TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $30.8 million jackpot in Friday night's Lotto Max draw.
That means the jackpot for the next draw on Feb. 9 will grow to approximately $40 million.
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $30.8 million jackpot in Friday night's Lotto Max draw.
That means the jackpot for the next draw on Feb. 9 will grow to approximately $40 million.
The Canadian Press
Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday, approving Johnson & Johnson's product a week after it was authorized in the United States. That gives Canada four distinct vaccines — along with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca — and it adds flexibility to the country's plan to immunize the majority of its residents by September. Health Canada includes a fifth vaccine, Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the AstraZeneca product made at the Serum Institute of India. The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use on Feb. 27. Canada has already secured 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through previous negotiations with the company, with the option to buy another 28 million. The 10 million pre-purchased doses will be delivered before September, but they're not expected to start flowing into Canada until at least April. Here's what we know about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? Johnson & Johnson announced promising results from its Phase 3 clinical trials at the end of January, suggesting its vaccine reduced severe COVID-19 disease by 85 per cent, and prevented 100 per cent of COVID-related hospitalization or death. The vaccine had a 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID infections after 28 days in the company's U.S. trials. The efficacy dropped to 66 per cent when averaging in results from other global trials, including a South African study that factored in more transmissible variants of the COVID virus. An FDA report last month said the vaccine was 64 per cent effective in preventing infection in South Africa about a month after the vaccines were administered. Pfizer and Moderna showed 95 per cent efficacy in their respective trials, but those were both tested against previous dominant strains of the virus and didn't account for the variants that have popped up since. Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also had zero hospitalizations and deaths in their trials. The FDA report said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was similarly effective across age, race and people with comorbidities. The agency added that effectiveness appeared to be lower (42.3 per cent after one month) in people over 60 with comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS VACCINE? The potential ease of distribution offered by a one-and-done shot, and its ability to be stored in a regular fridge are among its biggest strengths. Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca all require two doses. Johnson & Johnson's vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge for up to three months, the company says. Pfizer's vaccine initially required ultra-cold storage temperatures between -60 C and -80 C, though Health Canada said this week it could be stored in a regular freezer for up to 14 days. Moderna's vaccine can also be stored at regular freezer temperatures while AstraZeneca can be stored in a fridge. WHAT KIND OF VACCINE TECHNOLOGY IS USED? Unlike the mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna's products, Johnson & Johnson is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine similar to AstraZeneca's. That means it uses a different harmless virus, which can't copy itself, as a vector to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus's spike protein. The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack from the same virus if exposed in the future. WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS NOTED? No specific safety concerns were identified in participants of the trials, regardless of age, race and comorbidities. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said in a press conference Friday that almost 20 per cent of participants in the Johnson & Johnson trials were 65 years of age and older, and "no differences in safety or efficacy were seen compared to the younger groups." The FDA said the most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue, followed by muscle aches, nausea and fever. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spacewalking astronauts completed the first round of prep work Friday for new solar panels, part of a major power upgrade at the International Space Station. NASA’s Kate Rubins and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi installed mounting brackets and struts for the improved solar wings due to arrive in June. They also tightened some sticky bolts that hampered Sunday’s spacewalk and left some duties undone. Toward the end of the seven-hour spacewalk, Rubins reported a mark on the index finger of her right glove, where she had earlier said there was some peeling and perhaps a tiny hole in the outer layer. “I don’t know what to think about the glove. But it’s just kind of a pinpoint hole,” she told Mission Control. Rubins said she was “mildly concerned” about going too far from Noguchi because of her glove, and he accompanied her back to the hatch. Mission Control called it quits at that point and told the astronauts to skip extra chores. A NASA spokesman at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Rob Navias, said Rubins' suit pressure held perfectly throughout the spacewalk. “At no time was she in any danger,” he said in an email. At Mission Control's request, crewmate Victor Glover took photos of the glove while Rubins was still in her spacesuit. NASA is enhancing the space station’s power grid to accommodate more astronauts and experiments, now that SpaceX is launching crews and Boeing should be too by year’s end. The eight solar panels have degraded over time; the oldest were launched 20 years ago. The six new solar wings — smaller but more efficient — will fit over the older ones and boost the station’s power capability by up to 30%. Boeing is supplying the panels, which will be launched in pairs by SpaceX over the next year. As the spacewalk ended, Mission Control congratulated Noguchi for having the longest gap between spacewalks: 15 1/2 years. His previous three spacewalks occurred in 2005, during the first shuttle flight following the 2003 Columbia disaster. This should be the last spacewalk for the station’s current residents, whose half-year missions are coming to a close. Rubins will return to Earth in mid-April in a Russian capsule, along with two Russians. Noguchi, Glover and two other NASA astronauts will fly SpaceX back in late April or May. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
The European Union and the United States agreed on Friday to suspend tariffs imposed on billions of dollars of imports in a 16-year-old dispute over aircraft subsidies, and said any long-term solution would need to address Chinese competition. The two sides said in a joint statement that the four-month suspension will cover all U.S. tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU imports and all EU duties on $4 billion of U.S. products, which resulted from long-running World Trade Organization cases over subsidies for planemakers Airbus and Boeing. The suspension followed a telephone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, officials said.
Dysart et al council has signed off on the development of a new office building on the corner of County Road 21 and Nimigon Lane – right next door to Tim Hortons. During a public meeting held on Jan. 26, the community’s elected officials voted unanimously in favour of a proposal brought forth by Andria Cowan Molyneaux, who sought approval to build a new space for her business ACM Designs. Currently located on Industrial Park Road in Haliburton, Cowan is looking to expand her firm and feels a new location just up the road will help to foster that growth. “This is a big step for me as a small business owner,” said Cowan, who launched ACM Designs in 2012. “… We are growing considerably. There just isn’t room for us to grow, with the staff we already have [in our current location].” Kris Orsan, Dysart’s senior planner, informed council that, for the project to go ahead, the land in question would need to be rezoned. At present the land is listed as suburban residential, while the application seeks to amend it to highway commercial. The application included a list of permitted uses for the site – bank, business office, clinic, home office, personal service shop and professional office. Orsan felt this clarity was especially important, given that Dysart council had turned down a previous proposal that would have brought a fast food restaurant to the site. The property in question, while presently zoned residential, is ripe for change, Orsan explained. “Our official plan policy framework, based upon direction from provincial policy and the county’s official plan, helps us to direct long-term land use in the community,” Orsan said. “The property is designated as commercial within the municipal official plan, therefore the plan [to encourage] future growth is for the land [to be used for] commercial use.” Kathy Prymak is one of eight area residents who openly opposes the potential development. Having purchased a property on County Road 21 last November, Prymak said she did her due diligence prior to buying and was surprised to learn that her new home could soon be joined by more commercial space. “One of the things I did before purchasing the lot was check all the zoning in the area to make sure there would be no more commercial [sites built] and that the area would remain residential,” Prymak said. “It was very disheartening for me to find out this was even in the works… The purpose of me purchasing up here was to have outdoor and nature all around me. I had decided, at the time, that I could deal with having one commercial property across the street [Tim Hortons]. Now seeing there’s going to be another added, I have to question if there’s going to be even more added down the road.” Mayor Andrea Roberts noted that the land in question had been included in the municipality’s official plan with a view to being zoned commercial “for as long as I’ve been on council.” Roberts has served on council since 2006. Karen Warren built her “dream home” along County Road 21 in 2011. At the time, she was aware that one parcel of land across the road was slated for commercial development, but pushed ahead anyway. Now, she feels a second commercial presence will only serve to diminish property values in the area. “We built our retirement home, retired here and commercial business is a problem for us. The price we paid to build the home, it’s probably not worth [now] what it cost to build it,” Warren said. She brought up concerns related to lighting, asking Cowan Molyneaux what plans she had for the site. Warren said she is able to walk through her house without turning the lights on during the night, such is the brightness of the lights emanating from the Tim Hortons signage across the road. “It is not my intention in any way, shape or form to overstimulate that location with lighting,” Cowan Molyneaux responded. “I don’t want to upset you and keep you up at night and will figure out a way to balance it all.” Responding to some concerns leveled her way by those in opposition that she was simply a developer with no ties to the community, Cowan Molyneaux made a point to say she was raised in Haliburton. “I’m not a developer. I grew up here. I live here. I live right in town, and understand some of the challenges of living in town,” Cowan Molyneaux said. “Something that’s important to me as a person, is that we at ACM Designs are good citizens. That spirit will continue into the build process.” She added, “I care very much about our county. We try to support any kind of community initiative, and try to lead by example as well. This development will be no different.” Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
Toronto police say they have suspended an officer following his arrest for an alleged indecent act in Whitby, Ont. Police in Durham Region said Tuesday that they received reports of a man committing an indecent act near an arena in Whitby. The force says a witness tried to confront the man but he drove off through a nearby parking lot. Police say they found him in his car and he was arrested. They say the 33-year-old is charged with committing an indecent act in a public place and dangerous operation of a conveyance. Toronto police say the officer has been with their force for six years and has been suspended with pay. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
The Canadian Mental Health Association of Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge has launched a new program to provide additional community supports for transgender and gender-diverse individuals. Unveiled on Monday [March 1], the Trans Peer Outreach program will assist transgender and gender-diverse people in improving their quality of life through the provision of “community-based, client-centred care that supports positive interdependence.” Services will be delivered exclusively by individuals who have lived experience as a transgender or gender-diverse person. The new initiative replaces the local CMHA branch’s Gender Journeys program, which ended on Feb. 26 following a three-year run. “We feel privileged to have had the opportunity to deliver education and support services for transgender people, gender diverse individuals, people questioning gender identity and their families, partners and loved ones through the Gender Journeys program. We look forward to continuing to support through the new Trans Peer Outreach program,” says Christine Crough, manager of peer initiatives and employment supports with CMHA Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge. Trans Peer Outreach services, CMHA says, are founded upon the principle that peers can better understand, relate to and support individuals who may have gone through similar experiences. One-to-one peer support can provide assistance in several areas, most notably in reducing isolation, developing wellness tools and strategies, accessing supportive communities, exploring gender identity and coming up with strategies to assist with transitioning. The program will offer a core support group for people exploring gender identity and expression, which will cover topics such as exploring your sense of self, finding trans-friendly health care and coming out to family, friends and co-workers. The Trans Peer Outreach Program will serve residents of Haliburton County, as well as Peterborough, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County. For more information, visit cmhahkpr.ca, or contact local Trans Peer Outreach workers Joaquin Santana and Carl Cruise-Baxter by emailing email@example.com. Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
TORONTO — When animating Disney's new film "Raya and the Last Dragon," Vancouver-raised Benson Shum says he honed in on the subtle details to ensure cultural accuracy. Available in theatres and on Disney Plus with Premier Access on Friday, the epic adventure follows a Southeast Asian-inspired warrior and her pals as they battle an evil force in the fantasy world of Kumandra. It's the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to have a Southeast Asia-inspired setting, and Shum says the filmmakers made research trips and used three expert consultants from the region to make it authentic. They also brought in professional Southeast Asian martial artists, and spent time with a group Disney called the Raya Southeast Asia Story Trust, which included anthropologists, architects, dancers, linguists and musicians. "They did a ceremony sort of thing and we sat around and watched what they did, how they sat, how they positioned themselves when they were sitting," the Los Angeles-based Shum said of the Story Trust. The ceremony helped the team add specific details to a scene in which different tribes are sitting together on the floor as Raya's father speaks to them. "I tried to bring in gestures that I thought I would see Asian or Southeast Asian people do, and one thing I learned was that pointing is actually considered rude," said Shum, who is of Chinese heritage. "So instead of pointing with a finger, like 'look over there,' we might do a gesture where we're using our whole hand." A scene in which Raya takes off her hat and places it on a cape before entering a temple was also informed by the experts. "We were told from the cultural consultants that you would never place hats on the floor, you would always put it on something else," said Shum, who joined Walt Disney Animation Studios as an animator in 2012. Kelly Marie Tran voices Raya alongside Awkwafina as Sisu, the legendary last dragon in Kumandra, which is broken up into five ancient lands. Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada directed, while Paul Briggs and John Ripa co-directed. Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim wrote the screenplay. The story is one of trust and unity as Raya tries to repair fractures in the tribes of the once-harmonious society of humans and dragons. "It's just cool to be animating an Asian warrior princess, daughter of a chief," Shum said. "And bringing something from myself into the film was really fun." Shum said the part of himself that related to the material was the sense of community and coming together. "We gathered at my grandma's house every single Sunday growing up," said Shum, who has also worked as an animator on films including "Wreck-It Ralph," "Frozen" and its sequel, "Big Hero 6," "Zootopia" and "Moana." "Even if there was no event happening, it was just the fact that we were all eating together. And that was something that was really special to me. I didn't necessarily appreciate it when I was younger, but looking back, every week all my cousins, my aunts and uncles were all (together). "It was a big family, and to be able to see that in a film where they're coming together and they're eating together and it's a very Asian thing to do...that was really nice." Shum said there are about seven or eight Canadians working at Walt Disney Animation Studios and the list "keeps growing." He and his colleagues are used to sitting next to each other while working, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to create "Raya and the Last Dragon" remotely from home. "It's the first film that we've done fully from home, and it was nice to see it all come together," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
TUCSON, Ariz. — Busloads of asylum seekers have started to arrive in Tucson, Arizona, for the first time since President Joe Biden began reversing border policies implemented by former President Donald Trump, city officials said. Less then 200 people arrived this week, most from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, after being released by Border Patrol in Yuma, The Arizona Daily Star reported Friday. Tucson officials say asylum seekers are staying a couple days in the city before travelling to live with friends and families in other cities while their asylum claims are processed. Councilman Steve Kozachik, who helped lead efforts to care for asylum seekers in 2019, said the city is “on the cusp” of seeing a large increase in migrants The Border Patrol released thousands of asylum seekers in 2019 to volunteer-managed shelters in Tucson, many of whom came from countries in Central America. The Daily Star reported then that some migrants spoke about fleeing gangs that were trying to recruit their children, widespread corruption and other issues. Hundreds of volunteers worked to support those seeking asylum until the Trump administration cut off access to the shelters in 2020, forcing migrants to spend months waiting in border towns like Nogales, Mexico. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the main difference now is the pandemic, which has forced asylum seekers to follow additional requirements such as taking rapid COVID-19 tests and adhering to space restrictions. Huckelberry said the Casa Alitas shelter, the main housing effort in Tucson that collaborates with the city and Pima County, held 250 people in 2019 and is now restricted to 65. Diego Piña Lopez, program manager at the shelter, said so far resources are not strained at the shelter, but volunteers are preparing to reach capacity. Huckelberry said county officials have asked for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency like one that is being used in San Diego to rent hotel rooms for asylum seekers. It has not yet been approved. Kozachik said housing migrants could provide much needed business to hotels and restaurants struggling as a result of the pandemic. He also called for a “productive response” from several federal lawmakers, including Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema. Last month, Sinema and Kelly sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking for resources to help asylum seekers and to develop a strategy for coronavirus testing. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey also sent a list of questions and concerns. Sinema will “continue working in a bipartisan way to secure our borders, protect our communities, and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely,” her office said in a statement. Kelly spoke directly with Biden and has urged DHS to put the necessary federal resources and communication in place at the border, his office said in a statement. The Associated Press
The stay-at-home order is no longer in effect in Toronto and Peel, moving to the Grey-Lockdown level in Ontario's COVID-19 response framework on Monday, March 8.
Mourners left flowers and hockey sticks outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday. The city is mourning Walter Gretzky, a fixture in the community, who died Thursday at age 82.
TORONTO — Inspector Graham Gibson never bought into the argument that autism prevented Alek Minassian from knowing that killing unsuspecting pedestrians on a crowded sidewalk was morally wrong. But despite the strong case he built as the lead detective in the Toronto van attack case, Gibson had nervously awaited the verdict unsure of the outcome. "You never know which way it will go," he said with relief after a Toronto judge found Minassian guilty earlier this week on 10 counts of murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Throughout the investigation and especially on verdict day, Gibson said he thought about the families that lost loved ones in the attack. "There will never be closure, but this is something that will help them," he said. It has been long haul for Gibson since that bright, warm day on April 23, 2018. After several delays, the Minassian trial was set to begin in April 2020, but then the pandemic hit and it became unclear when, or how, it would happen. Court eventually decided to proceed via videoconference, and the eight-week trial began last November on Zoom. Minassian offered investigators and forensic psychiatrist who assessed him a number of motives for his deadly rampage. He said he was infatuated with a mass murderer and the forefather of the so-called "incel" movement — males who are involuntarily celibate and hate women because they will not have sex with them. The attack, he told police, was retribution against the world because as an "incel" he saw himself at the bottom rung of society. He later told a psychiatrist he didn't really hate women, but then told another doctor he wanted many women to die that day. Other motives he gave included notoriety, a strong desire to commit a mass killing, loneliness and worry about failing at a new job. Gibson said a few of those motives rise above the others. "You have somebody who sets out to murder people in the name of being an incel, who is a misogynist and he wanted that notoriety," he said. Gibson was on duty when the first reports of a major incident started coming into the Toronto police operations centre around 1:30 p.m. that day three years ago. Multiple pedestrians had been hit, apparently deliberately, by a man in a van driving along the sidewalk. Some, dispatch heard, may have been killed. Gibson left the police headquarters and rushed to the scene on Yonge Street - one of the busiest in the city. The crime scene stretched for 2.5 kilometres, he recalled. Eight people had died on the sidewalk or road and their bodies remained there. Two others died later in hospital. Many others were injured. The city was in a panic. "It was 100 per cent overwhelming," Gibson said. "It's referred to as scene shock. Your mind starts to race and you wonder, 'how am I going to get this chaos under control?'" He had to draw upon his many years of experience investigating homicides in the city, including one of the city's worst mass shootings. It was a hot summer night in 2012 when Gibson got the call for a shootout in the city's east end, on Danzig Street. Two people died that night and 23 others were injured when two gangs fought at a barbecue dinner. "That was a chaotic scene," Gibson said. "I had seen scenes like this before, not to the extent of the attack." But on the day of the van attack, Gibson was far from alone. Toronto police sent 16 homicide detectives to the scene, a quarter of the entire squad. Scores of officers from traffic services were there to reconstruct the attack, along with while forensic identification officers and coroners, including the province's chief coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer. The pressures were immense, and sometimes diametrically opposed. "You have people who've been severely and graphically injured, and out of respect for the families and for the deceased themselves, you want to remove them from public site as quickly as you can," he said. "It's very distressing for the community and for the public. But then you know there's certain things that you need to do to make sure that you're recording what happened appropriately for court." Minassian admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, leaving his state of mind at the time of the attack as the only issue at trial. "I'm very, very relieved for the families," Gibson said after the guilty verdict. "I think it's a good win for them." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's child and youth advocate is promising a thorough review of mental health crisis care in the province with a public report issued by July. Norm Bosse received his mandate this week from Health Minister Dorothy Shephard following a Fredericton teenager's suicide that generated a public outcry. The family of 16-year-old Lexi Daken says she went to Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in mental distress last month but waited in the emergency department for eight hours without getting help. She took her own life days later. "I commit myself and my staff to a tireless effort in these next few months to ensure that Lexi's loss is memorialized," Bosse told reporters Friday. "Was this death preventable? We must learn from these tragedies in order to avoid future loss of life." Bosse said his first task will be to review recommendations of previous reports and to find out from government why they can't be implemented immediately. "This review will focus on why the solutions put in place for youth mental health don't last. For example, where is the psychiatric nurse capacity put in place at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital seven years ago? Why do children and youth continue to be denied life-saving services?" he asked. Bosse offered his condolences to the Daken family and commended them for going public with their loss. Chris Daken, Lexi's father, said the crisis in mental health care isn't only about his family's loss. "This isn't just a fight that we started in the last couple of weeks. We know there are parents, brothers, sisters, groups that have been fighting for mental health change in the province for several years," he said in an interview Friday. "We've been very open about our grief and the loss of a child. I guess our hope is that the government is very open in their investigation into the cause." Daken said he won't comment on the review process until he has a chance to meet with Bosse next Tuesday. There had been calls by the leader of the Green party and others for a full public inquiry — something that was rejected by the health minister. Bosse said he's been involved in two public inquiries, and both cost millions of dollars and took years to complete. "I don't have two or three years to do this," he said, noting that his term as child and youth advocate ends July 31. "We need to do something right now. Let's get it done." Bosse said he'll listen to everyone who wants to be heard on this issue, and his consultation plans will be finalized in the coming weeks. He acknowledged that some previous reports to government on the issue have been allowed to collect dust, but he doesn't think that will happen this time. "I am absolutely certain this report will make a difference. This is going to be more than just a report that's going to be shelved. This is going to be a very profound overview of the system," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 5, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
History was likely made at the Haliburton BIA’s 2021 annual general meeting on Thursday evening [Feb. 11] as the organization announced it would be reducing its annual tax levy for downtown merchants. Luke Schell, board chair of the local BIA, admitted it had been a “strange year” for most downtown businesses, and that lower-than-expected expenses over the course of 2020 would allow the organization to give a break to their around 120 members this year. “What’s happened is we didn’t spend as much of our levy in the budget as we needed to last year, so for the first time in the [many years] of the BIA, our levy is going to be reduced,” Schell said. As well as paying property taxes to both the local and regional municipal councils, downtown businesses with a valid membership to their BIA also pay a levy to their downtown association. That money helps to pay for various events, programs and initiatives over the course of a year. For example, here in Haliburton, the local BIA organizes events such as the Frost Festival, Midnight Madness, Colourfest and the Santa Claus Parade. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of those events were cancelled last year. Nelly Ashworth, BIA treasurer, noted there was a surplus of $12,825 left over from the 2020 budget. She was hopeful that the BIA would have an opportunity to host some of its more popular events later in 2021. Mayor address Dysart et al mayor Andrea Roberts said she was “immensely proud” of the way the local business community had adapted during the ever-changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. “2020 was a really hard and strange year,” Roberts noted. “Some of you were busier than you ever have been, while others have been hurting immensely.” She noted that one of the “great successes” of 2020 was the extension of summer patios for downtown bars and restaurants. Roberts said she hoped to see those patios return again in 2021. New board member At the conclusion of the meeting, Schell noted that long-time board member Sharon Rowden, of Touch of Class Spa, would be vacating her seat following years of service. Mike McKeon, from Up River Trading Co. was the sole nominee to come forward to replace her. That means the 2021 BIA board consists of Schell [The Photo Shop], Ashworth [BMO], McKeon, Clay Glecoff [Glecoff’s Family Store], Brandon Nimigon [Century21], Brad Park [Foodland], Renzo Rosati [MooseFM], Andrea Wood-Roberts [Dysart et al council] and David Zilstra [Haliburton County Echo]. Schell paid homage to the outgoing Rowden in his closing remarks, while noting the impressive longevity of the local BIA’s board. “Sharon has been an incredible member – she’s sad that she’s had to step down, and so am I. One of the things she’s always done is the fall decorations. We’re really going to miss her,” Schell said. “That aside, I believe we have the longest running consistent executive committee in a long, long time in Haliburton. This is a great group that represents the BIA for all the right reasons. They are doing this because they are interested in the benefit of downtown Haliburton.” He concluded, “It has been another great year for the BIA. As a board, we all enjoy serving this community in this fashion. Here’s hoping for a positive year in 2021, and that hindsight really is 2020.” Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he still has confidence in his defence minister despite the ongoing sexual misconduct scandal in the Canadian military — and despite testimony from a former ombudsman claiming Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan mishandled concerns about possible misconduct by Gen. Jonathan Vance. The prime minister also insisted again today that he did not know about allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the former chief of the defence staff until they were reported a month ago in the media. Women who were victims of sexual assault in the military have said they were disappointed and dismayed to hear Gary Walbourne, the former military ombudsman, tell MPs he warned Sajjan about the allegation against Vance in a private meeting three years ago, but that the minister refused to look at evidence presented by the ombudsman. One of those women — retired master corporal Stephanie Raymond — told Radio Canada she had lost confidence in Sajjan and called for him to resign or be fired. Others have expressed dismay that Sajjan has not been more forthcoming about what he knew and when regarding the allegations against Vance. "It is the responsibility of elected officials upon learning of allegations to ensure that they get followed upon appropriately, by responsible, independent officials and investigators," Trudeau said Friday. "That is exactly what we did in this situation." Walbourne said he raised an informal complaint about Vance in a private meeting with Sajjan on March 1, 2018. After that meeting with Walbourne, Sajjan notified the Privy Council Office (PCO), which is responsible for governor in council appointments such as the chief of the defence staff. The PCO in turn asked the former ombudsman for the complainant's name and details of the allegation. Then-Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance responds to a question during a news conference Thursday May 7, 2020 in Ottawa.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) "The ombudsperson did not provide sufficient information to the officials in place to be able to follow up on these allegations," Trudeau said. Last month, CBC News reported that the PCO investigation into Vance was stymied by a lack of cooperation from Walbourne. Emails obtained by CBC News show a senior PCO official, Janine Sherman, tried over several months to convince the former ombudsman to hand over information, even after he explained the cloak of confidentiality that is supposed to be the hallmark of the watchdog's office. "The purpose of my call with you is not to complicate or overstep the processes in place for your office but to be able to better understand the nature of the complaint in order to provide advice to the Minister on next steps in his role of supporting the Prime Minister and the Governor in Council on appointments," Sherman wrote on March 6, 2018. "It is in respect of these responsibilities that the Minister has asked that you share information concerning the complaints with me. Given the sensitivity of this matter, I would appreciate having a quick call with you as soon as possible and can make myself available this evening or tomorrow at your convenience." In the same email thread, Walbourne said he could only cooperate if he had the written consent of the complainant — something he did not receive. Sherman said she "empathized" with his circumstances. During his testimony this week before the House of Commons defence committee, Walbourne said he had given the woman in question his assurance of confidentiality and had specifically asked the minister not to notify PCO. Vance is under investigation by military police for possible violations of the Code of Service discipline after media reports surfaced stating that he had a long-standing, inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate and that he had sent a racy email to another woman — a junior non-commissioned member. His successor as defence chief, Admiral Art McDonald, is also being investigated by military police after a misconduct allegation was raised. CBC News reported last week that a decade-old incident aboard HMCS Montreal, involving a junior officer and a party where alcohol was served, is at the centre of that investigation. McDonald is on leave with pay. An acting chief of the defence staff has been appointed. WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacts to former ombudsman's allegation
There was some discussion at a recent council meeting about Dysart et al potentially implementing some new “diversity and inclusion” measures in the future. Andrea Mueller, Dysart’s recreation coordinator, filled council in on the numerous training sessions she has participated in over the past year focusing on the importance of creating an open and accepting environment for all community residents. “In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about diversity, inclusion and accessibility,” Mueller told council. “The trend right now is to further promote diversity and inclusion, and to take away gender options altogether, or have more than ‘male or female’ options for people to choose from.” Mueller said some other terminology to consider adopting across community programs, and on municipal documentation could include ‘non-binary’, or ‘prefer not to say’. She also brought up the idea of Dysart including gender-neutral washrooms in any new municipal builds in the future. Mayor Andrea Roberts pointed out there are gender-neutral washrooms included in the new downtown visitor centre, slated to open this summer. The training has been provided to interested parties free of charge by the Canadian LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “The idea here is just trying to be more forward thinking and inclusive,” Mueller stated. “These sessions have opened my eyes to so many things that I even fell fault to, that I wasn’t really aware of. Now I want to be more aware, and help create that inclusivity.” Despite that, Mueller admitted there can be difficulties. During one of the sessions, she explained how she had been given a scenario that would likely be a “tricky” one to resolve. “We were told if somebody was complaining that there’s a man in a women’s washroom, but then you go in and [discover] it’s somebody who maybe looks like a man, but is using the washroom as a woman, you should let it go and don’t draw attention to the situation,” Mueller said. “It’s a tricky one,” she admitted. Council elected to simply receive Mueller’s presentation for information purposes, meaning there would be no immediate changes forthcoming. Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
LOS ANGELES — Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has described to Oprah Winfrey how “liberating” it was to have a conversation - let alone a sit-down interview - with the television host without royal minders. “CBS This Morning” aired a clip on Friday of Winfrey speaking to Meghan about a conversation they had before the actor’s wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018. The clip opens with Winfrey describing how she asked for an interview and Meghan recounting how there were others in the room and she wasn’t even supposed to be speaking with Winfrey. “As an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is um.. different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes,” Meghan tell Winfrey. Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry is set to air Sunday night in the United States on CBS and will air in Britain on Monday evening. Despite stepping back from royal duties a year ago and moving to California, there still intense interest in the couple and their relationship with the royal family. When Meghan was asked what was right about doing the interview now, she said it was because of the couple’s newfound freedom. “That we’re on the other side of a lot of, a lot of life experience that’s happened,” Meghan said. And also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to you then. That wasn’t my choice to make.” The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Several men at a Montreal-area immigration detention centre refused food this week to protest what they say are inhumane conditions at the facility and to try and secure their release.It's the third hunger strike at the Laval immigration holding centre since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Solidarity Across Borders, an activist group working with the detainees.Inmate Carlos Martin began his hunger strike on March 1, he said in an interview Wednesday from the facility, adding that six other detainees were also refusing food.Martin, originally from Colombia, said he's been held in the detention centre for almost 16 months and that he caught COVID-19 while detained. He said he and the other hunger strikers are worried about novel coronavirus variants and that some guards aren't following proper safety procedures."I know what the symptoms are and I have seen some guards that had the same symptoms that I had and didn’t use gloves, that took off masks," he said.In an email late Thursday evening, Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said there are "currently no detainees on food protest."Solidarity Across Borders spokesman Bill Van Driel, however, said Friday morning that as far as his group is aware, seven detainees are still participating in the hunger strike. A group of inmates went on hunger strike in March 2020 — also seeking their release because of fears around COVID-19 — and one detainee refused food in February after catching the disease, according to Solidarity Across Borders.Detainees were held in isolation during the February outbreak and only allowed out of their cells to shower or make phone calls, Van Driel said in a recent interview. Van Driel said visits to the detention centre have been suspended since March 16, 2020, and that because immigration detainees are generally held for a short of period of time, conditions are worse than in prisons or jails."There's no programming, there's no services, there's no psychological services, things that even in the worst prisons would still be available to inmates aren't available to immigration detainees," Van Driel said.Martin said guards are retaliating against the hunger strikers with disruptive searches. "The guards are refusing to let us have water (or) Gatorade in our cells, they are coming in three to four times a day and disorganizing everything," he said. Gadbois-St-Cyr said detainees who participate in "food protests" have access to medical care and are not forced to eat. There are currently 18 people detained in the facility, she said, adding that three people have had cases of COVID-19 and all three have recovered.When asked about the hunger strike on Thursday, Mary-Liz Power, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, said, "we are aware of the situation at the Laval immigration holding centre, and we are following it closely.""Our priority is always the safety of our communities, the immigration detainees and the staff in the IHCs. In support of that priority, we constantly review and update our best practices based on our experience in these centers," she wrote in an email.Immigration detention is a last resort, she said, adding that people are sent there "while their identity is being determined or verified." She said the number of people in immigration detention has been reduced by more than 50 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic.Martin said his legal process has been delayed by the health crisis. "If you have a question or worry, the only thing they say is that it’s because of COVID," he said. "If things are slow or delayed, it’s because of COVID."He said it no longer matters if he gets to stay in Canada, he just wants to leave the detention centre. "The truth is that I simply want to regain my liberty and finish this already," he said. "It doesn’t interest me if they choose me to stay or return me to my country. I want it to be as fast as possible."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
BRANTFORD, Ont. — Past and present residents of the southern Ontario city Walter Gretzky helped put on the map mourned him Friday, remembering him not just as Canada's hockey dad, but as a community fixture who was always up for a chat. Gretzky died Thursday at the age of 82, still living in the Brantford, Ont., home where he raised his five kids, including Wayne Gretzky. Small memorials for the elder Gretzky sprung up Friday morning — two outside the arena that bears his eldest son's name, and one outside that family home. "He was always really kind," said Mark Ritter, a former sports writer. "He was always shaking hands. He was always making eye contact with people." Ritter, who lived in Brantford for six years but has moved away, drove about an hour on Friday morning to leave a hockey stick at Walter Gretzky's reserved parking spot outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre. His hockey stick was one of three — two full-sized, one miniature — up against a sign that reads "Reserved for Walter Gretzky, Lord Mayor of Brantford." Ritter said he regularly saw Gretzky at the nearby McDonald's when he lived in the southern Ontario city of about 100,000. "I think his greatest gift really was time," he said. "...He gave it up unselfishly and with kindness and love and care." He described one chance encounter with Gretzky that turned into an hour-long conversation about hockey. "It's not an uncommon story," Ritter said. Others laid flowers at the foot of the Gretzky statue outside the sports centre. The monument depicts Walter Gretzky and his wife Phyllis with a young Wayne, looking on as the adult Wayne Gretzky hoists the Stanley Cup over his head. Flowers, a hockey stick and a teddy bear were left outside the Gretzky family home. The mayor of Brantford, meanwhile, said Friday was a sad day for "all those who knew and loved Walter." "Not only will he be remembered as a beloved father, friend, coach, mentor and neighbour, he will also forever be known for championing this community at every opportunity," Ken Davis wrote on Facebook. "In the coming days and weeks, the City will announce additional ways in which we plan to pay tribute to Walter to show our deep respect and appreciation for everything he means to our city and the many people he has touched by his kindness and generosity." Samantha Cullen, a college student who grew up in the area, recalled seeing the Gretzky patriarch on school trips to the Brantford Civic Centre, a local arena "Everyone would be struggling to get on their skates and on the ice," she said. "Every time I was there, Walter would see the struggle of the teachers, parents and older children and always offer a helping hand — or at least a distraction long enough for us to get laced up." She said she continued to see him around through the years, often at charity events. "He was more of a hero to a lot of people than Wayne was," she said. "Wayne was the skill, but Walter was the heart." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
The Weston Family Foundation has awarded $25 million to five organizations working on grassland conservation efforts across the three prairie provinces. Grasslands provide a habitat for hundreds of species, and also provide food for Canadians and livestock. But they're also among the most at-risk habitats. More than 70 per cent of the country's prairie grasslands have been lost — mainly due to the conversion of grasslands to croplands, according to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which received the foundation's funds to support biodiversity in the prairie grasslands. The organization will be working with ranchers and farmers to develop and implement a stewardship incentive program, said Jennifer McKillop in an interview with CBC's Afternoon Edition. "We know that ranchers are our primary grassland stewards but they also have big economic pressures and they need to make choices. So we think by supporting them we know we can also support biodiversity," McKillop, vice president of the Saskatchewan region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, said. Agriculture, oil and gas development and other industrial development have claimed much of our original prairie ecosystems. (CBC) Protecting grasslands is essential to saving wildlife, McKillop says. In her own lifetime, McKillop has seen species of grassland birds decline, which she considers a "significant loss." According to McKillop, grasslands are also important for carbon storage, to mitigate drought and to improve the quality of drinking water. "The northern extent of North America's great plains and prairie grasslands represent the most endangered ecosystem on the planet, and I think a lot of people who live in Saskatchewan don't realize that that's in their very own backyard." The $25-million grant will be shared by five conservation and agricultural organizations that will work with local communities over a five-year span to develop and implement ecologically and economically sustainable solutions for grasslands. "It's exciting to see what can be accomplished by bringing Canadians together to find innovative and sustainable approaches to restoring and protecting biodiversity," Weston Family Foundation chair member Tamara Rebanks said in a press release. The four other organizations receiving funding through the grant are Ducks Unlimited Canada, Saskatchewan Stock Growers Foundation, Grasslands National Park (Parks Canada) and Meewasin Valley Authority.
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will keep its spending focus on emergency aid and won't talk about hiking long-term health-care funding until after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. He says Ottawa needs to keep supporting those hit hard financially by the pandemic, having sent billions in aid to businesses and individuals, as well as to provinces. Speaking at a midday press conference, Trudeau said that short-term outlook can't yet give way to longer-term concerns about the effect COVID-19 is having on the Canada's provincially run health-care systems. On Thursday, the country's premiers reiterated their demand for a handsome increase in the unconditional transfer payments the federal government sends provinces and territories each year for health care. But Trudeau held firm on Friday, telling reporters he wouldn't yet negotiate on long-term health care funding. "As we get through this pandemic, and once we're on the other side, it is obvious that there will be a need for greater financing of health care in this country, including through the Canada Health Transfer," Trudeau said. "As I've said to premiers, we will be there to increase those transfers. But that conversation needs to happen once we are through this pandemic because right now, the supports we're giving to Canadians are the ones that are needed to get through this pandemic." The federal government this year will transfer to the provinces nearly $42 billion for health care, under an arrangement that sees the amount rise by at least three per cent each year. Premiers argue that amount doesn't keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent, which would mean Ottawa would have to add $28 billion this year to cover just over one-third of national costs, and about $4 billion annually thereafter. Quebec Premier François Legault, chair of the premiers' council, stressed Thursday that the pandemic-related expenses Ottawa has incurred are one-time costs. One they roll off, he argued, federal finances could recover over time and end in far better shape over the long run than provinces mired in debt. In late November, Finance Department officials tried to estimate how much more provinces had spent on health care during the pandemic in a briefing note to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. The figures in the back of the briefing note, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, suggested the pandemic had by the fall added hundreds of millions in costs for some provinces, subject to a giant asterisk. Officials cautioned that information on the short-term impacts of the pandemic on health-care spending was "scarce." The briefing pointed to a study by the Conference Board of Canada that estimated health care costs due to COVID-19 were in a range of $20.1 billion and $26.9 billion in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. “Longer-term cost projections vary greatly and will depend largely on the evolution of the pandemic and vaccine development and administration,” officials wrote. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press