The Pacific Islands have largely escaped the pandemic. But the region has still suffered economically. In response, some governments have started programs to help locals become more self-sufficient by growing their own food. (Dec. 28)
The Pacific Islands have largely escaped the pandemic. But the region has still suffered economically. In response, some governments have started programs to help locals become more self-sufficient by growing their own food. (Dec. 28)
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.
Booted from the Conservative caucus on Wednesday, Derek Sloan now sits as an Independent MP in the House of Commons. Without the backing of the Conservative Party of Canada, his chances of holding on to his seat in the next election don't look good. Sloan, who finished fourth in last year's Conservative leadership contest with just under 16 per cent of ballots cast, was ousted after a majority of his (former) caucus colleagues voted to eject him for what Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole called "a pattern of destructive behaviour involving multiple incidents and disrespect towards the Conservative team for over a year." The latest controversy stemmed from news that Sloan's leadership campaign accepted a donation from Paul Fromm, a notorious white nationalist. Sloan accused O'Toole of hypocrisy, arguing that the Conservative Party also failed to red-flag Fromm's donation and party membership. Sloan's political career with the party appears to be over. And if he does seek re-election in his Eastern Ontario riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington, he'll face a big challenge. Without the backing of a national party, Independent candidates tend to have a tough time. Just 76 Canadian MPs first elected under a party banner in this country have ever sought re-election as Independents. Only 25 of them have succeeded. That's a bad track record, considering incumbents running with a party's stamp of approval have won about three-quarters of the time. Since 1974, only five MPs have successfully been re-elected as Independents after leaving (or being ejected from) their party caucuses: Gilles Bernier in 1993, John Nunziata in 1997, Chuck Cadman in 2004, BIll Casey in 2008 and, most recently, Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last election in 2019. What would Sloan need to do to follow in their footsteps? Wilson-Raybould and Philpott tried, only one succeeded Wilson-Raybould wasn't the only incumbent MP running as an Independent in 2019. Jane Philpott, who was also ejected from the Liberal caucus in the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair, attempted re-election without success. But Wilson-Raybould bucked the historical odds by winning her Vancouver Granville seat with 33 per cent of the vote, beating the Liberals' Taleeb Noormohamed by about six percentage points. Wilson-Raybould's share represented about 74 per cent of the vote she had received as a Liberal in 2015. Philpott, however, finished third in her Ontario riding of Markham–Stouffville with 21 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Helena Jaczek won with 39 per cent. Philpott's share represented about 42 per cent of the vote she got as a Liberal in 2015, roughly even with how Independent candidates in her situation have performed in recent provincial and federal elections. Not all of those who voted for Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were former Liberal supporters. Both candidates took from other parties as well. In Vancouver Granville, the Liberals did 17 points worse in 2019 without Wilson-Raybould than they did in 2015 with her — but the NDP dropped 14 points, too. Many of the votes lost by the NDP likely went to Wilson-Raybould. In Markham–Stouffville, the Liberals did 10 points worse without Philpott than they did in 2015. The Conservatives in the riding dropped even more, sliding 12 points. This means some Liberal supporters followed Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, but most stuck with the party brand. Only Wilson-Raybould was able to attract enough support from other parties to get re-elected. That could be tough for Sloan to do. A national profile and generally sympathetic media coverage helped re-elect Wilson-Raybould, but it wasn't enough for Philpott. Sloan has neither of those things working for him. Big challenge for Sloan in his riding Elections and byelections in his Hastings–Lennox and Addington riding have been contested largely by the Liberals and the Conservatives. That makes his riding more like Markham–Stouffville than Vancouver Granville, where all three major parties traditionally have been competitive. Sloan took 41 per cent of the vote in the 2019 federal election in the riding — just enough to defeat the Liberal incumbent, Mike Bossio, who had 37 per cent. The NDP finished well back with just 13 per cent of the vote. In order to be re-elected, Sloan will need not only a big chunk of the Conservative vote but a lot of the vote that went to the Liberals and NDP in 2019 as well. Considering his politics, that's probably not going to happen. The more likely result would be Sloan siphoning off enough Conservative support to let the Liberals re-take the seat. But there's little to indicate that Sloan himself is much of a draw in Hastings–Lennox and Addington. In 2019, Sloan did about half a percentage point worse than his Conservative predecessor did in the riding in 2015. On the first ballot of the 2020 Conservative leadership, Sloan took just 36.5 per cent of party members' votes in his own riding. By comparison, O'Toole captured 67 per cent of the vote in his Ontario riding of Durham, while Peter MacKay took 86 per cent in his former riding of Central Nova. Sloan might not have the personal clout to win the seat on his own. But what if he got some help — perhaps from another former Conservative leadership candidate no longer with the party? Bernier bolted but was beaten Sloan has given no indication he is actively considering joining Maxime Bernier's People's Party. In a message to his supporters, Sloan encouraged them to put their names forward to attend the Conservative Party's next policy convention. The People's Party would seem to be a natural fit for Sloan. But being a PPC candidate wouldn't necessarily make it any easier for him to win Hastings–Lennox and Addington. Bernier wasn't able to secure his own re-election in his Quebec riding of Beauce in 2019; he took 28 per cent of the vote and finished 10 points behind the Conservatives' Richard Lehoux. Even though Bernier was a four-term MP and had a national profile due to his leadership of the People's Party and presence at the leaders debates, Bernier retained just 48 per cent of the vote share he received in 2015 in Beauce. If Sloan managed to match that percentage, he would only get around 20 per cent of the vote in his own riding — not nearly enough to be competitive. The PPC base in the riding isn't going to help much, as the party's candidate captured just 2.5 per cent of the vote in Hastings–Lennox and Addington in 2019. Sloan's options aren't very good. Whether he goes it alone or joins up with Bernier, his days as an MP are likely numbered.
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."
The process of co-editing his new book with Elder Joyce Dillen was “painful, no matter how you look at it,” according to Michael Hankard. A group of 13 authors dug deep into personal histories and unraveled old wounds to bring to light the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the families they left behind. “One of the stories is about Anna Mae Aquash, the Mi’kmaq woman who was killed back in the 70s during her involvement with the American Indian Movement,” said Hankard, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Sudbury. “The author delves into that whole story: what happened behind it, and what she found out about the people that actually did it, and how painful that was to the family.” Hankard was also forced to come to terms with his own past, recalling stories about how his mother was nearly abducted as a young Indigenous woman in the city. He had to think about how this issue has played out in his own life and how it has affected Indigenous communities for generations. “Red Dresses on Bare Trees: Stories and Reflections on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” published by JCharlton Publishing in 2021, was launched virtually by Hankard and Dillen this week. In an emotional Zoom call, the editors welcomed a circle of family, friends, and colleagues who shared not only in the joy of the accomplishment, but also in the grief of what it represents. Included in the book are nine chapters written by both men and women and Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors that reflect upon the painful subject of colonialism and gendered violence and offer possible solutions that could lead to healing and reconciliation. The book incorporates Indigenous knowledge principles about relationships and love and “seeks to bring balance to our collective, equally important and unique, roles and responsibilities.” In Hankard’s own words, it was not an easy book to write. “About six months before the 231 recommendations from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were released in June, my publisher got in touch with me and we started having a discussion about putting together these stories,” said Hankard. “As soon as I heard it, I said yes. This is really important, and we need to spread awareness and begin raising the profile of the discussions that are happening. We need to help anywhere and anyhow that we can.” Hankard jumped on board and immediately began speaking to women elders, including Elder Joyce Dillen from Serpent River First Nation, who agreed to co-edit the book. She set up a meeting with the Ngookimisnaanuk Grandmothers Council against Human Trafficking and both Dillen and Hankard traveled to Sault Ste. Marie to explore whether it was a worthwhile project to pursue. Hankard, who lives in Serpent River First Nation and is a co-investigator on Indigenous homelessness through Laurentian University’s Social Justice and Policy project, said he had some reservations in the beginning. “There was one female professor, an Anishinabe-kwe, at Laurentian who criticized me because she said I don’t think this is a project that a man should be taking on, it should be done by an Indigenous woman,” he said. “But in the traditional teachings, men and women work together. You can’t have one half; you need the whole. When you sit in the teepee during ceremony, the women sit on one side and the men sit on the other. It’s all about balance.” With the Grandmothers’ consent, Hankard left the meeting in Sault Ste. Marie to go home and start thinking about the project and how he would put it together. “I can’t really say that I organized it according to a predetermined research outline or methodology or anything like that,” he said. “My own background is rooted in traditional teachings. There’s a story that my mentor Elder Michael Thrasher told me years ago, and it’s about a bag of darts that he releases into the air and he allows the winds of Creation to organize them and determine how things are going to play out.” Hankard said that he uses this approach when undertaking projects like these because if he tries to take control of it and push it in a certain direction, things tend not to work out. “If I let those things work themselves out, everything seems to come together,” he said. Hankard and Dillen brought together a group of authors who contributed essays to the book. Each chapter offers a variety of perspectives on different issues that impact Indigenous women and girls, including colonization, reconciliation, genocide, and policing and homelessness. The title is borrowed from the Red Dress campaign, created by artist Jaime Black, which seeks to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. “My chapter highlights the continuous inter-generational trauma that has impacted Indigenous women and girls since colonialism arrived across many countries, including Canada,” said Taima Moeke-Pickering, who fought back tears during the book launch. Moeke-Pickering is a Maori woman of the Ngati Pukeko and Tuhoe tribes from New Zealand and an associate professor in the School of Indigenous Relations at Laurentian University. “I chose to center my chapter on my ancestor Mere Hiki during a period of New Zealand’s horrific dissemination of Maori peoples during the 1860s,” she said. “I wrote that she would have mended the wounds of her people from the wars. She would have gone into hiding, feared for her safety, stood in solidarity and defiance, and wept for her peoples. And yet, today, we are still doing the same.” During the book launch, Dillen congratulated everyone on their contributions and thanked them for sharing their stories. “I am very honoured to be named on the book, and I am very honoured for the work that Mike does,” she said. “This is so important to our young people and our young women. I have worked tirelessly for many, many years to pick our women up off the ground, put them in the places where they need to be, in a good positive way, and I will continue to do that work whenever it’s necessary.” “Red Dresses on Bare Trees: Stories and Reflections on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” is now available. For order information, visit www.jcharltonpublishing.com. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
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
A $129-million plan to rejuvenate the historic ByWard Market heads to Ottawa city council for approval next week, and business owners say it's about time the downtown area saw some civic love by way of upgrades. As it nears its 200th anniversary, Ottawa's original commercial district is still at the top of sightseeing lists, but many people who live and work there say it's looking run down. Even city staff referred to the market as a "district in distress" before presenting revitalization plans to Ottawa's finance committee last month. The idea is to make better use of the city's 10 hectares of the market, mostly its streets. The city plans to "reclaim" 3.2 hectares of that space for pedestrians by widening sidewalks for patios and benches, and reconfiguring roadways so whole streets can be closed for events and festivals. The aging municipal garage at the market's core would be replaced by a new "destination" building with much-needed public washrooms. William Street would be the only street permanently closed to traffic. At the "gateway" to the area, the ramp over the sombre pedestrian underpass at Sussex Drive and Rideau Street could be demolished to make the area brighter and improve cycling connections. "It's the biggest thing to happen down here since I've been around," said John Borsten, owner of the Metropolitain Brasserie, The Grand Pizzeria and for 35 years, Zak's Diner. York Street a 'wasted' boulevard The way Borsten sees it, if the city needs to redo sidewalks and install new lampposts anyway, it might as well do the job right and create wide, flexible public spaces that can be used for events such as Canada Day. "I think the future of the ByWard Market depends on it happening," he said. Borsten and partners have just bought the old building that housed the Fish Market restaurant at the prominent corner of York and William streets, a building that has borne witness to countless changes over its nearly 150 years. Someday, when the pandemic is over, the streetscape outside its doors might host a concert for 7,500 people. York Street, with its wide roadway and strip of parking spaces down the middle, is the city's top priority for the revamp. "It's a giant boulevard. It's just wasted. It's just surface parking," said Borsten. Mandy Gosewich looks out on York Street from her boutique, STUNNING! Fashion + Accessories. As a girl, she would see live chickens for sale on the street when she visited her shopkeeper grandparents in the ByWard Market. She's the fourth generation in her family to operate a business in the market and says times are changing yet again, with younger generations less dependant on cars and keener on open public spaces, especially since the pandemic. This past summer, Gosewich watched as families spent whole days in the ByWard Market when the city closed off streets for patios. "It was really wonderful to see the amount of people who were down here hanging out," she said. "It really brought back the vibe of the market that had gone away." Like Borsten, she thinks it's the market's turn for some municipal attention. "Lansdowne has been a huge focus for the city, and I think their cup has runneth over, and I think it's time to give love back to the ByWard Market," said Gosewich. The hunt for funding While city council is expected to approve the plan on Jan. 27, it doesn't yet have the money for a dozen projects pegged at $129 million. Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the cost is comparable to a couple of road renewals, and believes the city can make the case for funding. The revamp creates coveted public outdoor space, and helps local businesses and farmers recover from the pandemic. Plus the National Capital Commission already has a major stake, he points out. "It just checks so many of those boxes when you think of a federal or provincial [funding] application," said Fleury. Others with a stake in the ByWard Market have seen enough ideas come and go that they're not counting on the full plan to happen, or at least happen quickly. This time, however, the area's blend of retailers, restaurants, bars and homes appear more unified and supportive than they have in the past. That said, the perennial disagreement over parking versus pedestrian space continues. Some shops maintain that losing parking will harm sales because their customer bases extend beyond the neighbourhood, and most shoppers simply won't walk far with heavy bags. "We have been assured by the politicians that most of the parking that will be removed will be replaced, so I'm optimistic about that," said John Diener of longstanding Saslove's Meat Market. Diener, who also lives in the ByWard Market, hopes this will be the plan to finally lift up an area that looks more "tired" as each year goes by. "We're hoping that the great majority of these things actually do take place, because I think it would be great for the city and certainly great for the area."
Ramped up domestic oil production and alternative supply routes have lessened the U.S.'s need for the hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil that would have been pumped daily through the now-cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, some industry experts say. On Wednesday, not long after being sworn in as president of the United States, Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order scuttling the 1,897-kilometre pipeline expansion as part of the administration's effort to fight climate change. The project, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska and connected with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to Gulf Coast refineries. "I really don't think that this works out to be a major, significant change to American oil supply right now," said Warren Mabee, director of Queen's University's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy. "The flow of oil out of Canada ... is now a much smaller part of any big U.S. energy strategy. They've got the capacity in the States to be able to make up for that. They're not really counting on the additional capacity, the growth that Keystone XL would bring." A 'gut punch' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was disappointed with Biden's decision, but Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called it a "gut punch" and federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole described it as "devastating." While supporters of the project north of the border say the decision represents a major loss for Canadian jobs and oil production, it likely won't have a similar negative impact on U.S. oil supply, some experts say. And that makes the prospect of changing the administration's mind even more unlikely. "A decade ago, we were integral," Mabee said. "In fact, the United States would think of Canada as part of the United States when they were looking at their energy supply. And I don't think that's the case anymore." As well, there was no guarantee that adding 800,000 barrels a day of capacity would lead to 800,000 barrels a day of additional production in the oilsands, said Mabee. With Canada already moving 500,000 barrels a day by rail to the U.S., Keystone XL may have just picked up the slack from the rail system, he said. Weaned off imports In the years since Keystone XL was first proposed, the U.S. significantly increased its oil production through the hydraulic fracturing of shale. This resulted in a 230 per cent surge in U.S. crude production, or an extra 6.9 million barrels a day, said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. Total U.S. crude imports have dropped significantly as well. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, the U.S. produced, on average, about 19.25 million barrels per day of petroleum, which included more than 12 million barrels per day of crude oil. Since the 1990s, Canada's share of total crude oil imports to the U.S. has increased, accounting for 56 per cent of the supply in 2019. However, by that time, total U.S. crude oil imports were down by about one-third compared to 2005 volumes. "So the U.S. has just really weaned its way off of global imports in a really big way during that period," Tran said. "The domestic shale revolution has completely altered the U.S. landscape and its dependency on foreign oil. "The U.S. need for Canadian oil is not to the same urgent degree as it has been in the past." David Braziel, CEO of RBN Energy, an energy markets consultancy based in Houston, Texas, said that when the Keystone XL project was first announced, back in 2005, the U.S. was certainly in need of the additional capacity that would have been produced. But as the project continued to stall, the industry found alternative supply chains. Producers began relying more on rail to transport oil supplies while other pipelines expanded incrementally to help move those additional barrels to U.S. markets, Braziel said. The U.S. is also counting on the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which heads west from Alberta to B.C. and connects with a pipeline to Washington state, and Enbridge Line 3, which also begins in Alberta and crosses Minnesota to Superior, Wis. In late July, the Trump administration approved the existing Keystone pipeline to ship 29 per cent more Canadian crude into the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast. "So, there's a lot of additional capacity that could come on to fill the gaps. If the Keystone XL was there, [we would] definitely use it, but if it's not there, then there are other ways to get to market," Braziel said. WATCH | Kenney on Biden's decision to scrap Keystone XL: Andrew Lipow, CEO of Lipow Oil Associates, a petroleum consulting firm based in Houston, Texas, said the Keystone XL pipeline certainly could have been used to increase crude oil production that ultimately would have been delivered to U.S. refineries, many of them on the Gulf Coast, displacing imports from other parts of the world. "And those other imports that the Gulf Coast relies on come from areas of the world that may be politically unstable or have other supply issues," he said. Major exporter As well, while shale production has resulted in the U.S. becoming a major exporter of crude oil, that oil is of the "light sweet variety," Lipow said. And many U.S. refineries are configured to prefer the heavy sour crude that comes from Alberta. "The Canadian crude is actually less expensive than the light sweet crude coming out of the shale producing regions [in the U.S.]," he said. Still, while the U.S. refineries would prefer Alberta crude pumped through Keystone XL, they can still use U.S. crude oil, he said. Meanwhile, U.S. motorists are unlikely to see any spike in gas prices as a result of the Keystone XL decision, Mabee said. "It's not going to leave Americans paying three times as much for their gasoline," he said. "It probably won't affect their price at all."
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.
Researchers say there's reason for some "guarded optimism" for the North Atlantic right whale population. So far 13 new calves have been recorded this year off the coast of the southern United States. That's more born in a single winter since 2016 and it's only about half way through the calving season. "In 2018 we didn't have any calves born and we've had ten or less in most of the previous five years," said Philip Hamilton, a research scientist with the Anderson Cabot Centre for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. "So that's very positive news." Calving season for North Atlantic right whales typically runs from the start of December to the end of March. So, it's possible this could be the first year in a long time the population hits a supposed reproduction average. Hamilton said, given the current state of the whale population, scientists would expect an average of around 23 calves a year. That hasn't happened in years, likely due to the stress whales are experiencing finding enough food. The North Atlantic right whale population have recently moved into unfamiliar and more hazardous waters in search of a dwindling food supply. While there are some first-time mothers with calves this year, there are also several that haven't reproduced in a decade. "On average a right whale should be able to give birth every three or four years, and some of the mothers that are giving birth this year have gone 10 or 11 years without calving," said Hamilton. "So, there's a backlog of whales that should be able to calve and it's really encouraging that they are." Hamilton says he is optimistic about this year's calving season, but says it's important to put things into context. "We really need to stop killing these animals," said Hamilton. "We've had 32 deaths between 2017 and now that we've detected, and we know that we're missing probably two-thirds of the deaths." Hamilton estimates that as many as 100 of the whales may have died in the last four years. Following necropsies, it was determined that many of them were killed as a result of blunt trauma likely due to being struck by passing ships. Being tangled in fishing gear was also often a reason for their deaths. Both Canada and the United States have implemented restrictions to curb the number of North Atlantic right whale deaths in recent years. "Clearly we're not doing enough," said Hamilton. "Not enough, when we have a population of around 350."
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kick-start your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 22 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA — Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc concedes Julie Payette's resignation as governor general shows a need to strengthen the process for vetting vice-regal appointments. Payette resigned Thursday, about a week after the government received the damning findings of an independent investigation into allegations that she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall. LeBlanc says the report, commissioned by the Privy Council Office which he oversees, came to "compelling" and "stark" conclusions. He says the debacle of Payette's tenure shows that the vetting system for such appointments needs to be strengthened. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose the former astronaut to be Canada's 29th governor general in 2017 — after disbanding a non-partisan, arm's-length committee created by the previous Conservative government to recommend worthy nominees for vice-regal posts. At his biweekly briefing today on the COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau can expect to be pummelled with questions about his judgment and his government's failure to check with Payette's former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she faced similar allegations of harassing and bullying subordinates. --- Also this ... OTTAWA — New internal reports from Veterans Affairs Canada show Canadian veterans have been waiting longer and longer in recent years to get psychiatric services and other medical support at government-run clinics. The reports obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information requests show most veterans had to wait months for their first appointments with psychiatrists or to start work on treatment plans. The same was true for getting medical exams at what are known as operational stress injury clinics, to apply for disability benefits. The reports show COVID-19 made it harder to get a medical exam or first appointment to start creating or implementing a treatment plan, but that wait times at the clinics had been steadily growing since at least 2017. 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. Veterans Affairs is blaming a surge in requests for assistance over the past five years, and says it has increased funding to address a shortage of mental-health workers that has left some clinics understaffed. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start of Donald Trump's impeachment trial to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case. H House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot have signalled they want to move quickly to trial as President Joe Biden begins his term, saying a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on. But McConnell in a statement Thursday evening suggested a more expansive timeline that would see the House transmit the article of impeachment next week, on Jan. 28, launching the trial's first phase. After that, the Senate would give the president's defence team and House prosecutors two weeks to file briefs. Arguments in the trial would likely begin in mid-February. "Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former president Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake," especially given the unprecedented speed of the House process, McConnell said. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is reviewing the plan and will discuss it with McConnell, a spokesperson said. The two leaders are also negotiating how the new 50-50 Senate will work and how they will balance other priorities. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... The first treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force today, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate. When the treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance. Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it "a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." --- On this day in 1979 ... Former Manitoba premier Ed Schreyer was installed as governor general. His term ended in 1984. --- In entertainment ... A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars. Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province. The frustration comes as B.C. leaders allow restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November. Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December. Both rebrandings were applauded by the province's health ministry in a statement that recognized "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic." Bronfman says the movie theatre group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive." --- ICYMI ... A Winnipeg cartoonist says he is honoured to play a small role in a historic moment after his comic book about U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris was included in a Canadian celebration of Joe Biden's inauguration. “Kamala in Canada” by Kaj Hasselriis was part of a swag bag given to people who attended a virtual inauguration event at the United States embassy in Ottawa. The comic follows Harris during her time living in Montreal as a teenager. Hasselriis says he was inspired when he heard how a young Harris staged a protest after her landlord banned kids in her apartment building from playing soccer in the courtyard. He says many kids may have given up, but Harris chose to take action. Hasselriis says he hopes the book shows children that they can make change happen and inspires them to get involved in politics. “It’s useful for them to know that politicians were once kids themselves,” he said. “And if you are a kid, that means you could one day grow up to become a leader.” --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021 The Canadian Press
If you've been lucky enough to keep your job and work from home through the pandemic, chances are you'll have some new expenses to claim come tax time. But don't expect to hit the jackpot, two Ottawa accountants say. Nearly 40 per cent of Canadian workers telecommuted during the pandemic, compared to around 10 to 13 per cent in previous years, according to Statistics Canada estimates. But unlike someone who's self-employed, most of those telecommuters — even those who've shelled out for home office furniture or a new laptop — are limited in the types of expenses they can claim. "As a business owner, the window is wide open. You can claim any expense that you incur as long as it was incurred for the purposes of generating income. Whereas for employees, [they] are not allowed to claim any expense unless it's specifically allowed," said Charles Ghadban, a longtime accountant in Ottawa. There are essentially two routes that employees working from home can take to file their 2020 expense claims: what the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) calls the "temporary flat rate method" and the "detailed method." Think of them as the easy option and the complicated one. Here's a brief breakdown of both. But note: each taxpayer's situation is unique, and should be assessed as such. The easy option Michael Kelso, a senior tax manager with Baker Tilly Ottawa, said for most people, the new flat $400 expense claim option known as the temporary flat rate method will likely be the more appealing route. "I do think the ability to do the simplified approach will be extremely useful," Kelso said. Anticipating a surge in claims for work-from-home expenses for the 2020 tax season, the federal government tried to get ahead of the deluge and simplified the process. Eligible employees are able to deduct up to $2 for each day they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19, up to a maximum of $400, without having to provide any special forms or documentation to CRA. "If you work more than 50 per cent of the time during any four consecutive weeks in 2020, you'd be eligible to claim home office expenses," Ghadban said. "Nobody has to submit any paperwork. Receipts are not required in that situation." Kelso said the upside to the flat-rate method is that most people who file their own taxes can figure it out fairly easily and earn a modest payout for their trouble. The detailed method If you know you've paid more than $400 worth of eligible expenses, the detailed method may be a better choice. The federal government also made this option a little easier for 2020, introducing simplified forms (T2200S and T777S). Both Ghadban and Kelso recommend anyone who chooses this method get their receipts in order and brush up on exactly what expenses a salaried employee can deduct. Generally, employees who work from home are only able to claim expenses that were consumed or used rather than purchased and kept — think internet usage, utility bills or office supplies like pens and paper. Chairs, computers, desks and other furniture cannot be claimed because they're considered capital assets. What's more, an employee needs to calculate what portion of each bill they can claim based on the size of their home office, the accountants said. Let's say an employee spent between $3,000 and $4,000 on utilities in the past year, but their home office only represents about 10 per cent of their living space. Kelso says they would only be able to claim about 10 per cent of those expenses, which is roughly equal to — or even less than — the $400 flat rate. "The detailed method creates some complexity in terms of tracking. You'd have to maintain all your receipts, there is a requirement that your employer signs a form," said Kelso. "It might actually be the case that it's not beneficial, and it's also just more work." Renters may be exception One group of taxpayers who may benefit from the detailed method is renters. In cities like Ottawa or Toronto, where rents routinely surpass $2,000 a month, it may end up being beneficial to claim that expense, said Kelso. Unlike homeowners, who cannot claim their mortgage payments or interest, salaried employees whose home offices are in their rental apartments can claim a portion of their lease. "If you do rent your home, that would be a larger expenditure for most people, and depending on the amount of space that you're office is, it may actually be better than that $400," Kelso said. "As long as you're willing to do the exercise of going through and maintaining all your records." Ghadban said for many of his clients who work from home, it can also be more cost-efficient to lease items such as laptops or desks, because leasing costs can be claimed, whereas the purchase price of such items cannot. "This is an area of contention for a lot of people," he said. He also recommends that people in higher income brackets look carefully at the detailed method, as they tend to get a higher amount back on their deductions, making the potentially arduous process worthwhile.
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.
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
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
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are marking the end of the first week of the provincial election campaign with a massive snowstorm. Though some candidates were out knocking on doors Thursday morning, by late afternoon it was difficult to see across the street in St. John's with all the blowing snow. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey made it back to St. John's before the storm hit after a few days of campaigning in western and central Newfoundland. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie is in Clarenville, where 60 km/h winds blew overnight Thursday. As of Thursday evening, it was unclear whether NDP Leader Alison Coffin would make it back to St. John's from campaigning in Labrador, where another storm was swirling over the north coast. The snowstorm also marks the one-year anniversary of the record-breaking blizzard, now dubbed "Snowmageddon," which dumped more than 70 centimetres on the capital city and prompted officials to enforce a state of emergency for more than a week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force on Friday, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate. When the treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance. Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it “a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The treaty received its 50th ratification on Oct. 24, triggering a 90-day period before its entry into force on Jan. 22. As of Thursday, Fihn told The Associated Press that 61 countries had ratified the treaty, with another ratification possible on Friday, and “from Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law” in all those countries. The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries. Fihn said the treaty is “really, really significant” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward civilians and soldiers during war and the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons and land mines. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty demonstrated support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament. “Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause,” he said in a video message. “The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.” But not for the nuclear powers. As the treaty was approaching the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, the Trump administration wrote a letter to countries that signed it saying they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The letter said the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament" and would endanger the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nonproliferation efforts. Fihn countered at the time that a ban could not undermine nonproliferation since it was "the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the treaty’s arrival was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and “hopefully will compel renewed action by nuclear-weapon states to fulfil their commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.” Fihn said in an interview that the campaign sees strong public support for the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and Spain. “We will not stop until we get everyone on board,” she said. It will also be campaigning for divestment — pressuring financial institutions to stop giving capital to between 30 and 40 companies involved in nuclear weapons and missile production including Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Sudbury's NDP MPPs are still calling for government oversight into the COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed the lives of five residents at Amberwood Suites in Sudbury. This, despite the fact the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility said the regulator responsible for licensing retirement homes in Ontario is working with Public Health Sudbury and Districts to address the situation. However, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas said that trust has been broken and she would like to see more concrete action on behalf of the residents of the home. “As much as the residents love the staff and the retirement home, we want an independent third party to go in and reassure them that everything is being done to keep them safe,” said Gelinas, the NDP's Health critic. “The residents are afraid for their lives. Those with underlying health conditions know that if they get the virus, their chances of making it through are not good. They are scared.” Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the retirement home on Jan. 5 after a positive case was reported in a resident. To date, there have been 38 cases of COVID-19 associated with the outbreak among 33 residents and five staff members. Gelinas and Sudbury MPP Jamie West banded together last week to reach out to the media to draw attention to the issue, frustrated that so many of their letters to the Ford government go unanswered. “When you send a letter to the ministry, it ends up being out of sight, out of mind. They can choose to respond, or they can choose not to respond for a month or more,” said West. “Because of the severity of the outbreak and the number of deaths so far, we decided to go through the media instead.” West said that families are worried about their loved ones and they were not provided sufficient information about the outbreak as it was emerging. The MPPs also called on the Ford government to reverse a previous Liberal decision to allow retirement homes to self-regulate, something that Gelinas opposed in 2010. “Retirement home residents are often frail seniors who deserve government oversight, accountability and protection,” said Gelinas in the release. “If this was a long-term care home the outbreak would have been on the government website at least, but because it is a retirement home, worried loved ones waited for days to get any information. They got more information from the local media than Autumnwood Mature Lifestyle, the company that owns Amberwood Suites.” Retirement homes in Ontario are privately owned, unlike long-term care facilities, which are regulated by the government. They answer to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). “I voted against the Retirement Home Act because you cannot give a bunch of for-profit corporations the responsibility to self-govern. If somebody tries to make a complaint to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority, the complaint mechanism is paid for and handled by the industry itself,” said Gelinas. “If a resident makes a complaint, it puts them in jeopardy with the owner of the business. Right now, the only protection residents have is with the Landlord and Tenant Board, and your landlord can evict you.” A spokesperson for the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility said the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority is working with Public Health “to ensure Amberwood has the tools required to address the outbreak.” “COVID-19 has taken a terrible roll on our retirement homes. There is no question that community spread continues to post a serious threat to our most vulnerable residents, as well as the staff that are working tirelessly to keep them safe,” said the ministry. “Ensuring that all residents and workers in retirement homes receive a COVID-19 vaccine is our government’s top priority as we continue with the roll-out of our vaccination distribution plan.” The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority has a COVID-19 reporting mechanism on its website that lists retirement homes with active and resolved outbreaks, but it does not provide specific data on the number of active cases per retirement home. According to the authority's data, there are more than 770 licensed retirement homes in Ontario and as of Jan. 18, 16 per cent of retirement homes in the province have reported an active outbreak. Despite the call for government oversight, Gelinas recognized the efforts of the staff at Amberwood Suites during the outbreak. “Residents know that staff are working hard to keep them safe. Some are working 18 hours a day, and some are sleeping at the residence,” she said. “They are doing their best. We just want to make sure that the residents are reassured that we are doing everything possible.” Multiple attempts were made to contact Autumnwood Mature Lifestyle, the company that owns The Amberwood Suites in Sudbury, but requests for an interview were declined. 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
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
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. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star