CBRE earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Two COVID-19 outbreaks have been confirmed at separate Toronto police facilities, according to a statement Tuesday night, but police say there has been no impact "to date" on their service to the community. Over the past two weeks, Toronto Police Services said they've been battling outbreaks at 31 Division in North York and the Toronto Police College in Etobicoke. In an emailed statement, police said they are making extensive contact tracing a priority to ensure members get tested, self-isolate and self-monitor. "At 31 Division, resources from other areas of the city have been assigned to assist with calls for service. To date, there has been no impact on our ability to provide front-line policing to the community," Toronto Police Const. Laura Brabant said in a statement. There's been no confirmation of the number of positive cases at each facility. At the college, police said in-person training has been suspended and they are offering virtual training where possible. In the statement, police said both locations have undergone "multiple cleanings and thorough disinfections." Safety measures have been implemented to stop the spread of the virus, including self-screening by every member before duty and wearing a surgical mask at all times when inside a police facility, the statement reads.
Resupplying Fort Chipewyan with enough fuel and supplies for the next year has quickened. This past Sunday, drivers were told the winter road linking the community to Fort McMurray could now support up to 27,500 kilograms, allowing more fuel and cargo shipments to travel more than 220 kilometres north. But the window of safe travel on the winter road, which includes four ice crossings, has become increasingly short. After seeing late starts and temporary closures this winter and last, community leaders are again arguing for a permanent road. “It’s time to talk about road options and what these transportation problems are causing,” said Chief Peter Powder of the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN). “We’ve had shorter and shorter times of the road being open to heavy loads that we need for transporting materials to build schools or homes.” Usually, the winter road opens shortly before Christmas and trucks full of enough gasoline, diesel and non-perishable food to make it until next winter journey north. The impacts of this can be seen at Fort Chipewyan's grocery stores. Before the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) opened a community grocery store, the K’ai Tailé Market, in 2018, the Northern was the community's only grocery store. A four-litre jug of milk cost up to $16 until the new store opened, where food costs roughly halved thanks to subsidies and support from the First Nation. But getting fresh food into the community is still expensive. People complain that the food quality is questionable at the Northern, which is not subsidized. “It’s really hard to transport goods,” said Powder. “If you can’t get things in on the winter road, you have to wait for summer for the barge because it’s expensive to fly things in.” Until recently, the winter road opens when river ice is thick enough to support a small truck or car. As winter gets colder, this limit increases to 45,000 kilograms. At around 15,000 kilograms, small trucks carry up to five million litres of fuel to Fort Chipewyan's power plant. Another 400 truckloads of supplies and food keep the hamlet stocked. But the past 20 years has seen this timeline shrink, particularly during the last five years. The road has been open for fewer than 100 days since the 2016-17 season. Warm weather has caused the road to temporarily close in 2005-06, 2006-07 and in 2008-09. In 1998, ice crossings were too weak to support any traffic. Adjusted for inflation, the province spent $1.5 million for cargo planes to deliver food, oil and gasoline. Another airlift would have been needed last year if a crew was unable to strengthen an ice road crossing at the Des Rochers River. "It's always a concern when the winter road goes out in Fort Chip," said Chief Allan Adam of ACFN. Adam said warm weather is just one hurdle facing the community. The release of water from the Bennett Dam in northeastern B.C. floods the Peace-Athabasca Delta and makes it harder to build the winter road. “That was the cause of what happened here last winter. It was because of high water,” said Adam. “The warm weather didn’t help either, but we had a hell of a time to get our winter road in and the same thing happened this year.” Adam has discussed an all-season road with the municipality, which has been supportive in the past. As recently as 2018, council asked the provincial government to study the idea. Talks quickly die down after engineering and building costs are raised, but Fort Chipewyan's leadership are still pressing for its construction. “Those are the factors that plague us and if we don’t do anything about them, they will continue to happen,” said Adam. Kendrick Cardinal, president of the Fort Chipewyan Métis Local #125, believes relationships with industry will keep the hamlet sustained through future winter road problems, but a permanent road would help with living costs. “I really think that if the road was to stay closed forever, our people will still live their daily lives,” said Cardinal. “Of course, the winter road does bring in fresh foods and fuel but we’re turning to solar power and soon we wouldn’t have to really worry about fuel.” Some people active in trapping, hunting and foraging would prefer Fort Chipewyan limit outside travellers, said Powder. There are also environmental concerns about building a permanent road through the delta south of the community. “I see both sides. Protecting the land is one of the biggest things, but I also see the part where the younger generation wants to build houses and a new band office," said Powder. “All these things require us to maneuver around the winter road schedule.” -With files from Laura Beamish and Vincent McDermott email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
New laws are on the horizon for Canada’s aquaculture industry, but environmentalists are wary the proposed legislation might not be enough to protect the country’s oceans. Canada’s $1.2-billion aquaculture industry is now regulated under a patchwork of federal and provincial laws and regulations. Confusion over that regulatory maze has fuelled a years-long effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to develop aquaculture-specific legislation. The new laws would update rules on everything from licensing to the industry’s environmental impact. “We have concerns around the act that (with) the direction it is going, it may actually exempt or replace or undermine some of the other legislative protections around wild fish biodiversity,” said Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Currently, the Fisheries Act contains strong provisions aimed at protecting wild fish and wild fish habitat. Largely developed in the Trudeau government’s early years — an effort to restore protections gutted by former prime minister Stephen Harper — the rules established rigorous habitat protections, Proboszcz said. But he’s worried the proposed aquaculture laws could exempt fish farms from some of these protections. Of greatest concern to Proboszcz and other advocates are open-pen salmon farms, the largest industry in Canada’s aquaculture sector. In use on both coasts, open-pen nets pose a risk to wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon largely because the farms risk exposing wild populations to pests and disease. For instance, a 2012 report by Justice Bruce Cohen found that fish farms along salmon migration routes on the B.C. coast were contributing to the rapid decline of Fraser River salmon. Almost a decade later, in 2020 — and months after the river saw historically low returns — DFO decided to remove open-pen fish farms from the species' key migration route. Environmentalists in both the Atlantic provinces and B.C. have also been concerned for years about the farms’ impact on surrounding ecosystems because excrement, excess feed, and other waste leach beyond the floating pens — despite environmental protections under the Fisheries Act. “The open-pen salmon farming industry is in part governed by the protections of the Fisheries Act,” said Proboszcz. “We think that’s the way it should stay — we spent … years revising the Fisheries Act to protect habitats, to protect wild fish, and we don’t want to see an aquaculture act come in that amends those protections.” In a statement, DFO said the proposed act “would be derived from relevant sections of the Fisheries Act” and “would clearly and appropriately prohibit specific harmful activities … by maintaining the environmental prohibition currently found under the Fisheries Act.” But in a January letter, Watershed Watch and a coalition of other environmental organizations noted that less-stringent provincial aquaculture laws could leave open a loophole to these protections. The Atlantic provinces have some jurisdiction over aquaculture in their waters thanks to agreements between the federal and provincial governments. “The super obvious (concern) is that there doesn’t appear to be any requirement for a national standard of regulation,” said Simon Ryder-Burbidge, marine conservation officer with the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre. “In the course of developing a federal act, you would want to mandate some kind of national standards for the protections of ecosystems at the federal level,” but the proposed act would keep the current system — where jurisdiction over fish farms is split between the federal and provincial governments — intact. “The proposed (aquaculture) act will not impede on existing areas of provincial jurisdiction,” DFO confirmed in a statement. Those aren’t Ryder-Burbidge and Proboszcz's only worries, however. Both noted that DFO’s dual responsibility to regulate and promote Canada’s aquaculture industry is a significant conflict of interest that shouldn’t be enshrined in the planned law. “We do not want to see any sort of legislation or regulation that facilitates the government’s promotion of aquaculture as an industry,” said Proboszcz. Similar concerns have been raised for years: Justice Cohen noted it in the 2012 Cohen report on Fraser River sockeye. More recently, Chief Don Tom, vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, noted the issue was central to controversy around fish farms in B.C.’s Discovery Islands. In response, the ministry said it is “committed to the conservation of wild salmon stocks” and aims to create an act that “provides greater clarity for the sector’s management and helps further enhance environmental protections.” Still, Ryder-Burbidge remains concerned. “At the end of the day, the protection of marine species falls at the foot of the federal government. We want to see them step up and take action to protect wild … salmon and other species,” he said. Marc Fawcett-Atkinson/Local Journalism Initiative/Canada's National Observer Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The architect of Australia's laws forcing Google and Facebook to pay media companies for content claimed victory on Wednesday, though critics said last-minute changes to appease Facebook favoured Big Tech over smaller news outlets. After tense negotiations prompted Facebook to cut off news in the country last week, Australia offered a host of technical concessions and the social media giant said it would restore news as the revamped bill looked set to become law this week. While Facebook said its concerns had been met and opposition lawmakers warned that smaller media players may be overlooked, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Rod Sims said the bargaining power imbalance had been righted.
Des jeunes immigrants afro-descendants, appellent à une meilleure éducation de la société sur les cultures africaines. Une méconnaissance généralisée de l’Afrique nourrit les préjugés et le racisme que peuvent rencontrer les personnes noires au Québec et ailleurs au pays, selon de jeunes immigrants afro-descendants, qui appellent à une meilleure éducation de la population sur les cultures africaines. Du haut de ses 12 ans, Béni Tévi souhaite vivre « dans un monde sans violence, où tous les gens seraient respectés sur un même pied d’égalité ». À ses yeux, il ne fait aucun doute que la diversité est une « richesse » qui rend « la vie plus intéressante ». Ce jeune Rimouskois, originaire du Togo, est l’un des quatre adolescents afro-descendants ayant participé, le 20 février dernier, au forum « Bâtir et grandir ensemble », organisé par le Cabaret de la Diversité. Béni agit à titre d’ambassadeur jeunesse pour cet organisme du Bas-Saint-Laurent depuis 2019. Animé par la Camerounaise Wanda Jemly, le forum ayant pris la forme d’une discussion ouverte a donné aux jeunes élèves présents l’occasion d’échanger à propos des idées reçues sur les Noirs et de proposer des solutions pour améliorer l’inclusion et favoriser les rapprochements interculturels. « On ne peut pas vivre ensemble si on ne se connaît pas », fait valoir en entrevue Lenine Nankassa Boucal, fondateur du Cabaret de la Diversité. « Il faut avoir l’humilité d’écouter, d’apprendre et de grandir avec nos enfants, pour bâtir le monde de demain d’amour, de paix, de tolérance et de mieux vivre ensemble », insiste celui qui est également porte-parole du Mois de l’Histoire des Noirs Bas-Saint-Laurent. « Nous avons le devoir de léguer un monde meilleur à nos enfants, mais le monde qu’on laissera sera tributaire de nos actes aujourd’hui. » Discutant d’abord d’identité, les jeunes étudiants ont déploré être souvent « mis dans une même case ». « Quand je dis aux gens que je viens du Togo, ils pensent que je dis Congo. Ça me dérange un peu que les gens pensent que tous les Africains viennent du Congo », a confié Béni, qui est arrivé au Québec en 2016, à l’âge de 9 ans. « Il y a une très grande diversité de cultures en Afrique, mais souvent, les gens ne prennent pas en considération les autres pays », a souligné pour sa part Marylou Djida, une Camerounaise de 14 ans née en Italie et vivant aujourd’hui à Vancouver. Confortablement assis dans son salon à Gatineau, Sébastien Cimpaye, 13 ans, a indiqué que les gens gagneraient à s’intéresser davantage aux cultures africaines. « Ce sont des cultures très riches. C’est un peu triste quand tu parles d’un pays et que les gens n’ont pas l’air de savoir où c’est. Les gens me demandent parfois si je peux leur apprendre “l’africain”, comme s’il y avait une seule langue en Afrique », a ajouté le Québécois d’origine rwando-burundaise. « Comment pourrait-on faire pour que cela change ? » a demandé l’animatrice aux jeunes. Béni s’est empressé de répondre « qu’il faudrait parler davantage des pays africains et asiatiques et montrer leur culture à travers des expositions. » Le Suisse d’origine camerounaise, Joaron Zufferey, a renchéri en proposant d’enseigner aux jeunes enfants qu’il y a 54 pays en Afrique, avant même leur arrivée sur les bancs d’école. « On pourrait leur montrer à travers des livres ou des jeux de société qu’il y a d’autres pays que le Congo, le Cameroun et le Nigeria », a précisé le résident de Vancouver âgé de 12 ans, mordu de lecture et de science. Marylou a suggéré pour sa part l’apprentissage à travers des exposés en équipe devant la classe. « Quand on nous parle de l’Afrique à l’école, on parle de guerre et d’esclavage. Je trouve qu’on pourrait parler un peu plus de culture », a-t-elle exprimé, esquissant son sourire discret. Quant à lui, Sébastien a proposé d’utiliser des mythes et des contes pour en apprendre davantage sur les pays de l’Afrique. « Dans nos cours de géographie, il y a toujours plein d’histoires pour nous aider à nous souvenir de chaque pays d’Europe, mais quand on parle de l’Afrique, on n’a pas ça. Un cours de géographie, je m’en souviens plus ou moins, mais une histoire, ça reste dans ma tête ! » a dit le jeune homme. « Une fois, dans ma classe, quelqu’un a dit le mot “race” et la professeure lui a dit qu’il ne fallait pas dire ça », a par ailleurs raconté la jeune Marylou Djida, disant ne pas toujours comprendre le malaise et l’hésitation des gens à l’égard de l’utilisation des mots « race » et « noir ». « Je crois que le problème n’est pas dans le mot, mais plutôt dans son utilisation négative envers quelqu’un », a-t-elle jugé. Parlant de son expérience en tant que métis suisse-camerounais, Joaron a expliqué : « Il y a plus que des Blancs et des Noirs. Quand j’étais au Cameroun, on me disait que j’étais blanc et je leur disais que j’étais aussi noir. Et ici au Canada, c’est l’inverse », a-t-il confié. « Le mot noir est un peu tabou, car les gens “non noirs” ont peur de nous déranger ou de nous blesser en le disant, mais c’est plutôt la connotation du mot qui dérange », a souligné Béni. « Quand les gens veulent décrire une personne noire, ils essaient de trouver un autre terme ou adjectif, alors que ce serait plus simple de dire le mot noir, a observé de son côté Sébastien Cimpaye, de Gatineau. Les gens craignent qu’on pense qu’ils sont racistes, tout ça devient compliqué. » À ses yeux, « il faut vivre et laisser vivre, mais essayer d’être empathique et se mettre à la place de l’autre pour comprendre ce qu’il peut ressentir. » Tout simplement. Le panel jeunesse « Bâtir et grandir ensemble » a été présenté dans le cadre du Mois de l’Histoire des Noirs, en collaboration avec Afrika21, le Conseil de la Communauté noire de Gatineau (CCNG) et Kacodiar. Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
Stephanie Connell never grew out of her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. While the 29-year-old student has a long way to go before venturing into outer space, she came one step closer last week — when the Perseverance rover landed on Mars. “I was watching it from my living room, on my laptop … sweating,” she recalls of the moments Thursday, leading up to the successful spacecraft parachute. Connell, a fourth-year environmental sciences student, is part of the University of Winnipeg team at the Centre for Terrestrial and Planetary Exploration involved with NASA’s latest probe. “If you would’ve told eight-year-old Steph I’d be doing this, I would be ecstatic,” she said. Led by centre director Ed Cloutis, the Winnipeg team is working with international scientists who are scanning the Red Planet’s surface geology for signs of life to record findings during the expedition. Last week’s landing was eight years in the making for Cloutis, who has been supporting the development of the rover’s cameras since 2013. He recruited students to take part in the latest project in the summertime, at which point, Connell and Nathalie Turenne began to train for Mars exploration through shadowing experts in pre-mission operations. “This is a very high-profile mission and I’m proud of the fact we can contribute,” said Cloutis, a geography professor at U of W. Throughout his quarter-century of doing planetary exploration work, Cloutis has been a part of five missions, including Curiosity, in which a rover landed on Mars in 2012. He got involved with Perseverance after NASA scientists inquired about his interest in the project, given U of W’s unique facilities and expertise to support missions to Mars. The Centre for Terrestrial and Planetary Exploration is home to a chamber that can mimic the surface of Mars, in terms of atmospheric pressure, temperature and its carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. Before Perseverance launched, Cloutis’ team used the dishwasher-sized device to test calibration targets — equipment that was mounted onto the rover to help cameras collect images and scientific data — to ensure the pictures taken on Mars are in true colour. Two rock samples from the Winnipeg lab’s collection were also installed on the rover as part of its SuperCam instrument’s calibration pane, Cloutis said. Now that Perseverance has landed, the team is supporting the search for signs of life by taking part in “rover shifts.” Turenne, a recent U of W graduate who wants to pursue a thesis involving planetary science, had her second shift as a documentarian late Monday night, when it was daytime on Mars. The 25-year-old observed a panorama taken by cameras aboard the rover and took notes about what the mission’s science support team learned from the imagery. “It’s incredible seeing images,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to just be in awe.” When asked whether he suspects there were once living creatures on Mars, Cloutis said his answer to the question changes daily. “But if we’re going to find signs of life on Mars, they will be signs of past, microbial life.” NASA plans to explore the rover’s landing site in the Jezero Crater region for at least one Mars year, which is the equivalent of two years on Earth. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
All Albertans who are 75 and older can book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting tomorrow. In her Tuesday update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta Health has increased staffing at Health Link to prepare for the large wave of expected appointment bookings. “This is a massive expansion for our province and big step forward,” said Hinshaw. “However, unlike our yearly influenza campaigns, we do not have large stockpiles of the vaccines ready to go province-wide.” Anyone at least 75 and living in a licensed supportive living facility do not need to book a vaccine appointment as Alberta Health Services (AHS) is already arranging appointments. All immunizations are being administered through appointment only. There will be no walk-in opportunities. Vaccine appointments will be booked daily between 8:20 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. Hours will be extended as more vaccines arrive in Alberta. “For many folks, I know it will feel like you have been waiting a very long time for the vaccine and you are keen to get a first dose as soon as possible,” said Hinshaw. “For those who try to book after all initial appointments have been filled up, remember that new appointments will be made available as more vaccine arrives.” With the doses the province is expected to receive, Hinshaw said all seniors who want a vaccine can receive their first dose by the end of March. Each vaccine site is operated by trained medical professionals with appropriate personal protective equipment. Physical distancing and other measures are in place to limit exposure. For seniors with no transportation to vaccine sites, Hinshaw asked family and friends to help. Seniors can also call 211 for help. “It will take time to immunize all our eligible seniors and there will likely be a few hiccups along the way as we continue expanding,” said Hinshaw. “By continuing to vaccinate those at greatest risk of severe outcomes, we are protecting thousands of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, neighbours, friends and community members who are most vulnerable to this virus.” Information on how to book a vaccine can be found here. firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
VANCOUVER — Dominik Kahun scored twice Tuesday as the Edmonton Oilers clawed out a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver (8-13-2) had a 3-0 lead late in the first period, thanks to goals from Bo Horvat, Tyler Myers and Elias Pettersson. Kahun sparked the comeback for Edmonton (13-8-0) with goals late in the first and early in the third. Connor McDavid buried a power-play tally to tie the game, and Tyler Ennis scored to seal the win. Leon Draisaitl registered three assists. Edmonton’s Mike Smith had 30 saves, while Thatcher Demko stopped 25-of-29 shots for Vancouver (8-13-2). The victory extends Edmonton's win streak to four games. It was another disappointing result for the Canucks, who have just two wins in their last 12 games. Ennis broke a 3-3 deadlock 13:25 into the third period. Stationed at the side of the net, he took a puck that had bounced off his shin and tipped it in behind Demko. McDavid knotted the score with a power-play tally 4:23 into the third. Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler had been sent to the box for tripping just nine seconds earlier. When Demko dove to make a stop, McDavid was quick to capitalize, popping a shot in over the sprawled-out netminder from the side of the net. Edmonton had already cut Vancouver's lead to a single goal less than a minute into the third when Kahun's shot from the face-off dot sailed in over Demko's glove. It was the Czech forward's second goal of the night and fourth of the season. After a slow start to the game, the Oilers came close to whittling away the Canucks lead in the second frame. Draisaitl unleashed a blast that tested Demko mightily four minutes in. The goalie hugged his post tightly to ensure an errant puck didn't sneak through, not letting up until the whistle sounded. Near the end of the frame, McDavid fired a shot off the cross bar. Play continued for a few moments before officials decided to check the play to see whether the puck had, in fact, gone into the Vancouver net before bouncing back out. A video review confirmed there was no goal. Vancouver started the scoring race just 1:06 into Tuesday's game. Horvat sprinted down the boards and fired a sharp-angle shot from near the goal line. The puck slid under Smith's pads and into the net to the goaltender's apparent disbelief. Myers extended Vancouver's lead seven minutes later with a blast from the top of the face-off circle. His shot ticked off the stick of Edmonton's Tyler Ennis and sailed in over Smith's shoulder to put the Canucks up 2-0. A scramble in front of the Oilers net ended with another Vancouver goal midway through the first. Canucks defenceman Jordie Benn sent the puck to the front of the net and, through a crowd of sticks, Miller was able to deflect it back to Pettersson at the top of the crease. Falling to the ice, the Swedish centre batted a backhanded shot past Smith. It was Vancouver's third goal, coming on its ninth shot of the night. Edmonton responded just before the first intermission. Kahun got a shot off from low in the face-off circle and Demko appeared to make the stop. But the Canucks netminder couldn't hold on to the puck, which dribbled out from under his arm and into the net. The Oilers and Canucks will face each other again in Vancouver on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
Taiwan chipmakers are buying water by the truckload for some of their foundries as the island widens restrictions on water supply amid a drought that could exacerbate a chip supply crunch for the global auto industry. Some auto makers have already been forced to trim production, and Taiwan had received requests for help to bridge the shortage of auto chips from countries including the United States and Germany. Taiwan, a key hub in the global technology supply chain for giants such as Apple Inc, will begin on Thursday to further reduce water supply for factories in central and southern cities where major science parks are located.
WASHINGTON — Missed intelligence was to blame for the outmanned Capitol defenders' failure to anticipate the violent mob that invaded the iconic building and halted certification of the presidential election on Jan. 6, the officials who were in charge of security that day said in their first public testimony on the insurrection. The officials, including the former chief of the Capitol Police, pointed their fingers at various federal agencies — and each other — for their failure to defend the building as supporters of then-President Donald Trump overwhelmed security barriers, broke windows and doors and sent lawmakers fleeing from the House and Senate chambers. Five people died as a result of the riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to enter the House chamber with lawmakers still inside. Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned under pressure immediately after the attack, and the other officials said Tuesday they had expected the protests to be similar to two pro-Trump events in late 2020 that were far less violent. Sund said he hadn’t seen an FBI field office report that warned of potential violence citing online posts about a “war." Sund described a scene as the mob arrived at the perimeter that was “like nothing” he had seen in his 30 years of policing and argued that the insurrection was not the result of poor planning by Capitol Police but of failures across the board. “No single civilian law enforcement agency – and certainly not the USCP – is trained and equipped to repel, without significant military or other law enforcement assistance, an insurrection of thousands of armed, violent, and co-ordinated individuals focused on breaching a building at all costs,” he testified. The hearing was the first of many examinations of what happened that day, coming almost seven weeks after the attack and over a week after the Senate voted to acquit Trump of inciting the insurrection by telling his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat. Fencing and National Guard troops still surround the Capitol in a wide perimeter, cutting off streets and sidewalks that are normally full of cars, pedestrians and tourists. The joint hearing, part of an investigation by two Senate committees, was the first time the officials testified publicly about the events of Jan. 6. In addition to Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, testified. Irving and Stenger also resigned under pressure immediately after the deadly attack. They were Sund’s supervisors and in charge of security for the House and Senate. “We must have the facts, and the answers are in this room," Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar said at the beginning of the hearing. The Rules panel is conducting the joint probe with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Even after the hearing, much still remains unknown about what happened before and during the assault. How much did law enforcement agencies know about plans for violence that day, many of which were public? And how could the Capitol Police have been so ill-prepared for a violent insurrection that was organized online? Sund told the lawmakers that he didn't know then that his officers had received a report from the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, that forecast, in detail, the chances that extremists could bring “war” to Washington the following day. The head of the FBI’s office in Washington has said that once he received the Jan. 5 warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through a joint terrorism task force. Sund said Tuesday that an officer on the task force had received that memo and forwarded it to a sergeant working on intelligence for the Capitol Police but that the information was not sent on to other supervisors. “How could you not get that vital intelligence?” asked Senate Homeland Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., who said the failure of the report to reach the chief was clearly a major problem. “That information would have been helpful,” Sund acknowledged. Even without the intelligence, there were clear signs that violence was a possibility on Jan. 6. Far-right social media users openly hinted for weeks that chaos would erupt at the U.S. Capitol while Congress convened to certify the election results. Sund said he did see an intelligence report created within his own department warning that Congress could be targeted on Jan. 6. But he said that report assessed the probability of civil disobedience or arrests, based on the information they had, as “remote” to “improbable” for the groups expected to demonstrate. Contee, the acting city police chief, also suggested that no one had flagged the FBI information from Norfolk, Virginia, which he said came in the form of an email. He said he would have expected that kind of intelligence “would warrant a phone call or something. ” Sund and Irving disagreed on when the National Guard was called and on requests for the guard beforehand. Sund said he spoke to both Stenger and Irving about requesting the National Guard in the days before the riot, and that Irving said he was concerned about the “optics” of having them present. Irving denied that, saying Sund's account was “categorically false." “We all agreed the intelligence did not support the troops and collectively decided to let it go,” Stenger said. After smashing through the barriers at the perimeter, the invaders engaged in hand-to-hand combat with police officers, injuring dozens of them, and broke into the building. Once the violence had begun, Sund and Irving also disagreed on when the National Guard was requested — Sund said he requested it at 1:09 p.m., but Irving denied receiving a call at that time. Contee said he was “stunned” over the delayed response. He said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Police officers “were out there literally fighting for their lives” but the officials appeared to be going through a ”check the boxes” exercise, he said. Pentagon officials, who will be invited to testify before the committee at a second hearing next week, have said it took time to put the troops in position, and there was not enough contingency planning in advance. They said they offered the assistance beforehand but were turned down. Klobuchar said after the hearing that the next police chief should have greater ability to make decisions both leading up to and during a crisis, and the Rules panel could consider such legislation once the investigation is completed. The current structure “clearly needs some reform,” she said. The hearing Tuesday was the first of several this week examining what went wrong Jan. 6. A House subcommittee will examine damage to the Capitol on Wednesday and will hear testimony from current security officials, including Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, on Thursday. Next week, the Senate panels will invite officials from the Pentagon, FBI and Homeland Security Department. In prepared testimony released ahead of the hearing on damage to the Capitol, Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton and the curator of the House of Representatives, Farar Elliott, describe damage to statues and paintings and quick thinking by staff as the rioting was underway — including one aide who secured the House’s 1819 silver inkstand, the oldest object in the chamber. Congress is also considering a bipartisan, independent commission, and multiple congressional committees have said they will look at different aspects of the siege. Federal law enforcement has arrested more than 230 people who were accused of being involved in the attack, and attorney general nominee Merrick Garland said in his confirmation hearing Monday that investigating the riot would be a priority. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report. Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Balsamo And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
(Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit) The Ontario government is in talks with the city and neighbourhood groups over the fate of the Dominion Foundries heritage site in the West Don Lands. A court date set for Friday on the issue has been adjourned. The case had been scheduled to be heard by a three-judge panel in Ontario Divisional Court. All parties involved in the case agreed to have the court date adjourned in the hopes of negotiating a settlement. The Dominion Wheel and Foundries Ltd. Manufacturing Complex, located at 153 to 185 Eastern Ave., is at the centre of a fight between the province, local residents and the city. The site is provincially owned. Community members have been fighting to stop the province from demolishing four industrial heritage buildings on the site. One building is already damaged by a demolition crew. The St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association had filed an application for an injunction to halt the demolition. Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, said on Tuesday the province had asked for the adjournment. She said the city agreed to see if both parties could reach a settlement out of court, adding the city will only drop the case for good if the province agrees to all the conditions set out by city lawyers. In an email on Tuesday, the Ontario municipal affairs and housing ministry said it has sent invitations for virtual talks to the West Don Lands Committee, the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and the Corktown Residents and Business Association. "These meetings will be taking place shortly," Stephanie Bellotto, press secretary for Steve Clark, municipal affairs and housing minister, said in the email. Bellotto said the ministry has encouraged the neighbourhood groups to bring members of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA) to the talks. The group has proposed to "regenerate" the buildings as a place for musicians to work and perform and as a community hub for Corktown. "As the government has been clear, the Heritage Impact Assessment for the site determined that it requires demolition to allow for environmental remediation," Bellotto said. "The government is seeking feedback from stakeholders, residents' groups and the public on how some elements of the existing structures could inform any future development, following the completion of environmental remediation." Community members have been fighting to stop the province from demolishing four industrial heritage buildings on the site. One building is already damaged by a demolition crew. Wong-Tam said the city presented the province with a list of conditions for the talks. She said the province must agree to comply with the Ontario Heritage Act and Subdivisions Agreement, to follow its own provincial policies on heritage properties, and to hold meaningful consultations with the community to ensure local residents can work together with the province on the redevelopment of the site. If the province fails to do so, the court action will resume, she said. "We're not going to let the province off the hook, per se, meaning that we're going to drop the case, but we're going to engage with them right now and try to get all the things we would have gotten hopefully through a court hearing, without having to go through the court hearing," Wong-Tam said. The city solicitor is drafting potential minutes of settlement in consultation with city planning and heritage staff, she said. Then the city will give the minutes of settlement to the province for it to consider. "We aim to secure FULL compliance with the Ontario Heritage Act, the Subdivision Agreement and to have the Province address all of our issues. If this happens, then the court hearing will no longer be necessary," Wong-Tam said on Twitter. "If the Province is not agreeable to what the City believes are appropriate terms, including the nature of public consultation, there will be no settlement. We will then seek a new court hearing date." This Heritage Toronto plaque contains historical information about the Dominion Wheel and Foundries Ltd. Manufacturing Complex. Suzanne Kavanagh, chair of the development committee of the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and a member of Friends of the Foundry, said the province needs to consult with the community. "I think what we want out of this whole process is to have a discussion with the province about this particular site," she said. "We want to make sure they are following due process. What we are concerned about is that they have followed due process and that they are following their own rules and regulations as far as disposal of public lands." CBC News revealed on Monday that the government reached an agreement of purchase and sale of the site last fall after months of negotiations with an unnamed buyer. The government has said the site has not been sold but refuses to say why there have been no open call for bids on the property. On Monday, Steve Clark, Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, said the province is now interested in consulting the community on the matter. "The site hasn't been sold," Clark told reporters. "Now, our focus is different. Our focus is ensuring that there is consultation on that site." The ministry has set up online public consultation on the government's website and it is open until March 4.
Premier Scott Moe and VIDO-InterVac Director Dr. Volker Gerdts made an announcement today in Regina regarding $15 million to support world-leading research in Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan has committed this new money to further support the pandemic research that is done by Vaccine and Infectious Disease (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan. Premier Moe stated, “COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of Canada being a leader in research, development and production of new vaccines. The place that should happen is right here in Saskatchewan, at VIDO-InterVac in Saskatoon.” The City of Saskatoon has already committed funding to this project as well several private donors have made significant contributions. VIDO-InterVac has requested $45 million in funding from the federal government and Premier Moe said his government has also formally written to Ottawa to support this request. The Premier stated that this funding will support VIDO’s Centre for Pandemic Research upgrade to a Level 4 containment facility. Laboratories which are rated as a Level 4 containment facility have the safety measures necessary to work safely with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. Currently, the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg is the only such facility in Canada. VIDO’s original design of the 2000 square foot lab made it possible for future enhancement to Level 4 capability. The Centre will also provide critical animal housing for multiple species and significantly reduce the time required to advance vaccine development to human clinical trials. The Premier affirmed that he has, in his discussions with his federal colleagues, received very positive responses to calls for the support of VIDO. Premier Moe was adamant that this is a good investment not only for people in Saskatchewan but also for the people of Canada. Dr. Gerdts that he as well has had numerous conversations with relevant ministries including the Prime Minister’s office and the Privy Council, of the importance of having a centre dedicated to emerging diseases here in Canada. “The investment [from the Government of Saskatchewan] will help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to protect Canadians from future emerging infectious diseases.” The Premier also shared that the Roy Romanow Lab in Regina is currently working through the process of getting accredited to test for the new variants of COVID-19 that are now being discovered in the province and he expects that process to be completed by early March. To date there are six confirmed cases of the new variants and one suspected case in the province and once that accreditation is completed the results of new variants testing will be available within a few days as opposed to a week or two as currently exists. The production facility that is being built at the University is not only being built to manufacture VIDO’s vaccine, but it will also be capable of manufacturing all the vaccines currently available except for the mRNA ones as they require some very specialized material and processes. If a facility such as the one being built ahd already existed in the province, Dr. Gerdts stated that the vaccine developed by VIDO-InterVac would have been in clinical trails six months earlier. The research and development that was carried out by VIDO was among the first in the world, but they were stymied by having to wait for outside agencies to manufacture the materials needed to progress to those critical trials. An in-house facility would have totally eliminated that lag time and we could have been vaccine developed and produced here in Canada rather than playing the waiting game that we are now. The infrastructure is already in place and the facility at the University of Saskatchewan is the largest high containment facility in Canada and to Dr. Gerdts it only makes sense that the funding should be approved so that all research and development can be done in one place where they can house the animals these new virus’ are transmitting from and give scientists the advantage they need to meet new emergent diseases head on. The Centre for Pandemic Research will give VIDO “the capacity to develop the workforce and train the talent needed for a resilient vaccine and therapeutic ecosystem in Canada.” Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
A lifelong passion has earned Timmins basketball sensation Jadyn Weltz a full scholarship with Binghamton University, a Division-1 NCAA program in upstate New York. The former O'Gorman Knight point guard, like all amateur athletes, has been unable to play any competitive games for over a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions. For the past two years, and after two standout years with the Knights, Weltz has attended St. Mary's Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton to play for the highly regarded Lincoln Prep program which operates out of the school, and is a member club of the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA). “I came here in Grade 11, and got to play my first full season here. We ended up falling short in the playoffs, which was unfortunate, but everything happened season-wise. Then our off-season was cut short, and we didn't get to build off our previous season,” said Weltz. The frustration and disappointment of the lack of game action has been sweetened considerably with the scholarship offer, which has been a lifelong dream of hers. The shutdown has forced her to revamp her training regiment. “It's been a lot of trying to be creative, and trying to come up with ways that I could still get effective training in, with everything going on. So it's been a lot of individual work, rather than team work and competition.” Weltz and her teammates are still holding out hope that some of the OSBA season can be salvaged. “It's been pushed back multiple times. They're looking to start it again somehow. Not sure what that's going to look like or if that's going to happen, but they've been talking out a way that we could get maybe a couple of games in, because the whole season has been altered,” she said. Weltz will bring a very solid resume to the Binghamton Bearcats program. She is a two-time OFSAA 'A' gold medallist with the Knights, and was invited to two Canletes Provincial High School All-Star Showcases in Toronto, which includes Ontario's best players. She represented Team Ontario's Under-15 team at the 2018 Canada Basketball National Championships in New Brunswick winning a silver medal, and was later awarded the Hazel Miner Award by Ontario Basketball, which goes to players “who uphold the finest qualities of sport in their pursuit of athletic excellence.” Weltz has also played summer ball in the Kia Nurse Elite program, and has been invited to tryouts for Team Canada. Her former coach with O'Gorman, Marcy McCarty, was ecstatic with the news of Weltz's achievement. “Pretty big. It's been a dream of hers, and we've worked behind the scenes to see that come true, so it's been nice being part of that process a little bit too. To finally see that happen for her is absolutely awesome. I can't even put into words how proud I am of her.” From her first day of high school, Weltz had a big role to fill on the Knights, as her big sister Emma had been recruited to play for Southwest Academy in London, which left the highly important starting point guard position available. “I was in Grade 9 when I got that experience of playing on the senior team. That in itself was a challenge, having to adapt to a new environment, going from Grade 8 to Grade 12 right away kind of. It was a great experience all around because we hosted OFSAA that year, and we had a lot of support from people in town,” she said. “Basketball wise, I would say it pushed me to be a leader early on in my playing career, because I was this Grade 9 playing on the Grade 12 team and I was expected to do things that maybe I didn't think I was ready for. But it taught me how to push through those uncertainties, and be a leader when I had to be, and what I had to do, and how hard I had to work in order to prove that I belonged there.” She proved much more than that, leading the Knights to the provincial championship, including a dominant performance in the finals. Although that kind of responsibility being placed on a Grade 9 is rare, particularly for a program as successful as the Knights, McCarty was more than comfortable with it. “To have her basically walk in to a starting point guard position on a senior team in Grade 9 was an easy fit for me and Cathy (Beard) as coaches. But it was big pressure, it was a big year for her.” She wasn't completely new to the coaches, as Weltz's days down the street at O'Gorman Intermediate provided her with some early experience. McCarty and Beard have been tireless promoters of the talent of local girls. “When she was in Grade 8, we really started to push these girls down south, and to travel and to really say 'hey we've got a great group of girls here who really have a passion, and that want to go places.' So we started to travel, and we brought her up to a couple of big tournaments when she was in Grade 8. So she had some experience playing for Cathy and I at that level, and we knew she could.” Weltz appreciated the responsibility. “She put a lot of trust in me early on, which really helped push me to be the vision she had of me. She put a lot of faith in me and helped me become the player that I am.” According to Weltz, McCarty deserves a tonne of credit for her development. “She knew how competitive I was, and knew how hard I wanted to work. She really influenced how I developed as a player early on, and how I play today as well.” Weltz is also a product of the Timmins Selects youth basketball program, which she played for six years, starting when was just eight years old. “I would say that definitely helped as well. I was coached by my dad, so that was obviously very motivating. A couple of my other coaches, like Jamie Lamothe, played a huge part in my success as well. They taught me the early basics of the sport, and what I needed to do in order to get to where I am today,” she said. “They guided me, and helped me a lot with decisions like coming to Lincoln Prep, and preparing me for this experience.” Considering all of the complications surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Weltz said she feels fortunate to have earned the NCAA scholarship. “It's been a different recruiting process for everyone I'd say, because normally you'd play tournaments and games, then coaches would come see you play, or you'd send game film of yourself. But right now, everything you're sending is from a year ago, and you're a completely different player usually. “It's a completely different process, having to send video of yourself just training instead of playing. I got lucky.” Her father Ted, a former Ottawa University baller himself, is proud of the achievement, especially with the challenges of recruiting over the past year. “For sure, but over the years, she's played for Team Ontario, and she's had tryouts with Team Canada, and is in the Team Canada training regimen. So between Team Ontario, Team Canada, Lincoln Prep, and her summer teams with Kia Nurse, she's been exposed over the last three or four years, and she's had a number of schools approach her, and she finally made the decision to go with Binghamton,” he said. She will officially sign in April, and is leaning towards studying business, one of Binghamton's most reputable programs. At this point, she's still uncertain of when exactly she'll be joining her new team. “Normally I would go down in early July for a month, and train with the team, and get set up at school and stuff like that, but they're not really sure how that's looking. So we'll wait and see on that, but I'm still going to be doing some individual training, and hopefully get to have my season a little bit. I really want to take this time to prepare because like everyone says, once you get to university, the level just exceeds even more. Everyone is faster, and stronger, and smarter.” McCarty is very confident that Weltz will be more than ready for the next level, like she was just a few years ago as a Grade 9 playing senior ball. “To see her develop from then, to where she is now, has been wonderful. She attacks everything head-on. She has a huge passion for the sport which just drives her to take not only herself but her team with her, and she usually does that flawlessly.” Over the next few months, Weltz is planning on putting in plenty of hours in the gym to prepare for the new atmosphere she'll be entering. With sister Emma in her second year on the varsity team at Queen's University in Kingston, she has a bit of inside information on what to expect the jump to be like. “She's told me the same thing. You think you're ready to go, and then you get there, and it's just completely different from what you're used to. You're pushed beyond your comfort zone. But she said if you work hard in the summer and you put the necessary work in, you'll succeed.” Andrew Autio is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Daily Press. LJI is a federally funded program. Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
The province reported on Tuesday that a resident of the North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, has had the B1.351 SA (South Africa) COVID-19 variant detected in their test, the individual was tested at the end of January and Public Health’s investigation is ongoing. According to Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab in a press conference on Tuesday the experience with the variants is not different from what other provinces have seen. “What it means for us is basically the variants of concern respond exactly the same as the previous COVID-19 strains,” Shahab said. He reminded people to take all of the common steps such as social distancing and other steps to reduce transmission as well as minimizing interprovincial and international travel. He explained that six per cent of all samples are screened for all variants by referring them to the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg including travel related cases, outbreaks, cases of people under 50-years-old in ICY and random samples. “That will also help us increase the portion that we can screen, it will also shorten the time it takes to get the results from one to two weeks to a few days,” Shahab said. “All of that must start once the initial test comes back positive. We shouldn’t wait for it to be diagnosed for the variants of concern for us to take further action,” he added. According to Premier Scott Moe work in under way to receive certification for the Roy Romanow Laboratory in Regina to expand to testing for variants of COVID-19. “That process does take a period of time, working with the lab in Winnipeg. That process is underway and I would expect that we would be able to identify the variants at the Roy Romanow Lab within the province of Saskatchewan sometime in early March,” Moe said. Shahab and Moe both said that the province expected to see the variant in the province. The B1.1.7 UK (United Kingdom) variant has been detected in two residents in the Regina zone. These individuals were tested at the end of January. Based on the contact investigation to date, there is no link to travel at this time but public health's investigation is ongoing. There is also a presumptive case of B1.1.7 UK in one individual in the Saskatoon zone. The individual was transferred from out of province to Saskatoon for acute care. Whole genome sequencing will need to be completed to confirm the results and health's contact investigation is ongoing. “All residents with a confirmed COVID-19 test are required to isolate to reduce the risk of transmission. If required, public health will issue a public service announcement to alert the general public to any risk due to any confirmed case of a variant of concern. The Government of Saskatchewan continues to plan for the impact of variants on COVID-19 including any required increase to public health measures and surge capacity planning,” the province’s release explained. This brings the provincial total of confirmed variant of concern cases to seven. Meanwhile, there were four deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. There were three deaths reported in the Regina zone with two in the 80 plus age group and one in the 70 to 79 age group. There was also a death reported in the 80 plus age group in the Saskatoon zone. The number of deaths in the province currently sits at 376. There were 122 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported four new cases. One additional case was added to North Central that had tested positive out of province. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 36 active cases. According to Shahab the province is in the 12th consecutive week of a consistent slow decline in numbers with a slight uptick last weekend. The overall seven day average has dropped from 16.6 on Feb. 9 to 12.7 on Feb. 23. “And our test positivity is also gradually trending down to around seven per cent right now. Similar to many other provinces we are seeing a decline but some provinces are also seeing a bit of a plateauing,” he said. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 47 active cases and North Central 3 has 19 active cases. There are currently 174 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 158 reported as receiving in patient care there are 17 in North Central. Of the 16 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 156, or 12.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 27,923 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,530 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 26,017 after 244 more recoveries were reported. The total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 27,923 of those 77,238 cases are from the North area (2,917 North West, 3,192 North Central and1,129 North East). There were 549 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 62,342. There were no doses administered in the North Central yesterday. Doses were administered in the adjacent North East zone, North West, Far North Central, Central East, Regina and Saskatoon zones. An additional 21 doses were administered in the Central East zone on Feb.17 and an additional 52 doses were administered in the South Central zone on Feb. 19. There were 1,872 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 21. As of today there have been 563,055 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
If and when a new slate of legislators is elected in Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the first orders of business might be to ensure the chaos of the past two weeks never happens again. That’s going to require changes to the Elections Act. The outbreak of the COVID-19 variant caused an emergency that no legislation was equipped to handle. No one, it seemed, had the authority to do anything substantial about the election, other than to delay the vote for a day or two. For a couple of days, the chief officers of health and elections — Dr. Janice Fitzgerald and Bruce Chaulk, respectively — tossed responsibility back and forth like a hot potato. Fitzgerald finally put her foot down after getting legal advice that her sweeping public health emergency powers did not extend to the core mechanisms of democracy itself. Chaulk, finally, pulled the plug himself. There was no precedent, no clause that gave him the authority. With poll clerks quitting all over the province and a total pandemic lockdown imminent, he just did it, indefinitely postponing the election in the St. John’s region, and then later calling it all off in favour of mail-in ballots. “Some provinces have the ability — like Nova Scotia or Ontario — if there’s an emergency or some unforeseen event, to outright cancel the election in a particular district or riding,” says Ottawa lawyer Lyle Skinner. In provinces like New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, that ability doesn’t exist. Skinner, whose specialization in parliamentary and emergency management law has made him a popular reference on Newfoundland’s current dilemma, says the lack of a sitting legislature during the election created a classic Catch-22. “The tricky part in Newfoundland right now is that there is no House of Assembly. There’s no MHAs, so they can’t fix the legislation,” he said “What’s happening right now is what could have happened in New Brunswick.” In fact, anyone who followed the New Brunswick election campaign last August would have seen there was a potential time bomb. Like Newfoundland, New Brunswick’s law gives its chief elections officer the ability to take some actions in unforeseen circumstances, but then throws a monkey wrench in the works by exempting the ability to change the hours or timing of the election. That fact was even brought up during the campaign. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth publicly proclaimed neither of them had the authority to halt or postpone an election. Poffenroth went so far to say she didn’t want to have that power. “As the chief electoral officer, I did not want the authority to determine whether an election should be paused or put on hold," she told a committee hearing. Higgs said later he had received a legal opinion informing him that he did, in fact, have the power, though the legal process was not clearly spelled out. The election went ahead in September as planned, and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey has often cited it as an example of how an election can be held during a pandemic. The potential legal pitfalls were not cited. On Jan. 21, a week after the writ was dropped in Newfoundland, Kim Poffenroth filed her report on the New Brunswick election with a series of recommendations. No. 3 on the list was, “The chief electoral officer recommends that the Elections Act be amended to provide the chief electoral officer with the authority to adapt the provisions of the act to the execution of its intent and to protect public safety in the event of a declared state of emergency, including a public health emergency.” The recommendation goes on to say the call during a pandemic, combined with a short campaign period, “created a perfect storm” for election administrators. It describes how Poffenroth had appeared before a committee to explain the hole in legislative authority during an emergency. However, she stuck with her original belief that postponing an election should not be in her purview. “The chief electoral officer should not be permitted to extend the time for filing nominations papers nor to postpone ordinary polling day,” the recommendation read. “It is the opinion of the chief electoral officer that this is not an appropriate discretionary authority to be granted to the chief electoral officer and that this authority should rest with either the Legislative Assembly or the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.” The lieutenant-governor in council is another term for cabinet. Skinner says no one is questioning whether the Newfoundland and Labrador election should have been put on ice. “The issue right now is not whether it’s the correct thing to do to postpone the election,” he said. “I think anybody can point to that now as probably being the best course of action. The issue is, with respect to the rule of law and the fact that this touches on an issue that’s so close — the democratic rights of citizens — is it appropriate for somebody to claim powers that they may not actually have.” The latter part of Poffenroth’s recommendation points to a procedure already spelled out in some jurisdictions, Skinner says. The two best examples are Manitoba and the Government of Canada. Section 52 of the Manitoba act states, “If the chief electoral officer certifies that it is impossible for any reason to close nominations on the day specified in Subsection 56(1) or to hold an election in an electoral division on the day set in the order for election, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may order that a new writ be issued and may, despite any other provision of this act, specify in that order a new closing day for nominations, or a new election day, or both.” That, says Skinner, is a two-party process. “The person who says there’s a problem is the chief electoral officer, and then it’s cabinet that says, yup, we agree with that. So the decision is coming from somebody that is appointed for their impartiality.” In the meantime, Skinner says, there are numerous avenues for anyone to challenge the Newfoundland and Labrador election as it exists now, as the legislation clearly gives no leeway to substantially extend the timeline for counting votes, as Chaulk has done. And that could be a whole new can of worms. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
In an effort to Lift Each Other Up, the preschool students and after school program participants at Little Badgers Early Learning Program and Nature School (LBELP) have been focused on learning about the Superheroes of Kindness curriculum. LBELP has spent a few weeks teaching about the importance of caring for yourself and for others in support of Pink Shirt Day (PSD). “Children have great empathy for their friends and loved ones,” said Evy Walker, LBELP early childhood educator (ECE). “While they are still learning to have gentle hands and kind words, they do understand the importance of helping their friends feel happy. Children tend to understand more than we give them credit for.” PSD is a Canadian movement that began in Nova Scotia when the charity CKNW Kid’s Fund began a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs and 980 CKNW to raise funds to support anti-bullying programs. Their team’s goal is to focus on raising awareness about bullying and creating programming that supports a health self-esteem in children. The CKNW’s PPSD website says representing hope, opportunities and the pride of LGBTQ2+ youth is especially important to the cause so that bullying in the community can be mitigated. According to CKNW Kid’s Fund, 59,000 youth were impacted by PSD funded programs in 2020. However, one in five children are affected by bullying. Annually on Feb. 24, 2021, Canadians are urged to wear a pink shirt to raise awareness about bullying or to purchase official PSD merchandise to support anti-bullying initiatives in B.C. through www.PinkShirtDay.ca or at London Drugs stores this month across Canada. However, the PSD’s official pink shirt launched for 2021 is actually not pink - it’s a white t-shirt with a pink graphic — a decision that was made with the hopes that all anti-bullying advocates could wear their shirt all year long as opposed to only on Feb. 24. “We have been learning about the importance of kindness and how small acts can make someone's day,” said Walker. “ We also have been learning about Bucket Filling and the importance of filling our friends' buckets. At the preschool level, we try to focus on the Golden rule of treating others how you like to be treated year round.” Walker anticipates ECEs at LBELP, along with all program participants, will be demonstrating the importance of caring for their neighbours on PSD this week. With PSD in mind, use the #LiftEachOtherUp all year long and continually advocate for vulnerable populations in your communities. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer
Vaccine and pandemic research in the province will be receiving a boost after the province announced that they are committing $15 million of new funding to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan. In a press conference with VIDO Director Dr. Volker Gerdts on Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe announced the funding, which is contingent on the federal government providing $45 million in funding that the province has requested. Moe explained that vaccine scarcity in the world shows the need for projects of this type adding that Canada can lead in research and development through facilities like VIDO’s proposed Centre for Pandemic Research. “This will not only serve Saskatchewan residents but it will serve all Canadians through research, development and ultimately the production of new vaccines. This would be a level 4 containment facility,” Moe said. The provincial funding commitment is contingent on the Government of Canada committing and flowing funds to the project, which has already received committed funding committed by the City of Saskatoon and significant contributions from several private donors. Moe explained that the funding would greatly enhance the facilities research and development capabilities. Currently the only level 4 facility in Canada is the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg and they have expressed support for the idea. Moe and Minister for Innovation Saskatchewan Jeremy Harrison have written and have had conversations with senior federal ministers about the proposal. “We are hopeful and quite confident that we will be able to obtain the necessary federal support for this project to go ahead,” VIDO has already begun to expand their vaccine manufacturing capabilities with a project that began in October 2020 and expected to be completed in October 2021. “Production of vaccines could then begin sometime in 2022 with the capability to produce up to 40 million vaccines per year,” Moe said. He added that the development of that project would not make a change to the current COVID-19 vaccination drive in the province where they expect Saskatchewan residents to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. “However we should be ready to produce millions of doses of vaccines to respond to any new viruses that may present or variance of the COVID-19 virus that may present in the future and respond as required,” Moe expects the province to be a leader in producing and developing vaccines for all Canadians. “We are asking the federal government and the Prime Minister to support this proposal to insure that Canada always has the ability to develop and produce our own lifesaving vaccines and to insure that the vaccine shortage that we are experiencing now at the most critical moment in our lifetime never happens again,” Moe said. Gerdts thanked the province for the commitment and called it fantastic news for VIDO and will allow them to establish their Canadian Centre for Pandemic Research. He explained that it would benefit both humans and livestock. “It will help us to prepare and be better prepared for future emerging diseases both affecting humans and animals and it will build on existing infrastructure that we already have at the University of Saskatchewan,” Gerdts said. VIDO is already home to the countries largest high containment laboratory and soon will have vaccine manufacturing capabilities. Gerdts explained that the existing elements are critical to rapidly responding to new and emerging diseases. “What today’s announcement and hopefully the commitment from the federal government will allow us to do is to now build on that existing infrastructure and leverage those previous investments to upgrade our containment abilities to the highest level,” Gerdts said. They will also allow the organization to build a new animal facility to work with animals that new diseases emerge from. Gerdts explained VIDO’s track record as the first to isolate the COVID-19 virus and an animal model to test vaccines. “We are now also the first university lab to actually have a vaccine in clinical trials, our trials are ongoing right now, we are in phase one and phase two trials and we are looking forward to taking our vaccine into development as that is possible,” Gerdts said. The province’s commitment will support VIDO’s Centre for Pandemic Research, which will include an upgrade to Level 4 containment facilities. Containment Level 4 laboratories provide the capability to work safely with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases “Today’s announcement is really a great honour for us and great for the organization and we are looking forward to the federal government to come up with the $45 million that we have asked for plus some operating funding,” Gerdts said. According to Gerdts, VIDO is already doing research on emerging variants with the UK variant already being worked on in their facility. He explained that they are testing if their vaccine and other Canadian vaccines are effective against the variants and have adjusted their own vaccine to the variant so in the future it will be more effective. VIDO was originally designed and built to accommodate the possible future enhancement to Level 4 containment capability. This includes 2000 square feet of existing lab space that can be readily upgraded to meet Level 4 containment requirements The Centre will also provide critical animal housing for multiple species and significantly reduce the time required to advance vaccine development to human clinical trials. In addition, this Centre for Pandemic Research gives VIDO the capacity to develop the workforce and train the talent needed for a strong vaccine and therapeutic ecosystem in Canada. Since the beginning of the pandemic the province has provided VIDO-InterVac with additional funding of $4.2 million to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and construct a new small-scale manufacturing facility to be completed later this year. This funding is in addition to annual operations funding of $3.8 million in 2019-20 and $4.1 million in 2020-21. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Did you notice anything different about the Super Bowl this year? Not Tom Brady winning – that is nothing new – but the record number of women involved in the big game, from coaches to trainers to officials to operations staff. Turns out there is a quarterback behind that drive: Sam Rapoport.
PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota House lawmakers on Tuesday began impeachment proceedings against the state’s attorney general, who is facing misdemeanour charges for striking and killing a man with his car and is already under pressure to resign. A bipartisan group of lawmakers filed a resolution in the House to impeach the state’s top law enforcement officer, Jason Ravnsborg, after he indicated Monday he would not heed calls for his resignation. The Republican attorney general faces three misdemeanour charges but no felonies in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Lawmakers argued in the impeachment resolution that Ravnsborg should be removed from office for “his crimes or misdemeanours in office causing the death" of Boever. The resolution also stated that Ravnsborg’s conduct following the crash was “unbecoming” and his “statements and actions failed to meet the standard” of his office. “When we started looking through and thinking about the duties that the attorney general owes to the people of South Dakota, and I think he owes a special duty to protect the people and uphold the laws. And I think that the actions in these incidents fell short of that duty,” said Rep. Will Mortensen, who represents the area where the crash occurred and who sponsored the impeachment resolution. Shortly before the impeachment resolution was filed, Gov. Kristi Noem called for him to step down. The governor's spokesman Ian Fury said she also supports the impeachment resolution. “Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign,” Noem said in a statement. But Ravnsborg's will not be stepping down, according to spokesman Mike Deaver. “As an attorney and a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves, AG Ravnsborg has fought for the rule of law and personal liberties and would hope that he is afforded the same right and courtesy,” Deaver said in a statement. While Ravnsborg has not been convicted of any crimes, Mortensen said he felt it was the "right time” to begin impeachment after looking through the publicly available evidence and prosecutors announced their charging decision. It would take a simple majority in the House to advance the impeachment charges to the Senate. There, it would require two-thirds of senators to convict and remove him from office. State law requires senators to wait 20 days from when the attorney general receives a copy of the impeachment charges before beginning the trial. Noem would get to appoint a replacement if Ravnsborg leaves or is removed from office. The attorney general, who was elected to his first term in 2018, was driving home to Pierre from a Republican fundraiser late on Sept. 12 when he struck and killed Boever, who was walking on the shoulder of the highway. Ravnsborg initially told authorities that he thought he had struck a deer or another large animal and said he searched the unlit area with a cellphone flashlight. He said he didn’t realize he had killed a man until the next day when he returned to the accident scene. After an investigation that stretched over five months, prosecutors said they still had questions about the crash but were unable to file more serious criminal charges against Ravnsborg. They charged him with careless driving, driving out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone. Prosecutors found he was not using his phone at the time of the crash, but had been using it while driving about one minute before. The attorney general could face up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine on each charge, if convicted. Michael Moore, the Beadle County State’s Attorney who is assisting in the case, said Monday that when Ravnsborg was interviewed by law enforcement following the crash, he was not clear about what had caused him to swerve on to the shoulder of the highway and gave “varying examples of possibly what could have happened.” Noem released videos of Ravnsborg's two interviews with law enforcement late Tuesday. In the videos, investigators confront the attorney general with the gruesome details of the crash, at one point telling him, "His face was in your windshield, Jason, think about that.” Ravnsborg appeared unsure of many details in the crash, but investigators told him Boever's glasses had been found in the attorney general's Ford Taurus and bone scrapings were found on the highway shoulder. As investigators described how his car swerved onto the shoulder and struck Boever, causing major damage to the car hood and windshield, Ravnsborg appears distressed. “I never saw him,” he told the investigators. “I never saw him.” __ This story has been corrected to show that the resolution to impeach the attorney general has been filed in the House, but not formally introduced. Stephen Groves, The Associated Press