Jeffrey Dean Morgan almost didn't have a chance to play one of his most famous roles, that of Denny Duquette on "Grey's Anatomy."
Jeffrey Dean Morgan almost didn't have a chance to play one of his most famous roles, that of Denny Duquette on "Grey's Anatomy."
An epidemiologist says it's "a bit surprising" three people hospitalized in New Brunswick for COVID-19 had been vaccinated, including someone who had two doses before the onset of symptoms. Raywat Deonandan, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says the clinical trials showed some vaccinated people still got sick, but that the vaccines "had a 100 per cent chance of keeping vaccinated people out of the hospital." But clinical trial numbers are always more optimistic than real-life situations, he said, noting the COVID-19 vaccines were tested on only tens of thousands of people, and now they're being distributed to tens of millions of people globally. So some hospitalizations were "bound to happen eventually," said Deonandan. Three hospitalizations out of the more than 120,000 adult New Brunswickers who received at least one dose as of last week — or roughly 0.002 per cent — is about the rate he would expect, he said. Deonandan anticipates a "vanishingly small number" of vaccinated people may also eventually die from COVID-19. "This is all about probability, not certainties," he said. "What we have done a poor job of explaining is vaccines are not bulletproof vests." They're merely a mitigation tool. And until we achieve so-called herd immunity, with between 70 and 90 per cent of the population inoculated to protect others who aren't immunized, they're the best one we've got. "The message is, if you get vaccinated, your probability of anything bad happening to you, COVID-related, is now vanishingly small, but not zero." Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and death from COVID-19 are greatly reduced by the vaccine, but all New Brunswickers will continue to be at risk until around June 15, when the province hopes to have everybody vaccinated with one dose.(Government of New Brunswick) It's a message the province's chief medical officer of health has stressed in recent days since she took many people by surprise by announcing last Thursday that three hospitalized COVID patients were vaccinated. It takes two to three weeks for the vaccine to take effect and for the person to build up immunity, Dr. Jennifer Russell had said. "I don't want people to get a false sense of security that they're immune to COVID-19 once they've had a vaccine," she told CBC News on Friday. "And even after two doses of vaccine, we know that the risk of getting COVID is not zero." People need to continue to follow Public Health guidelines, such as wearing a mask and physical distancing, even if they've been vaccinated, she said. On Saturday, when CBC News asked how many of the hospitalized patients had been fully vaccinated, Russell confirmed the even more surprising news that one person had received both doses. On Tuesday, pressed for clarification on conflicting information, Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said the person received the first dose more than 14 days before the onset of symptoms, but the second shot was less than seven days prior to symptom onset. "In this case the second dose is not considered active yet, so the person still has the equivalent of one dose protection," Macfarlane said in an email. The other two people had received a single dose each — one of them more than 14 days before symptom onset and the other, less than 14 days prior, he said. 'Very unlikely' 3 are young, healthy Michael Grant, a professor of immunology and associate dean of biomedical science at Memorial University in St. John's, acknowledged it's "a concern" people are still being hospitalized when the vaccine rollout is underway. And it comes when there's already "skepticism" about vaccines, he said. "It's been a bit of a public relations nightmare with the AstraZeneca vaccine, with what would appear to be a bit of flip-flopping as better information become becomes available." But Grant thinks it's "very unlikely" these cases are due to a vaccine failure in young, healthy people. He contends there's "very little evidence anywhere else" that people who have been fully vaccinated and developed immunity from that vaccination are at risk for severe infection. "So unless there's something very peculiar occurring in New Brunswick, I don't think there should be any sort of generalization that people can be fully vaccinated, develop a good immune response and still be at risk for severe illness," said Grant. Dr. Michael Grant, a professor of immunology at Memorial University in St. John's, said it's been a 'hard psychological blow' for the population to be told once everybody's had the vaccine, we can start to go back to to a normal life, and then to hear some restrictions may have to remain in place even after most people have been vaccinated. (CBC) Why some vaccinated people are ending up in hospital and what kind of people this happens to is more difficult to nail down, however. Grant noted the vaccine studies were conducted on otherwise healthy individuals, so it's still too soon to know how some groups of people will respond. But there is some evidence that older people do not respond as well to the vaccine, so they may remain "somewhat susceptible" to the coronavirus, he said. If people are taking immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications to treat certain conditions at the time they receive the vaccine, the drugs can reduce the response they make against the vaccine, said Grant. A couple of studies with cancer survivors who are on some form of maintenance therapy or whose immune system hasn't recovered from chemotherapy have shown they respond "very poorly" to one dose of the vaccine. "And there will be very, very rare cases where people do make an immune response against the vaccine and still get infected with the virus somehow and develop illness," he said. No vaccines perfect Deonandan said all vaccines have a failure rate. He pointed to the annual flu vaccine, which usually has an efficacy of 40 to 70 per cent. "And yet we never complained when we got the flu vaccine and saw hey, some people got the flu," he said. "But, you know, people aren't afraid of the flu because we don't hear about the thousands who die every year of the flu." The probability of vaccine failure — or the probability of detecting vaccine failure — increases as the prevalence of the disease increases, said Deonandan. Every vaccinated person still has a very small chance of transmitting and getting the disease. This may increase with the highly transmissible COVID variants, including the two now confirmed in New Brunswick — the variant first reported in the U.K. and the variant first detected in South Africa. But they have to be exposed to the disease first. Their chance of being exposed varies with the prevalence of the disease in the community. So if the prevalence is high, then the risk of exposure is high. "So this is all a population game. This is getting sufficient immunity into a sufficient number of people with the understanding that not everybody is going to be perfectly immune." Interpret numbers carefully How we interpret and communicate the numbers is important, said Deonandan. He offered as an example a high school of 100 people, where 99 of them are vaccinated against the measles with a vaccine that has a one per cent failure rate. If an outbreak infects the one person who didn't get vaccinated and the one person whom the vaccine failed to protect, half of those two people were vaccinated. "So you could look at that statistic and say, 'Oh, my God, I've got a 50-50 chance of getting measles if I got vaccinated," he said. But that's incorrect. "You have a one per cent chance of getting measles if you got vaccinated. So it depends on how you view the numbers. This is really important." A couple of months after more than half the population has been immunized, Deonandan expects the probability of community transmission will be so low that the vaccine failure rates will be "irrelevant." Grant encourages people to continue to get immunized. "The vast majority of cases, there's very strong evidence that having the vaccine is going to protect you against developing severe illness," he said.
ROME — A bishop in Minnesota resigned Tuesday at the request of Pope Francis after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse, officials said. The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston said the pontiff asked Hoeppner to resign following the Vatican probe, which it said arose from reports that the bishop "had at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy." The Vatican and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops simultaneously announced Hoeppner’s resignation and the appointment of the Most Rev. Richard E. Pate, the retired bishop of Des Moines, as a temporary administrator without commenting on the reason for the change. The diocese of Crookston counts nearly 35,000 Catholics in northern Minnesota. The Vatican had tasked St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda with conducting a preliminary investigation. Last year, Hebda's office announced that the Holy See had authorized a more in-depth probe. Hoeppner is accused of stating that a priest was fit for ministry despite allegedly knowing the priest had abused a 16-year-old boy in the early 1970s. The victim, Ron Vasek, later sued the diocese, alleging that Hoeppner blackmailed him into retracting his allegations against Monsignor Roger Grundhaus. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2017. Hoeppner was the first bishop known to be investigated by the Vatican under a 2019 law that Francis approved laying out the procedures to conduct preliminary investigations against bishops accused of sex abuse or coverup. He has said in sworn testimony that he was trying to protect the victim's confidentiality by stating that Grundhaus was fit for ministry. He has said Grundhaus continues to deny Vasek's allegations. Hebda's office said the investigation took 2,000 hours, involved interviews with 38 people and that Hoeppner was interviewed more than once. The resulting reports totalled 1,533 pages, including recommendations, and were reviewed by two lay experts who determined the probe was thorough and had been “conducted in a fair and impartial manner," the archdiocese said. A survivor advocacy group, SNAP, said it was pleased with the outcome, but said Francis could have simply fired Hoeppner rather than asked him to resign. “While the result is the same, we feel that a stronger message would have been sent by ousting Bishop Hoeppner instead of asking him to leave, as there is a difference in forcing someone out versus asking them to remove themselves," SNAP said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says new public-health restrictions might be needed if high daily COVID-19 case counts continue. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says high numbers of infections usually start affecting hospitals three to four weeks afterward. She said it’s imperative not to overwhelm hospitals so that they can still handle other emergencies and surgeries during the pandemic. “We don’t have, right now, the level of vaccine protection to prevent people who get sick from needing to go to hospital,” Hinshaw said Tuesday. “We have to make sure that we’re watching within the coming week to 10 days about what those cases look like and consider -- if our trajectory continues on a steep upward climb -- whether those additional measures will be needed.” Hinshaw declined to speculate on what the restrictions could be. She said that would depend on data and other factors. Hinshaw reported 1,081 new cases on Tuesday, the seventh consecutive day of counts above 1,000. The rise is being driven by more contagious variants, which now make up 52 per cent of the province's 15,087 active cases. There were 402 people in hospital, 88 of them in intensive care. The numbers are inching into the red-line territory reached before Christmas when total active cases soared past 21,000 and there were close to 900 people in hospital. That forced health officials to cancel surgeries, move patients, double-bunk critical care cases, and prep a field hospital at the University of Alberta. Currently, Alberta does not allow indoor social gatherings and outdoor get-togethers are capped at 10 people. Retail store customer capacity is at 15 per cent and restaurants are closed to dine-in service, although patios remain open. Entertainment venues, including casinos, museums, movie theatres and libraries, remain closed. Gyms cannot hold group fitness activities. Premier Jason Kenney faces opposition from some quarters — even within his own caucus — and is being pressed to ease up on public-health measures on the grounds they are onerous and unnecessary. Kenney said restrictions need to be in place a bit longer until vaccination rates reach critical mass. Alberta has delivered 970,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses. “We’ve ramped up our vaccination campaign to deliver up to 40,000 doses a day and we’ll soon be able to deliver as many as 70,000 a day,” Kenney said earlier Tuesday. “With natural immunity from those who have already been infected and the protective shield of vaccines, we will hopefully be able to see a return to normal by summer.” Kenney, answering questions from the Opposition NDP in the house, also announced that COVID-19 had reached into his office. “I’m aware of two members of my staff who have tested positive and are in self-isolation, as are their close contacts,” said Kenney. “They’re rigorously following all of the appropriate protocols.” Kenney also announced businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns will soon be able to apply for more aid -- another payment of up to $10,000 from the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program. That is on top of the maximum $20,000 made available under previous phases of the program. The money will also be available to businesses that began operating since March 2020, as well as to hotels, taxis, and ride-hailing services. NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the money is not enough, pointing out that Ontario offers up to $40,000 per business. “(Alberta’s program) is a mile wide and an inch deep,” Notley told the house. Kenney countered by saying his government has provided other supports, such as deferring and freezing property taxes, and deferrals for utility payments and workers' compensation premiums. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
The chief and council of a Vancouver Island First Nation at the centre of a protest over old-growth logging are asking outside activists to stand down and leave the community to decide how to use local forestry resources. In a statement issued on Monday, Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Chief Coun. Jeff Jones addressed the blockade in the nation's traditional territory in the Fairy Creek area of the southern island. "All parties need to respect that it is up to Pacheedaht people to determine how our forestry resources will be used," reads the statement. "We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism. Pacheedaht needs to be left in peace to engage in our community-led stewardship planning process, so that we can determine our own way forward as a strong and independent Nation." Since August, dozens of people have blocked access to logging activities in Fairy Creek to prevent Teal Cedar, a division of the Teal-Jones Group, from logging certain areas of its 595-square-kilometre tenure. The logging company has signed agreements with the Pacheedaht, and the nation signed a revenue-sharing agreement with the province in 2017 for all timber cut on its land. In early April, the B.C. Supreme Court granted Teal-Jones an injunction against the protesters. In his written decision, Justice Frits Verhoeven said police enforcement terms would be required since "there appears to be little or no likelihood that the injunction order will be respected otherwise." Monday's statement from Pacheedaht chief and council expresses concern about the "increasing polarization" over forestry within the First Nation's territory. It says the nation is currently developing a plan for stewardship of its resources, which will guide future logging. While that plan is being developed, the Pacheedaht leaders say they have secured agreements from tenure holders and the B.C. government to suspend third-party forestry activities in certain areas. "Pacheedaht has always harvested and managed our forestry resources, including old-growth cedar, for cultural, ceremonial, domestic and economic purposes. Our constitutional right to make decisions about forestry resources in our territory, as governing authority in our territory, must be respected," the statement says.
Princess Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, was on Wednesday seen in public for the first time since the death of her father last week. Philip died at Windsor Castle on Friday, aged 99. "My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate," Anne, the Princess Royal, said in a statement on Sunday.
With more than 70,000 teachers planning to strike on Wednesday, many English school boards and French school service centres have decided to counter by scheduling a full day of online learning for elementary and high school students. One union says it has "a huge problem" with that decision, accusing the boards of using the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage. "The online learning is emergency online learning and it's there because of the pandemic. The negotiation has nothing to do with the pandemic," said Heidi Yetman, the president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers. The union represents 8,000 teachers in the province. The strike is planned for Wednesday between midnight and 9:30 a.m. Afterward, teachers will resume their regular duties. They are striking to express dissatisfaction with collective bargaining negotiations with the province that have gone on for more than a year. Currently, only students in Grade 9, 10 and 11 are required to alternate between in-person and online classes in the province's red zones. Students in every other grade are required to physically go to school everyday. Both the EMSB and LBSPB justified their decision by saying the strike presents logistical challenges for student transportation and daycare services. "The strike will have major repercussions on bus schedules, daycare services, and logistics that could compromise the health and safety of our students," the EMSB wrote in a letter to parents. That same argument was used in an attempt to seek an injunction and stop the strike action from taking place, but a Superior Court judge ruled against the school boards and service centres. As far as Yetman is concerned, the boards' position makes no sense and she says rearranging schedules should not be difficult. "Teachers are picketing and they're going to be at work at 9:31 in the morning and the students are safe, they're just arriving later. There are many service centres that have organized their transport. It has not been a problem," Yetman said. Yetman also says she's worried their strategy could set a bad precedent and boards will find different reasons in the future to keep students at home on strike days. Seven out of 10 English school boards will resort to online learning on Wednesday, including the English Montreal School Board, Lester B. Pearson School Board and Riverside School Board. About 65,000 teachers with the Fédération des syndicats de l'enseignement are also striking. Seven French school service centres have also decided to have students learn from home.
HARTFORD, Conn. — Pilot error probably caused the 2019 crash of a World War II-era bomber in Connecticut that killed seven people and wounded six others, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released Tuesday. It also cited inadequate maintenance as a contributing factor. The four-engine, propeller-driven B-17G Flying Fortress bomber with 13 people aboard crashed at Bradley International Airport, north of Hartford, during a travelling vintage aircraft show on Oct. 2, 2019. The pilot, Ernest “Mac” McCauley, reported a problem with one of the engines shortly after takeoff, and the plane crashed into a maintenance building and burst into flames after striking the runway lights during a landing attempt. The NTSB said the flight data indicated that the landing gear was extended too early, adding drag that slowed the plane, and it was travelling too slow on its return to the airport. “The B-17 could likely have overflown the approach lights and landed on the runway had the pilot kept the landing gear retracted and accelerated to 120 mph until it was evident the airplane would reach the runway,” the NTSB said. In the report, there was also a call on the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt tighter regulations on vintage aircraft flights offered to the public. McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, California, was a veteran pilot who colleagues said had great skills flying the B-17G. He and co-pilot Michael Foster, 71, of Jacksonville, Florida, were killed in the crash, along with five of the 10 passengers. The plane's mechanic, Mitchell Melton, of Hawkins, Texas, was the only crew member to survive. The NTSB said there was a power loss in two of the four engines during the flight, a problem it blamed on McCauley's “inadequate maintenance." McCauley also served as the maintenance director of the plane's owner, the Collings Foundation, based in Stow, Massachusetts. The NTSB also said the Collings Foundation had an ineffective safety management system that failed to identify hazards, including the inadequate maintenance of the plane. Investigators said the system, as well as the FAA's ineffective oversight of the system, also contributed to the accident. The Collings Foundation said in a statement Tuesday that it is reviewing the NTSB's findings. It did not directly address the NTSB's findings. “We knew Ernest “Mac” McCauley to be the most experienced B-17 pilot in the world who was passionate about the care and condition of all aircraft,” the foundation said. “Responsible flight and maintenance operations have always been a top priority of the Collings Foundation, reflected by over thirty years’ worth of a safe operating record, and always will be.” Melton, the mechanic, from Hawkins, Texas, told investigators the No. 4 engine began losing power after takeoff and McCauley shut it off, despite Melton telling him there was no need to shut if off, according to NTSB documents. Lawyers for relatives of people killed in the crash and survivors said in a statement that the NTSB report will help the families get some closure and prevent similar tragedies. The families and survivors are suing the Collings Foundation over the deaths and injuries. The foundation has denied wrongdoing. “Unfortunately, our clients’ lives were forever changed when the Collings Foundation’s B-17 crashed at Bradley International Airport,” the lawyers said. “At the appropriate time ... we will present evidence to a Connecticut jury that the Collings Foundation’s failures as detailed in the NTSB report, caused the horrific injuries and deaths suffered by our clients.” The passengers killed in the crash, who paid $450 apiece for the flight, included Gary Mazzone, of East Windsor, Connecticut; Robert Riddell, of East Granby, Connecticut, James Roberts, of Ludlow, Massachusetts; David Broderick, of West Springfield, Massachusetts; and Robert Rubner, of Tolland, Connecticut. After the crash, the foundation suspended its flights and tour for the rest of the year. In March 2020, the FAA revoked the Collings Foundation’s permission to carry passengers aboard its World War II-era planes because of safety concerns stemming from the Bradley accident. The FAA said in a statement Tuesday that it has a number of initiatives under way to improve the safety of vintage aircraft flights offered to the public. It has issued new guidance to safety inspectors, required them to inspect all operators of such flights by Sept. 30 and will be issuing new rules for operators' safety management systems. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, called on the FAA to immediately implement the NTSB's recommendations. Dave Collins, The Associated Press
Cuba is poised to enter the post-Castro era with Raul Castro due to step down as head of the ruling Communist Party at its congress this week, which will also address the island's severe economic crisis, pandemic response and signs of growing dissent. Castro, 89, and his late older brother Fidel have successively ruled Cuba ever since leading a 1959 revolution that toppled a U.S.-backed dictator and installed a Communist-run country on the doorstep of the United States. The congress, which takes place every five years, is the Communist party's most important meeting electing party leadership and setting policy guidelines.
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, experts say Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 will likely exceed that of the U.S., but President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to implement a lockdown.
Formula One officials are appealing to various levels of government to invest $6 million to bring the Canadian Grand Prix back to Montreal in June but it's unclear how Ottawa will respond. The race was first postponed and then nixed last year, and now F1 needs the money to offset the costs of presenting the event this year without spectators on site. The race usually attracts thousands of tourists from around the world, but with the third wave of COVID-19 picking up steam, bringing all those people together in one place to watch cars zip around the Gilles-Villeneuve track is out of the question. F1 officials are also asking to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers. They would instead rely on private medical staff to keep COVID from spreading among the personnel. Radio-Canada has learned that Quebec public health would be ready to authorize the holding of the Grand Prix without spectators if certain measures are applied. For now, the event is scheduled for June 13, but it is still up to upper levels of government to approve and fund it. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has made it clear that the city can't invest. Premier François Legault said "nothing is settled" on Tuesday. "We are told that because there will be no spectators, there should be compensation from the government, when we have already given a lot," he said. If it weren't for the concern over the 2022-2029 agreement with F1, Legault said, "I don't see why we need this — the Grand Prix — here this year." Legault said the Grand Prix is an important event with real economic benefits "because it is money that comes from abroad and is spent here in Quebec." He said the event is the subject of discussion at the moment. Trudeau not committing just yet Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained vague on the subject. "I know that talks are underway right now, but at every stage, our priority is the health of Canadians. And that is the basis on which we will make the decisions," said Trudeau. Even if there are no spectators, the health concern is that hundreds of F1 staff will arrive on scene, most flying in from Baku, Azerbaijan, where a race is scheduled the weekend before. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has other uses when high-performance race cars aren't roaring around the track.(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press) Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said on Tuesday it could be possible to hold the event safely but there is much to discuss beforehand. He said the study of ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is underway. "There is a way to hold it in terms of public health with well-thought-out protocols," he said. "As for the importation of the virus by people who come from outside without quarantines, these are discussions that are taking place between Quebec and Canada." F1 says it can be done safely F1's top brass has made it clear that holding events without spectators isn't financially feasible as the organization relies on ticket sales. On March 27, F1 group president Stefano Domenicali challenged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office on the issue of mandatory quarantine for travellers flying into the country. In a letter that Radio-Canada has obtained a copy of, the F1 boss outlines the measures put in place to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 throughout the season. In 2020, 78,000 PCR tests were carried out and only 78 tested positive. The F1 president says that is a rate of 0.1 per cent. If Montreal loses the annual event, F1 has already picked Istanbul, Turkey, to host it in the future instead.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick First Nations say the province's announcement Tuesday that existing tax collection agreements will not be renewed is an insult and a crushing attack on their economic viability. "The decision to tear up these tax agreements is unfair and offensive when the premier has yet to show First Nations any morsel of fairness throughout his tenure as leader of this province," Madawaska Chief Patricia Bernard said in a statement on behalf of the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick. She said the government's only interest is to see "how much more money it can leech from our resources, be it natural or financial." The decision to end the agreements follows a court ruling last month that said the province has an obligation to share with First Nations carbon tax revenues collected and remitted by on-reserve retailers. Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday the province won't appeal that ruling but added the current tax agreements are outdated and have proven to be unfair. "The existing tax agreements are independent of Aboriginal and treaty rights and were developed before (Harmonized Sales Tax) and carbon tax," Higgs said at a news conference in Fredericton. "No other province in Canada has tax agreements, and this is completely unique to New Brunswick." The agreements date back to 1994 and were intended to provide tax fairness for businesses on and off reserve. Before that, businesses on First Nations land were not collecting taxes from non-Indigenous customers. Under the agreements, the province would rebate 95 per cent of the first $8 million collected in provincial sales tax on tobacco, gasoline and other fuels, and 70 per cent on amounts above $8 million. In the late 1990s, the agreements were refunding approximately $28,000 annually, but they have grown at a rapid rate, hitting a peak of $47 million in 2019-20. Higgs said about $44 million will be refunded to First Nations communities this year, but it is not spread equally among them. The premier said nearly 40 per cent of that money will go to just two per cent of the First Nation population. "This is money that would have gone to support hospitals, schools, social programs and roads to benefit all New Brunswickers, including First Nations," Higgs said. "Our existing arrangement is clearly unsustainable, and our province cannot afford to ignore it any longer." Some of the agreements will expire in 90 days and others end next year, and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn said the government is committed to working with First Nations on what she called modern economic partnerships. She said that might include revenue sharing from natural resources or partnerships on issues such as housing and economic development. Dunn admitted the method of informing all the chiefs of the decision was not ideal. "I'm hoping they'll come to the table and pick up the phone and call me," Dunn said. The chiefs say they need to discuss the situation and decide how to proceed. But they were not impressed by how the news was delivered. Mi'kmaq leaders said the government has hit a new low in its relationship with Indigenous people in the province. A statement from Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Inc., which represents the province's nine Mi'kmaq communities, said media were briefed on the news before Finance Minister Ernie Steeves held a brief phone call with the chiefs. "Minister Steeves read a statement, refused to take questions and hung up on the chiefs," their statement said. One chief, George Ginnish of Natoaganeg, called the treatment by the government "completely disrespectful." Green Leader David Coon says Higgs should have addressed concerns through a renegotiation of the tax agreements. “The premier is rejecting them, just as he rejected the need for an inquiry into systemic racism, or the need to write Indigenous rights into the Crown Lands and Forests Act," said Coon. "Under this government, any hope for reconciliation has evaporated." This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
The Saskatchewan government is tightening some public health rules across the province and also expanding access to vaccines as the number of coronavirus variants continues to increase in several regions, particularly in Saskatoon, where a bar was flagged late Tuesday as a potential site of coronavirus variant exposures. Effective immediately throughout the province, bubbles are limited to people's immediate households, no matter the region. Previously, that tightened rule was only in place in Regina. There are "limited exceptions for co-parenting arrangements, caregivers and service people," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. "Be very cautious if we work outside the home," added Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer. In another step, as of Friday all churches and other places of worship will be limited to 30 people. Some stricter measures in Regina are not being extended elsewhere, including a strong recommendation to avoid unnecessary travel in and out of the city, and limiting restaurants to take-out service. Merriman said he's hopeful the case numbers in Saskatoon will stabilize even without those extra steps, based on what's happened in Regina. "I think we've done a very good job in Regina," he said. "Residents have done an extremely good job of adhering to [the rules] because the numbers haven't gone anywhere near where they were projected to go." Vaccine access widened to new groups The province is also opening up vaccine access to people by lowering the age requirement for walk-in appointments to 52 from 55. That change will kick in on Wednesday. More vulnerable groups are also being added to the priority vaccine queue and are therefore immediately eligible for vaccination: All pregnant women. 16- and 17-year-olds who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Everyone over the age of 40 in the province's far north. Pregnant women and vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds will receive an eligibility letter from their physician and will need to use the 1-833-SASK-VAX telephone number to book. The changes come as some areas continue to see a rise in coronavirus variants. The Saskatoon area in particular stood out on Tuesday as it reported a cumulative 302 virus variant cases, up from 181 on Monday. Shahab said if the numbers don't improve soon in Saskatoon, more restrictions will be necessary there. He said the proportion of cases in the area that are coronavirus variants has risen in recent weeks to between 30 and 40 per cent, and called that trend "very concerning." "Saskatoon really has to work hard to avoid following Regina's trajectory," Shahab said, pointing to the rapid initial rise of variants in the latter city several weeks ago. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer, speaks at a COVID-19 news update.(Michael Bell/The Canadian Press) Variant cases in the Regina, southwest, south central and southeast areas increased day-over-day Tuesday by 82, seven, 20 and 23 cases, respectively. Merriman noted that Regina's daily variant numbers have settled at a worryingly high level. The Saskatchewan NDP said the changes announced Tuesday came too late. "Scott Moe saw the modelling and knew the variants were on the rise. Instead of acting to win the race between the vaccines and the variants, he gave the variants a head start," the party's chief health critic, Vicki Mowat, said in a statement. "Just like in November, we are seeing a premier unwilling to take serious steps when they are needed." 2 more deaths reported in Regina area Health officials reported a total of 288 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, based on 3,007 tests, while two more deaths were reported. Both deaths were recorded in the Regina area: one person in their 30s and one in their 60s. The new cases were found in the following areas: Far northwest: four. Northwest: 31. North central: five. Northeast: three. Saskatoon: 44. Central west: two. Central east: 22. Regina: 117. Southwest: 18. South central: 17 Southeast: 17 Pending residence information: eight. Seven cases with pending residence information have been assigned to the North central (two), Saskatoon (one), Regina (one), South central (one) and Southeast (two) areas. (CBC) There are 202 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 41 people under intensive care. On the vaccine front, 7,846 more doses were administered on Monday. That's well below the daily rate that a recent CBC News analysis found is needed in order for the province to meet its new target of getting all adults aged 18 and over access to their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by mid-May.
One of three American bulldogs that were stolen during a break-and-enter in Surrey has been recovered, according to Surrey RCMP, but the dogs' owners are still trying to find the other two puppies. The theft happened Saturday afternoon at a house on 8 Avenue, near 176 Street, while the residents weren't home. According to police, a member of the public got in touch after realizing the puppy they bought at a car show in Mission over the weekend was one of the stolen dogs, Rosie. "We're glad that we got this one puppy back for the family," said Sgt. Elanore Sturko. "We're grateful that this person who had the puppy reached out to us." Sturko said the person also provided further information to investigators, and it's possible the two dogs that remain at large were also sold at the car show. Anyone with information is asked to contact Surrey RCMP or Crime Stoppers if they wish to remain anonymous.
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) -Defense attorneys in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin on Tuesday called an expert witness who testified that the former Minneapolis police officer was justified and reasonable in his use of force during his arrest of George Floyd. After 11 days of testimony by prosecution witnesses, Eric Nelson, lead attorney for Chauvin, called Barry Brodd, a private consultant in the use of force by law enforcement who said Chauvin was following his training during the encounter. His testimony contradicted several prosecution witnesses, including the city police chief, who earlier in the trial said Chauvin had no justification for kneeling on the 46-year-old Black man's neck for more than nine minutes.
Anti-Asian hate is something that Alison Singharath knows all too well. From anti-Asian hate over COVID-19 to the shooting in Atlanta that left six people of Asian descent dead, it seems like there has been a surge of anti-Asian hate over the past year. However, 30-year-old Laos descendant Singharath says that anti-Asian hate is something she's always experienced. "These issues within the Asian community have been around for a long time," she said. "I would get made fun of because of my eyes. There were many times growing up I didn't want to be different with the shape of my eyes or the colour of my skin. That took away from me wanting to be me and embracing my culture and tradition." As an adult, she said she no longer experiences name-calling, but the lack of education and stereotypes about the Asian community often leaves her "speechless." "People will often assume that we are from China or assume that we eat certain foods," she said. Singharath and her sisters, Melissa Phillips and Rita Hurrell, have decided to reclaim their power by doing something about this new wave of Asian hate. They are producing and selling t-shirts that carry powerful messages such as "Hate is a virus," "Asian Proud" and "Stop Asian Hate." The profits from the shirt goes to support local Asian businesses and communities in Canada. "We've just been seeing too much violence and attack and we kind of hit a breaking point," she said. "We couldn't just sit by and not try to help in some way, so within less than a week we thought the best way we could help take a stand was these t-shirts." The three shirts made by Alison Singharath and her sisters.(Submitted by Alison Singharath) According to Singharath, the response to the shirt has exceeded her expectations. For her and her sisters, this shows them that "there are people out there that want to support and are helping us raise awareness which makes us grateful that we are taking one step forward and making a change," she said. Local Asian businesses in Regina like the Great Asian Market, Hoa An Market and Ngoy Hoa Asian Foods will be beneficiaries of profits from the shirts. Alison and her sisters, Melissa Phillips and Rita Hurriell, have decided to reclaim their power by doing something about this new wave of Asian hate.(Submitted by Alison Singharath) The sisters will also be donating the foods purchased from the businesses to the community fridges in Regina. Money for the shirts will also be going toward the Chinese Canadian National Council, a non-profit organization. Production of the shirts stopped last Friday but they may start again soon.
OTTAWA — It's been over 40 years since Chief Wilton Littlechild of Alberta began fighting for recognition of Indigenous rights in Canada, but he says he's waiting to see these rights passed into federal law before he can finally rest. Littlechild was part of a team of human rights and legal experts who took part in a 1977 Indigenous delegation to the United Nations, and later also worked on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the body in 2007. Speaking to a House of Commons committee Tuesday, Littlechild expressed cautious optimism about the Liberal government's Bill C-15, which would harmonize Canada's laws with the declaration, also known as UNDRIP. But he said he won't be able to fully exhale until the bill finally passes. "I have to withhold my emotion and my horse races inside me until I hear the words 'royal assent,' " Littlechild said. "I feel positive that we are going in the right direction. After all, we didn't go to the United Nations or to the Organization of American States to cause anyone any trouble. We went there because our treaties were being violated on a daily basis and it was our elders and our leaders who instructed me to bring this ... to the global arena." Littlechild was one of several Indigenous leaders and legal experts who appeared Tuesday before the committee studying Canada's bill. They urged federal lawmakers to ensure the bill doesn't end up once again on the cutting room floor. This will mark the third attempt to see a bill passed in Canada's Parliament recognizing the UN declaration. Retired New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash introduced two private member's bills to implement UNDRIP. The first in 2014 was defeated at second reading, and the second, known as Bill C-262, came close to passing, but died after stalling in the Senate just before the 2019 election. Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations said he fears this newest bill could get tangled in legislative limbo before Parliament rises for the summer or is dissolved for a possible early federal election. This would be a step backward on the road to reconciliation, Bellegarde said. "Canada has made commitments to the Indigenous Peoples of the world that it would implement the declaration," he told the committee. "What we still lack, however, is the legislation that implements the declaration and sets us on a course of recognition of rights and provides the framework for reconciliation. "It is important for First Nations, and I believe it is important for all Canadians, to seize this opportunity now. We need to hear the words 'royal assent' before the end of June." The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands. It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights, but C-15 does not include a definition of such consent. The Liberal government introduced its UNDRIP legislation in December after a 2019 campaign promise to do so. It is now being put through the legal and political paces of Parliament. The AFN is proposing some tweaks, including speeding up a proposed action plan to implement the bill from three years to two and adding clear references to "racism" long endured by Canada's Indigenous Peoples. The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada's 65,000 Inuit, are also proposing amendments to the legislation, including one that would establish an Indigenous Human Rights Commission. But Conservatives have been raising concerns over language in the legislation they believe could give First Nations a "veto" over controversial resource development projects. Several Tory MPs put these concerns to witnesses Tuesday, including the party's Crown-Indigenous relations critic, Jamie Schmale. "It's not that we, as Conservatives, believe that UNDRIP or C-15 will mean that bill is against development. What we're asking is, because there is no clear definition, when a First Nation says no to a project … does that mean it's dead?" Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former judge who helped draft British Columbia's successful UNDRIP 2019 legislation, called the notion of a blanket veto on development projects "fearmongering." The bill will simply put into operation policies and processes to ensure First Nations are involved at the outset when it comes to decisions regarding their existing land, title and human rights, she explained. Many legal experts believe this could lead to fewer conflicts and less litigation, especially on issues of resource development, she added. "This is not removing any (government) authority and powers, but what it is doing and saying is: we want to end the process of this very colonial approach to taking Indigenous people's lands, supporting projects and developments on those lands without their consent, engagement and involvement and to operationalize a different set of practices," Turpel-Lafond said. "The powers of government are well-known. The issue is how they get exercised and hopefully this bill will help us shift into a more positive direction." The bill is expected to be brought to the House of Commons for first debate later this week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021. Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press
The European powers party to the Iran nuclear deal told Tehran on Wednesday that its decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity and install a further 1,000 centrifuges at its Natanz site were contrary to efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Talks between world powers, Iran and the United States are due to resume in Vienna on Thursday, but in a joint statement Britain, France and Germany said Tehran's decision to enrich at 60 percent was not based on credible civilian reasons and constituted an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon.
MOSCOW — Russia's defence minister said Tuesday that the country's massive military buildup in the west was part of readiness drills amid what he described as threats from NATO. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the manoeuvrs in western Russia that have worried neighbouring Ukraine and brought warnings from NATO would last for another two weeks. Speaking at a meeting with the top military brass, Shoigu said the ongoing exercise was a response to what he claimed were continuous efforts by the United States and its NATO allies to beef up their forces near Russia's borders. In the past three weeks, the Russian military has deployed two armies and three airborne formations to western regions “as a response to the alliance's military activities threatening Russia,” the defence minister said. “The troops have shown their full readiness to fulfil tasks to ensure the country's security,” he said. The U.S. and its allies have sounded alarm about the concentration of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine and increasing violations of a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-ba?ked separatists and Ukrainian forces have been locked in a conflict since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. More than 14,000 people have died in fighting in eastern Ukraine, and efforts to negotiate a political settlement have stalled. The chief of NATO on Tuesday called the recent Russian deployment the largest concentration of troops near the Ukraine border since 2014. The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden voiced concern over the Russian buildup and “called on Russia to de-escalate tensions,” during a phone call Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In separate meetings with Ukraine’s foreign minister, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg strong support for Ukraine and warned Russia against pressing ahead with its troop buildup along the former Soviet republic’s eastern border. Amid the recent tensions, the United States notified Turkey that two U.S. warships would sail to the Black Sea on April 14 and April 15 and stay there until May 4 and May 5. The U.S. Navy ships have made regular visits to the Black Sea in past years, vexing Moscow. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov denounced the latest deployment as “openly provocative,” adding that “American ships have absolutely nothing to do near our shores.” “They are testing our strength and playing on our nerves,” Ryabkov said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. “Seeing itself as the Queen of the Seas, the U.S. should realize that the risks of various incidents are very high. We warn the U.S. that it should stay away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast for their own benefit.” NATO chief Stoltenberg expressed the Western military alliance’s “unwavering” support for Ukraine during a news conference on Tuesday with Ukraine's foreign minister, calling the Russian movements “unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning.” The Kremlin has argued that Russia is free to deploy its troops wherever it wants on its territory and has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian military of “provocative actions” along the line of control in the east and of planning to retake control of the rebel regions by force. Ryabkov reaffirmed Tuesday that “if there is any escalation, we will do everything to ensure our own security and the security of our citizens whenever they are,” adding that “Kyiv and its Western curators will bear all the responsibility for the consequences of that hypothetical escalation.” Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
Human trafficking charges have been laid against a husband and wife who own a Calgary-based cleaning company after an 18-month investigation by law enforcement. Amelita Layco, 50, and Macario Layco, 49, are alleged to have recruited employees through Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program, RCMP said in a press release on Tuesday. Upon arriving in the country, the workers are believed to have been exploited by the business owners for their personal financial gain, the release said. Amelita Layco was charged on April 1 with: Two counts of trafficking in persons under section 279.01 of the Criminal Code. Two counts of material benefit – trafficking under section 279.02 of the Criminal Code. Fraud under section 380 of the Criminal Code. Macario Layco was also charged on April 1 with: Two counts of material benefit – trafficking under section 279.02 of the Criminal Code. Both are scheduled to appear at the Calgary Provincial Courthouse on April 16. Victims receiving support through non-profit The investigation was conducted by the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET), a federal policing unit that works to enhance border security. It is comprised of the Calgary Police Service, the Alberta RCMP and the Canada Border Enforcement Agency. The victims are also receiving support from the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking (ACT) Alberta, a non-profit that helps human trafficking survivors, RCMP said. "The longstanding relationship between the RCMP and ACT Alberta has proven to be a beneficial partnership in streamlining services for individuals experiencing this human rights violation," said Insp. Germain Leger, an operations officer with Alberta RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime South. Those experiencing, or suspected of being victim to, sexual or labour exploitation are encouraged by RCMP to call 587-585-5236 to reach an ACT Alberta Victim Response Coordinator, or the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.
WASHINGTON, Ga. — Protesters are trying to get a Georgia state representative fired by cities and counties that pay him to be their attorney, citing his role in pushing through a voting law that adds restrictions. The Washington City Council voted 4-2 to ask Rep. Barry Fleming to resign Monday, WJBF-TV reports. It's not clear if the city can immediately fire the Republican from Harlem because Washington has a contract with Fleming's law firm. “We want to make sure that every vote counts and we want to make sure that every person is heard," said Wilkes County Democratic Party chair Kimberly Rainey, among protesters demanding Fleming's resignation. “These kinds of bills are voter suppression. There’s no other way to say it and it hurts people that are disenfranchised already.” Fleming earlier stepped down as attorney for Hancock County after he was targeted by protesters there for his work on Georgia's sweeping voting overhaul. Fleming led the House Committee on Election Integrity and proposed the final form of Senate Bill 202, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law hours after the Senate agreed to House changes. Opponents say the bill will cut the ability of Democrats and minorities to vote. It requires people to present proof of identification to request an absentee ballot, cuts the number of days for requesting a ballot, shortens early voting before runoff elections, provides for fewer drop boxes than were allowed under emergency rules during the pandemic, allows for the state to take over local election offices and bars people from handing out food and water to voters in line within 150 feet (45 metres) of a polling place. Supporters say the bill was demanded by Republican voters alarmed by former President Donald Trump's claims about fraud and make absentee balloting more secure, provide a permanent legal basis for drop boxes and expand the number of mandatory weekend early voting days. Fleming denies that he's trying to keep anyone from voting and said he believes the law will withstand multiple lawsuits that have been filed seeking to overturn it. Georgia has faced a backlash since Gov. Kemp signed the law, with Delta Air Lines and the Coca-Cola Co. criticizing it and Major League Baseball yanking its All-Star Game from the Atlanta Braves stadium in Cobb County. Kemp and many other Republicans have counterattacked, c laiming big businesses are hurting minorities they claim to care about. Fleming’s district includes parts of Columbia and McDuffie counties, but does not include Washington. He also serves as city attorney for Harlem, Lincolnton, and Greensboro and is the county attorney for Burke, Putnam and Glascock counties. A similar protest was planned in Burke County on Tuesday. The Nation reports Hancock County and Washington have paid Fleming's law firm $382,000 in the last three years. Fleming defended a 2015 effort to purge voter rolls in the Hancock County seat of Sparta. He also wrote an opinion piece in The Augusta Chronicle last November that called mail-in absentee ballots “always-suspect” and likened them to “the shady part of town down near the docks you do not want to wander into because the chance of being shanghaied is significant.” The Associated Press