Next week’s federal economic update is expected to include steps towards meeting a Liberal pledge for a national daycare system. But NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Liberals have promised a plan before, he wants specific details.
Next week’s federal economic update is expected to include steps towards meeting a Liberal pledge for a national daycare system. But NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the Liberals have promised a plan before, he wants specific details.
NEW YORK — The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 — and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to — the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over those of other prospective candidates, in accordance with party rules, she said. “The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” Just months removed from the last presidential election, several Republican prospects have already begun jockeying for position for the 2024 contest. McDaniel is far more focused on the 2022 midterms, when Republicans have an opportunity to break the Democrats' monopoly on Congress. McDaniel is in a difficult political position as she begins her new term as the national GOP chair. She has been a devoted Trump loyalist, but as the RNC leader, she is also tasked with helping her party recover from its painful 2020 election season in which Republicans lost the Senate and the White House and failed to win back the House. Trump's fervent base continues to demand loyalty to the former president, even as some party officials acknowledge that Trump's norm-shattering behaviour alienated elements of the coalition the GOP needs to win future elections. Tensions are especially high within the party as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial. Ten House Republicans voted earlier in the month to impeach the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and on Tuesday, five Senate Republicans voted to move forward with a trial that could ultimately ban him from holding public office ever again. McDaniel acknowledged the frustration of Trump's base, which remains a powerful voice in the party and has little tolerance for Republican officials unwilling to stand behind the former president and his achievements in office. But she repeatedly called for party unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is travelling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment. “If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said. She also forcefully condemned the pro-Trump QAnon movement, a large group of conspiracy theorists who were a visible presence at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Trump repeatedly declined to denounce the group while in the White House. “I think it’s really important after what’s just happened in our country that we have some self-reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt in our country,” McDaniel said, pointing to violence across the political spectrum. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous.” Moving forward, she said that voters, not Trump, are the head of the Republican Party, though Trump continues to maintain “a huge, huge presence” with his base. McDaniel said she's expecting several Republican leaders to play a significant role in the party's future, mentioning former Vice-President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations. Both are also considered potential 2024 presidential contenders. She also downplayed reports that Trump is considering leaving the GOP and starting a new party, warning that such a move would divide Republicans and "guarantee Democrat wins up and down the ticket. “It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that's the last thing that any Republican wants,” she said. "It’s clear that he understands that.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
DETROIT — In about three years, Navistar plans to start selling low-emission hydrogen-powered heavy trucks under a partnership with General Motors and a small distribution company called OneH2. The venture announced Wednesday is an early commercial deployment of the technology in U.S. long-haul trucking. Navistar hopes it will start widespread use of hydrogen-electric trucks, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning diesel fuel. GM will provide fuel cell “power cubes” to Navistar, while OneH2 will set up fueling stations either by trucking hydrogen to terminals or through small hydrogen generation units, the companies said in a statement. Trucking company J.B Hunt will use test trucks in a pilot program starting toward the end of next year. Navistar says its trucks will be able to go more than 500 miles (800 kilometres) on a single charge and can be refuelled in less than 15 minutes. None of the companies would give financial details of the collaboration. GM, which has been researching hydrogen fuel cells for 50 years, has stated in the past it wants to develop markets to sell its new technologies to other companies. Navistar said it would take a minority stake in Longview, North Carolina, based OneH2. The companies said the cost of running Navistar's International RH fuel cell electric vehicles is expected to be comparable to diesel in certain markets. They are expected to be commercially available sometime in 2024 to run routes with OneH2 refuelling stations along the way. "It is going to be opened and expanded to other companies," said Navistar CEO Persio Lisboa. “There's been a lot of interest from our customers.” J.B. Hunt wouldn't say where the trucks would run in the test program. “It can be anywhere. We have a lot of flexibility as we roll this out,” said Nick Hobbs, the company's chief operating officer. Hydrogen fuel cell trucks have an advantage over battery-electric powered trucks, with longer range pulling heavy loads, and because they can be refuelled faster, said Charles Freese, executive director of GM's fuel cell business. Tom Krisher, The Associated Press
An annual long-distance swimming event that raises money for a Nova Scotia camp for kids living with chronic illnesses will be calling Cape Breton home in 2021. Typically, the Big Swim takes place in the Northumberland Strait on a 16-kilometre stretch between Cape Jourimain, N.B., and Borden-Carleton, P.E.I. This year, the swim will be taking place in August in the Bras d'Or Lake, starting and ending in Baddeck. Swimmers will have the choice between an eight-kilometre or 12-kilometre swim that follows a triangle formation. The event is put on by Give to Live, a charity that raises money for various causes through physical fitness events. Beth Hamilton, the co-chair of the Big Swim, said the committee decided that if they wanted to still hold the event they would host it in their home province of Nova Scotia. "We wanted to make things as safe as we can and mitigate all the movement as much as we can inside of our Atlantic region," said Hamilton. The charitable event raises money for Brigadoon Village, a camp for kids with chronic illnesses located in Aylesford, N.S. There are typically about 50 swimmers that sign up for the event, along with 50 kayakers who follow along with the swimmers for support. Route will allow them to follow regulations Along with the participants there are many volunteers on each beach and in the water to ensure the safest environment for the swimmers and kayakers. Hamilton said the route in Baddeck will enable them to have fewer people and still follow the regulations. "It will make sure that we're not gathering in large groups should we not be allowed to and really ensuring that we still have a great experience," said Hamilton. Hamilton hopes that since the route is not as long as the one in the Northumberland Strait, and the waters not as rough, that some people who have never participated before will sign up. She said they are excited for their first Bras d'Or Lake swim, but this is only temporary and they will eventually return to the Northumberland Strait. "It's a pretty special event and I think our entire committee really feels that way," said Hamilton. Signup for the Big Swim opens up online on Feb. 15. The event is scheduled to take place on Aug. 8. MORE TOP STORIES
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Wednesday the federal government is still committed to its ambitious plan to vaccinate remote First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities by the spring even as the country grapples with a scarcity of shots. Miller said he expects provinces and territories to continue to direct shots to these places and ignore "politically expedient solutions" that would result in doses being diverted from priority populations to other communities. He said he's worried that the collective commitment to prioritize some Indigenous adults could crumble in the face of pressure from other constituents. "This is not a political game. It's about science, it's about facts, it's about health care. We have the numbers, the casualties. Indigenous peoples are 3.5 to five times more vulnerable to COVID, we see it with the CDC numbers in the states," Miller said, referencing figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that show some Native American communities have been ravaged by the novel coronavirus. "We hope that remote communities will continue to receive the vaccine and really see success when it comes to immunization," said Valerie Gideon, a top bureaucrat at Indigenous Services Canada. Provinces urged not to change course amid shortages Miller said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the outside body that provides advice to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), has been clear that the first batch of shots should be earmarked for the most vulnerable in society, and Indigenous adults are rightfully on that list. Because health-care options are limited at the best of times in these remote areas, Indigenous individuals can face an elevated risk of death and "societal disruption," NACI said. Miller urged provinces not to change course even as calls grow for more shots elsewhere with Pfizer dramatically reducing its deliveries to Canada over the next month. The U.S.-based company is retooling its manufacturing facility in Puurs, Belgium to meet greater global demand for its product. "The science is saying priority needs to be given to Indigenous communities," he said,noting that many people face substandard living conditions that make them more susceptible to infection. "Let's try to avoid inserting political decisions." Last month, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister raised concerns about the federal government's vaccination plan for Indigenous communities, saying the proposed distribution model would be "unfair" to Manitobans. Some Indigenous leaders said he was wrong to single out First Nations communities. Miller said the federal government is committed to fully vaccinating 75 per cent of Indigenous adults living in the northern territories by the end of March. The rest of the country isn't expected to reach that milestone until sometime this summer. Vaccinations are currently underway in 196 First Nations on-reserve communities and in Inuit communities in the provinces and territories. Another 143 communities have clinics planned. Most Indigenous communities receiving Moderna vaccine While the Pfizer product has been the workhorse of the global vaccination effort so far, most Indigenous communities are receiving the Moderna product because it has less stringent storage requirements. The Massachusetts-based company has said it will deliver up to two million doses by the end of March. Miller said, beyond northern communities, the government is urging provinces to direct shots to the urban Indigenous population, with a particular focus on the homeless. There have been a number of outbreaks in shelters disproportionately populated by Indigenous people. The homeless community in Montreal has been particularly hard hit in recent weeks. WATCH: Minister says B.C. couple should express contrition for vaccine queue-jumping: Miller said the territories need to be on guard for queue-jumpers like the millionaire couple that chartered a jet to the Yukon to get shots of the Moderna vaccine. Rodney and Ekaterina Baker posed as essential workers to get the vaccine meant for members of the White River First Nation. "That is maybe the dumbest thing I've seen in a long while," Miller said of the couple's deceptive efforts to secure a vaccine. "I'm disgusted ... perhaps reparations on some level are due and a gesture of individual reconciliation and contrition could be exercised."
The Town of Bashaw dealt with a tricky police funding situation at their Jan. 21 regular meeting, a tricky police funding situation that every municipality in Alberta is facing. The meeting was blended between in-person and Zoom to meet pandemic rules. Town Chief Administrative Officer Theresa Fuller presented councillors with a request for decision on rescinding Bylaw #795 2020 Policing Special Tax Bylaw which the town passed last year to pay for increased police service, an expense made mandatory by the provincial government but to be paid directly by local taxpayers. In the bylaw, Town of Bashaw councillors in effect tied the increased police costs to utility bills in an effort to spread the cost across as many residents as possible, rather than connect it to property taxes, resulting in property owners paying the bill for the entire community. However, as Fuller explained in her presentation the bylaw had to be rescinded for 2021. Coun. Darren Pearson asked, “Why?” Fuller responded because the provincial government stated police services are not utilities. Fuller pointed out there are quite a number of restrictions on how local governments can collect money for this increased policing. Coun. Rob McDonald stated the province is requiring the town to pay for increased policing but not giving them a way to pay for it. Coun. Lynn Schultz stated it looked like the provincial government doesn’t want local taxpayers to know the province is downloading this cost onto them. “And people think (town council) just raised the taxes,” said Schultz. Fuller stated in 2020 increased police costs for Bashaw taxpayers were around $18,000, and in 2021 that will climb to about $23,000. Coun. McDonald stated the increased policing costs tax should be placed as separate item in Town of Bashaw tax bills so taxpayers know this costs is mandatory from the provincial government, not the Town of Bashaw. Coun. Pearson asked if it could be described as a “security tax.” Fuller responded that would be similar to a requisition and she’ll look into that. The CAO stated the way in which the increased police costs are collected could result in some people or organizations not paying anything for it. For example, if the costs are placed on property owners, those who don’t pay property taxes won’t be contributing to the expense. The CAO and councillors agreed the increased police costs will have to be examined in closer detail at a future meeting. In any event, councillors unanimously passed a motion to rescind Bylaw #795 2020 Policing Special Tax Bylaw. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Rétrospectivement, le développement en moins d’une année de vaccins efficaces contre le Covid-19 n’a rien de miraculeux. Pourquoi ne peut-on pas faire de même pour toutes les autres maladies ?
Just down the road from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a community flush with resident health professionals, the Decatur, Georgia, school system had no shortage of expert input on whether to resume in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Scores of public health and medical professionals from the affluent, politically liberal Atlanta suburb have weighed in about what's best for their own kids’ schools. One emergency medicine doctor said initial reopening plans for the district's 5,000-plus students weren’t safe enough. A pediatrician doing epidemiology work for the CDC advocated delaying. Others, including a leader of the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine efforts, argued the district could get students back in classrooms safely — and that not doing so jeopardized their development and mental health. “The challenge for me has been trying to weigh all of these things that I’m being told by experts and non-experts alike to try to make the best decision that we can,” Superintendent David Dude said. “And that’s what I, and I’m sure other superintendents, have been struggling with.” Each side argued data and science supported their view in a debate over reopening schools that sometimes veered into vitriol. The division in Decatur illustrates the challenges U.S. schools — many in communities without so much expertise — have faced in evaluating what’s safe. Health officials say there’s growing evidence that children aren’t the main drivers of community spread and that transmission is relatively low in schools if mask-wearing, social distancing and contact tracing is in effect. The CDC says that for schools to open safely, they and their surrounding communities must adopt prevention measures. Without specific reopening instructions from federal and state leaders, school administrators have had to become amateur epidemiologists, Dude said. When he first consulted privately with CDC and other professionals — who he said wouldn’t speak out publicly at that point in the process because the pandemic response had been politicized — people accused him of not being transparent. When he rolled out fall reopening plans, some parents and teachers questioned whether it was safe and which virus metrics were used. When he hit the brakes on reopening, other parents got riled up, complaining about the abrupt change or how virtual schooling wasn’t tenable. Tiffany Tesfamichael, a single parent who stretched her budget to move to Decatur because of the well-regarded schools, was upset that her freshman daughter had to struggle through remote learning while neighbours citing concerns about virus spread protested against opening schools, but not against opening businesses. “Why aren’t they out here with signs protesting restaurants if they really, really mean it?” she said. Dude ended up asking a giant committee of volunteers — many with relevant expertise, though it wasn’t required — to make recommendations, including parameters for reopening and protocols to limit virus spread in classes. Then he decided a new plan for January: Students at the seven elementary schools could return, staying in cohorts of 15 or fewer and attending only in the mornings, to avert the logistical nightmare of an unmasked lunch crowd. Older students would stay remote because it was too difficult to arrange them in small cohorts. Some CDC employees and other health professionals objected to that part, arguing in a letter to a community news website that safe, in-person learning was doable for older students using precautions other than cohorting, and that decision-makers were misreading evidence about virus transmission in schools. A hospital doctor treating COVID-19 patients countered with her own letter, warning that reopening as cases surged would be irresponsible. The expert insights made parent Kerry Ludlam reconsider her own stance. “I think letters like that are so powerful because you think you feel one way and then you read a letter with all of these experts. ... And you’re like, ‘Well, their opinion is different from mine. Have I been wrong all the time?’” Ludlam said. She remained inclined to keep her middle schoolers in distance learning, partly because an autoimmune disorder increases her vulnerability. But she said learning more about other families' circumstances and academic challenges convinced her that parents should at least be offered the choice of face-to-face learning. Without it, some families moved to private schools or other suburbs offering in-person classes. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp had pushed a largely voluntary approach to precautions, even after a summer surge in cases, and urged schools to reopen. Around Decatur, neighbours dodged the issue in polite conversation as tensions rose during school board meetings and on social media. Some commenters pushed the debate to its sharpest and crudest edges, suggesting that advocates of resuming in-person classes were OK with gambling teachers’ lives in a desperate grasp for normalcy, or that perhaps people urging continued remote learning couldn't see past their privilege to understand how much other families were struggling. In a Facebook group for district parents, the sniping got so bad that some users complained their posts were shared with their employers by others trying to disparage them. “I’m reminded of that analogy where if you put black ants and red ants in a jar, they get along fine until you shake up the jar and you set it back down, and then the ants ... go after each other to the death, like without ever once considering who shook their world,” Susan Camp, one of the group's administrators, told The Associated Press. She didn't feel the district's reopening plans were safe or equitable, particularly for the most vulnerable students, but the increasing incivility troubled her, too. Ludlam worries about the conversations yet to come. From behind their keyboards and screens, “people just kind of let it fly — forgetting that at some point, the world is going to get back to normal, and we’re going to see each other at school or the pool or, you know, the grocery store and have time to stand and talk,” Ludlam said. “And we’re going to have to face the things we said to each other and the things we accused each other of.” ___ Associated Press medical writer Lindsey Tanner contributed to this report. Follow Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10. Kantele Franko, The Associated Press
The Saskatchewan government is building a permanent monument to honour residential school survivors at Government House in Regina. The monument's construction is a response to the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission's commitment to build publicly accessible, highly visible monuments to residential school survivors and their families in each capital city, the province said in a news release. "The monument will be part of the healing journey, and I look forward to continuing my ongoing conversations with Elders and Knowledge Keepers as we work together to develop this meaningful and lasting tribute," Saskatchewan's Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty said. Canada's residential school system operated for more than 100 years. It removed approximately 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and communities and placed them into government-run residential schools. Saskatchewan was home to approximately 20 federally operated residential schools during that time.
For the first time in 60 years, Fort Frances’ Dairy Queen has a new owner. Yogesh Patel became the new owner of the local Dairy Queen in November which was formally run by Christin Thomson and her sister Candice Thomson Kadikoff. Patel said he has friends in Fort Frances who told him it was a good opportunity and also said the people and the town are really nice. Patel said he grew up in a small town in India until he was 22, when he then he moved to Canada. His father is a farmer and he said because of him he knows a bit about farming and that he enjoys the small town atmosphere because it reminds him of where he grew up. “The town atmosphere is very attractive to me. It is in my heart,” Patel said. He said it is also nice not to be stuck in traffic anymore, which was a common problem when he lived in Edmonton. Now he enjoys a much more peaceful lifestyle. Thomson, who started wiping counters at the Dairy Queen as soon as she could reach them, said she never envisioned that one day she would be running the business. She had dreams of becoming a professional golf player even going away to school on a golf scholarship. but had to put those dreams on hold when her dad got sick. Thomson and her sister then took over the business and ran it for 13 out of the 60 years. She said that over the years they have doubled in sales and gone through a few renovations, making it quite a different business since their grandparents and father ran it. Although business at the Dairy Queen was booming, Thomson said they were ready to move on. “We just had different personal interests that we wanted to pursue and we kind of felt that it was time,” Thomson said. As the third generation to run the business, Thomson said it was a hard decision to come to because of the family ties. “It’s the family connection that is the hardest to move on from but we’re very proud of what we did to carry on that tradition and it will always be something that we can be proud of that our family did and put their best into it,” Thomson said. Her grandfather Elgin Thomson brought the Dairy Queen to Fort Frances when it was just starting as a walk up ice cream stand. Thomson said she remembers her grandfather as ‘the ultimate customer service guy.’ “He really loved what he did. He wore the original very clean uniform and he would have his little paper hat that he would wear,” Thomson said. “If anything, as we move on that’s the kind of passion that I want to have for that things that we continue to do and want to bring into this community as well.” Thomson said they will miss the community and seeing everyone on a regular basis, as well as their employees who have become like family over the years. “It’s always been an extension of our home,” Thomson said. “It was always a place that when we were kids I looked forward to stopping in and visiting my dad so that’s probably my fondest memory is just popping in and seeing him in his office, that is what I will always remember.” Thomson said they are happy with the new owner and they wish them all the success. Due to COVID-19, Patel said they are only able to have the drive through open but that it hasn’t slowed down business. Patel has been a previous business owner in Edmonton but this is his first Dairy Queen. He lived there for 10 years before moving to Fort Frances with his wife and toddler. Patel said Christine and Candice helped him a lot when he was first taking over and is very grateful for that. He also is grateful to the community for welcoming him and being so kind. “And in the future I will always be ready to help the community in any case that arises,” Patel said While his daughter is a little young to start helping around the business, Patel said she enjoys coming to the store and eating the french fries. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
SOUTH STORMONT – Progress has been made in regaining access to the Lancer Centre in Ingleside. Officials with the Township of South Stormont met virtually with Upper Canada District School Board staff in early January to try to work out access issues to the recreation space located in the Rothwell-Osnabruck School. Kevin Amelotte, Director of Parks and Recreation told South Stormont council at its January 13th meeting that the meeting with the UCDSB was a “very positive conversation.” Indoor recreation facilities are currently closed due to provincial COVID-19 shutdown orders. “They are very receptive to working with [South Stormont] once we get through this restriction area,” Amelotte said. He added that the school board was told that South Stormont would like to go beyond just reopening programs at the Lancer Centre and look at a long-term lease for it and the former cafeteria, Osnabruck Hall. Amelotte told council that UCDSB staff are open to that possibility as well. Short term, South Stormont and the board are working out details for using the Lancer Centre while the pandemic is still ongoing, but after provincial closure orders are removed. Amelotte said that after that is settled between the township and the UCDSB, the two parties will look at a possible lease of the facility by South Stormont. He cautioned council that in the short-term, the Lancer Centre can only reopen for recreation once the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region drops to the Orange-Restrict level in the provincial COVID-19 framework. “If we can get down to the Orange at worst, we can move forward,” Amelotte said. The Lancer Centre has been closed to the municipality as a recreation space since the pandemic began. This has caused a shortage of indoor recreation space in Ingleside as the former secondary school portion of Rothwell-Osnabruck School is the only space normally available. In past years, basketball, pickleball and other sports programming have been offered through municipal use of the building. The Lancer Centre was constructed, in part, with funds raised in the community and funds from the former Osnabruck Township. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
France's court of appeal has ordered Canadian academic Hassan Diab to stand trial in connection with a 40-year-old bombing attack outside a Paris synagogue. Diab's lawyer, Donald Bayne, says his client is an 'innocent scapegoat.'
CORNWALL – COVID-19 vaccinations will slow down to nearly zero due to a shortage in supply from manufacture Pfizer-BioNTech. The good news is that before supplies ran out, residents in all but one long-term care home in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have received their first dose of a vaccine. Facing a shortage in vaccine supply, the provincial government changed vaccination protocols to focus on LTC home residents receiving the vaccine. Staff, caregivers, and volunteers will have to wait until vaccine shipments to Canada resume. The single LTC home that has not been vaccinated, Lancaster Long Term Care, will not miss out on its vaccinations. Doses have been saved for when the facility is no longer in an outbreak. EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that doses of the Moderna vaccine will start going into arms of residents of retirement homes and group homes. “With the Moderna that we have got, we are going to be doing the high-risk retirement homes,” he explained during his January 25th media update. In all, 2,267 vaccines have so far been administered by the health unit. For group homes and other congregate living settings, a similar risk-based assessment will be completed and vaccines given based on the highest risk of an outbreak. As with LTC homes and retirement homes, the type of space, size of the facility, and number of high-risk residents all factor into the priority list. Roumeliotis said that once more vaccine supply is received, staff and volunteers who were missed in the first round due to shortages will be vaccinated first. For the second week in a row, overall COVID-19 infections have decreased in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region and continue to trend downward. “If we continue going downwards, I think the Stay-at-Home order would expire,” Roumeliotis said. Hospitalization and Intensive Care Unit rates are a key factor, both of which he said needed to stabilize. “I think the next week is going to be crucial,” Roumeliotis added. Test positivity, reproductive rate and infections per 100,000 people have all decreased in the past week for the region, and daily infection counts have started to drop provincially. The EOHU region has a test positivity rate of 4.35 per cent, reproductive rate of 0.75 and the rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people is 60.8. One week ago, the seven-day average was 109.9 per 100,000 people, test positivity was 5 per cent, and the reproductive rate was 0.98. In comparison, Ottawa Public Health reported a reproductive rate of 0.82, any number below 1.0 is an indicator that the pandemic spread is reducing. The active case count in South Dundas has dropped to three people since last week, and there have been 24 cases since the pandemic began. North Dundas has 14 active cases, and has had 55 cases total. South Stormont has 20 active cases, and 95 cases total. Cornwall continues to lead the region in active (219) and total (624) cases. Nearly one-quarter of all COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began have been in Cornwall. As of the January 25th update, there are 499 active cases in the EOHU region, and there have been 2,380 cases since the Novel Coronavirus was first detected in the region 11 months ago. Twenty-two people from the region are hospitalized, six of those are in the ICU. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, ICUs in the health unit are at 109 per cent occupancy, and the COVID-19 ICU are at 18 per cent occupancy. The number of deaths from the virus has increased to 52. Four people, all from LTC homes, died in the last week. There are 17 COVID-19 related outbreaks in facilities in the region, none are in Dundas County. Most of the outbreaks involve staff only and not residents. Eight staff and seven residents have tested positive for the virus at Glen Stor Dun Lodge, and one person has died at that facility. Riverview Manor in Cornwall, and Woodlawn Villa in Long Sault are among the facilities in outbreak according to the EOHU. A detailed breakdown of how many staff and residents at each facility was not available. Local COVID-19 statistics are updated weekdays by the health unit, except for statutory holidays. The Leader publishes a weekly online update each Friday at www.morrisburgleader.ca. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
NEW YORK — Just when you thought Seth Rogen couldn't get any higher. The actor, comedian, filmmaker and proud stoner has a deal with Crown — the same Penguin Random House imprint that publishes the Obamas — for his first book. It's called “Yearbook” and it's scheduled for May 11. Rogen is also reading the audiobook, which comes out the same day. In a statement from the publisher Wednesday purported to be from Rogen's mother, Sandy, she calls his literary endeavour “not really a memoir” but more like "a bunch of funny stories.” “He talks about doing stand-up when he was a kid (I drove him to all his shows!), his grandparents, high school, moving to L.A., meeting some famous people, things like that. If I’m being honest, I really wish there wasn’t so much drug talk,” Seth's mom supposedly says. “Why does he need all that? It’s like ‘We get it!’ And some of the stories? I mean, they’re entertaining, but I was just shocked they happened and he never told me!” The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland — A Jewish prayer for the souls of the people murdered in the Holocaust echoed Wednesday over where the Warsaw ghetto stood during World War II as a world paused by the coronavirus pandemic observed the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Most International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations were being held online this year due to the virus, including the annual ceremony at the site of the former Auschwitz death camp, where Nazi German forces killed 1.1 million people in occupied Poland. The memorial site is closed to visitors because of the pandemic. In one of the few live events, mourners gathered in Poland's capital to pay their respects at a memorial in the former Warsaw ghetto, the largest of all the ghettos where European Jews were held in cruel and deadly conditions before being sent to die in mass extermination camps. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a message to a World Jewish Congress and Auschwitz memorial museum event, said the online nature of remembrance events takes nothing away from their importance. “It's a duty but also a responsibility, one we inherit from those who lived through the horrors of the Shoah, whose voices are gradually disappearing,” Steinmeier said. “The greatest danger for all of us begins with forgetting. With no longer remembering what we inflict upon one another when we tolerate anti-Semitism and racism in our midst." “We must remain alert, must identify prejudice and conspiracy theories, and combat them with reason, passion and resolve,” Steinmeier said. From the Vatican, Pope Francis said remembering was a sign of humanity and a condition for a peaceful future while warning that distorted ideologies could lead to a repeat of mass murder on a horrific scale. In Germany, the parliament held a special session to honour victims. In Austria and Slovakia, hundreds of survivors were offered their first doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus in a gesture both symbolic and lifesaving given the threat of the virus to older adults. In Israel, some 900 Holocaust survivors died from COVID-19 out of 5,300 who were infected last year. Israel, which counts 197,000 Holocaust survivors, officially marks its Holocaust remembrance day in the spring. But events were also being held across the country, mostly virtually or without members of the public in attendance. Meanwhile, Luxembourg signed a deal agreeing to pay reparations and to restitute dormant bank accounts, insurance policies and looted art to Holocaust survivors. Survivors and many others joined a World Jewish Congress campaign which involved posting photos of themselves and #WeRemember. They were broadcast at Auschwitz on a screen next to the gate and a cattle car representing the way camp inmates were transported there. The online nature of this year's commemorations is a sharp contrast to events marking last year's anniversary, when some 200 survivors and dozens of European leaders and royalty gathered at the site of the former camp. It was one of the last large international gatherings before the pandemic brought normal life to a halt. Due to the pandemic, most survivors today live in “isolation and loneliness,” said Tova Friedman, 82, a Poland-born Auschwitz survivor who attended last year's event and had hoped to return this year with her eight grandchildren. Instead she recorded a message of warning from her home in Highland Park, New Jersey. “Today, as anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head again, the voices of protest are not many and not loud enough,” said Tova, who at age 6 was among the thousands of prisoners to greet the Soviet troops who liberated the camp on Jan. 27, 1945. Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, also warned of worsening anti-Semitism, populism and demagoguery. “Our world is suffering (from) our own incapacity to react, our own passivity,” Cywinski said. “We are the bystanders of our times.” The vast majority of those killed at Auschwitz were Jews, but Poles, Roma, homosexuals and Soviet prisoners of war were also murdered there. In all, about 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Germans and their collaborators. In 2005, the United Nations designated the anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Of the 6 million Jewish victims, some 1.5 million were children, and this year's commemorations included a special focus on them. All living survivors were either children or still young during the war that began more than 81 years ago. While commemorations have moved online for the first time, one constant is the drive of survivors to tell their stories as words of caution. Rose Schindler, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz who was originally from Czechoslovakia but now lives in San Diego, California, has been speaking to school groups about her experience for 50 years. Her story, and that of her late husband, Max, also a survivor, is also told in a book, “Two Who Survived: Keeping Hope Alive While Surviving the Holocaust.” After Schindler was transported to Auschwitz in 1944, she was selected more than once for immediate death in the gas chambers. She survived by escaping each time and joining work details. The horrors she experienced — the mass murder of her parents and four of seven siblings, the hunger, being shaven, lice infestations — are difficult to convey, but she keeps speaking to groups, over past months by Zoom. “We have to tell our stories so it doesn't happen again,” Schindler said in a Zoom call from her home Monday. “It is unbelievable what we went through, and the whole world was silent as this was going on." Friedman said she believes it is her role to “sound the alarm” about rising anti-Semitism and other hatred in the world; otherwise, “another tragedy may happen.” That hatred, she said, was on clear view when a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some insurrectionists wore clothes with anti-Semitic messages like “Camp Auschwitz.” “It was utterly shocking, and I couldn’t believe it. And I don’t know what part of America feels like that. I hope it’s a very small and isolated group and not a pervasive feeling,” Friedman said. ___ Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report. Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia says it will spend nearly $500 million this fiscal year to improve and upgrade the province's roads, highways and bridges. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said today in a news release the province's five-year highway improvement plan includes more than 150 major construction and improvement projects for 2021-22. Hines says spending on roads and bridges is an "investment in public safety." The plan calls for 11 major construction projects in 2021-22, with the focus on the ongoing twinning of Highways 101, 103, 104 and Highway 107. Other work involves improving intersections, constructing passing and turning lanes, and building new interchanges and roundabouts. A total of 19 bridges are to be replaced or repaired at a cost of $29.1 million, while more than 500 kilometres of asphalt and gravel road work are also planned. Last year, $385.3 million was budgeted for road and highway projects. The province says 612 kilometres of road were paved in 2020-21, while 15 new bridges were built and 13 were repaired. More than 216 tenders were issued last year for highway and road work. Nova Scotia has 23,000 kilometres of roads and highways and 4,100 bridges. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
More than a year after its closure, a service aimed at helping farmers in the Peace Region of British Columbia navigate their relationships with the oil and gas industry has been reintroduced. The area has seen significant growth in the natural gas sector: Natural gas production has increased 44 per cent over the past decade, leaving many farmers concerned about the effects it could have on their land, crops and livestock. “They have very limited powers because, obviously, the government has (let) industry supersede agriculture,” Brian Deffler, who is a third-generation farmer in the region, said about the service. “It gives us another avenue to help address some of the concerns that we have with (oil and gas) coming on our land.” The Farmers Information Service says it will help educate farmers about the industry and their rights, help them prepare for meetings with companies, and give referrals to other services. It replaces the Farmers Advocacy Office, which closed due to funding problems. Maria Reschke, who is leading the service, says its absence was felt by farmers. “The word is slowly getting out there. Folks are really glad to have it back again,” she said. “(We’re) just really staying focused on providing that service of informing landowners, equipping them, so they've got ... fact-based, unbiased information.” However, at least one Peace Region farmer says although advocacy services are helpful, they don’t have enough power or leverage against oil and gas companies. It’s the story for Jennifer Bowes, who moved out of the area in August 2019 due to the presence of oil and gas. Now farming in Brisco, B.C., she said she used the Farmers Advocacy Office regularly before moving away. In her eyes, there needs to be a complete shift in how the oil and gas industry communicates with farmers, as well as an increase in farmers’ rights. She points to her old farm in the area as proof: Bowes said it was 800 metres from an oil site, but outside the consultation zone by 50 metres, so they didn't get an evacuation plan if a spill were to occur. She said she remembers feeling her house shake from drilling at a nearby site. “I think every industry in the Peace Region needs to be treated equally, and right now, it seems like oil and gas is taking precedence over our farmers and landowners,” she said. “There were 40 of us on this dead-end road with no cell service. (The companies) couldn't tell us how they were going to get us out.” Bowes said there were a few issues that caused her to leave the area, but it was the larger picture of threatened food and health security that prompted her to pack up. “I miss my community. I mean, it was our home, we decided to stay there. We were going to retire there. The people are amazing. You have such a variety of people: conservative, liberal, NDP, you name it, they all get along,” she said. “They kind of put everything aside, and they just work together, because you need to be out there.” Deffler, who plans to stay in the region despite difficulties dealing with the oil industry, hopes the service will help other farmers advocate for themselves. However, he agrees with Bowes — more needs to be done to actually address the problems facing farmers. “There's no firm mechanism in place that I can see that really will address this,” he said. “You sort of have to try the best you can and try and hold them accountable.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Transportation and the impact it’s having on bringing in and retaining workers is one of the biggest issues facing Labrador businesses right now, according to two chambers of commerce in the region. SaltWire Network spoke with representatives of the chambers in both Lake Melville and Labrador West about what they see as the biggest business concerns the parties should be looking at this election, and the answers were similar. Labrador North Chamber of Commerce CEO Julianne Griffin and Labrador West Chamber of Commerce president Toby Leon both referenced the decision by Air Canada to pull flights from the region. “That will have a significant snowball effect on many industries and businesses in the region, and that’s from car rental companies, hotels, restaurants and so on,” Griffin said. “Obviously, we rely on a reliable air transportation network for business travel as well as medical travel and for residents' travel, attracting newcomers, tourism, development of the natural resource sector. The snowball effect will be felt and be widespread.” She said recruitment and retention of professionals is already strained in Labrador, and making it harder to get in and out of the region isn’t helping. Leon echoed Griffin's comments on recruitment, retention and the impact of losing flights to the region, cutting it off from any transportation hubs. “Recruitment and retention mean we have to be able to get in and out of here reasonably,” he said. “We don’t want people to fly in here to work, we want people to live here, spend money in the coffee shops, the ski hill, and grow our economy here locally.” Relying on fly-in and fly-out workers like some companies have to do now isn’t helping the economy, Leon said, and increases the cost of business. There needs to be reasons for people to stay, he said, and being able to easily get in and out of the region is part of that. “Without the support of government making it a level playing field to live here as opposed to somewhere else, then recruitment and retention will always be a problem,” he said. Griffin and Leon both said the entire transportation network, from roads to the ferry service, is important, and upkeep of those parts of the network are critical to the region. The Atlantic Loop, a proposed electricity grid for the east coast, has been a topic of conversation at both federal and provincial levels and includes Muskrat Falls. They haven’t heard much on the future of the project, Griffin said, but the chamber does hope if it proceeds, Muskrat Falls could be a part of driving wealth for Labrador and the whole province. “The potential to meet environmental goals is huge,” she said. “This might lead to improved operational costs off diesel consumption for operators like Voisey’s Bay. We see a lot of diesel being consumed on the north coast of Labrador and we really hope it will lead to more growth in the natural resource sector.” Griffin said to help with the labour market requirements, there needs to be more outreach to schools and industry about the opportunities available and better alignment between programs offered and the needs of the province. “What we hope to see, if we really focus on meeting our labour market challenges, is encouraging Labradorians to remain in Labrador and live and work here for a long time,” she said. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
In a year where cross-country skiing has seen a resurgence of popularity on trails in Alberta, the beloved Birkie has been cancelled and moved to a virtual format due to COVID-19 health restrictions. "This is so hard for the skiers and the volunteers," Canadian Birkebeiner Society president Dave Cooper said in a Wednesday news release following the Tuesday night decision. "We have worked at planning a safe event since early fall, with thousands of hours invested in designing a Birkie that would be possible with outdoor sports gatherings of up to 100 people. "Sadly, it seems the continuing COVID-19 situation and health regulations will not allow this limit to be in place by the time the Birkie starts on Feb. 12." Known as Canada's premier classic-style cross-country ski event, the Canadian Birkie is one of only three Birkebeiner Loppets in the world, with the other two taking place in Norway and the United States. This year's version of the event had a reduced number of participants and was planned for four days at two sites in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, east of Edmonton, according to the news release. The plan featured individually-spaced starts over a looped trail system with only three distances; 55, 31 and 13 kilometres. The 640 spaces had sold out within a month. Registrants will be automatically entered into a 10-day virtual Birkie and registered in the 2022 event, the news release added. The popularity of nordic skiing has boomed in Edmonton this winter, with equipment flying off shelves and trails packed with seasoned, new and returning ski enthusiasts. Since the Canadian Birkie first ran in 1985, it has been cancelled a handful of times due to weather or snow conditions. The 2019 event, for example, was cancelled because temperatures weren't expected to be above the -25 C cutoff. The 2020 Canadian Birkie took place last February with more than 1,100 registered skiers in five events. One month later, the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization and health measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19 were introduced shortly after.
MONTREAL — The Quebec government said Wednesday it will not challenge a temporary court order granted Tuesday that exempts the homeless from a provincewide curfew imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.Junior health minister Lionel Carmant said in a tweet that the government will modify its curfew decree to ensure those without shelter will not be subject to the measure."We are aware of the ruling last night and do not intend to challenge it," he wrote. "Since the start of the curfew, our desire has been for people experiencing homelessness to be guided to the right resources and not to judicialize them."Community workers and politicians at all levels of government had called on Premier Francois Legault to exempt the homeless from the curfew after a man was found dead this month in a portable toilet not far from a Montreal homeless shelter he frequented.Legault had refused, saying police were showing discretion in dealing with the homeless and suggesting some people might pretend to be homeless in order to get around the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.But in response to a request filed Friday by a legal clinic representing the homeless, Quebec Superior Court Justice Chantal Masse ruled that although the curfew was in the public interest, its application imperilled the lives, safety and health of people experiencing homelessness.The judge noted that the Crown did not challenge evidence presented in court showing tickets — which carry fines up to $6,000 — had already been given to homeless people for allegedly breaking the curfew.The lawyers requesting the suspension had argued that applying the health order to people experiencing homelessness is "useless, arbitrary, disproportionate and cruel.""It causes serious and irreparable prejudices that are not justified in the context of a free and democratic society," read the request signed by law firm Trudel Johnston and Lesperance.The lead plaintiff, identified as S.A., is described in the court document as a 38-year-old man who has been diagnosed with alcoholism and schizophrenia. The filing says that S.A. received two $1,550 tickets for violating the curfew, which he cannot respect due to his homelessness and which he has no hope of paying.S.A had been asked to leave two shelters in the past two weeks because he had allegedly broken the rules, and he had been banned from three others allegedly because of his alcohol consumption, the filing says. It adds that the man feared catching COVID-19 in a shelter.The lawyers representing the homeless legal clinic said the problems faced by S.A. are similar to those faced by other homeless people, who they said are often vulnerable and suffer from mental illness or substance abuse issues.The lawyers noted that even when shelter beds are theoretically available, they are often reserved for certain categories of people, adding that few shelters will accept people who are intoxicated.People with alcohol dependencies are faced with the "cruel choice" of either risking getting kicked out of shelters for drinking, or going outside to consume alcohol and risking a ticket for violating curfew — a situation that is "incompatible with the notion of human dignity," the filing said.The court document also cited an intervention worker who said the curfew was leading some homeless people to hide from police at night, putting their safety at risk and making it harder to help them.In the ruling, Masse said that while the curfew rules were undoubtedly adopted in the public interest given the COVID-19 pandemic, the "balance of inconveniences" favoured suspending the order for homeless people because of the serious questions raised regarding their health and safety.The judge suspended the rule until the matter can be debated on its merits in court; however, Carmant indicated Tuesday that the government would not fight the ruling and would instead exempt the homeless from the health order. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante applauded the court decision, stating on Twitter that it will "facilitate the lives of people in situations of homelessness and the intervention workers in the field who support them." Sam Watts, CEO of homeless service centre Welcome Hall Mission, said the organization has always maintained that "a curfew doesn't really apply to somebody who doesn't have a home to go to."He said, however, that people shouldn't be encouraged to sleep on the street, adding that he hoped more resources will be directed toward helping people find permanent housing."The solution to the challenge of homelessness in 2021 is not a whole series of emergency measures, nor is it allowing people to stay on the street," he said in a phone interview. "The solution is to provide people with permanent supportive housing."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Morgan Lowrie and Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press