Police in Mandalay, Myanmar's second-largest city, broke up an anti-coup protest with tear gas and water cannon Saturday.
Police in Mandalay, Myanmar's second-largest city, broke up an anti-coup protest with tear gas and water cannon Saturday.
President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two days before the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, said supporters of then-President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were basically in a “death match with the Democrat Party.” A day later, right-wing activist Alan Hostetter, a staunch Trump supporter known for railing against California's virus-inspired stay-at-home orders, urged rallygoers in Washington to "put the fear of God in the cowards, the traitors, the RINOs, the communists of the Democrat Party.” The shared grammatical construction — incorrect use of the noun “Democrat” as an adjective — was far from the most shocking thing about the two men's statements. But it identified them as members of the same tribe, conservatives seeking to define the opposition through demeaning language. Amid bipartisan calls to dial back extreme partisanship following the insurrection, the intentional misuse of “Democrat” as an adjective remains in nearly universal use among Republicans. Propelled by conservative media, it also has caught on with far-right elements that were energized by the Trump presidency. Academics and partisans disagree on the significance of the word play. Is it a harmless political tactic intended to annoy Republicans' opponents, or a maliciously subtle vilification of one of America’s two major political parties that further divides the nation? Thomas Patterson, a political communication professor at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said using “Democrat” as an adjective delivers a “little twist” of the knife with each usage because it irritates Democrats, but sees it as little more than that. “This is," he says, “just another piece in a big bubbling kettle of animosities that are out there.” Others disagree. Purposely mispronouncing the formal name of the Democratic Party and equating it with political ideas that are not democratic goes beyond mere incivility, said Vanessa Beasley, an associate professor of communications at Vanderbilt University who studies presidential rhetoric. She said creating short-hand descriptions of people or groups is a way to dehumanize them. In short: Language matters. “The idea is to strip it down to that noun and make it into this blur, so that you can say that these are bad people — and my party, the people who are using the term, are going to be the upholders of democracy,” she said. To those who see the discussion as an exercise in political correctness, Susan Benesch, executive director of the Dangerous Speech Project, said to look deeper. “It’s just two little letters — i and c — added to the end of a word, right?” she said. “But the small difference in the two terms, linguistically or grammatically, does not protect against a large difference in meaning and impact of the language.” During the “Stop the Steal” rallies that emerged to support Trump's groundless allegations that the 2020 election was stolen from him, the construction was everywhere. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel accused “Democrat lawyers and rogue election officials” of “an unprecedented power grab” related to the election. Demonstrators for the president's baseless cause mirrored her language. After Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was removed from her House committees for espousing sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories, she tweeted: “In this Democrat tyrannical government, Conservative Republicans have no say on committees anyway." Trump’s lawyers used the construction frequently during his second impeachment trial, following the lead of the former president, who employed it routinely while in office. During a campaign rally last October in Wisconsin, he explained his thinking. “You know I always say Democrat. You know why? Because it sounds worse,” Trump said. “Democrat sounds lousy, but you know what? That’s actually their name, the Democrat Party. Right? The Democrat Party. So I always say Democrat.” In fact, “Democratic” to describe some version of a U.S. political party has been around since Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s. Modern Democrats are loosely descended from a split of that party. The precise origins of Republicans' truncated phrasing are difficult to pin down, but the Republican National Committee formalized it in a vote ahead of the 1956 presidential election. Then-spokesman L. Richard Guylay told The New York Times that “Democrat Party” was “a natural,” because it was already in common use among Republicans and better reflected the “diverse viewpoints” within the opposing party — which the GOP suggested weren’t always representative of small-d democratic values. Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who had just led his notorious campaign against alleged communists, Soviet spies and sympathizers, was the most notable user of the phrase “Democrat Party” ahead of the vote. The current RNC did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment for this story. The construction was used sparsely in the following decades, but in recent times has spread to become part of conservatives' everyday speech. At the height of last summer’s racial justice protests, the group representing state attorneys general criticized “inaction by Democrat AGs” to support law enforcement. In explaining its rules for cleaning Georgia's voter roles, the office of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it was following a process started in the 1990s under “a Democrat majority General Assembly and signed into law by a Democrat Governor.” Asked recently what he would think of his former health director running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine responded, “I’m going to stay out of Democrat primaries.” Using Democrat as a pejorative is now so common that it’s almost jarring to hear a Republican or conservative commentator accurately say “Democratic Party.” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said she wishes both parties would abandon their heightened rhetoric toward each other. She spoke out forcefully in September after the Ohio Republican Party maligned a “Democrat common pleas judge” who had ruled against them. The party later apologized. Her objection was the politicization of the judiciary, which she has fought against, and not specifically the GOP's misuse of the word “Democrat." But in a later interview, she said the language was a reflection of today's hyperpartisan political environment. “It's used as almost like a curse word,” said O'Connor, a Republican. “It's not being used as a compliment or even for purposes of being a benign identifier. It's used as a condemnation, and that's not right.” For their part, Democrats rarely push back, even when the phrase is used in state legislative chambers or on the floor of Congress. It wasn't always that way. Then-President George W. Bush departed from his written remarks and used the phrase “Democrat majority” in his 2007 State of the Union address. He was swiftly rebuked and apologized. “Now look, my diction isn’t all that good,” a rueful Bush said. “I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language, so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic party.” Bush’s self-deprecating joke highlighted a key issue around Republicans' use of “Democrat” as an epithet, says political scientist Michael Cornfield, an associate professor at George Washington University. Democrats don't have a comparable insult for Republicans. "It's a one-way provocation,” he said. In the 1950s, Democrats toyed with a tit-for-tat approach in which they would refer to Republicans as “Publicans,” the widely despised toll collectors of ancient Rome. Republicans scoffed at the effort, which they rightly noted no one would understand. Republicans also could turn it around as a way to burnish their brand: In British usage, a publican is someone who owns a pub. Meanwhile, “Republic” — without the “a-n” — isn’t derogatory. It's known as a “God word” in American politics, just as small-d “democratic” is, meaning a revered cultural concept that's universally understood. The truncated “Democrat,” on the other hand, “rhymes with rat, bureaucrat, kleptocrat, plutocrat," Cornfield said. "‘Crats’ are bad. So you can see why they do it.” David Pepper, a former Democratic Party chairman in Ohio, says Republicans' phrasing has “clearly been thought about." Even so, he doesn't see trying to erase it as a good use of Democrats' time as the party seeks to reset the national agenda after four years of Trump. He said that while President Joe Biden has pledged national unity, “the other side is literally trying to make the other party sound like rodents." “To me,” Pepper said, “that’s absurd and disturbing at the same time.” ___ AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report. Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press
More than 850 cows that have spent months on a ship in the Mediterranean are no longer fit for transport and should be killed, Spain's Agriculure Ministry said on Saturday, confirming an earlier Reuters report. The cows were kept in what an animal rights activist called "hellish" conditions on the Karim Allah, which docked in the southeastern Spanish port of Cartagena on Thursday after struggling to find a buyer for the cattle during the past two months. The animals were rejected by several countries over fears they had bovine bluetongue virus.
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) Jeremy Ratt, 20, remembers how good it felt when he first entered the Gathering Room at his Kelowna, B.C., middle school and found himself in a space with other Indigenous students, as well as staff who could provide culturally relevant academic and emotional support. Experts say that spaces like the one Ratt — the 20-year-old host of the CBC podcast Pieces — found solace in are important for the wellbeing of Indigenous students, as is having Indigenous history and representation in curriculums. Ratt's five-part podcast follows his journey of self-discovery as he seeks to understand his roots as a mixed Indigenous and white man and all of the distinct "pieces" that form who he is today. Someone he says played a pivotal role in starting that journey was Jackie Westgate, an Indigenous student advocate at Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna. Westgate, who is Mi'kmaq, said the school's Gathering Room helped many Indigenous students who passed through the school. Students are welcome to smudge there, or just relax or study. Westgate says staff will also help students who don't know much about their background learn more about where they came from. "When kids come in, we expose them to all sorts of different ways that they can connect with their heritage and feel good about learning in a way that works for them," she said. "It is the room of welcoming and the room of belonging." The Gathering Space at Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna, B.C. is overseen by Indigenous student advocate, Jackie Westgate, who worked with CBC podcast host Jeremy Ratt when he was a student. Shannon Leddy, an assistant professor in Indigenous Education in the Curriculum and Pedagogy department at the University of British Columbia, echoes the validity of gathering spaces. Leddy, who is Métis, focuses on decolonizing education in her work. She says it's important students have somewhere to go to be themselves and experience a sense of acceptance — "a place where someone is going to understand the kinds of micro-aggressions and erasures that Indigenous students face daily within curriculum and pedagogy," she said. No 'tokenistic art activities' But efforts are underway to change that curriculum, too, by offering more First Nations content in the classroom. Fiona LaPorte, who has Anishnaabe, Blackfoot and Métis roots, teaches at ¿uuqinak'uuh (Grandview) Elementary School in Vancouver and says and her curriculum is almost entirely made up of Indigenous teachings. Having spaces in schools where Indigenous students can learn about and participate in their cultures and connect with other Indigenous students and staff is important to the wellbeing of Indigenous students, experts say. She has a medicine wheel carpet in her classroom and all of the imagery on her walls is Indigenous focused. "I don't do tokenistic art activities in my classroom. I teach about cultures of different nations, especially nations whom I've worked very closely with — and, of course, my own background," she told host Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition. LaPorte acknowledges that while non-Indigenous teachers should be teaching this as well, it's especially important that it comes from an Indigenous perspective. "There's a value in having somebody who's actually walked in those moccasins to teach about that," she said. She says she gets asked a lot from non-Indigenous educators how to be allies. "It's really about making connections and relationships with folks that have those experiences, or have those cultural tools or knowledge and bringing them in as guests and, of course, appropriately honouring them in ways that show your respect for their time," said LaPorte. Jackie Westgate is Mi'kmaq and works as an Indigenous student advocate at Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna. Connecting through culture Nadine McSpadden, from the Secwepemc Nation, is a helping teacher for Aboriginal learning in Surrey, B.C. In that role, she provides resources and workshops for teachers in the district to encourage them to weave Indigenous teachings into their curriculums. "This is what I talk to teachers about all the time — the importance of having authentic resources in the classroom," she said. McSpadden said it's important for Indigenous kids to see themselves represented in the curriculum and throughout their schools for the sake of their Indigenous identity. "When we showcase Indigenous culture in the classroom in a way that makes our kids feel like, 'Wow, we are definitely something of value,' then they're more willing to connect," she said. Pieces is a five-part CBC podcast that explores what it means to be Indigenous. Join 19-year-old Jeremy Ratt on a journey of self-discovery as he seeks to understand his roots and all of the distinct "pieces" that form who he is today. You can subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.
(Furrukh Ikram via YouTube - image credit) Peel Regional Police say a man has been arrested after allegedly stealing a tow truck and fleeing from officers on Friday. A video of the arrest surfaced online and shows the moments leading up to it. A spokesperson for Peel police told CBC Toronto that they received a call around 11:15 a.m. on Friday about several men fighting. At some point, a tow truck was stolen, they said. Police located the tow truck in a nearby residential neighbourhood. A video of the incident posted on YouTube by the user Furrukh Ikram shows the tow truck reversing out of a residential driveway in what appears to be a Brampton neighbourhood before a police cruiser catches up and rams into the side of the truck. Several other cruisers then arrive to box in the vehicle on each side. Police officers exit their cruisers and begin pounding on the driver's side of the truck yelling, "Get out!" while the the vehicle appears to continue attempting to flee. WARNING | The following video contains graphic images and audio It is unclear whether police used Tasers in their efforts to stop the driver, but crackling can be heard in the video. After a couple of minutes, police can be seen forcibly removing the man from the truck and placing him under arrest. Police say the man was taken into custody and transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has invoked their mandate following the incident, police said. The SIU is an independent agency that investigates incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death as well as allegations of sexual assault. Police say a 35-year-old man has been charged with theft under $5000, theft of a motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
MILAN — The fedora Humphrey Bogart wore in “Casablanca” may have secured Borsalino’s place in fashion and cinematic history, but it will be something like the cow-print bucket hat that will help ensure its future. The storied Italian hatmaker still makes its felt hats by hand in a Piedmont region factory, using the same artisanal techniques from when the company was founded in 1857 and some of founder Giuseppe Borsalino’s original machinery. It is updating its offerings for next fall and winter, with a focus on customization and youth-trends. The new collection displayed during Milan Fashion Week takes inspiration from the Arts & Crafts design movement in mid-19th century Britain. Hat pins with leaf and floral motifs allow women to uniquely shape the hats, to take up an oversized brim, say, or to create an elegant fold in the crown. A leopard fedora can be paired with a long chain, to wear over the shoulder when going in and out of shops, while a clochard has an optional leather corset. “You cannot change a hat so much,’’ Giacomo Santucci, Borsalino’s creative curator, said. “You can change the attitude of the hat.” Unisex styles, including baseball caps, berets and bucket hats, come in updated new materials - including a spotted cow print, black patent leather and rainproof nylon. Such genderless looks are becoming an increasingly important part of the collection, Santucci said. “The hat is no longer a tool to cover yourself, but to discover yourself,’’ he told The Associated Press. The company, which relaunched three years ago, was in the process of scaling up production from 150,000 hats a year to a goal of half a million when the pandemic hit. “To be honest, it is such a small company, in a way it is very simple to react,’’ said Santucci, who is also the current president of the Italian Chamber of Buyers. “The smaller you are, the more reactive and prompt." Beyond new styles, that means getting people talking. Santucci, who was Gucci CEO during the Tom Ford era, created a new film for this season, featuring Milanese women who chose hats to match their styles, striding through the centre of the city. Last season’s film featured dancers from Alessandria, site of the original Borsalino factory, dancing through the factory floor. "My strong belief is that fashion is becoming more and more a discussion,'' Santucci said. New social media platforms like Clubhouse are giving people the chance to create a limited and select group to discuss relevant topics, which Santucci said has been key during the isolation imposed by the pandemic. He also has pursued collaborations with ready-to-wear brands, including Borsalino X Valentino. “Brands are changing. It is getting closer to entertainment, to give people the chance to engage with the brand, to understand it better. Not only to understand what was done in the past, but to really interact and to have the chance to be part of the same community,’’ Santucci said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
Hundreds of Lebanese gathered at the seat of the Maronite church on Saturday to support calls by its leader for the country to be neutral in regional conflicts as a way to lead it out of political and economic crisis. Lebanon has been in financial meltdown since 2019 and feuding politicians have been unable to form a government since the last one quit in the aftermath of an Aug. 4 explosion in the capital, leaving the country rudderless. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai has repeatedly urged political rivals to agree a new administration, and recently called for a U.N.-sponsored international conference to help break the deadlock.
It's a year of change at the Canadian women's curling championship in the Calgary bubble. The field was padded to 18 teams this year for the first time. There are no spectators at the Markin MacPhail Centre due to the pandemic. The Page system was dropped in favour of a three-team playoff. Coaching benches are at opposite ends of the ice rather than beside each other. Traditional post-game handshakes are verboten with some players tapping brooms instead. Curling fans and athletes are still thrilled to have the sport back on the domestic stage after a long absence. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the first of six events to be held in the protected "bubble" environment — has been a success entering the final weekend. Championship pool play continues Saturday and the playoffs are set for Sunday. Many classic traditions specific to the Hearts are on hiatus for 2021. The HeartStop Lounge, a party barn with entertainment, food and drink, is obviously idle this year. The annual women's curler banquet and full-field group photo should also return in 2022. And in a change to a long-standing routine that Hearts competitors have held dear since 1981, many teams will not receive jewelry this year. Longtime event sponsor Kruger Products decided it will only award jewelry to the four teams — P.E.I., N.W.T., Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador — who were able to play provincial/territorial playdowns. The nine provincial teams who accepted invitations after the pandemic forced the cancellation of their respective association championships are out of luck. "Players/teams that were acclaimed entry into the 2021 Scotties and any alternate players that were not part of a winning provincial/territorial team are unfortunately not eligible to receive jewelry," said Kruger corporate marketing director Oliver Bukvic. "This is a very unique year, with many changes due to COVID, and we will recognize the winners who earned a berth in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts." That's a change from last season when Nunavut — the other territorial entry in the field — received jewelry despite not playing down. Jewelry is not given out to defending champions (automatic entry) or wild-card teams (entry via ranking). Unlike the nine pandemic-affected provincial entries, Iqaluit was able to host championships this year. However, women's playdowns weren't held because the Nunavut team — which did not receive jewelry this year — was unopposed for a second straight season. Bukvic didn't comment on previous setups but said this year's plans came down to eligibility. "We look forward to next year when we'll hopefully be back to normalcy and we'll be able to recognize all of these provincial and territorial winners with their jewelry for winning their playdown," he said. First-year players who are eligible for jewelry receive a gold necklace with a four-heart pendant. A diamond is added to the pendant for each of the next four appearances. After that, a tennis bracelet is awarded with a diamond addition for every return to the Hearts. "We knew that that wasn't really on the table this year, which is fine," said Alberta vice Kate Cameron. "I think we were really excited to have this opportunity to even be here right now. "I think given the state of the world and everything we're going through and then being selected to represent Alberta, I think was something that we were really honoured to do. So I think we're just happy to be here." The jewelry is a significant perk for all teams who receive it, but particularly those who finish on the low end of the event payout structure. Teams cut after the preliminary round receive $2,500 apiece. The winning Hearts team receives $100,000 of the $300,000 total purse. Curlers who reach the podium will still receive traditional rings. The champions have rings set with a diamond, the finalists with a ruby and the third-place team with an emerald. The Hearts finalist receives $60,000 and the third-place team receives $40,000. Other championship pool teams receive $15,000 apiece. Kruger is celebrating its 40th year of Hearts sponsorship this season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
The federal auditor general says in a report that the Liberal government won't meet its goal to lift all boil-water advisories for several years. Dawn Martin-Hill, chair of Indigenous studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, says there needed to be more work with Indigenous communities to build a strategic plan to ensure access to reliable, safe drinking water.
(Submitted by Kevin Snyder - image credit) Maple Syrup is having a sweet moment as producers get ready to tap the trees in their woodlots to prepare to make stock for 2021. The natural sweetener is proving popular for families spending more time at home and using it more in their recipes. "I had an increase in sales since COVID started and I couldn't figure it out at first," said Kevin Snyder of Snyder Heritage Farms in Bloomingdale, Ont. "And then one of my customers made a comment. 'Before the lockdown,' he said, 'we were making pancakes once a month.' He says now that everybody's home, 'we're making pancakes three or four times a month.'" As customers purchase the remaining supply of 2020 Ontario syrup, producers like Snyder and Dan Goetz of Shady Grove Maple Company in Guelph, Ont. are tapping the trees at their woodlots and waiting for the sweet spot: a temperature formula that fluctuates from about –5 C at night to 5 degrees during the day. The modern pipeline collects from five to eight trees and moves the sap into a storage tank. Red leaves predict sweet season Goetz started tapping trees in early February. He needed to get ready for the March sap withdrawal, as he has 40 thousand taps and hoses to put in place at the 20 Ontario woodlots he owns in Kitchener, Guelph, Durham, Chatsworth and Campbellville. In addition to temperatures today, he also kept a close eye on the leaf colours last fall. They offer a clue about how the syrup will taste in the coming season. "We had real bright colours in the leaves, so that usually means high sugar production," said Goetz. "Reds especially tend to lean toward higher sugar contents, better sugar production. Sometimes that proves us wrong, but it's usually true." Also, he says, "there's lots of available water coming now with all the snow we're getting." Maple syrup being drawn off an evaporator at Shady Grove Maple Company. Regional flavour Syrups from each region of Ontario offer a different taste and spectrum of colours, from dark to light. "Every different region has different flavours according to how the the trees are grown and the soil type," explained Snyder. "So when you become a maple syrup connoisseur, there's a whole window of opportunity to sample and try many different flavours and grades out there. All maple syrup isn't the same. There's a huge difference in flavours, according to regions and producers." The finished product. The maple syrup is stored in stainless steel containers at Shady Grove Maple Company in Guelph. All Ontario made syrup is sold with the "Sweet Ontario" logo on the container and can be purchased directly from any maple syrup producer. "It's a local sugar," says Kevin Snyder. "And a lot of people don't realize how close their sources are until they start driving 10 or 15 kilometres and they find a local source."
A Lloydminster man and a Saskatoon woman arrested by RCMP for having a stolen vehicle were allegedly in possession of weapons for a dangerous purpose. Shaylean Dillon, 23, of Saskatoon, and Leyen Meesto, 37, of Lloydminster, Sask., were arrested Feb. 23 after Lloydminster RCMP got a call at about 6 p.m. about a stolen vehicle. Police kept an eye out for the vehicle and soon spotted it at a business on 18 Street in Lloydminster. RCMP towed the vehicle for a forensic examination but wouldn’t say what prompted them to do so. Dillon has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, resisting/obstructing a peace officer and driving while prohibited. Meesto was charged with possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, failing to comply with a probation order and two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a release order. Meesto was remanded into custody and appears in Lloydminster, Alta., Provincial Court on March 2. Dillon was released and appears in Lloydminster Sask., Provincial Court on March 23. The charges against Dillon and Meesto haven’t been proven in court. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A Vancouver-area health authority says people at three schools in the region have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern.A news release from Fraser Health says it is working with the Surrey school district to manage COVID-19 exposures at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School and M.B. Sanford Elementary School. It says the cases involving an unspecified COVID-19 variant appear to be linked to community transmissions, but the schools will remain open. The health authority also declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Royal Columbian Hospital on Friday.It says five patients at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19 after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit.It says the emergency department remains open and no other areas have been impacted.Meanwhile, an outbreak at the CareLife Fleetwood long-term care home in Surrey was declared over.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Thousands of flag-waving marchers demonstrated Saturday in Tunisia's capital in a show of support for the majority party in parliament. The demonstration follows political tensions between Tunisia's president and its prime minister, Hichem Mechichi. Mechichi has sought to reshuffle his Cabinet but has seen some of his proposed ministerial appointments blocked by President Kais Saied. Marchers in Tunis chanted “The people want national unity.” The demonstration was called by the Islamist Ennahdha party that holds the largest block of seats in Tunisia's parliament. Tunis,Tunisia, The Associated Press
(Charles Contant/Radio-Canada - image credit) Stéphane Duchesne likes to tell the story of one particular client at his Magasin Général de Castelnau, in Montreal's Villeray Borough. The client, whose elderly father would come over for dinner, liked to indulge in a few cold ones with his meal. The son, not wanting his father to drink and then drive home, would pop into Duchesne's shop and load up on zero-alcohol beers, which contain less than 0.5 per cent alcohol. "[The father] thinks he's drinking real beer. So he can drive back to Laval, no sweat, and the son can sleep soundly," recalled Duchesne. Today's microbrew near-beer scene is far from what it used to be as recently as five or six years ago. There were only a few options, likely produced by a major brewery, and they often tasted like insipid, uninspired attempts at beer. That's not the case today. Duchesne has roughly 15 different types of zero-alcohol beer in the antique, wood-lined fridges in his shop. Quebec microbreweries are pumping out a wide range of zero-alcohol beers, ranging from stouts to IPAs to blondes. "Before it was a sugary beer, they weren't able to put the hops in it. Today a [non-alcoholic] beer without hops is almost impossible," said Duchesne. Now, he says his non-alcoholic microbrews are among his best sellers. "What's interesting nowadays is that you can purchase a non-alcoholic beer that has all the flavour and details of a craft beer and made only with four ingredients," said Sébastien Paradis, vice president of the Association des microbrasseries du Québec. "In the craft world, we pride ourselves on making beer with four ingredients, which are malt, yeast, the hops and water." The segment is gaining in popularity. More and more people are reaching for the zero beers when looking for a refreshment, thanks in part to how the microbreweries have embraced the challenge. "I've been talking to people who have drunk non-alcoholic beers for 15 or 20 years that said it was a boring thing to do. You'd almost hide your non-alcoholic beer," said Paradis. "Nowadays, it's actually pleasant to drink a non-alcoholic beer because the craft segment got interested in the category and started making beers that taste like cereals and like hops." Trend driven by consumers Like many consumer products, the craft breweries segment got interested because of consumer interest. The COVID-19 pandemic drove people toward adopting a healthy lifestyle, according to Max Coubes, a bartender and zero-alcohol drink connoisseur. He said it got people thinking more about their own wellness, and that's being reflected in more zero-alcohol beers on store shelves. "Because it's been so long, I think that people have been thinking more about taking care of themselves and what they consume," said Coubes, who believes the microbreweries are adapting to a booming market. "People just just found themselves alone at home or with their family, which drove them to reconsider their own consumption in general." WATCH | Zero-alcohol beer is beer without the buzz: The perception around zero-alcohol beers is changing too with their artsy labels and funky names such as Montreal's Sober Carpenter, Drummondville's Le BockAle and Quebec City's Bluffeuse. "If I make the parallel to 10 years ago, you'd see someone drinking a non-alcoholic beer. It often resonated with someone who had a history of alcohol problems, who could not drink alcohol," said Paradis. "Now we're seeing a consumer who is drinking alcohol, but instead of drinking alcohol five, six days a week, they're saying, 'well, I'm going to try to cut down to only three or four days a week, and on those other three or four days, I'd still like to enjoy a beer or something good'." Paradis says his association hasn't kept track of how the zero-alcohol beers have grown on the market but, based on the number of products available, he believes it's grown tenfold over the last four or five years. And while the zero-alcohol segment might not occupy a huge portion of the national market, it is growing. Sales hop up 50% Luke Chapman, of Beer Canada, a trade association representing 45 brewing companies, said sales of the zero-alcohol beer grew by 50 per cent in 2020 over the previous year. However, Chapman said they still only occupy 1.7 per cent of total beer sales in Canada. He calls it an underdeveloped segment of the market. Non-alcoholic beer sales have been gathering steam as people look to stay healthy while still enjoying a cold one (or several) at the end of a long day. "It has been identified by both big and small brewers as a potential area of growth, and particularly for those Canadians that are interested in leading a more kind of health conscious lifestyle," said Chapman. "It's not only about the alcohol, but a lot of these non-alcoholic beer products also are quite low in calories when you compare them to other products." The zero-alcohol beers do have one other advantage. Because they do not contain alcohol they are not subject to the SAQ's monopoly, and micro-breweries are allowed to ship their products by mail across Quebec and Canada. "It's definitely a good opportunity for Quebec brewers to show what they can do for the rest of the province, the country and North America," said Paradis.
MONTREAL — One year since Quebec recorded its first presumptive case of COVID-19, the province is recording 858 new infections and 13 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The Health Department reported 599 hospitalizations today, a drop of 21 patients. There are also seven fewer people requiring intensive care for a total of 112. One year ago today, Quebec authorities reported that a woman returning from travel to Iran was the province's first presumptive COVID-19 patient. Her status was confirmed the next day. Since the pandemic was declared last March, the province has reported 287,003 confirmed infections and 10,385 deaths, with 268,645 people recovered. Quebec administered 15,902 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday for a total of 418,399. Premier Francois Legault, in a letter posted today to his Facebook page, says he feels great hope as vaccinations of the general population have begun in recent days and are scheduled to ramp up on Monday in the Montreal area. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Simon-March Charron/Radio-Canada - image credit) The City of Montreal is extending its offer of free weekend parking downtown until the end of March. Drivers heading into the Ville-Marie borough can park their vehicles for free, between 6 p.m. Friday and the end of the weekend. The measure was first announced last fall, in an attempt to boost business during the holiday season, with merchants struggling to stay afloat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID-19 vaccination campaign set to begin in Montreal on Monday, the city says it wants to give businesses another boost heading into the spring. "The vaccination campaign allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Mayor Valérie Plante said in a statement. "We're going to get through this crisis, and downtown will regain its place as the economic and cultural heart of the metropolis." In collaboration with the provincial government, the city unveiled a $60-million plan last December to jumpstart the downtown core.
(Nalcor Energy - image credit) Despite significant damage over the last two months to the transmission lines that carry power from Muskrat Falls to the Strait of Belle Isle, the CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador's energy corporation says he expects the project to be operational on schedule. The most recent February storm damaged components between Muskrat Falls and L'anse au Diable, with repairs needed on more than 1,200 towers. Repair crews have spent the month trying to address the issue. In light of the recent spate of damage, Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall said failures early on in bringing the project fully operational were expected, and blamed a series of unusual weather events in January and February for the failures of the transmission line components. "We've had some problems for sure, but you expect a lot of those, especially early on in the project," said Marshall. "So we're still in the process of making the whole thing operational." Marshall attributed the damage to an unseasonably severe ice storm in Labrador last January, which left a heavy accumulation of ice on the lines between Goose Bay and Forteau. The ice didn't initially affect the operation of the lines until a worker spotted a damaged arm on one of the towers. When crews went to assess the damage, they discovered a dozen instances of similarly bent towers. "In Labrador what we found was that the smaller arms carrying the electrode lines were being bent in some places, and in one instance actually let go," he said. The severity of the accumulated ice was enough to require helicopter assistance from Hydro Quebec in order to remove it from the lines. "It's very unusual to have ice this magnitude for so long," he said. Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall says he's confidence Muskrat Falls will start pumping power into the grid by the end of 2021. Marshall said that it's impossible to build power lines to withstand everything. From time to time, he said, there will be failures. "The towers themselves did not give way, so that's the first thing. It's impossible to design outside towers to withstand every possible event; the cost would be astronomical in any event." Through an assessment, Nalcor will determine if the designs themselves were faulty, or if there was any issue in implementation, he said. If needed, added Marshall, designs will be modified. Too early to estimate costs of repairs Marshall says Nalcor won't know how the damage will alter the project's price tag until the corporation has completed its assessment. "I don't think this will contribute significantly to an increased cost," said Marshall. "There might be some minor revisions made here, but it's difficult to say until we get the full engineering analysis of what things failed." According to Marshall this is the first major issue Nalcor has encountered with the line in the three years it's been up. The transmission system has a number of configurations, which Marshall said allows them to maintain the lines. The loss of an electrode line doesn't necessarily mean customers would be without power, he said. Despite not being able to give any guarantees, due to what he called the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, Marshall said he's confident the Muskrat Falls project will reach full completion within the year. "There's a clear path at this point in time," he said. "The construction is finished, we're in an operational mode in one of the generators, we are now bringing the transmission line into operation ... so I have a great deal of confidence that by the end of the year, we'll be basically at fully operational." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Several rounds of staff reports, public comments, and consultant presentations later, Tiny council still remains at square one around an effective strategy to address short-term rental (STR) issues in the township. At the end of the day, staff were sent back to prepare a public survey and to continue drafting an STR licensing bylaw and renters code of conduct with public input. In the process' latest round, council's committee of the whole received an open deputation Friday from a resident, who had concerns around the third-party monitoring system, a presentation from the third-party service provider and another staff report. "I read through the supplier and I have concerns about the cost and the Big Brother feel," said Kim Romans, who is a year-round Tiny resident with two rental cottages on her property. "This is not a registry, this is about regulation. "We are a small township and a small number of units," she added. "People who are offering STRs should come to the table and work with council to design something that works for the people and township. We shouldn't be burdening people with over-regulating and the costs associated with them." Coun. Tony Mintoff clarified for Romans that the township's intent was always to come up with some sort of regulation around STRs in the area. "It's always been the intent to have a registration and a licensing program," he said. "As for survey of the members of the public and property owners, that's part of the plan." Council also sat through a presentation by Samantha White, account executive with Granicus - Host Compliance, whose services were giving Romans the jitters. The company, White said, focuses and specializes in helping local governments address their short-term rental related challenges. "We pull down the data from the top 60 STR platforms and match that with your assessor data to drive greater compliance using the solutions we have," White said. The five tools that Granicus offers include digital registration and tax collection, address identification, compliance and rental activity monitoring and a dedicated hotline for complainants, she explained. Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer, said staff had brought forward Granicus as an efficiency tool. "Staff see this as a very important efficiency tool to get us up and running very quickly for 2021," he said. "It's a critical component to rolling this out. Recreating something similar to this would take a lot of time and be cost prohibitive. (Granicus costs) $36,000 a year and we're asking council to consider them as sole-source provider." In addition to the $36,000 cost for bringing on Granicus, Harvey said, staff was also proposing an additional bylaw officer at a cost of $51,000 for eight months. Some council members still had concerns if the township had the right way of approaching the issue. "What are we trying to achieve and more particularly what are we trying to achieve for the 2021 season?" said Mayor George Cornell. "I don't think we're at a point where we can start writing up our bylaw and engage Granicus. There's a whole public consultation piece here that hasn't been looked at. We haven't made any decisions yet. I would caution council not to get ahead of ourselves." That's exactly where Mintoff was coming from. "I think it's premature to be thinking about engaging a third-party consultant and hiring a staff now when we haven't even put the issue of what the program is going to look like," he said. "I do agree with the bylaw approach versus the zoning approach because it would help us administer a monetary penalty system." Instead, Mintoff said a survey is a good first step in which to begin. He also wasn't convinced if the definition of an STR should focus on any period less than 28 consecutive calendar days since the problems lie with those renting for weekends. "We should be looking at under eight days," he said, adding, "We can get our feet wet and look at the ones that are causing the most problems. "If we just say, if you're going to rent less than eight days, you have to register," said Mintoff. "That doesn't say you can't rent for 28 days." All council members agreed that engaging Granicus services at this time wasn't necessary, however, White and her colleague offered to help staff in crafting the licensing framework. Meanwhile, staff will continue with the strict enforcement policy already in place. Council is hoping to have a report back with an implementation date for the end of May. The decision was ratified at the council meeting held later the same day. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
WASHINGTON — The House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, the first step in providing another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now moves to a tense Senate. “We have no time to waste,” Biden said at the White House after the House passage early Saturday. "We act now — decisively, quickly and boldly — we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again. People in this country have suffered far too much for too long.” The new president’s vision for infusing cash across a struggling economy to individuals, businesses, schools, states and cities battered by COVID-19 passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote. That ships the bill to the Senate, where Democrats seem bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and fights could erupt over state aid and other issues. Democrats said that mass unemployment and the half-million American lives lost are causes to act despite nearly $4 trillion in aid already spent fighting the fallout from the disease. GOP lawmakers, they said, were out of step with a public that polling finds largely views the bill favourably. “I am a happy camper tonight," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Friday. “This is what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you're not, we're going without you." Republicans said the bill was too expensive and said too few education dollars would be spent quickly to immediately reopen schools. They said it was laden with gifts to Democratic constituencies like labour unions and funneled money to Democratic-run states they suggested didn't need it because their budgets had bounced back. “To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it's bloated," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “To those who say it's urgent, I say it's unfocused. To those who say it's popular, I say it is entirely partisan.” The overall relief bill would provide $1,400 payments to individuals, extend emergency unemployment benefits through August and increase tax credits for children and federal subsidies for health insurance. It also provides billions for schools and colleges, state and local governments, COVID-19 vaccines and testing, renters, food producers and struggling industries like airlines, restaurants, bars and concert venues. Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines. That sharp partisan divide is making the fight a showdown over whom voters will reward for heaping more federal spending to combat the coronavirus and revive the economy atop the $4 trillion approved last year. The battle is also emerging as an early test of Biden's ability to hold together his party's fragile congressional majorities — just 10 votes in the House and an evenly divided 50-50 Senate. At the same time, Democrats were trying to figure out how to assuage liberals who lost their top priority in a jarring Senate setback Thursday. That chamber's nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, said Senate rules require that a federal minimum wage increase would have to be dropped from the COVID-19 bill, leaving the proposal on life support. The measure would gradually lift that minimum to $15 hourly by 2025, doubling the current $7.25 floor in effect since 2009. Hoping to revive the effort in some form, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is considering adding a provision to the Senate version of the COVID-19 relief bill that would penalize large companies that don't pay workers at least $15 an hour, said a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations. That was in line with ideas floated Thursday night by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a chief sponsor of the $15 plan, and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to boost taxes on corporations that don't hit certain minimum wage targets. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered encouragement, too, calling a minimum wage increase “a financial necessity for our families, a great stimulus for our economy and a moral imperative for our country.” She said the House would “absolutely" approve a final version of the relief bill because of its widespread benefits, even if it lacked progressives’ treasured goal. While Democratic leaders were eager to signal to rank-and-file progressives and liberal voters that they would not yield on the minimum wage fight, their pathway was unclear because of GOP opposition and questions over whether they had enough Democratic support. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., sidestepped a question on taxing companies that don't boost pay, saying of Senate Democrats, “I hesitate to say anything until they decide on a strategy." Progressives were demanding that the Senate press ahead anyway on the minimum wage increase, even if it meant changing that chamber's rules and eliminating the filibuster, a tactic that requires 60 votes for a bill to move forward. “We’re going to have to reform the filibuster because we have to be able to deliver,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., another high-profile progressive, also said Senate rules must be changed, telling reporters that when Democrats meet with their constituents, "We can’t tell them that this didn’t get done because of an unelected parliamentarian.” Traditionalists of both parties — including Biden, who served as a senator for 36 years — have opposed eliminating filibusters because they protect parties' interests when they are in the Senate minority. Biden said weeks ago that he didn't expect the minimum wage increase to survive the Senate's rules. Democrats narrowly hold Senate control. Pelosi, too, seemed to shy away from dismantling Senate procedures, saying, “We will seek a solution consistent with Senate rules, and we will do so soon.” The House COVID-19 bill includes the minimum wage increase, so the real battle over its fate will occur when the Senate debates its version over the next two weeks. Democrats are pushing the relief measure through Congress under special rules that will let them avoid a Senate GOP filibuster, meaning that if they are united they won't need any Republican votes. It also lets the bill move faster, a top priority for Democrats who want the bill on Biden's desk before the most recent emergency jobless benefits end on March 14. But those same Senate rules prohibit provisions with only an “incidental” impact on the federal budget because they are chiefly driven by other policy purposes. MacDonough decided that the minimum wage provision failed that test. Republicans oppose the $15 minimum wage target as an expense that would hurt businesses and cost jobs. ___ Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Kevin Freking and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
TORONTO — There's a new multi-millionaire in Ontario. The province's Lottery and Gaming Corporation says a ticket purchased in Sudbury, Ont., is the sole winner of the $70-million Lotto Max jackpot. The Friday draw marked the sixth time that the maximum jackpot has been won in Canada and the fourth time in the province since the cap was increased in May 2019. Maxmillions tickets worth $1 million each were also sold in the Ontario communities of Simcoe County, Mississauga, North York and Woodbridge. A Maxmillions ticket worth $500,000 was sold in Ajax, Ont. The next Lotto Max jackpot is estimated at $24 million, with a draw set for Tuesday night. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press