There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday. "The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
Guyana said late on Saturday that a Venezuelan navy vessel detained two vessels that were fishing in Guyana's exclusive economic zone, the latest dispute in a long-running border conflict between the two South American nations. Caracas says much of eastern Guyana is its own territory, a claim that is rejected by Georgetown. The conflict has flared up in recent years as Guyana has started developing oil reserves near the disputed area.
VANCOUVER — Dentists and teachers are among the groups that are disappointed they won't be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia. B.C. rolled out its vaccination plan on Friday, revealing that after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized, shots will be given out according to age, with the oldest residents first in line. That means many people who have not been able to work from home during the pandemic, including grocery store workers, police officers and bus drivers, will have to wait to get the vaccine along with others in their age group. The British Columbia Dental Association has written a letter to Premier John Horgan strongly urging him to include dentists in stage two of the vaccination plan, alongside family doctors and medical specialists. The B.C. Teachers' Federation says it's disappointed there is no prioritization for frontline workers who have kept schools open, but it acknowledges the vaccine supply is beyond its control and those who are most vulnerable must be immunized first. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that scientific evidence supports an age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
KONIGSSEE, Germany — Canadians Christine De Bruin and Sara Villani just missed capturing a medal Sunday in a women's two-man World Cup bobsleigh event. De Bruin, of Stony Plain, Alta., and Villani, of Norval, Ont., posted a time of one minute 42.27 seconds. That left them just .10 seconds out of third behind Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman. Germans Kim Kalicki and Ann-Christin Strack finished first in 1:41.71, ahead of compatriots Stephanie Schneider and Tamara Seer (1:41.96). Alysia Rissling and Dawn Richardson Wilson, both of Edmonton, were eighth (1:42.42) while Melissa Lotholz, of Barrhead, Alta., and Toronto's Erica Voss were 15th (1:43.25). Justin Kripps, of Summerland, B.C., was fifth in the four-man event in 1:38.21. His crew included Ryan Sommer of White Rock, B.C., Cam Stones of Whitby, Ont., and Saskatoon's Ben Coakwell. Calgary's Chris Spring finished eighth in 1:38.44. His crew included Toronto's Chris Patrician and Mike Evelyn and Mark Mlakar, both of Ottawa. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — Pius Suter scored his first three NHL goals, Kevin Lankinen made 25 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 on Sunday for their second straight win. Connor Murphy and Mattias Janmark each had a goal and an assist as Chicago swept its two-game set with Detroit after beginning the season with four straight losses in Florida. Phillipp Kurashev also scored, and Patrick Kane had two assists. Lankinen was solid once again after he made 30 stops while earning his first career win in Friday night's 4-1 victory against the Red Wings. He was tested on a Dylan Larkin drive early in the second period, but he got over to make the stop at the right post. Tyler Bertuzzi scored twice for Detroit, and Jonathan Bernier made 29 saves. The Red Wings lost for the third time in their past four games. Chicago got off to a fast start behind the 24-year-old Suter, a Swiss forward who agreed to a one-year contract in July. He sent a rebound into a wide-open net 4:42 into the first period, and then added a power-play goal off a nice pass by Janmark. Chicago went 1 for 2 with the man advantage to move to 8 for 19 on the year. It has scored at least one power-play goal in its first six games for the first time since it opened the 1990-91 season with an 11-game run. Detroit got one back when Bertuzzi redirected a Larkin shot past Lankinen during a 5-on-3 power play 41 seconds into the second. But Murphy responded for Chicago, making it 3-1 when he sent a wrist shot through traffic with 2:42 left in the period. After Bertuzzi's power-play goal trimmed Chicago's lead to 4-2 in the third, Suter sent a wide-open shot from the left circle under Bernier’s glove with 7:32 left. WHAT'S NEXT Red Wings: Visit the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Blackhawks: Visit Nashville for two straight games against the Predators beginning on Tuesday night. ___ Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap ___ More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jay Cohen, The Associated Press
On ‘The West Block’ Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney says U.S. President Joe Biden’s move to axe the Keystone XL pipeline is a show of ‘disrespect’ to Canada.
WASHINGTON — As the House prepares to bring the impeachment charge against Donald Trump to the Senate for trial, a growing number of Republican senators say they are opposed to the proceeding, dimming the chances that former president will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol. House Democrats will carry the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol late Monday evening, a rare and ceremonial walk to the Senate by the prosecutors who will argue their case. They are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar Trump from holding office again. But instead, GOP passions appear to have cooled since the insurrection. Now that Trump's presidency is over, Republican senators who will serve as jurors in the trial are rallying to his legal defence, as they did during his first impeachment trial last year. “I think the trial is stupid, I think it’s counterproductive,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.. He said that "the first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it” because he believes it would be bad for the country and further inflame partisan divisions. Trump is the first former president to face impeachment trial, and it will test his grip on the Republican Party as well as the legacy of his tenure, which came to a close as a mob of loyal supporters heeded his rally cry by storming the Capitol and trying to overturn Joe Biden's election. The proceedings will also force Democrats, who have a full sweep of party control of the White House and Congress, to balance their promise to hold the former president accountable while also rushing to deliver on Biden's priorities. Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. Leaders in both parties agreed to the short delay to give Trump's team and House prosecutors time to prepare and the Senate the chance to confirm some of Biden’s Cabinet nominees. Democrats say the extra days will allow for more evidence to come out about the rioting by Trump supporters, while Republicans hope to craft a unified defence for Trump. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that he hopes that evolving clarity on the details of what happened Jan. 6 “will make it clearer to my colleagues and the American people that we need some accountability.” Coons questioned how his colleagues who were in the Capitol that day could see the insurrection as anything other than a “stunning violation” of tradition of peaceful transfers of power. “It is a critical moment in American history and we have to look at it and look at it hard,” Coons said. An early vote to dismiss the trial probably would not succeed, given that Democrats now control the Senate. Still, the mounting Republican opposition indicates that many GOP senators would eventually vote to acquit Trump. Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans — a high bar — to convict him. When the House impeached Trump on Jan. 13, exactly one week after the siege, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he didn’t believe the Senate had the constitutional authority to convict Trump after he had left office. On Sunday, Cotton said “the more I talk to other Republican senators, the more they’re beginning to line up” behind that argument. “I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago,” Cotton said. Democrats reject that argument, pointing to a 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned and to opinions by many legal scholars. Democrats also say that a reckoning of the first invasion of the Capitol since the War of 1812, perpetrated by rioters egged on by a president who told them to “fight like hell” against election results that were being counted at the time, is necessary so the country can move forward and ensure such a siege never happens again. A few GOP senators have agreed with Democrats, though not close to the number that will be needed to convict Trump. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he believes there is a “preponderance of opinion” that an impeachment trial is appropriate after someone leaves office. “I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offence,” Romney said. “If not, what is?” But Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump when the Senate acquitted the then-president in last year’s trial, appears to be an outlier. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, said he believes a trial is a “moot point” after a president's term is over, “and I think it’s one that they would have a very difficult time in trying to get done within the Senate.” On Friday, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally who has been helping him build a legal team, urged the Senate to reject the idea of a post-presidency trial — potentially with a vote to dismiss the charge — and suggested Republicans will scrutinize whether Trump’s words on Jan. 6 were legally “incitement.” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who said last week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote or argued any legal strategies. The Kentucky senator has told his GOP colleagues that it will be a vote of conscience. One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nine impeachment managers said Trump’s encouragement of his loyalists before the riot was "an extraordinarily heinous presidential crime." Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pennsylvania., said "I mean, think back. It was just two-and-a-half weeks ago that the president assembled a mob on the Ellipse of the White House. He incited them with his words. And then he lit the match.” Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol and interrupted the electoral count as he falsely claimed there was massive fraud in the election and that it was stolen by Biden. Trump’s claims were roundly rejected in the courts, including by judges appointed by Trump, and by state election officials. Rubio and Romney were on “Fox News Sunday,” Cotton appeared on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures” and Romney also was on CNN's “State of the Union,” as was Dean. Rounds was interviewed on NBC's “Meet the Press.” ___ Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report. Mary Clare Jalonick And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An alleged rebel commander from Central African Republic has been detained and turned over to the International Criminal Court by authorities in the troubled African nation, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the capital, Bangui, in 2013. The court announced the surrender of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, of the Seleka rebel group, on Sunday night. He was detained on a warrant issued by the court under seal in January 2019. Fighting raged in Bangui in 2013 between the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels, who seized power from then-President Francois Bozize, and a mainly Christian militia called the anti-Balaka. The violence left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more. The Hague-based court already has detained two alleged commanders of the anti-Balaka, Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, whose trial is scheduled to start next month. Said is the first suspect detained from the Seleka side of the conflict. A judge at the court who issued the arrest warrant found “reasonable grounds to believe that, from at least March 2013 until at least January 2014, a widespread and systematic attack was conducted by members of the Seleka against the civilian population and those perceived to be collectively responsible for, complicit with or supportive of the former Bozizé government and, later, of the Anti-Balaka," the court said in a statement. Said is charged with crimes including torture, persecution and enforced disappearances. The court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, welcomed the arrest. “As I have previously stated, my office will relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of atrocity crimes in the Central African Republic. Today is another manifestation of that commitment,” she said. The detention came with Central African Republic again in turmoil. On Friday, the government declared a 15-day nationwide state of emergency as a coalition of armed groups seeks to overthrow the newly reelected President Faustin-Archange Touadera. Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Ottawa is reporting 76 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths. The number of active cases has dropped to 939. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, but zero deaths. The health authority also declared another 125 cases resolved. The infection rate in Ottawa rose to record levels after Christmas, but has started to decline. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 37: The number of Ottawa residents being treated in hospital for COVID-19, up by three since Saturday. . 0.91: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). Anything below one suggests the spread is coming under control. Across the region In western Quebec, officials confirmed another 23 new cases and one more death on Sunday. Quebec's lockdown is in effect until Feb. 8, and includes an 8 p.m. curfew.
A veteran rocket from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company launched 143 spacecraft into space on Sunday, a new record for the most spaceships deployed on a single mission, according to the company. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10 a.m. EST from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It flew south along the eastern coast of Florida on its way to space, the company said.
FREDERICTON — Public Health officials in New Brunswick reported another 20 cases of COVID-19 in the province Sunday, just hours after one of the province's hardest-hit areas began a 14-day lockdown. Nine of the new cases are in the newly locked-down Edmundston region which now has 144 of the province's 334 active cases. Ten of the new cases are in the Moncton region and there is one new case in the Miramichi area. Health officials say the Edmundston lockdown is needed to curb a rise in daily infections that they fear is about to get out of control. As of now, non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of the area, which borders Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region. The order also forces non-essential businesses, schools and public spaces to close, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. Provincial officials say they will evaluate the situation in the region every seven days, and cabinet may extend the lockdown if necessary. New Brunswick has had 1,124 COVID-19 cases and 13 related deaths since the pandemic began. Five people are in hospital, including two in intensive care. "We will be more confident in our decision making, and zone restrictions are more likely to be eased, if more New Brunswickers, in all health zones, who have symptoms get tested," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said Sunday in a statement. The Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton regions are in the red level of the province's pandemic recovery plan, with the rest of the province at the orange level. A handful of schools in the province are also poised to make the move to remote learning amid the surge in local infections. Monday will be an operational response day at Andover Elementary School, Perth-Andover Middle School and Southern Victoria High School in Perth-Andover, as well as Donald Fraser Memorial School and Tobique Valley High School in Plaster Rock. Students in those schools will learn from home starting Tuesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday that its members voted to defy an order to return to the classroom over concerns about COVID-19, setting up a showdown with district officials who have said that refusing to return when ordered would amount to an illegal strike. Chicago Public Schools, which is the nation's third-largest district, wanted roughly 10,000 kindergarten through eighth grade teachers and other staffers to return to school Monday to get ready to welcome back roughly 70,000 students for part-time in-school classes starting Feb. 1. No return date has been set for high school students. The teachers union, though, opposes the plan over concern for the health of its members and called on them to continue teaching from home in defiance of the district's plan. The union said the district's safety plan falls short and that before teachers can return safely to schools, vaccinations would have to be more widespread and different metrics to measure infections would need to be in place. “There’s no doubt we all want to return to in-person instruction. The issue is CPS’ current unpreparedness for a return to in-person instruction, and the clear and present danger that poses to the health of our families and school communities," the union said in a statement. The two sides have been negotiating for months and talks continued after the result of the vote was announced in the hopes of reaching a deal. CPS officials said Sunday that they had agreed to delay the teachers' return for two days to give the sides more time to negotiate. But they said K-8 teachers would still be expected to resume in-person instruction on Feb. 1. “We now agree on far more than we disagree, but our discussions remain ongoing, and additional time is needed to reach a resolution,” the district's CEO, Janice Jackson, said in a statement. School officials have argued that remote learning isn't working for all students, including many low income and Black and Latino students who make up the majority of the district. The district's safety plan includes thousands of air purifiers, more cleaning and a voluntary testing program The roughly 355,000-student district, which turned to full-time online instruction last March because of the pandemic, has gradually welcomed students back. Thousands of pre-kindergarten and special education resumed in-person learning earlier this month and teachers who didn't return to their classrooms were punished. The union has also argued that schools don't need to be fully staffed with lower-than-expected attendance. CPS data showed that about 19% of students who were eligible for pre-K and special education in-person learning earlier this month attended. That figure was even lower than a December survey that showed roughly 6,500 of nearly 17,000 eligible preschool and special education students were interested. The union’s collective bargaining agreement, which was approved after a 2019 strike, prohibits its roughly 25,000 members from striking and bars district officials from locking them out. District officials have said a union vote to disobey the order to return to schools on Monday would violate the contract. Union officials, though, say returning to in-person instruction before its members are vaccinated and without other safeguards in place would put them at greater risk of contracting the virus. They argue that if the district tries to punish teachers for staying home Monday, then the district would be responsible for a work stoppage. Illinois on Monday is scheduled start the next phase of its vaccination plan, which expands eligibility to teachers and people ages 65 and older. The district on Friday said it would begin vaccinating teachers and staff starting in mid-February and that the process would take months. The Chicago vote comes at a time of great uncertainty in the U.S. about how and when schools should resume in-person instruction. President Joe Biden has pledged to have a majority of schools reopened within his first 100 days in office. He is promising new federal guidelines on school opening decisions, and a “large-scale” Education Department effort to identify and share the best ways to teach during a pandemic. ___ Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Sifis Valyrakis, a former minister and resistance fighter against Greece’s 1967-74 military dictatorship who twice made daring escapes, was found dead at sea Sunday night. He was 77. Valyrakis had sailed with his inflatable craft at noon (1000 GMT) off the coast of the island of Evia in central Greece, where his family has a vacation home. His wife alerted authorities to his absence. His craft was found in the afternoon without him and his body was found just after 8:30 p.m. local (1830 GMT), the coast guard said. Conditions at sea were “good,” a coast guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press, adding that no cause of death can be given yet. Valyrakis was minister of public order, in charge of the security and intelligence services, from March 1995 to January 1996. Earlier, in the 1980s and 1990s, he was deputy public order minister, sports minister and deputy transport and communications minister in the Socialist governments of Andreas Papandreou, from 1981-89 and 1993-96. A noted Papandreou loyalist, he was replaced as minister when the long-time socialist leader stood down for health reasons in 1996 and never held another portfolio, although he remained a member of parliament for his Chania constituency, on the island of Crete, where he had first been elected in 1977, until 2004, as well as from 2009 to 2012. Valyrakis was himself the son of a former army officer and later member of parliament with the Center Union party, in the 1960s. Born in Chania in 1943, he studied electronics and industrial automation in Germany and Sweden. During the dictatorship, he joined Papandreou’s Panhellenic Liberation Movement and was trained at a PLO camp in Lebanon. He was responsible for several bombing attacks against the dictatorship, although these caused no casualties. Arrested in 1971 and tortured by military police, he escaped by cutting the bars in his cell and causing a short-circuit in the jail’s electrical grid. He hopped on the roof of a train headed to Germany, but was found at the border and jailed on the island of Corfu. Valyrakis escaped the same year from the Corfu jail, and swam several kilometres to Albania, only to be arrested as a spy and sentenced to three years of hard labour. At that time, communist Albania still had relations with China, and Papandreou obtained his release through the intermediary of his friend, Cambodia’s then-Sovereign Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who alerted the Chinese to Valyrakis’ plight. Because of his training in guerrilla tactics at a PLO camp, some U.S. officials suspected him of being among the founders of extremist organization November 17, which operated from 1975-2002 and counted U.S. military personnel and CIA station chief Richard Welch among its victims. He always strongly denied the allegations. In January 2009, Valyrakis was arrested and held for several hours at New York City's JFK airport because his visa had been revoked while he was en route. Valyrakis is survived by his wife Mina, a well-known painter, and two children. No information about other survivors was immediately available. Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press
HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS — Winnipeg's Heather McLean was fourth in a World Cup long-track speedskating event Sunday.McLean posted a time of 37.522 seconds in a women's 500-metre race, finishing just 0.11 seconds from winning a bronze medal. McLean won bronze Saturday over 500 metres.She also finished 11th in the 1,000-metre race Sunday.Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann was fifth in the women's 3,000-metre race in 3:59.437. Laurent Dubreuil, of Levis, Que., was 15th in a men's 500-metre race. His original racing counterpart, Russian Ruslan Murashov, lost control and slid into Dubreuil’s outside lane, forcing the Canadian to slow down and swerve to avoid a collision.Dubreuil was permitted a solo re-skate after but settled for the 15th-place finish. He was ninth in the 1,000-metre race (1:08.880).Toronto’s Jordan Belchos was seventh in the men's 5,000-metre race (6:18.054) while Calgary’s Gilmore Junio was ninth in the men’s 500 (34.816).This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Canada's chief public health officer says it's still too soon to know whether the recent downward trend in new COVID-19 cases will continue. Dr. Theresa Tam says there's been an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec but the disease is regaining steam elsewhere. She says it appears local health measures may be starting to pay off, but it's not clear whether they're strong and broad enough to continue to sustain progress. Some long-standing virus hot spots have made headway in lowering the number of new cases in recent weeks, but are still fighting outbreaks and flare-ups as they race to vaccinate vulnerable communities. The federal public safety minister announced today that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in 32 First Nations communities in northern Ontario. Quebec, meanwhile, reported a fifth straight decline in the number of hospitalizations as the health minister urged citizens to keep following health measures. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a 53-year-old man who was found injured in a residence in the Athlone neighbourhood. Patrol officers arrived at a residence near 128 Avenue and 129 Street at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, responding to a trouble not known call, according to an Edmonton Police Service news release. The officers found an unconscious man inside the home, and began performing CPR on him until EMS arrived. He was taken to hospital, but died of his injuries at about 4:20 a.m. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning, but in the meantime detectives are treating the death as suspicious.
MONTREAL — A COVID-19 testing operation was underway at a jail north of Montreal on Sunday following an outbreak that has infected more than 60 people. A spokeswoman for the regional health board for the Laurentians said that, as of Saturday, 45 inmates and 17 workers had tested positive at the St-Jerome detention centre. Melanie Laroche said inmates in certain blocks of the provincially run facility were tested in the middle of last week, but officials decided on Friday to expand screening to the entire jail. She said testing of all the inmates wrapped up on Saturday, while employee testing is expected to be complete by Monday. "We are also continuing our investigation and our support in the implementation of health measures," she wrote in an email. The news came as the overall COVID-19 portrait in Quebec continued to trend in a positive direction, according to the province's health minister. Quebec reported 1,457 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 41 additional deaths linked to the virus. Hospitalizations declined for the fifth straight day, down by 56 to 1,327. Of those patients, 219 were in intensive care, an increase of three. Christian Dube said on Twitter that the numbers were "encouraging," but said Quebecers need to maintain their efforts to reduce cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has credited the recent drop in new COVID-19 infections to the nightly curfew which came into effect two weeks ago. The curfew, which is in place between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., was added to a number of other health orders imposed in recent weeks, including asking people to work from home, banning gatherings and shutting non-essential businesses. Montreal police said they'd intervened to break up more than 10 alleged illegal gatherings on Saturday after police heightened their presence in some boroughs to catch those breaking the rules. Patrols were stepped up in the Plateau-Mont-Royal and Outremont boroughs after police had to disperse three large gatherings at places of worship, including synagogues, on Friday night and Saturday morning. Two Jewish organizations, Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), issued a statement condemning the actions of "a small segment in the Hasidic community" involved in the gatherings in Outremont. "An assault on police officers is criminal and inexcusable, as is referring to them as Nazis," read the statement. The groups said the "organized Jewish community" has always supported the health regulations in place to fight COVID-19 and would continue to do so. A total of 253,633 Quebecers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 9,478 have died since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 24, 2021 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Members of Parliament return to the House of Commons on Monday following a month-long break that was anything but restful to again face the ramification of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the threat of a possible election. One of the first orders of business will be for MPs to decide how Parliament will continue to function during the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether to let parliamentarians continue attending remotely and whether to adopt a new voting app for those who do. Those decisions come amid a much-changed situation as Ontario and Quebec remain under lockdown and stay-at-home orders following record-setting surges in new cases through much of the past month. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez’s office on Sunday said the Liberals had held “constructive” discussions with the other parties, and there were signs that the measure would be adopted without much fuss. Yet an agreement on the functioning of Parliament is likely to be the exception rather than the rule as opposition parties have indicated they plan to go hard at the government on a number of fronts — starting with its handling of the pandemic. The Liberals are expected to table new legislation this week aimed at preventing people who have travelled outside the country on non-essential business from being able to access up to $1,000 in federal sick-leave benefits to pay for their 14-day quarantine after returning. Yet delays in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to dominate the agenda, with opposition parties indicating they plan to press the Liberals for answers on why Canada is facing delays in the delivery and distribution of shots — and what Ottawa is doing about it. That includes the news last week that Canada would receive only a fraction of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations originally promised over the next few weeks, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Pfizer has promised to deliver 4 million doses by the end of March. Opposition parties have blamed the government for mishandling the rush to approve and buy vaccines, saying the Liberals have left Canada far behind other countries in terms of inoculating its citizens. Both NDP House Leader Peter Julian and Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong left the door open to parliamentary committee hearings into the government’s handling of the vaccination campaign — including what it is doing to get shots into arms faster. “Why are other countries ahead?” Julian said. “That's the question that the government will have to respond to. And we believe that the government needs to very clearly spell out their plan to accelerate the vaccine distribution across the country.” The government has said it is doing all it can to secure as many shots as possible, which includes signing contracts with multiple pharmaceutical companies to secure millions of doses over the past few months. “I spend ... every day working to ensure that we have earlier and earlier doses in this country for Canadians given the importance of this vaccination effort,” Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand told the CBC last week. The Conservatives are also expected to continue pushing the government to approve rapid tests for COVID-19 and increase federal assistance for small businesses, Chong added, noting that many are in danger of closing permanently during the second wave. “Our singular focus is on the pandemic because that’s what Canadians expect of us,” Chong said. The Bloc Quebecois has also called for more answers on vaccines while pushing for more support for seniors, while Julian indicated that the NDP will be pressing for the government to extend assistance to families and business past March while cracking down on profiteers. Yet looming in the background will be the ever-present threat of a snap election. While Trudeau has insisted the Liberals don’t want to send Canadians to the polls, opposition parties have alleged that is exactly what the government hopes to happen. Parliamentarians are also returning only days after Julie Payette resigned as governor general, which has raised questions about how she will be replaced — and how Trudeau selected her for the vice-regal job in the first place. The Liberals are also expected to face fresh accusations of abandoning Western Canada for not raising more of a ruckus over U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision upon taking office last week to pull the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline. Yet the Liberals aren’t the only ones jumping back into the fire as they return to Ottawa for the resumption of Parliament, as the Conservatives will be looking to turn the page on Derek Sloan’s ouster last week. The decision to kick the former Conservative leadership candidate from caucus for accepting a donation from white supremacist Paul Fromm capped a week in which Tory Leader Erin O’Toole sought to distance his party from far-right elements. That followed Liberal efforts to associate the Conservatives with the type of right-wing extremists who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., earlier this month at the urging of outgoing president Donald Trump. In an interview, O’Toole dismissed the idea that kicking Sloan from caucus has pitted him against one of the party's most powerful wings, social conservatives, whose support O'Toole courted during the leadership race last year in part by backing Sloan at the time. The Bloc Quebecois also returns facing allegations of using “coded language” for seemingly questioning new Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s fitness to serve in cabinet after having previously worked as head of the Canadian Arab Federation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. —With files from Stephanie Levitz. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — A man and a woman in their 60s have died after a weekend house fire in Peterborough, Ont. A news release from Peterborough Police Service says officers and fire services attended the home on Gillespie Avenue early Saturday morning. Officials say a 69-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man are dead. Police are working with fire services and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the cause of the blaze. The area was closed for most of Saturday for the investigation, but has since been re-opened. The Canadian Press
The Nunavut government is reporting 13 new cases of COVID-19 in Arviat Sunday and tightening public health restrictions in an effort to contain the spread. "Travel to and from the community is restricted. Schools are closed, all gatherings and non-essential services are suspended," Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer, said in a news release on Sunday. "Indoor gatherings are restricted to household members and an additional five people for emergencies only. Masks continue to be mandatory." There are now a total of 15 cases in the community. The territorial government says the cluster of cases involves multiple households. It says all the people who have tested positive are asymptomatic, doing well and isolating. The government says contact tracing is ongoing and it's working to determine how the cases are linked. We need to stay stronger, more aware and more careful than ever. - Premier Joe Savikataaq The government is advising anyone who has travelled to and from Arviat since Jan. 19 to limit their contacts and monitor for symptoms. They are also asked to get in touch with their local health centre or Iqaluit public health. Nunavut's Rapid Response Team is working with the community health team remotely, and more support is set to arrive in Arviat in the next 48 hours, says the release. Nunavut reported zero active cases of COVID-19 on Jan. 3. On Friday, Arviat reported Nunavut's first new case of COVID-19 since Dec. 28. A second new case was reported on Saturday. The community has had a total of 236 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, accounting for about 80 per cent of Nunavut's 280 total confirmed cases. Vaccines available in Arviat The Nunavut government says COVID-19 vaccine doses are available in Arviat and residents should contact the health centre to make an appointment to get vaccinated. "I know how hard all Nunavummiut have been working since the start of the pandemic, and especially over the past two months. Unfortunately, COVID doesn't care much about that," Premier Joe Savikataaq said in Sunday's news release. "We need to stay stronger, more aware and more careful than ever." Savikataaq added that, "Arviammiut have always shown their resilience and adaptability," and said he's proud of everyone in his home community. "[I] ask that you remain more vigilant than ever. Please do not visit and make sure to stay home as much as possible," he said. "I'm sending you all strength and hope."