An uprooted tree landed on a parked car after powerful winds swept through Taber, Alta.
An uprooted tree landed on a parked car after powerful winds swept through Taber, Alta.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Denzel Washington has played some iconic cops over the years, but he doesn't get hung up on things like that. For him, it's all about the script. So when John Lee Hancock came to him with “ The Little Things,” a 1990-set crime drama about law enforcement and obsession, he was intrigued. The part was for Joe Deacon, who left city duties for the country after a grueling case years ago but gets pulled back in to help with a new serial killer. “There’s an old saying, ‘If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage,’” Washington said. “And this was on the page first.” Then Hancock told him who he wanted for the other leads: Rami Malek for his unlikely counterpart, Sergeant Jim Baxter, and Jared Leto for the certainly suspicious but maybe not guilty loner Albert Sparma. “I’m like, OK, let me RE-read it,” Washington laughed. ”It wasn’t hard for me at all. It’s like, ‘OK, when do we start?’” “The Little Things,” which opens in theatres and on HBO Max on Jan. 29, is one of Malek’s first big roles after his “Bohemian Rhapsody” awards sweep, where he first crossed paths with Washington. “Denzel and I met at the Golden Globes the year of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ He was there with John David (Washington) for ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ and I locked eyes with Denzel for a moment. He locked eyes with me... I saw him start to stand up and I thought, ‘Well, you better get up and move towards him much faster than he’s moving towards you,’” Malek said. “It was shortly thereafter that I realized he and John Lee had me in mind for the role.” The equation was simple enough: When Denzel Washington wants you for a movie, you say yes. Hancock liked that Washington and Malek were “strange bedfellows.” “They don’t strike me as the types that would hang out or go to a bar and watch sports,” Hancock said. “I thought that would really benefit the movie.” The unlikely trio all had wildly different styles too. Washington was in near constant conversation with Hancock from the moment he was cast, dissecting the character, the choices (down to whether or not he needed to be wearing a coat in a certain scene) and the script. Leto, on the other hand, stayed away from his co-stars until the shoot. It wasn’t that he wasn’t taking it seriously, but he’s a method actor and wanted to meet them in costume and in character. “You don’t want to show up and be the person who is not prepared on a set like this,” said Leto, who counts Washington as one of his personal heroes. Hancock loved the energy it brought to their first encounter on camera. “It was like they were smelling each other. They’re feeling each other out. It just was electric because they hadn’t been in a room together and hadn’t been buddy-buddy,” Hancock said. “It was Albert Sparma and Joe Deacon.” Washington agreed and liked that it kept it fresh. “At the end of the day, it is still acting,” Washington added. Although Malek may be almost 40 and Leto almost 50, Washington, at 66, refers to them as young actors and “the next generation.” And he was just as excited to observe the two at work as they were to work with him. For one scene, where Malek’s character is interrogating Leto’s, Washington decided to sit behind the glass and watch. “I wish I’d had some popcorn!” Washington said. “It was like I was watching a boxing match.” His dedication, which included gaining and losing 40 pounds, astounded Malek. “I appreciated that he was always there,” Malek said. “We got really excited after that scene in particular. We were in that moment part of a trio of something special.” Hancock said it wasn’t about managing the three actors as much as it was just getting out of their way. All of them, he said, brought their A-game, even if their methods at arriving there were different. Washington, a longtime boxer, lives by the logic that “you stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.” He was sure he could trust his co-stars to do the same for what would be a tough and fast-moving shoot. “Both of these actors are Academy Award winners like myself. We’re all three world champions, if you will. So you know you’re getting in the ring with two world champions,” Washington said. “It wakes you up.” “The Little Things” is the end of a long chapter for Hancock, who wrote it in 1993. The script was popular but never got off the ground for various reasons. Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and Danny DeVito were just a few big names who’d find themselves attached to direct at various points over the years. Hancock’s producer brought it up again a few years ago. By that time, Hancock himself was an established commercial director with credits like “The Blind Side,” “The Rookie” and “Saving Mr. Banks” and they thought it was the right moment to give it another shot. Although what was once a cutting-edge look at policing in transition, 25 years on was now a period piece. “It would have saved us a lot of money to make it contemporary,” Hancock laughed. “But I liked the idea that this was pre-DNA 1990. Investigations were harder. Everything was harder. You had to take rolls of quarters for payphones.” And at its heart, it’s an original riff on a well-worn formula that will keep you guessing until the end. “I wanted it to feel like it was going to be a genre movie until you realize it’s not about that at all,” Hancock said. “Instead of building towards resolution, this one kind of unravels.” —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Mono Council once again had to deal with the ongoing debate as to who is responsible for enforcing regulations in the matter of resident Mark Bates’ request to have Council enforce the Town By-law concerning lighting interfering with a neighbours enjoyment of their property. This issue was previously discussed at the last Council Meeting, where the consensus was that, as the issue involved neighbours in a condominium complex, the condominium board should be responsible to enforce their own regulations regarding the matter. At Tuesday’s Mono Council meeting, Mr. Bates returned and indicated that the board was unwilling to enforce the regulations and asked Council to enforce the Town by-law to correct the problem. CAO Mark Early, at that meeting, said that he would refer the matter to the Town solicitor for a legal opinion. Subsequently, the opinion provided indicated that the issue should be dealt with according to Provincial regulations, by the condominium board and not the Town. However, as the issue was not dealt with, Mr. Bates had once again con-tacted the councillors and Councillor Fred Nix raised the question to the CAO. Upon hearing the solicitors response, Mr. Nix appeared satisfied though he stated that they were still receiving emails from Mr. Bates.The latest of these emails was presented to Council during the Public Question Period and in it, he requested that as the neighbour was still in non compliance, could Council please notify the condominium board of the solicitors response and request that they deal with the issue. Mayor Ryan referred the question to the CAO and Mr. Early replied that the condo-minium board had been made aware of all of Councils discussions and decisions on the matter but that he could certainly notify them of the solicitors and Councils latest response. Councillor Nix then asked what the solu-tion would be should there be a conflict between the Town rules and by-laws and the condominium rules, who should pre-vail? Mr. Early responded that based on his understanding and the solicitors response, it would be the condominiums responsibility to resolve the matter so that there was con-sistency within their subdivision. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Rank, Book Title by Author Name, ISBN, Publisher 1. Bridgerton Collection Volume 1 by Julia Quinn - 9780063045118 - (Avon) 2. Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424105 - (Avon) 3. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - 9780062424037 - (Avon) 4. The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child - 9781538747292 - (Grand Central Publishing) 5. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn - 9780062424075 - (Avon) 6. To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn - 9780062424112 - (Avon) 7. An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn - 9780062424082 - (Avon) 8. When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn - 9780062424136 - (Avon) 9. Daylight by David Baldacci - 9781538761687 - (Grand Central Publishing) 10. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher - 9781488076749 - (Graydon House Books) The Associated Press
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart addressed the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) Board of Directors at the first TNRD board meeting of 2021, which took place on Jan. 15. Tegart reflected on the past year, which she acknowledged has been a rollercoaster for many, not excluding those in office. “What a difference a year makes,” Tegart began. “I thought about going into the house last year in February, where our biggest challenge was the protestors at the front of the building, and the fact that we couldn’t get in for the Throne Speech. Then coming home for our March break, and we never went back until the summer. We did a short summer session and then in October we had a snap election and had a short session in December.” The lack of time spent in the Legislature translated to some frustrating times for Tegart, particularly when it comes to providing assistance to small businesses and communities. “We have issues around supports for businesses, and we look at the hospitality industry, lots of requests for a very comprehensive recovery plan coming out of COVID. I think many of us who have small communities are recognizing our mom-and-pop operations are in crisis, and how do we make sure that the programs provided by both federal and provincial government are actually getting to the people who need them? I think that those voices in tandem, our voice and yours at the provincial level are incredibly important.” Tegart touched on a few projects that are in the works for her riding, mainly regarding tourism and infrastructure. “We’ve got some exciting things happening in Fraser-Nicola, over the last year,” said Tegart. “Certainly, we will continue our work on the ‘Wake up the Fraser Canyon’ project, in partnership with the Village of Lytton and all the other stakeholders down the corridor, and we are reconnecting with the new ministers and making sure that they’re well aware of the project. And we are in the final throes of a tourism masterplan for the corridor section between Yale and Lytton, and we are excited about the project. Making sure that we have shovel ready projects for money that is going to become available, I believe this spring, as part of the recovery. Of course, the Ashcroft terminal is quite an exciting project, and when we look at the region that will bring significant employment opportunities and some challenges around how we house people and provide services for them.” Tegart opened up about how difficult it has been for her to serve in the MLA role while maintaining social distance and staying home rather than being out visiting communities and businesses and engaging with people face to face. “It’s tough in the MLA role to not be on the road and not be in communities and not meeting with groups,” Tegart said. “We miss that. That and the energy that you get in order to do this job sometimes when you’re pretty tired. I really encourage you all to be in touch and I’ll reach out when needed because it’s our job to keep that enthusiasm and that hope out there for our citizens. It’s been a long year and we’ve had incredible tragedies as we look at the death toll during COVID, and we’ve got some challenges around what the data is telling us and what kind of services we’re providing, and I think we all need to be open to look in a critical way about what we’re doing in community and in services provided and how we can improve that. We’ve learned a lot during COVID.” Tegart also touched on the fact that the provincial budget could be delayed until the end of April. “I’d be very interested to hear from the TNRD, as you take a look at the impact of that bill delaying the budget for two months, what impact that will have on you,” queried Tegart. “I’m sure you are well aware of the bill being passed, and we ask the questions about the unintended consequences. We’ve had a lot of organizations that will be affected with the uncertainty of what a two-month delay in the budget presentation means.” Tegart also encouraged anyone on the TNRD board to reach out to her if they had any questions or concerns regarding education, which she would address in her role as Opposition Critic for Education. “If there are issues within your communities or in your region that you want questions asked at estimate, please feel free to get in touch with me, because that is our opportunity to get answers from the Minister,” explained Tegart. “So, if you need new schools or are concerned about anything that’s happening within the education field, our one opportunity to get real answers is during estimate and I would encourage you to be in touch so that we can make sure that those questions are asked.” Tegart concluded her update by thanking the TNRD board for the work they had done during COVID, and her appreciation for the working relationship which all levels of government need to have, referring particularly to democratic strife Canadians are witnessing south of the border. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
Toronto police announced Tuesday that officers are searching for a man and a vehicle in connection with the shooting death of Shane Shannon Stanford in the Lawrence Manor neighbourhood last October. Det. Michael McGinn asked for the public's help at a news conference this morning. The suspect is described as a man in his mid 20s, with a light brown complexion, approximately five feet, ten inches tall with a thin build. He was wearing a dark-coloured jacket with maroon coloured "KAPPA" track pants and black shoes, police say. McGinn couldn't provide a motive in connection with the case, saying police are open to the possibility that the shooting was "in relation to the area," adding that it is still under investigation. "Shane himself was not targeted specifically as an individual," McGinn said. Police say Stanford, 33, was killed in an apparent drive-by shooting in the area of Regina and Khedive avenues at around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 7. He was found dead behind the wheel of an Acura sedan. Stanford was a beloved instructor at a Toronto YMCA, and was mourned at a candelight vigil in the days after his death. "Shane lived in the area and was simply returning home from work," McGinn said. A 27-year-old Toronto man and a 17-year-old girl, also from Toronto, are already facing charges linked to the death. The man has been charged with first-degree murder, while the teen has been charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder. Police say they are also looking for a car in connection with the case: a white 2005-2006 Nissan Infiniti G35 four-door with a sunroof and tinted windows, gold-coloured rims and gold trim under the driver and passenger doors. It also has scratches rear of the right bumper, and was sold in the days after the shooting, police say. McGinn said Stanford's family is doing "as well as can be expected, given the circumstances. "Mr. Stanford was a very good man, and a good person ... it's a tragic loss." Anyone with information is asked to contact police.
Depuis le début de la pandémie, Québec multiplie les restrictions aux droits fondamentaux en les justifiant par l’urgence sanitaire. Il offre rarement une explication crédible pour les justifier.
B.C.'s provincial health officer declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver officially over. Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the end of the outbreak, which claimed the lives of 17 McKinney Place residents, Monday during the province's regularly scheduled press conference in Victoria. A total of 23 staff members and 54 of the 59 residents who lived at McKinney Place at the beginning of the outbreak had tested positive. "We are very thankful that McKinney place has been under control. That was a very challenging outbreak in Interior Health and we know 17 people in the McKinney Place community lost their lives to COVID in that outbreak," Henry said. Interior Health announced residents at both McKinney Place and Sunnybank Retirement Centre received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 8 Minister of Health Adrian Dix touched on the end of four outbreaks in long-term care across the province Monday, including McKinney Place. "I can tell you from my own experience and the experience of every family member, every resident in long-term care, that the day an outbreak is declared is a very, very difficult day indeed and the day that it is declared over is a day of some relief," Dix said. "Not that the pandemic is over, but that this period, this moment in the pandemic has changed. I'm thinking of everybody who has lost someone at those care homes, everyone who has been through that experience even if they were not diagnosed positive with COVID-19, everyone who works in those care homes, we are thinking of them today on what is I would say a better day in all of those places, a day when those outbreaks have been declared over." An outbreak is declared over when two incubation periods, or 28 days, have passed from the last onset of symptoms in a resident. “I want to thank our staff for their commitment and dedication during this challenging outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care,” said Susan Brown, Interior Health president and CEO. “Everyone stepped up to ensure the people living at McKinney Place received the best possible care, and on behalf of everyone at Interior Health, we send our condolences to the families who lost a loved one during this difficult time.” All eligible residents and staff at McKinney Place have been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. Additional death at Sunnybank Interior Health reported Monday an additional death at Sunnybank Retirement Centre, marking the second COVID-19 related death at the facility. Sunnybank now has 34 cases: 26 residents and eight staff. Interior Health sees 257 new cases in three days The province reported on new cases over a three-day period Monday. From Jan. 15 to 16 there were 584 new cases province-wide, from Jan. 16 to 17 there were 445 new cases and in the last 24 hours 301 new cases have been diagnosed. Of the new cases, 257 are in the Interior Health region. Across B.C. there are 4,326 active cases of COVID-19, 343 in hospital, 68 of whom are in intensive care. There are 6,865 people under active public health monitoring province-wide. Over the last three days, 31 people died from COVID-19, four of whom in the Interior Health region. A total of 1,078 people have died from COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, a majority of which are seniors in long-term care. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Considérés comme des classiques, « Charlie et la chocolaterie » ou « Matilda » sont souvent réédités et adaptés au cinéma. Mais l’œuvre de Roald Dahl ne s’arrête pas là. Retour sur six titres méconnus.
The ice skating season is over in the Sundridge region. In the words of Sundridge Coun. Steve Rawn, the ice in the Sundridge Strong Joly Arena is coming out “immediately.” The decision at an arena board meeting after the province announced further lockdown measures, which include arenas as it continues to fight COVID-19 outbreak numbers. Rawn says the original hope was the arena could be used by residents of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area once the province's previous two-week lockdown of Northern Ontario ended. But Rawn says the board voted to remove the ice after the province invoked the stay-at-home order. Rawn says the latest lockdown would take the arena situation well into February and that's getting closer to the end of the regular ice season. In a statement, Rawn said “this last extension would be too long to keep the ice sitting and not be used.” In neighbouring Magnetawan, it's a different story. Although the lockdown has closed the community's outdoor skating rink, Mayor Sam Dunnett says it will reopen once the order ends. “We had people using it for public skating and they were in groups of no more than five people,” he says. The local Lions club was instrumental in creating the covered outdoor rink, which is appropriately named Lion's Pavilion. Dunnett doesn't know for certain how long the latest lockdown will last since the province could change the length at any time. And while this reason alone is enough for other communities to end the ice skating season, Dunnett says “we're not taking out our ice. “We'll continue to maintain it,” he says. Dunnett says the outdoor nature of the Magnetawan rink makes it easier to maintain compared to the indoor arena ice in surrounding towns. If COVID outbreak numbers can fall low enough, Dunnett believes the province “can start opening stuff back up a little like ice-skating rinks. “And if it does re-open, people can come out and enjoy themselves,” he says. “There will still be no hockey, but they can get some exercise.” Dunnett says the municipality will continue to maintain the outdoor ice until warmer spring temperatures arrive. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Skoflek Electric is a Merritt-based electrical company which offers both residential and commercial services. Company owner Bela Skoflek and Head Electrician Bryan Tolmie tackle electrical projects big and small in the Nicola Valley, providing quality workmanship at a price that won’t break the bank. Already a working electrician, Skoflek found himself feeling unfulfilled with the direction his life and career were taking. When he suddenly faced a huge personal hurdle, he decided it was time to make a change. “My goal in the trade was always to get to the point of having my own company,” said Skoflek. “The catalyst that actually made me follow through was getting sick. I was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years ago. At that point I re-evaluated where I was at and where I wanted to be.” Although Skoflek made a decent wage as a certified tradesman, he felt that there was more to life than punching a clock for someone else. “I was at a pretty good point in my career, had full time work with a local contractor, but still didn't feel fulfilled,” explained Skoflek. “Working long hours, making good money, but sacrificing time with my son and family. I was off work for nearly a year doing treatment and used that time to plan the company. I didn't have much money, but I had time. So, I got the extra education I needed, came up with a company logo and design, learned about bookkeeping, taxes, etc.” Skoflek beat lymphoma and was able to return to work after finishing his treatment period. It was at this time that Skoflek launched his company in Sept. 2019. “It was terrifying and exciting all at once,” said Skoflek. “It was a slow start but I had enough to make overhead. I had learned to live a bare bones lifestyle while sick. My first jobs were from friends and family who were supporting me, something I will forever be thankful for, and my focus was to provide quality work without price gouging.” Through word of mouth from satisfied clients and the use of social media marketing and advertising, Skoflek began to see requests for his services increase and his business become busier. “Word of mouth and Facebook marketing helped me start getting new clients and my mission stayed the same, quality work, reasonable rates. Everything snowballed from there, but I maintained the low overhead lifestyle,” said Skoflek. “This allowed me to pour all the income back into the company. Getting better tools and equipment to streamline work. Radio ads and better marketing to bring in more customers. Soon it became bigger than I could handle alone.” Suddenly, Skoflek Electric saw its first expansion, bringing in Bryan Tolmie to help shoulder the workload. “Bryan joined the team, and he was a perfect fit,” said Skoflek. “He had ample experience in the trade and is great with client interaction. We were very like-minded.” Both were of the same opinion that they should be a solid company providing reliable work at reasonable rates, and that family should always come first even alongside business responsibilities. “We are able to achieve this by streamlining workflow and keeping overhead low,” explained Skoflek. “The end goal of every job is to have the customer satisfied with the work performed, it has never been about money. I am able to take my son to school and pick him up every day. That's what it is all about. Going forward we want to sustain the same mindset and grow it. We want to help Merritt grow and give back to the community that fostered our company.” When it comes time to relax and blow off steam, the lifelong Merrittonian still keeps up with his favourite hobby – skateboarding. “I usually go around two times a week in the summer,” said Skoflek. “The non-competitive aspect is what drew me to it, I was never big on team sports. Skateboarding was a way to do something together with friends while everyone is doing completely independent things.” That ability to be successful and have fun independent of others has helped Skoflek build a business others have already come to trust in the less than two years since he started. If you are in need of an electrician, you can contact Skoflek Electric at 250-315-3507, or find them on Facebook at ‘Skoflek Electric’. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
«Ça va tellement mal dans nos hôpitaux qu’on va peut-être devoir trier les patients par chance de survie, mais au privé, on fait comme si la pandémie n’existait pas! Le premier ministre doit des explications aux dizaines de milliers de patients affectés par le délestage. Pourquoi les cliniques privées sont-elles exemptées de l’effort de guerre? Pourquoi est-il encore possible de se refaire les fesses à la brésilienne au privé, mais certains cancers ne sont même plus diagnostiqués et plusieurs traitements remis au public? Tôt ou tard, le gouvernement va devoir se rendre à l’évidence : négocier des ententes à gros prix, ça ne marche pas. J’invite M. Legault à mobiliser tous les renforts du privé avant que nos hôpitaux craquent», affirme Manon Massé en rappelant que plusieurs cliniques privées continuent d’offrir des opérations non urgentes et non nécessaires, dont l’augmentation des fesses, la liposuccion et l’ablation des hémorroïdes. «Pendant que le ministre Dubé fait semblant que le personnel des cliniques privées n’a pas l’expertise nécessaire pour intégrer le réseau public, on a une chirurgienne plastique de Bromont qui dit : à ma clinique et ailleurs, on est capables de faire des opérations mineures en dehors de l’hôpital, mais le réseau de la santé nous ignore. La CAQ n’a plus d’excuses. Nous ne pouvons pas laisser les ressources du privé sur la table, des vies en dépendent», ajoute la porte-parole solidaire. Par ailleurs, suite à la mort d’un homme en situation d’itinérance à Montréal, QS réitère sa demande d’exempter les personnes sans-abri du couvre-feu. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Whether it's a slight cough or a scratchy, sore throat, some may be tempted to dismiss mild symptoms as "just the flu" amid a serious global pandemic. But experts say a drastic drop in the circulation of the influenza virus this season means signs of flu are more likely to be COVID-19 than another respiratory virus. A FluWatch report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released last week shows laboratory-confirmed incidents of flu are exceptionally rare this season, despite "elevated testing" for it during the pandemic. Experts say a confluence of factors are playing a role in the abnormally light flu season, including public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 and the reduction of international travel. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says the low prevalence of flu underscores the need to get tested for COVID if people develop symptoms. "You can't tell by looking if somebody has influenza or COVID," he said. "And right now, depending on where they live, if someone has acute viral symptoms, the chances of it being COVID over other things is much higher." PHAC's report shows there have been 51 influenza detections in Canada to date this flu season — significantly lower than the nearly 15,000 cases averaged by this point in the past six seasons — and there were zero lab-detected cases (from 13,000 tests) over the first week of 2021. Chakrabarti expects there to be more cases of influenza than what PHAC's data shows, since not everyone with flu-like symptoms is tested for that virus. But in the segment of the population that is getting tested — typically older adults seeking medical care — influenza isn't coming up. People admitted to hospital with symptoms are given respiratory multiplex tests that can detect multiple viruses at once, Chakrabarti said. "And we've picked up very little in the way of other viruses. So if you're seeing a reduction in those cases, it suggests that the overall amount of flu in the community has dropped." While experts assumed public health measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing would also lessen flu prevalence, the level of drop-off has been surprising, says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist with McMaster University. He believes travel restrictions have likely played a significant role. Whereas COVID-19 can continue to spread easily because the virus is already entrenched here, Chagla says influenza is usually brought in each winter from tropical climates. A population confined largely indoors due to cold weather helps it spread. "Border restrictions, quarantine rules, that probably limits the amount of influenza coming in in the first place," Chagla said. "And the odd case that does come in, it's harder to spread because people aren't congregating." Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist with the University of Ottawa, agrees that a reduction in international travel likely explains the light flu season more than just the implementation of public health measures. He says places in South America are also seeing dips in flu numbers even though mask-wearing hasn't been as widespread there. A level of immunity to influenza may also be contributing to the stifling of the virus, he added. "More people got a flu vaccine this year," Deonandan said. "That can't be underestimated." Chagla says other respiratory viruses also seem to have decreased this season. While there was an uptick in the common cold rhinovirus in the fall — usually correlated with children going back to school — PHAC data shows it's been dropping since. Hand-washing and sanitizing high-touch areas may be playing a role in controlling viruses that are more transmissible on surfaces, experts say. Chagla says cold or flu-like symptoms should raise a red flag for anyone right now, and he worries about people mistaking COVID signs for another virus. "In years past you could say: 'this is just a cold,' doctors would say: 'don't even come in,'" Chagla said. "And now we have to switch the mentality to say: 'actually, no, go get tested.'" Chakrabarti warns the "just the flu" mentality also diminishes the significance of influenza, which can lead to serious disease in vulnerable people too. So there's need for caution, even if symptoms are from the flu virus. "A lot of people say 'it's the flu, who cares? I get it all the time,'" he said. "This is going to sound familiar, but the reason it matters is because you can spread it to somebody else." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Val-Brillant, l’école en musique La petite école primaire de Val-Brillant (95 élèves) va rejoindre un cercle très fermé : celui des établissements scolaires offrant un programme Arts-études en musique. Pour l’instant, seules neuf écoles primaires le font au Québec. Val-Brillant va donc devenir la dixième dès l’année scolaire 2021-2022, et la première dans l’Est. Il s’agit d’une progression logique pour cette école, qui proposait depuis une douzaine d’années déjà un programme de concentration en arts : des cours de musique étaient donnés sur les heures scolaires en partenariat avec le Camp musical du lac Matapédia. Mais la fermeture de ce dernier, couplée à la décision du ministère de l’Éducation de mettre fin à ce type de programmes en juin 2021, a poussé la direction de l’école à envisager un virage. « On était rendus à la croisée des chemins, explique la directrice Renée Belzile : on avait le choix de redevenir simplement une école avec un programme particulier en musique, ou de faire le grand saut vers un programme Arts-études officiel avec toutes les balises du ministère. » C’est la deuxième option qui a été retenue, en partenariat cette fois-ci avec l’École de musique du Bas-Saint-Laurent à Rimouski. Jusqu’à présent, les enfants pouvaient suivre des cours d’instruments (seuls ou en petits groupes) ou de chant choral. Bientôt, ils auront accès à de la formation auditive et des cours de musique d’ensemble. Pour obtenir la reconnaissance Arts-études, l’école doit permettre aux élèves inscrits de bénéficier d’un minimum de 20 % d’enseignement en musique par semaine durant la plage horaire scolaire. Bons pour les élèves… et les parents Selon Mme Belzile, le passage par l’école de Val-Brillant a été marquant pour de nombreux jeunes, certains étant depuis devenus enseignants de musique. Mais sans aller aussi loin, étudier la musique et devoir faire des prestations sur scène devant les amis et les parents permet d’améliorer confiance et estime de soi. « La fierté d’avoir accompli un gros projet qui sort des matières scolaires, comme par exemple une comédie musicale, ça va chercher des élèves qui ont parfois peu de valorisation au niveau des notes », ajoute la directrice tout en précisant qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un « programme élitiste » mais qu’au contraire, tout le monde est accepté. La moitié des élèves de l’école de Val-Brillant viennent déjà d’autres municipalités. Avec ce nouveau programme, Renée Belzile espère attirer de nouvelles têtes, tout en assurant que cela ne crée pas de conflit avec les autres écoles primaires du coin. « Plus on aura d’élèves, plus l’offre de cours va être diversifiée et intéressante », déclare-t-elle. Les parents y trouvent aussi leur compte, puisqu’ils n’ont pas à amener leurs rejetons à des cours de musique après les classes ou en soirée. Pas besoin non plus d’acheter un instrument sans savoir si l’enfant va apprécier en jouer, puisque l’école en prête des petits (violons, ukulélé…) qu’on peut ramener à la maison.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
COVID-19. Découlant de la diminution des arrivages de vaccins de la compagnie Pfizer, le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux confirme que le calendrier de la campagne de vaccination a été revu. Initialement fixé à 250 000 doses administrées pour le 8 février, l’objectif est maintenant de 225 000. Toutefois, la volonté de vacciner l’ensemble des résidents des centres d'hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD) d'ici le 25 janvier est maintenue. Le déploiement de la vaccination dans les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) l’est également. Cependant, celui-ci se fera plus lentement, à raison de 21 000 doses déployées d'ici le 8 février. De son côté, la cible de vaccination du personnel de la santé est réduite à 127 000 pour cette date tandis que pour les des régions éloignées, la cible de 20 000 personnes vaccinées pour le 8 février demeure. Par ailleurs, c’est à partir du 15 mars que les clientèles ayant déjà reçu la première dose pourront commencer à recevoir la deuxième. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he will continue to press Canada's case for the Keystone XL pipeline project with the incoming Biden administration in the U.S., which is poised to rescind the presidential permit allowing cross-border construction tomorrow. But the prime minister offered few details about his government's next steps as the two countries start a new phase in their relationship. "We've had a clear and consistent position supporting this project for years. Our government is making sure that Canada's views are heard and considered by the incoming administration at the highest levels," he told a news briefing today in front of his home at Rideau Cottage. WATCH | Trudeau says he will continue to support Keystone XL "I'm really looking forward to working closely with the new president and his team to create jobs and build back better together, for us all." Reports emerged Sunday that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit through executive action on his first day in office. The on-again, off-again project would have carried more than 800,000 barrels of Alberta oil a day to refineries in Texas. Trudeau, Kenney discuss the project Trudeau spoke about the project this evening with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who has said he will seek legal damages if the project is scrapped. According to a summary of the call from the Prime Minister's Office, Trudeau told Kenney that both he and Hillman have made the case in favour of the pipeline to the incoming administration. The summary said Trudeau made clear that workers in Alberta would always have the support of the federal government. When asked by reporters if the federal government would support such legal action, Trudeau said he supports the project and he, along with Canadian officials in Washington, will continue to argue Canada's position. "We understand, of course, that it is a commitment that the candidate Joe Biden made to cancel this pipeline. At the same time, we continue to demonstrate the leadership Canada has shown in fighting climate change," he said. "We're going to continue to make that case and I look forward to speaking with President Biden in the coming days." Trudeau also said he raised the project with Biden when they spoke before Christmas. Kenney has urged Biden administration officials to immediately meet with Canadian leadership to discuss the project's future, saying a "retroactive veto" like the one Biden is considering could threaten other critical energy links. Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, was asked today during a Senate hearing how cancelling the project without consultation would affect Canada-U.S. relations. "This would be a decision for the president to make. He has — the president-elect has — said that he does intend to rescind the permit," Blinken told senators. "What I can say with regard to ... my potential role if I'm at the State Department is anything going forward we would address with absolute objectivity and professionalism to make sure that any proposed permit or agreement that comes before us advances the national interest and national security." WATCH | Antony Blinken is questioned by Republican senator on the status of the Keystone XL pipeline Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has called on Trudeau to reach out to the incoming U.S. administration to ensure Keystone moves forward. "Keystone XL is a project of national significance that supports countless workers on both sides of the border," he said in an email statement. The leaders of two of the federal opposition parties have welcomed the news. NDP, Greens want project cancelled On Monday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh applauded Biden's anticipated executive action, saying it contrasts with Trudeau's continued support for some natural resources projects. "I agree with that decision. I do not support the project," Singh told reporters. "This is the direction that the future requires. We've got to fight the climate crisis." At a press conference Monday, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul called Biden a "climate warrior" and said that Canada's leadership is "not serious about tackling the climate emergency." Mikaela McQuade, a senior energy and climate analyst at the Eurasia Group, said the fact that Biden is considering cancelling Keystone XL on his first day in office — along with other key actions, including rejoining the Paris climate accord, nixing a travel ban on certain Muslim majority countries and instituting a mask mandate — shows how important climate action is to his agenda. "It's important to take that signal as significantly as the incoming administration intends it to be," McQuade said. McQuade said the Canada-U.S. relationship has changed dramatically over the past four years under the Trump administration. "It's important to understand that the Trump administration — as aggressive as it was with NAFTA — needed Canada at the table ... the same is not true for where Biden takes climate and energy priorities over the next four years," McQuade said.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says all long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will receive vaccinations by Feb. 15 despite a shortage of Pfizer vaccines. As Morganne Campbell reports, the backlog is causing a delay in the province's rollout plan.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
A huge dump of snow at Marmot Basin kicked off this year’s Jasper in January and staff are continuously monitoring conditions as well as keeping up with COVID protocols. Lasting until Jan. 31, Jasper in January includes virtual and private events at the ski resort along with deals on lift tickets. Although COVID-19 has altered the format of the festival and the overall operations of Marmot Basin, staff say the recent snowfall has proven to be a significant boon. “The recent snowfall has been fantastic - we've had 29 centimetres in the last two days - and conditions are absolutely superb,” said Alyssa Golbeck, active content producer, said in an email on Jan. 14. “I can personally attest to the fact that there is still tons of powder and there is some really great skiing up here right now.” Although Saturdays and weekends aren’t as busy as last year, there is a steady flow of skiers from Monday to Friday. With that pace, staff are managing COVID protocols with the visitors. “Business has been good,” said Brian Rode, vice president. “We are now seeing quite a few people who haven’t been to Marmot for a number of years or who haven’t skied for a number of years. Right now, we’ve had more skiers visit this year than last year.” He attributed these numbers to Albertans staying closer to home and the warmer weather. Chalets run at 15 per cent capacity, and Rode said people have been patient and complying with health restrictions. “Outside, people wear masks and naturally spread out when they’re skiing,” he said. Upon arriving to work, staff must sign in and declare they have not come to work with symptoms. “All of our supervisors are talking with and monitoring the staff. Our staff body is healthy,” Rode said, noting staff have a personal responsibility to monitor their health. Golbeck said the avalanche team has been hard at work the past few days, and staff were able to open much of the upper mountain on Jan. 14. Rode said Marmot Basin’s safety team monitors conditions regularly “to ensure all of the runs are safe to ski, without any risk of avalanches occurring.” “To do that, they’ve got patrols in place,” he said. The team makes sure the main runs are ready to use first thing in the morning, then the higher runs are tackled later. Factors to monitor include the amount of snowfall, wind, temperature and moisture content. “All of these affect the type of snowpack we have,” Rode said, adding any runs with an avalanche risk are kept closed until the ski patrol team checks the conditions. They do ski cutting, or “traversing the slope” as Rode called it. “Without fail, they do it in such a way so you can traverse from point to another,” he said. “They ski across the slope. That knocks the air out of it. They start at the top at a safe point - a rock outcrop (for example) - and ski across to the other side. That will give them a good sense of what that slope is like.” That measure sometimes releases the snow without having to use explosive charges. For slopes higher in the alpine region, explosive charges are thrown in and detonated, which knocks the risky snow down. “All slope angles are charted on every single run - 91 of them - some long and (some) short,” Rode said. “Below the treeline, the runs are risk-free of avalanches. The slopes above the treeline, where there’s a risk of avalanches, if the slope doesn’t avalanche, they’ll continue to monitor it, looking for trigger points.” Slopes are only opened once staff determine them as safe. While the scenery may be beautiful, Rode noted boundaries are in place for a reason. “If people stick to runs that are open and don’t go into areas that are closed, they’re safe,” Rode said. With avalanche control, there are temporary closures, but there are other areas around the mountain, outside the ski area boundaries, that are permanently closed. “We don’t patrol those areas,” Rode said. “Some areas are closed because they’re caribou closures. It’s illegal to be in that area.” Rode warned the public not to duck under any ropes or enter these closed areas. “Not only are you putting yourself in danger and the ski patrol team in danger, you’ve established a trail that other people may follow,” he added. Rode said people went outside the boundaries twice this year so far. “We sent a ski patrol in,” he said. “They knew where (they) were going, and that they’d have difficulty going through a particular area.” Wearing snowshoes themselves, the team brought in a pair of snowshoes for the wanderer to wear out. “Often, a person will report to ski patrol that one of their buddies ducked under,” he said. “That’s typically what happens. Invariably, we can determine where they’ve gone.” Rode recalled there have been incidents where it’s dark before people get back to safety, such as one incident a few years ago where a male didn’t get out until the following day. Marmot Basin is also posting a series of videos about avalanche safety at the hill this week, which can be viewed on its Facebook page. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Billionaire businessman and founder of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts is launching a new national outlet to deliver news “without opinion or bias,” a spokesperson said on Tuesday. The news of the venture was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald https://omaha.com/business/local/joe-ricketts-is-launching-a-national-news-outlet-based-in-omaha/article_117fe584-55e5-11eb-9f6b-9349abea2fd7.html, which describes Joe Ricketts as a leading funder of national conservative causes. The Center for Responsive Politics has listed him as a Republican megadonor.