Overdose deaths have surged across the country during the pandemic and there’s been a particularly heavy toll in Saskatchewan, where opioid fatalities have more than doubled this year.
Overdose deaths have surged across the country during the pandemic and there’s been a particularly heavy toll in Saskatchewan, where opioid fatalities have more than doubled this year.
WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A ticket holder from the Prairies won Friday night's whopping $60 million Lotto Max jackpot. The draw also offered six Maxmillions prizes of $1 million each, and one of them was claimed by a lottery player in Quebec. The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Jan. 26 will be approximately $15 million. The Canadian Press
Seule femme noire au conseil d’administration de l’Ordre des infirmières du Québec, Gracia Kasoki Katahwa défend un système de santé à échelle humaine. Derrière ses traits tirés et une fatigue manifeste, elle raconte son histoire d’une voix assurée. « J’ai grandi avec des personnes qui étaient toujours en train d’aider les autres, pas parce que c’est leur job, mais parce que c’est leur façon d’être. » Née en République démocratique du Congo d’« une famille pauvre », la jeune Gracia a trois ans lorsqu’elle immigre en banlieue de Québec. Au sortir de son adolescence, un besoin de « justice sociale » la tiraille entre le droit et les sciences infirmières. « C’est important de me lever chaque matin et de pas avoir à me dire: qu’est-ce que je fais là? Chaque matin, je me lève et je suis certaine que je suis utile quelque part. » C’est en méditant sur ses origines qu’elle se destine au métier d’infirmière. « J’ai réalisé que c’est une chance pour moi d’être au Québec. C’est une chance, parce que ça aurait pu être ma cousine qui se retrouve ici et moi, j’aurais pu rester en République démocratique du Congo. Ça aurait pu être moi qui meurs en train d’accoucher parce qu’on a pas un système de santé fonctionnel. J’ai rapidement réalisé que c’était un privilège pour moi d’être ici, et que je n’ai pas le droit à l’erreur. » Et elle fait bon usage de son privilège. Après un baccalauréat à l’Université Laval, elle décroche une maitrise en administration publique. Ensuite, elle multiplie les implications sociales, jusqu’à entrer au conseil d’administration de l’ordre des infirmières en 2018. Sa victoire suscite beaucoup d’enthousiasme auprès de plusieurs infirmiers et infirmières de la diversité. «Je pense que beaucoup de ces personnes-là s’imaginaient que ça ne valait même pas la peine d’essayer d’y aller, parce que c’était rare d’avoir une Noire. Je pense que ça, c’est un gros gain.» Elle se dit bien consciente du rôle de modèle qu’elle peut inspirer parmi les quelque 76 000 membres de son ordre. « Peu importe la personne, de quelle diversité elle peut être, quand on est à une table, c’est toujours une pression de se dire qu’on représente tout le monde de notre catégorie. C’est d’abord une fierté et une responsabilité pour moi. » Une autre vision de la santé Comme administratrice sur l’île de Montréal, Gracia Kasoki Katahwa déconstruit les stéréotypes en santé. « C’est important de savoir que notre façon de voir la santé, ce n’est pas la seule. Ce n’est pas juste une question de savoir si je suis en face d’un Haïtien ou d’un Chinois. Chaque humain a une façon de vivre la santé. [...] Je le sais que ma façon de voir la vie, ce n’est pas la seule, parce que je suis minoritaire et je suis habitué de composer avec ça. Mais, quand on est majoritaire, des fois, il faut nous le rappeler. » Il faut « être l’écoute », insiste-t-elle, « regarder les signes sociaux » et être sensible aux gestes et paroles qui pourraient nuire aux patients. Elle prend pour exemple le décès tragique de Joyce Echaquan, qui a secoué le Québec l’an dernier. « La prochaine étape, c’est de s’assurer d’avoir des groupes et des discussions entre des personnes d’origines autochtones et la profession infirmière. Le racisme, c’est un enjeu de protection du public. » Critique des réformes centralisatrices, elle cherche aussi à décloisonner l’organisation des soins. « Il y a beaucoup d’énergie mise dans les hôpitaux, alors qu’il y a énormément de besoins dans la communauté. Le soutien à domicile, la collaboration avec les organismes communautaires, les réseaux de la protection de la jeunesse, toutes les résidences intermédiaires : il y a énormément de choses qui se passent sur le territoire à l’extérieur de l’hôpital. Mais beaucoup d’argent et d’énergie sont mis dans l’hôpital. Si on mettait de l’argent et de l’énergie à l’extérieur, il n’y aurait pas autant de gens qui se rendraient à l’hôpital. » L’importance accordée aux médecins pèserait lourd dans cette tendance « hospitalo-centriste », plaide-t-elle. « C’est beaucoup à l’hôpital qu’ils se font de l’argent. » Or, « enlevez les infirmières et le système n’existe pas. C’est difficile pour la profession de prouver ce que je viens de dire. C’est lié au fait qu’on est une profession historiquement féminine et ce qu’on fait, c’est tenu pour acquis. » Son mandat à l’ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec se termine en 2024. D’ici là, elle espère pouvoir redessiner la profession au-delà de la COVID-19. Et aussi, prendre un peu de repos.Jean-Louis Bordeleau, journaliste à l'Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Two COVID-19 cases reported in Nova Scotia in December are now linked to the United Kingdom and South African variants of the virus, the province announced Friday. Nova Scotia has been sending samples of positive tests, on a case-by-case basis, to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. The national lab sequences the genetic material of the virus to determine what variant the case is associated with. In a live briefing Friday, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said the two samples were sent to the lab at the end of December. The two variants are concerning because they may spread more easily between people, with a possibility that the U.K. variant is associated with higher mortality. "The variants don't require us to do anything different in Nova Scotia," said Strang. "They're just a reminder of how we need to stay strong and vigilant in doing what we're already doing." The two cases were in the central health zone, which includes Halifax and surrounding areas, and are associated with travel outside Canada. Strang said there’s no evidence of community spread related to the cases. The person who had the U.K. variant was in self-isolation and had no contact with others. The person with the South African variant spread the virus to household members. Strang said it’s possible the household members also had the South African variant. The samples can’t be sent to Winnipeg for confirmation because they don’t contain a high enough number of virus particles for sequencing to work. Contacts of the household members were tested when the cases were first reported in December, with none testing positive. Strang said Nova Scotia is working closely with the national lab to further investigate the two cases. According to a news release, all positive samples from the first wave were sent to the lab for sequencing and none of them was determined to be of the U.K. or South African variant. Samples are submitted every two weeks for variant identification. All positive cases associated with travel outside Canada are sent to the lab. Public Health also considers cases involving a large number of contact testing positive or a very short incubation period. Nova Scotia is currently waiting for the national lab to complete identification of 20 to 30 samples, said Strang. Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday – two cases in the western zone and one in the central zone, all related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. A positive case in the northern zone is a close contact of a previously reported case. One of the cases in the western zone is a student at Acadia University in Wolfville. The student had completed the required 14-day self-isolation and was attending classes when they got COVID-19 symptoms. The student tested positive shortly afterward and is self-isolating again. Strang said investigation shows that the student got COVID-19 before coming to Nova Scotia. Public Health is arranging testing for close contacts and anyone who might have been exposed to the virus at the classes the person attended. After Pfizer announced world-wide delays to vaccine shipment last Friday, Strang confirmed Nova Scotia will not be receiving any Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. Strang said the delay is “short-term” and won’t affect Nova Scotia’s 90-day vaccine plan. “Everything we are hearing through our federal colleagues is that Pfizer remains committed to making up these remaining doses later in this first quarter of 2021.” In addition to the scheduled number of Moderna vaccine doses, the province will get a small number of Pfizer-BioNTech doses in early February. As of Jan. 21, 10,575 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 2,705 Nova Scotians have received their second dose. At the briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil announced that most public health restrictions, such as gathering limits and capacities for retail stores and gyms, will be extended until at least Feb. 7. Team and non-team sports can resume as of Monday, Jan. 25 without spectators. Residents of adult service centres and regional rehabilitation centres can go out into the community for work and volunteering also starting Monday. Nebal Snan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
Friday's Games NHL Toronto 4 Edmonton 2 Pittsburgh 4 N.Y. Rangers 3 (SO) Washington 4 Buffalo 3 (SO) Chicago 4 Detroit 1 Minnesota 4 San Jose 1 Dallas 7 Nashville 0 Arizona 5 Vegas 2 Colorado 3 Anaheim 2 (OT) --- NBA Toronto 101 Miami 81 Chicago 123 Charlotte 110 Houston 103 Detroit 102 Indiana 120 Orlando 118 (OT) Cleveland 125 Brooklyn 113 Philadelphia 122 Boston 110 Atlanta 116 Minnesota 98 Dallas 122 San Antonio 117 L.A. Clippers 120 Oklahoma City 106 Denver 130 Phoenix 126 (OT) Sacramento 103 New York 94 Washington at Milwaukee -- postponed Memphis at Portland -- postponed --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canada's ambassador to the United States says there's no chance of President Joe Biden walking back his decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline — so she's turning her attention to other pressing bilateral issues. "It's obviously very disappointing for Albertans and people in Saskatchewan who are already in a difficult situation," Kirsten Hillman said in an interview airing Saturday on CBC's The House. "But I think that we need to now focus on moving forward with this administration, and there are so many ways in which we are going to be aligned with them to our mutual interest that I'm eager to to get going on that." Biden vowed during last year's presidential campaign to rescind Donald Trump's permit for Keystone XL, which would have linked Alberta's oilsands with refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. And he did, making it one of the first executive orders he issued within hours of taking office on Wednesday. While the move was applauded by progressives in his Democratic Party and in Canada, it struck a heavy blow in Alberta. TC energy, the company building the pipeline, halted construction and laid off a thousand workers. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney lashed out this week at both Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accusing the federal government of abandoning the oil and gas sector. He released a letter to Trudeau on Friday calling on the federal government to retaliate by imposing economic sanctions on the United States or by demanding compensation for TC Energy and his government — which invested billions of provincial taxpayers' dollars into the project. The premier even took his case to Fox News on Friday. "It's very frustrating that one of the first acts of the new president was, I think, to disrespect America's closest friend and ally, Canada, and to kill good-paying union jobs on both sides of the border and ultimately to make the United States more dependent on foreign oil imports from OPEC dictatorships," Kenney told the Fox audience. "We don't understand it." Hillman didn't comment directly on Kenney's demands, insisting instead that Canada remains the "best partner" for helping Americans meet their energy needs. "But we have to recognize that the Biden administration has put fighting climate change at the centre of their agenda," she said. "Not only their domestic agenda but their international agenda." Goodbye, Keystone — hello 'Buy American' Keystone's abrupt death isn't the only recent challenge to a Canada-U.S. relationship that's been severely tested over the past four years by Donald Trump. Many Canadians see Biden as not only a more reliable partner but as a friend to this country. Some of his policies suggest otherwise. Hillman said she's already spoken to the White House about another Biden campaign promise — this one to restore "Buy American" requirements for major government contracts, a move that could freeze Canadian companies out of U.S. government work. "Less than an hour after the end of the inauguration ceremony, we were in touch with top-level advisers in the White House and discussed many things," she said. "Among them was Buy America." Biden is proposing a massive, $400 billion infrastructure program that would award contracts exclusively to U.S. companies. As big as that program is, it will be dwarfed by another Biden proposal — to invest $2 trillion in clean technologies and infrastructure. Hillman said such protectionist measures are not new. In the past, Congress has imposed restrictions to limit or exclude foreign companies from bidding on infrastructure projects, or from supplying U.S. companies that do. Canada has successfully negotiated exemptions to such policies before — most recently through the 2010 Canada-U.S. Agreement on Government Procurement, which gave companies in this country access to stimulus projects funded under the U.S. Recovery Act. No link between Keystone and carve-out, says Hillman Hillman was asked in The House interview if the federal government's muted response to the Keystone decision is tied to its hopes for getting a carve-out for Canadian businesses under Biden's Buy American policy. She said there's no connection. "Our job here is to work with the administration to demonstrate to them, factually, that as they pursue their domestic goals, the highly integrated supply chains that we have with the United States are essential to protect and preserve for their economic recovery objectives," she said. "I'm optimistic that we are going to be able to have meaningful conversations with them around how they can meet their policy objectives while also being sure that we protect our mutually supportive supply chains." Hillman said she sees other opportunities for cross-border cooperation in the Biden administration's decision to rejoin the Paris climate accord and the president's vow to meet the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Canada's hopes for a green tech boom Biden has nominated former secretary of state John Kerry as his special presidential envoy for the climate — a new cabinet-level position intended to underscore Biden's personal commitment to addressing climate change. "That provides a lot of opportunities for green tech, for Canadian clean energy, for working together on emission standards, for innovation in our automotive industry," Hillman said. The Trudeau government is trying to position Canada as a global leader in green technology fields. It introduced legislation requiring Canada to become a net-zero emitter by mid century and last month unveiled this country's first national strategy to develop hydrogen as a fuel source. That's the long game, of course. For now, the Trudeau government must also deal with the challenge here at home: preventing the fate of Keystone XL from becoming the dominant issue in Canada-U.S. relations that it was the last time a Democrat was in the Oval Office — and Joe Biden was his vice president.
WASHINGTON — The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection. At least five supporters facing federal charges have suggested they were taking orders from the then-president when they marched on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 to challenge the certification of Joe Biden's election win. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. It's the first time a former president will face such charges after leaving office. “I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there," Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate agent who posted a photo on Twitter of herself flashing a peace sign next to a broken Capitol window, told a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station. Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man photographed on the dais in the Senate who was shirtless and wore face paint and a furry hat with horns, has similarly pointed a finger at Trump. Chansley called the FBI the day after the insurrection and told agents he travelled “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021,” authorities wrote in court papers. Chanley’s lawyer unsuccessfully lobbied for a pardon for his client before Trump's term ended, saying Chansley “felt like he was answering the call of our president.” Authorities say that while up on the dais in the Senate chamber, Chansley wrote a threatening note to then-Vice-President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. The charge this time is “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” His impeachment lawyer, Butch Bowers, did not respond to call for comment. Opening arguments in the trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the storming of the Capitol say a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on. For weeks, Trump rallied his supporters against the election outcome and urged them to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to rage against Biden's win. Trump spoke to the crowd near the White House shortly before they marched along Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,” Trump said. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” Later he said: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He told supporters to walk to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make your voices heard. Trump has taken no responsibility for his part in fomenting the violence, saying days after the attack: “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate.” Unlike a criminal trial, where there are strict rules about what is and isn’t evidence, the Senate can consider anything it wishes. And if they can show that Trump’s words made a real impact, all the better, and scholars expect it in the trial. "Bringing in those people's statements is part of proving that it would be at a minimum reasonable for a rational person to expect that if you said and did the things that Trump said and did, then they would be understood in precisely the way these people understood them," said Frank Bowman, a constitutional law expert and law professor at University of Missouri. A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania told a friend that that he travelled to Washington with a group of people and the group listened to Trump's speech and then “followed the President’s instructions” and went to the Capitol, an agent wrote in court papers. That man, Robert Sanford, is accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol Police officers. Another man, Robert Bauer of Kentucky, told FBI agents that “he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” authorities wrote. His cousin, Edward Hemenway, from Virginia, told the FBI that he and Bauer headed toward the Capitol after Trump said “something about taking Pennsylvania Avenue." More than 130 people as of Friday were facing federal charges; prosecutors have promised that more cases — and more serious charges — are coming. Most of those arrested so far are accused of crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, but prosecutors this week filed conspiracy charges against three self-described members of a paramilitary group who authorities say plotted the attack. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges, which carry up to 20 years in prison, against any of the rioters. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to convict. And while many Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky— have condemned Trump's words, it remains unclear how many would vote to convict him. “While the statements of those people kind of bolsters the House manager's case, I think that President Trump has benefited from a Republican Party that has not been willing to look at evidence,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law who testified before the House Judiciary Committee during Trump's first impeachment hearings in 2019. “They stood by him for the entire first impeachment proceeding, thinking that the phone call with the president of the Ukraine was perfect and I’m sure they will think that was a perfect speech too. There is nothing yet to suggest that they would think otherwise," Gerhardt said. ____ Richer reported from Boston. Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
A First Nations leader on Vancouver Island has launched an online campaign against racism toward his community amid COVID-19 — with an artistic twist. Stuart Pagaduan, elected councillor of Cowichan Tribes and artist, created a raised fist image the same day North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring denounced what he calls fear-based racist comments directed at the First Nations community that's been hit by the highly infectious disease. "[The] colours represent the people of the world," Pagaduan told Gregor Craigie, host of CBC's On The Island, with the colours of the fingers representing different cultures in his poster entitled I Stand With Cowichan Tribes. "Judging a person does not define who they are … It defines who you are," the artwork reads. "It [the poster] should inspire unity, and it should inspire you to take part in what's happening, not only in Cowichan but [also] … what's happening in your part of the world," Pagaduan said. The Cowichan Tribes, located on Vancouver Island between Victoria and Nanaimo, B.C., was the target of online vitriol as the number of COVID-19 cases climbed all last week. A Cowichan Tribes member was also denied service by a local dentist earlier this month due to COVID-19 fears. The First Nation has stopped publicly sharing its COVID-19 case numbers after racist comments were posted online. Pagaduan says his poster has received more than 100 supportive comments since it was posted Jan. 11, from people of different cultural backgrounds. "It [the poster's popularity] just goes to show you that the relationships that we create in the community are huge," he said. "They're our friends and they definitely do stand with us." The shelter-in-place order for Cowichan Tribes has been extended to Feb. 5. About 600 members have already received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more vaccines are set to arrive in the community. Pagaduan says he's hopeful. "We will overcome this [pandemic] eventually." Tap the link below to hear Stuart Pagaduan's interview On The Island:
A 64-year-old GO Station employee is the first Metrolinx staff member to die from COVID-19, the provincial transit agency confirmed Friday night. "It's heartbreaking news for our staff to hear as they have been coming to work every day throughout the pandemic ensuring transit customers who must travel for essential reasons can get there safely," said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins in an email statement. The employee, who worked as a "dedicated" GO Station staff member in Toronto for 11 years, died after two weeks in hospital Friday morning. "We have extended our deepest condolences to his wife and family and offered his colleagues our full support through this sad and challenging time," the statement continued. Aikins said the man's job included keeping the station sanitized, which she said helped ensure others' safety. She said it does not appear that the employee contracted the virus at work. In a statement released Wednesday, Metrolinx said 67 staff members out of 4,300 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
France's top health advisory body on Saturday recommended doubling the time between people being given the first and second COVID-19 vaccinations to six weeks from three in order to increase the number getting inoculated. The gap between the first and second injection in France is currently three weeks for people in retirement homes, who take priority, and four weeks for others such as health workers. The Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS) said spacing out the two required vaccinations of the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines would allow the treatment of at least 700,000 more people in the first month.
The new president of the United States described his inauguration on Wednesday as a moment to move forward. But moving forward properly requires a reckoning with the past. In Joe Biden's case, that reckoning came for the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's fate seemed to be sealed years ago, but it haunts us still. And now, with strident words from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney about a trade war, it could haunt Canadian politics indefinitely. Or, Canadian leaders could decide that it's time for them to move forward, too. The executive order that rescinded Keystone XL's permit on Wednesday states that "the United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway." If that sounds familiar, it's because President Barack Obama said almost the same thing when he blocked Keystone in November 2015. "America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change," Obama said. "And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership." John Kerry — secretary of state in 2015 and now Biden's climate envoy — put an even finer point on the significance of Keystone in his own statement at the time. "The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves," he said. A pipeline that became a referendum In his remarks, Obama argued that the practical value of the pipeline had been wildly overstated — by both sides. Keystone XL, he said, would be neither "a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others." But the economic arguments in favour of the pipeline could not overcome the profound symbolic value assigned to it by environmental groups and climate-focused voters. On its own, Keystone wouldn't spell the difference between a green future and a "climate disaster." But the pipeline became a referendum on the U.S. government's commitment to combating climate change — a tangible thing on which American activists could focus their energies. Trump, who actively sought to undermine attempts to fight climate change, revived the project. But the political frame that was placed around Keystone XL in 2015 never went away, while legal challenges to the project continued. By the fall of 2019, most of the major Democratic candidates for the presidency had pledged to rescind Trump's order on their first day in office. Last May, Biden insisted that he would kill the pipeline. After Biden's victory in the presidential election, the Eurasia Group said that rescinding the permit was a "table stake" for the Democratic president and that backing away would risk "raising the ire of activists, their committed followers, and — importantly — the left wing of the Democratic party in Congress." "Rescinding KXL would be one area the Biden administration could act [on] and deliver a win to a key political constituency with no congressional interference," the global consulting firm said. Bill McKibben, one of the activists who led the campaign against Keystone, wrote in the New Yorker on Thursday that he was grateful for Biden's decision and never doubted that the new president would follow through. "Even today," he wrote, "Keystone is far too closely identified with climate carelessness for a Democratic president to be able to waver." So the second death of Keystone shouldn't have surprised anyone. It might have seemed rude of Biden to not wait a day or two to allow Canadian officials to make a fuller presentation on the pipeline's behalf, but that only would have delayed the inevitable. The lingering costs of climate inaction Perhaps Biden thought he was doing his neighbours a favour by ripping the Band-Aid off quickly. What might have happened to Keystone XL had Canada and the United States taken more aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the years leading up to Obama's decision? It's an intriguing hypothetical. Keystone may have paid the price ultimately for decades of global inaction on climate change. In the here and now, any debate about Keystone will have to consider whether its additional capacity is even needed at this point. In the meantime, Premier Kenney wants Justin Trudeau's government to impose trade sanctions on the United States if Biden refuses to revisit his decision. Stephen Harper could be ungracious in his defence of Keystone — he famously said that approving it was a "no brainer" — but his government doesn't seem to have ever publicly threatened to impose sanctions if Obama rejected it. Nor does it appear anyone called for sanctions when Obama officially killed the project shortly after the Trudeau government came to office. Sanctions out of spite? This idea of reprisals seems to have originated recently with Jack Mintz, a Canadian economist, who also conceded that imposing tariffs could be akin to "cutting off our own nose to spite our face." Notably, Erin O'Toole's federal Conservatives have not joined the premier in calling for sanctions. Kenney — whose government is polling poorly and whose party is being out-fundraised by the opposition — is spoiling for a fight. He has seized on the fact that federal officials did not respond to Biden's decision in particularly strong terms — and the Liberals may not have struck the right tone for those listening in the Prairies. WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Ottawa 'folded' on Keystone XL But before launching a trade war against this country's closest ally and its new leader, one should consider the potential results and opportunity costs. Would a trade war convince President Biden to brave the wrath of his supporters and reverse a campaign promise? Or would a renewed fight over Keystone XL simply consume political and diplomatic capital that could be put toward other things? Kenney has said sanctions might discourage the Biden administration from intervening against two other contested pipelines that originate in Alberta — Line 5 and Line 3. Writing in the New Yorker, McKibben did identify Line 3 as a target. But there's also a decent chance that sanctions would only inflame existing tensions around those projects. Threats and futility In May, 2015 — nearly six years ago — former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson wrote that it was time for the Canada-U.S. relationship to move on from Keystone XL. Robertson argued that there were too many other important things to talk about. Six years later, that list of important things includes fostering collaboration on clean energy, fending off 'Buy American' policies and combating China's aggression. Still, Kenney warned that if the Trudeau government does not do more to defend Keystone, "that will only force us to go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation." But if the battle for Keystone was effectively lost more than five years ago, should the federal government's willingness to keep fighting it have any bearing on Alberta's relationship with the rest of the country? The death of Keystone XL will have a real impact on those Albertans whose jobs depended on it. There are real anxieties and questions that need to be addressed, not least by the federal government. But the question now is whether fighting over Keystone will do anything to address those concerns — or whether it's time to put that political energy toward other purposes.
Larry King, who quizzed thousands of world leaders, politicians and entertainers for CNN and other news outlets in a career spanning more than six decades, has died aged 87, his media company said in a statement on Saturday. King had been hospitalized in Los Angeles with a COVID-19 infection, according to several media reports. "For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry's many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster," it said.
An arts organization in Chatham-Kent is looking for contributions for a unique community project to mark Black History Month. The theme of the project is "celebrating Black lives" and the Thames Art Gallery and ARTspace are seeking submissions from the public for original works of art on the theme. The art can be any media, including painting, drawing and writing. The public submissions will be combined and set up in a pandemic-friendly public display. "What we're having people do is produce a piece of work and then photograph it and then send it to us and we will print it out and then assemble it in the form of a quilt," Phil Vanderwall, curator of the Thames Art Gallery, said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Friday. The completed work will be displayed in the window of the ARTspace gallery on King Street in downtown Chatham. "So it's a nice public space," he said. The 'quilt' format of the project allows for community participation while preventing close contact. Both ARTspace and the Thames Art Gallery are closed due to COVID-19. Vanderwall said quilt-making is currently undergoing a bit of a revival. "This seemed like a good opportunity to explore that," he said. Submissions are already coming in and the deadline is Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m. The quilt will be unveiled Feb. 5 and will remain on display until Feb 26.
Thousands of residents in Hong Kong were locked down on Saturday to contain a worsening COVID outbreak.View on euronews
LONDON — A major British doctors' group says the U.K. government should “urgently review” its decision to give people a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine up to 12 weeks after the first, rather than the shorter gap recommended by the manufacturer and the World Health Organization. The U.K., which has Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, adopted the policy in order to give as many people as possible a first dose of vaccine quickly. So far almost 5.5 million people have received a shot of either a vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech or one developed by U.K.-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University. AstraZeneca has said it believes a first dose of its vaccine offers protection after 12 weeks, but Pfizer says it has not tested the efficacy of its jab after such a long gap. The British Medical Association on Saturday urged England’s chief medical officer to “urgently review the U.K.’s current position of second doses after 12 weeks.” In a statement, the association said there was “growing concern from the medical profession regarding the delay of the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as Britain's strategy has become increasingly isolated from many other countries.” “No other nation has adopted the U.K.‘s approach,” Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA council, told the BBC. He said the WHO had recommended that the second Pfizer vaccine shot could be given up to six weeks after the first but only “in exceptional circumstances.” “I do understand the trade-off and the rationale, but if that was the right thing to do then we would see other nations following suit,” Nagpaul said. Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, defended the decision as “a reasonable scientific balance on the basis of both supply and also protecting the most people.” Researchers in Britain have begun collecting blood samples from newly vaccinated people in order to study how many antibodies they are producing at different intervals, from 3 weeks to 24 months, to get an answer to the question of what timing is best for the shots. The doctors’ concerns came a day after government medical advisers said there was evidence that a new variant of the virus first identified in southeast England carries a greater risk of death than the original strain. Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said Friday “that there is evidence that there is an increased risk for those who have the new variant,” which is also more transmissible than the original virus. He said the new strain might be about 30% more deadly, but stressed that “the evidence is not yet strong” and more research is needed. Research by British scientists advising the government said although initial analyses suggested that the strain did not cause more severe disease, several more recent ones suggest it might. However, the number of deaths is relatively small, and fatality rates are affected by many things, including the care that patients get and their age and health, beyond having COVID-19. Britain has recorded 95,981 deaths among people who tested positive, the highest confirmed virus toll in Europe. The U.K. is in a lockdown to try to slow the latest surge of the virus, and the government says an end to the restrictions will not come soon. Pubs, restaurants, gyms, entertainment venues and many shops are closed, and people are required to stay largely at home. The British government is considering tightening quarantine requirements for people arriving from abroad. Already travellers must self-isolate for 10 days, but enforcement is patchy. Authorities are considering requiring arrivals to stay in quarantine hotels, a practice adopted in other countries, including Australia. “We may need to go further to protect our borders,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday. ___ Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
As thousands of new migrant workers begin to arrive in Windsor-Essex, some local leaders fear a looming crisis lies ahead. Last year, hundreds of migrant workers in the region contracted COVID-19 and two died after falling sick with the disease. As of Friday, 12 farms in Leamington and Kingsville are in outbreak. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit also reported that 57 agri-farm worker cases are active and 104 more are in isolation. As cases begin to ramp up while new workers arrive — with the County of Essex estimating that between 600 and 700 new workers have already landed in the region — local officials worry that last summer will repeat itself. Despite all levels of government implementing new strategies and providing extra funding, the question remains as to whether lessons were actually learned from 2020 and whether workers will be kept safe the second time around. Up to 2,000 workers are expected in coming weeks, with 10,000 arriving by June. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said that some of the new workers have already shown up and tested positive for COVID-19, though CBC News could not confirm that. He said he's concerned with how these workers are being integrated into the workforce and inspections on how they're being quarantined upon arrival. Those inspections, he said, are done virtually and the government doesn't follow up in person, which leads him to question the integrity of the quarantine. He added that they don't know where each worker is supposed to be quarantining and, as such, town officials cannot respond to those who might be breaking the rules. "If we're being asked to enforce it, we can't, we don't have the information that's been required," Santos said. "The [Ontario Provincial Police] have told us their hands are tied, because they don't have the data." Santos and Essex County Warden Gary McNamara said they put their concerns in a letter to the federal and provincial governments in the hopes that they will provide more guidance. "We're asking the governments and the powers that be to utilize their requirements, strengthen them based on the experience that we've already gone through and bring that oversight," Santos said. "[They've] allowed this program to continue with certain restrictions and guidelines ... and we're asking them to police it and bring forward the boots on the ground, the enforcement that they've approved." 'I don't believe we're in that same position' But Joe Sbrocchi, general manager of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), says he doesn't believe that they're "in that same position" as last year. "There are so many eyes on this that I find it strange that people think that that isn't happening. I don't get it," he told CBC News. "I don't think we're looking at the same situation that we saw in March and April of last year." He said OGVG has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to develop tools and supports for farmers. As for the quarantine process, Sbrocchi said it's straightforward: workers arrive and tell Canadian Border Services where they are headed, that information is passed to local law enforcement that will check in. Yet he couldn't say whether inspections or check-ins on the workers were happening in-person or virtually. He added that he's not aware of any new workers showing up and testing positive. "If the question is do I think that people are acting inappropriately, I do not and I certainly wouldn't be supportive of it," he said. "Farms will do everything possible to be cooperative ... it's in their interest in every way possible ... We are doing everything possible to take care of this as best we can." The province responded to Santos' letter and said they are closely working with federal and local authorities to "ensure there is a coordinated response when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19 on farms." In November, the province announced 35 actions to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 on farms. The actions required participation from farmers, workers, the government and the industry. Short-term solutions referred to the use of personal protective equipment, physical distancing practices, widespread adoption of screening practices and limiting the number of workers moving between farms. A key long-term solution was better housing standards. In an emailed statement to CBC News, the federal government said it has invested nearly $85 million to cover the cost of worker quarantines and that it has extended funding for Windsor's Isolation Recovery Centre until March 31.
WASHINGTON — The heads of three federally funded international broadcasters were abruptly fired late Friday as the Biden administration completed a house-cleaning of Donald Trump-appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Two officials familiar with the changes said the acting chief of the USAGM summarily dismissed the directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks just a month after they had been named to the posts. The changes came a day after the director of the Voice of America and his deputy were removed and the chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting stepped down. The firings follow the forced resignation of former President Donald Trump’s handpicked choice to lead USAGM only two hours after Joe Biden took office on Wednesday. Trump’s USAGM chief Michael Pack had been accused by Democrats and others of trying to turn VOA and its sister networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines. Pack had appointed all of those who were fired on Thursday and Friday to their posts only in December. The two officials said the acting CEO of USAGM, Kelu Chao, had fired Middle East Broadcasting Network director Victoria Coates, Radio Free Asia chief Stephen Yates and Radio Free Europe head Ted Lipien in a swift series of moves late Friday. It was not immediately clear if any of those removed would try to contest their dismissals. The White House appointed Chao, a three-decade VOA veteran journalist, to be the agency’s interim chief executive on Wednesday shortly after demanding Pack’s resignation. Chao did not respond to phone calls seeking comment about her actions. The two officials familiar with the dismissals were not authorized to publicly discuss personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. Coates, Yates and Lipien, along with former VOA director Robert Reilly and former Cuba broadcasting chief Jeffrey Shapiro were all prominent conservatives chosen by Pack to shake up what Trump and other Republicans believed was biased leadership in taxpayer-funded media outlets. Reilly and his deputy Elizabeth Robbins were removed just a week after coming under harsh criticism for demoting a VOA White House correspondent who had tried to ask former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a question after a town hall event. Pack had created a furor when he took over USAGM last year and fired the boards of all the outlets under his control along with the leadership of the individual broadcast networks. The actions were criticized as threatening the broadcasters’ prized editorial independence and raised fears that Pack, a conservative filmmaker and former associate of Trump’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon, intended to turn venerable U.S. media outlets into pro-Trump propaganda machines. Biden had been expected to make major changes to the agency’s structure and management, and Pack’s immediate dismissal on inauguration day signalled that those would be coming sooner rather than later. Pack had not been required to submit his resignation as his three-year position was created by Congress and not limited by the length of a particular administration. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
A naked Florida man stole what news footage showed to be a marked police vehicle and crashed it in a wooded area, officials said. Joshua Shenker, 22, was arrested after Thursday's crash on charges including theft of a motor vehicle, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of means of communication or protection and resisting an officer without violence, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report. Officers responded to reports of a naked man running along Interstate 10 in western Jacksonville shortly before noon Thursday. Shenker was lying in the the roadway when an officer stopped on the opposite side of the route, the report said. Shenker then ran across the highway lanes toward the officer, officials said. The redacted report didn't say how Shenker stole the vehicle. Authorities confirmed only that a vehicle belonging to the City of Jacksonville was stolen. First Coast News footage of the scene showed the crashed vehicle to be a marked patrol car. According to the police report, about $10,000 worth of damage was done to the vehicle. Officers noticed Shenker had road rash after the crash and he was taken to a hospital to be checked out, authorities said. Shenker was being held on $4,011 bail. Jail records didn't list an attorney for him. The Associated Press
The coastal city of Beira in Mozambique, which houses one of the country's most important ports, has seen mild damage to property and flooding after tropical cyclone Eloise made landfall early on Saturday, an official said in a television report. The cyclone has since lost its strength and has been downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). "Beira had mild damage, but is too early to quantify the extent and scale of destruction," Luisa Meque, President of Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD), said in a television interview with national broadcaster TVM.
If he were alive today, even St. Paul would be texting, Tweeting and firing off emails to get the news out, Pope Francis said on Saturday in his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Social Communication. St. Paul, who lived in the first century of the Christian era, spread the new faith into Europe and Asia Minor and is believed to have written a great part of the New Testament. "Every tool has its value, and that great communicator who was Paul of Tarsus would certainly have made use of email and social messaging," the pope said in the message, titled "Come and See".