International travelers arriving in Canada will have to stay quarantined for at least three days in an approved hotel. Sean O'Shea explains the new regulations from Toronto's Pearson Airport.
International travelers arriving in Canada will have to stay quarantined for at least three days in an approved hotel. Sean O'Shea explains the new regulations from Toronto's Pearson Airport.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
A disengaged lighting system in a vehicle led to a Cardinal man being arrested on multiple drug-related offences earlier this week. Ontario Provincial Police from the Grenville detachment say they were on general patrol Wednesday night when officers noticed a vehicle without its lighting system on and conducted a traffic stop at 9:40 p.m. Police did not identify on what road the traffic stop took place. Police say after speaking with the driver, they found him to be in possession of what is believed to be methamphetamine. After arresting the man, a search of the vehicle found serval packages of the drug, including in pill form. Also found in the search was a scale, packaging material and a quantity of cash, said police. John Fahrngruber, 61, has been charged with two counts of possession of a Schedule I substance, one count of possession of a Schedule I substance for the purpose of trafficking, failure to comply with an undertaking and possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime under $5,000. Police released the accused from custody, and he is scheduled for a court appearance in Brockville on April 30. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
NEW YORK — Is it Mr. Potato Head or not? Hasbro created confusion Thursday when it announced that it would drop the “Mr.” from the brand’s name in order to be more inclusive and so all could feel “welcome in the Potato Head world.” It also said it would sell a new playset this fall without the Mr. and Mrs. designations that will let kids create their own type of potato families, including two moms or two dads. But in a tweet later that afternoon, Hasbro clarified that the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters will still live on and be sold in stores, but under the Potato Head brand. In a picture posted on Twitter, the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” names are less prominently displayed at the bottom of the box, instead of the top. “While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD,” the company tweeted. The tweet came after news of the brand name change exploded on Twitter, with people asking if Barbie will change her name next. “I think Hasbro needs to drop the “Bro” and just be “Has,'” another person tweeted. Hasbro appears to want to have it both ways: expand the brand, while not killing off its most iconic characters, which appeared in the “Toy Story” films. “They are looking to broaden the franchise,” said Robert Passikoff, founder of marketing consultancy Brand Keys. “You take the focus of what is essentially one character and now allow it to be a platform for many characters.” Kimberly Boyd, a senior vice-president at Hasbro, said the intention of the brand name change was to be more inclusive and to have the characters still live within the Potato Head universe. “It created a lot of excitement," she said about the reaction. GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group, applauded the more inclusive Potato playset. “Hasbro is helping kids to simply see toys as toys, which encourages them to be their authentic selves outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s chief communications officer, in a statement. Many toymakers have been updating their classic brands in recent years, hoping to relate to today’s kids and reflect more modern families. “It’s a potato,” said Ali Mierzejewski, editor in chief at toy review site The Toy Insider, about the new playset. “But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.” Barbie, for example, has tried to shed its blonde image and now comes in multiple skin tones and body shapes. The Thomas the Tank Engine toy line added more girl characters. And American Girl is now selling a boy doll. Mr. Potato Head first hit the toy scene in 1952, when it didn’t even come with a plastic potato — kids had to supply their own vegetable to poke eyes, a nose or moustache into. Hasbro, which also makes Monopoly and My Little Pony, bought the brand and eventually added a plastic spud. Joseph Pisani, The Associated Press
The top doctor for the Thunder Bay, Ont., area is recommending all schools move classes online for the next two weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases. Dr. Janet DeMille made the recommendation in a Thursday memo to school boards in the region. Lakehead Public Schools shared the memo on its website and announced classes would move online starting Monday, with further instruction from the health unit to come. The school board had called for the move to virtual school this week amid outbreaks that had already forced four schools online. The board said COVID-19 cases and exposures have led to a staffing shortage and sent hundreds of students into isolation. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the situation in Thunder Bay schools is related to rising COVID-19 transmission in the broader community. "There's actions being taken to reduce that ... at the community level which ultimately will help ensure schools can reopen and stay safe in the province," Lecce told reporters on Thursday. He said testing resources will be deployed to school communities Schools elsewhere in Ontario were dealing with cases of more infectious variants of COVID-19 on Thursday. As of Thursday, 11 schools in Toronto had detected at least one case of a more contagious COVID-19 variant. Affected individuals and cohorts have been sent home based on their risk level, according to the local public health unit. The Toronto District School Board said Earl Grey SPS, Edgewood PS and Pleasant View MS were added to the list on Thursday. A spokesman for Toronto District School Board said the public health unit has not advised schools to take any additional health and safety measures at this time. "But at the same time, they're reminding everyone of the importance of the existing health and safety measures," said Ryan Bird. "While concerning, we have received assurances from public health officials that there are no additional precautions that need to be taken." Variant cases have been found in Toronto's public and Catholic school boards, as well as two private schools. Lecce pointed to new provincial requirements that students with one COVID-19 symptom must now isolate for 10 days to illustrate the province's stronger public health measures for schools light of the new variants. "The province has stepped up the requirements, both on the system and on families, just to be absolutely vigilant that we don't see variants of concerns spreading and creating challenges for our kids, for our staff and just for the healthcare system that we're trying to protect," Lecce told reporters on Thursday. On Wednesday, public health officials dismissed students and staff from two Sudbury, Ont., schools following five confirmed cases of COVID-19. All five cases have been identified by Public Health Sudbury and Districts as variants of concern. Provincial data as of 10:30 a.m. on Thursday reported 18 schools closed due to COVID-19 and 430 schools with a reported case, representing nearly nine per cent of schools provincewide. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan and Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the COVID-19 rates are increasing, with “potential for rapid growth.” The seven-day moving average of new cases has come up over the last two weeks, Henry said. And so has the percentage of tests that come back positive, with a 6.7 per cent positivity rate on average across the province. “When we have confidence that (rates) are slowing in a sustained way, that is when we will be able to ease restrictions,” Henry said. She also reported 395 new cases, 12 of which are epidemiologically linked. B.C. has now had 78,673 cases since the pandemic began. Of the new cases, 86 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 207 in the Fraser Health region, 37 in the Island Health region, 24 in the Interior Health region and 41 in the Northern Health region. There are now 4,489 active cases and 228 people in hospital with the virus, 62 of whom are in critical care. Ten people died in the last 24 hours, a higher number than in recent days. One new healthcare outbreak was declared at a retirement community in Maple Ridge, and the outbreak at Burnaby Hospital was declared over. Active healthcare outbreaks are currently affecting 398 residents and 213 staff. To date, 239,833 vaccinations have been administered, 68,157 of which are second doses. There have now been 116 cases of variants of concern—95 of the so-called United Kingdom variant and 21 of the so-called South African variant. The two cases of the variant first found in Nigeria are considered to be under investigation and are not classified as a variant of concern at this time. Of the variant cases, 71 are in the Fraser Health region, 39 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, four in Island Health and two in Interior Health. “Across the province we are paying special attention to people who are being infected with these variants so we can better understand the transmission patterns and the impact they are having,” said Henry. In about a quarter of the variant cases, it’s unclear where the person was infected. Following variant cases that were confirmed to have been found in seven Fraser Health schools, six more people at two of those schools have tested positive—five students and one staff member. It is not yet known whether these new cases are variants of concern. For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and to find a testing centre near you: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
(Ed Middleton/CBC - image credit) Alberta's budget did not feature deep cuts to balance the books, instead pushing off that accounting to a post-pandemic province. But the numbers will still constitute important realities in Calgary in the coming year. Speaking after the budget's release, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi characterized the plan as a "caretaker budget" that failed to seize opportunities proffered by the pandemic. "There are some cuts in it that are really troubling," Nenshi said. "But the real issue here is there is nothing in this budget to get us back to where we were before. "At the very least, let's hope this buys us some time to get it right, because we gotta get it right." Cuts to capital grants On Thursday, the Alberta government proposed nearly $62 billion in spending in the 2021-22 budget, with Finance Minister Travis Toews predicting a $18.2-billion deficit in the coming year. The budget will also see a rise in health-care spending, a boost in the government's three-year construction plan by $1.7 billion and a reduction for municipal capital grants over the next three years. Nenshi said the cuts to capital grants will translate into fewer construction jobs, while reduced spending on post-secondary education will harm attempts to diversify the economy. "It cuts our capital spending by 25 per cent. On the one hand, they want us to build stuff and create jobs, and on the other hand, they want to take away the money we need to build stuff and create jobs," Nenshi said. Education funding Mount Royal University will receive $50 million as part of the budget over the next three years to repurpose existing spaces within the Calgary post-secondary school. MRU president and vice-chancellor Tim Rahilly said the university would use the funding to refurbish the school's old conservatory and library space. In addition to the $50 million, the school also has a private gift of $15 million for the renovation. "For us, this is centre space on our campus. It's original 1970s space that was created when this campus was built and was vacated when our Riddell Library and Learning Centre was built," Rahilly said. "So it's a tremendous opportunity right in the heart of campus. And it will allow us to also increase our campus community by slightly more than a thousand students. So we're just, we couldn't be more delighted." The Alberta budget includes $50 million over the next three years to repurpose existing spaces within Mount Royal University. But some have taken issue with changes in the budget related to education. University of Calgary student union president Frank Finley said he thinks cuts to post-secondary will lead to a "brain drain" in the province. "Let's also acknowledge the really important role that post-secondary plays in innovation and economic development," Finley said. "This budget is not going to stimulate the economy. It is not going to create innovation. Quite the opposite, in fact." Other funding initiatives The Glenbow Museum and Vivo for Healthier Generations in Calgary will also receive funding as part of $251 million over the next three years designated to support building and maintenance of community infrastructure. The budget sends $15.5 million to the Calgary Zoo, which will fund upgrades and expansions of the river otter habitat and new habitats for polar bears and other Arctic species, which are new to the zoo. The Calgary Zoo will receive $15.5-million as part of Alberta's 2021 budget, which will, in part, fund new habitats for polar bears and other arctic species. Health facilities will see funding allocated for construction projects as part of the 2021 budget, including the Calgary Cancer Centre, which will receive $212.6 million in 2021-22. Taking a full view of the budget, Nenshi said the provincial government failed to chart a course for a post-pandemic Alberta. "We see a government, frankly, in an identity crisis," he said. "[The government is] trying to figure out if they are the Wildrose Party, if they are a centrist progressive party, if they are a party that believes in economic diversification and investing in it or in returning to the past. "Certainly, we haven't seen much example of a deeply fiscally conservative party here either." Nenshi added that he is worried about Alberta's growing debt and if it will hurt the province's credit rating. In the end, the mayor said that could cost municipalities more money when they need to borrow money for projects.
(Thanassis Stavrakis/The Associated Press - image credit) Saskatchewan is expanding its rapid-testing capabilities as concerns rise over coronavirus variants. The province is set to deploy more than 700,000 rapid tests, which were procured through a federal government allocation, according to a Thursday news release. "These safe and simple tests will be used in a variety of settings including walk-in or drive-thru sites, mobile testing and pop-up testing sites," the province's news release said. "Tests will also be available for ambulance, fire and police and participating pharmacies and dental offices." The tests will also be offered to to long-term and personal care homes, shelters, group homes and schools, the province said. The Ministry of Health said it's developing a tender for third-party providers to conduct the tests, since care homes, shelters, schools and others won't likely have the capacity or training to administer the tests on their own. "I think we need to use testing even more now because of the variants of concern," Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, said Thursday. Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, added that provincial legislation had been amended so that the places where the tests are being deployed don't need a lab licence. The change allows for a quicker expansion of testing services in the province. "There isn't a point-of-care test that's going to expire in the province of Saskatchewan," Livingstone said. "We'll have them used well in advance of that," he said. With coronavirus variants "as well as a slower than what we want immunization strategy because of vaccine supply, this extra testing is going to go a long way to put a bigger safety blanket across many areas," said Livingstone. Any positive results from a rapid test will have to be confirmed with a lab test. A negative test does not need to be retested for confirmation. Shahab says that it's normal for testing rates to fluctuate depending on how much COVID-19 is spreading in the community, but that it's important to keep testing above a certain level. He didn't have an exact number for that level. "Testing rates sometimes also start trending down and that's not very good, because then you can start missing COVID," he said. "We've already had situations where people were delaying testing testing even though they were symptomatic."
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor says there may have been a miscarriage of justice when a babysitter was convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the drowning of a toddler in Cranbrook, B.C. Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge in the death of 19-month-old Iyanna Teeple, who was found unconscious and not breathing in a bathtub while under her care. The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. The service says in a statement Thursday that Sandford has completed her review and provided a written report, in which she says there is a strong case to be made that Bouvette did not receive disclosure of significant and relevant materials. The statement says Sandford concluded that as a result of that non-disclosure, Bouvette's charter rights may have been breached and her conviction may represent a miscarriage of justice. It says Sandford found a review by the B.C. Court of Appeal is desirable in order to determine whether a miscarriage of justice occurred, and she directed the prosecution service to provide Bouvette with copies of all materials collected in her investigation. The prosecution service says the Crown will not oppose Bouvette if she applies to the Appeal Court for a time extension to file an appeal of her conviction, nor if she applies to file fresh evidence based on any materials not previously disclosed to her. It says Sandford will continue as special prosecutor on the matter and has already taken steps to begin implementing her conclusions and recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Police in Victoria are asking for help from the public who may know something about the beheading of a royal statue and a recent rash of graffiti in the city. There were numerous acts of spray-paint vandalism on Tuesday which targeted businesses and public and city-owned property. Police say in a statement that the graffiti specifically references Beacon Hill Park, the site of a long-running tent encampment. They're also asking for help recovering the head removed from a statue of the Queen located in the same park. Officers were called to the area near the park's petting zoo on Wednesday for reports of the damaged statue. Despite both being acts of vandalism, police say the two incidents have not been linked. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
(NIAID/NIH via AP - image credit) Northern Alberta continues to see an increase in COVID-19 infections, with more than 1,000 active cases across the health zone. The province reported 399 new cases on Thursday, a slight decline from the day before, while hospitalization numbers dropped below 300 for the first time in many weeks. Alberta Health also reported another 32 new cases of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom. The province has now confirmed 348 cases of variant B117, and continues to have seven cases of B1351, first identified in South Africa. There were 4,484 active cases in the province, with 280 people were treated in hospitals for the illness, including 56 in ICU beds, according to the latest update released by Alberta Health. Another eight deaths were reported to Alberta Health over the last 24 hours, including four that dated back to January. The three most recent deaths, which happened during the past week, involved a man and a woman in their 40s and a woman in her 30s. The regional breakdown of active cases on Thursday was: Calgary zone: 1,510, a decline of 54 from the day before. North zone: 1,016, an increase of 74 from the day before. Edmonton zone: 897, a decline of 28 from the day before. Central zone: 737, a decline of 22 from the day before. South zone: 319, a decline of 34 from the day before. Unknown: five, an increase of three from the day before.
The Manitoba government is lookig at loosening many of its public health orders as its COVID-19 numbers improve. The province is seeking public feedback on a series of changes.
WASHINGTON — Stacey Abrams, whose voting rights work helped make Georgia into a swing state, exhorted Congress on Thursday to reject “outright lies" that have historically restricted access to the ballot as Democrats began their push for a sweeping overhaul of election and ethics laws. “A lie cloaked in the seductive appeal of election integrity has weakened access to democracy for millions,” Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost Georgia's 2018 gubernatorial race, said during a committee hearing for the bill, which was introduced as H.R. 1 to signal its importance to the party's agenda. Democrats feel a sense of urgency to enact the legislation ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, when their narrow majorities in the House and Senate will be at risk. The bill, which good-government groups have championed, is advancing against a backdrop of Republican-controlled states seizing on former President Donald Trump's false claims about a stolen 2020 election to push legislation that would make it more difficult to vote. Democrats argue that voters of colour, a key constituency for the party, would be disproportionately affected. It also comes on the cusp of a once-in-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts, a highly partisan affair that is typically controlled by state legislatures. With Republicans controlling the majority of statehouse, the process alone could help the GOP win enough seats to recapture the House. The Democratic bill would instead require that the boundaries be drawn by independent commissions. “Every political player knows what’s at stake,” said Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan good-government group based in Washington. “There is a race between what is going on in Republican state legislatures, and this effort to pass federal rules to protect the right to vote of every eligible citizen.” To Republicans, the proposal amounts to a massive federal intrusion in locally administered elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blasted the measure the last time it was up for debate in Congress, calling it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.” “If this bill were to become law, it would be the largest expansion of the federal government’s role in elections that we have ever seen,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. “The harm to the states’ electoral process outweighs the minor burdens imposed on the rights to vote.” The debate over the measure comes in the tumultuous aftermath of the 2020 election, which saw record mail-in voting because of the pandemic. After losing the White House, Trump repeated ad nauseam a false claim that the outcome was due to widespread voter fraud as he sought to overturn President Joe Biden's win. But there was no widespread fraud, as has been confirmed by election officials across the country and then-Attorney General William Barr. Dozens of legal challenges to the election put forth by Trump and his allies were dismissed, including by the Supreme Court. Republican-controlled state legislatures, spurred to action by Trump’s claims, have nonetheless moved to put in place new voting restrictions in dozens of states, including Abrams' Georgia. That's where congressional Democrats' effort comes into play. Citing Congress' constitutional authority to set the time, place and manner of federal elections, Democrats want national rules that they say would make voting more uniform, accessible and fair across the nation. The bill would stymie state GOP efforts by mandating early voting, same-day registration and other long-sought reforms that Republicans reject. The 791-page measure, which was first introduced two years ago, would also require dark money political groups to disclose anonymous donors, as well as create reporting requirements for online political ads. It would appropriate nearly $2 billion for election infrastructure upgrades. And in a rearview nod at Trump, it would obligate presidents to disclose their tax returns. Despite staunch GOP opposition, the bill is all but certain to pass the House. But daunting challenges lay ahead in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. On some legislation, it takes only 51 votes to pass, with Vice-President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. On a deeply divisive bill like this one, they would need 60 votes under the Senate’s current rules to overcome a Republican filibuster — a tally they are unlikely to reach. Under pressure from the party’s left flank, Democrats have proposed eliminating the filibuster but lack the votes to do so. It’s an open question whether Democrats will find ways around that hurdle, potentially by mustering the votes to change the filibuster rules to exempt specific types of legislation — including those that deal with voting rights. Given the closing window to pass legislation before 2022, many in the party remain hopeful it will be signed into law by Biden, whose administration has said the bill is a priority. “We may not get the opportunity to make this change again for many, many decades, so let's not miss that window,” said John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who is the bill’s lead sponsor. “Shame on us if we don’t get this done.” Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit) Despite looking for volunteers to vaccinate the community, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has turned down some cross-border nurses who have offered their services, leaving some feeling disappointed. Last week, the local health unit put out a call for volunteers with a medical background to help with the vaccination rollout. But medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says they can't accept cross-border health-care workers under Canada's guidelines. CBC News has heard from nurses who say the majority of registered nurses in the U.S. are vaccinated, which is why they don't understand the inability to volunteer. But Canada's rules say that health-care workers crossing the border should isolate as much as possible outside of work and Ahmed says the regulations don't differentiate between people who are vaccinated and those who aren't. Registered nurse Kate Kemplin, who is licensed to work on both sides of the border, says it must have been difficult for the health unit to turn away help — but she agrees that that's the way it must be. "I'm sure that anyone running a vaccine program would love to have as many nurses as possible but the reality is that when you cross the border every day, or you cross the border once, you make a choice and the choice is to come home and isolate," she said. "The fact of the matter is that this is not discrimination, this is public health." She said there's many other ways that cross-border nurses can be helpful, including calling patients, doing pre-screening and providing online training for new vaccine injectors. "If we want to get as many people vaccinated as possible, then we do have to consider community injectors, injections for this type of vaccination is fairly low risk as a procedure and we could be training lay people to do it," she said, adding that this can include people who are not currently working due to COVID-19 layoffs. She said people who do the job should also be paid for it. As for nurses that really want to vaccinate their fellow Canadians, Kemplin said they could always make that happen. "The reality is we do need you at home and if that is what you want to do, quarantine for 14 days and make that your mission," she said.
Le ministre de la Justice, David Lametti, a déposé un projet de loi visant à modifier le Code criminel et la Loi sur l’identification des criminels pour alléger les procédures et adapter le système de justice pénale aux obstacles posés par la pandémie. Le projet de loi a prévu de mettre en œuvre « un mécanisme permettant aux accusés de comparaître à distance, par vidéoconférence ou audioconférence, pour la plupart des procédures pénales, et ce, sur consentement, à la discrétion du tribunal et en prenant les mesures de protection qui conviennent. » Il s’agit de favoriser le meilleur accès à la justice pendant et après la pandémie en donnant aux tribunaux plus de souplesse dans la conduite des procédures sans compromettre la sécurité et les droits et libertés des justiciables et des acteurs selon un communiqué. En effet, le ministère fédéral redoute le risque que la pandémie entraîne d’autres délais et plombe l’efficacité du système de justice pénale. « Les Canadiens s’attendent à ce que leurs tribunaux traitent des affaires criminelles en temps opportun, afin que les droits des accusés soient respectés et que les victimes voient que justice est rendue », a souligné le ministre de la Justice, David Lametti. Ottawa a proposé d’élaborer des règles pour soutenir les accusés non représentés, et non pas seulement les accusés représentés ou encore pour faire recours à la technologie pour la pige des noms de candidats-jurés lors du processus de sélection du jury. Il a également prévu de revoir le processus relatif aux télémandats en vue d’offrir aux agents de la paix un plus vaste éventail d’ordonnances d’enquête pouvant faire l’objet d’une demande à distance. La prise d’empreintes digitales des accusés pourrait être reportée à « une date ultérieure, en particulier dans le cas où les tentatives antérieures ont échoué en raison de circonstances exceptionnelles, comme celles de la COVID-19. » Dès le début de la pandémie en mars 2020, le ministre de la Justice et procureur général du Canada a mobilisé les ministres provinciaux et territoriaux au sujet de l’impact de la Covid-19 dans les tribunaux de juridiction criminelle. Il ne reste plus qu’à obtenir le soutien à la Chambre des communes. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
VICTORIA — British Columbia isn’t at the point where public health restrictions can be lifted with concerns about the potential for the rapid spread of COVID-19, the province’s top doctor says. Dr. Bonnie Henry said she understands the desire to see restrictions lifted on rules like the limit on social gatherings, but concerns over the province’s rising rolling seven-day average of cases means the indefinite restrictions put in place earlier this month will stay. “There’s potential for rapid growth if we’re not careful,” she told a news conference. B.C. reported 395 cases of COVID-19 and 10 new deaths on Thursday. Close to 240,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. so far, including more than 68,000 people who received their second shot. As B.C. works to identify the more than 120 cases of COVID-19 variants across the province, Henry said health authorities are ramping up the screening for them. Its aim is to test 100 per cent of all positive samples to see if they are likely variants that should be sent on for further testing. Ontario and Quebec already screen all positive cases for variants. Henry expressed confidence in limiting the spread of the variant cases, even though one-quarter of the variant cases diagnosed in B.C. have not yet been traced back to their origin. "The things we do to prevent transmission works against these variants as well, which is why we all have to continue doing what we're doing," she said. The majority of COVID-19 cases are spread through workplace interactions, Henry said, but part of limiting transmission includes staying close to home during the upcoming March break. Henry also spoke of the challenges she's faced during the pandemic, including new death threats and the impact they have had on her family and co-workers. "It's one of the things that have been incredibly challenging," she said. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the threats and personal attacks directed at Henry are "completely unacceptable." "I condemn them utterly," he said. "We all have to find ways to disagree without personal attack." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press - image credit) The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an application for leave to appeal on a long-standing dispute over government funding for Catholic schools in Saskatchewan. Thursday's decision from Canada's highest court ends a 16-year court battle between Public Schools of Saskatchewan — an organization that represents 15 public school boards in the province and advocates for public education — and the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association. The dismissal of the public school organization's application for leave to appeal means that non-Catholic students in the province will continue to receive government funding to attend Catholic schools in Saskatchewan. Tom Fortosky, executive director of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association, says the Supreme Court's decision comes as a relief. "[It's] a very emotional moment.... Really what we want to do now is just get back to doing what we do best, which is educating children," he said. Tom Fortosky says Catholic school board officials are grateful for the government's decision. The saga began in 2003, when the public Good Spirit School Division decided to close the only school in Theodore, Sask. The school had served both Catholic and non-Catholic students. In order to keep their school, local parents decided to start a new one under a separate school board. That new school division bought the existing school in the village and renamed it St. Theodore Roman Catholic School. The majority of students switched to the Catholic school system, despite not being Catholic. The Good Spirit division took the matter to court in 2005, arguing that the constitutional protection of Catholic schools does not include the right for those schools to receive government funding for non–Catholic students. Fortosky says that line of thinking is problematic for families. "From our perspective, this was about parental choice," he said. "If the funding didn't come with the child, there would be a practical barrier for parents who wish to choose a Catholic faith-based education for their children." The court battle launched in 2005 led to a landmark decision in 2017, in which Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donald Layh ruled it was unconstitutional for the province to fund non-Catholic students at Catholic schools. Funding "non-minority faith students" in faith-based schools violated both the Charter of Rights and "the state's duty of religious neutrality," Layh wrote. The case made its way to Saskatchewan's Court of Appeal, which delivered a unanimous decision in March 2020, saying separate schools could receive provincial government funding for students who are not Catholic. The appeal court said the trial judge made "fundamental errors of law," and said considering the matter as one involving funding for non-Catholics in a Catholic school was too narrow. The question should be considered in the context of two publicly funded school systems, the appeal court said. "It is an effect of this parallel public system of education that non-Catholic students may attend public, separate schools, but it is also an effect that Catholic students may attend public, secular schools," the 2020 decision said. Public Schools of Saskatchewan was seeking leave to appeal that decision at the Supreme Court. Dismissal Thursday's dismissal of the application came as a disappointment to Norm Dray, executive director of Public Schools of Saskatchewan. "What's happening is wrong for education in Saskatchewan.... We don't believe that there should be two systems that get government funding for all students," Dray said. Catholic schools are set up to educate Catholic students, he said, "and we have no trouble with with Catholic schools existing for that purpose." "What we don't accept is that they have a mandate to teach all students … [including] non-Catholics. And we don't believe they should get government funding for that." In a statement on Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said his government is pleased with the Supreme Court's decision. "Our government strongly supports parent and student choice in education, including Saskatchewan's public, separate and faith-based schools," said Moe.
The United States carried out air strikes authorised by President Joe Biden against facilities belonging to Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria on Thursday, in response to rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq, the Pentagon said. Syria did not immediately comment, but state-owned Ekhbariya TV said the strikes were conducted at dawn against several targets near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Biden's decision to strike only in Syria and not in Iraq, at least for now, gives Iraq's government some breathing room as it investigates a Feb. 15 attack that wounded Americans.
NEW YORK — Christian Siriano opened his second show of the pandemic Thursday with two ladies in bed, models who emerged flawless in black one-pieces, then dressed for all to see before hitting the runway. It was a dreamy, colour-saturated show during a tough time for fashion inspiration, Siriano said. He created an alternate reality inspired by a recent jaunt to Aspen, Colorado, to visit family for the first time in a year. While most designers have gone fully digital during an expanded New York Fashion Week that has stretched the traditional calendar, Siriano remains committed to the runway. “If you take this away, and the glamour, then it's like I'm just at the office talking about money all day, and that's not what I want,” he told The Associated Press after the fall-winter show attended by about 75 in-person guests. “I wouldn't want to do this job if I couldn't have this world.” In this world, shared on Instagram Live, there were looks for hidden parties and cocktail hours in the Colorado mountains, and silky evening dresses in fuchsia and chartreuse. There were cutouts, and ruffles and lace for ombre and peekaboo impact. And there was Siriano muse Coca Rocha camping it up for the cameras in a voluminous black gown with a plunging neckline — after she woke up to start the show. Siriano included two thrifted pieces he previously designed and found on the site thredUP, including a black fringe coat he made about seven years ago. He was pleasantly surprised it held up, both esthetically and through its well-worn years. The other look was a plunging silk crepe dress in fuchsia washed many times. “You shouldn't do that because it's silk, but it looked so cool. It looked worn but new. Hopefully it will show people we can do this in fashion,” Siriano said of the growing reuse movement. He partnered with thredUP after creating the universal logo for thrift, in the shape of a coat hanger. As for his newly created clothes, there was an “homage to the lodge” in plaid lames and cashmeres, melting into sunset-drenched oranges and pinks inspired by his Colorado vacation. He threw in some creams in a snakeskin print and bright winter whites, including a white jacket worn with loose fuchsia trousers for day. Siriano carried his check lame print from a trouser set to a strapless cocktail gown to a loose, long-sleeve top with a plunge. There were psychedelic swirls of orange and brown in a pantsuit and an evening dress with a high slit. What if, heaven forbid, he's forced to design a third collection in a pandemic come the September show cycle, trying to wrangle staff working remotely while sourcing materials. “Honestly, I don't know," Siriano said, "because I love doing this but it's very hard to do in a pandemic. The logistics are a challenge, but we're just going to move on and hope for the best.” Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Canada's ministry of finance called a media report that the head of the country's largest pension fund had traveled to the Middle East and received a COVID-19 vaccination "very troubling". Mark Machin, the 54-year-old chief executive of the C$475.7 billion ($377 billion) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), received a Pfizer Inc vaccine shot after arriving in the United Arab Emirates with his partner this month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
CALGARY — Pembina Pipeline Corp. is reporting a $1.2 billion net fourth-quarter loss thanks mainly to $1.6 billion in non-cash after-tax impairment charges on its proposals to build an Alberta petrochemical plant and Oregon LNG export facility. The Calgary-based company said in December it and joint venture partner Petrochemical Industries Co. of Kuwait had decided to halt work on an integrated propane dehydration plant and polypropylene upgrading facility near Edmonton. Pembina has a 50 per cent interest in the project designed to turn propane into plastic pellets, similar to the nearby $4 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex under construction by rival Inter Pipeline Ltd. It says it is also taking a charge against its proposed Jordan Cove LNG Project at Coos Bay, Ore., and a related natural gas supply pipeline in light of "regulatory and political uncertainty." The project received tentative Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval last year but hasn't been able to secure a required clean water permit from the state. Pembina says it thinks both projects are sound but it is taking the impairment charges because it can't reasonably forecast when they will be built. "We believe the time for these projects may come; however, we can sadly no longer predict with certainty when that time will be and hence were compelled to reflect their impairments in our 2020 financial statements through a non-cash charge," it said in a news release. It says its fourth-quarter earnings would have been $338 million excluding the impairments and the associated deferred tax recovery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:PPL) The Canadian Press