Chip Matthews loves the mail. The day he turned 6, he was happily surprised when his postal carrier greeted him with a “happy birthday,” reaching into her pockets to give him a $1 bill and four quarters -- a small fortune for the boy. (Nov 26)
Chip Matthews loves the mail. The day he turned 6, he was happily surprised when his postal carrier greeted him with a “happy birthday,” reaching into her pockets to give him a $1 bill and four quarters -- a small fortune for the boy. (Nov 26)
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
Genomic sequencing will be key in determining the prevalence of new, more transmissible variants of COVID-19 in Canada, experts say, but the process is too laborious and time-consuming to run on every positive swab. While that means we likely can't know the exact number of cases stemming from the "variants of concern," first identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, experts say genomic sequencing can unlock useful information about where and how quickly spread may be happening.The Canadian Press spoke with microbiologists and laboratory science specialists to answer popular questions about the new variants, and what we're doing to detect them.HOW IS GENOMIC SEQUENCING DONE?Positive samples, typically taken from travel-related cases or those that were otherwise flagged for sequencing, are sent to a specific lab which has the equipment required to get a closer look at the virus's genetic code. From there, a specially-trained scientist looks for mutations and changes from the main SARS-CoV-2 virus, going through the code line by line. The process, which can take anywhere from a couple days to a full week, is tedious, expensive and requires a level of scientific equipment and knowledge only accessible in a handful of labs across the country, says Dr. Tony Mazzulli, a medical microbiologist at Public Health Ontario Laboratory."You need the supplies, the reagents, and you need people with the expertise who can a) do it and b) interpret the results once the test is finished," said Mazzulli, who's also the microbiologist-in-chief of the Mount Sinai Hospital. "It's not just like a diagnostic test that is either a yes or no."HOW OFTEN ARE WE DOING IT?Ontario, which had 34 total known cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the U.K. as of Monday, is undergoing a point-prevalence study in which all positive test results in the province from a single day — Jan. 20 — are being analyzed through genomic sequencing. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario has analyzed 9,000 samples for the new variants and hopes to look at 1,500 every week going forward.Public Health Ontario also says it is introducing screening tests that can look for a mutation that's found in the three concerning variants. Dr. Vanessa Allen, the chief of microbiology at the Public Health Ontario Lab, said in a press conference Monday the new tests will help identify "high-risk samples," that will then be sent to labs for sequencing. Mazzulli says some of Canada's standard PCR tests can also pick up a hint — known as the S-gene dropout — that the sample should be sequenced. PCR tests give us a yes or no answer as to whether a person is infected, but they also look for specific genes in the virus, Mazzulli explained. If the S gene, which has the mutation, is missing from the diagnostic, that's an indication the sample should be sent in for further sequencing.Mazzulli also says Ontario is building capacity and developing further criteria for samples that should be sequenced, including those from outbreaks where a group of cases are associated with each other.In B.C., where according to data released Monday there have been three confirmed cases South Africa variant and six cases of the U.K. variant, top doctor Bonnie Henry said the province is working on strategies to see where it can target genomic sequencing to better understand changes and variants circulating in the community. About 9,500 quality sequences have been performed in the province since February, which amounts to sampling approximately 15 per cent of cases, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. WHY CAN'T WE SEQUENCE EVERY POSITIVE COVID TEST WE GET?Joel Rivero, field application system specialist who helps set up molecular and immunodiagnostic tests at labs across Canada, says that boils down to capacity and lab resources.While sequencing every sample is ideal to get a full picture, Rivero says that probably wouldn't get you the best "return on investment."Since most variant cases are still travel-related, it's best to concentrate efforts there, he says, in hopes of catching those quickly to limit spread."We want to make sure there's a fine balance between your resource management and what makes the most sense to help identify and protect public health."Rivero adds that the COVID treatment plan and contact tracing efforts remain the same whether the patient has "a variant strain or the quote-unquote regular strain.""Everyone will still have to isolate whether they have the variant or not," he said.WILL CURRENT VACCINES WORK AGAINST NEW VARIANTS?Dr. Samira Mubareka, a microbiologist and clinical scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says part of the importance of genome sequencing is in understanding which mutations are showing up and figuring out what they do.And that can have potential implications on vaccines and other treatments.Mubareka and other experts say they're hopeful current vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will still work against the variant strains — at least to some extent."It's really unlikely to go from 95 per cent effectiveness of a vaccine to zero," she said, adding however that there may be some reduction of effectiveness against the variants."But from what I understand from preliminary data, it's still anticipated to be above what would be protective at this stage."Mubareka says the emergence of the new variants means vaccines currently being developed will need to be tested against the latest strains rather than older versions to properly measure efficacy. Some of our established vaccines could need updates down the line. Moderna announced Monday it was planning to test booster vaccines aimed at the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa, noting the current formula had a six-fold reduction in the effectiveness of its neutralizing antibodies. Despite the reduction, the company says those levels are still believed to offer protection. The nature of mRNA technology, which Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna both use in their vaccines, is that an updated shot with a new target could theoretically be made quickly, if needed.However, Mubareka says any new vaccine would presumably need to go through a review process and trials to determine safety and efficacy. So updated inoculations won't be popping up overnight. WHAT DO THE NEW VARIANTS MEAN FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH STANDPOINT?As of right now, public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of our current dominant strain — physical distancing, hand-washing, mask-wearing — will work to fend off these variants. Travel takes on greater significance with the more transmissible versions of the virus, however, with some experts calling for further restrictions and more strict enforcement of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone coming into the country.COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of more contagious variants.But if the variants aren't yet firmly established here, we have time to prevent that flagrant spread, she says."If we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then."Mubareka cautions, however, that new variants will continue to arise as long as the virus is spreading. So limiting contacts and abiding by other public health measures is important in making sure we don't get a series of strains that could slip past our mitigation strategies."We play an important part in preventing the likelihood that we will become a vector for one of these variants," she said. "Every time one of these viruses passes through a host, it provides an opportunity not just for spread, but also for adaptation."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec's director of national health said he's still not sure when the province will begin administering COVID-19 booster shots — 43 days since officials started injecting people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Dr. Horacio Arruda said Tuesday that while he doesn't want Quebecers to wait more than seven weeks to receive a booster shot, he said he was still waiting to hear back from government scientists studying the efficacy of the vaccine among those who received their first of two injections. Quebec has taken a different approach from other provinces, focusing on giving a first dose to as many people as possible before giving anyone a second, a strategy that Arruda maintains will save more lives and keep more people out of hospital at a time when vaccine supplies are limited. "We did it because we don't have enough vaccine," he told reporters. Vaccine maker Pfizer has said the second dose of its vaccine should be given within 21 days. Moderna, the maker of the other vaccine approved for use in Canada, has set the date for the second shot at 28 days. Ottawa's National Advisory Committee on Immunization, however, has said the second dose of both vaccines can wait up to 42 days. Relatives of long-term care residents say they don't believe the government is making a science-based decision. Quebec is "playing Russian roulette with our loved ones' lives," Joyce Shanks, member of the Maimonides Family Advocacy Committee, said Monday. Her group, which represents residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal, is considering suing the government over its vaccine strategy. Her father, a Maimonides resident, was one of the first people in Quebec to get a dose of vaccine, on Dec. 14. "We signed up for the two doses. We did not sign up to be part of a clinical trial," Shanks said. Kathy Assayag, chair of the users' committee at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, said the government's vaccine strategy is "a mistake." "It's a gamble and we cannot gamble with people's lives." Experts, however, differ on whether Quebec's plan is a well-calculated risk or an ill-fated wager. Dr. Caroline Quach, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said the committee's guideline that patients can wait up to 42 days between injections is based on trials from vaccine makers. Trial participants, she said, were encouraged to return after 21 or 28 days from their first injection — depending on whether they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine — but she said they were allowed to return up to 42 days later. "The problem after the 42 days is that we don't have any data," Quach said. While it's possible a single dose remains effective after 42 days, she said, there's a decent risk its efficacy decreases, but no one knows how fast that could happen. "We know that the second dose helps with the maturation of the antibodies," Quach said. "The two companies decided that a second dose was needed, so we have no data with only one dose and we have no data with extended intervals." Dr. Andre Veillette, a research professor at the Universite de Montreal's department of medicine and a member of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine task force, said the further Quebec moves away from what's been proven in clinical trials, the higher the chance the vaccine won't have the same results. "I think it's a gamble," he said. "I think there's not enough information." Veillette said he's particularly worried about older people who generally don't respond as well to vaccines as younger people do. Even in a situation with constrained supply, he said the government should stick to the vaccine schedule that's been proven in clinical trials. "Take the drops as they come and give them the way they're supposed to be given," Veillette said. While the results of the vaccination campaign in Israel have raised concerns about the amount of protection given by the first dose of vaccine, Dr. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at McGill University's faculty of medicine, said the data matches what was demonstrated in the clinical trials. The protection offered by both vaccines 14 days after the first shot exceeds 90 per cent, he said. Studies of other vaccines indicate the timing of the second dose isn't critical, Sheppard added. But, he said, there's no specific data on the consequences of delaying the COVID-19 vaccines. Like other provinces, Quebec has been forced to manage with fewer COVID-19 vaccines than anticipated, following Pfizer's recent decision to suspend deliveries to upgrade its European production facility. As a result, Quebec doesn't expect to receive any vaccine shipments this week. The Health Department said Tuesday it had received 238,100 doses of vaccine and had administered 224,879. Given the shortage of vaccine and the high number of COVID-19 cases in Quebec, Sheppard said he thinks the government made the right calculation — though if there were fewer cases or more doses, he added, there wouldn't have been the need to take the risk. "But that's not where we are right now, in January, in Quebec," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
A new work permit program for international students in Canada is taking applications starting today. The federal government announced the program this month as part of a bid to convince more people to settle in Canada permanently. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said at the time that former students with post-graduation work permits that have expired or will soon expire can now apply for open work permits. The program will offer affected people 18 more months to stay in the country to look for work. The federal department estimates that about 52,000 graduates could benefit. Sarom Rho, who leads a migrant student campaign with Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, says the "massive" change will benefit many, but others are still left out. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Work continues in an effort to protect the province's last coastal wilderness — the Hog Island Sandhills — though the process has been slowed down due to COVID-19, Parks Canada says. The initiative was originally brought forward by the Mi'kmaq of P.E.I., as well as the province. In 2019, Parks Canada began a feasibility assessment with the aim of turning the area into a national park reserve, separate and distinct from the existing Prince Edward Island National Park. It would be given the Mi'kmaq name Pitaweikek. Shanna MacDonald, senior negotiator for protected areas establishment for Parks Canada, said plans are moving slowly because part of the process includes significant community and public engagement. "Given that there has been a lockdown and … wanting to follow public health rules and regulations and practise social distancing and all of those other things, a lot of the types of community engagement that we would normally do, like open houses, one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, has had to be put on hold." MacDonald is hopeful community engagement will take place this spring. She said until that happens, it's hard to predict when Hog Island could become a national park reserve. Treasured place According to the Canada National Park Act, park reserves are established for the same purpose as national parks — to preserve the land for the benefit and enjoyment of Canadians — but in areas "subject to a claim in respect of Aboriginal rights that has been accepted for negotiation by the government of Canada." MacDonald said Hog Island is a treasured place among Indigenous people. "It was a place where the community could always go in times of scarcity because of the rich waters in Malpeque Bay and the ability to collect plants and fish in the waters offshore," she said. "It's a fascinating piece of geology as well because of igneous outcropping in the area which makes the environment around Hog Island significantly different than the onshore land." More from CBC P.E.I.
The day is cold and overcast but inside, standing in an empty and cavernous former Target department store, Ahmed Hussein is beaming. This is where the director of the The Neighbourhood Organization in Thorncliffe Park envisions a mass vaccination site where tens of thousands of residents in this east Toronto neighbourhood could be vaccinated. This is where, he says, they could get a fair shot at making it through this pandemic. "The second wave really hit us hard," Hussein said. "We are really in a prison now. We will get out of that prison." Thorncliffe Park has been a hotspot since the start of the pandemic, with a disproportionately higher number of COVID-19 cases. According to the latest 2016 census, more than 20,000 people live there. Community leaders say the current number is much higher, with more than 30,000 people living in a three kilometre radius, a statistic they say makes the neighbourhood in Toronto's east end the most densely populated in Canada. The vast majority of residents live in apartment towers, and Hussein says families on average include five people. Most of them are newcomers and many are essential workers. How they live, and what they do, puts them at higher risk of catching COVID and spreading it. It's why Hussein is advocating to have the entire neighbourhood prioritized for vaccination. "A lot of these buildings are 15 floors, 20 floors, some of them 25 floors," Hussein said, adding that most of the aging buildings only have two working elevators. "When 2,000 or 3,000 people are coming down elevators at the same time when their kids are going to school, you can imagine how people will be close to each other, and that's the risk of spread. So having an immunization will clearly improve [safety for] people to go back to work, to earn an income, pay their rents and take care of their children." It would also help alleviate the mental health toll, he says: Canada's national advisory committee has prioritized key populations for vaccines, including residents and staff of long-term care homes and front-line health care workers. Hussein says once vaccines become more widely available, Thorncliffe Park and several other vulnerable neighbourhoods should be high on the list. This is not a case for jumping the queue, he and other advocates say. It's about reframing risk to recognize that entire pockets of people are more vulnerable because of their socioeconomic status. Hussain Rifnaz is one example. "I got the fever, and the worst was the body pain," he said. When Rifnaz got sick with COVID-19 last October, his wife and four children all got infected. Rifnaz works in public transit, servicing subway lines. He says he might have caught COVID on the job, or in his building's crowded elevators, or maybe it came from his children's school. Before Ontario's latest lockdown, Thorncliffe Park Public School was among the hardest hit in the city. Dozens of students tested positive in an asymptomatic screening pilot in December. Rifnaz said a vaccine would stop that invisible spread in the community from moving even further, as people like him have to go to work even in a lockdown. "They have a big chance of getting lots of COVID from this area, so therefore, we should be taking care of this area first as a priority. It will be helpful for the Toronto city." The City of Toronto has identified at-risk areas like Thorncliffe Park, and set up pop-up testing sites and city-run isolation centres to help identify cases and contain them. Wearing a mask, gloves and a face shield, Tabasum Mohammadi hands out flyers with information about those resources in the lobby of her building. Mohammadi is a community ambassador, and her role as a volunteer is to spread awareness about public health guidelines. Glancing toward a lineup forming for the elevators, she said being on constant guard is exhausting. Quicker access to a vaccine would ease a perpetual sense of dread. "Once we get vaccinated, at least we will reduce the numbers and we will be able to get protected," Mohammadi said. "We'll be mentally relaxed once the vaccine is here." The stress is unique to disadvantaged neighbourhoods, and it's why many are making the same case for priority access to vaccines. In the north-west neighbourhood of Weston-Mount Dennis, the buses tell the story of a community on the outskirts and struggling to get by. The bus lines here are among the busiest in Toronto, taking people to work in factories, grocery stores, and nursing homes. Those same people carry that risk back home, where many live with multiple family members. "It's not that people don't want to follow the public health regulations," Michelle Joseph, CEO of Unison Health & Community Services, said. "The issue is that they cannot always follow public health regulations. And the reason that they cannot is because there are systemic barriers that don't allow them to follow them." Joseph says the barriers are built-in and hard to overcome. Tight living conditions are one issue. So is poverty and lack of paid sick leave. Many people here tend to have multiple jobs that compound the risk of exposure, and they can't afford to miss work if they don't feel well. Early access to vaccines here is a shield of protection that is desperately needed. "These communities are often left behind," Joseph said. "It's very important that we ensure that they are not forgotten. And in this case, because they are experiencing a disproportional level of COVID and also the impacts of COVID economically, then we should make sure that they're a priority." Joseph says the risks here are too high to ignore. To strengthen that call, several communities have banded together to make a collective case for prioritization. Tied by common threads of inequity, it's a call that grows more urgent by the day. Further west of Weston-Mount Dennis, in the community of Rexdale, for many it has come down to survival. At a community hub, local volunteers like Bibi Hack package bags of donated food. Hack says the need has skyrocketed as more people lose jobs or are too sick to work. "They don't have transportation, they don't have money, and they're scared to go out. This is so helpful, without this I don't know how a lot of people would survive, believe me." Pascal Lumbala is the manager of the COVID Community Response with Rexdale Community Health Centre. Standing outside a COVID-19 testing centre set up in the community to make testing more accessible, Lumbala says while up to 200 people a day have been tested at three testing sites in the area, many in the low-income neighbourhood are reluctant to come because a positive result would mean staying home and missing work. "These people have bills and they have to pay those bills," Lumbala said. "Because of that fear, this could be an issue for them to go to work, so they don't get tested": As is the case in other vulnerable communities, many people here live in high-rises. The spread of infection, with several family members living in one space and usually with one bathroom, is almost inevitable, says Lumbala. Getting a vaccine soon could give people here a better chance of staying healthy and simply staying afloat. But he adds that there is a need to educate people about the vaccine in order to help combat hesitancy. "We are working on some messages," Lumbala said. "We are working on having some workshops to educate the population so they will understand the importance of getting this vaccine and to protect the entire community." Back in Thorncliffe Park, Mohammadi continues handing out flyers, undeterred by people who don't bother to take one. She says until vaccines become more widely available, she too will educate people about the need to get immunized and will keep making the case for safety. Mohammadi has four children, and says she owes it to them and everyone in her community. "It's a home here, and I want to protect all my family members. This building is a home for me." But while the case to prioritize whole neighbourhoods for immunization is compelling, the outcome is uncertain. Government and public health authorities decide who gets the vaccine and in what order, and it's not clear when communities advocating for priority access will find out where they end up on any list. The city of Toronto and local health authorities are supporting the initiative, but the province of Ontario will make the call once it starts offering vaccines to the general public. Meanwhile, there's no denying the need, or the commitment to keep fighting because of it. Back at the former Target store where community leader Ahmed Hussein wants to set up a mass vaccination site, there's now a temporary food bank. It was established during the pandemic and Hussein wants nothing more than to see it go. "COVID created this, and we hope the immunization and the vaccines will shut it down." Arms wide open, Hussein looks around the empty space and says he sees only promise, and better days ahead. "It symbolizes to us a hope that we are able to carry out the immunization for this community, this wonderful space that is available that we can immunize thousands and thousands of people." Hussein added with a broad smile, "It symbolizes that this is a space of hope, this is a space that we will say 'Goodbye COVID.'" Watch full episodes of The National on CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 28,505 new vaccinations administered for a total of 868,454 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,291.479 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.37 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,207 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,117 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 44.866 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,102 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,622 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.909 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.28 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 3,821 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 14,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.277 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 4,164 new vaccinations administered for a total of 224,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.281 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 94.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,707 new vaccinations administered for a total of 295,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.139 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,618 new vaccinations administered for a total of 31,369 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.781 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 727 new vaccinations administered for a total of 34,080 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.902 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 104.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.674 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.33 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 2,509 new vaccinations administered for a total of 122,359 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.844 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 445 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,397 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 105.365 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 30.53 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 7,578 new vaccinations administered for a total of 9,471 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 209.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 265 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,723 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 121.959 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 39.36 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published January 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
After hanging up her scrubs in 2019, retired Windsor nurse Susan Ellsworth wants to return to the front lines and help out health-care professionals during the pandemic. But she says one thing is stopping her from doing that — the cost to reinstate her license to work as a nurse again. According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the cost to apply and re-instate is $226 and the annual registration fee that is also required is $305.10 — making that a total of at least $531.10 — a fee that Ellsworth said she can't afford. "With this pandemic, people want to help out. And I think that it would free up licensed nurses, RNs and RPNs, to do other things. Then we could say, help out doing testing, help out with paperwork, help out with giving the vaccines," she said. "I'm sure I'm not the only person that feels this way." She said there is a series of procedures she must follow in order to return to work which can add up in cost. She wants the fees to activate her license to be waived. "Especially when there's some of us that have worked in nursing for years and they're not going to give us a break?" Ellsworth said, adding that the pandemic is far from over. "I worked through SARS. It was not near anything like this, but just when you hear people saying, like, 'oh, the cases are down today. ... It's going to get better now,' but, you know from working yourself and nursing that it's not," she said. Early in the pandemic last year, the Ontario government declared it needs "all hands on deck" to fight the pandemic and has called in the military to assist front-line workers, Ellsworth says feels heartbroken that she can't help and she's willing to volunteer her time and work unpaid. In an email statement to CBC News, CNO said retired nurses can work as an unrelated care producer which has no cost attached to it. "Retired nurses who are no longer registered with CNO and who want to help with the pandemic efforts, including the vaccination rollout, can choose to work as an unregulated care provider. As an unregulated care provider, any controlled acts they are performing, such as administering a substance by injection, would have to be delegated to them," the statement reads. "However, if they want to resume practice as a nurse and they have practised within the last three years, they can choose to reinstate their CNO membership," it continues. After being informed of this, Ellsworth said this brought her hope and she would look into working as an unregulated care provider immediately. One hospital says it's not suffering a shortage of nurses CBC News reached out to local hospitals to see if there was a demand for nurse volunteers. In an email statement, Erie Shores Healthcare said it's currently "not suffering a shortage of nurses, so this is not an issue we have discussed. That being said, if we ever found ourselves in a nursing shortage situation, this would be something we would have to consider on a case-by-case basis, along with any other relevant options." In another email statement from Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital (HDGH), it said it "will explore any and all options available to assist with the recruitment of nursing staff." "We have been actively recruiting since the beginning of the pandemic. To date, we have not had any retired nurses express an interest to join our hospital. With that said, HDGH would agree to pay the fees associated with reinstating a retired nurses licence." the statement reads. "However, in the interest of not disadvantaging our current nursing staff, we would pay the fee and establish an agreed-upon process that would allow for the hospital to recover the expense by way of payroll deduction," it continues. CBC News reached out to the provincial government for comment, but officials didn't respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
VANCOUVER — There's a race between COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccine as researchers and health officials in B.C. warn of two faster-spreading variants. The number of variant cases may start low, but increased transmission could only be a few weeks away, just as delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is delayed, said Caroline Colijn, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health at Simon Fraser University. Colijn's lab released modelling data this week showing public health rules in several provinces, including B.C., would not be sufficient to prevent exponential growth in cases starting around March if a COVID-19 variant with a 40 per cent higher transmission rate became established. "By established I mean some cluster doesn't get stopped and takes off and we don't notice or we don't act and we are unable to stop those chains of transmission and so they take off the way the current COVID has," she said. Colijn added she would expect public health officials to enact further restrictions before such exponential growth in variant cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news briefing this week that B.C. has detected three cases of a variant found in South Africa and none were linked to each other or to travel, pointing to community spread. By completing whole genome sequencing, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has also recorded six travel-related cases of the COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom, which appears significantly more transmissible than earlier strains of the new coronavirus. B.C. is sequencing about 15 per cent of samples that test positive for COVID-19 in the province, said Natalie Prystajecky, head of the environmental microbiology program at the centre's public health lab. Sequencing is more labour-intensive than diagnostic testing, she said, so it can take up to two weeks to produce data from a given sample. B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February and generated quality data from about 9,500 of them, she said. The average rate of sequencing across Canada is between five and 10 per cent, said Prystajecky, a member of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network that received funding last spring to sequence 150,000 samples. In addition to targeting samples from travellers and youth, she said, B.C. is prioritizing more general, "background" sampling to understand if public health officials are missing anything, such as transmission of new variants. "We're ramping up," she said. "We did 750 genomes last week and we're aiming to continue to increase the amount of sequencing we're doing." Prystajecky said her lab is also planning to do a "point prevalence study" to screen a high number of samples at a given point in time. B.C. is taking a smart approach to sequencing by targeting travel-related cases, said Colijn, but at the rate sequencing data becomes available, "there could be 10 or 50 or 100 cases of whatever we detect at the time." Colijn believes B.C. should consider Atlantic Canada's approach and create a so-called "Pacific bubble" that would require travellers from other provinces to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in B.C. Data from Pfizer and Moderna — the pharmaceutical companies behind the two COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada — show their products still protect people against the U.K. and South African variants, said Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University. "What this means is people really need to hunker down until this vaccine gets out into the population further," she said in an interview this week. "We really are in a race between the vaccine and the virus right now." Basic measures including physical distancing and avoiding non-essential travel are still effective in preventing new variants from spreading, she said. B.C. reported 4,260 active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday out of more than 65,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Curl P.E.I. suspects the province's self-isolation rules are behind a poor turnout in this year's Scotties and Brier provincial qualifiers. Both events are going ahead this weekend in O'Leary, with just two women's and two men's teams competing for the right to represent the Island at the national curling championships in Calgary, slated for late February and early March. "This is the smallest provincials I've ever been a part of," said Suzanne Birt, the skip for one of the two women's teams competing, and the Island's representative at the Scotties the past two years. "It's a little different for sure." But Birt said she's hardly surprised. P.E.I.'s representatives will have to enter a curling bubble in Calgary for up to two weeks, sticking to their hotel rooms and the arena. There'll be no friends, family, or other fans allowed inside the bubble. Then upon their return to P.E.I., curlers will have to self-isolate for another 14 days. "[Curling] is what we love to do," said Birt. "But at the same time, it's a little disheartening thinking about your family, that you have to be away from them for a month.… It's a lot to take on, and a lot of commitment from the team and our families." You need almost a month of time from your employment, from school, whatever it might be. — Peter Gallant While Birt and her teammates have been able to juggle their schedules and make it work, Curl P.E.I. says that likely wasn't an option for many teams. "I think it's strictly due to the whole situation with the bubble. There are a lot of teams that decided not to enter, just because you need almost a month of time from your employment, from school, whatever it might be," said Peter Gallant, Curl P.E.I.'s performance director. "But I think everybody's happy that there's a couple teams that can have a championship." Fortunate on P.E.I. P.E.I. is one of just a few places going ahead with Scotties and Brier qualifiers. In some provinces, given their COVID-19 situations and tougher restrictions, curling is off the ice all together. Most provinces have nominated representatives to head to Calgary, or selected last year's winners. "We are so fortunate here in P.E.I., and we are so thankful that we've had curling ice to practise on, and play games. And I'm very very thankful we live here," said Birt. "The teams that are on P.E.I., they ultimately have a distinct advantage over some of the other teams, just because of the time on ice," added Gallant. "Now, that being said, they still have to work hard to do well at a national championship. But I think the extra ice time is certainly going to benefit them." 'Eat, sleep, and curl' In both the Scotties and Brier qualifiers this weekend, the two teams will curl in a best-of-five championship. In Birt's case, even if her rink loses, they'll still be heading to Calgary. Curling Canada has expanded this year's field to include a few wild-card teams. Based on their national rankings, Birt and her rink have already earned a wild-card spot. The prospect of travelling to Alberta, where COVID-19 is much more prevalent, doesn't have her concerned. "Me personally, I think it's going to be the safest environment possible," she said. "We go to Calgary, we go straight to the bubble and we don't leave. We eat, sleep, and curl." More from CBC P.E.I.
France's court of appeal has ordered Canadian academic Hassan Diab to stand trial in connection with a 40-year-old bombing attack outside a Paris synagogue — three years after a lower court set him free due to a lack of evidence. Diab's French lawyers said they plan to appeal the decision to France's Supreme Court. "The decision of the French court of appeal today is the continuation of a long odyssey of injustice," his extradition lawyer, Donald Bayne, said at a news conference Wednesday. "It's devastating." Diab was accused by authorities of involvement in the 1980 Rue Copernic bombing, which killed four people and injured more than 40. WATCH | Hassan Diab ordered to stand trial for terrorism: The 67-year-old Ottawa university lecturer was arrested by the RCMP in November 2008 and placed under strict bail conditions until he was extradited to France in 2014. He spent more than three years in prison in France before the case against him collapsed. He was released in January 2018 after two French judges ruled the evidence against him wasn't strong enough to take to trial. He was never formally charged. French prosecutors appealed Diab's release promptly — pursuing it long after the last remaining piece of physical evidence linking Diab to the bombing had been discredited by France's own experts. The case moved slowly as prosecutors sought to find new evidence against Diab, and as court proceedings were delayed by the pandemic. Discredited evidence The key physical evidence Canada relied on in extraditing Diab to France was handwriting analysis linking Diab's handwriting to that of the suspected bomber. Canadian government lawyers acting on France's behalf called it a "smoking gun" in the extradition hearing. But in 2009, Diab's legal team produced contrary reports from four international handwriting experts. These experts questioned the methods and conclusions of the French experts. They also proved that some of the handwriting samples used by the French analysts belonged not to Diab but to his ex-wife. French investigative judges dismissed the handwriting evidence as unreliable when they ordered Diab's release in January 2018. But while considering the appeal of Diab's release, another judge ordered an independent review of the contentious handwriting evidence. Diab's lawyers said this latest review delivered "a scathing critique and rebuke" of the original handwriting analysis "that mirror[s] the critique by the defence during the extradition hearing 10 years ago." Bayne said Wednesday's decision flies in the face of evidence. "They admit that they doubt he was even there, yet they say that the body of evidence, such as it is, deserves to be debated in a trial court," said Bayne. "I respectfully submit that no justice system worthy of its name offers an innocent scapegoat to satisfy a demanding lobby." Amélie Lefebvre, one of Diab's criminal lawyers in France, said she believes the case is marching on for political reasons, as the families of the victims continue to call for justice. "Let's say it is, in our opinion, a politically correct decision. We had anticipated on the fact that it is extremely hard to let go of the only suspects that the victims and the public have," she said. "On the other hand, and we have relentlessly stated this, we estimate that the right of the victims to know and to have the real perpetrators accountable is not a right that could be satisfied in any way with the trial of a man who is innocent and for whom we have so many evidence that show his innocence." Lefebvre said she doesn't believe Diab is at risk at being extradited again, unless the French Supreme Court rules against them. 'A weak case' On Wednesday, Bayne reiterated his call to reform Canada's extradition laws, namely that other countries should need sworn testimony or evidence before making a request. The Canadian judge who ordered Diab's first extradition described the case against him as "weak" and said "the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial seem unlikely." The French investigative judges who released Diab also found he had an alibi for the day of the Paris bombing. Using university records and interviews with Diab's classmates, the investigative judges determined he was "probably in Lebanon" writing exams when the bombing outside the synagogue took place. WATCH | Evidence against Canadian accused in bombing doesn't stand up, lawyer says: "It is likely that Hassan Diab was in Lebanon during September and October 1980 … and it is therefore unlikely that he is the man … who then laid the bomb on Rue Copernic on October 3rd, 1980," they wrote. In 2018, CBC News confirmed that France was aware of — and had failed to disclose — fingerprint evidence that ended up playing a critical role in Diab's release. When Diab was finally released from a French prison in 2018, French judges cited the absence of matching fingerprints on a hotel form — and on any of the other evidence presented by France — as "unquestionably an essential element of discharge." French officials did not share fingerprint comparison evidence in their possession with their Canadian counterparts. Court documents show that, in fact, French prosecutors denied the evidence even existed. Diab seeking $90M from federal government Since his release, Diab has been living with his wife and two children. He has resumed work as a part-time lecturer. Diab filed a statement of claim last year seeking $90 million from the federal government over the role Canada played in his extradition to France. Central to that statement of claim is the fact that — as CBC News first reported in 2018 — Department of Justice lawyers helped France strengthen its evidence when the case against Diab appeared to be falling apart. A government-ordered review of Diab's case by former deputy attorney general of Ontario Murray Segal concluded that government lawyers acted ethically and followed proper procedures in extraditing Diab to France. Diab accused the federal government of perpetrating a "whitewash" by hiring Segal to perform the review instead of appointing a judge to hold a public inquiry with full power to subpoena evidence and cross-examine witnesses. A statement from the office of Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti said the government is aware of the developments and officials will review the decision to determine if there are implications for Canada at this stage. "It would not be appropriate to provide further comment as the domestic proceedings in France remain ongoing," said the statement issued on Wednesday.
OTTAWA — United Nations human rights experts are alarmed by what they see as a growing trend to enact legislation allowing medical assistance in dying for people suffering from non-terminal, disabling conditions. Three experts, including the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, say such legislation tends to be based on "ableist" assumptions about the quality and worth of the life of a person with a disability. In a statement issued earlier this week, the experts do not specifically mention Canada's proposed legislation, which would expand assisted dying to people who are suffering intolerably but are not approaching the natural end of their lives. But the arguments they make echo those advanced by Canadian disability rights advocates, who are vehemently opposed to Bill C-7. The bill has been passed by the House of Commons and is currently before the Senate. It is intended to bring the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling that struck down a provision in the current law that allows assisted dying only for those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable. The near-death restriction was challenged by Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, both of whom suffered from degenerative, disabling conditions but were not at the end of their lives. Justice Christine Baudouin agreed with them that the restriction violated their charter rights to equal treatment under the law and to life, liberty and security of the person. However, the UN experts argue that extending assisted dying to people with non-terminal conditions contravenes Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, "which requires states to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others." "When life-ending interventions are normalized for people who are not terminally ill or suffering at the end of their lives, such legislative provisions tend to rest on — or draw strength from — ableist assumptions about the inherent 'quality of life' or 'worth' of the life of a person with a disability," they say in a statement issued Monday by the UN Human Rights Council. "Disability is not a burden or a deficit of the person. It is a universal aspect of the human condition," they add. "Under no circumstance should the law provide that it could be a well-reasoned decision for a person with a disabling condition who is not dying to terminate their life with the support of the state." The experts who issued the statement are Gerard Quinn, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Olivier De Schutter, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; and Claudia Mahler, who was described as "an independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons." They argue that everyone accepts there can be no justification for assisting "any other protected group — be it a racial minority, gender or sexual minorities — to end their lives because they are experiencing suffering on account of their status." And they say it should be no different for people with disabilities. "Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone's life directly or indirectly." Even when assisted dying is restricted to people near the end of life, they argue people with disabilities, the elderly and especially elderly people with disabilities "may feel subtly pressured to end their lives prematurely" due to societal attitudes and a lack of support services. Those living in poverty may decide to seek an assisted death "as a gesture of despair," not as a real choice, they say. The government has until Feb. 26 — after being granted three extensions — to bring the law into compliance with Baudouin's ruling. The Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee, which has already conducted a pre-study of Bill C-7, is to resume its study and consider possible amendments during three, daylong meetings, starting Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
For Debi Drennan, the film business is a family affair. The Toronto-based makeup artist has been working in the industry before the days of The Littlest Hobo. Her sons, Christian and Tyler, followed her into the business, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they're all as busy as ever. Christian, a key grip, just wrapped The Man from Toronto starring Kevin Hart. Key rigger Tyler recently jumped from working on Netflix's Sex and Lies and is now on Station Eleven. Drennan herself was one of the first to return to work after Ontario's first coronavirus lockdown, as part of CBC's Murdoch Mysteries. She says that with all of the precautions in place, she wasn't worried about safety. "We're not allowed on the property until we have a correct temperature and we've done a screening. We all had apps on our phone, and we would have to answer those apps every morning." With surging coronavirus rates shutting down production in parts of California, Canadian crews such as the ones the Drennans worked on are competing with an influx of American productions. In both British Columbia and Ontario, the industry isn't just busy — it's booming. Switching face shields for safety glasses Virus or not, Drennan and her colleagues in the makeup trailer still had to make the cast look picture perfect. For starters, she procured a high-end UV sterilization machine to prevent cross-contamination. But applying makeup while wearing masks and face shields turned out to be a challenge. The solution was safety glasses with prescription lenses, which became standard on set. As both the face of and a director on the 14th season of Murdoch Mysteries, Yannick Bisson says he was all too cognizant of the risks. "There was pressure, we were going to be one of the first shows out of the gate," he said. "So the potential for failure was there." Drennan says the cast and crew quickly became accustomed to the new rhythms of work, but what she didn't anticipate was how worn out she would become. "It's exhausting.... I just felt like halfway through the day, they couldn't call lunch fast enough. I just needed to get in my car, pull my mask off, take my goggles off and just sit." Headaches were common, and Drennan says she thinks dehydration may have played a role: Taking off all the layers of personal protective equipment for a sip of water or a snack was such an ordeal that the temptation was just to tough it out. Pandemic keeps productions on edge Jason Jallet, a producer from Sudbury, Ont., completed two independent films during the fall and ran into trouble getting makeup and hair trailers, which had already been reserved for foreign productions. "They are all on a lot somewhere held until somebody needed them, so they were being paid for and unused." Jallet says he was forced to send drivers to Quebec from Sudbury for trailers, costing more time and money. He estimates COVID-19 precautions ate up about five per cent of his already precious budget. On-screen, life on the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience looks the same as it did before the pandemic. But behind the scenes, the fifth season was shot under COVID-19 measures that were so strict, even Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Appa, struggled to adjust. "I remember really wanting to push back at the absurdity of having to wear a mask because I knew I didn't have COVID and then realizing that I was making life hell for our COVID protocol officer." Eventually, Lee says, he decided to lean in and embrace the rules. Jean Yoon, who plays his on-screen wife, Umma, says she missed the faces of the crew. "Being in the same building with so many people we've worked with for all these years and not be able to see them." The strain of adapting to the regime of rules was so onerous that Jallet created a new position — a COVID-19 mental health officer — to give his crew someone to vent to. Jallet completed two films in northern Ontario last fall, Boathouse and Delia's Gone, starring Marisa Tomei and Canadian actor Stephan James. Jallet was also dealing with his own anxiety due to the lack of insurance for COVID-19 outbreaks. While the federal government eventually created a program to act as a backstop for Canadian productions, it wasn't available in time for Jallet, leaving him on the hook for any potential outbreak. "Every time the phone rang, I was like, 'Is there a COVID incident? Is somebody sick? Are we going to have to shut down?'" A surge in demand for studio space While the rush for resources has taxed Canadian productions, it's been a boon for companies offering studio space. Near Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the sound of jets overhead has been replaced by a fleet of film trucks supporting the newest location for TriBro Studios. What was once an airport hangar is now a soundstage, home to an upcoming Paramount production. TriBro president Peter Apostolopoulos says it can't build studio space fast enough. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing. There's a tremendous amount of calls coming in for studio space. That's why we expanded to the airport facilities. We needed more space." In Vancouver, independent producer Mark Miller says he is also seeing a scramble for space, with old warehouses being transformed into soundstages. The producer, who's worked with Great Pacific Media and Thunderbird Entertainment, is bullish on the future. "We're preparing for a big boom — actually, we think that once the pandemic comes to an end, there's a lot of pent-up demand for new content." At the same time, Miller says he's worried who will buy his shows. Aggressive tax credits and the low dollar continue to make Canada an attractive location to serve American shows, such as Star Trek: Discovery or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. But Miller says the pandemic is changing the broadcasting landscape here at home. "COVID-19 has been very hard on our broadcasters. I know it's been hard on the CBC. I know it's been hard at CTV," he says. "Global advertising revenues are down throughout traditional television, which up until eight years ago was 100 per cent of my business." While COVID-19 has changed how stories are being captured, Yannick Bisson of Murdoch Mysteries says one thing remains the same: "The need for something to watch, the need for content. We want to watch our voices on our screen." In Ontario alone, there are an estimated 30,000 full-time jobs connected to the film and television sector. But as the pandemic stretches on, choosing whether to work or wait has producer Jason Jallet facing some tough choices. "Do we go come up here to northern Ontario to make films? So if I'm bringing actors up from Toronto on a weekly basis to be on screen, am I putting my community here in northern Ontario at risk?"
Evotec rose sharply on Tuesday amid market speculation that Melvin Capital Management was unwinding its positions in the German drugmaker after some of its investments turned sour. Evotec's shares jumped 10% at one point on Tuesday with three traders saying the move was likely linked to Melvin Capital closing out its shorts following losses on GameStop and other investments. Battery maker Varta surged for a similar reason, a German-based trader said, while shares in Polish videogame firm CD Projekt also saw strong demand.
CALGARY — The president of a union representing employees at some of the largest meat-packing plants in the country says there needs to be a discussion about making the COVID-19 vaccine more readily available to essential workers. Thomas Hesse of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 says he realizes there's a shortage of the vaccine right now. But once that is remedied, he say, workers at large operations such as the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River, Alta., and the JBS Canada plant in Brooks, Alta., shouldn't have to wait too long. "In the coming months at some point someone's going to make a decision about who gets the vaccination. Will there be a priority? Will there be any prioritization of any so-called essential workers?" he asked in an interview with The Canadian Press. The two plants, which together normally process about 70 per cent of Canada's beef supply, were hot spots for COVID-19 outbreaks last spring. Cargill's plant, south of Calgary, shut down for two weeks in April because of an outbreak that initially affected 350 of its 2,200 workers. Eventually nearly half the workers contracted the novel coronavirus and two employees died. COVID-19 forced JBS to reduce its production to a single shift a day for a month, which added to a backlog of cattle at feedlots. The plants brought in safety measures that included temperature testing, physical distancing, and cleaning and sanitizing before they returned to normal operations. Packing-plant employees are still at risk, Hesse said. "In a Cargill or a JBS or other manufacturing facility in Alberta, there'll be a couple of thousand workers in a big box still working in relatively proximity," he said. "These are essential workers. They're at higher risk. This is clearly an occupational disease. Many of them want to have access to a safe vaccine." Hesse said the union plans to hold a town-hall meeting Sunday to hear members views and what to do if getting a vaccination becomes a condition of employment. An official with Cargill said the company is working with health authorities and medical experts to make sure its employees have access to vaccines when they become available without jeopardizing the priority being given to health-care workers "We will prioritize our front-line workers whenever we can, as they continue to work tirelessly to keep our food system going strong," said Daniel Sullivan in an email. "Because we know vaccines don't work without vaccinations, we also will join local health authorities in promoting the importance of vaccination among our employees." JBS USA said it will offer all its employees a $100 bonus, including those in Brooks, if they get vaccinated in the future. "Our goal is to remove any barriers to vaccination and incentivize our team members to protect themselves, their families and their co-workers," said CEO Andre Nogueira. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
China said on Wednesday that the Indian government's decision to keep a ban on 59 Chinese apps was a violation of the World Trade Organization's fair rules of business and would hurt Chinese firms. The ban dates from last year when political tension between the neighbours rose over their disputed border. This month the Indian government decided to keep the ban on TikTok and other apps.