The Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an Italian carabineri police officer were killed on Monday while traveling in the DRC in a UN convoy, the Foreign Ministry said.
The Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an Italian carabineri police officer were killed on Monday while traveling in the DRC in a UN convoy, the Foreign Ministry said.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The executive director of the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition was blunt with a provincial government committee Tuesday. Robert Wright's stand on police street checks got straight to the point. "We have, yet again, a police practice that is supported by government, directed in fact by government, that we believe is illegal and is doubling down on the racist practices of policing," Wright told members of the Standing Committee on Community Services. Wright was one of six people called to testify before the committee. Committee members wanted to hear from them about over-representation of Black and Indigenous people in the justice system. Continued opposition Wright spoke of his group's continued opposition to allowing police to stop people and ask for their identification. Although Mark Furey, the former minister of justice, directed police to end the practice in October 2019, officers were also instructed they could continue to intercede if they deemed the person might be involved in "suspicious activity." Wright called the exemption "illegal and problematic." He used it as one example of the way government policy continues to perpetuate the racism endured by Black people in Nova Scotia. Candace Thomas is the deputy minister of the Department of Justice.(Department of Justice) Candace Thomas, the deputy minister of justice, didn't shy away from the criticism, acknowledging in her opening and closing statements that, "Nova Scotia has a long and extremely painful history of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism." When asked by NDP MLA Kendra Coombes whether the province was looking at revisiting the exemption, Thomas said her department was speaking with the coalition "about this particular issue right now." "I don't know if it would be appropriate for us to say what those discussions look like currently," said Thomas, before inviting coalition co-ordinator Venessa Fells to also respond. "We're currently trying to look at that," said Fells. "It does cause great concern because we see this definition of suspicious activity in the directive as really a grey area for allowing street checks to continue. "We have raised this with the [Nova Scotia] Human Rights Commission as well as the Department of Justice and we are currently trying to work through that, hopefully, to figure something out in the near future." Emma Halpern is the executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia(Elizabeth Fry Society) The Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia also testified, calling on the government to do more to help women who are incarcerated, particularly those who need support after they are released. Emma Halpern the society's executive director, talked about what she called the "child-welfare-to-corrections pipeline" where young people, particularly those who are Black or Indigenous, end up before the courts because they don't get the supports they need. "More and more young people who have been in group homes and in care [end] up in our correctional facilities as they age out," said Halpern. MORE TOP STORIES
Robinhood, the online brokerage used by many retail traders to pile in to heavily shorted stocks like GameStop Corp, has made an ambitious push into loaning out its clients' shares to short sellers as it expands its business. The size of the jump highlights Robinhood's rapid growth over the past year as the number of retail investors has soared in the work-from-home environment during the pandemic and as retail brokers have largely eliminated trading fees, a model Robinhood helped pioneer. Menlo Park, California-based Robinhood is expected to go public this year with a valuation of more than $20 billion.
An officer with the Queens District RCMP has been awarded with the prestigious Commanding Officer’s Commendation for Bravery. Cpl. Robert Frizzell was recognized for his courageous rescue of a woman from the Mersey River on the morning of May 10, 2020, after an accident landed her vehicle submerged in water. In a social media announcement of the award on February 25, the RCMP described how, when Frizzell arrived on scene, the vehicle was fully submerged in the Mersey. “An occupant of the vehicle was able to get out of the car but was floating downstream and unable to make it to shore. “Knowing that a water recovery unit would take time to arrive, Cpl. Frizzell chose to get in the water. He grabbed a PFD and a paddleboard, then tied a rope around himself harness style, with another member and volunteer firefighter remaining on shore to hold the other end of the rope. “He swam into the river, grabbed hold of the woman and continued to hold onto her while the on-shore member and firefighter pulled them to safety,” the post continued. It ended with, “Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition, Cpl. Frizzell.” RCMP Commanding Officer for Nova Scotia, Lee Bergerman, presented Frizzell with the award February 11. Frizzell declined to be interviewed by LighthouseNOW, preferring to deflect praise to all of the responders that were on the scene that day. In an email to the newspaper, he commented that he was “truly thankful” for being recognized for the award. Nonetheless, he added, although he was the one who went into the water, “there was a whole team of others that were instrumental in rescuing the woman. “From all the onlookers who provided support and the paddleboard, the other emergency personal both police and fire, who held the rope, and everyone who provided medical care after the woman was brought out of the water, it really was a team effort. It was really great to see a community come together and help someone in need,” said Frizzell. Staff Sergeant Daniel Archibald of the Queens District RCMP echoed the praise given to the officer. “We are all very proud of the actions of Cpl. Frizzell as well as actions of the other officers and firefighters that day. We are, of course, most happy with the fact that the victim in this incident was able to ‘walk away’ with no long-term injuries,” Archibald commented to LighthouseNOW in an email. “All too often, as first responders, we often see things go the other way, unfortunately. It’s great to see Cpl. Frizzell and others get recognized for single incidences like this one, as all too often these acts of bravery happen every day across this country and no one hears about it,” Archibald added. Hailing from Prince Edward Island, Frizzell has served in Airdrie, Alberta and in three communities in the Northwest Territories: Behchoko, Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik. He arrived in Liverpool in September 2019. In an article that appeared in LighthouseNOW following the event, Captain John Long of the Liverpool Fire Department, who was on the scene, was quoted saying he hoped there’s recognition in the future for the officer who jumped into action that morning. “He deserves kudos for that because that took guts, I’ll tell you,” said Long. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Geotechnical engineers will begin drilling boreholes in the Drumheller Valley to help determine possible future berm alignments for ongoing flood mitigation efforts. Approximately 20 boreholes were drilled on publicly accessible land in fall 2020 to help engineers fill in gaps in historic records, and to provide initial information for proposals. “When designing dikes and berms, we need to get an idea of the foundation soil condition and soil type-whether it is silt, sand, or clay,” said Mark Brotherton, geotechnical engineer with Red Deer firm Parkland Geotechnical Consulting Ltd. Brotherton is one of the main consultants on the project, with 40 years experience as a geotechnical engineer, and the company is very familiar with the Red Deer River. He explained the boreholes will typically be drilled down to bedrock, which can range from only a few metres to 20 metres throughout the Drumheller Valley. The procedure will help provide data on the types of soils throughout the valley and determine whether a dike would be feasible based on whether the soil in the proposed alignment area will support the berm structure. The data will also help with completing detailed berm designs, such as determining stable side slope angles. Parkland Geotechnical is not the only company involved in this phase of the project, with most planning to conduct drilling beginning in March; drilling is anticipated to take place over the next three to four weeks. Some of the drilling may need to be conducted on privately owned land, and Scott Land and Lease will be in consultation with landowners to arrange for drilling on private properties. The berm designs will help protect residents from overland flooding. However, Brotherton notes seepage is a topic which often comes up when discussing flood mitigation efforts. While overland flooding can have worse impacts, seepage is still a cause for concern as responsibility falls onto the homeowner. Brotherton notes a good weeping tile system is the “first line of defence” against seepage in the basements of houses. “The purpose of dikes is to stop the overland flow,” he said. “We know, for the short flood period, the water rises on the river side of the dikes. If the berms are on permeable material (such as gravel or sand) it will likely have an impact on seepage in the protected area behind the dike.” He adds building berms on less permeable soils, such as clays, silt clay, and bedrock can reduce the impact of floods on the local groundwater table and seepage. Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year's elections. All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act. The three liberal members of the court, appointed by Democrats, were more sympathetic to the challengers. Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965. The outcome could make it harder, if not impossible, to use the Voting Rights Act to sue over legislation that creates obstacles to voting in the name of election security. Such measures are currently making their way through dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures. Civil rights group and Democrats argue that the proposed restrictions would disproportionately affect minority voters, important Democratic constituencies. Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have proposed national legislation that would remove such security-driven obstacles to voting. Many of those proposals are being driven by former President Donald Trump's repeated false claims of a stolen election, although state elections officials and judges in state and federal courts found no evidence of significant problems. The Supreme Court case has strong partisan implications, with Arizona and national Republicans on one side, state and national Democrats on the other. The Arizona provisions under review were in place for last year's voting. They are a 2016 law that limits who can return early ballots for another person and a separate policy of discarding ballots cast in the wrong precinct. Both parties used ballot collection in Arizona to boost turnout during elections by going door to door and asking voters if they had completed their mail-in ballots. Voters who hadn't were urged to do so, and the volunteers offered to take the ballots to election offices. Democrats used the process more effectively. Republicans who control the legislature made a crime of ballot collection, dubbed ballot harvesting by opponents, other than for family members and caregivers. Eighty per cent of the state's voters use mail-in ballots or vote early in person. The federal appeals court in San Francisco found that Black, Hispanic and Native Americans voters were most heavily affected by the new law. Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh pointed to the 2005 recommendation of a commission chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and the late James Baker to eliminate ballot collection, among other ideas to reduce the chance for election fraud. Kavanaugh said the recommendation seemed to be the sort of “circumstance that puts a thumb on the scale in favour of the legitimacy of the rule.” Jessica Amunson, representing Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in opposition to the restrictions, said the court should not ignore the state's experience with ballot collection. “Arizona had a 25-year history of literally not a single instance of fraud with ballot collection,” Amunson said on behalf of Hobbs, a Democrat. Justice Elena Kagan asked a series of questions that seemed to be aimed at other restrictions that could find their way to the court, including reducing time for early voting and eliminating polling places. Michael Carvin, representing Republicans, said the examples Kagan posited “have never existed in the real world." Kagan replied that they didn't “seem so fanciful to me.” The high court's last major Voting Rights Act decision was in 2013, when a 5-4 conservative majority gutted the part of the law that forced state and local governments with a history of discrimination, including Arizona, to get advance approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to elections. Roberts wrote the court's opinion. The current case involves the remaining portion of the law that applies nationwide and still prohibits discrimination in voting on the basis of race. A decision is expected by early summer. ___ Associated Press writer Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
City officials are warning residents to avoid contact with raccoons after an uptick in reported raccoon-related injuries. Between January 2020 and February 2021, Toronto Public Health saw a 62 per cent increase in reports of people bitten or scratched by raccoons compared to the two-year average between the years 2018 and 2019. Toronto Animal Services also received more service requests for sick and injured raccoons, the city said in a news release. In 2020, there were 13,712 requests compared to 4,172 requests in 2019. "This may be because residents are home more than usual or spending more time exercising outside in their neighbourhoods, thus encountering more raccoons in the city," Toronto Public Health said in a release. Brad Gates, the owner and president of AAA Gates' Wildlife Control, says his company received more calls in 2020 with residents spending more time at home. "If they were out of the house, they wouldn't hear the animal moving about during the daytime, but during COVID-19 they were hearing the animals at all times," he said. Gates said reports of other wild animals, such as coyotes and foxes, have also increased as more people see them in their backyards or parks. "Our call volume for non-service requests is through the roof," he said. "Prior to this past year they weren't around to see it and they didn't think to call." 'Homeowners should keep a safe distance' Raccoons can be infected with feline distemper, which affects their coordination and eyesight. "Those calls have certainly been up for us, people seeing animals during the day that have been acting peculiar," Gates said. He added that distemper can cause raccoons to become less afraid of people. In late stages of the disease, raccoons begin to stagger and can get blinded by a crusting over their eyes. "They're getting into situations they wouldn't normally get into." He said raccoons don't usually attack humans. "It's extremely rare that a raccoon without any provoking would come near a person or attack a person," he said. Gates said it could happen, though, if a homeowner tries to deal with a sick or injured raccoon on their own and put "their fingers somewhere they shouldn't." "Like with any wild animal, homeowners should keep a safe distance." Rabies is very rare but can be fatal if it is left untreated. Toronto Public Health said that residents should not pet or feed wild raccoons, and that anyone who has been bitten, scratched or exposed to a wild raccoon should see a health provider immediately to be assessed. There have been no reports of wildlife with rabies in Toronto since 1997, according to Toronto Public Health.
VANCOUVER — The federal government has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding for five vending machines that will dispense medical-grade opioids in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, in order to prevent overdoses. Darren Fisher, parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, says two machines are located in Vancouver, one is in Victoria and one each are in London, Ont., and Dartmouth, N.S. The machines, called MySafe, are similar to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned. Fisher says MySafe allows participants to access a safer drug without fear, shame and stigma, and without contact with anyone, which is all the more essential during the pandemic. Overdose deaths have spiked during pandemic with many people using alone and a more toxic illicit drug supply. Drug users are assessed by a doctor and a baseline urine sample is collected before they can access safer drugs through the MySafe machines, which are bolted to the floor. This is a corrected story. A previous version said $5.6 million in funding. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
A week after Dustin Duthie slit his girlfriend's throat and then tucked her body into bed as if she was sleeping, he fatally stabbed his mother and stepfather as police were planning to question the killer about his partner's disappearance. These are some of the details contained in an agreed statement of facts filed in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Tuesday as part of Duthie's guilty plea, which came unexpectedly just days before the jury trial was set to take place. Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend, Taylor Toller, and mother, Shawn Boshuck, and one count of first-degree murder for the planned killing of his stepfather, Alan Pennylegion. Toller, 25, was killed in her apartment in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Applewood Park on July 25, 2018. Boschuk and Pennylegion were murdered a week later, on July 31, at their home in Calgary's northwest. Duthie lived in their basement. Domestic violence 'can happen to anyone' Toller's family released a statement Tuesday, expressing their grief and condemning domestic violence. "We loved Taylor very much," said the family. "The opportunity to see her grow and thrive was taken from her family, and we are heartbroken. "Domestic violence is insidious, and it can happen to anyone. If you have a friend or loved one at risk, know that it can take many attempts to leave, and the most dangerous time can be after that decision is made." According to the agreed statement of facts, the day before Boschuk and her husband were killed, she messaged Toller's grandmother expressing concern about how her son would react to police contacting him about the young woman's disappearance. Duthie stabbed his mother six times by the back door of her home and then dragged her across the room and covered her with a plastic sheet. Police determined Pennylegion had gotten out of bed to find Duthie cleaning up blood in the kitchen. It was then he was attacked. Duthie has admitted to killing his girlfriend of five years, Taylor Toller, 25, his mother, Shawn Boshuck, and his stepfather, Alan Pennylegion.(From left: Taylor Toller's Facebook page/Shawn Boshuck's Facebook page/Supplied) Duthie stabbed Pennylegion repeatedly and dragged him into the main floor bathroom with his dog, Odie, which he also killed. Over the years, Duthie had threatened violence against his stepfather, and the two had a tense relationship, the statement of facts said. Duthie called 911 just before 11 a.m. MT on July 31 and confessed to the murders. That's when police discovered the three bodies in the two homes. Toller was found in her bed. Duthie and Toller had been together for five years. Toller crying hours before death: video Security video from Toller's apartment building gathered as part of the investigation shows Toller and Duthie together the day before and morning of her death. The couple were seen coming and going from Toller's Applewood Park apartment, at times holding hands. Just after midnight, Duthie pulled a knife on Toller and took her cellphone away. Still images captured from the video show Toller crying. Between midnight and 4 a.m., the two were seen coming and going from the condo four times. At 5:14 a.m. on July 26, Duthie left the apartment alone, carrying a black bag and pulling a "bed in a box." He locked the door behind him. Police eventually found a blood-stained towel in the "bed in a box" in the trunk of Duthie's car. Toller was killed hours after this still image shows her crying in her apartment hallway after Duthie pulled a knife on her. (Court Exhibit) Boschuk's last communication with anyone was a text message sent to a friend at 5:53 a.m. on July 31. Duthie killed his mother and Pennylegion some time between 6 a.m. and 10:40 a.m., when he stopped to buy alcohol near Toller's apartment. At 10:50 a.m., Duthie called 911 and confessed to all three murders. When police arrived, it became clear Duthie was contemplating "suicide by cop." He was taken into custody about 30 minutes after officers arrived. Inside Duthie's black satchel, police seized a six-inch knife with white hockey tape on the handle. It was covered in Pennylegion's blood. A date for sentencing will be set on Friday.
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says the province is considering whether to follow British Columbia in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming. The B.C. government announced Monday that it will extend the wait between first and second doses to four months to get more people vaccinated overall in a shorter time period. B.C. based its decision on data coming from the United Kingdom, Israel and Quebec that showst the first dose of vaccines is 90 per cent effective. When Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech began distributing their vaccines late last year, it was recommended the first and second shots be completed within about six weeks maximum to be fully effective. The Oxford-AstraZeneca has also been approved for use in Canada, but a national panel of vaccine experts is recommending it only be given to people under 65 – a guideline Shandro says Alberta will follow. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid- and senior-level Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen businesses and other entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was an intimate and favourite of President Donald Trump even amid covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. The government officials included at least four whom Navalny's supporters had directly asked the West to penalize, saying they were most involved in targeting him and other dissidents and journalists. However, the U.S. list did not include any of Russia's most powerful businesspeople and bankers, oligarchs whom Navalny has long said the West would have to sanction to get the attention of Putin. Tuesday's step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.” The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for businesses and other enterprises, most of which it said were involved in the production of biological and chemical agents. The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia's Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said. Russia critic Bill Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted that he feared the new U.S. sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. move overdue. Working with U.S. allies, “we must use an array of tools, including sanctions, to meaningfully deter, repel, and punish Moscow’s transgressions,” Schiff said in a statement. The Biden administration has pledged to confront Putin in alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and in alleged malign actions abroad, including the hacking of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin's government. That included dismissing U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which added to its own sanctions Tuesday over the attack on Navalny. The U.S. and European shared concerns about “Russia’s deepening authoritarianism,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” Blinken said in a statement. The individuals sanctioned by the U.S. included the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the head of prisons, Kremlin and defence figures, and Russia's prosecutor general. The Biden administration had forecast for weeks actions against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested on arrival for an alleged parole violation. His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial. Long a target in Russian government attempts to shut down dissent, Navalny has repeatedly appealed to the West to start targeting the most powerful business and financial oligarchs of his country, saying only then would Russian leaders take international sanctions seriously. The U.S. government has previously censured behaviour by Russia that American officials saw as having violated international norms. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration responded to interference by the Kremlin in the presidential election by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who officials said were actually spies and by shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York. Trump's administration also took a handful of actions adverse to Moscow, including through the closure of Russian consulates on the West Coast and the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty. ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
A group of Black parents have taken the problem of anti-Black racism in Ontario schools into their own hands, launching an anonymous racism reporting tool for educators and staff, saying they can no longer wait for school boards to act. At a virtual news conference Tuesday, mothers with the group Parents of Black Children (POBC) announced its school-racism reporting tool, with a plan to release aggregated data on a quarterly basis. The move is a response to what they say is a lack of accountability at Ontario boards and inaction on the part of province to institute random equity audits to properly gauge the scale of anti-Black racism in schools. "Despite years of reports, committees and recommendations, school boards are saying that they are unable to properly track incidents of anti-Black racism. This is unacceptable so we are going to do it for them," said mother-of-two Kearie Daniel, a founding member of the group. Parents who advocate for change are often told to prove racism is happening, but without proper reporting tools, sound data simply doesn't exist, Daniel said. Educators are often reluctant to report about such incidents, fearing reprisals, lack of promotion, sabotage or lack of support from their administrators, she added. That allows school boards "to feign innocence and do nothing more to fight against anti-Black racism than to put nice-sounding statements on their websites or maybe hold a training or two," Daniel said 'I don't forget those stories' On Tuesday alone, another of the group's cofounders, Charline Grant, said she had heard from four families with stories of anti-Black racism in schools. "I don't forget those stories. I don't forget those names. They stay with me," said Grant. "I see myself. I see my children in those phone calls and those intakes that come in." Policies and procedure can go out the door and things can happen very quickly when governments are motivated to do it — when other lives are in danger. - Charline Grant Grant experienced anti-Black racism herself when a York Region school board trustee was overheard calling her the n-word. The trustee, Nancy Elgie, ultimately resigned from the board following months of public pressure. In 2017, following a human rights complaint, Grant received an apology from the York Region District School Board. The board also agreed to establish a human rights office to collect equity-related data and conduct mandatory racism and anti-Black racism training among other commitments. Since then, she has heard from countless families and from Black educators with children in Ontario school boards who say they're afraid to speak out. It's a problem she says the provincial government has had months to act on — noting the group has been calling for random equity audits at boards since August 2020 — but to-date, it hasn't. "If there's one thing I personally have learned throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, it's that policies and procedure can go out the door and things can happen very quickly when governments are motivated to do it — when other lives are in danger," she said. "But our Black student lives are in danger and its been in danger for a very long time. And it's hurtful and harmful and traumatizing." In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he has "reaffirmed the mandate to all school boards to collect race-based data," though he did not respond to POBC's calls for random audits. "The Government will ensure school boards collect and publicize this data to create accountability, transparency and action to fix long-standing systemic barriers that hold back Black and other racialized children in Ontario," said spokesperson Caitlin Clark. The statement added "the status quo is indefensible," saying the government has moved to end discretionary suspensions for students Grade 3 and under, and end practices like "streaming" which saw Black students funnelled into applied programs below their ability. Province launching Black advocacy in schools program A day before the launch of the tool, the province also announced it will invest $6 million over the next three years to support Black students through a new program called the Student and Family Advocates Initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area. That support will include things like working with students to develop plans for achieving their goals and connecting students and families to resources like job-placements, scholarships and leadership opportunities, it said, as well as working alongside community partners to "amplify" the voices of Black students and families to make changes in the education system. "Since I started in the role of Advocate for Community Opportunities in December 2019, I've consistently heard from parents, youth, and grassroots community groups that we need to build community capacity to navigate the education system and hold schools accountable," said Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities. The launch of the Black parent group's reporting tool comes on the heels of a first-of-its kind report by the Toronto District School Board's human rights office that found "a serious racism problem" within the board, with reports of anti-Black racism exceeding all other hate incidents documented there in the past year. The report found race-related complaints made up 69 per cent of all reported hate incidents in the 2019-2020 school year, with anti-Black racism making up the biggest share.(Toronto District School Board) That report followed an unanimous vote by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustees in 2019, out of which the board developed a formal policy requiring employees report any such incidents that they encounter to managerial staff. 'This is what courage looks like' Speaking to CBC News, TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the TDSB welcomes all new tools to gather more details on racist and hate incidents within the school board and their schools, and are also open to perfect the tool they already have in place. Parents and members of the Peel District School Board, meanwhile, can direct complaints to the board's human rights office, which board spokesperson Tiffany Gooch describes as an "arm's length, independent and neutral office that will confidentially receive, resolve and where appropriate, investigate complaints of racism and discrimination in a fair, just an equitable manner." That board says it will be implementing the first phase of a mandatory reporting system for staff this week, which will include instances of anti-Black racism. It also says it is working on transforming and strengthening its human rights office to "rebuilt trust" that complaints are taken seriously. But speaking to reporters Tuesday, educator and POBC group member Claudette Rutherford pointed out that when it comes to boards' own human rights offices, staff may well be underreporting out of concern for backlash. "Teachers as well as parents are far less likely to go that route because they're not trusting of, 'Is it arm's length?'" said Rutherford, who has been teaching for nearly two decades. "Even me coming here now, I understand the risk that it puts me at but I feel like I don't have a choice anymore," she added. "This is what courage looks like," said Grant. "Being afraid and still doing it." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah girl whose football skills won her fame online has lost her court bid to have school districts create football teams for girls. A federal judge ruled against Sam Gordon on Monday, finding that Utah school districts aren't legally required to create a separate team because girls who want to play football can play with the teams traditionally filled with boys. U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielson acknowledged that schools and coaches could do more to encourage girls to play. But he also acknowledged concerns that without Gordon's star power there might not be enough girls to keep a league running that would have to be built from the ground up since no other high school in the U.S. has a similar program. Gordon's playing videos have racked up millions of views on YouTube since she was 9, but she and other female players argued they were worried about playing with physically larger boys as teenagers. The case also included testimony about the harassment girls have endured while playing with all-boy teams. Gordon argued plenty of girls were interested in playing, pointing to an all-female league she started with her father six years ago that’s drawn hundreds of girls from the Salt Lake City area. Those numbers show girls want to play and could fill a roster, her lawyers argued. But U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielson disagreed. He found that no district policy had discouraged girls from playing, and that any harassment would violate athletic association rules. While schools and coaches could do more to accommodate girls, “the court is not convinced that it is required by the Constitution," he wrote. He also found the districts raised significant questions about whether there would truly be enough girls within the district boundaries to build up a large enough team without Gordon, who is now 17 and has appeared at the ESPN awards and in Super Bowl commercials. A smaller team could increase the risk of injury, he found. The districts were represented by Assistant Utah Attorney General Rachel Terry, who said she was pleased by the ruling and the finding that they did not violate the Equal Protection clause or Title IX. “The districts will continue to strive to expand opportunities for all students and to ensure equal opportunities for male and female students in athletics and activities," she said in a statement. Brent Gordon, Sam Gordon’s father who is also an attorney, said he and his daughter will continue their own work to expand football opportunities for girls in Utah. “We appreciate the Judge’s efforts to have this trial during the pandemic so that the girls’ stories could be told and voices heard,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “Those voices will continue until equality in athletics is reached in Utah and across the country.” ___ Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Lindsay Whitehurst And Sophia Eppolito, The Associated Press
Windsor police say an arrest has been made and officers are seeking a second suspect after a shooting over the weekend. The police service responded to a report of shots fired on Downing Street at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, according to a media release issued on Tuesday. Officers found a vehicle that had damage consistent with gunfire. Police believe the victim was driving in the area when two suspects in another vehicle fired shots and drove away. The victim, who knows the suspects, was not injured, police said. The following day, a suspect was arrested and a vehicle allegedly involved was seized. A 21-year-old Windsor man is charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon (firearm) dangerous to the public peace. A 20-year-old man from Windsor is wanted on the same charges. Police say the firearm has not been located and the suspect is considered armed and dangerous. More from CBC Windsor
GRANT APPLICATION Southgate will use the Grant Match service for a downtown revitalization project on Proton Street North through the Canada Health Community Initiative grant. It’s believed to be a better fit than the previously considered Rural Economic Development grant. This new grant opportunity is aimed at creating and adapting public spaces and programming to respond to needs from COVID-19. Project types include outdoor event and meeting spaces are one of the three areas, along with trails/transit and community digital projects. If successful, the company is paid 10 percent of the grant money. There are two intakes for the grant program and the plan would be to re-apply if rejected the first time, adapting the proposal based on what is successful in the first round. PUBLIC WORKS The furnace in the former Credit Union at the Holstein Depot stopped working and required replacement. Dromore Municipal Drain has been relocated in the area of the Dromore Park for lot creation, with work paid for by the property owner. Tree removal and brushing is starting on township right-of-ways. Residents will be given notice of work in their areas as road closures may be required. Council conveyed that they had received messages of appreciation about the increase to the amount of sidewalks being cleared in Dundalk this winter. Residents in those areas are reminded they can no longer leave collection bins for pickup on the sidewalk. PLANNING A zoning bylaw and site plan were updated because of a change in size of a planned shop since the original application was granted in 2019 to S. and V. Brubacher on Southgate Rd. 10. Construction is planned for this coming year. A site plan was approved for Port Welding on Southgate Side Road 73, who also owns land to the north and west of the property. The zoning for the powder coating and metal shop was approved in 2019. The site plan outlines measures to reduce effects on neighbouring parties such as tree planting for buffer. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence combined with real-world data from the province’s immunization campaign that began in late December.
LINCOLN, Neb. — The Biden administration's plan to funnel more coronavirus aid into states with greater unemployment has irked governors with lower jobless rates, even though many have economies that weren't hit as hard by the pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief bill working its way through Congress allocates extra money to larger, mostly Democratic-run states with higher unemployment rates, while rural Midwestern and Southern states that tend to have Republican governors and better jobless numbers would benefit less. “You're penalizing people who have done the right thing," said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican whose state has reported the nation's lowest unemployment rate over the last several months. “That's not the way you want to approach any sort of government program.” Ricketts was one of 22 governors — 21 Republicans and one Democrat — who have criticized the change in the pandemic relief proposal. Under previous coronavirus packages signed by former President Donald Trump, aid was distributed by population. If the new funding formula is approved, states including California, New York and New Jersey would each see a boost of more than $2 billion, while Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio would all see aid reductions greater than $500 million. Georgia and Florida would see losses of more than $1.2 billion. Many of the Republican-led states have taken a more hands-off approach to the pandemic to try to keep businesses open, while Democratic states argued that tighter mandates were necessary to save lives and help their economies over the long term. The White House defended President Joe Biden's distribution plan, saying it targets money to areas where it will have the biggest impact. “President Biden's rescue plan is focused on quickly getting help to the people and communities that need it most,” said Michael Gwin, director of White House rapid response. Iowa State University economist David Swenson said the White House's approach makes some sense because the states with the highest unemployment rates are generally the ones that relied more on industries battered by the pandemic, such as tourism. “If proportionally more people are unemployed in Las Vegas and California and other places that are entertainment destinations, then it would make sense to send money to those places instead of Iowa and Nebraska,” Swenson said. Critics argued that many of the hardest-hit states had higher jobless rates even before the pandemic began. “Some states just have naturally lower unemployment rates,” said Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University in Omaha. “That's one of the problems with doing it that way.” Goss said it might make more sense to distribute aid to states that saw the biggest increases in unemployment during the pandemic. But he cautioned that the unemployment rate is still an incomplete measure of any state's economy, because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work. Ohio Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said his state's jobless rate is likely unreliable because of massive unemployment fraud. He said Ohio has made multiple efforts to return people to work safely, but the new funding formula would cost his state about $800 million in federal aid. “Doing things that put people back to work actually are going to cost us relief dollars that the people who aren't back to work actually need,” Husted said Monday. “We don't feel that is a fair way to do this.” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said the funding formula “punishes states that took a measured approach to the pandemic and entered the crisis with healthy state budgets and strong economies.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who vice chairs the National Governors Association, last month raised concerns about using unemployment when he and other governors met with Biden. “That’s really a disincentive for economic growth and people working,” Hutchinson told The Associated Press after the meeting. ___ Contributing are Associated Press reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Josh Boak in Washington; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida. ___ Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte Grant Schulte, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal government is telling an appeal court it had to provide U.S. authorities with customer information from Canadian banks to avoid possibly "catastrophic effects" on Canada's economy. The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as FATCA, requires banks and other institutions in countries outside the United States to report information about accounts held by U.S. individuals, including Canadians with dual citizenship. Among the information from Canada being shared with the U.S. are the names and addresses of account holders, account numbers, account balances, and details such as interest, dividends and other income. In a newly filed submission to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Canadian government says failure to comply would have had serious effects on Canada's financial sector, its customers and the broader economy. Two U.S.-born women who now live in Canada, Gwendolyn Louise Deegan and Kazia Highton, challenged the constitutionality of Canadian provisions implementing the 2014 agreement between the countries that makes the information-sharing possible. The two unsuccessfully argued in Federal Court that the provisions breach the Charter of Rights guarantee preventing unreasonable seizure, and they now want the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Restricting towing zones on some highways and licensing tow truck drivers are some of the measures Ontario will be introducing later this year in its efforts to crack down on an industry rocked by allegations of violent turf wars.Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced a pilot project on Tuesday that she said would cut down on dangerous practices like so-called "accident chasing," where multiple tow trucks race to be the first to a crash site to get business.Under the new rules, some of the 400 series highways will have restricted towing zones, which means only a single company can operate within that zone. Mulroney said the "tow zones" are the first step towards introducing broader regulation in the sector, which could later include licensing tow truck drivers."Ending the accident-chasing regime means people can take comfort in knowing that a reputable tow operator will get there to help them get to a safe place," she said. "It will ensure that tow operators who arrive on the scene in the tow zones will be equipped to handle any situation and get the scene cleared quickly and safely."Mulroney said the two-year project will also establish standard prices for customers and target times for response and to clear a crash site.The towing industry has been rocked by allegations of violent turf wars between organized criminal groups within the sector.Last summer, Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario was forming a task force to examine both enforcement and safety in response to an increase in violence and crime associated with the towing sector.Solicitor Genera Sylvia Jones said the zones will be accompanied by the establishment of a new joint task force to investigate criminal activity within the tow businesses involving the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police services."Tow truck drivers are a vital part of keeping Ontario moving," she said. "But they are operating in an industry that lacks oversight structure, and where too many criminals are making their own rules."Police in the Greater Toronto Area have alleged that competition for control of the towing market has led to murders, attempted murders, assaults, arsons and property damage.In recent months, four OPP officers have been charged after a two-year long probe into alleged crimes in the tow truck industry. OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Tuesday that the force has conducted three "complex, major" investigations into the sector over the last year alone, and more resources would be dedicated to those probes."You have a commitment from the police leaders that are part of this joint force operation that any indications of corruption will be dealt with with the same level of seriousness that you have seen over the last 12 months," he said. "We are committed to rooting it out, and we'll accept nothing less."NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the government of dragging its feet when it comes to responding to the escalating violence in the towing industry."People's livelihoods, and their lives, have been lost," she said. "They've been taking their sweet time. ... when it's about saving people's lives and cleaning up an industry."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press