Aaron Holmes performs this incredible one-man vocal quartet of Johannes Brahms' "Liebeslieder Waltzes". So cool!
Aaron Holmes performs this incredible one-man vocal quartet of Johannes Brahms' "Liebeslieder Waltzes". So cool!
President Joe Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators as the U.S. government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies. "It is great to see the priority that the new administration is giving to cyber," said Suzanne Spaulding, director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cybersecurity was demoted as a policy field under the Trump administration.
As countries such as Canada and the United States continue vaccinating millions of citizens, global health experts warn the pandemic could keep raging if lower-income nations don't get their share of much-needed doses. It's a concern that's growing even as Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden, announced on Thursday the country will rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO) — and with it, the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need. It's long overdue, some say. Others worry it's just the latest example of lip service after what's so far been a deeply inequitable vaccine roll-out around the world. "I would characterize the approach to global vaccine distribution as a massive failure," said Jenna Patterson, the South Africa-based director of health economics at the Health Finance Institute, a U.S. non-governmental organization. 'No doses in the pipeline' for some countries While Canada is among the nations signed on with COVAX, it's also one of the wealthy countries buying up massive shipments from a slate of vaccine producers — with millions of doses already administered between them. Meanwhile, other countries have no doses in the pipeline, with some lower-income nations waiting for international aid that could take months. That could amount to "catastrophic moral failure" on a global scale, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday. And from both an ethical and economic standpoint, the disparities could prove a lose-lose. "Everyone wants to go back to some sense of normal," said Dr. Ranu Dhillon, a global health physician who teaches at Harvard Medical School. "But that won't be possible unless we solve this globally." WATCH | WHO chief describes vaccine inequity between countries: Ignoring vaccine equity could 'prolong' pandemic On one hand, countries without COVID-19 vaccination programs could experience more infections and deaths for far longer; on the other, the possibility of vaccine-resistant variants emerging from ongoing hot zones could backfire on already-vaccinated countries as well. "Not only does this me-first approach leave the world's poorest and most vulnerable at risk; it is also self-defeating," Tedros said at the opening of the annual meeting of the WHO's executive board. "Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic." Allowing the virus to continue its spread in certain regions could impact travel and tourism, supply chains and the world economy, warned several experts who spoke to CBC News. The coronavirus doesn't respect international borders, said Dhillon, evidenced by the ongoing global spread of variants first found in countries such as Brazil and the U.K., meaning there's no way to end the pandemic by focusing solely on national response. If transmission continues largely unchecked in lower-income countries, there's a possibility that variants emerge that don't respond to current vaccines being rolled out in wealthy nations, he said. A situation like that could derail widespread vaccination efforts, travel routes and economic recoveries. "We can't control COVID unless we control it in the rest of the world," echoed Dr. Anna Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "And so that's an additional incentive to get the whole world working together to try to get all places, rich and poor, vaccinated as soon as possible." WATCH | U.S. health economics expert: one nation's health affects another Canada has administered 700,000 shots While Canada's vaccination program got off to a slow start, including an imminent pause on shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech, it remains among the countries poised to vaccinate tens of millions in the months ahead. Canada has administered close to 700,000 shots so far, providing at least one dose to roughly 1.7 per cent of the population. Israel, the world leader in doses per capita, has vaccinated more than three million people; the United Kingdom more than five million; and the U.S. and China have both inoculated more than 15 million and counting. That's a stark contrast to some of the world's poorest nations. Many African countries, in particular, are in danger of being left behind as countries in other regions strike bilateral deals, driving up prices, according to the WHO. The delay is, in part, because of the stringent cold-storage requirements for certain vaccines, which can be challenging to accommodate in remote areas. But WHO officials said they're working to ensure countries' readiness to receive shipments, and suggested clear inequities are also at play. "It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, in a statement the organization released on Thursday. Guinea is currently the only low-income country in Africa to provide its residents with COVID-19 vaccines, and to date, according to the WHO, those have only been administered to 25 people. No doses yet in many countries Patterson, who's based in South Africa and was speaking for the Health Finance Institute, said it's in the world's best interest to ensure all countries are vaccinated against this virus, on both economic and moral fronts — since the death toll in unvaccinated regions could continue skyrocketing while infection rates drop elsewhere. "And COVID has displayed this better than any other disease, how the health of one nation affects another," she said. South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa with more than 1.3 million cases to date. It's also now known for first discovering one of several concerning new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — one which appears to be more transmissible, and potentially capable of evading some level of immune response. Yet the country hasn't vaccinated any of its residents and is set to pay more than twice as much per dose for its batch of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India compared to purchases made by countries in the European Union, according to a Reuters report. Malawi, a low-income country in southeastern Africa, also has no vaccination campaign underway, even though the situation on the ground is a "disaster" according to Dr. Titus Divala, a physician and lecturer with the University of Malawi College of Medicine. The country is currently grappling with a surge of COVID-19 cases, far higher than its first wave, which recently claimed the lives of two cabinet ministers and prompted a national lockdown. It has more than 16,000 cases of COVID-19 and 396 deaths to date. "I think we're going to be in a situation where we do need the vaccine, but we don't have access to it for some time," Divala said. COVAX aims to bring 600 million doses to Africa Through the COVAX initiative — organized by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — international aid is meant to arrive, albeit slowly, in the shadow of vaccination programs elsewhere that are months ahead. The coalition has secured at least two billion doses of vaccines from multiple companies, with the WHO confirming on Friday that Pfizer-BioNTech, one of two companies with vaccines approved for use in Canada, will be signing on as well. The agreement is for 40 million doses of the vaccine, allowing COVAX to begin vaccinating people in poor and lower-middle income countries next month — since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is, so far, the only one with WHO emergency approval. COVAX has committed to vaccinating at least 20 per cent of the population in Africa by the end of 2021 by providing a maximum of 600 million doses. The WHO, however, warned shipments and timelines could change if vaccine candidates fail to meet regulatory approval — or if production or funding challenges arise. Alison Thompson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and researcher on ethics and public health, said countries like Canada and the U.S. who participate in COVAX need to either support other countries' vaccination efforts financially or, at some point, take a backseat so other nations can enter the crowded queue. "That's a hard sell politically," she added, "but it really does raise the question about, what are Canada's global obligations to public health?" Need to 'mass-manufacture' globally Dhillon, the physician from Havard, said this pandemic has shown the level of innovation and technology available, and now it's just a matter of scaling up to meet international need. "How do we mass-manufacture these vaccines in the quantities needed globally?" he questioned. "There is manufacturing capacity in other areas of the world. We need to remove issues with patents, we need to remove issues with intellectual property." It's all easier said than done in a charged climate where citizens are clamouring to access shots in short supply within their own borders, and Canada is no exception. But Dhillon compared the current vaccine landscape to the therapies that emerged to prevent AIDS, the often-devastating illness caused by HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. Wealthier nations accessed those first, he explained, while poorer countries were left waiting, with many of those infected in the developing world still starting therapy late. "Instead of waiting to look back in retrospect and question why we didn't do more — I think we're in that moment now," Dhillon said.
Cases of COVID-19 are declining in many parts of Canada, but experts say those early positive signs are dependent on widespread restrictions. Quebec, now under a province-wide curfew, has seen new cases decline. Ontario has showed 11 consecutive declines in its seven-day average, a metric that helps to spot long-term trends compared to daily numbers that can spike up and down. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Friday that national daily daily case trends are trending down. "This gives us hope that community-based control measures are starting to take effect," Tam said. "But it is too soon to be sure that these measures are strong enough and broad enough to set us on a steady downward trend." Caroline Colijn, an infectious disease modeller at Simon Fraser University, said most of the provinces seem to be declining. "Ontario's kind of uncertain, Saskatchewan's growing still or again, but the rest are kind of flat or declining," said Colijn, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in mathematics for evolution, infection and public health. "That's the first decline we've seen in Quebec and Ontario for quite a while," she said. "In our models, it looks like a genuine decline." More tools needed In B.C., for example, Colijn said the epidemic is stabilizing with strict measures such as telling people not to socialize outside their household. But Colijn fears Ontario's stay-at-home order, Quebec's curfew and restrictions in other provinces aren't solutions that people can sustain for months. If people don't limit their number of contacts with others then cases will start to climb again until vaccinations reach the general population. "Unless we want to do this for six months, we do need to be thinking about throwing other tools that we have available at this problem." Colijn said widespread restrictions, symptomatic testing and contact tracing remain cornerstone tools. But those tools should be supplemented with wider rapid testing technologies coming to the fore, which Colijn believes could support re-opening the economy. Federal and provincial scientists are validating rapid tests, currently used at remote mines as well as the film and airline industries, for more widespread use. WATCH | Researchers test new tools for COVID-19 surveillance: Sask. heading in the wrong direction Nazeem Muhajarine, an epidemiologist at the University of Saskatchewan, divides the country into three main groups based on per-capita case counts: The top: Atlantic Canada, which has the fewest cases. The middle: Manitoba, Alberta and B.C., which have showed month-long improvements in COVID-19 activity following lockdowns. If trends in Ontario and Quebec continue, then they could be added to the middle group. The bottom: Saskatchewan, which Muhajarine said isn't even heading in the right direction, with an average of 300 new cases daily. It is difficult to see stable epidemiological patterns in the territories given the small population base, he said. Muhajarine is concerned about the steep climb in COVID-19 deaths in the Prairie province. "On Dec. 1, we had 51 deaths and by Jan. 1 it tripled to 155," he noted. In the first 21 days of the month, another 84 people have died in Saskatchewan. "We really need to reverse course," Muhajarine said. "To do that, we need very strict measures with a stay-at-home order and enforcement of orders. When we see the case numbers reverse course, we have to get our testing, tracing and isolation regime back up." Restrictions on retail stores, restaurants and bars could help bring cases, hospitalizations and deaths down given how Saskatchewan is "stretched to the limit," he said. Even places with early signs of decline, like Ontario, will see hospitalizations and deaths continue to climb for a period because of the lag time from new infections in December, health experts say. Essential workplaces key for Ontario Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said the province's seven-day averages are encouraging. "We're now more than two weeks past what would be the New Year's surge," Chakrabarti said, referencing people socializing over the holidays despite advice from public health officials and politicians to stay at home. Now that the holiday peak in new cases is over, regular winter transmission of the virus is happening in the population, he said. Chakrabarti recalls how during the province's first wave in the spring, cases came down and then were stuck at a plateau for months, which he said could happen again. WATCH | What's behind falling COVID-19 case numbers in Que., Ont.: Driving case counts down further would ease pressure on health-care systems and protect vulnerable residents of long-term care homes. The key, he says, is to tackle where transmission is still happening: essential workplaces. "We were seeing people getting infected at work and then bringing it home to their family, where it was being amplified," he said of the first wave. "That's still happening and something a lockdown doesn't address." It's why Chakrabarti and others advocate for: "Yes, there are some people who are breaking the rules," Chakrabarti said. "But we also need to look at the very different industrial setups because these factors are huge, right? This is one of the reasons why things haven't ever really turned quickly in Ontario."
Recent developments: Ottawa reported 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday. What's the latest? As Canadians begin preparing their 2020 taxes, two Ottawa accountants share their tips for people working from home — and dispel notions of a great windfall this spring. Pandemic stay-at-home orders have changed how people are getting around Ottawa, and now the city wants to know whether its approach to snow and ice clearing should evolve, too. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 87 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and one more death. How many cases are there? As of Friday, 12,761 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,037 known active cases, 11,308 resolved cases and 416 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 22,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including nearly 22,200 resolved cases. One hundred and eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 147 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Places such as Kingston have started to take patients from other regions struggling with hospital capacity. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households and socializing is not considered essential. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Schools can reopen to general in-person learning Monday in the areas of eastern Ontario with lower COVID-19 levels — not in Ottawa nor communities under the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. There is no return date for them. Child-care centres remain open. Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. Health officials say there are signs they have slowed COVID-19's spread and there's been some talk about what it will take to lift them. In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with to ease the "very critical" load on hospitals and avoid more delayed surgeries. An exception for people living alone allows them to exclusively visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses, but has brought students back to classrooms. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the region. Renfrew County expects its first doses in early February. Local health units have said they've given more than 29,800 doses, including about 22,000 in Ottawa and more than 7,300 in western Quebec. Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. That's already happened in Ottawa and across Quebec. That, and Pfizer temporarily slowing its vaccine production to expand its factory, means some areas can't guarantee people will get a second dose three weeks after the first. It may take four to six weeks. Ontario's campaign is still expected to expand to priority groups such as older adults and essential workers in March or April, with vaccines widely available to the public in August. Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by August. Quebec is also giving a single dose to as many people as possible, starting with people in care homes and health-care workers, then remote communities, then older adults and essential workers and finally the general public. It said before Pfizer's announcement people will get their second dose within 90 days. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites will reopen Monday. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had more than 130 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 240 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the new English variant of COVID-19 may be associated with a higher level of mortality although he said evidence showed that both vaccines being used in the country are effective against it. Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said the evidence about mortality levels was "not yet strong", and came from a "series of different bits of information", stressing there was great uncertainty around the data. He said that once people reached hospital, there was no greater risk, but there were signs that people who had the UK variant were at more risk overall.
LISBON, Portugal — With the moderate incumbent candidate widely seen as the sure winner of Sunday’s presidential election in Portugal, the most intriguing question for many Portuguese is how well a brash new populist challenger will fare in a ballot skewed by a surging COVID-19 pandemic. Mainstream populism, which has upended political assumptions elsewhere in Europe in recent years, is a novelty in Portugal. But that could change as taxpayers squeezed by the economic downturn, vexed by hefty bailouts for banks and galled by corruption look for somewhere to vent their anger. A significant political shift in Portugal could help add fresh momentum to a continental trend. Lawyer and former TV soccer pundit André Ventura leads a right-wing populist party called CHEGA! (ENOUGH!), founded in 2019. Nobody expects him to win on Sunday, as he is polling around 11% compared with more than 60% for incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Even so, Ventura, 37, could conceivably place second among the seven candidates, drawing a level of support that until recently was unthinkable and sending a shudder through Portuguese politics. A recent surge in the COVID-19 pandemic that has placed Portugal among the worst-hit countries in the world for new daily infections and deaths has added an unpredictable ingredient into the contest, even though the head of state is not directly involved in organizing the country's response. A potentially low turnout as voters, especially the elderly, possibly shy away from busy polling stations could upset expectations and allow determined populist sympathizers to capture a bigger share of the ballot. Ventura's showing “is quite something for a new party,” says Marina Costa Lobo, a senior researcher at Lisbon University’s Institute for Social Sciences. “He has gained a lot of visibility, a lot of exposure.” Like other populists, Ventura portrays himself as leading common people against an entrenched and corrupt elite. French far-right populist Marine le Pen flew in for one of his campaign events in Lisbon. Ventura has participated in rallies in Italy held by Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League party. Ventura occupies his party’s single seat in Portugal’s 230-seat parliament. But he punches above his weight by generating headlines. He is eloquent, happy to scrap in public and disdained by mainstream parties. His firebrand speeches have whipped up public support, especially on social media. He calls his supporters the “Portuguese Popular Army.” He has complained that “minorities are living at our expense” and questions recent liberalizing trends. He asked in parliament last year, “You can change sex at 16 but you can’t go to a bullfight! Doesn’t this country have things the wrong way round?” Ventura ticks the populist boxes. He wants heavier prison sentences, including currently disallowed life terms, for some crimes and chemical castration for convicted pedophiles and rapists before their release from prison. He opposes letting migrants, especially Muslims, into Europe and supports police demands for higher pay. He also wants to reduce the number of lawmakers in parliament and their salaries. Major scandals in recent years have provided grist for his cause. Corruption cases against a former prime minister and against the head of the country’s largest private bank, which went bankrupt, have fueled outrage and tainted Portugal’s two main parties, the centre-left Socialists and the centre-right Social Democrats. Taxpayers, meanwhile, shelled out more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) to help banks between 2008 and 2019. That’s a substantial sum in one of the European Union’s smaller economies. The election frontrunner, incumbent Rebelo de Sousa, is the kind of target Ventura relishes: An establishment figure with a 46-year political career, including a stint as leader of the Social Democratic Party. Over his past five years as president, the gaunt 72-year-old has displayed the patrician bearing and cordial manner expected of a head of state. Though a president in Portugal has no legislative power, which lies with the government and parliament, the role carries considerable influence. But Rebelo de Sousa’s once cozy relationship with the head of what was Portugal’s biggest private bank, including luxury vacations spent together, and his long spell at the heart of power, have left him vulnerable to attacks from Ventura and the election’s five other candidates. Even so, Rebelo de Sousa has during his term kept his approval rating above 60% and is held in affection by many in this country of 10.3 million. He cultivates an image of man of the people: Portuguese capture photos of him standing alone in line with his groceries at the supermarket, having a shave at a barber’s shop and chatting with excited children on the beach near his house in Cascais, an old fishing town 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Lisbon. His small security detail keeps a discreet distance. On Sunday, more Portuguese are likely to value those traits than Ventura’s pugnacity. Barry Hatton, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,622 new vaccinations administered for a total of 738,864 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,949.546 per 100,000. There were 13,260 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 920,775 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.24 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,996 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,827 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.07 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 11,950 new vaccinations administered for a total of 186,210 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.762 per 1,000. There were 975 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 15,899 new vaccinations administered for a total of 253,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.279 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,519 new vaccinations administered for a total of 23,884 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.345 per 1,000. There were 9,360 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.92 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,548 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,781 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.256 per 1,000. There were 2,925 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 1,263 new vaccinations administered for a total of 96,506 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.923 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,776 new vaccinations administered for a total of 104,901 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.442 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.59 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 570 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,160 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 75.723 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 43.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 830 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,375 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 87.151 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Regina– On Jan. 18, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum lifted a state-wide mandatory mask order, with the state having brought its COVID-19 new case numbers down to a level lower than Saskatchewan’s. That state, which had among the worst COVID-19 numbers for the entire United States for the previous three months, has remarkably turned things around. On Jan. 21, Manitoba also announced a slight easing it its public health restrictions, restrictions that were much more severe than Saskatchewan. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister tweeted on that day, “Today is a day of hope and optimism. We’re announcing a few modest changes to our #COVID19MB restrictions that will allow increased personal connections and economic activity while ensuring we continue #ProtectingManitobans.” Manitoba will now allow two visitors to a household, 10 people plus the officiant at a funeral, and retail establishments to sell items beyond what was considered “essential.” These neighbouring jurisdictions were able to do so as they had both brought down their new COVID-19 cases down considerably. On North Dakota’s day of lifting its mask mandate, they say just 69 new cases, and by Jan. 21, their seven-day average of new cases was 147. On Nov. 14, 2020, North Dakota’s seven-day average peaked at 1,389.1. On Jan. 21, Manitoba’s seven-day average was 163. On Jan. 13 they had 90 new cases, and on Jan. 19, they had 111 new cases. For the past three weeks, both saw their seven-day averages less than 200, and generally around 160 to 170. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan, however, has had nearly double that over the last two weeks. From Jan. 10 to Jan. 21, Saskatchewan’s seven-day average of new cases hovered between 289.1 and 317.6. On Jan. 21, it was 286.1, with 227 new cases reported that day, and a record number of deaths for one day, at 13. Premier Scott Moe said in a Facebook post on Jan. 21, “Sadly, we are reporting that thirteen Saskatchewan residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died. I would like to extend my condolences to the friends and family of each of these individuals. “While Saskatchewan’s case numbers continue to decrease and we continue to deliver the vaccine at a high rate, reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic is a somber reminder of the need to reduce the spread of this deadly virus by following all public health orders and guidelines that are in place.” At the regular COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 19 in the Legislature, both Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab were asked about what North Dakota is doing better than Saskatchewan, and if they should be removing their mask mandate. Shahab said he’s been following North Dakota, which is similar in some ways to Saskatchewan, with a fairly rural population. He noted, “They were in dire straits by the end of October, early November.” “That's the lesson; that when there's high compliance with all the public health measures, things change very quickly. And I think that's the main lesson from North Dakota, but also, we’ve seen that in Saskatchewan. We've seen that in our neighboring provinces. High compliance through public health measures, restrictions, but also the high compliance by all of us, dramatically changes the course of the pandemic. So, that's what we saw in mid-December. That's really what we want to see right now,” Shahab said. Moe said of the measures implemented south of the border a few months ago, “Apparently they have been effective. There’s obviously been mass adherence to the measures that Governor (Doug) Burgum had put in place. “I’ve talked to Governor Burgum a number of times throughout this pandemic, with respect to some of the challenges that we've seen, north and south of the border, and their numbers have come down markedly. And that is through people doing the right thing, and taking their individual responsibility very, very seriously.” He added that the last time he checked, North Dakota was in excess of 5 per cent of its population having been vaccinated. “In fact, I think it's a few months ago, we were talking about North Dakota, having the highest per capita rate of COVID infections in North America. I believe if they're now leading North America on the vaccination rates, or are very close to it. And so, they have had a very robust ambitious and aggressive vaccination program. I know in one day they had over 300 vaccination sites operating in North Dakota. So they've been very ambitious, with respect to procuring vaccines and making them available to North Dakotas, and I think that speaks to the importance of us having access to a large number of vaccines, as soon as possible, ultimately, finding our way through this COVID-19 pandemic and finding our way back to some degree of normal in our communities.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
OTTAWA — Internal reports prepared by Veterans Affairs Canada show Canadian veterans have been waiting longer and longer in recent years to access psychiatric services and other medical support at government-run clinics. The reports obtained by The Canadian Press through the access-to-information system are separate from the controversy surrounding the backlog of tens of thousands of applications from veterans for disability benefits. They also follow a previous warning from the federal auditor general about former soldiers facing long waits for badly needed mental-health services, with the reports blaming the growing delays on a soaring demand for help over the past five years. Experts say the new reports are concerning because of the importance in responding to requests for mental-health support as soon as possible to keep veterans from having to struggle on their own. “As we know with mental health, timely access is key,” said Wounded Warriors Canada executive director Scott Maxwell, whose organization provides mental-health services to veterans and first responders. “Making people wait, they might not go back, they might not follow up, they might fall through the cracks into these gaps that we know exist across the mental-health service space in Canada. And we have to make sure that we are avoiding that at all cost.” Prepared quarterly, the reports provide information on how long veterans are having to wait before getting first appointments for several medical services at 10 operational stress injury clinics set up across Canada. First established in 2002, the clinics are now located in most major cities across Canada and include teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other specialized mental-health professionals. Each clinic is designed to assess and treat the mental-health needs of veterans as well as serving military personnel and RCMP members through one-on-one therapy and group sessions. The most recent report, covering the period between April and June 2020, shows most veterans waited less than two weeks — and half only two days — before one of the clinics responded to their first phone call or other request for help. That was unchanged from the same quarter in 2018, even though the later period coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in lockdowns across the country. In fact, it was even an improvement over the year preceding the pandemic. “Contact within two days is actually a good starting point,” said Oliver Thorne, executive director of the Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, which works with former service members struggling with psychological trauma. Yet the report also shows most veterans had to wait months — in some cases more than seven months — for their first appointments with psychiatrists or to start work on treatment plans. The same was true for getting medical exams to apply for disability benefits. While the pandemic appears to have made it harder to get a medical exam or first appointment to start creating or implementing a treatment plan, the report shows wait times for both have been steadily growing since at least 2017. War Amps Canada executive director Brian Forbes, who is also chair of the National Council of Veterans’ Associations, said the growing delays for medical exams underscore the challenges many disabled veterans have just applying for benefits. Such exams are needed by Veterans Affairs Canada to approve a veteran’s application before they can get any type of help. “If you can't get to the doctor or the psychiatrists or the clinic, you're obviously stuck in another kind of backlog because you don't even get to first base,” said Forbes. Many veterans actually got their first appointments with psychiatrists faster during the start of the pandemic. But they had still been waiting in many cases more than two months longer than colleagues who saw psychiatrists in 2017. While the reports only extend as far as the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has created a surge in demand for assistance as veterans have seen their normal outlets and support networks dry up, Thorne said. “There's just kind of an increasing urgency behind them because of the stress that people are dealing with in their day-to-day life,” he said, adding many veterans often only come forward when they are in great need. “Looking at these numbers, what's potentially worrying is the amount of time between first contact and when the treatment plan begins. And so my followup question would be: How much other type of support is available for them in that interim time?” The reports note that the number of veterans referred to the government-run clinics even before the pandemic had nearly doubled between 2015 and 2020, which “had a negative impact on wait times.” Veterans Affairs spokesman Josh Bueckert also blamed longer treatment times for veterans than non-veterans and a shortage of mental-health workers across the country, “especially with psychiatrists and psychologists, causing occasional staff vacancies in some clinics.” “In order to address this situation, Veterans Affairs Canada has increased funding for OSI Clinic recruitment and specialized training of other types of mental health professionals,” Bueckert said. The department has also recruited local health providers to help out. Veterans are also screened when they first reach out to a clinic, Bueckert said, with the most at-risk provided faster service. Maxwell said there is a clear need for the government to dedicate more resources — including funding to train dedicated mental-health professionals — to ensure veterans have ready access to support. “Clearly, there's a desire to utilize the services based on the numbers that we're seeing in this report,” he said. “That just speaks to the need then to keep pace with demand so those veterans can get the care that they deserve, and in a positive way.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Three games into the 2021 NHL regular season, Calgary Flames fans are gleefully relishing the all-Canadian chapter of what they lovingly call the Matthew Tkachuk Friendship Tour. For at age 23, Tkachuk is a throwback to old-school hockey defined by nasty rivalries and real — not manufactured — hatred between combatants. More irritating than a sharp pebble in a hiking boot, the eldest son of NHL legend Keith Tkachuk artfully antagonizes his opponents to the point they can't think clearly. Canada's seven hockey teams are only playing one another throughout this 56-game regular season in the NHL's North Division due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I think it suits my style," says Tkachuk, who will lead the Flames into battle Sunday in Toronto. "One of my gifts is that it doesn't take much to get me up for games. "But it's going to be a lively night, every night, with all eyes on us in this country." 'I know what type of player I am' Tkachuk is already despised in Edmonton, for "turtling" on Oilers forward Zack Kassian and refusing to fight in a memorable game last January at the Scotiabank Saddledome. He's reviled in Winnipeg for knocking centre Mark Scheifele out of the 2019/2020 Stanley Cup qualifiers. And there's also the natural rivalry with his younger brother Brady in Ottawa. There's no doubt he'll offend countless others all season long. "I don't really think about how other people portray me or think of me," says Tkachuk a first-round (sixth overall) selection of the Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft. "I know what type of player I am." In the season opener against Winnipeg, Tkachuk was centre stage, scrumming with Jets sniper Patrik Laine, chirping with Jets captain Blake Wheeler and scoring a goal. On Monday night, the Canucks held Tkachuk off the scoresheet, but he still had tremendous impact. Tkachuk parked himself in front of goalie Thatcher Demko late in the second period and shoved aside Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler. After the whistle, Vancouver rearguard Tyler Myers cranked Tkachuk in the jaw, resulting in a minor penalty. Calgary centre Elias Lindholm potted the winning goal with the man advantage in a 5-2 Flames victory. It's hardly a new storyline. Tkachuk has drawn a league-leading 163 penalties since his NHL debut in 2016/17 (Tom Wilson, of the Washington Capitals, is second with 156 and Edmonton centre Connor McDavid is third with 147.) More than a pest But Tkachuk is hardly just a world-class pest. He led the Flames in scoring last season (23 goals and 61 points in 69 games) and promises to do even more in this campaign. "I look at it for myself, and I have to take not only a step but two steps, five steps, 10 steps forward this year if I want to become the player I want to be," Tkachuk says. "It's time to make a difference. "I don't just want to be known as a certain player. I want to be a player who makes a difference every single night." WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo breaks down the NHL's first week back: This season, Tkachuk, Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane make up what is arguably Calgary's first line, ahead of even Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Dominik Simon. While the Flames lack the star power of Edmonton (McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) and Toronto (Auston Matthews), they have impressive depth up front and a world-class goaltender in Jacob Markstrom. Coming off a first-round playoff exit courtesy of Dallas, the Flames are determined to establish themselves as members of the NHL elite. "It's time for people to look at us as a serious contender throughout the league," Tkachuk says. "We have to be looked at as one of those teams that is a contender each and every season and I think we have to start proving that."
EDMONTON — Political analysts say Premier Jason Kenney must rethink his traditional “fight back” approach and start building bridges to reconcile environmental concerns with oil and gas development. “Attacks are not going to persuade anybody,” Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said in an interview Thursday. “You don’t set up a war room whose purpose from the get-go is to go after environmentalists. That’s a problem when you have an environmentalist in the White House.” U.S. President Joe Biden, on his first day in office Wednesday, fulfilled a long-standing campaign promise to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. The line would have taken more oil from Alberta through the United States to refineries and ports to help alleviate the current price discount on the province's landlocked oil. Biden had promised to cancel former president Donald Trump's permit for the line on the grounds that product from Alberta’s oilsands does not mesh with broader goals to battle climate change. Kenney called the decision an insult to Alberta and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deliver a breakthrough in talks or, if that fails, impose trade sanctions on the U.S. Kenney’s comments also lauded Canada’s environmental record. Williams said those are valid arguments that Kenney needs to make a priority, married to policy initiatives as necessary, rather than throw them in as add-on talking points. She suggested Kenney needs to pick a lane on the environment. Right now, she noted, he is promoting the federal climate plan as justification for Keystone while simultaneously challenging in court the plan’s consumer carbon tax. Political scientist Jared Wesley said Kenney’s stance seems to be more about political damage control for a doomed project his government contributed $1.5 billion to last spring even though, at the time, it was a risky proposition. “Kenney’s not the first premier to have one gear when it comes to intergovernmental relations,” said Wesley with the University of Alberta. “The fight-back approach seems to be in (Kenney’s) political DNA. He doesn’t like being questioned and when his plans don’t turn out, the default position is to blame someone else.” Kenney’s challenge is that bridge-building premiers run the risk of being perceived as weak, Wesley said, so Kenney may feel he needs to be bellicose and hard line given his popularity is being challenged on the far right. Kenney beat the NDP in the 2019 election in part by promising to challenge what he said are shadowy global foes and environmentalists who seek to undermine Alberta’s oil industry. He set up a $30-million-a-year “war room” and struck a public inquiry into foreign funding of oil opponents. Both endeavours have been undermined by self-generated mistakes and controversies. Kenney has blamed many of the province’s economic and oil woes on the Trudeau government's policies. Yet the Liberal government in 2018 stepped in to buy the one pipeline that is proceeding – the Trans Mountain expansion from Alberta to the B.C. coast. Wesley said Kenney blaming Trudeau has almost become a cliché and one that will hurt Alberta. “The move (to blame Trudeau) has become so predictable that it’s laughable,” he said. “That’s not just among his opponents here in Alberta, but among people he’s supposed to be persuading nationally and internationally.” Political scientist Duane Bratt, also of Mount Royal University, agrees. “This is really setting the stage for the old playbook of 'let’s blame Trudeau' … and I’m not sure it’s going to work this time," Bratt said. “We’re seeing the collapse of the fight-back strategy in so many different realms. Not only has it not worked, it has cost Alberta taxpayers billions of dollars and a real hit to our reputation.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Three suspects are in custody following a shooting in Espanola on Thursday, according to provincial police. In a release, Manitoulin OPP said officers were called about 10:20 a.m. to a home on Albert Street in Espanola. "A person suffered a gunshot wound and has been transported to a nearby hospital (Health Sciences North in Sudbury) with serious life-threatening injuries. The three suspects believed to be involved in this incident then fled the area in a vehicle via Highway 17." The suspects allegedly fled the scene in a taxi en route to Sudbury, according to a witness. "OPP immediately engaged the assistance of Greater Sudbury Police Service who deployed their tactical unit to assist," the OPP said. "A short time later, the (Greater Sudbury Police) Tactical Unit arrested three individuals believed to be involved in the shooting while they were traveling in Lively." Greater Sudbury Police tweeted that its Emergency Response Unit worked with members of the Integrated Crime Team to conduct a high-risk vehicle stop on Adam Street in Lively at around 11:20 a.m. Police confirmed that the vehicle stop was in connection to the incident that occurred in Espanola, and the individuals were taken into custody. A neighbour near the shooting told The Sudbury Star that an individual had been shot in the shoulder at a nearby “drug house.” Manitoulin OPP and the Anishinabek Police Service were on scene investigating on Thursday. Witnesses reported seeing K9 and Tactical units in the area. Both the OPP and Greater Sudbury Police issued statements saying there is no threat to public safety at this time, and members of the Manitoulin OPP detachment have assumed responsibility for the investigation. Members of the OPP's Manitoulin Detachment Crime Unit, under the direction of the OPP's Criminal Investigation Branch, are involved. Assisting is an OPP Critical Incident Commander, an OPP Community Street Crime Unit, an OPP Canine Unit and OPP Forensic Identification Services. Further information will be released as it becomes available, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or your nearest police authority. Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or visit www.p3tips.com where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000. In an earlier report, The Sudbury Star said that Espanola schools were sent into lockdown as a result of the shooting. The OPP later clarified the school lockdown was not in any way connected to the incident on Albert Street. “Manitoulin OPP were called to a school on Spruce Street regarding alleged threats made via social media. A school lockdown was called, and police later located the student,” said the OPP in a tweet. “School protocol was followed, and a lockdown ensued. Police located the student a short time later. After investigation, it was determined the comments were made via social media and there was no threat to public safety,” police said in a release. OPP Const. Phil Young said no one was taken into custody as a result of this incident. The nature of the threats made on social media is currently unknown. School officials also confirmed the incident. “Espanola High School and A.B. Ellis Public School went into hold and secure just after 10:30 am today when the local police advised the schools to do so,” said Nicole Charette, spokesperson for the Rainbow District School Board. “The hold and secure was lifted at 12:10 pm when the police confirmed that it was safe to do so. In a hold and secure, students remain in the school as teaching and learning continues.” Officials with the town's French-language school took similar steps. "We can confirm that our school in Espanola also proceeded to a hold and secure as instructed by the OPP," Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon said in a statement. "Students and staff at École catholique La Renaissance are safe and sound. "We have communicated with parents asking them to inform the school if their child was made nervous by this incident and could benefit from some support." The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
Several southern Ontario school boards that straddle public health units are gearing up to reopen only a portion of their schools to in-person learning next week, adding another layer of complexity to an academic year that's been defined by quick pivots. The government order allowing schools in seven public health units to reopen physical classrooms as of Monday means nine boards now have to create different plans for different towns in their jurisdiction. "It's definitely more difficult to have one board be going in two different directions," said Diane Lloyd, chair of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, which oversees schools in Clarington, Ont., that will remain closed and ones in Northumberland and Peterborough that will reopen. She said the board began reaching out to parents immediately after receiving word of the plan from the Ministry of Education in an effort to prevent any confusion. "The challenge is being ready to pivot all the time on short notice," Lloyd said. That's nobody's fault, she said, as these decisions are made based on the rates of COVID-19 in a community in the interest of public safety, but the "constant change and constant new directives" are still presenting an issue. She said it will always be hard to work when you're being told to change course before you can make any progress. Stephen Sliwa, director of the Upper Canada District School Board, said teachers and school staff have gotten used to those sorts of shifts but that doesn't necessarily make it easy. "They're seeing it as another change in a series of changes that comes with working during a period of extreme uncertainty," he said. "I think all organizations are getting accustomed to adjusting quickly to respond to the changes." Roughly 40 per cent of schools in his district are in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, which covers Stormont, Glengarry and Dundas, Prescott-Russell and Cornwall, and will remain closed, he said. The other 60 per cent are located in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, and can reopen Monday. Sliwa said his board's efforts have been focused on educating parents of those students about what the return to class will look like, as the province has instituted new public health measures. Students in grades 1 through 3 will have to wear masks now, whereas before it was optional, he noted. And the province is also introducing "provincewide targeted asymptomatic testing" and enhanced screening, the Ministry of Education said. He said some parents have also contacted the board to figure out whether their kids will be returning to class on Monday. Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, defended the province's plan to reopen only some schools at a news conference on Thursday, saying it's in the best interest of students. "We definitely want kids to be in school. That is the best thing for them for a whole lot of reasons," she said, but the number of students testing positive for COVID-19 has made it impossible to send everyone back to class. "There was so much transmission that we felt at that point, going into a lockdown, it would be safer to keep keep them at home," Yaffe said. She said the government continues to monitor the situation in each region closely so it can reopen schools safely. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Nine months after a gunman used a replica police vehicle during a deadly shooting rampage in Nova Scotia, the federal government is suspending the sale of all surplus RCMP vehicles. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the moratorium takes effect immediately. "We are suspending the sale of decommissioned RCMP vehicles on an interim basis to ensure that this process remains appropriate and robust," Blair said in an email statement Thursday night. Last April, a gunman impersonating a police officer drove a former RCMP vehicle across rural Nova Scotia before he was shot dead by police. The shooting left 22 dead and was one of the worst massacres in Canadian history. Earlier this month, a 23-year-old from Antigonish, N.S., was arrested for impersonating a police officer while driving a vehicle made to look like a police cruiser. The Nova Scotia RCMP said the man may have used the car to try to pull people over. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court next month. In both instances, police say the civilians bought former police vehicles, outfitted them with lights and decals, and pulled people over. The cases prompted Nova Scotia Liberal MPs to contact caucus colleagues and Blair to press for changes to prevent former police vehicles from being purchased by members of the public. Former RCMP cars listed for sale Blair's statement said the government is pausing the sale of used police vehicles to ensure they aren't used unlawfully. He did not say when the suspension will be lifted. "During this moratorium, the Government of Canada and the RCMP will examine the policies that are currently in place and work towards long-term solutions that further ensures these vehicles are not improperly outfitted or otherwise misused." As recently as this week, anyone could have purchased a used RCMP vehicle on the Government of Canada auction site. In one ad, still listed as of Jan. 20, a 2013 Ford Taurus was listed for $2,300. It was among the last surplus RCMP vehicles put up for sale on the government's auction site. Now there are no such vehicles anywhere on the site. Former police vehicles still appear often on used car websites and marketplaces. Those sales will still be allowed, but authorities will get involved if those vehicles are used by someone pretending to be an officer. In his statement, Blair noted it's still illegal to "impersonate a police officer and we will take every step possible to prevent such crimes from taking place." MORE TOP STORIES
Thursday's Games NHL Montreal 7 Vancouver 3 Winnipeg 4 Ottawa 1 N.Y. Islanders 4 New Jersey 1 Tampa Bay 3 Columbus 2 (OT) Boston 5 Philadelphia 4 (SO) Los Angeles 4 Colorado 2 Florida at Carolina -- postponed --- NBA L.A. Lakers 113 Milwaukee 106 New York 119 Golden State 104 Utah 129 New Orleans 118 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
MOSCOW — The return to Russia from Germany by opposition leader Alexei Navalny was marked by chaos and popular outrage, and it ended, almost predictably, with his arrest. The Jan. 17 flight from Berlin, where Navalny spent nearly five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning, carried him and his wife, along with a group of journalists documenting the journey. But the plane was diverted from its intended airport in Moscow to another one in the capital in what was seen as an apparent attempt to foil a welcome from crowds awaiting him. Authorities also took him into custody immediately, sparking outrage at home and abroad. Some Western countries threatened sanctions and his team called for nationwide demonstrations Saturday. Navalny had prepared his own surprise for his return: A video expose alleging that a lavish “palace” was built for President Vladimir Putin on the Black Sea through an elaborate corruption scheme. His team posted it on YouTube on Tuesday, and within 48 hours, it had gotten over 42 million views. Navalny faces years in prison from a previous conviction he claims was politically motivated, while political commentators say there are no good options for the Kremlin. The AP looks at his long standoff with authorities: WHO IS ALEXEI NAVALNY? Navalny, 44, is an anti-corruption campaigner and the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. He has outlasted many opposition figures and is undeterred by incessant attempts to stop his work. He has released scores of damning reports exposing corruption in Putin’s Russia. He has been a galvanizing figure in mass protests, including unprecedented 2011-12 demonstrations sparked by reports of widespread rigging of a parliamentary election. Navalny was convicted twice on criminal charges: embezzlement and later fraud. He received suspended sentences of five years and 3 1/2 years. He denounced the convictions as politically motivated, and the European Court of Human Rights disputed both convictions. Navalny sought to challenge Putin in the 2018 election, but was barred from running by one of his convictions. Nevertheless, he drew crowds of supporters almost everywhere he went in the country. Frequently arrested, he has served multiple stints in jail for charges relating to leading protests. In 2017, an attacker threw a green antiseptic liquid in his face, damaging his sight. He also was hospitalized in 2019 after a suspected poisoning while in jail. None of that has stopped him. In August 2020, he fell ill while on a domestic flight in Siberia, and the pilot landed quickly in Omsk, where he was hospitalized. His supporters managed to have him flown to Berlin, where he lay in a coma for over two weeks and was diagnosed as having been poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent — an allegation the Kremlin denied. After he recovered, Navalny released a recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he alleged was a member of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him. The FSB dismissed the recording as a fake, but it still shocked many at home and abroad. Navalny vowed to return to Russia and continue his work, while authorities threatened him with arrest. WHY DID NAVALNY RETURN AT ALL? Navalny said he didn’t leave Russia by choice, but rather “ended up in Germany in an intensive care box.” He said he never considered the possibility of staying abroad. “It doesn’t seem right to me that Alexei Navalny calls for a revolution from Berlin,” he explained in an interview in October, referring to himself in the third person. “If I’m doing something, I want to share the risks with people who work in my office.” Analysts say it would have been impossible for Navalny to remain relevant as an opposition leader outside Russia. “Remaining abroad, becoming a political emigre, would mean death to a public politician,” said Masha Lipman, an independent political analyst. Nikolai Petrov, a senior research fellow in Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Program, echoed her sentiment, saying: “Active, bright people who could initiate some real actions and take part in elections ... while in the country, once abroad, end up cut off from the real connection to the people.” WHY IS NAVALNY NOW FACING PRISON? His suspended sentence from the 2014 conviction carried a probationary period that was to expire in December 2020. Authorities said Navalny was subject to regular in-person check-ins with law enforcement officers. During the final days of Navalny's probation period, Russia’s prison service put him on a wanted list, accusing him of not appearing for these checks, including when he was convalescing in Germany. Officials have petitioned the court to have him serve the full 3 1/2-year sentence. After his return, Navalny was placed in custody for 30 days, with a hearing to review his sentence scheduled for Feb. 2. Earlier this month, Russia’s Investigative Committee opened another criminal probe against him on fraud charges, alleging he embezzled donations to his Foundation for Fighting Corruption. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison. DOES NAVALNY THREATEN THE KREMLIN? Putin never calls Navalny by name, and state-run media depict him as an unimportant blogger. But he has managed to spread his reach far outside Moscow through his widely popular YouTube accounts, including the one this week that featured the allegations about the massive Black Sea estate. His infrastructure of regional offices set up nationwide in 2017 has helped him challenge the government by mobilizing voters. In 2018, Navalny launched a project called Smart Voting that is designed to promote candidates who are most likely to defeat those from the Kremlin’s dominant United Russia party. In 2019, the project helped opposition candidates win 20 of 45 seats on the Moscow city council, and regional elections last year saw United Russia lose its majority in legislatures in three cities. Navalny has promised to use the strategy during this year’s parliamentary election, which will determine who controls the State Duma in 2024. That’s when Putin’s current term expires and he is expected to seek re-election, thanks to constitutional reforms last year. Analysts believe Navalny is capable of influencing this key vote, reason enough to want him out of the picture. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Analysts say Navalny’s return was a significant blow to Putin’s image and left the Kremlin with a dilemma. Putin has mostly worked from his residence during the coronavirus outbreak, and the widespread perception that he has stayed away from the public doesn’t compare well to Navalny’s bold comeback to the country where he was poisoned and faced arrest, said Chatham House’s Petrov. “It doesn’t matter whether people support Navalny or not; they see these two images, and Putin loses,” he said. Commentators say there is no good choice for the Kremlin: Imprisoning Navalny for a long time will make him a martyr and could lead to mass protests, while letting him go threatens the parliamentary election. So far, the crackdown has only helped Navalny, “and now, even thinking loyalists are, if not on his side, certainly not on the side of poisoners and persecutors,” Alexander Baunov of the Moscow Carnegie Center wrote in a recent article. All eyes are on what happens at Saturday’s planned protests, Petrov said. In 2013, Navalny was quickly released from prison following a five-year sentence from embezzlement conviction after a large crowd gathered near the Kremlin. Putin’s government has since become much tougher on dissent, so it is unlikely that mass protests will prompt Navalny’s immediate release, Petrov said. But the Kremlin still fears that a harsh move may destabilize the situation, and the scale of the rallies could indicate how the public would react to Navalny being imprisoned for a long time. ___ Associated Press journalist Kostya Manenkov contributed. Daria Litvinova, The Associated Press
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back at the search giant saying "we don't respond to threats" after Google said it would remove its services from the country.View on euronews
Local businesses in Ottawa say they welcome provincial inspections of COVID-19 prevention protocols, but think the focus should remain on big box stores. An enforcement blitz in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas has uncovered numerous violations of those protocols at big box retailers, including failing to wear masks and ignoring physical distancing guidelines. During the first wave of the blitz, inspectors found only 70 per cent of sites they visited were adhering to the public health measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Now similar inspections will be coming to the Ottawa area, focusing in on big box stores, but also other retailers, restaurants open for takeout and gas stations. Province should 'double down' on bigger stores "It is infuriating as a small business owner," said Karla Briones of the inspection results so far. Briones, who runs a number of franchises in Ottawa including Global Pet Foods and a Freshii restaurant, said she welcomes an inspection for COVID-19 violations but thinks the province should continue focusing on the biggest culprits. "Instead of going down to small business owners where we actually take care of our staff, we actually care about our customers, to double down on those big box retailers," said Briones. Mark Kaluski, chair of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Area, said his members also welcome an inspection, but the news about the crackdown comes as cold comfort to the small businesses that followed the rules and yet have been forced to close. Meanwhile big box stores have been allowed to remain open during the provincewide stay-at-home order. "You would think, given that they've been given this unchecked ability to sell as much as they want to, the very least they could do is be following the rules," Kaluski said. Blitz to focus on big box stores this weekend The province's Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said inspections have already been happening in the Ottawa area, but inspectors will be sweeping through big box stores this weekend. "I feel for them," said McNaughton about small businesses. "COVID-19 has clearly impacted so many families and small businesses here in Ontario. The sooner we get through this, the sooner we can get our numbers down, the sooner we can reopen." A spokesperson for the department said there have been 241 orders issued during COVID-19-related visits in the Ottawa area since the lockdown began.
Pandemic stay-at-home orders have changed how people are getting around Ottawa, and now the city wants to know whether its approach to keeping roads, sidewalks and cycling paths clear of snow and ice should evolve, too. Each winter, city crews are responsible for clearing 2,300 kilometres of sidewalks and 12,900 lane kilometres of roads. The city will be changing its winter maintenance standards for the first time since 2003. Coun. Tim Tierney, chair of the transportation committee, said some of the dramatic changes from the pandemic will have to be reflected in that overhaul. "When you hear a lot of businesses like Shopify, for example, have said everyone's staying home forever, there's going to be a lot more focus on local community walkability and cycling than ever before," Tierney said. "It's not just about plowing roads anymore. It's about everything else that's not a road." The review started before the pandemic. Tierney said the city will consider climate change, accessibility, sustainability, equity and gender as it revamps its standards for the first time in 20 years. Those standards determine how many hours go by before plows are dispatched to clear different types of roads, sidewalks and transit stops. The city has launched an online survey to help it settle on new winter maintenance standards, and is inviting residents to participate. Walkability a priority during pandemic Shayna Ghattas, a mother of three in the city's Whitehaven neighbourhood, said as long people are being told to stay close to home, residential streets should be a higher priority than major highways when it comes to snow-clearing. "During the pandemic and lockdown, walking is a saving grace for a lot of people, and it's not super safe to be walking in slippery conditions," Ghattas said. They have to focus on pedestrian things. - Sahil Vora Sahil Vora walks to work at a Tim Hortons in Lincoln Heights, and said many of his colleagues are avoiding public transit right now because of COVID-19. "If they manage to clean the bike lane, it's OK, but otherwise they have to focus on pedestrian things," Vora said. The city had considered increasing the snow-clearing threshold as a cost-saving measure, but more recently topped up the budget for plows and snow blowers after seven years of dipping into deficit. The city is holding virtual town halls on its winter maintenance standards from Jan. 25-28. The online survey and virtual workshops are available until Feb. 19.
NEW YORK — A lawyers' group filed an ethics complaint against Rudy Giuliani with New York's courts, calling for him to be investigated and his law license suspended over his work promoting former President Donald Trump's false allegations over the 2020 election. Lawyers Defending American Democracy, which includes former judges and federal attorneys among its members, sent the complaint on Wednesday to the Attorney Grievance Committee of the state's court system saying Giuliani had violated the rules of professional conduct. “Giuliani has spearheaded a nationwide public campaign to convince the public and the courts of massive voter fraud and a stolen presidential election,” the complaint said. The complaint called for the committee to investigate Giuliani's conduct, including his comments at a rally before rioters stormed into the U.S. Capitol, and to suspend his law license immediately while any investigation is being done. A message was left with the committee seeking comment. An investigation would be the first step in a process that could lead to a disbarment. Another complaint against Giuliani was filed earlier in January by New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, who asked that disbarring Giuliani be taken up for consideration. The New York State Bar Association separately has opened an inquiry into whether he should be expelled from that organization, which is a voluntary membership organization. An email seeking comment was sent to Giuliani's representative. The New York Times reported that on his radio show on Thursday, Giuliani said “the whole purpose of this is to disbar me from my exercising my right of free speech and defending my client, because they can’t fathom the fact that maybe, just maybe, they may be wrong." The Associated Press