As Canadian officials were allowed a consular visit to Michael Spavor, one of two Canadians detained in China. Michael Kovrig's family is hopeful the new U.S. president will lead to a renewed sense of urgency in the two men's cases.
As Canadian officials were allowed a consular visit to Michael Spavor, one of two Canadians detained in China. Michael Kovrig's family is hopeful the new U.S. president will lead to a renewed sense of urgency in the two men's cases.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
Several community groups are calling for more resources for women dealing with domestic violence, as some shelters face an unprecedented demand because of the pandemic. The calls come after at least five Quebec women were killed in recent weeks — deaths that could have been prevented, according to advocates, if the province had better support systems in place. Two women were killed in a town in the Laurentians Monday. Myriam Dallaire, 28, and her mother Sylvie Bisson, 60, were found with serious injuries in a home in Sainte-Sophie, Que. They both died from their injuries that night. Dallaire's ex-partner was arrested after being involved in a traffic collision in nearby Saint-Jérôme Monday night and is considered a person of interest in the homicides. Quebec Premier François Legault addressed the double-homicide in Sainte-Sophie at a news conference Wednesday, calling the killings the act of a "barbarian." "There is nothing masculine, there is nothing virile, about being violent with women. On the contrary, it is the opposite. I find it to be very cowardly," he said. "Let's hope that the measures we are setting up for housing centres shelters for women will improve the situation." Since January, SOS violence conjugale has received close to 35,000 online and phone requests — the highest number the organization has ever seen. Melpa Kamateros, executive director of Shield of Athena Family Services, says the pandemic has created a perfect storm for victims of domestic violence. "With the lockdown and quarantine, women found themselves in close proximity with their abusive partners, which led not only to increased situations of violence but also to less time to make an escape plan," she said. "In general, COVID has added yet one more layer of difficulty for women trying to access information and services." Shield of Athena's executive director, Melpa Kamateros, says changes need to be made to Quebec's legal infrastructure to better protect victims of domestic violence. (CBC) In a survey of Quebec women's shelter clients — conducted by the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale from July to November 2020 — 42 per cent of women said they faced more intense incidents of domestic violence during the first lockdown and 43 per cent said they did not seek help because their partner was always around. Then there's issue of finding a place to stay, once their time in an emergency shelter is up. Many women in the province rely on the help of second-stage homes — shelters where women stay after they head to an emergency shelter but before they find permanent housing. But those facilities are far beyond their capacity and many regions, including the Laurentians, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie and Lanaudière, don't even have them. Gaëlle Fedida of l'Alliance MH2 speaks during a news conference in Montreal, highlighting the lack of second-stage housing and its effect on women and children who are victims of domestic violence. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press) Gaëlle Fedida of the Alliance des maisons d'hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale has been calling for more second-stage housing units to be developed in the province. She says the homes are a critical step in preventing the murders of women who are trying to leave their abusive partners. "Just include it in the next budget," Fedida called on Legault. "All those ladies who were murdered lately, it was in a situation of post-separation domestic violence." More help coming, province says Last year, the province doubled the funding for combating domestic violence to $180 million, including $2.5 million in emergency funding for shelters during the pandemic. Isabelle Charest, Quebec's minister responsible for the status of women, says the government's action plan using this funding will help women get out of dangerous situations. But part of that, she said, is ensuring women know the warning signs before the situation can turn fatal. "We know it's the crime that's the least reported," Charest said on Radio-Canada's Tout un matin Thursday. "Our role is to put in place a mechanism to prevent and help in these situations." While most of the funding is going toward "rapid intervention measures" and supporting women's shelters, she echoed Legault's sentiment that men must also be included in their plan. "We must implicate men," she said. "It's something to help women who are victims, but we must also help men who behave like this." But Kamateros says lack of shelter and housing for survivors of domestic violence in the province is only the tip of the iceberg. She is calling on the province to put more of a focus on preventing incidents of domestic violence by adopting a law similar to "Clare's law" — a piece of legislation that allows police to warn someone they could be in danger from their partner under certain conditions. Saskatchewan became the first Canadian province to adopt it last summer. "I would also see that the legal system be better prepared to receive testimonies from women victims, that perhaps separate courts could be established," said Kamateros.
IQALUIT, Nunavut — COVID-19 infections rose sharply in Arviat on Thursday, but Nunavut's top doctor said there is no sign of uncontrolled spread and numbers are declining overall. The community on the western shore of Hudson Bay tallied 10 new illnesses to bring the active case count to 14. Arviat's population of about 2,800 has been under a strict lockdown since November. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed and travel is restricted. A state of emergency was declared Feb. 24 and there's a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said there is no evidence of community transmission. "If things continue on this way, we can look at working with the hamlet to ease some of the measures next week," he said. Arviat is the only place in the territory where COVID-19 is active. It has had higher numbers than anywhere else in Nunavut since the pandemic began — 325 of 369 total cases. Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is from Arviat, said the overall weekly decline is "still encouraging." Last week, there were 25 cases. "We should expect that case numbers will vary day to day," he said. Two COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been held in Arviat. The second one was dedicated to administering second doses. Patterson said there is no evidence of "vaccine failure" in Arviat. "A failure ... would be getting new COVID (cases) two weeks or more after a vaccination." Health experts say it takes about 14 days for the COVID-19 vaccines to take effect. Patterson said his department is not releasing community-specific vaccination numbers and would not say how many people in Arviat have been vaccinated. To date, 8,628 of Nunavut's 39,000 residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 5,125 have had two shots. The territory has received 26,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine so far. Nunavut's original goal was to have its vaccine rollout completed by the end of March, but Patterson said that will be extended into April. The territory initially faced some delays in vaccine shipments, he said. "As the vaccine supply ramps up, we're now into the stage where that's no longer an issue. Staff will be able to go much faster and much more efficiently starting now." John Main, Arviat's member of the legislature, is urging the government to provide isolation spaces for infected residents who live in overcrowded housing This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration's nominee for top Pentagon policy adviser was met with sharp criticism from Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, including accusations that he has been too partisan. Colin Kahl, who served as national security adviser to then-Vice-President Joe Biden during the Obama administration, faced repeated questions on his previous support for the Iran nuclear deal and how he would approach that issue now. And a number of GOP senators said they were troubled by partisan tweets Kohl put out during Donald Trump's presidency and they would oppose his nomination. It wasn't clear whether there was enough opposition to derail his nomination. “We know that there is a new administration and that we will have policy disagreements that we will all try to work through,” said the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. “But how will you rectify the fact that many Americans, including those who work at the Department of Defence, know you only through your very partisan comments? How can we be confident that you will be a model of nonpartisan policy analysis — which is what the job requires — if you are confirmed?” Kahl said he worked on a bipartisan basis in his previous jobs in the Obama administration, which included a stint as deputy defence secretary for Middle East issues at the Pentagon from 2009 to2011. And he told the panel, “This is not a political job, it’s a policy job ... I have a long track record of putting politics aside and working on policy.” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and others read a number of Kahl's tweets that condemned Republicans and the Trump administration. Cotton said the “volatile” tweets would hurt his ability to work with Congress, adding “your judgement around war and peace are almost always wrong.” In response, Kahl offered an apology, saying the last few years have been politically polarizing and there were times he got swept up in that on social media. “There were a number of positions that President Trump took that I strongly opposed,” he said. "I think the language that I used in opposing those was sometimes disrespectful, and for that, I apologize.” Kahl got broader support from Democrats, including Sen. Maizie Hirono of Hawaii, who chastised committee members for slamming Kahl's tweets. ““That kind of criticism regarding tweets from folks who didn’t say anything about the kind of lying, racist tweets out of the former president, I think, is pretty rich,” she said. Others, including the panel chairman, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., sought commitments on improving Pentagon policies and relations with other countries that soured during Trump's tenure. Reed said he hoped that Kahl would help establish a strong defence policy office to ensure there is a unified effort on national security challenges and to repair ties with NATO and other allies. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
LUDLOW, Vt. — Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio plans to start a substance use disorder treatment centre in Vermont, where the band was formed in 1983. Anastasio, who is now 14 years sober, announced Thursday that his Divided Sky Foundation has purchased a building for the non-profitcentre in Ludlow. “Like so many people in America and so many in Vermont, I became addicted to opiates,” Anastasio said in a statement on his website. “I was extremely lucky to have access to care, and I know how important it is to be part of a recovery community. I’m grateful that we can help provide that opportunity for others." The centre is tentatively scheduled to open by the end of this year. Anastasio raised funds for the purchase through his virtual concerts last fall from New York City’s Beacon Theatre. Fans contributed more than $1.2 million. The centre has not yet been named and will be managed by Ascension Recovery Services, according to his website. The Associated Press
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
Le conseil municipal de La Présentation a adopté un budget de fonctionnement de 5,3 M$ pour 2021, ce qui représente une hausse de 26 % en comparaison avec l’année dernière. La grande majorité des revenus supplémentaires provient du poste budgétaire « transferts » qui a été majoré de 784 499 $ pour s’établir à 1,24 M$. La balance du budget est largement alimentée par les revenus tirés de la taxation, lesquels représentent 70 % du financement municipal. Pour leur part, les dépenses se chiffrent à 4,5 M$ pour l’année en cours et serviront à payer principalement l’administration générale (693 641 $), la Sécurité publique (732 650 $), le transport (851 592 $), l’hygiène du milieu (931 735 $), l’aménagement et l’urbanisme (73 110 $) ainsi que les loisirs et la culture (490 540 $). Les élus ont profité de l’adoption du budget pour entériner le Plan triennal d’immobilisations 2021-2023. Tout comme l’an dernier, la Municipalité prévoit poursuivre ses investissements au niveau des loisirs. Elle injectera donc 25 000 $ pour compléter le projet de la halte-vélo, un espace dédié aux cyclistes et piétons muni d’une borne de réparation de vélos, d’une toilette, d’un abreuvoir et d’un abri, d’ici le début du printemps. L’aménagement d’une pumptrack (20 000 $), d’une piste cyclable (10 000 $) et d’un parc sur la rue Charles-A.-Gauttier est à venir. Du côté des travaux publics, la somme de 3,5 M$ sera consacrée au prolongement du réseau des égouts sur une portion de la route 137 et l’asphaltage du rang des Petits-Étangs sera refait pour un montant de 849 000 $. Taxe foncière en baisse L’année 2021 marquait l’entrée en jeu d’un nouveau rôle d’évaluation foncière à La Présentation. Celui-ci a fait grimper la valeur moyenne des propriétés de 22,78 %. Afin d’amoindrir l’impact de cette augmentation, la Municipalité a choisi d’abaisser le taux de la taxe foncière de 0,03 $ par tranche de 100 $ d’imposition. Il est donc fixé à 0,39 $/100 $ pour cette année. Cette diminution risque toutefois d’être contrecarrée par la hausse de 47 $ des frais de gestion des matières résiduelles par unité d’habitation. La taxe sur l’eau consommée demeure au prix de 155 $ pour les premiers 182 mètres cubes, tandis que le tarif pour le traitement des eaux usées augmente de 160 $ à 165 $. La taxe exigible pour le financement des loisirs demeure inchangée au tarif de 60 $ par logement. Jennifer Blanchette, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Courrier de Saint-Hyacinthe
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — As Lionel Desmond completed an 11-week program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in August 2016, those responsible for his care were worried about something they couldn't figure out. Though he displayed symptoms considered common among combat soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, he was making little progress under treatments that usually produced results. Kama Hamilton, a social worker at the Montreal hospital where Desmond was treated in 2016, told a provincial inquiry Thursday he suffered from angry outbursts, combat-related flashbacks, impulsivity, irritability and hyper-vigilance. Yet, she said, "he didn't stand out as particularly (different) from the others." Hamilton, who tried to help Desmond with anger management and social connections, said the Ste. Anne's Hospital team was concerned that something was interfering with his treatment, given the fact that he had lost trust in the staff and still faced a "long road" to recovery when he was discharged on Aug. 15, 2016. The inquiry is investigating why, less than five months later, Desmond bought a rifle and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. During her testimony, Hamilton said she came to the conclusion that Desmond had a constant fear of being abandoned, a condition she said could be the result of a personality disorder or a head injury that impaired his cognitive abilities. On Tuesday, psychiatrist Robert Ouellette told the inquiry that Desmond appeared to have "mixed personality traits," including obsessive compulsiveness and paranoia. Ouellette said the paranoid traits caused Desmond to mistrust virtually everyone, including his wife. Desmond repeatedly told staff at the hospital that his main goal was to become a good husband and father, but he often expressed jealousy and anger towards his wife. During her testimony Thursday, Hamilton said she learned that aside from flashbacks to his combat duty in Afghanistan, her patient also complained about gruesome nightmares about his wife being unfaithful. Hamilton said that during an hour-long telephone conversation, Shanna Desmond told her that in the dream, her husband caught her sleeping with another man and responded by "chopping her to pieces." Despite the violent nature of the nightmare, Hamilton said she was confident Shanna Desmond was not in any danger, mainly because Lionel Desmond's recollection was intended as a cry for help rather than a threat. As well, she said Shanna Desmond had made it clear she and the couple's nine-year-old daughter had never been subjected to physical violence, and she didn't believe her husband would ever hurt them. Hamilton said Shanna Desmond was deeply concerned about her husband's welfare, noting that he had unpredictable, angry outbursts that resulted in him throwing furniture — but that was the extent of the violence she had witnessed during their marriage. Still, Hamilton said she also learned that the former infantryman would sometimes resort to passive threats of suicide as a means of controlling his wife. She said Shanna Desmond recalled one disturbing incident, when he texted her to say he would soon be watching his daughter "from above," and when she returned home, she found him obsessively cleaning a rifle he owned. "If someone is feeling vulnerable, they may try to find ways to gain control," Hamilton said. "Abandonment is a situation where you feel helpless." On another front, Hamilton said her patient complained about suffering a head injury while he was training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, though he was deemed medically fit after he regained consciousness. That led to speculation at Ste. Anne's about a possible brain injury, which could explain why Desmond had some cognitive challenges, including troubles with concentration, memory, organization and language. The treatment team agreed that Desmond should undergo a full neurological assessment, which was a recommendation that was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada as he was preparing to leave the program. The assessment was beyond the scope of the hospital. Desmond never received that assessment. In the four months before the Jan. 3, 2017 triple murder and suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., Desmond received no therapeutic treatment. Earlier in the hearings, a psychiatrist at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry that Desmond desperately needed help when he returned home to Nova Scotia, but it was apparent he was "falling through the cracks." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s attorney general has promised a thorough investigation of allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least two women. But if the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, what then? Who gets to decide what discipline, if any, the Democrat might face? New York has an impeachment court, last used in 1913, but there are other options, like a public censure, or just letting the matter play out in the court of public opinion. Here’s a look at what could come next in the investigation: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S REVIEW Attorney General Letitia James said her office will hire a private law firm to investigate Cuomo's conduct and issue a public report. Details, like the scope and length of the investigation are unclear. The inquiry could just focus on the two members of Cuomo’s administration who said they felt harassed. Or investigators could seek out other women who were made to feel uncomfortable, even those outside the administration. Former Cuomo adviser Lindsay Boylan says the governor commented about her appearance, summoned her to an uncomfortable private meeting in his office after a holiday party and gave her an unwanted kiss at a meeting in 2018. Boylan also says the administration leaked her personnel files to reporters after she accused him of harassment. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked about her sex life and if she had ever had sex with older men, and talked about wanting a girlfriend, which she viewed as the governor asking for a relationship. A third woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times the governor put his hands on her cheeks and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding. The three-term governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but acknowledged he does kiss people’s faces as a greeting and has teased people about their personal lives in a way some women interpreted as flirting. “I didn’t mean it that way,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “But if that’s how they felt, that’s all that matters.” One possible blueprint for the investigation is one Cuomo himself oversaw as the state’s attorney general in 2010 into his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson. Cuomo enlisted the state’s former chief judge, Judith Kaye, to examine allegations Paterson pressured a woman to drop domestic violence allegations against a longtime aide. Paterson was also accused of violating state ethics laws by accepting free Yankees World Series tickets and ethics commissioners ended up fining him $62,125 for falsely testifying he intended to pay for them. Kaye took about four months to issue a report on the domestic violence probe, finding Paterson committed errors of judgment but should not face criminal charges. WHAT IF INVESTIGATORS FIND WRONGDOING? Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Wednesday that if the investigation shows something inappropriate did happen, Cuomo should resign. If Cuomo refused to go, one option could be impeachment. That process would start in the Assembly. If a majority of members vote for impeachment, a trial would then be held with a jury of senators and Court of Appeals judges. At least two-thirds of the jurors are needed to convict. New York used this process to oust Gov. William Sulzer from office in 1913. A legislative committee found Sulzer failed to report thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and commingled campaign funds with personal funds. Sulzer blamed his downfall on the Democratic Party machine of Tammany Hall, and he blasted the court’s secret deliberations: “A horse thief in frontier days would have received a squarer deal,” he complained. IS THERE A PUNISHMENT SHORT OF IMPEACHMENT? Either state legislative chamber could decide to censure the governor by majority vote, according to New York University School of Law professor Stephen Gillers. That would amount to a stern public rebuke, a largely symbolic penalty. No lawmakers have expressed public support for censuring Cuomo amid the investigation, and there’s no indication it’s being floated as an option down the road. “A public slap on the wrist seems inadequate for the moment,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris. In 1892, the state Senate censured three senators for refusing to vote on a bill. And in 2007, an assemblyman was censured and lost his position as ranking member on the chamber's alcoholism and drug abuse committee for sleeping at the home of a 21-year-old female intern after drinking at a sports bar together. Predicting the appetite for a punishment now might be premature, with the investigation still incomplete. “If there are more stories that come out, depending on who you’re talking to, people may have different sensibilities,” said Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, who chairs the legislative ethics commission. CIVIL COMPLAINT? The governor, like any one else, could face civil penalties if someone sues him for sexual harassment or files a complaint with a state or federal agency. That could lead to civil penalties, a cease-and-desist order or an order to change his practices. “Could somebody then bring a lawsuit for civil penalties based on the finding of the (attorney general)?” attorney Richard Rifkin, who was special counsel to the governor in 2007 and 2008 and serves as legal director at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. “They could.” HOW ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES? It's also possible that a prosecutor could bring criminal penalties based on the attorney general's report, according to Rifkin. Harassment could constitute a crime if it involves forcible physical touching of a sexual nature, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts. Cuomo has insisted he didn't touch anyone inappropriately and said if he kissed or touched anyone, it was in the way that politicians have been greeting allies and constituents for ages. ___ Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report from New York. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
GERALDTON — A man wanted on three outstanding warrants is in custody following a foot chase in Geraldton by OPP last month. Geraldton Ontario Provincial Police officers were on patrol in the town’s downtown core on Feb. 25 when they located an individual wanted on three outstanding warrants, according to a news release issued on March 2. Officers approached the suspect and the accused fled on foot. Officers initiated a foot pursuit and were able to take the individual into custody without incident. A search after the arrest resulted in the seizure of several drugs including crystal methamphetamine and cannabis and a pair of brass knuckles and approximately $850 in cash. Kalvin Godin, 29, of Geraldton was charged with three counts of failing to comply with a release order, possession of a schedule one substance, carrying a concealed prohibited device and possession of cannabis for the purpose of selling. Godin was arrested on the strength of three outstanding warrants. He made a brief court appearance on Feb. 26 in Thunder Bay and was remanded into custody at the Thunder Bay District Jail. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
OTTAWA — Canada is on the cusp of authorizing a fourth vaccine for COVID-19, raising the possibility that every Canadian adult will be offered at least one dose before Canada Day. Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said Thursday the review of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine "is going very well." "It's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days," Sharma said at a virtual news conference from Ottawa. Johnson and Johnson, which was authorized in the United States last weekend, would join Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca on Canada's list of approved vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna have been in use since December, with more than 1.5 million Canadians now vaccinated with at least one dose. Canada's deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said that with new vaccines being approved and moves by provinces to delay second doses, more Canadians will be vaccinated at a faster rate. All provinces have indicated they will accept a recommendation made Wednesday by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to delay second doses of vaccine by up to four months. The new guidelines say the science shows a first dose is so effective that delaying the second dose so everyone can get a first dose more quickly, is better both for individual protection and to establish herd immunity in Canada. Canada had been expecting enough doses of approved vaccines to vaccinate every adult with two doses by the end of September, based on Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all requiring two doses given 21 or 28 days apart. Canada is in line to get 26 million more doses of Pfizer and Moderna, and at least 3.5 million of AstraZeneca by the end of June. Those deliveries alone would be enough to offer a first dose to every Canadian over 16 years of age by Canada Day. No vaccines are approved for use on children under the age of 16 yet. Another 20 million doses of AstraZeneca and 10 million from Johnson and Johnson are to arrive by September, but it's not yet clear how many will arrive by June. Another 55 million doses expected from Pfizer and Moderna between July and September would more than cover the necessary second doses. The national advisory panel's recommendation to delay doses is the latest adjustment to vaccine guidelines that some fear may make Canadians hesitant to trust the vaccines. "We're very concerned about that," said Sharma. "We want to make sure that people have confidence in the decisions that are being made about vaccines." She said experts are basing vaccine decisions on evidence as it is presented. With more data coming almost daily about the vaccines, including how they're faring as millions of doses are administered around the world, new and changing guidance is not surprising. "The responsible thing to do is to make sure that we get all that information and incorporate that into our decision-making," she said. "So definitely, the messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message, and it never changed. But that's not what science does." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
PARMA, Italy — Alexis Sánchez scored twice to help Inter Milan win 2-1 at relegation-threatened Parma on Thursday to open up a six-point gap at the top of Serie A. Romelu Lukaku had a hand in both Inter goals in the second half before Hernani pulled one back for Parma. Inter moved six points above second-place AC Milan, which was held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese on Wednesday. Nine-time defending champion Juventus is third but has played a match less. Parma remained second from bottom, six points from safety. Inter had won six of its past seven league matches heading into the game at Parma, scoring 17 goals and conceding just one. It was Parma which had the better of the earlier chances, but Inter broke the deadlock nine minutes into the second half. Lukaku chested down a pass on the edge of the area and tried to turn but the ball ended up ricocheting into the path of Sánchez. Sassuolo defender Riccardo Gagliolo tried to clear his shot off the line but it had already gone over. Lukaku did even better eight minutes later as he powered through from his own half and then rolled a great ball across for Sánchez to drive into the bottom right corner. Parma briefly threatened a comeback when Hernani volleyed in Germán Pezzella’s cross in the 71st. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. She says the man initially tested negative but was retested after developing symptoms. Morrison is reminding all Islanders to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19 and to isolate until the results come back. Prince Edward Island has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19. The province has reported a total of 138 infections and no deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Les membres des Caisses Desjardins de Saguenay présentement aux études postsecondaires sont invités à un spectacle gratuit et virtuel de l’humoriste Guillaume Pineault, le 25 mars prochain. Les directeurs des Caisses savent à quel point les étudiants ont été touchés, isolés par la pandémie. Leur quotidien a été grandement chamboulé dans la dernière année. En plus des plus de 100 000 $ remis en bourses et de l’aide apportée à différentes organisations qui les touchent directement, les Caisses de Saguenay cherchaient un nouveau moyen de soutenir spécifiquement leur clientèle de ce groupe d’âge. « Nous avons donc décidé de leur offrir une pause, une soirée énergisante, pour mettre un peu la pandémie de côté et faire le plein de positivisme en vue des derniers moments de l’année scolaire. Nous allons offrir un spectacle d’une heure de Guillaume Pineault, en virtuel, à tous les membres aux études postsecondaires, et ce, gratuitement », explique le directeur des communications des Caisses Desjardins de Saguenay, Patrice Vachon, lors d’un entretien avec Le Quotidien. Une invitation sera envoyée à plus de 5000 étudiants postsecondaires membres des Caisses de Saguenay pour assister au spectacle qui se tiendra à 19 h sur la plateforme Zoom, le 25 mars prochain. Tous les membres éligibles devraient avoir reçu cette invitation jeudi matin. Les Caisses espèrent que les jeunes verront cette soirée comme une pause bien méritée en vue de leur fin de session qui approche à grands pas. « On a toujours une préoccupation, comme Caisses et comme administrateurs, de rejoindre les jeunes. On a trouvé ce moyen pour répondre présent. La santé mentale nous préoccupait aussi beaucoup », ajoute Luc Guillemette, directeur général de la Caisse Desjardins de Jonquière. Ce genre de surprise s’inscrit dans les avantages exclusifs des membres des Caisses. Ces projets mis en place touchent les différents groupes membres de la Caisse et, cette fois, ce sont les étudiants postsecondaires qui ont été choisis. « On espère faire une petite différence. Nous ne sommes pas encore sortis des mesures de distanciation, il n’y a pas encore de spectacles à grand déploiement, donc je pense qu’il arrive à point. On espère qu’ils seront plusieurs à être présents », souligne le directeur. Dans l’invitation se trouve le lien pour prendre part à cette soirée. Pour ceux qui sont éligibles et qui n’auraient rien reçu, ils peuvent se rendre au pretpourmabourse.com pour recevoir leur invitation. Il faut obligatoirement être étudiant à temps plein ou à temps partiel pour la session d’hiver 2021. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The owners of a house in northeast Calgary that police were called to 115 times last year alone have been slapped with a court order mandating that it be boarded up for three months. The Alberta Sheriffs' Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit obtained a court order on Thursday giving it the authority to change the locks and put up a fence around the property at 5504 Centre Street North, the province said in a release. Police responded to many incidents at the house in Thorncliffe-Greenview last year, including reports of robbery, breaking and entering, possession of a controlled substance and theft of a motor vehicle. SCAN has fielded more than 30 complaints — the largest number it has ever received — and letters from people in the community detailing criminal activity associated with this property. "Recently at this location, a woman sustained a wound to her thigh after being attacked with a machete, and a male suffered serious injuries after taking a bullet to his face," the province said in a release. Alberta Health Services has also issued several orders declaring the property unfit for human habitation, most recently on Jan. 21. Nobody is allowed on the property without permission from the sheriffs until the closure ends on June 2. During the 90-day closure, sheriffs can give the owner and a realtor access for the purpose of showing it to potential buyers. If the owner does not sell the property, the court order gives authorities the option of applying to court for a five-year ban on renting the house and a five-year community safety order. "This is precisely the sort of situation that the SCAN unit was created to fix: a location where criminal activity and violence has become a seemingly everyday occurrence," Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said in the release. "Law-abiding Albertans should not have to tolerate such a level of chaos and danger in their communities."
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is planning to extend its ban on smoking and vaping in indoor public places to First Nations communities, but it could face a court battle. The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill in the legislature Thursday that would end an exemption for reserves and other areas of federal jurisdiction, including military bases, from the provincial smoking ban. Ceremonial tobacco use would still be allowed. "We want to ensure that our entire province, not just sections of it, provide that equitable access to smoke-free … and vapour-free work environments," Audrey Gordon, minister for mental health, wellness and recovery, said. "This issue is a public health issue." The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said the province does not have the right to impose a smoking ban and could end up in court if it proceeds. "First Nations will not stand idly by and allow the province to take liberties of this sort," Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said. Many First Nations communities have their own bylaws that govern smoking in public places. Some allow smoking in bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges. Last year, after COVID-19 restrictions forced video lottery terminal lounges to close, Premier Brian Pallister said he might not let ones that allow smoking to reopen when the restrictions are lifted. The Opposition New Democrats said the government should back up. "Indigenous people have rights that the government has to respect," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said. "And I think for them to announce this bill without giving people in leadership positions in Indigenous communities the heads-up is the wrong approach." First Nations communities could also lose revenue if the plan goes ahead, Kinew said. Gordon said the government will consult with Indigenous leaders as early as next week. The bill is among dozens that could be passed by the legislature in June. Although it might not take effect immediately, Gordon said. "What I'm focused on is having that consultation … I'm really focused on that engagement and we'll save that decision (on when the law would take effect) for a later date." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
LAKELAND, Fla. — A lack of control from Toronto's pitchers was a factor in the Detroit Tigers' 8-2 win over the Blue Jays in spring training action Thursday. The Tigers (3-2) scored eight unanswered runs in the win, with two of them coming off wild pitches. Toronto (2-2-1) scored a run in the top of the first two innings to take an early lead. Alejandro Kirk's RBI single drove in Marcus Semien in the first, and Cavan Biggio's triple brought home Forrest Wall in the second. Detroit got one back with a Miguel Cabrera RBI double in the third, then took control with a three-run fourth. Derek Hill started the scoring in the inning win an RBI single, followed by a run-scoring sacrifice fly from Isaac Paredes. Toronto right-hander Joey Murray followed that with a wild pitch that scored Akil Baddoo. Detroit scored two more in each of the fifth and sixth innings, capped by Toronto's second wild pitch of the day when Yosver Zulueta's wayward toss allowed Daniel Pinero to score. Toronto starter T.J. Zeuch allowed two hits and a walk over two scoreless innings. Murray took the loss after giving up three runs on two hits and three walks in the fourth. The Blue Jays got to Detroit starter Spencer Turnbull with four hits and two runs over his two innings, but the Tigers' relievers combined to allow no runs and just one hit over the next five innings. Derek Holland picked up the win. Toronto next plays Friday afternoon against Baltimore in Dunedin, Fla. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has eased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program. The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent. Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before. The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application. Ravi Rahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community. He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes. "Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available." This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements. Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far. The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria. In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old. Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant." B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Breaking with other Southern GOP governors, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended her state’s mask order for another month Thursday but said the requirement will end for good in April. The move came a day after President Joe Biden slammed the governors of Texas and Mississippi for deciding to lift their mask mandates, saying their actions reflect “Neanderthal thinking.” Ivey has faced political pressure to lift the mask order like her Republican counterparts but said she will follow the recommendations of medical officials and keep the mandate that was set to expire Friday in place until April 9. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer," Ivey said at a news conference. The governor called masks “one of our greatest tools” in preventing the virus’ spread but emphasized that she will not extend the mask order further, saying it will become a matter of personal responsibility when the mandate ends. “Even when we lift the mask order, I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey said. Medical officials welcomed Ivey’s decision after urging an extension, arguing that easing restrictions before more people were vaccinated could reverse recent improvements. Alabama’s rolling seven-day average of daily cases has dropped from 3,000 in early January to below 1,000 and hospitalizations are at their lowest point since summer. “This is very good news. This gives us a month to vaccinate more people and to get a better handle on the role of the UK variant,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. So far only about 13% of Alabama’s 4.9 million people have received one dose of vaccine, according to state numbers. State Health Officer Scott Harris said vaccine supplies are increasing and if the state can get a cumulative total of 1.75 million shots delivered by early April, that would be a “terrific place to be.” Harris said about 500,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus and there are likely others who had it but didn’t know. “We are striving to reach this herd immunity point at some point,” Harris said. Dr. Ellen Eaton, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said schools and organizations serving people who’ve yet to receive a vaccine will need to “carefully consider how to proceed” once the order ends. “For many, continuing masking will be necessary, such as in schools and colleges. But leadership in these spaces needs time to think through the health and policy implications of recommending masks in the absence of a mandate,” she said. Ivey faced backlash on social media for her decision, with some users sharing the phone number to the governor’s office and asking callers to voice opposition to the rule. And the Alabama Senate approved a resolution Wednesday evening urging Ivey to end the mask mandate. Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also asked Ivey to end the mask requirement, which he has opposed all along, saying individuals can make decisions for themselves and follow safety rules until vaccinations and immunity levels are sufficient. “But we can do all of these things without a Big Brother-style government mandate looming over us,” Ainsworth said in a statement. The governor did lift some restrictions on how many people can sit as a restaurant table, but tables are still required to be 6 feet (2 metres) apart or have a partition. The order also allowed senior citizens to resume some activities and hospitals to increase the number of visitors patients can have from one to two ___ Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Kim Chandler, The Associated Press