SBNY earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.
President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
(Submitted by Gerald McKenzie - image credit) First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021. According to Indigenous Services Canada, during the first seven weeks of 2021, there were 2,779 new cases in reserves in Saskatchewan — more than in any other province. By comparison, in that same time period, there were 2,290 cases on reserves in Manitoba and 2,389 in Alberta. In a Wednesday news release, Indigenous Services said it is "closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country." However, there is some good news — active case counts are declining, and there has not yet been a confirmed case of any of the new coronavirus variants of concern on reserve. Vaccine deliveries are also ramping up, and as of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. In Saskatchewan, as of Feb. 14, the federal department estimates that vaccine uptake in First Nations communities was at or above 75 per cent. Indigenous Services also said it is working to support the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults living in urban areas. "ISC is working closely with [the] National Association of Friendship Centres, as well as provinces and territories, First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners, and other urban community service organizations to support planning efforts," the department said in its news release this week. "This includes working to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake and ensuring the vaccine is available in culturally safe and accessible locations." According to the department, vaccine clinics for Indigenous adults are currently being planned for Saskatoon and Regina.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced scoring attack in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire CentreJuuso Valimaki, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames, who ended Ottawa's three-game win streak.Drake Batherson, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk replied for the last-place Senators. Ottawa (7-15-1) remain in the NHL basement with 15 points.Calgary (10-10-2) moved into a fourth-place tie with Montreal in the North Division with 22 points. The Canadiens were scheduled to play the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.The Flames opened the scoring four minutes into the game. The speedy Johnny Gaudreau zipped around a couple of Ottawa players before sending a backhand saucer pass to Valimaki for the one-timer.The Flames scored again 37 seconds later as Backlund flipped a rolling puck past a handcuffed Matt Murray.The Sens goalie stopped 27-of-33 shots on Saturday.Perhaps in an effort to spark his teammates, Austin Watson fought bruising Flames forward Milan Lucic on the ensuing faceoff. Lucic, who had a 35-pound weight advantage, won the decision.Calgary took advantage of some sloppy defensive play ahead of its third goal. Josh Norris turned the puck over deep in the zone and Lindholm snapped it in at 11:05.Batherson extended his goal-scoring streak to five games with a power-play effort at 13:05. He beat David Rittich with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle.Another Senators' defensive lapse proved costly early in the second period as Chris Tierney coughed up the puck down low. Gaudreau fed it to Monahan for the power-play goal at 4:02.A Calgary shorthanded goal followed at 9:36. Mangiapane hit the post with a redirect attempt before tapping in the rebound. White responded 40 seconds later by scooping a loose puck off the faceoff and snapping it past a screened Rittich. The netminder posted 31 saves in Calgary's win.The lone goal in the third period came when Brady Tkachuk scored on the Ottawa power play at 10:00.The Senators dumped the Flames 6-1 on Thursday night. The teams will face off again Monday in the finale of Ottawa's five-game homestand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Tay council isn't giving up on its hope for a Port McNicoll transit stop with plans to bring it back to the county during public consultations around its transportation master plan. That was the conclusion drawn at the end of a recent council session during which county representatives talked about the new LINX Transit route that will be launched in this summer. The discussion centred around the two stops studied for Port McNicoll. Dennis Childs, Simcoe County manager of transit, said the Triple Bay Road and Talbot Street stops looked at during the study would add up to 18 minutes to the Midland-Orillia route's run time. "When we look at the stop into Port McNicoll, the bus is going to go down one area stop and go out the other area," he said, in response to a question by Coun. Paul Raymond. "When you look at all the stops we've put in place, other than the end of the line, there's always one stop on the other side of the road and one on the opposite side. The reason is for efficiencies. "When you look at Port McNicoll, if we were to go down and put a bus loop, it's not going to save us any amount at all," added Childs. "The reason we had two stops on either side of Port McNicoll is for efficiencies. Anytime you're pulling into a bus loop, you're always going to need to add additional time." Raymond said, he, and other councillors, want the decision reconsidered. "I understand being a lower-tier municipality we don’t have a say," he said. "I tried to find out from the studies what the ridership estimates were per hour, per location. I could not find anything through the county’s site. Is that information available for Tay Township?" David Parks, director planning, development and transit with the County of Simcoe, said he did not have the information on hand but could share it with council later. "I know you know that the needs of the community in Port McNicoll are very important. When you do a study, do you look at the needs of a community and what they have in the community?" said Coun. Mary Warnock. "Is that part of your plan or is it just the logistics and costs?" Parks said the county looks at establishing a regional system. "Our study was limited, but our direction was from county council," he said. "That’s why we’re doing the (transportation) master plan to see if there’s more we can do. We didn’t get to that scale because it wasn’t our mandate, but I encourage you to bring that up." Raymond said he would make it a point to do so because he did not believe the micro-transit options were the answer. "(Accessibility) requirements prevent micro transit systems," he said. "So short of doing taxis, do you have any suggestion on how we could get around that economically?" Childs said there has been a huge push over the last few years for on-demand transit. "That really is the direction rural communities are going to have to go, because the ridership numbers are not high," he said. "It's an easier system to use and the vehicles you can use are smaller vehicles and compliant with current (accessibility) legislation. A lot of these new technologies use apps and make it much more user friendly." During the presentation, Childs noted that the transit link, known as Route 6, will see a soft launch in this summer with the first month being free. The delay was caused due to bus orders being delayed during the pandemic. The route has two stops in Midland and Victoria Harbour, one stop each in Waubaushene, Coldwater and Warminster and two stops in Orillia. The stops in Midland will be at No Frills and Georgian College. In Victoria Harbour, the bus will stop at Richard and Albert Streets and Oakwood Community Centre. On its way through Waubaushene, Route 6 will stop at Sturgeon Bay Road at Pine Street. In Coldwater, passengers can access the service at Coldwater Road and Michael Anne Drive. No specific stop destination was provided for Warminster, however, in Orillia, the bus will stop at Lakehead University and West Ridge Boulevard at Monarch Drive. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have been spared direct punishment after a U.S. intelligence report implicated him in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he has not emerged unscathed. The declassified report, based on CIA intelligence, concludes that the prince approved an operation to "capture or kill" Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. President Joe Biden's decision to publish a report that his predecessor Donald Trump had set aside brings with it a broad refocusing of Washington's stance on dealing with the kingdom, on its human rights record, and on its lucrative arms purchases.
Once again, the West Parry Sound Pool project is making waves in Whitestone’s online community. Following a question-and-answer document posted on the municipal website on Feb. 25, a Whitestone ratepayer named Bruce Morris shared the link with Whitestone Community Chat on Facebook where it soon drew discussion. “Even after all of the knowledge of how the majority of ratepayers are against the project and all of the data to show why it is a waste of time and money, I guess the mayor has decided to create this draft of fiction,” wrote Morris in the comments. Another ratepayer stated that the Q&A document was not impartial and should be dismissed. “The will of the majority of Whitestone ratepayers must be taken into consideration not the will of Parry Sound and some members of council,” said Sue Krusell. Whitestone’s councillor Joe Lamb was quick to comment on the Facebook post stating that he did not agree with the document being published as is. “I was asked for input on these questions and answers,” wrote Lamb. “I will post separately my input to the mayor.” The document says that it is answers to questions raised by Whitestone ratepayers regarding the proposed West Parry Sound Pool and Wellness Centre project and the municipality’s participation in the project. In a separate post on the Whitestone Community Chat, Lamb posted his opposition to the Q&A document posted on the municipal website. “Mr. Mayor, in addition to my earlier comments, I have reviewed each one of the 25 questions and ‘your’ responses,” said Lamb. “I must reiterate these are just your responses, they simply cannot be ‘from council’ because they are absolutely misleading.” It is not known at this time when Whitestone will make a decision on its involvement in the West Parry Sound pool project however it has been stated that the municipality will hold another public meeting before it makes its decision. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
MILAN — The fedora Humphrey Bogart wore in “Casablanca” may have secured Borsalino’s place in fashion and cinematic history, but it will be something like the cow-print bucket hat that will help ensure its future. The storied Italian hatmaker still makes its felt hats by hand in a Piedmont region factory, using the same artisanal techniques from when the company was founded in 1857 and some of founder Giuseppe Borsalino’s original machinery. It is updating its offerings for next fall and winter, with a focus on customization and youth-trends. The new collection displayed during Milan Fashion Week takes inspiration from the Arts & Crafts design movement in mid-19th century Britain. Hat pins with leaf and floral motifs allow women to uniquely shape the hats, to take up an oversized brim, say, or to create an elegant fold in the crown. A leopard fedora can be paired with a long chain, to wear over the shoulder when going in and out of shops, while a clochard has an optional leather corset. “You cannot change a hat so much,’’ Giacomo Santucci, Borsalino’s creative curator, said. “You can change the attitude of the hat.” Unisex styles, including baseball caps, berets and bucket hats, come in updated new materials - including a spotted cow print, black patent leather and rainproof nylon. Such genderless looks are becoming an increasingly important part of the collection, Santucci said. “The hat is no longer a tool to cover yourself, but to discover yourself,’’ he told The Associated Press. The company, which relaunched three years ago, was in the process of scaling up production from 150,000 hats a year to a goal of half a million when the pandemic hit. “To be honest, it is such a small company, in a way it is very simple to react,’’ said Santucci, who is also the current president of the Italian Chamber of Buyers. “The smaller you are, the more reactive and prompt." Beyond new styles, that means getting people talking. Santucci, who was Gucci CEO during the Tom Ford era, created a new film for this season, featuring Milanese women who chose hats to match their styles, striding through the centre of the city. Last season’s film featured dancers from Alessandria, site of the original Borsalino factory, dancing through the factory floor. "My strong belief is that fashion is becoming more and more a discussion,'' Santucci said. New social media platforms like Clubhouse are giving people the chance to create a limited and select group to discuss relevant topics, which Santucci said has been key during the isolation imposed by the pandemic. He also has pursued collaborations with ready-to-wear brands, including Borsalino X Valentino. “Brands are changing. It is getting closer to entertainment, to give people the chance to engage with the brand, to understand it better. Not only to understand what was done in the past, but to really interact and to have the chance to be part of the same community,’’ Santucci said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
It's a year of change at the Canadian women's curling championship in the Calgary bubble. The field was padded to 18 teams this year for the first time. There are no spectators at the Markin MacPhail Centre due to the pandemic. The Page system was dropped in favour of a three-team playoff. Coaching benches are at opposite ends of the ice rather than beside each other. Traditional post-game handshakes are verboten with some players tapping brooms instead. Curling fans and athletes are still thrilled to have the sport back on the domestic stage after a long absence. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the first of six events to be held in the protected "bubble" environment — has been a success entering the final weekend. Championship pool play continues Saturday and the playoffs are set for Sunday. Many classic traditions specific to the Hearts are on hiatus for 2021. The HeartStop Lounge, a party barn with entertainment, food and drink, is obviously idle this year. The annual women's curler banquet and full-field group photo should also return in 2022. And in a change to a long-standing routine that Hearts competitors have held dear since 1981, many teams will not receive jewelry this year. Longtime event sponsor Kruger Products decided it will only award jewelry to the four teams — P.E.I., N.W.T., Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador — who were able to play provincial/territorial playdowns. The nine provincial teams who accepted invitations after the pandemic forced the cancellation of their respective association championships are out of luck. "Players/teams that were acclaimed entry into the 2021 Scotties and any alternate players that were not part of a winning provincial/territorial team are unfortunately not eligible to receive jewelry," said Kruger corporate marketing director Oliver Bukvic. "This is a very unique year, with many changes due to COVID, and we will recognize the winners who earned a berth in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts." That's a change from last season when Nunavut — the other territorial entry in the field — received jewelry despite not playing down. Jewelry is not given out to defending champions (automatic entry) or wild-card teams (entry via ranking). Unlike the nine pandemic-affected provincial entries, Iqaluit was able to host championships this year. However, women's playdowns weren't held because the Nunavut team — which did not receive jewelry this year — was unopposed for a second straight season. Bukvic didn't comment on previous setups but said this year's plans came down to eligibility. "We look forward to next year when we'll hopefully be back to normalcy and we'll be able to recognize all of these provincial and territorial winners with their jewelry for winning their playdown," he said. First-year players who are eligible for jewelry receive a gold necklace with a four-heart pendant. A diamond is added to the pendant for each of the next four appearances. After that, a tennis bracelet is awarded with a diamond addition for every return to the Hearts. "We knew that that wasn't really on the table this year, which is fine," said Alberta vice Kate Cameron. "I think we were really excited to have this opportunity to even be here right now. "I think given the state of the world and everything we're going through and then being selected to represent Alberta, I think was something that we were really honoured to do. So I think we're just happy to be here." The jewelry is a significant perk for all teams who receive it, but particularly those who finish on the low end of the event payout structure. Teams cut after the preliminary round receive $2,500 apiece. The winning Hearts team receives $100,000 of the $300,000 total purse. Curlers who reach the podium will still receive traditional rings. The champions have rings set with a diamond, the finalists with a ruby and the third-place team with an emerald. The Hearts finalist receives $60,000 and the third-place team receives $40,000. Other championship pool teams receive $15,000 apiece. Kruger is celebrating its 40th year of Hearts sponsorship this season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec's premier issued a caution about a growing number of COVID-19 cases tied to variants of concern on Saturday, but also expressed optimism that an escalating vaccination drive could offer relief from a situation that began playing out in the province exactly one year ago. In a letter posted to his Facebook page, Francois Legault said he feels great hope now that vaccinations of the general population have begun in some regions and are scheduled to start in the Montreal area on Monday. "We should receive around 175,000 doses of vaccine per week in March and therefore we will move quickly," Legault wrote. "We still have a few critical weeks ahead of us, especially because of the spring break and the new variants." New infections in the province have been stable, with another 858 confirmed cases and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus being added to the overall tally on Saturday. The number of people in hospital dropped by 21 to 599, according to Health Department figures, with seven fewer patients requiring intensive care for a total of 112. As the province heads into March break week, authorities reported 984 presumptive variant cases, an increase of 110 suspected infections compared to Friday's figures. The province has 34 confirmed variant cases with 30 of them identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first detected in the United Kingdom. The Legault government has frequently pointed to last year's spring break as the reason the pandemic initially hit Quebec much harder than other provinces where the break occurred after preventative measures were put in place. One year later, government officials said the more transmissible variants cropping up in the province represent the most pressing concern. "At the start of the spring break, I invite all Quebecers to be extra careful," Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter. "Although the data is encouraging, the virus is still circulating and cases of variants continue to increase." It was one year ago Saturday that Quebec authorities convened an evening news conference to report that a 41-year-old woman returning from travel to Iran was the province's first presumptive COVID-19 patient. The positive test confirmed by the provincial lab was re-confirmed the next day by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Since the pandemic was declared last March, the province has reported 287,003 confirmed infections and 10,385 deaths, with 268,645 people recovered. There are currently 7,973 active cases in the province. Quebec administered 15,902 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday for a total of 418,399, roughly 4.3 per cent of the population. Legault noted after vaccinating those 85 and older, the province hopes to quickly get to those over 70 before expanding to the entire adult population. The province expects to begin delivering second doses as of March 15. Quebec has already provided a first dose in long-term care homes and vaccinated 200,000 health care workers. Legault urged Quebecers to avoid gatherings as the province picks up the vaccination pace. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — With the nation's financial system on the brink of collapse, all but three Republicans voted against the massive stimulus package designed to protect millions of Americans from financial ruin. It was early 2009, just weeks after Joe Biden was sworn in as vice-president, and the vote marked the beginning of a new era of partisan gridlock in Congress. And for beleaguered Republicans coming off a disastrous election, it was their first step back to political power. Democrats voted alone to stabilize the economy, and two years later, a Republican Party unified only by its unwavering opposition to Barack Obama's presidency seized the House majority. Now, just weeks into the Biden presidency, the GOP is gambling that history will repeat itself. Early Saturday morning, 210 House Republicans joined two Democrats in voting against a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that would send $1,400 checks to most Americans and hundreds of billions more to help open schools, revive struggling businesses and provide financial support to state and local governments. Senate Republicans are expected to oppose a similar measure in the coming weeks, arguing that the bill is not focused enough on the pandemic. But with near-unanimous Democratic support, the measure could still become law. It's far too soon to predict the political fallout from the first major legislative fight of the Biden era. But as the nation struggles to recover from the worst health and financial crises in generations, strategists in both parties agree that it's risky for Republicans to assume their 2009 playbook will lead to the same ballot-box success this time around. “I think that the Republicans’ misread here is that it is the same, or that they can just oppose it and there’s no ramifications,” said John Anzalone, the Biden campaign’s chief pollster. “It’s a different world.” Veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Republicans now bear the burden of clearly articulating their opposition — a task made more difficult by the distraction of former President Donald Trump's high-profile war against the Republican establishment. “The definer of the legislation wins this battle,” Luntz said. “This could end up being the most important vote of 2021.” There are reasons to believe that politics have changed since Republicans last unified against a sweeping stimulus package, not the least of which is Trump's omnipresence in the party. At the same time, the scale of the economic devastation and disruption wrought by the coronavirus pandemic dwarfs that of the 2008 financial crisis. At its peak, roughly 9 U.S. million jobs were lost in the Great Recession, compared with 22 million jobs lost to the coronavirus. A year after the pandemic began, nearly 10 million U.S. jobs remain lost, more than 20 million children are out of school, half a million Americans are dead, and roughly 100,000 businesses are feared closed forever. Polling suggests that an overwhelming majority of voters — including a significant number of Republicans — supports the Democrats' pandemic relief plan. And the business community along with state and local leaders in both parties are crying out for help. On the eve of the House vote, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt joined 31 other Republican mayors in a letter encouraging leaders in both parties to approve the package. “The major part of the bill that relates to cities is sorely needed,” Holt told The Associated Press, citing pandemic-related cuts to his city's police and fire departments. “I don’t know any blue or red state or blue or red city that doesn’t have a revenue shortfall due to COVID-19’s fallout.” In another deep-red state, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice also broke with Washington Republicans and said Congress should “go big or go home” on the new stimulus package. “We have tried to underspend and undersize what was really needed to get over the top of the mountain,” the Republican governor told reporters during a Friday coronavirus briefing. “You got a lot of people across this nation who are really hurting.” Yet no Republican in Washington voted to support the sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package early Saturday. Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines, joining 210 Republicans to vote against the legislation that ultimately passed 219-212. “The swamp is back,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said shortly before the final vote, decrying what he called extraordinary “non-COVID waste” and a “blue state bailout.” “Most states are not in financial distress,” McCarthy said. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traditionally a Republican ally, declined to support or oppose the Republican position. Neil Bradley, the chamber's executive vice-president and chief policy officer, said there is a need for a rescue package that is “targeted, timely and temporary.” “There’s a lot to like in the plan,” Bradley told The AP. “But there's also a whole lot of elements that fail the test of targeted and timely and temporary.” The chamber, like congressional Republicans, opposes Democratic efforts to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 hourly by 2025 from its current $7.25 floor. The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the progressive priority could not be included in the Senate version of the bill, although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is considering a provision that would penalize large companies that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour. Whether the minimum wage provision is included or not, Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the final package. While there could be political fallout from the GOP's strategy in next year's midterm elections, Republican officials privately concede they are more concerned about the intense intra-party feud pitting Trump and his loyalists against leading establishment Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. That divide is playing out this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, where Trump himself is expected to attack his party's establishment on Sunday as he returns to the public stage for the first time since leaving the White House. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, another CPAC speaker and a 2024 Republican presidential prospect, said party unity is paramount moving forward. “I think that Republicans need to recognize that what brings us together right now is the left-wing agenda of the Biden-Harris administration," Cotton told The AP. "The more that we focus on what they’re trying to accomplish in the Congress and through the president's executive actions, the more united we will be, and the more we will move public opinion in our direction.” Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political powerhouse, opposes the Democratic-backed package as well, but its president, Tim Phillips, says it’s unclear whether the GOP strategy will be enough to unite the deeply fractured Republican Party. “This feels a lot like 2009 — that united the Republican caucus and the activist base in a way that probably nothing else could have,” Phillips said. “It served them well in 2009. I wonder if that’ll happen this time.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit) Some Halifax restaurants are questioning the latest COVID-19 restrictions, with at least one taking dining rules a step further. On Friday, the province announced new restrictions in the Halifax area to act as a circuit-breaker as case numbers moved higher. Four new cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total of active cases to 39. As of Saturday, restaurants and bars must stop serving food and drink by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m. The rules will be in place for at least one month. But Brendan Doherty, co-owner of the Old Triangle pub in downtown Halifax, said it seems like an "empty restriction" that won't accomplish much beyond hurting businesses during an already slow season. "We do feel like something extra does need to be done at the moment, we do need to be more cautious," Doherty said. "And … there are many tools in the tool chest that could have been used. "We decided to be proactive and put our heads together and say, 'You know, what can we do given the circumstances that actually gives a chance to help the situation we're currently in?'" To go that extra step, the pub will limit the number of people allowed at a table to six, which is below the 10-person cap mandated by the province. The business will be closed on St. Patrick's Day after Doherty said the government rejected a proposal for a pandemic-era plan on how to navigate the day. The pub is also working to bring in a sick-day program, Doherty said, so staff that feel unwell and go to get a COVID-19 test will still be paid for their scheduled shift. He said the move is important because this time of the year is always rough in the service industry, even without a global pandemic. Doherty said he doesn't want staff to feel financially obligated to come to work if they're not feeling well. Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang give a COVID-19 briefing earlier this week. Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, has consistently asked Nova Scotians to stay home if they have any symptoms of the virus. On Friday, Premier Iain Rankin said it's important to keep having discussions about paid sick days for people who need time off for testing. He said the point was raised when he reached out to speak with an opposition leader, but did not specify which one. "I met with him to discuss options so that we can support our workforce," Rankin said during the COVID-19 briefing. "It is something that we'll continue to discuss moving forward." The Nova Scotia NDP proposed a bill last year that would have allowed all workers, unionized or not, to be able to accrue up to six paid sick days per year, an idea the Liberals rejected during the spring sitting at Province House. Resources available now There is a federal program, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which provides $450 after taxes per week for up to two weeks. But some critics, workers' advocates and public health professionals say the program is flawed, and is an insufficient replacement for having employers guarantee paid sick leave. Doherty said he's not a health professional and doesn't know what the ideal plan would be to address the spread of COVID-19. But he suggested that zeroing in on travellers coming into the province, and big-box stores or businesses with far more customers in close proximity, might be more effective. He added that he's heard from many other restaurant and bar owners about their disappointment with the lack of communication and collaboration with the province, which Doherty said is different from earlier in the pandemic. Obladee, a wine bar in downtown Halifax, echoed that sentiment with a social media post on Saturday. It called on the government to show its evidence to support the 9 p.m. restrictions, and pointed out that their industry was given less than 24-hours notice before the changes went into effect. "Meaningful consultation with public stakeholders improves decision making and is a matter of transparency and fairness," the post said. "These decisions have major impacts on the livelihoods of thousands of Nova Scotians. We can do better." During Friday's briefing, Strang said cutting an hour of service is an attempt to balance public health risks while ensuring bars and restaurants can stay open. Any setting where people are in close proximity for a long period of time, without masks, carries a "significant risk" of virus transmission, Strang said. He said that the restriction sends a "very strong signal" that patrons need to limit their dining and drinking habits. "The restaurants themselves are not problematic, they're doing a very good job," Strang said. "But how the public are using the restaurants, the frequency, the going to restaurants [at] different times with different groups of people — the choices people are making when they go out to dine, is problematic." MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan Indigenous leadership are calling on Toronto-based uranium mining company Baselode Energy Corp. to stop surveys on Birch Narrows Dene Nation traditional territory in the far north unless consent is given. A permit was issued last month by the province to Baselode for access to land near Turnor Lake, on the edge of the Athabasca Basin and traditional territory of the Birch Narrows Dene Nation, while consultations with the community were still ongoing. The company set up camp and began conducting surveys on Birch Narrows resident Leonard Sylvestre’s trapline in an area traditionally used for such activities by the community. Birch Narrows Dene Elder advisor and trapper Ron Desjardin said it felt like an invasion. “I don't like what they did. They were very disrespectful, unfortunately. If they had any sense or any knowledge of what goes on in our country regarding Indigenous issues they would have stepped back, they would have not chosen to do this, but they went ahead anyway.” Having presented Baselode with a cease and desist order, Birch Narrows officials set up a blockade when they found that the company was not respecting promises to stop surveys, but took it down and are now patrolling the area regularly. “They threatened us if we set up a blockade ‘an illegal action’ and never mind the fact that they were on somebody's strapline,” Desjardin said. “They threatened us with legal action and they were trying to make it look like ‘oh our people, they're not safe.’ They even went to the RCMP saying ‘we want to ensure that our people are going to be safe.’” That mentality, Desjardin said, feels to him like the company is treating them like they’re “savages.” “That's what really ticks me off,” he said. “We're still viewed that way.” Birch Narrows is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and Baselode crews went through the reserve, where they had left some equipment on their way to the survey site, Desjardin said. Baselode Energy Corp. President and CEO James Sykes said in a written response that his company believes a “near-term solution is achievable” and will look to “continue with its exploration activities in due course.” “Upon learning of the Community’s objections the Company has paused on-site work to continue further consultation with the local communities,” Sykes said. “Since applying for permits in October 2020, Baselode has proactively engaged in a positive and constructive dialogue consistent with the duty to consult and accommodate process. We share the common goal of a desire to proceed with mutually beneficial objectives, environmental considerations, and economic development opportunities.” Sykes said there have been mischaracterizations of the circumstances that the company deems to be inaccurate. “We have no further comment at this time as we choose to continue our ongoing positive dialogue directly with the community,” Sykes said. Baselode did send further comments through a law firm in Regina. The letter accused Desjardin of saving his allegations for “long after” they left the site. They alleged that he “has a history on this file of making inaccurate and inflammatory statements as part of his crusade and the illegal blockade.” The response came after the Herald asked specific questions about an interaction between a contractor and people staffing the checkpoint. The Herald is continuing to look into the interaction. The letter said Baselode is a “highly respected publicly traded exploration company” that has “built a reputation for going above and beyond in its interactions with indigenous people.” Ministry of Environment spokesperson Chris Hodges confirmed that Saskatchewan Minister of Environment Warren Kaeding met with the Birch Narrows Dene Nation to discuss the situation. “Minister Kaeding had an opportunity to discuss the matter further with Chief Jonathan Sylvestre of Birch Narrows Dene Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. The Minister encourages that all parties involved continue to communicate and work together in a respectful and safe manner,” Hodges said. The ministry said it recognizes the lands in question have been used traditionally by the community but that “deliberately blocking public Crown lands is illegal” and can be a public safety issue. In addition to having two separate meetings with the community on Jan. 20 and on Feb. 9, the province said Baselode engaged by way of a radio broadcast describing the proposed mineral exploration and gave an opportunity to pose questions. The ministry confirmed that Baselode made a presentation available to the public and leadership through the distribution of flash drives and a printed report. Previous attempts to meet were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks and a funeral. The ministry said it wants both parties to work together to “build a positive and mutually beneficial relationship so that opportunities can be discussed and evaluated.” ‘Bad business’ called out by leadership Desjardin said the core issue is that the Baselode was under the impression from the province that consultation with Indigenous communities is optional and that permits issued by Saskatchewan are sufficient to begin operations. He said the problem hinges on a lack of clarity around the duty to consult — a responsibility that ultimately lies with the Crown as opposed to industry. “When Canada came up with this whole duty to consult they told the territories and provinces to start doing business a different way. They were given this mandate to accommodate Indigenous rights and there were some clear guidelines, Desjardin said. “The Saskatchewan government turned this around and they've given this responsibility to industry. Industry now is in a conflict of interest because they want those resources. There was a failure to meaningfully address our concerns and too much reliance on industry to address the concerns.” He said provinces develop their own consultation protocols in line with what Canada expects and “Saskatchewan is way behind.” “Consultation and accommodation is not a means to an end nor an end in itself. There needs to be an opportunity to advance reconciliation for the purpose of improving relationships because that's what's lacking right now.” Birch Narrows Dene Nation Chief Jonathan Sylvestre said that resource developers need to understand that provincial permits don’t override the rights of First Nations or the consultation process and the community expects to be involved prior to any resource development or extraction on their traditional lands. “First Nations must be meaningfully and properly engaged on issues that have the potential to adversely impact our rights. It’s been especially difficult to meet deadlines during COVID- 19, while our efforts are keeping our communities safe — not on rubber stamping resource development activities in our territories,” Sylvestre said. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said Saskatchewan has no authority to authorize permits without engaging with First Nations and without providing the opportunity to give input. “Stay off our lands unless given consent by the First Nation.” FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said Indigenous connections to the land, water, animals and environment are paramount. “These kinds of bad business practices won’t be tolerated anymore,” Bear said. “Resource exploration and extraction within our territories presents our treaty hunters and gatherers with real problems, especially when it impacts their ability to exercise their Inherent and Treaty rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather.” The province said the ministry approved phase 1 of Baselode’s project on Jan. 27 and issued a permit for preliminary exploration, authorizing a survey with “very low impact” on the environment. Surveyors can access the area on snowmobile or in a snow-cat and collect ground gravity readings on foot to decide where to propose drilling. That information would then be given to the community. The next phase of exploration, for which a permit has not been issued, would involve core sampling after undergoing the consultation and community engagement process. The province said the Turnor Lake community and Baselode Energy are discussing plans for a comprehensive traditional land study in the area that it says falls outside the duty to consult process which focuses on how a community currently uses the area. According to the province, engagement with Indigenous communities by industry is separate from duty to consult obligations held by the province in this context and those discussions don’t influence the permitting process or timeframes. Meadow Lake Tribal Council Tribal Chief Richard Ben said the province needs to provide already underfunded First Nations with the financial resources to be able to participate at the table “in a meaningful way.” “Otherwise, many First Nations will be left out of the process. We can’t undertake studies at our own expense in order to be consulted on resource development within our territory,” Ben said. The Government of Saskatchewan First Nation and Métis Consultation Policy Framework, drafted in 2010, states that Saskatchewan “does not accept assertions by First Nations or Métis that Aboriginal title continues to exist with respect to either lands or resources in Saskatchewan.” Desjardin says that’s insulting. He said while lip service is paid to engaging with First Nations, those words don’t ring true when they’re contradicted in policy. “The duty to consult document is outdated. How can a document support us on one hand and then tell us that on the other hand ‘you've got nothing here.’ It’s a weak document, it’s a contradictory document and it’s a patronizing document. It's not serving its purpose, not doing what it's supposed to do,” Desjardin said. ‘Cultural survival’ depends on wildlife habitat Desjardin said his community has long relied on an abundance of caribou and moose, who feed in muskeg areas such as the proposed exploration site near Harding Bay. Canada’s Species at Risk Act considers woodland caribou as a threatened species. Saskatchewan has not yet finished its habitat assessment for the Boreal Shield and Desjardin wants that data to be available before development happens in the area. “The provinces and territories agreed to come up with a solution, to come up with plans to address this. Saskatchewan is really late. Our area was supposed to be done in June of this year. And that's what I've been pleading with the ministry saying, ‘hold off, hold on, let's find out where the caribou are at.’ How can you make a meaningful decision if you're not basing it on scientific data?” Desjardin said. “We’ve proposed setting aside that whole area as a preserve to save those caribou because they do mean a lot to us. It's our grocery store. That's what it is. We’d like everything to be put on hold. Give us at least a year so that we can do our own research and we can find out where we’re at with everything that we want and then let’s talk.” The ministry said it initiated the duty to consult process with the Indigenous communities of Turnor Lake Oct. 27 last year for Baselode's proposal for mineral exploration on “unoccupied, public Crown land” about 50 kilometres northeast of the community. The process was extended so the community had more time to discuss the project and voice concerns to the ministry. The province said those concerns included impact to caribou, impact to trapping, the development of a new trail to the exploration site and a heavy haul ice road for equipment. Early concerns expressed about the new access roads were addressed by changing the program to a heli-assist, which reduces overall impact, the ministry said. Desjardin said the government and industry need to realize that there are “deeper issues” with the unique habitat of that area. “We are fighting for our cultural survival. That’s what we’re doing right now and that’s why we feel so strongly about this. Do we want a uranium mine in the middle of that knowing the possible consequences if anything ever happened with our watershed? Of course not. Do we really want something that’s going to lead to the demise and extinction of our caribou in that area? No, we don’t,” Desjardin said. “This is something that you need to listen to. We’re not totally against industry. We know people need jobs. But we’d like a say. Listen to us, this is why we don’t want it there.” ‘Speaking from the heart’ to build good partnerships Desjardin said companies that have built successful partnerships with Birch Narrows have gone through the full process of a meaningful consultation. “They sat down with people, they listened to the pros and cons, they addressed each of those issues as well as they could. They didn't hide anything and they were transparent,” Desjardin said. He said Baselode should follow the example set by NexGen Energy Ltd., another uranium company that operates in the Athabasca Basin. “When they drafted a benefit agreement here with Birch Narrows they chose not to call it an impact benefit agreement, they chose to call it a mutual benefit agreement and I thought that was awesome because they didn't rush. It took time,” Desjardin said. “They didn't come and say, ‘Okay, here's our timeline. We have until December. Please make a decision now.’ Basically, that's what Baselode did to us. We're saying ‘No, you have to fit into our timelines.’ We live here.” Desjardin said the issue is part of long-standing unresolved Indigenous grievances in Canada. “It's all about relationships. Canada and the province have to stop hiding behind their documents and their policies. We're speaking from the heart. We don't hide behind policies and documents because this means something to us. It might not mean much to somebody living in Saskatoon but it does to us,” Desjardin said. “It's a dichotomous relationship because we're going down this line and we're not bridging any gaps. Everyone's on their own. No wonder we've got all these issues. We need to bridge that gap and start respecting each other.” Citing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action Desjardin said it’s important to establish and maintain a mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. In order for that to happen there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes and action to change behavior. “Saskatchewan is falling short on the action part,” Desjardin said. “I like what Chief Dr. Robert Joseph (a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation in British Columbia) said. Like he said, I want you to dream and imagine what reconciliation would look like in 20, 30 and 40 years from now on,” Desjardin said. “When we are reconciled, we will live together in harmony, be gentle with one another, we will be caring and compassionate. When we are reconciled every person living here will live with dignity, purpose and value. That's where Canada and Saskatchewan need to go.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
Several rounds of staff reports, public comments, and consultant presentations later, Tiny council still remains at square one around an effective strategy to address short-term rental (STR) issues in the township. At the end of the day, staff were sent back to prepare a public survey and to continue drafting an STR licensing bylaw and renters code of conduct with public input. In the process' latest round, council's committee of the whole received an open deputation Friday from a resident, who had concerns around the third-party monitoring system, a presentation from the third-party service provider and another staff report. "I read through the supplier and I have concerns about the cost and the Big Brother feel," said Kim Romans, who is a year-round Tiny resident with two rental cottages on her property. "This is not a registry, this is about regulation. "We are a small township and a small number of units," she added. "People who are offering STRs should come to the table and work with council to design something that works for the people and township. We shouldn't be burdening people with over-regulating and the costs associated with them." Coun. Tony Mintoff clarified for Romans that the township's intent was always to come up with some sort of regulation around STRs in the area. "It's always been the intent to have a registration and a licensing program," he said. "As for survey of the members of the public and property owners, that's part of the plan." Council also sat through a presentation by Samantha White, account executive with Granicus - Host Compliance, whose services were giving Romans the jitters. The company, White said, focuses and specializes in helping local governments address their short-term rental related challenges. "We pull down the data from the top 60 STR platforms and match that with your assessor data to drive greater compliance using the solutions we have," White said. The five tools that Granicus offers include digital registration and tax collection, address identification, compliance and rental activity monitoring and a dedicated hotline for complainants, she explained. Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer, said staff had brought forward Granicus as an efficiency tool. "Staff see this as a very important efficiency tool to get us up and running very quickly for 2021," he said. "It's a critical component to rolling this out. Recreating something similar to this would take a lot of time and be cost prohibitive. (Granicus costs) $36,000 a year and we're asking council to consider them as sole-source provider." In addition to the $36,000 cost for bringing on Granicus, Harvey said, staff was also proposing an additional bylaw officer at a cost of $51,000 for eight months. Some council members still had concerns if the township had the right way of approaching the issue. "What are we trying to achieve and more particularly what are we trying to achieve for the 2021 season?" said Mayor George Cornell. "I don't think we're at a point where we can start writing up our bylaw and engage Granicus. There's a whole public consultation piece here that hasn't been looked at. We haven't made any decisions yet. I would caution council not to get ahead of ourselves." That's exactly where Mintoff was coming from. "I think it's premature to be thinking about engaging a third-party consultant and hiring a staff now when we haven't even put the issue of what the program is going to look like," he said. "I do agree with the bylaw approach versus the zoning approach because it would help us administer a monetary penalty system." Instead, Mintoff said a survey is a good first step in which to begin. He also wasn't convinced if the definition of an STR should focus on any period less than 28 consecutive calendar days since the problems lie with those renting for weekends. "We should be looking at under eight days," he said, adding, "We can get our feet wet and look at the ones that are causing the most problems. "If we just say, if you're going to rent less than eight days, you have to register," said Mintoff. "That doesn't say you can't rent for 28 days." All council members agreed that engaging Granicus services at this time wasn't necessary, however, White and her colleague offered to help staff in crafting the licensing framework. Meanwhile, staff will continue with the strict enforcement policy already in place. Council is hoping to have a report back with an implementation date for the end of May. The decision was ratified at the council meeting held later the same day. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting its sixth death from COVID-19 as the province continues to battle an outbreak of a virus variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Health authorities say the latest death was a man over the age of 70 in the Eastern Health region. The province also recorded four new confirmed cases in the same region, including two females and two males with one between the ages of 20 and 39 and three between the ages of 40 and 49. Officials say contact tracing is underway and anyone considered a close contact has been advised to quarantine. Newfoundland has been in lockdown since Feb. 12, when officials first announced an outbreak in the St. John’s area was fuelled by the mutation of the novel coronavirus. The province has 271 active cases of COVID-19 and there are currently 10 people in hospital with six in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2022. The Canadian Press
Eganville – A public meeting about a proposed zoning amendment allowing four RVs to be used for seasonal accommodation per property showed there is more than a little interest in the topic among Bonnechere Valley residents. The meeting, which was originally slated to last two hours, lasted three hours and even that was not long enough to read the 171 letters township residents had sent either in favour of allowing RVs or opposing the initiative. As a result, a second public meeting has been called on the issue where the remaining letters will be read, as well as any new letters received on the topic. Listening to the letters at of the ZOOM meeting, it was clear there was a diversity of opinions, but mostly the viewpoints were divided pretty well down the middle with about half the respondents in favour of the proposed by-law and the other half opposed. The issue had first been spearheaded by the Lake Clear Property Owners Land Use Committee and while most of the letters appeared to have a connection to Lake Clear, there were also letters from residents from other parts of the municipality, since the issue is now a township-wide by-law amendment. Under the by-law council not only clarified what is classified as an RV but stated an RV could be used for seasonal accommodation and there could be four RVs per lot in the township. The only exception is the village of Eganville. Following the public meeting, Mayor Jennifer Murphy said it became clear early on there would not be a chance to finish the public meeting last Tuesday because there were so many letters. “We had allotted two hours for the meeting,” she said. “Normally a public meeting is about 15 minutes or 30 minutes. As the letters came in, it was blatantly obvious we would not get through them all in two hours.” During the meeting, the mayor proposed extending the meeting for an additional hour to get through as many of the letters as possible. Not only were council members listening to the letters but also those who signed in on ZOOM or those listening on the township YouTube stream. Staff members read each letter – and some were quite lengthy – and when the three-hour meeting was done there were still over 20 which had not been read. Since then, there have been more letters coming in and council agreed to allow more letters for the second public meeting which will continue to look into the issue. Mayor Murphy said the next meeting is being done in a timely fashion and also allows for the 20-day notice which is required for a public meeting. As well, the second meeting will allow council deliberation time on what they have heard or read. “This will give us more time,” she said. The new meeting is scheduled for March 19 at 10 a.m. and will be a ZOOM meeting like the last one. The meeting is also streamed on YouTube. Not only will the remaining letters be read, but the new letters and then council will have a chance to discuss the issue. Although there was a provision for presentations, Mayor Murphy explained anyone who wrote a letter will not be able to give a presentation. It is clear the issue is very important to some residents with many heartfelt comments and strongly held opinions on the topic. There were a lot of different opinions expressed on the issue and having an opportunity to listen to all of them will allow council to delve into the issue again, she said. “As a council we can discuss what we heard,” she said. “There were some constructive letters which gave some compromise positions.” Some of the factors which might be considered are lot size, frontage and setbacks, she noted. The issue has been simmering – sometimes more actively than others – for about five years since the original request came to council asking for the municipality to ban RVs around Lake Clear. Since then, it turned into a township-wide by-law issue. The previous council did not make a decision on the issue and this council moved the issue ahead with the by-law amendment. However, there was also some criticism of this council for making a decision during the COVID-19 pandemic when some property owners are not in the area. The Lake Clear Property Owners reached out to members asking them to submit opinions on the issue and the Golden Lake Property Owners Association also reached out to members about the proposed by-law amendment. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Canadian rapper D.O. Gibson set the Guinness World Record for the longest freestyle rap in 2003, when he rapped for eight hours and 45 minutes. He talks to the CBC's Asha Tomlinson about why it's important for students to know more about Black history.
BRUSSELS — The European Union has summoned its ambassador to Cuba to return to Brussels to explain himself after he reportedly signed an appeal asking U.S. President Joe Biden to lift sanctions against Cuba and begin normalizing ties with the country. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday that the ambassador, Alberto Navarro, was asked "to come to Brussels to provide explanations." He was also instructed "to provide a note detailing the matter,” said the spokesman, Peter Stano. Stano did not answer a question on whether Navarro will be fired. The ambassador's summons to Brussels was first reported by Politico. Politico reported that 16 European Parliament lawmakers wrote to Borrell asking him to remove Navarro as ambassador, arguing that the diplomat was "not worthy of the high functions he holds." The lawmakers' complaints included the ambassador signing the open letter to Biden that asked for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. The Associated Press
More than 850 cows that have spent months on a ship in the Mediterranean are no longer fit for transport and should be killed, Spain's Agriculure Ministry said on Saturday, confirming an earlier Reuters report. The cows were kept in what an animal rights activist called "hellish" conditions on the Karim Allah, which docked in the southeastern Spanish port of Cartagena on Thursday after struggling to find a buyer for the cattle during the past two months. The animals were rejected by several countries over fears they had bovine bluetongue virus.
A Vancouver-area health authority says people at three schools in the region have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern. A news release from Fraser Health says it is working with the Surrey school district to manage COVID-19 exposures at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School and M.B. Sanford Elementary School. It says the cases involving an unspecified COVID-19 variant appear to be linked to community transmissions, but the schools will remain open. The health authority also declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital on Friday. It says five patients at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19 after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit. It says the emergency department remains open and no other areas have been impacted. Meanwhile, an outbreak at the CareLife Fleetwood long-term care home in Surrey was declared over. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press