Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and new Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver say they're getting an earful from constituents about other legislature members who jetted off to sunny destinations over the holidays.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and new Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver say they're getting an earful from constituents about other legislature members who jetted off to sunny destinations over the holidays.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
VICTORIA — The federal economic development minister says business leaders in British Columbia want to work with a new development agency aiming to help them endure the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the future. Melanie Joly said she's heard from entrepreneurs and business owners across B.C. about the support for a home-based economic development agency, including during an online forum Friday with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Joly said the promised B.C.-based agency will provide targeted economic support and relief in the form of loans, subsidies and advice about federal programs. "People want to be able to have access to levers to survive the economic crisis and the pandemic, but at the same time people want to talk about the future and want to be optimistic as the vaccinations roll out," she said in a phone interview. Joly said she's heard in panel discussions with business leaders that they're concerned about the distance between Ottawa and B.C. as entrepreneurs argue for an agency that is closer to home. "There's a feeling of disconnection towards the federal government," she said. "That has created sometimes frustration on the part of people in B.C. We need to increase our impact, our footprint. We need to make sure that people trust the fact that the federal government is there for them." Joly, who is also the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said B.C. entrepreneurs have told her the province's economy was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic and they need help now to get them through. Last December's federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year, she said, adding the budget for the new B.C. agency has not been set and there's no date yet for an opening date. "I always have a sense of urgency in life," Joly said after her meeting with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. "I'm a very impatient person, so the team and I are working extremely hard to make sure we can launch this new B.C. agency but we need to make sure we do things right." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
The provincial government has put a pause on the demolition of heritage buildings in the West Don Lands downtown until Wednesday after major backlash from city officials and residents. Community members and city councillors demanded the demolition plans be halted in an effort to preserve the structures when construction crews arrived on site Monday and started to tear them down. The St. Lawrence Community Association applied for a court injunction Thursday to temporarily stop the demolition with the city listed as an interested party. Ontario's Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said Friday the province has made the decision to pause as a "good faith measure." "This morning, the province received the decision concerning the request of the St. Lawrence Community Association seeking an interim interlocutory injunction to stay demolition and environment remediation activities at the government-owned land at 153 to 185 Eastern Ave.," Clark said in a statement. "Although an injunction was not ordered, as a good faith measure towards the City of Toronto, I have called Mayor John Tory to advise that the province will pause [plans] until next Wednesday Jan. 27." The Dominion Wheel and Foundries Company site, a provincially owned property, is subject to a Ontario ministerial zoning order issued in October. The order, one of three for the West Don Lands, paves the way for housing construction and allows the province to bypass municipal planning processes, including public consultations. The four buildings on the site were constructed between 1917 and 1929 and were added to the City of Toronto's heritage register in 2004. Tory thanks province for pausing demolition Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed the province's move. "Although I wish this situation had started in a more cooperative manner, I want to thank the Minister for acknowledging that there are concerns raised by the City, the community, the local councillor and myself which require discussion, and thank the Minister as well for agreeing to an immediate five-day pause," Tory said in a statement Friday. Tory said city staff met with provincial officials Friday morning to try to resolve the situation and will hold further discussions over the coming days. He said the issue will also be coming to city council at the end of January. "I remain hopeful that a path forward can be found that gets more affordable housing built and at the same time takes proper notice of community concerns such as heritage," Tory said. When word spread last week that the demolition was about to begin, prompting community leaders and politicians to speak out against the plan, the province told CBC Toronto it was within its authority to make the move. Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, is one of the critics of the demolition and called the province's plans "outrageous" and an "act of vandalism." Wong-Tam says while she and others are "pleased" to read Clark's statement, she continues to call on the province to stop the project. "This province's action of reckless demolition was carried without consultation and without adherence to their own heritage policies," Wong-Tam said in a statement Friday following the announcement. "A temporary pause does not reverse the already extensive damage of the accelerated demolition we have witnessed over the last few days during a global pandemic or restore the community's faith," she said. Wong-Tam says the province could show a "real act of good faith" by halting all further demolition and consulting with the city and the community. The ministry insists "heritage elements" will inform the design of any new buildings on the site. "The province has been clear that this provincially-owned property – which has been largely abandoned for over 40 years and requires demolition to allow for significant environmental remediation – will be revitalized to allow for the construction of new affordable housing, market housing, and community space," Clark said. In his statement, Clark says that the ministry has provided documentation prior to the initiation of the injunction, including a Heritage Impact Assessment and Cultural Heritage Documentation Report.
About 20 patients at Montreal's Douglas Mental Health University Institute have contracted COVID-19 in the past week. The first case of COVID-19 at the Douglas Institute dates back to Jan. 15, and nine other cases were recorded the next day. On Thursday, an additional 13 patients tested positive. Patients and staff of the affected unit have all been tested and infection control measures have been enhanced, said Hélène Bergeron-Gamache, a spokesperson for the local public health authority, the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal. "Fortunately, the majority of patients are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms," she said. Bergeron-Gamache said visits are temporarily suspended in the unit concerned, and even the family of staff will need to be tested. The Douglas is designated to receive COVID-19 patients, she said. This is not the first time there has been an outbreak at the facility. Back in April, a total of 16 patients and 22 employees tested positive for the disease, the CIUSSS said at the time.
PITTSBURGH — The son of a couple killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue attack that killed 11 worshippers is suing the National Rifle Association, arguing the group’s inflammatory rhetoric led to the violence. Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice Simon, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against the NRA, the gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Co., and accused shooter, Robert Bowers, news outlets reported. Colt manufactured the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle allegedly used by Bowers. A fourth defendant is the unknown business that sold Bowers the gun. Bowers is charged with killing 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Police said the former truck driver expressed hatred of Jews during and after the October 2018 rampage. “Bowers was not born fearing and hating Jews,” the suit claims. “The gun lobby taught him to do that.” Bowers has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. The plaintiff argues gun lobbyists like the NRA radicalized people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.” The lawsuit also says Colt could have prevented the AR-15 from “bump firing,” or using a modification that allows the rifle to fire more rapidly. An NRA spokesperson declined comment on the lawsuit. The group filed for bankruptcy last week, and the claims against them in Simon’s lawsuit will be stayed as a result of the group’s reorganizing. Colt did not respond to request for comment. Besides a wrongful death claim, the complaint accuses Colt of product liability and says the gun is more akin to a military-style weapon than a civilian product. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A group of large businesses in Banff National Park is proposing a rapid COVID-19 testing project meant to help reopen the economy safely. Yannis Karlos, the head of the group, said rapid testing can guarantee the safety of the community while allowing the return to a semblance of normality in a place heavily dependent on tourism. "We're just looking for options to take a different approach to ensure that our community remains safe," said Karlos, who owns a distillery and restaurant in Banff, Alta. "Back in March, our community basically fully shut down and we had an extremely high level of unemployment," he said. Karlos said the group of businesses that represent 5,300 employees would cover the costs of deploying COVID-19 rapid tests if the Alberta government will supply them. "The way we envision it is becoming a public-private partnership, so we're looking for some assistance from the municipality as well as from the province," he said. Town of Banff spokesman Jason Darrah said the municipality will support the project. "We want to support however possible, such as offering facilities for doing it," he said. Sandy White, the co-founder of a coalition of academics, medical professionals and business leaders called Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which is working with the businesses in Banff, said millions of rapid tests already bought and distributed by the federal government are sitting in warehouses across Canada because provincial governments are either unable or unwilling to deploy them. "The overall mismanagement of this file in particular, to say nothing of vaccines and everything else, has been depressingly indicative of Canada's response to this thing," he said. White, who himself owns two inns in Banff, said other countries have responded to the pandemic more efficiently than Canada using rapid tests and other measures to reopened their economies safely. "We are drowning in this situation and we've had a year to get all these wonderful things in place and we could be Taiwan or South Korea or Australia or New Zealand but we're not," he said. "That's very frustrating." White said the 90-day rapid-testing project proposed for Banff would aim to test as many of the town's roughly 8,800 residents as possible within the first two days. After that, the program would test between five and 10 per cent of residents every day. "We are quite confident that with a strategy like that, we can eradicate COVID within the community," he said. Banff had close to 200 active cases of COVID-19 at the end of November, when the economy had reopened and tourists were in town. "The goal really is to be able to safely reopen the economy and encourage tourists to come back to town," he said, noting local jobs depend on tourism. He said the program could also be used as a "test case" to prove that a rapid-testing strategy can work to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. White said his organization is speaking with several groups across the country, including universities and Indigenous communities, to prepare rapid-testing project proposals. "It would be us advising and assisting in setting up pilots and executing on them with the government really just providing testing services in the form of the tests and maybe some basic guidance," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Capitol Police are investigating an incident in which a Republican lawmaker was blocked from entering the House chamber after setting off a metal detector while apparently carrying a concealed gun. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., set off the metal detector while trying to enter the chamber Thursday afternoon. The metal detectors were installed after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. The incident was witnessed by a reporter from the HuffPost website. After setting off the machine, Harris was asked to step aside for further screening. At that time, an officer discovered Harris was carrying a concealed gun on his side, according to the reporter. The officer sent Harris away, at which point Harris tried to get Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., to take the gun from him. Katko refused, telling Harris he didn’t have a license to carry a gun. Harris eventually left and returned less than 10 minutes later. He once again went through security and did not set off the magnetometer. He was then allowed to enter the House floor. Harris, in his sixth term representing Maryland's Eastern Shore, issued a statement through his chief of staff, Bryan Shuy. “Because his and his family’s lives have been threatened by someone who has been released awaiting trial, for security reasons, the congressman never confirms whether he nor anyone else he’s with are carrying a firearm for self-defence,'' the statement said. "As a matter of public record, he has a Maryland Handgun Permit. And the congressman always complies with the House metal detectors and wanding. The Congressman has never carried a firearm on the House floor.'' Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for Capitol Police, said the incident is being investigated. The public is not allowed to carry guns on Capitol grounds, but members of Congress may keep firearms in their offices or transport them on the Capitol grounds if they are unloaded and securely wrapped. Lawmakers are not allowed to bring guns into either the House or Senate chambers. Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has said she’ll carry a gun in Washington, D.C., which does not allow the open carrying of a firearm. Fellow freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., told a North Carolina newspaper that he was armed when a mob that supports former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol. Since the metal detectors were installed last week, most House members have followed police orders and gone through the devices to enter the House chamber, but some Republicans — including Boebert and Harris — initially sidestepped the machines or refused to be checked with wands after they set it off. Capitol Police have now placed desks and velvet ropes near the metal detectors to block anyone from walking around the machines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has proposed a rule that would fine members who bypass the metal detector $5,000 for their first offence and $10,000 for their second. The fines are not yet in effect, because the House has not adopted the rule. A spokesman for Cawthorn declined Friday to say where, exactly, the congressman was while armed on Jan. 6. Cawthorn "practices his 2nd Amendment rights, as well as privileges accorded to him as a member of Congress. Rep. Cawthorn also respects and adheres to instructions from the Capitol Police,'' said spokesman Micah Bock. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. TikTok earlier this month rolled out some tightened privacy features for users under the age of 18, including a new default private setting for accounts with users aged 13 to 15. The new practices, affecting users around the world, followed a move by U.S. regulators to order TikTok and other social media services to disclose how their practices affect children and teenagers. The Associated Press
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
BERLIN — Marcus Thuram scored on his Bundesliga comeback from suspension to seal a 4-2 win for Borussia Mönchengladbach over Borussia Dortmund on Friday. Thuram, who missed four games after spitting at an opponent in December, scored with a header from Florian Neuhaus’ corner in the 79th minute after coming on as a substitute. Dortmund’s winless streak stretched to three games, increasing the pressure on coach Edin Terzic, who took over from the fired Lucien Favre on Dec. 13. League leader Bayern Munich can move 13 points clear of Dortmund on Sunday, while Terzic's team now faces a fight to secure the last place for Champions League qualification. Gladbach replaced Dortmund in fourth place ahead of the rest of the 18th round, when Dortmund could drop lower with Wolfsburg, Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt all still to play. It was Dortmund’s first loss to Gladbach since April 11, 2015, when Favre as Gladbach coach oversaw a 3-1 win at home over Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund team. Gladbach made a furious start and had the ball in the net inside the first minute. However, Neuhaus’ goal was ruled out through VAR for a foul by Jonas Hofmann on Jude Bellingham. The home side didn’t have to wait long before Nico Elvedi opened the scoring with a header off Hofmann’s free kick in the 11th. Erling Haaland replied in fine fashion in the 22nd. Raphaël Guerreiro won the ball from Alassane Plea and played it to Jadon Sancho, who sent a perfectly weighted pass for Haaland to chip over goalkeeper Yann Sommer inside the far post. The Norwegian got his second six minutes later, again set up by Sancho after he combined with Marco Reus to elude a host of Gladbach defenders. Haaland turned sharply and fired inside the left post. But Elvedi scored his second four minutes later, scoring on the rebound after Roman Bürki stopped Lars Stindl’s free kick. Both sides missed good chances before the break – Haaland failed to connect with the ball when he might have completed his hat trick – before Neuhaus set up Ramy Bensebaini for Gladbach’s third in the 50th. Thuram replaced Hofmann in the 65th. Breel Embolo, who generated headlines for breaking coronavirus restrictions last week, came on shortly afterward. Thuram scored on his comeback while Bürki denied Embolo a few minutes later. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
Though the pandemic has cancelled his daily commute to work, Verdun resident Patrick Lavery still tries to get in 15,000 steps a day. "With the pandemic and working from home I was very sedentary," he said. "There were days I didn't leave the house at all and I put on a lot of weight, probably about 20 pounds." So back in September, Lavery decided to take on a 100-day challenge to walk about 10 kilometres a day. He wears a fitness tracker on his wrist to count his steps and log his daily activity level. "In the evening, I'll look at my watch and say, OK, this is how many steps I need to hit to reach my goal," Lavery said. "I'll head out and get that goal." It turns out Lavery may be on the right track, as a recent study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, shows Fitbits do help people lose weight. People with the popular wearable fitness trackers sit less and are more active, the study found. Mickaël Ringeval, a PhD student in management sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, is the lead author of the study. Ringeval said to make wearing a Fitbit effective, it's important to set goals — for example 10,000 steps a day — and stick to them. Ringeval said wearing the watch and setting a goal proved to be more efficient than receiving a reminder from a physician to stay active. Ringeval's findings are based on a meta-analysis of 37 clinical trials from around the world, reviewing the activity level of some 4,000 adults from 2007 to the summer of 2019. The study looked at Fitbits, since they are the most popular fitness trackers on the market. The research also found that people with chronic illness benefited the most from these devices. But the devices aren't a magic bullet for laziness, Ringeval warned, as people still have to be determined to reach that daily step goal. As for Lavery, he said being able to keep track of his activity level is just the motivation he needed to lose 30 pounds in four months. "It helps me stay on track and lets me quantify how I'm doing," he said. "I can see my results ever day."
Snowmobiles and walking paths rarely mix well, especially if the sleds run at high speeds through an urban-like area in Emerald Park. However, enforcing the bylaws intended to keep the public safe can be easier said than done, said RM of Edenwold community safety officer Ron Roteliuk. “The problem is the same as with the ATVs,” Roteliuk told RM council at its Jan. 12 meeting. “We go to stop them, they take off. As far as private lands go, unless someone has a plate number, a good description and can provide a statement, that’s what we are restricted to unless we see it ourselves and can talk to the snowmobile rider.” Under terms of the RM’s bylaw, fines for the unsafe or illegal use of a snowmobile can range from $250-$1,000. However, Roteliuk said the onus is on those reporting the incidents and complaints to have as much information about the situation as possible to ensure that community safety officers or RCMP can do anything about it. “I heard you say you’ve had numerous complaints — well we have only received one and that was yesterday,” Roteliuk told council. Coun. Tim Brodt said when there are snowmobiles riding at higher speeds in Emerald Park than vehicles in a 30 km/h zone, those are the ones who need to be stopped. “But those guys aren’t going to stop for you,” Brodt said. “You have to get the public to report more of these so you can open up a file and the RCMP can open up a file.” Under the RM’s snowmobile bylaw, speed limits for snowmobiles inside hamlets are 30 km/h during times where snowmobile use is permitted. The RM bans snowmobile use in hamlet limits between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Snowmobile riders also must have a driver’s license and be riding a registered machine. Streets may be used as a snowmobile path only as the most direct path out of town. Highway ditches may also be used as snowmobile trails and riders can cross highways or bridges if that is the most direct path out of a hamlet to where they are going. However, no snowmobile traffic is allowed in playgrounds, parks, public reserves, on boulevards, or on any other land owned by the municipality. Snowmobiles are also not to be operated on any property inside a hamlet, “in such a manner that is dangerous to other persons and properties.” Other issues include snowmobile use on the Aspen Links Country Club, where there are no trespassing signs in place, Coun. Rod Tuchscherer said. “During the weekends, it’s crazy,” Tuchscherer said. “They are going right beside pathways. I don’t know how fast they are going, but that’s really dangerous. We need to get this out to the public.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
WASHINGTON — Images of National Guard soldiers camped in a cold parking garage after being sent to protect Washington sparked new calls Friday for investigations of the U.S. Capitol Police, now facing allegations that the agency evicted troops sent to help after its failure to stop rioting mobs two weeks ago. President Joe Biden expressed his “dismay” Friday morning to Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, about how the troops had been treated, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. Members of both parties were irate about reports that Guardsmen were forced to take rest breaks outside the Capitol building. About 25,000 Guard members from across the country deployed to help secure President Joe Biden's inauguration, which went off with only a handful of minor arrests. Psaki said the president thanked Hokanson and the Guard for their help the last few weeks and offered his assistance if Hokanson needed anything. First lady Jill Biden visited Guard troops outside the Capitol on Friday, bringing them cookies and thanking them for protecting her family. She noted that the Bidens’ late son, Beau, served in the Delaware Army National Guard. A jittery Washington had requested aid following the riot where police were badly outnumbered, locking down the nation's capital with soldiers, police and barricades. Lawmakers and Biden took pains to thank security forces for their effort. All 25,000 Guard members were vetted by the FBI over concerns of an insider attack, and a dozen were removed from their posts including two who made extremist statements about the inauguration. Both the Guard and Capitol Police issued a joint statement Friday afternoon saying they have now co-ordinated to establish “appropriate spaces” within Congressional buildings for on-duty breaks. The statement noted that off-duty troops have hotel rooms or “other comfortable accommodations.” The National Guard said it originally moved troops out of the Capitol Rotunda and other spaces to garages at the behest of the Capitol Police. The Guardsmen were allowed back inside late Thursday after reports were widely shared of the conditions in the garages, with few bathrooms and little covering from the cold. Capitol Police Interim Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement Friday saying her agency “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.” But two Capitol Police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity contradicted her statement, saying they were told department higher-ups had ordered the Guardsmen out. It was unclear why. The two officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the department to speak. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said that “multiple members of military leadership” had told him a uniformed Capitol Police officer told them to leave the Capitol Visitor Center. “The troops didn't move on their own,” said Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He added: “This isn’t a blame game, but I want to know what happened so we can make sure it can’t happen again.” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who leads a subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, said Pittman and other commanders would eventually need to testify about their decision-making. “If the Capitol Police in any way, shape, or form pushed the Guard out into a cold garage, then there’s going to be hell to pay,” Ryan said . “We’re already trying to re-establish trust with the Capitol Police and we’ve got to figure out exactly what happened.” The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. The insurrection highlighted multiple failures by the Capitol Police to prepare for what became a violent mob overrunning parts of the building. Officers who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said there was little planning before the riot or guidance from department leaders once the riot began. The riot left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. Another officer died in an apparent suicide after the attack. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Nomaan Merchant, Lolita Baldor And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
The Grand River Conservation Authority is sharing its technical expertise with the public in a live webinar series covering topics of interest for landowners in the watershed. The four-part series includes sessions on the conservation authority’s popular cost-sharing tree planting program, invasive tree diseases and pests like the gypsy moth and oak wilt, aquatic species at risk in the Grand River watershed, and the water quality program where conservation staff work with landowners to customize a cost-sharing plan to reduce pollutants entering the river. Each webinar will consist of a presentation given by a conservation expert followed by a dedicated time for participants to ask questions. “We all have a role to play as landowners in improving watershed health,” said Louise Heyming, supervisor of conservation outreach at the Grand River Conservation Authority. “This series of webinars focuses on supporting rural landowners with information on programs that they can access to help make further improvements to benefit the watershed, and their properties and water quality.” The program was announced earlier this week and 40 participants have registered. The series is designed for rural landowners with more than two-and-a-half acres of land but is open to anyone. The sessions are free of charge but require registration. Recordings of the webinars will also be posted to the conservation authority website and will be free to access. Typically, the conservation authority hosts in-person workshops or attends outreach events to interact with landowners. An online format is being piloted this year because of COVID-19. If all goes well and there is enough interest, Heyming said more sessions will be added. Two of the webinars will focus on the Grand River Conservation Authority’s private land tree planting and rural water quality programs — programs the conservation has been running on behalf of the watershed’s municipalities for decades. “I love working with the individual landowners and those relationships that we have,” said Heyming. “We have a team of staff that has been delivering the program, some of us, for 20 years.” “When we drive through the watershed now, we see the individual projects on the landscape, and know that they’re still there and we get to play a role in supporting those landowners.” The private land tree planting program has been running for more than 60 years, said Heyming. The conservation authority works with an average of 70 landowners to plant about 100,000 trees in the watershed each year. Trees provide multiple benefits for a watershed, including preventing erosion and providing habitat for species at risk. The rural water quality program is a cost-sharing program between the Grand River Conservation Authority on behalf of municipalities and landowners to complete projects designed to improve the watershed’s water quality. Since the program began in 1998, nearly 7,000 projects have been completed with more than $56-million invested in water quality. In Waterloo Region, nearly $500,000 was invested into 65 water quality improvement projects for the 2020 year. More information and registration details can be found at grandriver.ca Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email email@example.com Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
Trees may add aesthetics and environmental benefits, but if they are planted too close to power lines they can cause power outages and fires, a SaskPower delegation told the Town of White City at its Jan. 11 council meeting. The Crown corporation is assessing whether trees are impacting power lines in White City, and SaskPower arborist Blake Neufeld said while cutting down trees is a last resort, it is sometimes a necessity when they get too close to overhead power lines. Sometimes pre-emptive pruning can prevent the total loss of a tree. “Trees and power lines don’t mix,” Neufeld said. “Tree contacts with power lines in storms cause 15 percent of our power outages province-wide. We are trying to do preventative maintenance on our easements. In the Town of White City, there are a lot of poplars and that requires a lot of cleanup.” The tree maintenance is part of a provincial program which looks after more than 115,000 kilometres of power line right-of-ways. Within White City itself, Sask Power has two circuits it monitors, serving 2,600 homes and businesses. Approximately 500 trees are slated for removal in White City — 400 of them are on private property while the other 100 are on municipal land — though not all of those trees will fully disappear. “These town removals are not all big trees,” Neufeld said. “We have 10 larger ones while the rest of them are smaller. The way we identify a removal is sometimes we have ... a multi-stem tree, and if we take three stems off, that counts as three trees and we leave the rest of the tree.” Overall in White City 24,000 square metres of removal will be done to ensure the SaskPower lines are kept to safety standards. Neufeld said land owners are notified by SaskPower if work has to be done to prune or remove trees on their property. The assessor has already told affected landowners of the issue, and about 48-hours before the tree work is done, the contractor doing the work will also contact the landowner or resident advising of what is to take place. The goal is to have all tree work in White City completed by the end of March, when restrictions affecting elm trees come into force. For those looking at planting trees or shrubs to define their properties, Neufeld said power lines should be considered as well as the type of tree used in the area. Trees need to be three to six metres away from a power line to prevent future problems, depending on how high a tree is projected to grow. Taller trees should be at least six metres away, with trees growing more than 12 metres in height being at least 15 metres away from the power line. Neufeld said by taking note of those guidelines, both trees and power lines can co-exist safely. Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
Nicola Mining, the company who owns the old Craigmont Mine site on Aberdeen Rd., has announced its 2021 Exploration Objectives at the New Craigmont Copper Project. Last year, the company applied for a multi-year area-based (MYAB) exploration permit that would facilitate a five-year exploration plan. The 2021 program includes five new trenches, the reactivation of six historic trenches and up to 21 drill holes. Trenching is aimed at developing three target areas where copper occurrences have been observed but have not been drill tested. The 2021 season has been divided into two phases, with the second phase contingent on results from phase one. A complete explanation of both phase one and phase two of the 2021 program is available in a report by Yahoo Finance found here. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
The RM of Edenwold has cut a $120,000 cheque to the Town of Balgonie as the town purchased a new pumper truck for its fire department. RM reeve Mitchell Huber said the $120,000 has come out of budgeted funds from 2019 and 2020 to support fire department equipment purchases. Huber added being able to support a fire department who is a mutual aid partner helps the whole area. “Balgonie had come to us asking for our support in purchasing another truck and we approved supporting a percentage of that truck’s cost,” Huber said. The cheque has already been sent to Balgonie, whose mayor Frank Thauberger was happy to see an aging pumper truck replaced. The truck, which is scheduled to arrive this summer, cost $363,000. Balgonie covered $243,000 of the cost from reserves, as council and administration had been setting money aside over a number of years for its replacement. “Every time you are dealing with a major purchase, you have to look at all the variables on it,” Thauberger said. “Right now, it feels good. We weren’t anticipating any money from the RM but now that it’s come through, we are very thankful for their support. It makes our budget look a lot better too. It’s very important to have good equipment for your fire department. We were running with an old truck that needed to be replaced and was having problems.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
OTTAWA — A new third-party advocacy group is launching an ad campaign aimed at ensuring Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole never becomes prime minister. The Protecting Canada Project is airing its first 30-second ad, in English and French, on television and online. The ad predicts that an O'Toole government would cut funding for health care, even as the country struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic, resting that assertion on decisions under the previous Conservative government and O'Toole's support for similar cuts made by current conservative premiers. The tag line concludes that O'Toole and the Conservatives "are hazardous to your health — at the worst possible time." Group spokesman Ian Wayne, who formerly worked for NDP leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, says Protecting Canada was formed by Canadians "with diverse political experience" and a common goal of ensuring the Conservatives don't win the next election. He says it is backed by "progressive" individuals and organizations who believe it's "crucial" to counter the Conservative-friendly messaging peddled by what he calls "well-funded, extreme right-wing" advocacy groups like Canada Proud. "This launch is just the beginning," Wayne said. "We will continue to grow our campaign and get our messages to more and more everyday Canadians." Wayne is listed as a director of the group, along with Don Millar, who has a history of working with Liberals. Until an election is actually called, Protecting Canada, like other groups, can spend as much as it likes and never disclose where it is getting its money. Changes to the Canada Elections Act in 2018 impose spending limits on advocacy groups and require them to disclose donors during the three-month "pre-writ period" before an election is called, as well as during the campaign. But the restrictions assume an election will happen on a date set in the law, about four years after the last national vote. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presides over a minority Liberal government, which could fall well before then if the opposition parties unite against the Liberals in a confidence vote. The project's first ad alleges that O'Toole voted in favour of a $36-billion "cut" to federal health-care transfers to the provinces. The "cut" implemented by Stephen Harper's Conservative government, of which O'Toole was a part, has been a political football for years. While in power, the Conservatives scaled back the annual six per cent increase in the health transfer to a minimum of three per cent — a move that guaranteed provinces would still get more money each year, though at a slower rate than before. That meant provinces would receive $36 billion less over 10 years than they had anticipated. The change actually came into effect under the Liberal government, which opted to keep the Tories' formula in place. The ad also ties O'Toole to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a former Harper cabinet colleague who endorsed O'Toole for the Conservative leadership last year and whose popularity has nosedived over his handling of the pandemic. The ad says O'Toole endorses Kenney's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which they allege includes cutting 11,000 health care workers' jobs. The same approach federally could result in "tens of thousands of health care layoffs across Canada," it warns. In a statement, O'Toole accused the group of playing fast and loose with the truth. "The Liberals are lying about my record because they don’t want to talk about theirs: a record of lost jobs, corruption, and failure on vaccines," read the statement. "Canada’s Conservatives will secure health care, secure jobs, and secure our future.” During his campaign to lead the Conservative party last year, O'Toole pledged he'd provide "stable and predictable" funding while respecting provincial jurisdiction. As the provinces have clamoured for more health-care money from the federal government to manage the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, O'Toole hasn't ruled out listening and has also said the money must flow with no strings attached. His party did also back a Bloc Québécois motion in the House of Commons in December that called on the federal government to "significantly and sustainably increase Canada health transfers before the end of 2020." The "Canada Proud" groups the new advocacy organization mentions are run by a media company that helped O'Toole win leadership of his party last year. He's since ended his contract with them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Joan Bryden and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A former senior employee with the Ontario government has repaid more than $11 million in COVID-19 benefits the province alleges he took fraudulently, his lawyer said on Friday.The unproven civil claim named Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop the computer application for applying and approving the benefit for families with children.In a brief statement, Madan's lawyer Christopher Du Vernet confirmed his client had made the repayment."In fact, the province has recovered in excess of the funds it presently alleges Mr. Madan took from the Families Support Program," Du Vernet said. "However, it is also seeking its legal costs, interest and punitive damages, so the action continues."In its untested lawsuit filed last fall, the province alleged Madan, his wife and two adult children who all worked for the Ontario government in information technology defrauded the province of at least $11 million.The civil claim, which also sought $2 million in punitive damages, accused them and others of illegally issuing and banking cheques under the program that aimed to defray the cost of children learning at home."The Madan family exploited their positions of employment with Ontario and unique access to the (program) and payment processing system," the government alleged in the claim. "The plaintiff was uniquely vulnerable to Sanjay, particularly with respect to the integrity of the...application."The Ministry of the Attorney General did not immediately confirm the recovered money, first reported by the Toronto Star. Du Vernet said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his condition.According to the lawsuit, Madan and his family opened more than 400 accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May. They then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants with thousands of non-existent children under the support program.Most deposits were made over a four-week period starting on May 25, coinciding with a rule change that allowed more than five payments to be made to an applicant. The government alleges Madan either sparked the rule change or knew about it and took advantage.In other court filings, Madan is said to have told the government that he could explain "all of this" and that he has "helped many families."The government had served notice it intended to seize any money the family obtained fraudulently and obtained a court order to have their bank accounts turned over to the court pending the outcome of the lawsuit.The government also obtained a court order freezing the family's assets, which included a list of properties in Toronto.Madan was fired in November. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press