Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state, another setback for President Donald Trump. (Nov. 23)
Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state, another setback for President Donald Trump. (Nov. 23)
NEW YORK — The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 — and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to — the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over those of other prospective candidates, in accordance with party rules, she said. “The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” Just months removed from the last presidential election, several Republican prospects have already begun jockeying for position for the 2024 contest. McDaniel is far more focused on the 2022 midterms, when Republicans have an opportunity to break the Democrats' monopoly on Congress. McDaniel is in a difficult political position as she begins her new term as the national GOP chair. She has been a devoted Trump loyalist, but as the RNC leader, she is also tasked with helping her party recover from its painful 2020 election season in which Republicans lost the Senate and the White House and failed to win back the House. Trump's fervent base continues to demand loyalty to the former president, even as some party officials acknowledge that Trump's norm-shattering behaviour alienated elements of the coalition the GOP needs to win future elections. Tensions are especially high within the party as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial. Ten House Republicans voted earlier in the month to impeach the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and on Tuesday, five Senate Republicans voted to move forward with a trial that could ultimately ban him from holding public office ever again. McDaniel acknowledged the frustration of Trump's base, which remains a powerful voice in the party and has little tolerance for Republican officials unwilling to stand behind the former president and his achievements in office. But she repeatedly called for party unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is travelling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment. “If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said. She also forcefully condemned the pro-Trump QAnon movement, a large group of conspiracy theorists who were a visible presence at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Trump repeatedly declined to denounce the group while in the White House. “I think it’s really important after what’s just happened in our country that we have some self-reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt in our country,” McDaniel said, pointing to violence across the political spectrum. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous.” Moving forward, she said that voters, not Trump, are the head of the Republican Party, though Trump continues to maintain “a huge, huge presence” with his base. McDaniel said she's expecting several Republican leaders to play a significant role in the party's future, mentioning former Vice-President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations. Both are also considered potential 2024 presidential contenders. She also downplayed reports that Trump is considering leaving the GOP and starting a new party, warning that such a move would divide Republicans and "guarantee Democrat wins up and down the ticket. “It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that's the last thing that any Republican wants,” she said. "It’s clear that he understands that.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
It has been determined that a dry Christmas tree was the cause of the fatal fire in Oxford Mills on January 10. The investigation into the incident, carried out by the Office of the Fire Marshall, determined that the residents of the home on Stone Road had two friends over for dinner when their Christmas tree caught fire. Flames spread quickly throughout the house, giving them no time to escape. According to the Office of the Fire Marshall, this is the second fatal fire in Ontario caused by dry Christmas trees over the holiday season. “These are very tragic and preventable incidents where five people lost their lives,” said a release from the Office of the Fire Marshall. “A dry Christmas tree is extremely hazardous as it can catch fire and spread through a home in seconds.” North Grenville Fire Chief, John Okum, issued a statement last week expressing his deep condolences on behalf of the Fire Service to the families, friends, and greater community who have been impacted by the tragic fire. He also stated that the North Grenville Fire Service would like to echo the Office of the Fire Marshall in urging residents to dispose of dry Christmas trees immediately, check for any recalls on holiday lights, and check string lights for any damage. Although there is no curbside pick up for Christmas trees in North Grenville, trees, with all decorations and tinsel removed, can be disposed of for free at the Oxford Mills waste transfer station throughout the month of January. After January, regular leaf and yard waste fees apply. “I wish to acknowledge the professional service by all divisions with the Ontario Provincial Police, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall, and their Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit, who worked jointly to process all investigations of this difficult scene,” Chief Okum said in the release. “Each member contributed long and difficult hours with immense sensitivity for all victims of this tragedy.” As mentioned, this was the second such tragedy to occur in Ontario this season. The Fire Marshall report emphasised how quickly such fires can spread, with horrendous consequences: “On December 28, a couple had just woken up and were preparing for the day in their Halton Hills home when their tree caught fire. The man tried to extinguish the fire with an extinguisher, but it spread too fast. He was rescued from a second-floor bedroom balcony by the fire service. The woman was unable to escape and passed away. Tragically, the homeowners had planned to dispose of their tree on the same day the fire occurred. There is evidence the fire may have been ignited by an electrical failure of the Christmas tree’s lights – the most common source of ignition in these circumstances.” Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
SOUTH DUNDAS – Annual provincial funding for municipal infrastructure through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund remains unchanged for 2021. The annual funding allocations were released by the province on January 25th. The Municipality of South Dundas leads all other lower-tier municipalities in SDG Counties and will receive $418,782. Use of this year’s allocation will be determined by council during its budget deliberations in early-February. In past years, OCIF funding has been allocated to the municipal capital roads program. “The municipality is pleased to once again be receiving the OCIF funding that will contribute to the betterment of South Dundas,” said communications coordinator Kalynn Sawyer Helmer. “We appreciate the allocation and recognize the impact as it provides stability in our budget for eligible capital projects.” Around the county, North Dundas will receive $274,880; North Stormont $119,449; South Stormont $314,843; North Glengarry $204,790; and South Glengarry $333,052. SDG Counties will receive $965,532, and the City of Cornwall will receive $1,082,340. Cornwall will also receive $682,276 in provincial gas tax funding that is specifically for transit spending. Outside of the United Counties, neighbouring Edwardsburgh-Cardinal will receive $191,495 in 2021. OCIF funding is calculated based on the amount of core infrastructure owned by a municipality such as roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems, and municipal economic conditions. The infrastructure is indexed against property assessment and household average income. Municipalities with a higher index receive more grant money. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
OTTAWA — Newly released figures point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Statistics Canada says police services across Canada reported that select criminal incidents fell by 18 per cent between March and October 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier. In contrast, the total number of service calls rose eight per cent, particularly for wellness checks and calls for domestic disturbances and mental health. The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly, while property crime including shoplifting and residential break-and-enter plunged amid shutdowns that closed stores and kept people home. The lone outlier to the trend was uttering threats by a family member, which saw a two per cent bump in reported incidents year over year. The figures come from 19 police agencies that serve nearly three-quarters of the Canadian population. As businesses and public spaces began to reopen in May, crime numbers started to climb month over month through to July, but still trailed figures from 2019. Between March and October, the number of reported sexual assaults decreased by 20 per cent and reported assaults declined by nine per cent, according to StatCan. The figures fell less steeply for cases involving family members. Fraud incidents also dropped off, with police reporting a decrease of nine per cent year over year. "A recent release, however, shows that just over four in 10 Canadians experienced at least one type of cybersecurity incident since the beginning of the pandemic, including phishing attacks, malware, fraud, and hacked accounts," Statistics Canada said. Shoplifting and residential break-and-enters fell by 47 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. But non-residential break-and-enters spiked by more than one-quarter in March, when businesses first barred their doors amid partial lockdowns. Police service calls — distinct from police-reported crimes — rose eight per cent year over year between March and October, with "general well-being checks" increasing by 13 per cent and mental-health calls "such as responses to a person in emotional crisis" jumped 12 per cent, the agency said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The Cannes Film Festival, cancelled altogether last year by the pandemic, is postponing this year's edition from May to July in hopes of having an in-person festival. Cannes organizers announced Wednesday that this year's festival will now take place July 6-17, about two months after its typical period. The French Riviera festival, which had run for nearly 75 years with few interruptions, is currently hoping the coronavirus recedes enough by summertime. Cannes last year first looked at a postponement its 73rd festival to June or July before ultimately cancelling altogether. The festival still went ahead with a selection announcement to celebrate the films it had planned to include in its prestigious lineup. This year, organizers are intent on having a festival, one way or another. No details were announced Wednesday on what shape a 2021 edition might take. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
The Nova Scotia government will spend almost $500 million in 2021-22 on a variety of road and bridge projects, with continued highway twinning efforts driving that spending. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines released his department's annual five-year plan on Wednesday. It includes the ongoing work to twin sections of highways 101, 103, 104 and 107. There are also plans to replace or rehabilitate 19 bridges. Other major projects include: Improvements to the Port Hastings rotary. A new aerotech connector project, including a connector road between Highway 102 and Trunk 2 at Exit 5A, roundabouts and two other structures. The start of construction on the new Bridgewater interchange on Highway 103. $20 million on the provincial gravel road program. Hines said that in total officials in his department anticipate 150 major construction projects for 2021-22. The twinning effort, scheduled to be complete by 2023, remains on schedule and on budget, said the minister. Hines repeatedly touted the value of twinning highways as a safety measure. In the current fiscal year, the province has paved 612 kilometres of roads and highways, an effort augmented by $100 million in COVID-19-related stimulus work announced last spring. Hines said the majority of that work is complete or in progress, although some bridge work will roll over into the coming construction season. Department officials expect about 500 kilometres of paving and gravel road work this coming fiscal year. MORE TOP STORIES
For the first time in 60 years, Fort Frances’ Dairy Queen has a new owner. Yogesh Patel became the new owner of the local Dairy Queen in November which was formally run by Christin Thomson and her sister Candice Thomson Kadikoff. Patel said he has friends in Fort Frances who told him it was a good opportunity and also said the people and the town are really nice. Patel said he grew up in a small town in India until he was 22, when he then he moved to Canada. His father is a farmer and he said because of him he knows a bit about farming and that he enjoys the small town atmosphere because it reminds him of where he grew up. “The town atmosphere is very attractive to me. It is in my heart,” Patel said. He said it is also nice not to be stuck in traffic anymore, which was a common problem when he lived in Edmonton. Now he enjoys a much more peaceful lifestyle. Thomson, who started wiping counters at the Dairy Queen as soon as she could reach them, said she never envisioned that one day she would be running the business. She had dreams of becoming a professional golf player even going away to school on a golf scholarship. but had to put those dreams on hold when her dad got sick. Thomson and her sister then took over the business and ran it for 13 out of the 60 years. She said that over the years they have doubled in sales and gone through a few renovations, making it quite a different business since their grandparents and father ran it. Although business at the Dairy Queen was booming, Thomson said they were ready to move on. “We just had different personal interests that we wanted to pursue and we kind of felt that it was time,” Thomson said. As the third generation to run the business, Thomson said it was a hard decision to come to because of the family ties. “It’s the family connection that is the hardest to move on from but we’re very proud of what we did to carry on that tradition and it will always be something that we can be proud of that our family did and put their best into it,” Thomson said. Her grandfather Elgin Thomson brought the Dairy Queen to Fort Frances when it was just starting as a walk up ice cream stand. Thomson said she remembers her grandfather as ‘the ultimate customer service guy.’ “He really loved what he did. He wore the original very clean uniform and he would have his little paper hat that he would wear,” Thomson said. “If anything, as we move on that’s the kind of passion that I want to have for that things that we continue to do and want to bring into this community as well.” Thomson said they will miss the community and seeing everyone on a regular basis, as well as their employees who have become like family over the years. “It’s always been an extension of our home,” Thomson said. “It was always a place that when we were kids I looked forward to stopping in and visiting my dad so that’s probably my fondest memory is just popping in and seeing him in his office, that is what I will always remember.” Thomson said they are happy with the new owner and they wish them all the success. Due to COVID-19, Patel said they are only able to have the drive through open but that it hasn’t slowed down business. Patel has been a previous business owner in Edmonton but this is his first Dairy Queen. He lived there for 10 years before moving to Fort Frances with his wife and toddler. Patel said Christine and Candice helped him a lot when he was first taking over and is very grateful for that. He also is grateful to the community for welcoming him and being so kind. “And in the future I will always be ready to help the community in any case that arises,” Patel said While his daughter is a little young to start helping around the business, Patel said she enjoys coming to the store and eating the french fries. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority’s General Manager Ian Wilcox and Board member Tony Jackson joined last Tuesday’s Special Meeting of St. Marys Town Council to discuss the municipality’s proposed contributions to the Authority’s 2021 budget. Wilcox began by reviewing UTRCA’s 2020 financial results and its impacts on the 2021 budget. Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, UTRCA did have some successes. He noted that naturalization projects, once permitted, were able to continue, albeit in different forms than usual. Education programs were switched to all-virtual forms but also continued, and stewardship projects were initiated. Wilcox added that, once recreational areas were opened to the public, the response far exceeded expectations. The financial impacts of COVID were far-reaching, which included layoffs, a reduction in wages, no capital spending, cutting of seasonal positions, and across-the-board expense reductions. These challenges were compounded by the lack of revenue support, including wage subsidies, from senior government. Per Wilcox, it was a credit to UTRCA staff that the 2020 deficit came in at around $60,000 versus the initial projection of $1.3 million. Wilcox then presented Council with the Authority’s 2021 draft budget, which totals $16.8 million, a slight decrease from last year’s budget. The funding in the draft budget comes from three sources: 55.5 percent from the UTRCA’s generated revenue, 40 percent from Municipal Levies, and 4.5 percent from the Provincial Transfer Payment (though the majority of the provincial amount is set aside for source water protection). Overall, the amount requested from St. Marys was $126,593, representing a 12 percent reduction from last year. Of the requested money, $93,266 would go to operating costs, an increase of 2.2 percent from last year, but St. Marys’ proposed contribution to the Authority’s capital budget is down from $56,586 to $33,327, a decrease of 36.6 percent. Following the budget presentation, Wilcox took questions from the Council, the first of which came from Councillor Tony Winter. Referencing the Council’s recent builder and developer roundtable discussion, Winter noted that multiple housing market professionals cited the UTRCA as an impediment to their timelines. Wilcox responded that it isn’t specifically the UTRCA that is a hindrance to these projects as they don’t necessarily come up with the regulations that create a roadblock for developers, but merely enforce those regulations. He stated that conservation authorities are aware there are problems with the regulations. However, the solution to these challenges will require the Province to work with municipalities and conservation authorities to develop more sensible regulations. Wilcox cited the example of some people needing a permit to install a deck as an example of a Provincial regulation that not only hinders the developers but takes time and focus of the conservation authority staff away from bigger-risk projects. Mayor Al Strathdee then took the floor to speak on an issue with the UTRCA, not connected to the budget directly but as part of an ongoing back-and-forth between the municipality and the Authority. Mayor Strathdee brought up concerns over the environmental targets proposed by the Authority and their cost to municipalities, including a need for more accountability and transparency throughout the process. Strathdee recommended a third-party review of all spending related to the environmental targets. Wilcox responded that there currently no plans for third-party review until after the changes coming from Bill 229 are clear. Mayor Strathdee raised two other issues, the first being that St. Marys doesn’t have a full representative on the Board, despite paying more capital and levy than other represented member municipalities. Furthermore, concerning transparency and accountability, Mayor Strathdee took the UTRCA Board and Chair Sandy Levin to task for not responding to a letter sent by the Mayor on September 19, 2019, followed by another correspondence with the Board in February 2020. “I would ask the courtesy of a response. I find the fact that I was not even given a response, Mr. Wilcox, I don’t care if the response is ‘the Mayor of St. Marys is crazy’,” Mayor Strathdee said, “But the reality is if you’re going to sit here and preach that your Board responds and is transparent, I would like the courtesy of a response.” Wilcox said that he would convey the message to the Chair and Strathdee that he was disappointed the Chair wasn’t present, as well as offered his hope that the Chair wasn’t ill or avoiding the Town. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
King councillors stayed true to their word and wasted no time in giving King taxpayers a break on their municipal taxes. Council passed the 2021 budgets Monday that crossed all the boxes, offering a zero net increase while still maintaining efficient services and putting money into reserves. During a pandemic, that was quite a feat, one that didn’t go unnoticed by council and every staffer at the municipality. Council approved a zero per cent increase in net levy requirements – the portion of the tax bill that goes to the Township. The other two components of the tax bill are payments to the Ministry of Education and York Region. Those two components still have to be finalized by York Region and the Ministry of Education. “The past year has been extraordinarily difficult on all of our residents,” said King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini. “Many of them have seen their work hours cut during the COVID-19 pandemic, while others have been laid off. We could not ask them to pay more on the Township’s portion of their tax bill.” Mayor Pellegrini said that despite the additional costs of introducing new technology to maintain service levels during the pandemic, staff have looked for efficiencies in other areas in order to keep the Township’s portion of the tax bill flat. “I’m extremely proud of the work council and staff have done to continue offering not only our essential services like Fire and Emergency Services, waste collection and road and sidewalk maintenance, but we’ve been able to offer new services. This includes virtual recreation programs, a brand new website with many new online services and curbside pickup of blue and green bins,” said Mayor Pellegrini. King CAO Dan Kostopoulos said major changes and staff efficiencies have actually added value to King taxpayers. “The mayor and council asked for a zero tax increase and staff delivered,” he said. The CAO also pointed out King has one of the leanest administrations in the N6. The net zero comes without compromising King’s future sustainability. Capital projects are still on track. Division head after division head provided a break-down of department efficiencies and changes. Staff all echoed that modernization and online services have been ramped up to meet taxpayer demand. Staff rose to the challenges and no stone was left unturned in finding new ways to do things. In fact, King achieved more than 80 innovations. Some last-minute tweaking by Mayor Pellegrini delayed a tax-funded project and programs. It was all that was needed to arrive at the net zero rate. Some of the highlights from the capital budget include: • Improvements to various community parks ($2 million) – Blue Heron, Kettle Lake; Tomlinson Gardens, Nobleton Lions Community Park, Tasca Community Park, St. Andrews, OSIN Park. • Schomberg Community Hall renovation and accessibility upgrade ($1 million). • Road-related infrastructure repairs and conversion of gravel roads ($2.5 million). • Nobleton Sewers Phase 3 ($14.6 million). In addition to infrastructure investment, property tax dollars pay for a wide range of programs and services including snow removal from roads and sidewalks, road and bridge repairs and maintenance, fire and emergency services, parks, arenas and four library branches. The total approved 2021 operating budget is $46 million, while the total approved capital budget is $22 million. In order to obtain as much input from the public as possible, King Township offered residents several engagement opportunities. These included a virtual Public Information Centre and an online budget priority survey on King’s digital engagement platform at www.speaking.king.ca. King has also put together a budget quick reference guide which can be accessed at https://www.king.ca/your-local-government/budget-and-finances/budgets along with a complete set of documents related to the 2021 budget. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
Most people in Ottawa will continue to be required to wear masks in public spaces until at least April 29, after city council unanimously approved extending the temporary mandatory mask bylaw at its meeting Wednesday. Council first approved the temporary bylaw last July at the recommendation of the Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches. It called for most people to wear masks on OC Transpo vehicles and in transit stations, as well as any indoor public spaces including retail stores. The bylaw is temporary in nature and was renewed once in August when council expanded it to include the lobbies, elevators and hallways of apartment and condo buildings. It was extended again in October and November. The bylaw was set to expire at midnight Wednesday. People must also wear masks within 15 metres of ice rinks or when accessing the public areas of outdoor recreation amenities. It's not mandatory to wear a mask while participating in an outdoor activity, but it is recommended. People with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, children under two and people who require accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code do not have to wear masks.
As provincial business leaders gather for the BC Natural Resources Forum, Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO Shaun Stevenson discusses how the pandemic has impacted the economy of Northern BC.
Ontario reported 1,670 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including 450 cases in Toronto, 342 in Peel, 171 in York Region and 128 in Niagara.
An annual long-distance swimming event that raises money for a Nova Scotia camp for kids living with chronic illnesses will be calling Cape Breton home in 2021. Typically, the Big Swim takes place in the Northumberland Strait on a 16-kilometre stretch between Cape Jourimain, N.B., and Borden-Carleton, P.E.I. This year, the swim will be taking place in August in the Bras d'Or Lake, starting and ending in Baddeck. Swimmers will have the choice between an eight-kilometre or 12-kilometre swim that follows a triangle formation. The event is put on by Give to Live, a charity that raises money for various causes through physical fitness events. Beth Hamilton, the co-chair of the Big Swim, said the committee decided that if they wanted to still hold the event they would host it in their home province of Nova Scotia. "We wanted to make things as safe as we can and mitigate all the movement as much as we can inside of our Atlantic region," said Hamilton. The charitable event raises money for Brigadoon Village, a camp for kids with chronic illnesses located in Aylesford, N.S. There are typically about 50 swimmers that sign up for the event, along with 50 kayakers who follow along with the swimmers for support. Route will allow them to follow regulations Along with the participants there are many volunteers on each beach and in the water to ensure the safest environment for the swimmers and kayakers. Hamilton said the route in Baddeck will enable them to have fewer people and still follow the regulations. "It will make sure that we're not gathering in large groups should we not be allowed to and really ensuring that we still have a great experience," said Hamilton. Hamilton hopes that since the route is not as long as the one in the Northumberland Strait, and the waters not as rough, that some people who have never participated before will sign up. She said they are excited for their first Bras d'Or Lake swim, but this is only temporary and they will eventually return to the Northumberland Strait. "It's a pretty special event and I think our entire committee really feels that way," said Hamilton. Signup for the Big Swim opens up online on Feb. 15. The event is scheduled to take place on Aug. 8. MORE TOP STORIES
A man who police say led them on a high-speed chase in western Newfoundland is now facing four charges after Tuesday's arrest outside a Deer Lake electoral candidate's office. George Brake, 66, of Shoal Brook, N.L., was charged Wednesday with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, dangerous operation of a vehicle and flight from a police officer. The campaign team for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey said Tuesday evening that police suspected the man had intended to target Furey. Brake reportedly said he was on his way to "stop the election," according to police. Newfoundland and Labrador voters are heading to the polls on Feb. 13 after a provincial election was called earlier this month. Man 'threatened to execute' politicians, RCMP says The RCMP said Wednesday that the man was, in fact, arrested near a PC candidate's office, and that police had "serious concerns for public safety, including the safety of the sitting MHA for the area and political candidates." Furey is the sitting MHA for the area, and is running in the Humber-Gros Morne district. RCMP Cpl. Jolene Garland said Wednesday that the force believes Brake was a "threat to cause death or serious injury," and that in the presence of police he "threatened to execute local politicians." Police seized 36 hunting and tactical knives from Brake's truck, according to information provided by the RCMP at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. One of those was allegedly wedged next to the driver's seat. The RCMP said that at about 10 a.m. Tuesday they received reports of a man "behaving erratically" in Bonne Bay, making political references and alluding to the use of firearms. The force said its officers chased the man's truck to Deer Lake for about 10 minutes, before blocking him with patrol cars outside a building containing the PC candidate's office. "The gentleman stopped at the local business in Deer Lake, and he was removed immediately from the vehicle by our officers," said Garland. Three officers were involved in the arrest, and discovered the knives on a search of his vehicle. "They ranged in size, shape, style," Garland said, noting the largest of the knives had a blade of approximately eight-inches. "They were certainly capable ... of carrying out any serious threats." Garland said Brake was arrested within 30 minutes of the initial complain made by a concerned resident. Alleged targets irrelevant: Furey Furey spoke with reporters Wednesday, calling the issue of Brake's alleged targets irrelevant, after his campaign team issued a release Tuesday evening saying police had warned them Furey had likely been earmarked. The campaign office for the PC Party contradicted that statement, instead confirming to CBC News on Tuesday evening that police told them there was no intended target. The RCMP's Garland said Wednesday that "all local politicians were considered part of the threat." "If I wasn't the target and someone else was, my same degree of concern and empathy ... goes to them and to their family, because I just experienced it equally," Furey said. "The issue of targeting is, I think, moot at this point." Furey said he has not previously encountered threats during his political career. "It's the first time I've been, to my knowledge, the subject of an incident like this, or the likely subject of an incident like this," he said. "And I have to tell you, it was troubling. It was disturbing for me, for my family and for the volunteers who work in my office." It's not clear whether anyone was in the candidate's office at the time, and Garland said she isn't privy to any information about the man's motivations. However, a number of posts containing right-wing conspiracy theories had been shared earlier this month by a Facebook account belonging to Brake. The posts also included pro-Donald Trump and anti-mask sentiments. The RCMP says they believe there are no threats to other politicians. The force has shared information with the Department of Justice and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, "as its mandate includes protection of those elected to public office." Brake will remain in custody at least until his bail hearing, scheduled for Thursday. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Renfrew – There is nothing quite like throwing on the skates and heading out for a family skating day on one of the smoothest outdoor ice surfaces found anywhere in the Ottawa Valley. And that’s exactly what members of the Freemark family did Sunday on the popular oval ice track at the Mateway Activity Centre in Renfrew. Although the wind made the day feel like -20 C, it didn’t deter the Freemarks or others from enjoying the 400 meter circular track, an emerging hidden secret. The arena has been closed since early January leaving one less location where public skating is usually held. However, these are unusual times due to COVID-19 that has resulted in all municipal facilities being closed. Prior to the most recent provincial lockdown, the interior skating rink was a popular destination. Jo-anne Caldwell, Program Developer with the Town of Renfrew’s Recreation Department, said the installation of the track is proving to be one of the most popular recreational attractions in the area. “We had a skating oval last year and it was on the Bluegrass camping area,” she told the Leader. “While it was well used and loved in that location, when we asked for feedback, the most common response we heard was the desire to have nighttime lighting so the users could skate at night. We do not have power on that side of Ma-te-Way Park so the oval was moved to its current location and the response has been phenomenal.” The one comment heard over and over from those who have skated on the oval is the quality of the ice surface. Unlike most outdoor rinks that are quickly filled with holes and ruts, the oval is incredibly smooth and Ms. Caldwell credits this to the recreational staff. “Building and maintaining the pristine condition of the ice surface is not a one-time effort,” she said. “The skating oval is situated on the 400m running track so it is approximately 400m. The outdoor ice is maintained on a daily basis with flooding occurring twice during the day and additional floods once the oval is closed. Staff are really able to work on the oval when it’s cold out. When it drops to -14 Celsius and colder, those are the best nights for us.” Unfortunately, it seems almost every function or event that is held requires the need to take into account all aspects of proper COVID precautions in order to make it as safe as possible for users. Unable to use the indoor skating rink and moving public skating to the large outdoor track seemed like an easy transition. However, Ms. Caldwell said the rec department involved the local health unit each step of the way to ensure a fun and safe outdoor activity. “We worked very closely with the Renfrew County and District Health Unit throughout the pandemic and were able to open the arena to the public in August,” she said. “At that time, the limit for the arena was 50 people and there were a couple of days when we came close to that number. Public skating continued indoors throughout the fall. However, with the skating moved outdoors, there is far more space for social distancing. In addition, the oval is monitored on an hourly basis and we keep records of the number of users.” On Sunday, the Freemark family had no worries of social distancing when they laced up the blades and practically had the entire oval to themselves. Even with the thermometer dropping to -18, and even colder when you take into account the wind chill, the three generations took advantage of the cold weather and raced around the ice much to the delight of the entire clan. The family agreed this would be the day that five-year old M.J. O’Reilly would take the plunge and skate around the entire track on a pair of skates. As proud grandmother Kathy Lindsay agreed with the idea, she just could not resist pushing her grandson around the track on what could best be described as mini-coach. Ms. Lindsay, who is much more accustomed to having a paddle in her hands as one of organizers of the annual Celebrate Our Rivers paddle events along several Ottawa Valley rivers, joked that whether it is ice or water, it is important to get out and enjoy the fresh air. “Oh sure I think I would rather be paddling, but this is a rare time that we have three generations of our family out for a family skate so I am certainly taking advantage of it,” she said. Sarah Freemark could not stop smiling as she skated several laps on the rink and was thrilled her hometown was also home to such a well maintained ice surface. “The pandemic can make family feel far away even when we’re all so close,” she said. “Skating at the oval allows three generations of our family to get outside, get active and safely spend time together. As well, we managed to get M.J. up on skates for awhile, but he is still learning and what a way to learn.” It is that type of feedback that motivates Ms. Caldwell to promote the ice oval as a means to stay active in the age of COVID-19. “Since the oval was opened on December 18, more than 3000 people have come out to use it,” she said. “That takes into account it was closed from December 24 through December 30 due to bad weather. It may seem like COVID has made recreation and exercise even more difficult to do, but this ice track just goes to show that even on the coldest days of the year, people want to get outside and stay active, and the oval certainly offers a unique chance to do just that.” Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
La députée de Duplessis, Lorraine Richard, se voit confier les dossiers liés aux aînés, aux proches aidants et au maintien à domicile. Le chef du Parti québécois, Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon, a procédé à une redistribution des rôles à l’intérieur de son cabinet fantôme à la suite de l’expulsion d’Harold Lebel. Le député de Rimouski a été exclus du caucus le 15 décembre après avoir été accusé d’agression sexuelle. Notons que lors du remaniement, la députée de Joliette, Véronique Hivon, est devenue cheffe du caucus et whip de la formation politique, tandis que son collègue Joël Arseneau, responsable des Îles-de-la-Madeleine, a ajouté le dossier de l’itinérance à sa charge de porte-parole du parti en matière de santé.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Si le dialogue social favorise globalement la prévention, le dernier projet de texte des partenaires sociaux cantonne cependant la notion de contrôle au temps de travail à distance.
LEVERKUSEN, Germany — Bayer Leverkusen signed Dutch right back Jeremie Frimpong from Scottish team Celtic on Wednesday. The Bundesliga club said the 20-year-old Frimpong signed a deal through June 2025. “He’s technically strong, extraordinarily fast and has a strong urge to attack,” said Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes, who described Frimpong’s signing as a “transfer for the future.” Frimpong, who scored scored three goals in 36 Scottish Premiership games for Celtic, is Leverkusen’s second Dutch defensive signing of the winter transfer period after it signed the 23-year-old Timothy Fosu-Mensah from Manchester United. The club had been searching for reinforcements at right back as injury-prone Lars Bender is ending his career after this season and the injured Santiago Arias’ loan deal from Atlético Madrid is due to expire. Mitchell Weiser, another alternative, is also injured. Kicker magazine reported that Leverkusen was paying around 11 million euros ($13.3 million), possibly rising to 13.5 million euros ($16.3 million) for Frimpong. The Dutchman, who joined Celtic in 2019 after several years with Manchester City’s youth teams, was quoted by Leverkusen as saying the switch to Germany gives him a “great chance to play in one of the best European leagues.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Les photographies récemment publiées de Yukio Mishima, prises au cours de ses dernières semaines, montrent un artiste obsédé par la mise en scène de la mort.