Jupiter and Saturn converged to form a celestial beacon as the two planets became visible at night for the first time in nearly 800 years, forming what’s known as the ‘Christmas star.’
Jupiter and Saturn converged to form a celestial beacon as the two planets became visible at night for the first time in nearly 800 years, forming what’s known as the ‘Christmas star.’
TORONTO — After a 10-month investigation, a task force commissioned by the Ontario government has issued a range of sweeping recommendations to reform the province's securities regulator. The Capital Markets Modernization Task Force's 70 recommendations include major governance changes to Ontario Securities Commission, such as establishing an adjudicative body within the OSC to rule on alleged securities act violations. The task force also recommends expanding the agency's mandate to augment its regulatory function, and changing its name to the Ontario Capital Markets Authority. The task force was commissioned in 2019 by Ontario's finance minister, with the goal of encouraging growth and competition in the province's capital markets. In the report, the task force decried the lack of new securities issuers in Ontario, which they warned could lead to fewer head offices and fewer investment growth opportunities in the province. Over the course of its investigation, the task force met with more than 110 different stakeholders as it was developing its recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
BRUCE COUNTY – Dr. Ian Arra, Grey Bruce medical officer of health, addressed Bruce County council on Jan. 14 with an update on the COVID-19 situation including vaccinations. Arra said the most recent projections locally indicate the surge in cases over the holidays is over, and numbers are heading back to where they were, “with four to six or seven” cases per day reported. The surge had been expected, due to holiday gatherings. The situation across the province is completely different, Arra said. It shows a gradual but steady increase that does not corelate to the holidays or current lockdown, and is presently about 3,000 per day. “Fifty per cent of hospital ICUs are at capacity,” he said, adding that this is expected to continue for four to six weeks. As for the vaccine, “Today (Jan. 14) we received 200 doses.” Another 800 doses are expected to arrive the last week of January. Both are going to the long-term care sector, said Arra. That includes residents, staff and essential caregivers. The priority in the province, he said, has been “hot spots” – which Grey-Bruce definitely is not. County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, asked if it is true the general public probably will not be vaccinated until April or May. Arra confirmed it, stating the province plans to vaccinate in three phases, with the first phase, for the most vulnerable, completed by March, the second phase for essential workers following that, and the third phase being everyone else. “It’s estimated phases two and three will not be completed,” he said, and will end when the pandemic ends, when herd immunity is achieved. County Coun. Robert Buckle, mayor of South Bruce, asked if the vaccination will provide lifetime immunity. Arra answered that no one knows the answer to that one yet. At present, it seems likely the vaccine will be “somewhere between the flu and measles,” and will last between one and three years, rather like pertussis. County Coun. Luke Charbonneau asked when the vaccine “will be in arms” and why the stay-at-home order was needed in Grey-Bruce. The answer for the first part was easy – immediately, or as soon as is practical. The second part was more complicated. Strict lockdowns have proved effective in other jurisdictions, such as Australia and France. While the numbers in Grey-Bruce remain relatively low compared to the rest of the province, meaning a lockdown wouldn’t have been needed here “if we were an island.” However, the fact is we are not an island. Arra said others would have come to our area, bringing COVID-19 with them. Before the lockdown, hockey teams from outside the area were beginning to rent ice time here. Arra responded to a question from Warden Janice Jackson, mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, by saying it’s the Pfizer vaccine (the one that must be stored at extremely cold temperatures) that’s coming to Grey-Bruce, and all of it will be used as soon as possible, since more is coming by the time the second dose needs to be administered. , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
LONDON — Four people-smugglers convicted of killing 39 people from Vietnam who died in the back of a container truck as it was shipped to England were sentenced Friday to between 13 and 27 years in prison. The victims, between the ages of 15 and 44, were found in October 2019 inside a refrigerated container that had travelled by ferry from Belgium to the eastern England port of Purfleet. The migrants had paid people-smugglers thousands of dollars to take them on risky journeys to what they hoped would be better lives abroad. Instead, judge Nigel Sweeney said, “all died in what must have been an excruciatingly painful death” by suffocation in the airtight container. The judge sentenced Romanian mechanic Gheorghe Nica, 43, described by prosecutors as the smuggling ringleader, to 27 years. Northern Irish truck driver Eamonn Harrison, 24, who drove the container to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, received an 18-year sentence. Trucker Maurice Robinson, 26, who picked the container up in England, was sentenced to 13 years and 4 months in prison, while haulage company boss Ronan Hughes, 41, was jailed for 20 years. Nica and Harrison were convicted last month after a 10-week trial. Hughes and Robinson had pleaded guilty to people-smuggling and manslaughter. Three other members of the gang received shorter sentences. Prosecutors said all the suspects were part of a gang that charged about 13,000 pounds ($17,000) per person to transport migrants in trailers through the Channel Tunnel or by boat. Sweeney said it was “a sophisticated, long running, and profitable” criminal conspiracy. Jurors heard harrowing evidence about the final hours of the victims, who tried to call Vietnam’s emergency number to summon help as air in the container ran out. When they couldn't get a mobile phone signal, some recorded goodbye messages to their families. The trapped migrants — who included a bricklayer, a restaurant worker, a nail bar technician, a budding beautician and a university graduate — used a metal pole to try to punch through the roof of the refrigerated container, but only managed to dent it. Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten, the senior investigating officer on the case, said the victims “left behind families, memories, and homes, in the pursuit of a false promise of something better.” “Instead they died, in an unimaginable way, because of the utter greed of these criminals,” he said. The Associated Press
HALIFAX — The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation. Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. The inquiry has also appointed a community liaison, a mental health expert, an investigations co-ordinator and an expert in charge of research. "We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the commission said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the commission in order to fulfil its mandate and we want the best people to help us in this process." The other team members include: — Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women. — Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S. — Mental health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction. — Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia's mental health and addictions program. The independent federal-provincial inquiry, which has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents, is expected to produce an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
TORONTO — Global trials examining the potential of blood thinners to treat moderately ill COVID-19 patients have proven so successful its Canadian investigators say clinicians should immediately start using them in standard care.Investigators at Toronto's University Health Network say interim results of clinical trials spanning five continents in more than 300 hospitals suggest full-dose blood thinners could significantly avoid severe cases that are now straining hospital ICUs.The study involved more than 1,300 moderately ill patients admitted to hospital, including some at UHN. Investigators say full doses of Heparin improved outcomes and decreased the need for life support.The full dose was also more effective than the lower dose typically administered to prevent blood clots in hospitalized patients.Critical care physician Ewan Goligher, co-chair of the therapeutic anticoagulation domain of the trial, says the findings could significantly transform care.“Having cared for so many severely ill COVID-19 patients and witnessed the suffering involved for patients and their loved ones, it is profoundly gratifying that together we have discovered a treatment that can prevent patients from becoming severely ill and improve their recovery,” Goligher, also a scientist with the University Health Network, said Friday in a release.Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor, hematologist and critical care physician at the University of Manitoba, said the findings were promising. "In a disease with a limited number of effective therapies, our results have the potential to define a new standard of care for moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients around the world," Zarychanski said.Doctors noticed early in the pandemic that COVID-19 patients suffered an increased rate of blood clots and inflammation. This led to complications including lung failure, heart attack and stroke.Back in December, investigators found that giving full-dose blood thinners to critically ill ICU patients did not help, and was actually harmful.The trials are supported by international funding organizations including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the NIH National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute in the United States, the National Institute for Health Research in the United Kingdom, and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
La MRC de La Matanie et la Ville de Matane ont décidé d’unir leurs forces pour mettre en branle le projet de « ferme » citoyenne à Matane. Les deux entités lancent donc un appel à participation pour tous les citoyens pouces verts et fervents de jardinage de La Matanie. Ce projet de « ferme citoyenne » vise l’élaboration d’une structure citoyenne dans la Ville de Matane se concentrant sur les univers du maraîchage, de l’apiculture et de l’agriculture urbaine. Selon un communiqué envoyé par la MRC, celui-ci pourrait d’ailleurs comprendre un volet communautaire ainsi qu’un volet collectif et éducatif. La MRC de La Matanie précise qu’au niveau communautaire, il pourrait s’agir de préparer des terrains pour les groupes souhaitant bénéficier de jardins communautaires. Au niveau collectif, il est envisagé que la structure ait une vocation d’éducation populaire. En même temps, elle permettrait la réinsertion et le don de denrées fraîches pour fournir les organismes sociaux. Le projet est encore en construction, et les possibilités sont nombreuses, selon le communiqué de la MRC. C’est pourquoi elle encourage les citoyens intéressés à s’inscrire, afin que le projet puisse se mouler à leur image et naître de leurs idées. La MRC de La Matanie cite notamment le projet d’agriculture communautaire de la MRC d’Argenteuil en exemple. Une première rencontre en ligne est organisée à travers Zoom le jeudi 28 janvier de 19h à 21h. L’objectif de cette consultation sera d’énoncer le constat de la situation actuelle, puis d’établir les étapes de réalisation et l’échéancier du projet. Un comité de travail incluant ceux ayant participé à la rencontre sera par la suite formé. « Je suis impressionnée et motivée par le groupe de citoyennes et citoyens qui a lancé le jardin communautaire les Lopins verts en moins d’un an. Cela montre le grand intérêt de la population matanaise pour ce type de projet. C’est une chance de pouvoir travailler ensemble à développer davantage l’agriculture urbaine », a lancé vivement Véronique Gagné, responsable. Pour s’inscrire, il suffit de remplir le formulaire en ligne avant le 27 janvier à 23h45. Le lien de connexion Zoom pour assister à la rencontre sera ensuite envoyé par courriel.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
A Nepean retirement home where 10 people have died from COVID-19 is the first in the city to begin vaccinating residents and staff against the illness, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says. "As part of Phase 1 of the COVID vaccine rollout in Ottawa, Valley Stream Retirement Home was identified as a high-risk retirement home and the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was made available and administered to staff, essential caregivers and residents on Jan. 17," OPH confirmed Thursday. OPH finished administering the first vaccine doses to residents in long-term care homes in mid-January, but Valley Stream is the first high-risk retirement home to be offered the same opportunity. At a news conference on Wednesday, Ottawa's general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said that while second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be delayed for some, one high-risk retirement home and one "congregate home with older adults" would still have a chance to receive first doses of the vaccine. In total, 51 of Valley Stream's 134 residents have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began on Jan. 2. Thirteen of those cases are now considered resolved. Another 27 staff members have also tested positive, 10 of which are now resolved. Jennifer Rose's 80-year-old father Richard Currie lives at Valley Stream, but has tested negative so far. "I'm obviously grateful and thankful that they're getting vaccines, and [with] my dad still testing negative, I'm happy he's getting that protection," Rose said, adding she's sympathetic to families that haven't been so lucky. "I just find it's so hard for the families that did lose somebody to this," she said. "They were close to being able to get that vaccine. It's just heartbreaking that it was almost within their grasp." Cleaning protocols enhanced Revera, which owns numerous long-term care facilities in Ontario and across North America, said it's working closely with OPH to maintain proper protocols and limit the spread of the virus at Valley Stream. "We are doing enhanced cleaning at Valley Stream, frequently disinfecting high touch surfaces like handrails and doors, common areas and staff rooms," the company's chief medical officer, Dr. Rhonda Collins, wrote. Collins said all residents are being monitored and tested if they show symptoms, while staff are screened at the beginning and end of their shifts. Visits are restricted to essential caregivers, as well as essential visits for palliative residents. "We recognize how difficult these measures are for residents and their families, and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we put these precautions in place for the safety of our residents," Collins wrote. According to OPH, the recent delay of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "did not impact the administration of vaccines at Valley Stream." Earl Brown, professor emeritus of virology at the University of Ottawa, said while it's important to administer the second dose within a specific period of time after the first shot, giving more vulnerable people a single dose may prove the best option — as long as that second dose isn't too far behind. "It really comes down to maximizing your benefit," Brown said. "So numbers-wise, it generally has tended to favour spreading out the first dose and getting the second dose in somewhat of a timely manner. " But while the two vaccines both report higher than 90 per cent effectiveness in stopping the virus, Brown said it's believed they're less effective for older people. "I think the unknowns loom larger with this group."
L’année 2020 derrière nous, à quoi peut-on s’attendre en 2021? Nous avons discuté des défis économiques qui nous attendent avec Brigitte Alepin, professeure en fiscalité au Campus de Saint-Jérôme de l’UQO. D’entrée de jeu, Mme Alepin veut être claire. « Je ne peux vraiment rien prédire en ce moment. Rien dans cette pandémie n’était prévisible. » Elle indique que plusieurs économistes de renommée se sont aventurés à faire des prévisions en 2020, mais que celles-ci se sont souvent révélées erronées. Elle rappelle aussi que la situation actuelle est sans précédent. Les gouvernements ont dû prendre rapidement des décisions radicales. « On sera longtemps en train d’analyser : est-ce qu’on a pris les bonnes décisions? » Elle souligne que les présents gouvernements sont ceux qui ont le plus d’expérience dans la gestion d’une pandémie. « Je ne sais pas quelle note je donnerais aux gouvernements. Ce n’est pas parfait, mais ils l’ont quand même gérée. On doit toutefois s’attendre, espérer qu’ils ont appris, et qu’ils seront plus proactifs qu’en réaction, en 2021. » Malheureusement, Mme Alepin est certaine d’une chose : les gouvernements continueront à faire des déficits pendant un bon bout de temps. Tant au fédéral qu’au provincial, la dette publique a explosé, gonflée par les mesures pour contenir la pandémie et pour soutenir financièrement les citoyens et les entreprises pendant la crise. Si certains économistes espèrent une relance économique vigoureuse après la vaccination, Mme Alepin croit que cela sera bien insuffisant pour renflouer les coffres de l’État. Sans compter que des investissements supplémentaires seront nécessaires pour cette relance… « Ça va être difficile. Tout le monde s’en vient à sec! » Selon la fiscaliste, nous n’aurons plus le choix d’imposer davantage les « méga-riches » et les multinationales, pour qu’ils contribuent à leur juste part. « Mais la pandémie coûte tellement cher, ça ne sera pas assez », avertit-elle. Ainsi, les déficits et la dette, nécessaires pour vaincre la pandémie, devront être gérés avec prudence. Ce qui inquiète aussi la professeure, c’est l’inflation. « On n’en parle pas assez, il faut poser des questions! » Difficile de connaître l’impact précis des dépenses gouvernementales sur l’inflation, mais déjà les prix des aliments ont augmenté, par exemple. « Quelles seront les conséquences? Comment va-t-on gérer ça? Doit-on s’en soucier? Les taux d’intérêt pourraient augmenter. Là, tout est contenu, nous ne sommes pas en crise, mais ça peut débouler vite! » Si l’inflation s’accélère, elle peut devenir un cercle vicieux et se transformer en hyper-inflation. Alors les prix augmentent exponentiellement, chaque dollar a de moins en moins de valeur, jusqu’à ce que votre fonds de pension ne vaille plus rien. Difficile d’évaluer si le risque est réel ou non, mais selon Mme Alepin, les gouvernements devraient, à tout le moins, se pencher sur la question. Impossible également de prédire quel impact la pandémie aura eu sur la mondialisation. « Au début, on croyait que ça donnerait peut-être lieu à moins de mondialisation. De plus en plus, je lis des choses qui disent le contraire. » D’un côté, les États ont fermé leurs frontières, ont cherché à produire davantage de biens localement, comme les masques, et les consommateurs, comme au Québec, se sont tournés vers l’achat local. De l’autre côté, les États ont dû collaborer et se coordonner pour certains efforts, et les pressions pour plus de coopération internationale sont grandes. « Aux États-Unis, Joe Biden a tenu tête à la concurrence fiscale internationale, en promettant de rehausser le taux d’imposition des corporations de 21 à 28 %. Il y a aussi un nombre critique de pays qui veulent un impôt minimum mondial. C’est le dernier jalon qu’il nous manquait pour la mondialisation. » Dans tous les cas, l’ordre géopolitique et économique mondial est irrémédiablement bouleversé… même s’il est encore hasardeux d’en prédire les conséquences. Enfin, Mme Alepin prévient que les citoyens seront moins tolérants face à la concentration de la richesse par les milliardaires et les multinationales, qui paient peu ou pas d’impôt. « Quand les gens avaient un emploi, du pain frais à manger, de bons soins médicaux, quand tout allait bien, les gens acceptaient. Mais maintenant, ils n’accepteront plus. »Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
Élu pour la première fois à 24 ans, Adam Rousseau en est à son troisième mandat comme conseiller municipal à Saint-François-Xavier-de-Brompton. Il investit en moyenne entre 10 et 15 heures par semaine dans ce rôle et touche quelque 7000 $ par année. Un petit calcul rapide permet de constater que, dans le meilleur des cas, le temps consacré à la politique municipale est payé un peu plus que le salaire minimum. S’il consacre plus de 10 heures par semaine, le taux horaire descend encore plus bas. Si à l’inverse un conseiller ne consacre que quelques heures par mois à la fonction, le salaire horaire sera beaucoup plus haut. Il n’y a pas de balises claires sur le nombre d’heures que doivent travailler les élus municipaux. « Je regarde le maire de Saint-François-Xavier-de-Brompton, qui n’est pas une énorme municipalité mais qui est en croissance, et il peut mettre en moyenne 30 heures par semaine, explique Adam Rousseau. Avec le contexte de méfiance, on est souvent embêté lorsqu’on fait une demande de remboursement et, souvent, on assume les frais. C’est une job 24/7 et 365 jours par année. Un élu actif devrait se payer. » Cette réalité fait en sorte selon lui que le rôle d’élus convient beaucoup plus à des gens qui n’ont pas d’obligations financières. « La job d’élu municipal dans les petites communautés, c’est pour les riches et les retraités, lance-t-il. Il ne faut pas se le cacher. Une personne à la préretraite ou indépendante de fortune n’aura pas d’enjeux à réduire ses heures de travail et être à 30 heures par semaine à son emploi principal. » Adam Rousseau pense à se présenter comme maire de sa municipalité en 2021 et pourrait justement faire campagne sur l’enjeu des salaires. « Je pense à faire ma campagne électorale avec comme objectif qu’à la fin de mon mandat le maire soit à temps plein, explique-t-il. Après cela, n’importe qui qui voudra se présenter n’aura plus les limites du temps partiel combiné à d’énormes responsabilités. » Les délais de mise en œuvre des projets, les rencontres en journée durant la semaine avec des ministères ou des firmes pour des projets et le manque de flexibilité de certains employeurs sont aussi des freins, selon lui, à l’implication de la jeunesse. Le rôle d’élu reste tout de même, malgré les désagréments, l’un des emplois les plus gratifiants, assure Adam Rousseau. « Il y a des défaites et des déceptions, mais aussi plein de victoires qui amènent un accomplissement professionnel qui vaut beaucoup d’argent, résume-t-il. On a réellement un impact. Il a toutefois encore beaucoup de choses à améliorer. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
GREY-BRUCE – Although there are still 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, the number of new cases continues to drop from the post-holiday spike. As of Jan. 18, there had been five new cases in the previous 24 hours – one each in Owen Sound, Brockton, Grey Highlands, Hanover and West Grey. This brings the cumulative total to 653. There are 115 high risk contacts associated with active cases. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in Grey-Bruce. An outbreak with the Town of The Blue Mountains has been declared over. The first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 200 doses, have been administered. People are being urged to follow the basic measures that brought down numbers during the first wave – wash hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally six feet) and wear a face covering correctly. Everyone should also avoid crowds and unnecessary travel as the provincial lockdown continues. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Even during the pandemic, the Okanagan continues to become a hotspot for film projects with bigger stars and films expected on the horizon according to the head of the Okanagan Film Commission. Chair of the film commission, Jon Summerland, told the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) board at their Jan. 21 meeting that movie producers created around $48 million in economic impact in the region last year. The non-profit film commission, funded in part by local regional governments, led the way in health and safety protocols while shooting in 2020, according to Summerland. “One month into the pandemic, we were already quarantining crews in hotels and shooting Hallmark movies. So we were the first in Canada to have film and we’ve been steady since. We were instrumental in creating the protocol for COVID with WorkSafe BC, they were on our sets every day in the beginning,” Summerland said. Health and safety officers became full-time crew members, now there are three on each set in the Okanagan. There were a total of 25 productions filmed in the Okanagan in 2020, including “Dangerous,” from Mind’s Eye Entertainment starring Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Fate of the Furious) with an approximate $11 million in economic impact for the region. Much of the economic boon from the year could be attributed to around 10 Hallmark and Lifetime movies shot mostly in Summerland, Peachland and Kelowna. With more productions in the Okanagan and the word getting back to Hollywood, the film commission is opening the door to bigger projects and features. The film commission advertised the landscapes of the Okanagan in the magazine Hollywood Monthly, and having some big-name producers and directors living in the region doesn’t hurt either. “So all of them have been great tools in my tool belt to talk to Netflix, who I spoke with yesterday, to talk to bigger feature films, who are now already calling us because all these little shows that nobody watches, Hollywood watches. Hollywood goes ‘where are these being done?’ So now we’re on the radar,” Summerland said. He added he was working on a package for a film with a budget of $180 million. While Summerland said it is unlikely the commission will land the film, it could be a preview of things to come. “We are growing as a film community.” Combined, regional districts in the Okanagan contributed $255,244 to the film commission in 2020, with $45,000 coming from the RDOS and $130,000 from the Regional District of Central Okanagan. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Coup de théâtre mercredi après-midi, alors que le Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ) informait l’avocat de Virginie Dufour qu’une enquête était ouverte relativement aux allégations de financement politique illégal qui visent sa cliente. Cette information est tombée dans les heures suivant une entrevue que Mme Dufour, conseillère municipale de Sainte-Rose, accordait au Courrier Laval, où elle annonçait son retour au sein du comité exécutif dont elle s’était retirée le 30 novembre dernier «pour ne pas nuire aux affaires de la Ville». Or, ce mercredi 20 janvier, elle estimait que l’«injustice» dont elle se dit victime «a assez duré». D’autant que, affirmait-elle, le DGEQ ne l’avait jamais relancée à la suite de son courriel - il y a sept semaines - où elle demandait à l’institution de faire enquête sur les allégations formulées à son endroit afin de «rétablir sa réputation». À défaut d’une enquête formelle, elle disait réintégrer l’exécutif «la tête haute» avec en main un affidavit signé par Normand Cusson, l’homme qu’on entend sur l’enregistrement incriminant rendu public par le Journal de Montréal, le 30 novembre. Dans une déclaration assermentée, M. Cusson, un proche de Virginie Dufour, affirme avoir menti lorsqu’il dit que ses contributions versées par chèque au Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers lui sont remboursées en argent comptant par l’élue de Sainte-Rose. Considérant que le DGEQ ouvre une enquête, Virginie Dufour entend-elle se retirer à nouveau du comité exécutif le temps que la lumière soit faite sur ces allégations? Une décision devrait être rendue d’ici les prochaines heures, informe-t-on au cabinet du maire.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Calgary police have laid several charges against a former basketball coach after a male teenager came forward with accusations of sexual assault. The alleged victim — who was 14 years old when he joined Genesis Basketball in 2016 — reported to police in November 2020 that he had been sexually assaulted several times by the team's coach. The coach befriended the victim and would drive him to school, games and practices, police said Friday in a news release. The teen was also invited to the coach's home, where multiple assaults are alleged to have taken place. Sean Maheu, 38, was charged on Tuesday with sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and sexual exploitation. He is set to appear in court on March 11. "In this instance, it was what we would refer to as a historical report, where it was reported after the fact. So, the victim has come forward as an adult," said Staff Sgt. Michelle Doyle, who is with the Calgary Police Service's sex crimes unit. Maheu well-known in basketball community, Genesis says Genesis Basketball president Eddie Richardson said in an emailed statement on Friday that the organization is aware of the allegations against Maheu, who began coaching with the organization in 2015 and left in 2018. The basketball club said it has been co-operating with CPS, and will continue to do so. "[Maheu] was well-known in the basketball community and worked with other programs before coming to Genesis," the statement reads in part. "At the time of Mr. Maheu joining our club, he was employed with Hull Services, an organization that works with some of the city's most vulnerable youth and families." According to the statement, Genesis coaches are required to have a CPS police check that is no more than a year old. "We have always been proactive in leading our community in providing our athletes with a safe learning environment and will continue to improve going forward," Richardson said in the release. "With respect to the charges that have been laid, out of respect for the family and the young man involved, Genesis will have no further comment at this time." For more information, please visit the Calgary & Area Child Advocacy Centre website at www.calgarycac.ca.
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister.The Protecting Canada Project will start airing today its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online.The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic.The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time."Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. How an O'Toole-led Conservative government would tackle the massive national debt and deficit created by pandemic spending will be a key question for the party in the next campaign. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
In this David and Goliath story, David threw a dozen rocks, but couldn’t knock the giant down. David Strachan, treasurer of the Midhurst Ratepayers Association, who fought against the Geranium company’s plans to build two large subdivisions in the small village 10-minutes north of Barrie, is still bitter. “If we’d have thrown lots of money at it in the first place, we might have stood a chance,” Strachan said after news of the bulldozers arriving on-site at the Carson Road subdivision was released last week. But after fighting the good fight and raising more than $250,000 for legal fees and professional planners to oppose 2,500 new homes in their neighbourhood, Strachan and company realized their 12-year battle is over. In 2008, the initial plan for the Midhurst Carson Road development was approved by the township and later by the Ontario Municipal Board, the County of Simcoe, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, and several provincial agencies in 2014. It took five more years for the environmental assessment to be approved by the ministry of the environment, conservation and parks in 2019. Water and storm water management work was approved in 2020. Last December, council gave the green light for Phase 1 of the subdivision of 342 homes to begin. A bulldozer sits on the former farmland at the top of Anne Street North, where snowmobilers currently race through a small tract of trees that will remain standing. Inside the cold work trailer, site supervisor Dominic Palombi hunches down inside his coat and pulls out the site drawings of the new subdivision that will be his work address for the foreseeable future. "We start building Monday (Jan. 25)," he said. “We’ll start with the sewers for the subdivision and we’ll start building the sales office there,” added Palombi, pointing to the snow-covered field. “It’s going to be big.” Stretching between Carson Road on the south, along Wilson Drive on the west and near Snow Valley Road on the north, Palombi’s not wrong. There are expected to be more than 340 detached and semi-detached houses available to preview schematically at least this summer, said Geranium spokesperson Cheryl Shindruk. “We expect 2,500 units approximately at full build,” she continued, explaining the Doran Road site will be built along Carson Road in the future. Shindruk won’t comment on the lengthy timeline it took to push the subdivisions through the roadblocks, other than to say “development approval takes the time it needs to take.” President of the Midhurst ratepayers group, Sandy Buxton, said it wasn’t a case of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Backyard), but also to save Minesing Wetlands which border the property. Also at stake are the Hine’s Emerald Dragonflies, which only nest in a few places in Canada, including the Springwater wetlands, she said. “It’s a very fussy animal in terms of the habitat it requires,” said Buxton. “It’s a fragile beast … which is classed as an endangered animal, not just provincially but also federally.” Nicole Audette, Springwater’s communications officer, said it was just one of many requirements that had to be satisfied before the work project could be approved. “The completion of the environmental assessment was a significant condition that needed to be satisfied to ensure the Midhurst developments could be serviced with significant consideration for the environment,” said Audette. It also included jumping through a slew of technical hoops, such as engineering design, species at risk assessments and environmental impact studies, in addition to requiring securities to ensure funding will be available to complete work in accordance with municipal regulations. As soon as weather permits, tree clearing and the installation of services including the watermains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers and a stormwater management pond will begin. For more information, visit www.springwater.ca Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
China has granted Canadian officials in Beijing on-site virtual consular access to detained Canadian Michael Kovrig but not to his fellow detainee Michael Spavor, Global Affairs Canada said today. The effort to gain access was led by Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton and the meeting took place on Jan. 21. A statement from Global Affairs said it could not give out details of the meeting because of privacy concerns. Kovrig and Spavor were detained in December 2018 shortly after Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian officials while she was changing planes in Vancouver. Meng was arrested on a U.S. extradition request over allegations she lied to a Hong Kong banker in August 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arrest and detention of Kovrig and Spavor is widely seen as an act of reprisal for Meng's arrest. Both men face charges of spying for Canada. "The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release," said a statement from Global Affairs Canada. Since their arrest, Canadian officials have had only sporadic consular access to the two men. From January to October of last year, family and Canadian officials had no access to the detainees — something China attributed to efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Canadian officials were last granted consular access to Spavor on December 14, 2020. The Global Affairs statement says that access to Spavor has been withheld because of COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Since their arrest more than two years ago, Canadian officials have been granted consular access to Kovrig on 20 occasions and met with Spavor a total of 19 times. Meng gets family visit Meng, meanwhile, has been released on bail and is continuing to deny the charges against her. Under her bail conditions, Meng is required to wear a GPS ankle monitoring bracelet and is confined to her home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day. She is allowed to travel around the Lower Mainland with security guards during the day; she has to pay for the security herself. While Kovrig and Spavor remain behind bars, last week it emerged that Meng's husband, Liu Xiaozong, and her two children were granted permission to come to Canada by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officials. Liu came to Canada in October and in December was followed by the couple's children. Global Affairs said that Meng's family members were granted permission to come here through a process that allows family members of foreign nationals to visit Canada temporarily. Extradition Meng's extradition proceeding is expected to get underway at the beginning of March, and to continue in various stages until the end of April. The first part of the proceedings will involve a defence bid to have the case tossed because of alleged violations of Meng's rights. Her lawyers claim she was used as a political pawn by the administration of former U.S. president Donald Trump and that the Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation at the time of her arrest to deny her access to a lawyer. The defence claims that the U.S. deliberately misled Canada about the strength of the case against Meng and is reaching beyond its jurisdiction to punish her. The final part of the proceedings will be a test of the strength of the extradition request itself.
Curious onlookers may be forgiven for thinking the Stettler area is quickly becoming the fibre board capital of Canada, as a second company has announced they’re building a major plant here. Alberta BioBord Corp. contacted the ECA Review newspaper last week after a story was printed about Great Plains MDF’s plans to develop a fibre board mill in the region south and east of Stettler. Now, Alberta BioBord, unrelated to Great Plains MDF, stated they plan to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant adjacent the Town of Stettler. Alberta BioBord is headed up by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) George Clark, who was formerly a spokesperson for Great Plains, and Clark, along with directors Randy Kerr and Lorne Murfitt, joined the ECA Review for a teleconference interview Jan. 19. Murfitt stated during the Great Plains effort a lot of time and effort was spent meeting the public and touring rural Alberta looking for a place to build an MDF facility and Stettler was selected at that time for a variety of reasons, including its excellent road system, proximity to rail lines and population. Murfitt added that even after several people joined Alberta BioBord, they still focused on Stettler. Clark stated that when looking for a great place to build an MDF plant, which uses wheat straw to make fibre board, Stettler kept coming to the top of the list. While Clark said the mill rates are not necessarily the lowest in this region “the logistics were absolutely the best.” Clark stated that Alberta BioBord hopes to continue with the site named last summer, a parcel of land across the road from the Stettler airport, which he said has easy rail access and good connector roads nearby. He stated Alberta BioBoard won’t be causing any traffic troubles as the existing truck routes will suffice, and also pointed out no Alberta BioBord traffic will be using Main Street. Clark also pointed out trucks supplying Alberta BioBord's facility will be coming from all directions surrounding Stettler, not just one. Additionally, Alberta BioBord is proposing straw depots around the area where material can be stored and trucked when needed, plus the use of train cars. The CEO stated Alberta BioBord’s project is valued at between $650 and $750 million, but noted the project will first begin as a fuel pellet plant. Murfitt and Kerr explained straws can be used to make fuel pellets, a heating fuel in big demand. This phase is estimated at between $35 and $40 million. After the fuel pellet plant is up and running, the MDF plant could move forward. It’s estimated the fuel pellet plant will be producing 300,000 metric tonnes of pellets per year with 40 metric tonnes of biomass fibres entering the plant every hour. Clark pointed out Alberta BioBord is also willing to buy flax straw from producers, which he stated is probably good news for producers looking to sell their flaw straw. The CEO explained the company’s first round of financing is being finalized now and expects that to be ironed out by the end of February, when things like municipal approvals can then be addressed. Clark said the company would like to see construction start this year with the fuel pellet plant in operation next fall. Where will this wheat and flax straw be coming from? Central Alberta producers. Clark noted Alberta BioBord's collection zone for straw will be at least a 250 kilometre radius of Stettler, and the company is planning an extensive public consultation process. All three men stated the company keenly wants to develop strong relationships with producers. They added that producers should watch for more information coming over the next weeks and months about Alberta BioBord’s Stettler project. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Curling Canada has decided to use the national ranking system as its selection criteria for the final wild-card berths at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier. The announcement clears a path to the Calgary bubble for Manitoba's Mackenzie Zacharias and Ontario's Glenn Howard. Beth Peterson, also from Manitoba, saw her chances greatly improve but the decision closed the door on Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Saskatchewan's Robyn Silvernagle. “We needed to take our time and do our due diligence on this selection process,” Curling Canada chief executive officer Katherine Henderson said Friday in a release. “In the end, it was decided that we created the Canadian Team Ranking System for exactly these purposes. "It is a proven system with a history that we use for all of our other selection processes, and ultimately, from a consistency standpoint, it makes the most sense for this situation.” The Scotties is set for Feb. 19-28 at the Markin MacPhail Centre and the Brier will run March 5-14. The Canada Olympic Park venue will hold six events in all in a spectator-free setting due to the pandemic. Curling Canada scrapped its usual play-in game for both national team championships. Instead three wild-card entries were added to each field, creating 18-team draws. The federation previously announced that the final 2019-20 Canadian rankings would be used for the first two wild-card spots. Criteria for the third wild-card spot was listed as "to be determined," giving some hope to slightly lower-ranked teams or rinks who made off-season roster adjustments. Formal wild-card team entry announcements are expected next month once all provincial and territorial playdowns are complete. Howard, a four-time Brier champion, gets the third wild-card spot thanks to his No. 9 ranking. The first two wild-card spots were already clear with Mike McEwen of Manitoba at No. 5 and Kevin Koe of Alberta at No. 6. The complete women's wild-card picture won't be determined until the end of the month. Second-ranked Tracy Fleury of Manitoba is a lock for the first spot. Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt is next at No. 9, but she's a heavy favourite to represent her province again. Birt is one of two entries in the Jan. 29-31 P.E.I. championship. Either way, Zacharias — who won a world junior title last year — will get the second or third wild-card spot based on her No. 11 ranking. Peterson, meanwhile, is a whisker behind her on the list and only needs a Birt victory to book her ticket for Calgary. Chelsea Carey is ranked fifth in Canada but is a free agent. Rocque, at No. 6, and Silvernagle, at No. 10, weren't eligible since they only have two returning members, one short of the required minimum. A Curling Canada spokesman confirmed Friday that the 3-of-4 rule also applies to the third wild-card picks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is looking at ways to strengthen the vetting process for the next governor general after his choice for the job — Julie Payette — resigned yesterday following reports she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall. Trudeau faced multiple questions from reporters today about the vetting process he followed in appointing Payette back in 2017, and the red flags raised by former employers about her behaviour. "Obviously the vetting process that was in place was followed, but obviously we're going to also look at ways we can strengthen and improve the vetting process for high-level appointments," he said outside his home at Rideau Cottage, not far from Rideau Hall. "We are looking right now at processes that can be strengthened as we move forward and we will have more to say on that as we make decisions." WATCH | Trudeau is asked why Payette wasn't thoroughly vetted before being appointed GG In an unprecedented move, Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, resigned Thursday after an outside workplace review of Rideau Hall probed allegations she had belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff. "Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed," the former astronaut wrote in her statement. A senior government source (speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly) said about 100 public servants took part in the outside review. The report concluded it was an overwhelmingly toxic and poisonous workplace and the two people at the very top, Payette and Di Lorenzo, were responsible for it, the source said. PM and Queen spoke today The source also said Payette received parts of the report that pertained to her on Monday and that the clerk of the Privy Council and Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc had a tense conversation with her on Tuesday. Speaking from prepared remarks, Trudeau said he spoke to the Queen Friday morning and let her know Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner will fulfil the duties of the governor general — her representative in Canada — on a temporary basis. He said a recommendation on Payette's replacement is coming. Trudeau was asked repeatedly today about his decision to not use a selection committee in 2017, something his predecessor implemented. "We will continue to the look at the best way to select people for the vice regal appointments. It is an important role for Canadians and we'll look at how we can improve it," he said. WATCH Jagmeet Singh on Payette resignation Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell said this could have been avoided if Trudeau hadn't shunned the Harper-era committee. "This is all sad, but it's so Justin Trudeau's style," he said. "He thinks that he knows better than anybody else, than the special committee created by the Conservatives. But we were right at that time. We made the right decision, he did the wrong decision and unfortunately, today we paid a price for this mess." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh suggested other parties be brought into the process of selecting the official 30th governor general. "The system is deeply problematic in that the federal government, whoever's in power, can choose who they want," he said Friday morning. "I think there would be a great benefit in having a better system...so that the selection is not just a government appointment, but it's something that is done in a manner that is more fair." Questions about annuity Payette will collect a six-figure annuity for the rest of her life, a tradition critics are calling into question given the report on the Rideau Hall workplace climate — a report LeBlanc said came to some "disturbing" and "worrisome" conclusions. Under the Governor General's Act, former vice-regals are entitled to a lifetime annuity — which, according to the 2020 Public Accounts, amounts to $149,484. They are also entitled to a lifetime expense program for office and travel expenses. Documents obtained by the National Post in 2018 show that each former governor general is allowed to claim up to $206,000 per year under the program, which has existed since 1979 and is based on the notion that governors general never truly retire. "This country has very clear rules and regulations and processes and procedures in place to follow in these cases of reporting expenses, or indeed on annuities for governor generals," Trudeau said Friday. "Those processes will be followed, but obviously we're always open to having discussions on changes that need to be made moving forward." A spokesperson for the NDP said that if there's a way to cancel Payette's annuity, New Democrats would support it since Payette failed to provide a harassment-free workplace for her workers. WATCH | Trudeau is asked about the annuity Julie Payette will receive after her resignation "With respect to the annuity, I think that Canadians, rightly so, are concerned that given this report and how horrible the workers were treated, that this doesn't sit well with people," said Singh. In a statement, the outspoken Canadian Taxpayers Federation called on the Liberal government to change the way former governors general are paid. "With the resignation of Julie Payette, now is the time for this government to ensure that taxpayers are not on the hook for the expense accounts of former governors general," said Aaron Wudrick, the advocacy group's director. "Two years ago, the prime minister said he would 'review' this program. Nothing has happened since. It's time to save taxpayers money by scrapping this outrageously wasteful program." In 2018, following reports that Adrienne Clarkson had billed more than $1 million in expenses since leaving the viceregal job, Trudeau called for more transparency. "These are people who've stepped up and offered tremendous service to this country but Canadians expect a certain level of transparency and accountability, and we're going to make sure we're moving forward in a thoughtful way," he said. A spokesperson for the Privy Council said the final cost of the Quintet Consulting review was $393,367.13, nearly four times higher than the original value of the contract. The original terms of reference of the contract did say the amount could change depending on how long the review took.