debt, such as loans, credit cards and medical bills, you may want to take out an unsecured personal loan to consolidate it into one monthly payment. A consolidation loan is a good idea only if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than those on your current debts. Some lenders have tightened their approval standards in the pandemic, but borrowers with good to excellent credit (690 FICO or higher) should have a good shot. Look for a lender that specializes in debt consolidation and offers perks like direct payments to creditors or rate discounts for automated payments. If you have credit card debt, you could apply for a balance transfer card. Though these cards typically charge a 3% to 5% fee, they offer an introductory 0% interest period, so all payments go toward your principal, which helps you pay off debt faster. You’ll likely need good credit to qualify. Charles Ho, a California-based CFP and founder of Legacy Builders Financial, urges caution for some consumers. Though consolidation tools can save money, they also free up your credit cards for more spending. “It might make mathematical sense to consolidate your loans, but the math is meaningless if we don’t account for our behaviour and end up almost doubling our debt,” he says. PICK A STRATEGY AND STICK TO IT If you choose not to consolidate, there are two common methods for approaching debt payoff: the snowball or avalanche. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, while making minimum payments on the others, then move to the second smallest and so on. The avalanche method uses the same strategy, but you start with the debt that has the highest interest rate. According to Herron, the avalanche method may get you to the finish line faster since the money you save on interest can be applied to other debts, but it’s more important to pick the method that motivates you the most. BREAK THE CYCLE As you make your way out of debt, start to automate your finances. Moore has her clients set up automatic bill payments and savings contributions, so the money is put aside without having to think about it. If finances are tight in the pandemic, build toward a $500 emergency fund. She also advises clients to use a separate account for nonessential spending — 30% of your post-tax income is a good target to hit in this account. Clients can use the money to buy whatever they want, but once it’s at $0, “that’s it,” she says. “By automating and creating systems, it helps you stick to your financial strategy and take the emotional aspect out of it. That’s the key.” ______________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Jackie Veling is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. RELATED LINKS NerdWallet: Compare debt consolidation loans http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-consolidation-loans National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Get help for debt https://www.nfcc.org/ Jackie Veling Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Lying is something we all do, and we start at a very early age. Research has found that children as young as two tell lies; by the age of seven, we have the art of lying pretty much mastered. There are many reasons for lying, but often it's something we do to contain the damage that unfiltered honesty might unleash. And there are different types of lies: from outright fabrication, to altering some of the facts or to simply leaving out some information. There's a reason why we pledge to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," in court — that's the only way to get the full and honest story. Contact tracing When it comes to controlling the spread of infectious disease, getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is vital. Contact tracers depend on accuracy, details and the completeness of information as they try to recreate the past two weeks of someone's life if they're carrying the novel coronavirus. That includes getting a full list of people who were within six feet of contact for five minutes with the person who is infectious. Those people, the ones who have been inside that personal bubble, are at greatest risk of getting infected themselves so contact tracers make every effort to identify and alert them. Any gap in information can be a potential escape route for the virus. Withholding information What happens when someone lies? The consequences of lying are significant, as set out in the Health Protection Act and the Emergency Management Act in Nova Scotia. Communicable disease control is serious business, and the medical officer of health as well as public health inspectors have far-reaching powers if a person is deemed to be putting public health at risk. Fines, into the thousands of dollars, mandatory quarantine at a special facility, involuntary medical treatment and even a prison term are possibilities if you break the rules. But, in all honesty, no one in government wants to use those penalties. They are expensive to enforce, make enforcement officials look bad and are really just a last resort when people refuse to "do the right thing." If fines are imposed, they're often accompanied by great publicity in order to deter others — and to demonstrate how serious a breach of trust can be. By the end of 2020, more than 600 Nova Scotians were fined for breaching pandemic rules, like gathering limits or self-isolation. No one had been jailed and it is unlikely that anyone will be in the future. Contact tracing to control the spread of communicable disease is nothing new; in fact, it's one of the oldest public health tools we've got. In recent history, it's been used to track the spread of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, head lice and HIV/AIDS, so the techniques for collecting information are well established. So, too, however, is the stigma associated with having a disease that's being contained — and the likelihood of public shaming that may go with it. Stigma and shaming often happen when there is something we fear or don't understand. Mental illness and addiction are examples that quickly come to mind. Fostering honesty Think back to what happened with trying to trace HIV/AIDS, when stigma and shaming prevented people from disclosing what was considered high-risk behaviours to doctor. It made those people less likely to get tested, even if they thought they had a disease, and made them feel unsafe sharing their exposure with close friends and family. People wanted to protect themselves from being judged, even by their loved ones. Does this sound familiar? It should: it's exactly what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic — and continue to see throughout it. 'To keep everyone healthy, we need to create a safe environment for open disclosure that's met with compassion and support.' - Mary Jane Hampton, health-care consultant Shaming didn't deter risky behaviour in the past. Instead, it deterred disclosure, and we've spent the last 40 years repairing the damage created by stigmatization. We're still working to build that trust, on both sides. A study done last summer at Brock University in Ontario found that that at least one-third of the respondents with COVID-19 lied about having symptoms, and also about the degree that they physically distanced from others. About a quarter of respondents said they lied about how closely they were following health protocols, while those with COVID-19 were even more likely to lie about it. People who hid symptoms said they were afraid of stigma and social judgment, even more so if they had broken public health rules. In short, shaming people and creating a stigma results in less reliable public health data — and that's bad for all of us. Listen to the interview To get the truth, we need to create the conditions for it, but we often do just the opposite. When people hear about a COVID case, their first response is usually to speculate about what bad choices the person must have made to contract it — "Did they travel? Attend a party? Break a rule?" That's quickly followed by blame and the person testing positive with COVID can be set adrift in a sea of guilt. To keep everyone healthy, we need to create a safe environment for open disclosure that's met with compassion and support. We still have a long road before enough people are vaccinated to put the virus behind us and, until then, contact tracing will be one of our best defences. Open disclosure protects everyone and potentially saves lives. This virus is a great equalizer. While some people are at higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, as humans we all share the same means of spreading and contracting it: we breathe. And there is no shame in that.
It's a sight familiar to anyone who's driven into or out of Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge — a woman in a bright red bikini, next to a massive number 4. For decades, Studio 4 has greeted millions of drivers entering Canada or heading to the United States; its risqué sign a distinctive —and for some an unwelcome — landmark. But the sign you can't miss won't be there for much longer. The strip club has been sold. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think if they demolish it or something I want to be there," said Peter Barth, who had owned the bar since 1984. Negotiations for the lot at the corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads began last year, according to Iyman Meddoui, president of Westdell Development Corporation, which bought the property. Both Brath and Meddoui declined to say how much the site sold for, but land registry documents show it was transferred on Jan 21 for $1,250,000. Plans for something 'completely different' The new owners won't say just yet what's coming to the site — but it won't be a strip club. "Our plans are going to be something completely different," said Meddoui. "We do have an exciting development that's under the planning." The company has applied to demolish the red building covered in signs currently advertising the XXXTASY LOUNGE, he added. "Saying that it was rough is putting it lightly. It looked like there wasn't much investment made there for many years now." Knocking down Studio 4 means the loss of a landmark — for better or worse. It was part of Windsor's exotic dancer heyday in the 1980s, when roughly a dozen strip clubs were operating and the city was dubbed "Tijuana North" by American visitors, said local historian Marty Gervais. "When you drive off the bridge and you see Studio 4 it's part of our Sin City image and people have always talked about it." The history of catering to partiers who streamed across the river dates back to Confederation when the city boasted the "best bawdy houses in North America," he explained. During prohibition, Windsor offered dance halls and a place to get a drink. More recently, it's attracted visitors with fully-nude dancing, Cuban cigars and a legal drinking age of 19. "We were constantly feeding thirsty Americans with what they wanted, which they couldn't get on the Detroit side of the border," said Gervais. Studio 4, and its salacious sign is part of that history. "It's very much a part of Windsor life. It just seems to have always been there," he said. Sign survived councillors and controversy But the sign, much like the club it stands outside, has had to weather controversy. Alan Halberstadt is a former newspaper columnist and city councillor. He remembers his council colleague, Caroline Postma, leading a crusade to "get that half-naked sign down because she felt it was against the city's sensibilities." Halberstadt said he wasn't happy about the sign either, but over time he got used to it. "After a while it becomes … kind of a Windsor insignia or landmark," he said, adding he believes any concerns about damage it may have done to the city's image is "overblown." "There's a lot of politicians and people that would have liked to see that sign come down, but she's stood the test of time," he said with a wry smile. Tussles with councillors and police officers enforcing the no-touching rule are among memories that were top of mind for Brath on Tuesday. He doesn't have any worries about his sign being a bad first impression of Windsor, or Canada for that matter. "We were right in their face, right on the corner," he said. The sign that's so recognizable today was also once a little more risque. "We had to draw on panties and a bra," said the former owner. "Originally, it was showing a little bit more." Strip clubs have been shut down by COVID-19, but even before the pandemic, Brath, who's 80 now, said business wasn't what it once was. Gone are the days of limousines pulling up out front, seven servers working non-stop and a lineup that extended beyond the canopy snaking out the back door. "The first week we were full, full, full," he said. "Lately? Nothing. Adult entertainment in Windsor is dead." Studio 4's new owners are planning to turn the site into a shopping development, he added. A 'fresh new look' coming to sign Meddoui was tight-lipped about his company's plans, saying they're still being developed. Westdell has also purchased an empty lot next to the club, along with the University and Ambassador shopping centres across the street. They're planning to "transform" the intersection over the next couple of years, said Meddoui. As for the sign? He's promising a very different look in the meantime. "You'll see a fresh new look on that sign on an interim basis," he said. "As the building will be removed, the sign will also be rebranded."