Ari the Jack Russell Terrier and his friend Jenny wear fairy hats and pose without moving a muscle. Cuteness overload!
Ari the Jack Russell Terrier and his friend Jenny wear fairy hats and pose without moving a muscle. Cuteness overload!
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Seguin Township has completed Milestone 1 of the Integrated Community Energy and Climate Action Plans (ICECAP) project as of December 2020. Milestone 1 tasked municipalities involved with ICECAP to create a greenhouse gas emissions inventory of both the corporate and community aspects of the township. During its Jan. 13 council meeting, members of council discussed what moving forward into Phase 2 of the program would look like. Here’s the discussion captured in five quotes: 1\. “There’s two pieces to Milestone 1 — one being corporate, the township; one being community, all the residents,” said Daryle Moffatt, ICECAP co-chair and Seguin councillor. “ … The next hurdles are to set emissions targets and develop a plan. We’ve done a number of things corporately and residents have done a number of things, we just need to continue to set our goals to see if we can achieve some lower greenhouse gas emissions.” 2\. “How long will it take to set targets? What is the procedure going into Milestone 2 and what’s the timing?” asked Coun. Rod Osborne. 3\. “We will be working with other ICECAP members (and) organizations around the table in 2021 to start to develop our emission reduction target as well as our local plan,” said Moffatt. “What we’ve realized is ICECAP is not one-size-fits-all — it’s going to ebb and flow. It’s going to be a work in progress but it is a goal in 2021 to achieve Milestones 2 and 3.” 4\. “I will emphasize again to all the councillors, if you have not done your own personal carbon calculator, please do it. It will make a difference to how West Parry Sound moves forward,” said Seguin’s mayor, Ann MacDiarmid. “It’s worth doing. It’s a real eyeopener.” 5\. “I would extend that to all staff and residents, not only in Seguin but across all the municipalities that are participating in ICECAP,” said Moffatt. “It is critical to capture that data because it will only help us going forward.” MacDiarmid thanked those involved with the ICECAP initiative from Seguin and mentioned that the carbon calculator could be used as a good school assignment for teenagers. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services’ drum circle was forced online last year due to COVID-19 social restrictions, but the facilitators have been working hard to keep the group connected. “We could all use some connection this New Year — to each other, to the land, to our own spirit,” reads the drum group’s recent Zoom invitation. Organized by their culture team, coordinator Frank Shaw from Stz’uminus, says everyone is welcome to join. Participants range from “toddlers bobbing along to the drumming, to Elders,” and all ages between, he says. “We are led through traditional songs and maybe even some dances if anyone’s feeling up to it, and sharing stories, sharing laughs. It’s a way to connect while we can’t connect in person,” says Shaw. Kw’umut Lelum is a family services agency and fully Delegated Aboriginal Agency (DAA). It serves nine Coast Salish Nations who signed an agreement with B.C. and Canada in 1997, on Vancouver Island, from Qualicum down to Malahat. Shaw describes his cultural programming work as being on the non-delegated side of operations. “Our team puts together various programming for the nine nations,” he explains. There is a range of community programs offered — for families, youth, cultural wellness, and more. COVID-19 has moved a lot of the programs online, but the drum circles continued in person until November when case numbers started to rise in the area. Qualicum carver and artist Xwulq’sheynum, Jesse Recalma is hosting Kw’umut Lelum’s online drum circle this week. Recalma’s grandpa was a drum maker so he grew up around drumming. He got even more into drumming a decade ago after attending Tribal Journeys, a celebrated canoe journey started in 1989 to unify communities across the Northwest Pacific Coast. A full time artist and part time language teacher, Recalma teaches Hulq’umi’num to students in School District 69. He’s been a cultural resource in schools for over 20 years. “I do drum practices with our canoe family and usually I would be one of the ones leading songs,” Reclama says. “And then I started doing some drumming with my K’omoks family as well.” When Kw’umut Lelum put out the call for drummers and singers to lead the online circle, “they called, and I answered,” says Recalma. “I really enjoy singing. It’s something that I’ve not really been able to do a lot of over the past year. And so I’m happy that I can actually have this place to sing with people,” says Recalma. Shaw has organized several drummers to host sessions. Patrick Aleck has very close connections to Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, and Penelakut. Jesse Recalma will be joining, and on January 21st, Stz’uminus singer Nate Harris will facilitate the circle, Reclama says. Shaw says the circle seeks to address social isolation and strengthen cultural continuity. “Indigenous and Coast Salish culture, it’s all about connection and gathering and with COVID and everything, we just haven’t been able to do it, to bring people together and connect as best we can,” Shaw says. “It’s on Zoom, but it’s still a great time.” Reclama agrees, emphasizing the importance of practicing his culture during these difficult times of separation. “We’re used to being in a lot of situations where we can hear drumming and singing,” he says. Normally, there are a variety of ways the need for social connection is met — through powwows with bone games, or during smoke house season. Some attend tribal journeys, where Recalama says, “there’s just as much true drumming and singing as there is paddling in the canoe.” The online drum circle is an ongoing series that takes place on Zoom every Thursday evening. To get the link, Shaw says people can email him at email@example.com. “A drum circle helps you feel warm and comforted, especially for those who are in sorrow,” says Recalma. He says hearing the drumming and singing can be good medicine, and brings joy in a way that might be hard for some to find during the pandemic.Odette Auger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Percy Tau had just been voted the best player in South Africa when he secured a move to the Premier League. It was July 2018, and he was joining Brighton for the biggest fee ever for a domestic-based South African player. “Hopefully I can make some great memories,” Tau said upon joining the south-coast club from South African champion Mamelodi Sundowns for 2.5 million pounds ($3.4 million). And he has been making many memories since touching down in Europe two-and-a-half years ago. In Belgium, though, rather than in England. The Bafana Bafana striker has been living something of a nomadic existence, having failed to get a work permit to enable him to play for Brighton in the world’s most popular soccer league because of South Africa’s low FIFA ranking. Instead, while still officially owned by Brighton, he was sent out on loan to three different Belgian clubs: one in the second division — Royal Union Saint-Gilloise, which he helped to the league title and an unexpected run to the Belgian Cup semifinals in 2019 — and then for the country’s two biggest teams, Club Brugge and most recently Anderlecht. Despite being ushered down an unexpected path, Tau never lost hope of one day getting his chance in the Premier League. “I always believed one day it would happen,” he said. “I just didn’t know when.” It needed Britain to finalize its protracted departure from the European Union to change everything for the 26-year-old Tau. Brexit has led to a change in the qualification criteria for foreign players hoping to play in England. While it is now harder for English teams to sign European players — especially youngsters — because of the end of freedom of movement for EU nationals, a new points system takes into account a player’s appearances at domestic level in European leagues as well as those for the national team. With three seasons under his belt in Belgium, which included playing in the Champions League with Brugge, Tau passed the threshold. He was granted a work permit at the start of the month and recalled from his loan spell at Anderlecht, which he was halfway through, on Jan. 7. Within three days, he was playing in an FA Cup match against Newport in Wales. Three days later, he was starting against Manchester City in his first Premier League match. “I thought there were glimpses of what he can do,” Brighton manager Graham Potter said of Tau’s performance at Etihad Stadium. “And he’ll get better the longer he’s with us. He’s got plenty of time." Before last week, Tau had never trained with Brighton, only ever watching the team on TV. He said he had never spoken to Potter up until that point, either. Indeed, Potter wasn’t the manager when Tau signed for the club, with Chris Hughton in charge at that time before getting fired in the off-season of 2019. Having thrown Tau in for two games, it seems Potter is already a big fan of the South African. And that will thrill his legion of fans back home, with Pau having more than 430,000 followers on Twitter and his games generating a buzz back in South Africa. His 68-minute showing against City — where he showed good technique, a turn of pace and trickery on the ball — was enough to underline the threat he will pose for opposition defences this season, even if he spent much of the game tracking back as the opposing team dominated possession and territory. His best position will likely be just behind the striker, or in one of the two wide positions. His qualities have been honed in the first half of this season at Anderlecht, whose manager is Vincent Kompany — Man City's former title-winning captain. “I know Brighton are watching you from the Premier League,” Kompany said after signing Pau in August. "We’ll do our best to bring you there.” And he's finally made it. “It’s exciting for him and it’s exciting for us. Now we need to help him settle in," Potter said. “He needs to get to know his teammates and the team. We want to help him take the next step in his career.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80 Steve Douglas, The Associated Press
Chinese technology firm Huawei plans to establish a flagship store in Riyadh, the largest such store outside China, the Saudi government said on Friday. Huawei has signed a leasing contract with Saudi Arabia's Kaden Investment for the store that will allow the Chinese company to have direct access to consumers amid rising demand for digital products and services in the kingdom, the statement said, without giving a date for the opening. Saudi Arabia expects internet usage in the kingdom to increase from covering 82.6% of the population in 2022 from 73.2% in 2017, the Ministry of Investment statement said.
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The McKellar Firefighter Association wants to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by volunteering to flood private skating rinks for McKellar residents. At McKellar's Jan. 12 council meeting, Coun. Don Carmichael commented that it was acting fire chief Ron Harrison’s idea. “We have very little public ice available,” said Carmichael. “And now (with) further restrictions of only five people can be together on an ice surface at any point in time, we have two options. One would be to flood public grounds which we would be responsible for or we can flood private grounds which is the responsibility of the homeowner.” In a report submitted to council, Ron Harrison wrote to request the use of the apparatus and equipment to assist in the initial flooding of at-home rinks to provide an opportunity for ratepayers to have additional activities to do at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. “This is a fantastic initiative brought forth that will help the ratepayers of McKellar (by) staying home and skating,” Harrison said. “This will also pose benefit in the reduction of pressure on our municipal rink and reduce the use of the lake ice which can be unpredictable.” According to Carmichael, the fire department would be using the secondary tanker and portable pumps and said the initiative could be used as a training opportunity for the firefighters as well. “It would be another training opportunity to be doing this in freezing conditions which we don’t normally do unless in the event of a real fire,” he said. “So, this is a winter training opportunity in addition to providing a service to our private landowners.” But could it affect fire department response times? Coun. Marco Ancinelli, who is also a firefighter for McKellar, said that it wouldn’t as the fire department wouldn’t be using the main equipment. “It’s a different animal all together when you’re fighting a fire in the summertime or in the winter time so I think it’s great practice,” said Ancinelli. However, David Moore, a McKellar ratepayer, questioned the cost the township could incur with usage of the machinery that has been paid for by ratepayers. “Taking expensive township equipment onto private property seems to have insurance claim written all over it,” said Moore. “Should a malfunction or breakage occur, is there enough available equipment to contend with the next fire call?” But Carmichael said during the meeting that township staff had contacted the insurance carrier who provided suggestions on what landowners should be doing. For a ratepayer to have the fire department provide the initial flooding of their private rink, they must reach out to the township and request to have their rink flooded. Ratepayers will have to provide a site plan, sign a waiver and follow a checklist. The procedure also includes a visit from the fire department to ensure it can be done safely. While some ratepayers expressed their concerns online, Coun. Mike Kekkonen said that he thinks council has covered the due diligence aspect with any liability concerns. “With that, I feel comfortable with the firefighters giving their time,” said Kekkonen. “Some people might say that there’s a cost but then again if a child or a family gets a skating rink and have an enjoyable winter, that’s priceless.” Council voted unanimously in favour of the resolution approving the fire department to utilize the apparatus at the discretion of the acting fire chief to provide a free service to McKellar residents to flood ice rinks on private property. The fire department volunteer staff will not be paid an hourly rate nor accumulate points for this activity. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in December hit an all-time record for the month to end what was also a record year.It says December sales were up 47.2 per cent compared with December 2019, the largest year-over-year gain in monthly sales in 11 years. Sales for the month were also up 7.2 per cent compared with November.For 2020 as a whole, CREA says some 551,392 homes were sold, up 12.6 per cent from 2019, and a new annual record. The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019.CREA says excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
COPENHAGEN — U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed Friday it will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity to 2 billion doses per year. “This temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer Denmark said in a statement to The Associated Press. Line Fedders said that to meet the new 2 billion dose target, Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which “presupposes adaptation of facilities and processes at the factory which requires new quality tests and approvals from the authorities.” “As a consequence, fewer doses will be available for European countries at the end of January and the beginning of February,” she said. Germany’s Health Ministry said Friday Pfizer had informed the European Commission, which was responsible for ordering vaccines from the company, that it won’t be able to fulfil all of the promised deliveries in the coming three to four weeks. The ministry said German officials took note of the unexpected announcement by the Commission ” with regret” because the company had made binding delivery commitments by mid-February. “The federal and state governments expect the EU Commission to provide clarity and certainty as soon as possible in negotiations with Pfizer about further deliveries and delivery dates,” the statement said. The Commission sealed the vaccine deals on behalf of all 27 member states, but is not responsible for the timetable and deliveries. Asked Friday whether Brussels has been informed by Pfizer about delays in the EU, Commission health policy spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker said all questions on production and production capacity should be directed to the company. “The Commission stands ready to support and facilitate contacts between the company and member states whenever needed,” he said. De Keersmaecker said deliveries are made on the basis of purchase orders and specific contracts that are concluded between the member states and the companies. "The specificities of these arrangements are laid down in these purchase orders or contracts,” he said. The Commission has secured up to 600 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine that's produced in partnership with Germany's BioNTech. Norwegian authorities also said Friday they had been notified by Pfizer about the reduction that will start next week as the company raises its annual dose target from the current 1.3 billion. “We had predicted 43,875 vaccine doses from Pfizer in week 3. Now it seems that we get 36,075 doses,” said Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. ”The stock we now have will be able to compensate for a reduction in the planned deliveries for a few weeks ahead if there is a need for this,” he said. In Finland, broadcaster YLE said the delay would cause domestic delivery problems at the end of January and the beginning of February. ___ Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed. Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press
MILAN — Italy’s fashion chamber is opening on Friday the first Milan Fashion Week that won't have VIPS populating runway front rows, as the reality of Italy's persistent resurgence of the coronavirus has forced an all-virtual format for presenting menswear previews. The National Fashion Chamber maintained a live element during the July and September fashion weeks in Milan. But after planning to stage live shows with guests during this round, Fendi, Etro and outdoor brand Kway announced their events will be livestreamed from behind closed doors. Dolce & Gabbana cancelled its runway show entirely, citing restrictions in place due to COVID-19. The other 36 participating fashion houses on the pared-down calendar -- including Zegna and Prada -- will all have digital-only presentations. “We did everything to preserve some runway shows, but the anti-COVID norms in this moment don’t allow us to have guests, and therefore, the runway shows will be closed-door,” fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa said. The organizers of Paris Fashion Week plan to hold audience-free men’s and haute couture shows later this month. Prospects for Milan's February shows of mostly womenswear previews remain unclear; the Italian government on Friday announced a new round of virus-control restrictions through Feb. 15 that extend a ban on travelling between regions. Capasa acknowledged that closed-door shows deprive fashion of some of its energy. But the pandemic, which has all but shut down global travel and closed retail stores for long periods , has made fashion houses quickly update their digital communication strategies and e-commerce platforms, he said. There is some evidence the investments are paying off, with one-quarter of online luxury sales last year to consumers who went high-end for the first-time, Capasa said. The Italian fashion chamber found that 45 million people streamed Milan Fashion Week shows in September, a number that Capasa said was beyond his wildest dreams a year ago. Still, the fashion industry is in dire financial straits. The Italian industry recorded a 25% drop in revenues to 50.5 billion euros ($61.2 billion) in 2020 compared with 2019, with exports down 22% to nearly 43 billion euros ($52.1 billion). A more drastic decline was avoided thanks to so-called “revenge shopping” in China, with eager consumers returning to luxury shopping as soon as lockdowns expired, and moves toward e-commerce and a bump in global luxury sales in October, Capasa said. In Europe, where governments have ordered new lockdowns, the market remained weakest. Capasa said the industry, one of the biggest generators of Italy's gross domestic product, is seeking a share of the government’s recovery funds to help improve innovation and to keep small artisanal businesses from failing. He said he hopes to see a gradual return to normality in fashion show calendars and travel this summer, as vaccines reduce the threat of the coronavirus. “For now, we need to do the best we can, in the moment we are living,’’ Capasa said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
Canadians are reporting feeling frustrated, anxious and depressed after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Registered psychologist Christine Purdon answers audience questions about the mental health impacts of the pandemic.
Slovenia's leftist opposition submitted a no-confidence motion against the centre-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa on Friday, and a secret parliamentary ballot is expected next week. Karl Erjavec, leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), said the opposition had gathered 42 signatures in favour of the motion from among deputies in the 90-seat parliament. Until recently DeSUS was part of the ruling coalition, but it quit saying it was unhappy with the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, its jeopardising of media freedom and siding with Hungary and Poland in disputes within the European Union over democratic standards in those countries.
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Pfizer's reduction of its COVID-19 vaccine shipments will not delay Canada's goal of getting most people inoculated by the end of September, the country's procurement minister said on Friday as the country battled a second surge in infections. "This is a temporary delay and we remain on track to have enough approved vaccines for everyone who wishes to get vaccinated by the end of September 2021," Procurement Minister Anita Anand said. Pfizer said it would slow production in late January and early February due to changes to manufacturing processes aimed at boosting production, but would provide a "significant increase" in doses in late February and March.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is nominating New York emergency department commissioner Deanne Criswell to serve as the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and has tapped former CIA deputy director David Cohen to return to the agency in the same role he served during the Obama administration. The picks, along with a trio of other new nominations confirmed to The Associated Press by the Biden team, come as the president-elect is putting a premium on experience, and perhaps familiarity, as he looks to fill out top positions at federal agencies with less than a week to go before his inauguration. Biden also is tapping former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to help lead the COVID-19 vaccine drive. Kessler has been advising Biden as a co-chair of his advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. The pick of Kessler comes after Biden on Thursday called the Trump administration’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure” and says he will unveil his own plans on Friday to speed up inoculations. Criswell, who also spent more than five years in top posts at FEMA during the Obama administration, is the first woman nominated to head the agency, whose primary responsibility is to co-ordinate responses to major disasters inside the United States that require federal attention. Nancy Ward served as the agency's acting administrator in the early months of the Obama administration before his pick, Craig Fugate, could be confirmed. Cohen, who was deputy CIA director from 2015 to 2017, has travelled the world for years tracking money flowing to terror groups, such as the Islamic State group, and other bad actors on the international stage. His work directing the Treasury Department’s intelligence unit earlier in his career earned him the nicknames of “financial batman” and “sanctions guru.” In 2019, Cohen, who has been leading the financial and business integrity group at the law firm WilmerHale, made a cameo appearance on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Nominees are required to disclose details of their finances and complete ethics agreements as part of the confirmation process. Once confirmed, federal ethics laws can require the officials to recuse themselves from working on issues that could impact their previous business interests. Biden throughout the 2020 campaign lashed at President Donald Trump, saying he eroded public trust in government. Biden pledged his team will abide by “the highest ethical standards.” Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, but his firm does millions of dollars in lobbying work each year on behalf of clients that include the Beer Institute, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Walgreens and American Financial Group. The president-elect is also nominating Shalanda Young, the top staff aide for the House Appropriations Committee, to serve as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and Jason Miller, who was deputy director of the White House National Economic Council in Obama's administration, to serve as deputy director for management at the agency. Young brings a wealth of Capitol Hill experience in budget policy — and politics — to the budget office, along with close relationships with powerful House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Miller was steeped in manufacturing policy in the Obama administration, including an update of automobile fuel efficiency standards. Biden is tapping Janet McCabe, an environmental law and policy expert who spent more than seven years as a top official at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration to return to the agency as deputy administrator. “Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans,” Biden said of his picks in a statement. “I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Criswell has served as New York City’s emergency management commissioner since June 2019. In her earlier work at FEMA, Criswell served as the leader of one of the agency’s National Incident Management Assistance Teams and as a federal co-ordinating officer. In New York, part of her duties included leading the co-ordination of the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between her stints at FEMA and in New York, Criswell was a principal at Cadmus Group, a firm that provides homeland security management consulting and training services for federal, state and local government agencies and private sector companies. The company made about $68 million between the time she joined the firm in 2017 and when she left in June 2019, according to a tabulation of contract spending data from the site USASpending.gov. She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado. Criswell also served in the Colorado Air National Guard, including 21 years as a firefighter and deputy fire chief with deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq. ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
Tesla Inc filed a petition with U.S. auto safety regulators saying that 612,000 vehicles produced since 2012 do not fully comply with federal safety standards because displays can be switched from miles per hour to only metric measurements, documents released on Friday show. The automaker asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to declare the noncompliance issue inconsequential to safety, according to the agency's filing. Tesla said it corrected the issue in production in September and that more than 75% percent of the affected U.S. vehicles have accepted the firmware update released in September.
Wednesday's storm brought high winds to southern Alberta and up to 50 cm of snow in the southern Rockies — increasing the risk of avalanches. Avalanche Canada said there is a "considerable" risk warning and forecaster Kate Devine said the heavy snowfall and high winds can have a big impact on the snow pack. "A natural avalanche cycle, which means that avalanches start running just because they are getting new load from snow and wind … they don't need a trigger like a person standing on a slope or something like that." Devine says people recreating in the backcountry this weekend should be aware that storm slabs are widespread and easy to trigger. "So although it is a step down from that high danger rating where we are expecting a lot of natural avalanches, it is still a dangerous avalanche condition and requires very careful terrain selection and a certain level of understanding of snowpack to be able to manage those conditions safely," she said She reminds the public that those heading to the mountains should get avalanche training, have the proper gear and check the avalanche forecast. Tips and risks A guide by Canmore resident Doug Latimer called Avalanche! The Guide's Guide to Safer Travel in the Mountains, is an interactive e-book that offers some tips. He says research shows 80 per cent of avalanche fatalities are caused by human error — enforcing the need to improve avalanche safety. "Statistically speaking, you have about a 50 per cent chance of still being alive after about 12 minutes in a full burial. People do survive longer, but the odds decrease," he said. The writer explains that the book includes tips in case backcountry visitors are in a compromised situation. For example, remember to pack a bag that includes an avalanche transceiver, a probe, shovel and helmet. "The equipment is essential, but what I consider even more important is knowledge," he said. That means that the area you're travelling to should be well-researched before you go, which you can do online at Avalanche Canada. With files from Rick Donkers and The Homestretch.
The Magnetawan First Nation, north of Parry Sound, was recently declared COVID-free, but the territory’s chief said he really wants to see the vaccine given to his community members as soon as possible. Chief William Diabo said that the Magnetawan First Nation was declared free of the coronavirus on New Year’s Eve. Nine members had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during December and all recovered, the last one being declared free of the virus and out of isolation on Dec. 31. That number represents almost 10 per cent of the community’s population of about 115 residents. Diabo had imposed a voluntary lockdown and a state of emergency when the virus first hit the territory in December. He said those orders have been lifted; however, he added that the territory is now covered by the Ontario-wide, province-imposed state of emergency and the restrictions that come with it, including a stay-at-home order. Diabo said that he is expecting a COVID vaccine rollout in the territory in the coming weeks. But he added that he understands they will have to wait their turn as front-line health-care workers, and residents of seniors’ residences, are vaccinated first. He added that he is still frustrated by some community members who are refusing the follow the COVID protocols. “I have a couple of people on my First Nation who are still not complying. One of them posted the damn thing on social media during the lockdown that they were having a gathering with people from four other households who were coming for breakfast over the holidays,” Diabo said. “That’s the worst thing, when you are a small community of 50 homes. You are best to stay in your own home. Don’t go to someone else’s — don’t let them come to yours.” Diabo said he is also frustrated by what he thinks is a lack of will by some police services to enforce the lockdown on First Nations territories. He said there are jurisdictional issues whereby he feels OPP and RCMP are reluctant to come onto the territory to issue tickets. The chief added that even if a person gets a ticket for having too many people in their home, there are no measures in place to keep them from repeating the infraction. As far as the vaccine rollout is concerned, Diabo believes Indigenous communities should follow seniors’ homes on the priority list. “That’s what I’ve been told. It’s a matter of getting the vaccine distributed. It’ll happen — I hope no later than the end of February but I hope sooner than that,” Diabo said. He added that the pace at which the vaccine is being rolled out is a concern, but he said that only when, and if, it appears the territory is not being given the priority it was promised will he begin to kick up dust and complain to officials. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in December that Indigenous communities would be given priority for vaccination after front-line health-care workers and other vulnerable people, including seniors. In an email, Parry Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller said he can understand the concerns of Indigenous leaders like Diabo. “Adults in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations where infections can have disproportionate consequences, including those living in remote or isolated areas, will be among the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks,” Miller stated. “Given the previous case numbers in certain First Nation communities within the riding, I agree actions need to be taken as quickly as possible, and I have shared these concerns with the ministry. It is an unfortunate reality that the vaccine is now a finite resource which is why it is important to prioritize high risk areas first. I will continue to advocate on behalf of all high-risk populations in Parry Sound-Muskoka as we move forward.” John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star