Watching the snowfall in Windsor, Ontario.
Watching the snowfall in Windsor, Ontario.
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is again being accused of discrimination in how it treats migrant farm workers. Haldimand-Norfolk is already infamous in farming circles as the only jurisdiction to put a cap on how many offshore workers can quarantine together in a bunkhouse, a controversial policy upheld after a lengthy court battle last year. Now medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai has decreed that newly arrived farm workers self-isolating in hotels cannot leave their rooms. While federal rules allow “limited and monitored outdoor time” for returning Canadian travellers staying at isolation hotels, the latest directive from the health unit confines migrant workers to their rooms for their entire 14-day quarantine. “I think any time people are treated differently than a Canadian, that’s discrimination,” said Leanne Arnal, a farm worker advocate and member of the Norfolk Seasonal Agricultural Workers Community Committee. “If we were to lock a dog in a room for 14 days — I don’t care how nice the room is — you’re going to have the police there. You’re going to have a community of upset people. So why are we keeping the farm workers in there for 14 days? Even criminals can go outside and get a fresh air break.” Nesathurai defended the new restriction as necessary to contain the more contagious variants of COVID-19. “This past summer, an outbreak among Haldimand-Norfolk’s migrant worker community led to hundreds of infected individuals, multiple hospitalizations, and a death. The Haldimand-Norfolk experience shows that some workers arrive in Canada carrying COVID-19, and this can have deadly consequences,” he said. “The risk is not theoretical. We’re trying to keep as many people safe as possible, given the resources that we have.” Nesathurai said the policy also protects other hotel guests and staff, and farm workers can take smoke breaks or get fresh air on their balcony, “if available.” Not every room has a balcony, Arnal noted, adding that all workers are tested for COVID-19 before leaving their home countries. Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp said she was “perplexed” by the new rule. “As chair of the board of health, I have consistently supported Dr. Nesathurai, even when there were rules I didn’t agree with. He’s a medical professional and I am not,” Chopp said. “However, when I see rules that now are not treating the migrant workers the same as Canadians, I do start to question that, when Canadians themselves are entitled to be able to get some fresh air while they’re in quarantine.” Kevin Daniel from Trinidad and Tobago, who works at a farm in Simcoe, said he “strongly believes” the new rule discriminates against migrant workers, who cannot protest the conditions set out by the health unit due to their precarious employment status. “What they tell us to do, we have to comply with it,” he said. Daniel will be spared another quarantine because he remained in Simcoe over the winter after being unable to fly home thanks to border restrictions. But he said he is still feeling the debilitating mental effects of spending two weeks in a hotel room after a COVID-19 outbreak at his farm last November. “It was very terrible, the experience I had being locked up those 14 days,” said Daniel, who said he continues to suffer from insomnia. “I experienced it in the quarantine, and when I came out, I would be up until 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s a consistent problem that I have,” he said. Daniel said allowing workers daily outdoor exercise would not alleviate the anxiety of quarantine, but it would help. Arnal helped Daniel’s employer manage that quarantine. She proposed having workers use a dedicated stairwell to safely spend time outdoors in a secluded yard. “(Nesathurai) said ‘absolutely not,’ with no reason for it,” Arnal said. “Using the variants as an excuse right now — what was his excuse in November, when there were no variants?” Nesathurai contends the health unit does not have enough staff to monitor workers’ outdoor breaks, but Chopp said the farmers themselves would pay for supervision. According to Nesathurai, the health unit has asked Ottawa “numerous times” to take over the migrant worker self-isolation program, most recently in a March 1 letter in which he warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that federal inaction would “likely contribute to more workers becoming infected.” Arnal sees this rule as the latest in a string of questionable health unit decisions — such as issuing ID cards she considered “racial profiling” — that demonize farm workers, who she said spend most of the year in Canada and make an incalculable contribution to the national food supply and local economy. “They are not a risk, they are at risk, just like the rest of us,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
VICTORIA — British Columbia wants to try and reduce shootings connected to gangs and drugs in legislation introduced today that partly focuses on the transportation of illegal firearms.Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says some of the changes in the proposed law would include penalizing drivers who transport illegal firearms, allowing for vehicles to be impounded that are used to transport illegal firearms and preventing gang members from using shooting ranges. The Firearm Violence Prevention Act would also protect social workers and health professionals from civil liability if they breach client confidentiality by reporting information to police about guns. Farnworth, who is also public safety minister, says in a statement the majority of gun owners in B.C. abide by the law and the legislation will have little impact on them.Dwayne McDonald, the RCMP’s criminal operations officer in charge of federal, investigative services and organized crime for B.C., says the bill would help police in their investigations and combat gun violence.The B.C. government says the legislation would also strengthen existing laws concerning armoured vehicles and body armour by requiring those applying for those permits allowing their use to submit their fingerprints.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The man they call Father T now has the appropriate headwear to be Chaplain Father T. Father Thomas Dorward was given the white helmet last week that signifies him as the Fire Rescue Chaplain of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department. "It's wonderful to be recognized by your peers and by the township and village," said Dorward. Fire Chief Scott Granahan considered it to be "absolutely an honour" to entrust the helmet to Dorward. "We sometimes look past the roles that are often supportive," said Granahan. "But I don't forget, nor does our Deputy (Chief) forget, that we have that ability to pick up the phone and have somebody that can not just help, but also bring us back to where we need to be. "He's been just an absolutely amazing resource, not just for our members in the community, but also for our members' families." Dorward, who began serving with the fire department shortly after moving to Westport in 2002 following retirement, made the decision last year to step back from being a full-time responding volunteer firefighter. "As they say, 'time marches on,'" said Dorward. "It seemed the right time to step down from the rigours of firefighting." "We really wanted to keep him in our family, so that’s where this little bit of a change to him becoming a face within our command team came from," said Granahan, who is chief of the just over 80 other members of the fire department. There are many roles of a Chaplain within a fire department. Some include offering support and assistance at emergency incidents, conducting or assisting with fire department funerals or memorial services and acting as a confidential listening ear to personnel and family members. Granahan said the role is vital, as one call cannot drag into the next. "He offers such a level place to focus to get our members and our department as a whole back to where they need to be," Granahan said. Before his run with the township's fire department, Dorward's previous work experience included serving in the Canadian Forces medical services, an emergency EMS responder, and a full-time Toronto International Airport Emergency Services and volunteer firefighter. The last job he held before retirement was as security director for the Toronto District School Board. "It seemed a natural fit to be able to utilize the skills I had learned to serve our new home community," said Dorward on why he joined the volunteer fire department after he and his wife Brenda moved to Westport. When Dorward moved to Westport, he was a Religious Brother in the Order of Saint Andrew. Upon joining the fire department, he assumed the dual role of firefighter-chaplain. Soon after completing his studies, Dorward was ordained as a priest. Something that both Dorward and Granahan stressed was that Dorward's role as fire chaplain is not limited to Rideau Lakes. "With our mutual aid services and partners… this isn't a service that is limited to our own membership. It is something that is absolutely available to everybody in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Lanark and beyond," said Granahan. "There's been issues where a chaplaincy was required in other departments," said Dorward. "It's like any other fire department resource. If another department requires it, all they have to do is ask. "We're there for everybody." Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Pembroke -- The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is counting on ultra-fast gig internet in the region and has submitted an ambitious proposal to the federal and provincial government for funding for a $1.6 billion project. “A regional project is the best approach,” Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson noted on Monday morning following the submission of the proposal. “A county project alone would be hugely expensive.” The project would use a competitive process to choose a telecommunications partner and maximize coverage across the region. In this massive undertaking, EORN seeks to fund the $1.2 to $1.6 billion project through a combination of funding, with $200 million each from the federal and provincial governments and the remainder from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the private sector. The timing is right according to the proponents, who are supported not only by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus, where Warden Robinson serves as chair, but also the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus and represent some 1.2 million people in the region. “Every day we hear from our constituents about their frustrations with poor or limited high-speed broadband services,” a letter from Eastern Ontario wardens and mayors stated. “A co-ordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of Eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage.” Right now, both the federal and provincial governments are investing in broadband. The federal government established the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) and the Government of Ontario created the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) fund. Both funds focus on local projects. EORN is seeking support through a flexible use of these programs, or any other appropriate funding streams. “We appreciate how committed both governments have been to improving broadband access,” said Warden Robinson, in her role as chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC). “We all share the same goals, and we look forward to working together on a solution that is both comprehensive and cost-effective.” Delivering Gig service generally involves a fibre optic or cable connection to the home or business. The EORN Gig Project leverages previous investments in infrastructure and services. This includes a fibre 2 optic backbone and other infrastructure across the region built to handle the speed and capacity of the Gig project. EORN anticipates it could provide up to 95 per cent of the region or more than 550,000 premises with Gig service by 2025-2026 if fully funded. The County of Renfrew has had huge success in the past with EORN projects bringing broadband to the area but recently there has been some concern the province is looking at individual areas to develop their own projects instead of having this more regional approach which has worked so well. Last Wednesday at Renfrew County council there was some discussion on having a Renfrew County plan and developing a local plan to bring in broadband. Warden Robinson noted the collaborative approach and regional approach through EORN is the best way to bring broadband to the area, but there still needs to be a back up plan. “We are going to look at a broadband strategy for the county in conjunction with what is happening here,” she said. “You don’t want to put all your hopes on one project.” Warden Robinson said while there is funding available from the provincial and federal government, EORN is looking for a provider to work with. The goal is to have the same reliable broadband service people in the larger cities take for granted. Having a regional project also means broadband would be delivered in areas where people actually live and work in Eastern Ontario and not just where the telecom providers decide to invest. “A patchwork process in the area would be telecom providers building out from existing infrastructure,” she said. That strategy means areas with little or spotty coverage might not see much improvement. In Renfrew County there are still areas with no access to reliable broadband. For anyone trying to work from home, participate in a virtual meeting or access the internet the way people in more built-up urban areas take for granted, the poor connectivity is very frustrating, she said. With a prevalence of ZOOM or virtual meetings for the last year, the importance of reliable broadband has been highlighted, the warden added. “On Wednesday, during county council even my internet connection at the county was showing up as unstable,” she said, noting she was in the County of Renfrew building just outside Pembroke. “You can’t conduct business like that.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to work from home or spend more time at home. As well, students are learning from home and people are moving to rural areas. All this has made the need for faster broadband all the more urgent. “We can grow, but not without decent broadband,” Warden Robinson said. “If we have that here, the growth would be incredible.” Speed is an issue and that is why this Gig project is being pursued. Instead of going for slightly faster speeds, the goal is to fix the system with the speed required not just in 2021 but for years to come. “Speed is important and even people who think they have good broadband discover it is not as good as they thought,” she said. “So why not fix the problem now for the long term?” EORN covers all of Eastern Ontario and is currently working on a $213 million project, funded by the public and private sector to improve and expand cellular services across the region. From 2010 to 2014, EORN helped improve broadband in Eastern Ontario with a $175 million public-p Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Calabogie – Calabogie – A long-time Conservative, who spent several years as a volunteer on the local Tory riding association and is proud to be a card-carrying member of the federal Conservative Party of Canada, said the time has come for MP Cheryl Gallant to resign due to her inappropriate statements in a video, among them being that Liberals want to normalize sexual activity with children. “That statement is inexcusable,” Bill Beacham told the Leader. “She painted all Liberals with the same brush and although she said her statement was taken out of context, the damage was done. It gives me no pleasure in calling for Cheryl Gallant to resign.” Although no longer directly involved in the local association due to health reasons, he is immensely proud of the various roles he performed as a volunteer and said local Conservatives should be proud they helped Mrs. Gallant win seven consecutive elections. Whether it was serving as financial officer for the riding association or emptying garbage cans after a political event or delivering turkeys to raise funds, he said he holds no malice towards her nor does he have an axe to grind. “I have nothing against her and I have worked alongside her over the years, but I think I speak for many when I say her time has passed and instead of leading by example, she is promoting conspiracy theories. She has been elected or re-elected seven times and has represented Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke for over 20 years in Parliament. She is currently the longest serving woman in the Conservative caucus." Mr. Beacham said Mrs. Gallant enjoys tremendous support in the riding and one would hope that after 20 years as a politician she would have earned the title of “elder statesman”. “Unfortunately Mrs. Gallant continues to make hyper political statements that contributes to the current polarization and divisiveness in Canada,” he said. “It is not helpful, in my opinion, to the Conservative Party of Canada.” Mr. Beacham admits he struggled when coming to his decision to publicly call on her to resign, while at the same time calling on Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to address the matter. He understands Mr. O’Toole likely has bigger “fish to fry”, but he said at the very least he should allow a nomination process well before any future election. In his opinion an open and fair nomination meeting should take place to not only present a new candidate for an upcoming election, but it will allow fresh ideas to be introduced among the local membership. “I am disappointed with Mrs. Gallant’s recent controversy and at the same time I am also disappointed by the inaction of Mr. O’Toole,” he said. “I have written letters to both of them and I have yet to receive any reply. I even called Mrs. Gallant’s office out of respect for her and asked her to contact me so that she can explain her actions to see if there is any rationale behind her series of allegations against the Liberals and her continued promotion of baseless conspiracy theories. I have yet to hear back from her and it is for that reason I decided to publicly call for her resignation.” Perhaps what disappoints him most is the forum where she made the statements. The video, which was posted by Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell on her YouTube page, was made earlier this year when she was interacting in a virtual meeting with members of the Queen’s University Conservative Club based in Kingston. While talking to the students she made several other outrageous claims including that Liberals are "radicals" who want all illicit drugs to be legal. She also promoted a conspiracy theory that "cultural Marxists" have taken over every university administration and are silencing free speech on campuses. She also claimed the ‘elites’ call the university takeover as part of a great reset or build back better or green new deal. She said the names change but the goal remains the same and that means more power for the powerful and less freedom for everyone else. Up until the last month, Mrs. Gallant has remained relatively quiet and has rarely spoken in a public forum since the 2019 federal election. Over the years, she has made several outlandish statements that have drawn national media attention and caused embarrassment for her fellow caucus members and the various leaders of her party. On more than one occasion she has been forced by the Leader’s Office to issue public apologies, sometimes on the floor of the House of Commons. When asked why she has suddenly resumed her habit of getting national attention for controversial statements, Mr. Beacham could only guess at the reason. “In my opinion, I think she actually believes these wild conspiracy theories,” he said. “That in itself should be a good sign that it is time for her to step aside. Even if she issued an apology today for her actions, it is too late for that. “She is not some rookie making a first-time mistake. She knows better. Instead of using her experience to help promote the values of the Conservative Party, especially to impressionable university students, she is only adding to the divisiveness of today’s politics. I find no joy in calling for the current MP to resign.” Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
In spite of a pandemic, or perhaps because of it, home prices in the Toronto region are now selling for an average of more than $1 million. Selling prices shot up by 15 per cent in the last year. As Sean O'Shea reports, even just a place to park your will cost a small fortune — and its price has spiked, too.
A promotional photo and video shoot was produced at McGeachie Trails in Limerick Township on Feb. 27 to highlight the trails’ suitability for various winter sports for residents and tourists alike, and to promote economic development. The photo and video materials, focusing on cross country skiing and snowshoeing, were produced by Hastings Destination Trails Inc. with a grant from the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, in cooperation with Hastings County. It is set to be used to promote McGeachie Trails after the pandemic has subsided, likely for the 2021/2022 winter season. According to HDTI’s Cathy Trimble, the organization had received a $2,500 digital marketing grant from the OHTO recently, and decided to do a photo and video shoot to market McGeachie Trails as a winter tourist destination for the 2021/2022 winter season. Luisa Sorrentino is the marketing coordinator for economic development and tourism with Hastings County, and emphasizes that the photos and video will not be used to publicize McGeachie Trails this year, due to COVID-19, but will be used to do so next year for the 2021/2022 winter season. “So, we are not promoting the area this time during COVID-19. We are all local within Hastings County. We’re wearing masks and we’re doing everything according to protocol,” she says. While there was an uptick in local tourism to the area in 2020, with some businesses seeing a 30 per cent increase in revenues, Sorrentino wants to prepare for when the pandemic is behind us and tourism from other parts of Ontario, Canada and the world can start to resume. “We’ve been busy helping businesses survive and pivot during COVID-19, and also to be ready with services when [COVID-19] ends and tourists come back to the area,” she says. To that end, HDTI and Hastings County highlighted the trails’ suitability to use for cross country skiing and for snowshoeing. They had Clive Emery, the owner and operator of Trips and Trails Adventure Outfitting (tripsandtrails.ca), and an avid skier and sportsman, to teach a handful of people how to cross-country ski on the trails and take them on a short journey for the video. Trimble confirmed that Emery was there that morning teaching skiing fundamentals and that the photo and video shoot went well. “He was the instructor and supported us with equipment for the event. They [his students] were novice cross country skiers and they really enjoyed themselves. Clive just showed them the ropes and they went for a short ski,” she says. Bernie Hogan was also there that afternoon to teach a small group of people how to snowshoe for the afternoon’s video segment and to take them on a brief snowshoeing excursion. They were the Card family; Meredith, Shayne and son Maxwell, and Rick Cassidy and Mary Ann Pierce. An award-winning long-distance runner and snowshoe racer, Hogan is also the athlete ambassador for northern Ontario with Snowshoe Canada (snowshoecanada.ca/contact). He works at CP Rail as a track maintenance technician. He’s been snowshoeing since he was a kid, but took up snowshoe racing a few years ago to keep his conditioning for running in place over the winter. Racing snowshoes are smaller and lighter than traditional snowshoes. “I started getting injured running in the snow, so I was looking for a different kind of sport and found it with snowshoe racing,” he says. Hogan has seen more people on snowshoes this winter than he did last year, and says it’s even hard to buy snowshoes at all as they’re selling out. Grooming the trails that day was Don Stoneman, a retired editor and journalist, director of Canoe Kayak Ontario and an avid canoeist. He used his specialized extra wide track snowmobile and its grooming attachment. “It was a bit of a challenge as the snow was so wet, so I just packed it down with the snowmobile. I’ll track it when it gets a bit colder,” he says. The cross-country skiing and snowshoeing were captured for posterity that day by local photographer Emily Musclow (emilymaeannphotography.com) and local videographer Erica Tripp (ericasorensonmedia.ca). Tripp, who recently moved back to Gilmour from British Columbia, captured the action along the trail with her digital video camera and her gimbal, which is a camera mount that uses three motors within the mount to compensate for unwanted movements and keep the camera steady. “The weather was pretty interesting this morning. It was a bit of a challenge shooting with the snow, but we made it work,” she says. Overall, the photo and video shoot went great that day and Trimble and Sorrentino were happy with the results. “The idea is for people, not during COVID-19 but next year, to come up here as tourists or even if they buy a place up here,” says Sorrentino. “They want to be able to have opportunities to go out and live an active lifestyle and try new experiences, something they’ve never done before, like snowshoeing or skiing.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
WASHINGTON — Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats are hustling to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, confident they can avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was set for a House vote late Wednesday. The sweeping legislation, which was approved last summer but stalled in the Senate, was named in honour of Floyd, whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked protests nationwide. The bill would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement and create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. Democrats say they are determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry. But the debate over legislation has turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that Democrats were intent on slashing police force budgets. This bill doesn't do that. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said it was a reason the party, after talking confidently of growing its majority in November, instead saw it shrink to just 10 seats, 221-211. “We played too much defence on ‘defund the police,’” Perez said. Moderate Democrats said the charge helped to drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has pushed for more police funding in places like his city of Laredo, where law enforcement presence is especially concentrated given the close proximity to the Mexican border. While Democrats used their then-larger majority to pass the police reform measure in the House last summer, it stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP senators pushed an alternate plan that Democrats blocked from consideration, calling it inadequate. Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. The bill had been set for a vote Thursday, but House leaders abruptly changed the schedule after U.S. Capitol Police warned of threats of violence by a militia group seeking to storm the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 siege. Democratic control in the House is now so narrow that the loss of even a handful of moderate votes can sink legislation. But senior Democratic congressional aides said Wednesday they were confident the policing bill would clear the House and were eager to get it to the Senate, where negotiations will take longer. Despite the political attacks by Republicans, even the House's more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, appear ready to back the bill. Aides pointed to the moderate New Democrat Coalition saying this week that its members would support it. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill's prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without such legal protections, fears of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits such suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it., “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity and easing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Bass said she was not planning to make concessions before the bill clears the House. Changes would only serve to weaken it while failing to shield Democrats from the false “defund the police” narrative surrounding it, she said. “Even if they were to vote against the bill, even if they were to have a press conference denouncing the bill, they are still going to be hit with the same lie,” Bass said of Democrats. She also acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But Bass said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how, “The scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, she conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50s. Bass said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding “hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” That could prove a tall order, despite the White House's vocal support for police reform. Biden has promised to combat systemic racism and signed executive orders he says will begin doing that, though advocates are expecting the new administration to go further. Biden has tweeted that he hopes "to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s largest city is still struggling with water problems more than two weeks after winter storms and freezing weather ravaged the system in Jackson, knocking out water for drinking and making it impossible for many to even flush their toilets. Residents in the city of 160,000 are still being warned to boil any water that does come out of the faucets. “I pray it comes back on,” Jackson resident Nita Smith said. “I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” Smith has had no water at home for nearly three weeks. Smith is concerned about her mother who has diabetes. Her mother and most of the other older people on her street don’t drive, so Smith has been helping them get water to clean themselves and flush their toilets. A key focus of city crews is filling the system's water tanks to an optimal level. But, public works director Charles Williams said Wednesday that fish, tree limbs and other debris have clogged screens where water moves from a reservoir into a treatment plant. That caused pressure to drop for the entire water system. “Today was not a good day for us,” Williams said. He said about a fourth of Jackson's customers remained without running water. That is more than 10,000 connections, with most serving multiple people. City officials on Wednesday continued distributing water for flushing toilets at several pick-up points. But they're giving no specific timeline for resolving problems. Workers continue to fix dozens of water main breaks and leaks. The crisis has taken a toll on businesses. Jeff Good is co-owner of three Jackson restaurants, and two of them remained closed Wednesday. In a Facebook update, Good said the businesses have insurance, but he’s concerned about his employees. “We will not be financially ruined,” Good wrote. “The spirits of our team members are my biggest concern. A true malaise and depression is setting in." Mississippi's capital city is not alone in water problems. More than two weeks have passed since the cold wave shut down the main power grid in Texas, leaving millions in freezing homes, causing about 50 deaths and disabling thousands of public water systems serving those millions. Four public water systems in Texas remained out of commission Wednesday, affecting 456 customers, and 225 systems still have 135,299 customers boiling their tap water, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Also, 208 of the state’s 254 counties are still reporting public water system issues. Bonnie Bishop, 68, and her husband, Mike, 63, have been without water at their Jackson home for 14 days. Both have health problems. She's recovering after months in the hospital with the coronavirus. She's home but still in therapy to learn how to walk again and deals with neuropathy in her hands and feet. She has not been able to soak her feet in warm water, something that usually provides relief for the neuropathy, or to help her husband gather water to boil for cooking for cleaning. Mike Bishop just had elbow surgery. The first week the couple was without water, he still had staples in his arm and was hauling 5-gallon containers from his truck, his wife said. Bonnie Bishop said she told him not to strain himself, but he wouldn’t listen. They feel they have no choice. On Monday, the couple drove 25 miles (40 kilometres) to Mike’s mother’s house to do laundry. Jackson's water system has not been able to provide a sustainable flow of water throughout the city since the mid-February storms, city officials say. The system “basically crashed like a computer and now we’re trying to rebuild it,” Williams said at a recent briefing. The city's water mains are more than a century old, and its infrastructure needs went unaddressed for decades, Democratic Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has said. “We more than likely have more than a $2 billion issue with our infrastructure,” he said. Jackson voters in 2014 approved a 1-cent local sales tax to pay for improvements to roads and water and sewer systems. On Tuesday, the city council voted to seek legislative approval for another election to double that local tax to 2 cents a dollar. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves would have to agree to letting Jackson have the tax election. “I do think it’s really important that the city of Jackson start collecting their water bill payments before they start going and asking everyone else to pony up more money,” Reeves said Tuesday. Jackson has had problems for years with its water billing system and with the quality of water. Melanie Deaver Hanlin, who was without water for 14 days, has been flushing toilets with pool water and showering at friends’ homes. She said Jackson’s water system “needs to be fixed, not patched.” “That’s the issue now — poor maintenance for far too long," Hanlin said. "And Jackson residents are paying the price.” ___ Associated Press writer Terry Wallace contributed from Dallas. Martin reported from Marietta, Georgia. Jeff Martin, Leah Willingham And Emily Wagster Pettus, The Associated Press
Pembroke-- Concerns about a lack of housing for seniors and the needs of the homeless population have Renfrew County council looking at options for developing a strategy looking at new housing opportunities and solutions. The wait list for County of Renfrew housing units continues to be substantial with 964 applicants representing seniors, adults and families. As well, since the COVID-19 pandemic began 153 homeless people in the county, where the population is slightly over 100,000, have been provided with some form of assistance. “Right now, 33 of them are in hotels across our county,” Warden Debbie Robinson noted at Renfrew County council last Wednesday. “These aren’t numbers. These are people. “Are these invisible victims of the pandemic we haven’t identified yet or are we seeing the growth in a housing crisis?” she questioned. Her comments came following a presentation on a Seniors Housing Strategy presented by Ken Foulds and Scott Robertson of Re/fact Consulting. They had been hired by the county last year to do a study. “The real intent was to address senior housing and needs,” Mr. Foulds said. The consultants were looking at solutions including “outside brick-and-mortar opportunities” in the report, he said. The concern about housing for seniors is great in the county. He pointed out 20 per cent of the population is seniors. “Over the next 20 years that segment will grow to 30 per cent,” he added. All seniors are not alike and this was reflected in the presentation. He said while some are independent, others are moderately independent and the final group is heavily reliant on assistance. While the independent senior needs community supports, later it becomes more community care and finally long-term care. Mr. Roberts said the consultants did a questionnaire, had focus groups and a community round table among other initiatives to come to their findings. He said there were several findings including the fact seniors have a desire to maintain independence. “There is a lack of appropriate housing,” he added, as well as pointing out there is a demand for both housing and long-term care needs. Another area of concern is expanding services to rural areas and affordability for seniors is an issue. Five strategy directions were presented. The first was expanding suitable housing options. “Pursue greater housing flexibility with local municipalities in the Official Plan,” Mr. Foulds said. Zoning and approval practices can help in this, he said. As well, the county has a 10-year housing and homelessness plan and this can be built upon. The second strategy was improving support to enable seniors to age in place appropriately. “Maximize programs that exist out there,” he said. Expanding paramedicine initiatives would be a positive move. “One third of those on the wait list for long-term care are not considered in the severe category and could be helped to age in place,” he said. The third strategy was to increase the supply of higher-level care facilities. He said expanding care campus type options and creating slack for respite care are options as well. The fourth strategy was creating the right environment to identify and facilitate housing options. “The county can be a catalyst for development,” he said. “Continue to engage the private sector to get them involved.” The final strategy was improving seniors’ access to care and support. Mr. Foulds said having a community round table and facilitating information sharing were good steps. County councillors received the complete report on the strategy. “It has been very proactive for the county to take a leadership role in developing this strategy,” he said. “It is very forward thinking.” Warden Robinson said dealing with seniors housing it will be important to work with other groups in the county. “Facilitating the implementation involving many other groups will be essential for us,” she said. “We have this magnificent report and now we need to share it.” The reality of the aging population was not lost on her or the members of county council, she said. “There are more than 30 per cent seniors staring at you right now,” she said. It will also be important to look at the diverse needs of seniors, including the aging-at-home strategy. “The folks on the wait list that could stay at home, age at home with the right supports,” she said. Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue said it is good to look at different ways of addressing the housing needs for seniors. “Bricks and mortar long-term care is not going to be a viable way of meeting the needs of this particular demographic,” he said. “New beds won’t meet the need.” Having this report shows the county what is possible, he added. Renfrew Reeve Peter Emon asked what the consequence would be of doing nothing about the senior housing crunch. Mr. Foulds said one result was out migration. “When people can’t get the housing and supports they need, they leave,” he said. Warden Robinson said the status quo is not an option. “Doing nothing we are just welcoming a crisis to happen,” she said. The issue of homelessness in the county has made her realize the precarious situation many people live in, she added. Knowing there are 33 people being housed in hotels across the county because they are homeless is a reminder of the crisis. “That also includes people over 65,” she pointed out. North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose asked what can be done in planning policy to assist in the seniors housing crunch. “Are there specific planning policies which will encourage development to allow for more senior housing?” he asked. Mr. Foulds said ideas like allowing granny suites or second suites is a start. “Allowing an Abbey Field home – a congregate living arrangement,” he said, adding smaller lot single homes and more town houses are other ideas. As part of the Community Services report, Warden Robinson later pointed out a full report will be coming to the county about the homeless issue and showing who the people are who are homeless. “We need to have a really close look at what is happening in our communities as far as housing is concerned,” she said. “I can’t imagine where we can find homes for these folks,” she added. The report also showed there are 129 senior applicants looking for county housing, 417 adults and 418 individuals who are part of a family unit. Most seniors and adults are looking for a one-bedroom unit. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
The top public health officials in Southwestern Ontario pulled in hundreds of thousands in overtime pay last year for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least two of the region’s medical officers of health received more than $100,000 each in overtime, including Middlesex-London’s top public health doctor, Chris Mackie, and Haldimand-Norfolk’s Shanker Nesathurai. The overtime pay is part of a provincial program to compensate local health units for extraordinary expenses incurred relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was one of the initiatives set up by the province to recognize some of the frontline healthcare workers,” said London city councillor Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the Middlesex-London board of health. “They’ve asked us to keep a tally of all the overtime hours and the dollars for every one of our employees who have worked overtime directly related to the COVID-19 response," she said. Between March 22 and Nov. 14 of last year, the health unit had 47 staff log overtime ranging from 44 to 716 hours. The global pandemic was declared in mid-March. Mackie, the London area's medical officer of health, logged 611 overtime hours during that period, earning a payout of $100,072. His base salary in 2019 was $300,000. “That reflects the leader of an organization that has gone from five days a week, 8:30 to 4:30, to seven days a week, 8:30 until some days, 10 at night,” Cassidy said about the overtime pay. The total staff overtime spending at the Middlesex-London Health Unit was $730,000. Cassidy said public health staff are making “incredible sacrifices” in their personal lives while battling the pandemic. As Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, Nesathurai logged 1,100 overtime hours, worth $160,000, on top of a base salary of $240,000. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Oxford and Elgin counties, received just more than $62,000 in overtime pay “for hours worked over and above the regular schedule as well as unused vacation,” according to Larry Martin, Southwestern Public Health’s board chairperson. “The Ministry of Health has provided provincial health units with clear guidelines for allowable COVID-19 expenditures eligible for reimbursement,” Martin said in a statement. “(Lock’s) employment contract . . . allows for overtime payments in specific circumstances – such as those that have unfolded over the course of what is now a year-long pandemic response.” Lock’s salary in 2019 was $288,000. The base salaries of medical officers of health are paid by local health boards based on member municipalities' professional salary scale and benefits policies. Whether an individual medical officer of health is eligible for overtime pay, and how they're compensated, depends on each board’s contract and municipal policies. In Ontario, overtime is paid at 1.5 times the regular pay rate. Most managers and supervisors, usually paid a salary rather than by the hour, aren't typically paid overtime. “In September 2020, public health units were provided with an opportunity to request additional one-time funding from the ministry for COVID-19 extraordinary costs incurred,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said in an email. “Examples of eligible COVID-19 extraordinary costs included overtime for staff if local board of health policies related to overtime allowed for this.” Meanwhile, Lambton’s medical officer of health, Sudit Ranade, did not receive any overtime pay as the County of Lambton’s overtime policy sees employees take time off in lieu. Shari Sterling, executive assistant for Lambton County’s public health services, said Ranade has “some banked hours” but did not specify how many. Lambton submitted $848,429 to the province for reimbursement for COVID-19 extraordinary costs, including staff salaries, accommodation, supplies, equipment and communications. Health units in Huron-Perth, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex and Grey-Bruce did not immediately respond to Free Press requests about overtime expenses during the pandemic for medical officers of health and other staff. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the overtime pay. “Ontarians hand over nearly half – 45 per cent – of their household income to governments every year in taxes, yet we're still a province struggling with hallway healthcare and chronic problems in long-term care,” said Jasmine Moulton, the federation’s Ontario director. “Then you see governments handing out six-figure top-ups and seven-figure severances to top health officials, and you start to see where the problem truly lies." Moulton said 355,300 Ontarians lost their jobs last year amid the pandemic. “This story is further proof that we're not all in this together." firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
THUNDER BAY — The provincial government’s decision to close two youth detention facilities in northwestern Ontario has been described as “horrific” by the Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Earlier this week, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services announced Jack McGuire Centre and JJ Kelso Centre would no longer be operational by April 30. Several youth facilities across the province including in the northwest have been significantly underused due to a reduction of youth being admitted into custody since 2004, the ministry said. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said the decision to close the facilities and transfer the youth elsewhere will have a major impact on not only the youth but their families as well. Youth currently residing at these facilities were transferred to the remaining facilities in the northern region, the ministry said. “It means no service at all for our young people and families that need these types of supports,” Fiddler said in an interview on Wednesday, March 3. “It means that they will be even more displaced, they will be even more far away from their families and communities,” he said, adding having facilities in both Kenora and Thunder Bay gave families at least some opportunity to interact with their kids. The decision to close the facilities comes from recommendations made by the auditor general, the ministry said in an emailed statement to Tbnewswatch this week. Fiddler said the decision was sudden and abrupt. “I think everyone from my understanding was blindsided by this,” he said. “They were given one hour notice and [the youth were] shackled along with a few of their belongings and then taken to a plane and flown to a southern location. It’s just horrific.” Most of the youth have either been transferred to Sault Ste. Marie or to facilities in southern Ontario such as Ottawa and Toronto, Fiddler said. There was also no communication to the families of the youth in custody of the transfers. “I don’t know how anyone can treat a person like that to send them far away without informing families, without properly creating a transition plan to ensure support for young people and letting them know that this is happening,” Fiddler said. “It was very sudden and I can’t imagine the trauma.” A letter was sent to the Ford government on behalf of NAN Grand Council Treaty #3 expressing their concern on the closures. “They were given such a short notice that they didn’t have time to say their goodbyes," he said. Fiddler said it will be almost impossible for families to travel to see their children, most of whom are from remote fly-in communities. Dr. Ben Stride-Darnley, president of the board of volunteer directors for the William W. Creighton Youth Centre, said they are appalled and shocked at the province’s decision to close their facilities. “There was no involvement from us, no chance to negotiate, no chance to collaborate and no chance to ensure that resources are maintained locally,” Stride-Darnley said on March 3 in an interview. The president says the board has been aware of the relatively low numbers of youth in custody and had come together with community partners to put together a proposal to convert some or all of their spaces into secure treatment. “With redirection away from incarceration it then becomes inevitable that we have low numbers,” he said. “Having said that keeping youth closer to their own communities is key to transition and key to recuperation and rehabilitation.” He adds that youth in custody in the northwest are some of the most vulnerable in Ontario. “We would take youth from anywhere north of Wawa to Hudson Bay to the Manitoba border,” he said. “Sending them further afield makes visitation very difficult, even within our own catchment it is difficult because of distances to Kenora and Thunder Bay.” Youth in custody at these facilities were informed on Monday morning they would be transported to other facilities later that same afternoon, Stride-Darnley said. “At the same time were informed, we were not allowed to tell them where they were going, we were not allowed to tell their parents or their guardian that they were moving despite requests by both myself and the executive director to the ministry,” he said. Stride-Darnley explained how William W. Creighton Youth Services is known for how they build relationships for youth who are incarcerated. “We work with them to build up their well-being, their self-esteem, their mental health issues, address other health issues and make sure they are attending and achieving in school and trying to build them up so they don’t become a part of a cycle of youth criminal justice or adult justice issues,” Stride-Darnley said. “So there were tears by the youths having to be shackled and having to be transferred and not knowing where they were going and that to me is a detrimental experience and I would also argue is a racist experience. It is very similar to the Sixties Scoop and residential schools in that at nowhere at no point where their needs or concerns really addressed by the ministry,” he said. Indigenous youth account for 90 per cent of youth in incarceration systems across Ontario, according to Stride-Darnley. “It is integral to the well-being of youth especially in the justice system that they are close as possible to their home communities and being a 1,000 to 1,500 kilometres away is not conducive to rehabilitation,” he said. “None of the money being saved is being relocated to the northwest it is all going to the central coffer and there has been no redirection to other community programming at this point. That is a cost-saving, not a human-based decision which is unfortunate.” The ministry says the closure of youth facilities across the province will allow the government to re-invest nearly $40 million into other programs. “We need to look at the long term and how we can support these children into adulthood and how we need to look at the longer-term solutions rather than just shutting down facilities like we are seeing this week,” Fiddler said. He hopes the provincial government will be open to having discussions on how to support youth in custody and their families going forward. There will be 50 jobs losses in both Kenora and Thunder Bay as a result of the facilities closing. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
A Nunavut judge has granted Baffinland Iron Mines an injunction against a group of protesters who blockaded the Mary River mine airstrip and trucking road for a week in February. The court injunction bans protesters, and anyone else who knows about the injunction, from obstructing land used by the mine, especially the airstrip and trucking road. While the blockade is over, the company wanted the injunction to make sure it doesn't happen again. "While the defendants have left the project site, their counsel was not able to confirm that they have agreed to not return and continue the protest," Justice Susan Cooper said in a decision released March 3 by the Nunavut Court of Justice. The blockade started on Feb. 4. It led to a shut down of all operations at Mary River. In court documents, mine officials said it cost the company $14 million. Baffinland accused the small group of protesters of trespassing, unlawful interference with economic interests, and mischief. The protest was over damage to the environment from mining, which demonstrators said could get worse if the company is approved to double production at Mary River. That expansion is currently under an environmental review required by the territory's land claim, the Nunavut Agreement. The RCMP can enforce this injunction order by removing tents or sleds from the mine site, or detaining anyone who knowingly breaches the order. Land around the mine can still be used for activities like hunting. Judge says protest could happen again The mine is located on northern Baffin Island, around 160 kilometres from the community of Pond Inlet. While protesters said they would let planes out for medical needs or to change staff, Cooper imposed a temporary court order Feb. 10 to make sure over 700 staff at the mine could leave. When that order was made, the protesters left the mine. Their lawyer says it shows they were law abiding. But the blockade also ended because Inuit leaders promised to meet in person with the protesters to talk about their environmental concerns. A Baffinland facility at Milne Inlet. The mine is hoping to double their output from the Mary River mine, which hunters are concerned will impact animals in the area.(Nick Murray/CBC) Nunavut Impact Review Board hearings about potential environmental or socioeconomic impacts were happening in Pond Inlet and Iqaluit when the protest started. "If the defendants are not satisfied with their meetings with Inuit leadership, the continued process of the [Nunavut Impact Review Board] hearings, or any other aspect of the mine project, there is a real possibility that the protest will continue," Cooper wrote. Cooper said the injunction doesn't stop people from protesting. "There are other locations within the territory where a protest would be seen and heard," she said. The injunction granted is called an interlocutory injunction. "An interlocutory injunction is intended to remain in place until the trial has concluded and there has been a final determination on whether there should be a permanent injunction," the court decision states. A permanent injunction can only be granted if a trial is finished. The court decision allows the protesters to argue against the injunction. Protesters stand by their actions In a press release responding to the decision, the protesting group, known as the Guardians, said they are disappointed with the injunction and will have more to say in court. "The Guardians stand by their actions at Nuluujaat [the Mary River Area] and feel confident that they can carry forward their active opposition to mine expansion in many other ways," the statement says. The release also says that the protesters have met via telephone with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA). "The Guardians asked questions about the support they can expect and explained that they want to meet to discuss impacts on caribou migration, marine wildlife and QIA failing to recognize what communities are really telling them," the release says. The Guardians, who identify as concerned hunters and not a political group, say an in-person meeting with Inuit leadership needs to happen in Pond Inlet soon.
Pembroke – A 21-year-old Bonnechere Valley man is back home after he was granted bail following his arrest last Thursday in relation to large objects left on local roads over a five-month period, among them a hot water tank left on Highway 17 in the middle of the night endangering the lives of unsuspecting motorists. Despite the strong objections of the Renfrew County Crown Attorney’s Office citing reckless behaviour putting at risk the lives of people travelling along the highway, Joshua Patrick Boyce was allowed to return home after his mother was appointed Surety along with posting a $500 bond. He was arrested last Thursday afternoon by members of the Crime Unit of the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). A long with other local OPP Detachments in the area, police originally charged him with two counts of mischief endangering life; theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000. After his arrest, police laid three additional charges of mischief endangering life. The investigation began on October 1st, 2020 after police received numerous complaints of debris on roadways. The main roadway where this debris was located was on Highway 17 from the Olmstead-Jeffrey intersection east of Cobden, to the pull off lanes just east of B-Line Rd in Laurentian Valley. He is also accused of willfully leaving items on some other area roads endangering the lives of motorists. Beginning in early October it is alleged Mr. Boyce was involved with placing pylons on Pembroke St. E. near the 148 Highway. Along with Mr. Boyce, Annie Immel and Brent Ethier are said to have seen pylons on Cecilia St near LifeLabs, took them, and placed them on the Highway 148 west-bound turn off at Pembroke St E. across the lane so no car could drive through. It is alleged they then parked at the Esso gas station to watch what vehicles would do with the pylons on the road. After some of the vehicles started to drive off into the ditch to get around the pylons, Ms. Immel went out and removed the pylons before an accident occurred. Then, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ms. Immel returned to Pembroke St E near the small hill by Old Mill Rd. where the speed limit changes from 60km/h to 80km/h. They placed pylons across the road in the lanes near that location, but as they were unable to find a place to sit and watch the vehicles avoid the pylons, they removed them shortly after placing them there. On January 8, Mr. Boyce and three others are accused of placing numerous stones across the lanes of Highway 17 near Olmstead-Jeffrey Rd. causing vehicles to swerve to avoid the stones, with two vehicles hitting the stones, causing damage to the vehicles. On February 7, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ryan Fitzgerald were driving late at night on Round Lake Rd near Doran Rd. when Mr. Boyce left the vehicle and walked to the rear of the building coming back to the car with 4 black metal tire rims and put them in the rear seat area of the vehicle. The men proceeded to drive on Highway 17 towards Cobden and while en route, Mr. Boyce is alleged to have attempted to push out the tire rims onto the highway and Mr. Fitzgerald became upset and pulled off the highway. Mr. Boyce is said to have grabbed the ignition keys and placed the four tire rims onto the highway in the lanes despite Mr. Fitzgerald’s objections. A third incident on February 9 linking Mr. Boyce to the highway debris involved a hot water tank and water softener tank that had been left on the shoulder of the road at the intersection of B-line and Highway 17. Over the course of five months numerous other debris was placed along Highway 17 during the night hours. These caused many motorists to swerve and some caused damage to their vehicles. As a result, many people became hypervigilant and nervous to drive the highway due to the debris being found. History of Criminal Activity Mr. Boyce is also identified as a person of interest related to other criminal activities prior to the placement of objects on the highway. Based on interviews with some of those involved, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and some companions were driving through Pembroke in the early hours of May 24 when they began discharging fireworks at various locations. One of the locations was near 385 Mackay Street, and it is alleged Mr. Boyce had lit a firework and threw it over the car towards a residence. The firework ignited causing a fire. The Pembroke Fire Department responded and quickly contained the blaze. One occupant of the home escaped without injury and damages are in excess of $14,000. Police have also linked Mr. Boyce to a shed fire in an apartment fire located at 9 Bennett Street in Pembroke. The fire began shortly after six o’clock in the morning on December 26th, where it alleged Mr. Boyce and another individual started the fire which resulted in complete structural loss of the shed, with an estimated value of approximately, $20,000.00. On January 30th, an individual was being interviewed on another investigation. During the interview, the individual stated that Mr. Boyce had told him that he and Braden Baumhour started the shed fire because they were bored. The two men were charged with arson. When he appeared for his bail hearing last Friday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke, the Crown argued against his release, citing the numerous crimes linked to Mr. Boyce. Despite the Crown’s objections, Justice of the Peace Jocelyne St. Jean granted the accused bail with strict conditions and he is to remain at his Eganville home until his next appearance. Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
EDMONTON — Five Black Muslim women, all Somali-Canadians wearing hijabs, have been attacked or threatened in Edmonton in the last 10 weeks. The city's Al-Rashid Mosque began offering Muslim women self-defence lessons following the attacks. The classes are full. Trent Daley is a member of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. He says someone approaches him or his network on a weekly basis about an assault. Most victims are Black and Muslim women. "There's been a notable marked increase (in assaults) following the pandemic. It's so pervasive right now," Daley says. "It's full of racial epithets, full of disgusting language targeting them based off the scarf that they wear and the identity they presumed that this person has. It's dehumanizing." Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. Cheryl Voordenhout with the Edmonton Police Service says it received 60 reports of hate crimes last year. So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women. On Dec. 8, a mother and daughter were violently attacked in the Southgate mall parking lot. A week later, near the same mall, another woman was subject to racial slurs as someone tried to hit her head with a shopping bag. In February, a man made racial comments and became aggressive toward a woman at the University of Alberta transit centre. The same day, a man came up behind a woman walking in a popular neighbourhood, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa. The latest attack happened Feb. 17. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said a man approached a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Century Park transit station, swore at her and threatened to kill her. Political leaders, including Premier Jason Kenney, have spoken out against the attacks. But the CEO of the national Muslims council says condemnation is not enough and government leaders at the local and provincial level need to take action. "Anti-Black racism is a real problem in Alberta," says Mustafa Farooq. "Black-Muslim women tend to face greater challenges than almost anyone else, because racism and gendered Islamophobia are real problems. "We can look, for example, at street harassment bylaws. We can look at ways in which anti-racism initiatives are being funded. We can look at hate crime units and their advocacy in dealing with these challenges." "So much can be done immediately, but it's not happening." Daley added that recent rallies and marches in Edmonton and Calgary in opposition to COVID-19 measures are examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated racism in Alberta. Some participants were seen carrying tiki torches, which many say are a symbol used by white supremacists. Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the police service is doubling down in its effort to work with the Somali community to address racially motivated assaults. "We've got to listen to what they need and then we've got to figure out how we can ... actually get some of the changes that they need," he said at a news conference Tuesday. McFee also alluded to the suspects in the assaults possibly having mental-health issues. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This story has been edited. An interview subject was removed from the original version because of concerns raised about her safety.
Mexico's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the country's telecoms regulator over a label that aims to curb the dominance of Carlos Slim's telecommunications company America Movil. Mexico's Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) acted within the constitution when it determined that the America Movil Economic Interest Group, made up of Telcel and other subsidiaries, is a "preponderant agent", the court said in a statement.
Air Canada has agreed to offer refunds to passengers who had their travel plans cancelled because of the pandemic as part of a potential bailout package from the federal government. Unifor president Jerry Dias told CBC News he has spoken with both Air Canada and the federal government officials negotiating with the airline who confirmed that Air Canada agreed "a long time ago" to offer refunds in exchange for a bailout. "The precondition for receiving a federal aid package is that Air Canada and the other airlines will have to repay customers. I know that Air Canada has absolutely agreed to do that," Dias told the Toronto Star, which first reported the story earlier Wednesday. A source not authorized to speak publicly on the topic also confirmed the rebate agreement to CBC News. Air Canada told CBC News that talks with the federal government over a bailout package for the airline are ongoing and it has nothing to add. In its Feb.12 earnings report, the airline said it had just closed the "book on the bleakest year in the history of commercial aviation." A federal government official speaking on background told CBC News Tuesday that Canadian airlines have so far received more than $1.7 billion in financial assistance through the Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS). The official said any further help will require airlines to offer refunds to passengers for cancelled flights, reinstate regional routes in Canada, and protect jobs across the airline sector. "We continue to emphasize this in our ongoing conversations with the airlines," the official told CBC News. "In a country as vast as Canada, it's essential we maintain connections between people and our communities. Maintaining a vibrant, competitive Canadian air sector and Canadian airlines is a priority."
Sherbrooke — Avec le passage d’une grande partie du Québec au palier orange, les salles à manger de nombreuses cabanes à sucre obtiennent le feu vert pour ouvrir. Même si de nombreux Québécois attendaient cette nouvelle, bon nombre d’entre elles risquent de demeurer fermées par peur de voir leur situation s’empirer. C’est notamment le cas du Chalet des Érables, à Cookshire-Eaton. La propriétaire, Joannie Paquette, confie avoir le sommeil difficile depuis janvier. « Je ne m’attendais vraiment pas à ça aujourd’hui, commentait-elle mercredi à la suite du point de presse de François Legault. Je pense que c’est la décision la plus difficile que j’aurai à prendre de toute ma carrière. Mais si je suis entièrement transparente, je dirais que je ne pense pas rouvrir. » Son entreprise a investi temps et argent dans une formule de repas prêt à emporter, notamment en se joignant à l’offensive provinciale Ma cabane à la maison, mais c’est la sécurité qui pesé le plus lourd dans la balance pour l’acéricultrice. « Je compte sur de la famille et des amis pour m’aider dans mon entreprise. Je me verrais très mal les mettre à risque dans une salle à manger alors que je ne peux même pas les recevoir chez moi. » Et si quelqu’un devait tomber malade, toutes les opérations seraient paralysées, poursuit-elle. Ce qui signifierait une perte des revenus liés aux boîtes pour emporter. « Ça ne vaut pas le risque », dit-elle. Stéphanie Laurin, présidente de l’Association des salles de réception et érablières commerciales du Québec, était elle aussi sous le choc, mercredi soir. « On nous a fermé sans préavis l’an dernier, et là on nous rouvre sans préavis, s’indigne l’acéricultrice. Ce n’est vraiment pas merveilleux, en toute honnêteté. » Dans les zones déjà au palier orange, seulement quelques cabanes ont choisi d’ouvrir quand même, témoigne-t-elle. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont opté pour les boîtes à emporter, comme une majorité des érablières commerciales à travers le Québec. « Quand ça fait un an qu’on est fermé, rouvrir pour quelques semaines et peut-être devoir refermer dans deux semaines, ce n’est pas un risque à prendre. Ce serait le début de la fin, parce que c’est beaucoup d’investissement ouvrir les salles à manger. Tout le monde s’est adapté pour faire des repas pour emporter. Ils utilisent leurs salles à manger comme zone de préparation de commandes. Mais là, il faudrait tout défaire ce qu’ils ont fait pour réinstaller des tables. Je ne suis pas certaine que les cabanes à sucre voudront rouvrir. Il aurait fallu savoir en janvier qu’on allait pouvoir rouvrir début mars. Là on se serait préparés. Mais ce n’est pas ce qui a été dit. » Pas si facile donc de tout changer, une semaine après avoir lancé Ma cabane à la maison. Cette campagne, regroupant 70 cabanes à sucre, permet aux Québécois de réserver leur boîte gourmande du temps des sucres tout en soutenant leur cabane locale. Les boîtes peuvent être réservées au macabanealamaison.ca et être récupérées directement à la cabane ou bien dans une des épiceries Metro participantes. La plateforme a déjà connu 1 million de visites et 23 000 commandes, se réjouit Mme Laurin. Intérêt à ouvrir France Demers, copropriétaire de l’érablière Magolait, à Magog, a toujours de nombreuses interrogations. « C’est une bonne et une mauvaise nouvelle en même temps », dit-elle, incertaine des aménagements qu’elle devra faire et du nombre de personnes qu’elle pourra recevoir. Celle-ci aimerait rouvrir dès le week-end du 12 mars, mais se montre très déçue des conditions imposées, soit les mêmes qu’en restauration : un maximum de deux adultes par table (avec leurs enfants), la réservation obligatoire, la tenue d’un registre des clients et l’exigence d’une preuve de résidence dans une zone du même palier. « Deux adultes par table, ça ne fonctionne pas vraiment bien avec le modèle d’affaires d’une cabane à sucre, ce sont de grandes tablées, de grandes salles... » laisse tomber Stéphanie Laurin. « J’ai l’habitude d’avoir des groupes de collègues, des groupes d’amis... c’est certain que je ne pourrais pas avoir ça du tout. Il ne nous reste déjà que sept fins de semaine, avec des toutes petites familles ici et là... On va annoncer notre ouverture, et on verra comment ça ira. Mais ça va être compliqué. » Même si le gouvernement a annoncé il y a deux semaines que la période d’ouverture autorisée pour les cabanes à sucre serait prolongée, Mme Demers croit que l’exercice n’en vaut pas la chandelle. « Les gens auront passé à autre chose. Début mai, il fait beau et chaud, ils ont plus envie d’aller marcher en ville et de prendre un cornet de crème glacée », dit-elle. Ni Mme Demers ni Mme Laurin n’ont eu vent de quelconque consigne sanitaire concernant la tire sur la neige. Les propriétaires devront certainement se montrer créatifs pour éviter que cette activité ne soit source de contagion. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
South Algonquin Township just completed the public consultation survey phase for its Community Safety and Well Being Plan, which is due to be submitted to the provincial government by July 1. Coordinated by Dr. Meara Sullivan, the survey found that employment, COVID-19, healthcare and affordable housing were residents’ biggest concerns. On the plus side, 95 per cent of respondents felt safe within their respective communities. In a media release from Dr. Sullivan on Feb. 23, the results of the community consultation survey in South Algonquin were made public. The municipal councils of the townships of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, Madawaska Valley and South Algonquin decided to work collaboratively with Dr. Sullivan to come up with a CSWB plan, and Dr. Sullivan also administered surveys to those municipalities for their input. The survey ran from Oct. 5 to Nov. 30, 2020. Available in hardcopy and online through Survey Monkey, 305 local residents from all the townships participated. Eighty-one people participated from South Algonquin, or 7.4 per cent of its population of 1,096. Dr. Sullivan is a community and restorative justice specialist with over 20 years experience in her field. Her experience led her to be hired by the seven municipalities of North Hastings in 2019 to help them to come up with their own CSWB programs. This tenure helping the municipalities in North Hastings led her to be hired by South Algonquin, Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, and Madawaska Valley, as well as her teaching experience in Community, Safety and Well-Being at Loyalist College. Within South Algonquin, survey respondents had an average age of 55 to 64 years, 75 per cent were female, 92 per cent were white/Caucasian, 75 per cent had a post secondary education, 68 per cent were permanent residents, 90 per cent lived in a home they owned, and 9 per cent said they experienced home insecurity or homelessness in the past year. The good news was that 95 per cent of respondents always or often felt safe in their community, while a strong sense of community and sense of belonging was felt by 57 per cent. While employment at 33 per cent, COVID-19 at 27 per cent, affordable housing at 23 per cent, and healthcare access at 18 per cent were listed as the greatest concerns and the services needed in the area, the greatest community strengths were hailed as nature at 73 per cent, peace/quiet at 60 per cent, small town/rural life at 56 per cent and peace/quiet. It wasn’t a surprise that 75 per cent of respondents reported that COVID-19 had brought higher levels of stress, and 47 per cent reported that the ongoing pandemic had greatly impacted their work and family life. Dr. Sullivan completed the data analysis and the final report, and says that the results give significant insights into the views of the 305 local area residents. “The sample is comprised of individuals who volunteered to participate and is not intended to represent the overall population. However, every resident has a unique voice and each is equally important,” she says. Now in its final phase, the CSWB planning information will be compiled into a regional plan. The final plan will be sent to the Solicitor General and shared with the community by July 1. Dr. Sullivan says that their information gathering process has finished, which included a local service providers’ survey, the community consultation survey, meetings with local agencies and advisors, attendance at round tables on physical and mental health, collecting statistical and previous reports data, and one on one discussions with community members. “In order to be responsive to the immediate needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to be flexible in our planning. At this point, in order to meet the deadline, set by the province, I am compiling all the available information into the final plan,” she says. “I will be reaching out to our advisors throughout this process to ensure the final plan meets the needs of the individuals that are at the greatest risk.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times