Many parents claim children aren't able to learn virtually and much of January will be spent doing at-home, online learning across all school districts. Kamil Karamali reports.
Many parents claim children aren't able to learn virtually and much of January will be spent doing at-home, online learning across all school districts. Kamil Karamali reports.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Ontario residents received an emergency alert on their phone shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday reminding them that the province’s stay-at-home order has officially come into effect. The directive to stay at home and leave only when absolutely necessary is clear – but the fine details about rules, enforcement and penalties are still being ironed out. Public Health Sudbury and Districts will be working in collaboration with the Greater Sudbury Police and City of Greater Sudbury bylaw officers in a joint initiative to enforce COVID-19 legislation. Under the new rules, indoor gatherings with people from different households and outdoor gatherings of over five people are prohibited. Non-essential businesses will operate under limited store hours, and all employees who can work from home must do so. “The new COVID-19 modelling released by the province this week is alarming, and it shows we could be in for a very difficult few months before mass vaccinations are available,” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger. “This virus is on track to overwhelm our health-care system if we don’t get it in check. It’s imperative that we take this seriously. Please follow the orders. Stay home as much as you can. Be smart about the decisions you make. Let’s continue to set a positive example for the rest of Ontario.” On Thursday, three new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Sudbury. Overall, Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 968 new cases in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Both law enforcement and public health agencies will operate under the assumption that most people want to follow the rules, and discretion will be used by all parties to determine if an individual or business is violating the law. The health unit said that an emphasis will be placed on education, and complaints will be judged on a case-by-case basis. “For the most part, Public Health will be working with police and bylaw on complaints. When a complaint comes in, we will continue to work with our partners to enforce the legislation as needed,” said Burgess Hawkins, Manager in the Health Protection Division at Public Health. “The normal system, which we’ve been using quite successfully up to this point, is that we go in, talk to people, and educate them. We typically find that if you explain what needs to be done, most people and businesses are willing to comply.” Burgess offered a simple explanation as to why some of the rules seem so vague – it’s just impossible for the province to determine what is essential for every individual and business in Ontario. For example, it’s not easy to determine whether employees need to go into an office or whether they can work from home. “Maybe an employee can technically work from home, but if you talk to them, you find out that their spouse and their child are both on the computer all day for work or school. Their internet access is not great, and a third person on there crashes their internet,” he said. “We really have to find out what the situation is. If we got a complaint like that, we would go in and ask questions and look at the relevant legislation on what needs to happen.” Complaints can be registered with the City of Greater Sudbury by calling 311. They can be about the unauthorized use of closed city facilities, people not self-isolating after international travel, continued operation of non-essential businesses, indoor organized events or social gatherings, or outdoor gatherings of over five people. Once a complaint is filed, it will be logged and directed to the appropriate party depending on the time of day, the severity, and the type of issue, according to the City. “We continue to work with Public Health and Greater Sudbury Police to focus on educating and engaging with residents and businesses to ensure compliance,” said spokesperson Kelly Brooks. “Just like we've been doing up to this point, we do ask people to contact (us) if they have concerns about individuals or businesses not following the provincial orders. Fines could be laid for those who blatantly or repeatedly break the rules.” As part of the state of emergency, Brooks added, the province announced that it has enhanced the authority of law enforcement officers. “We’re working with our partners to evaluate what this means locally and finalize the details of any changes to enforcement efforts. We’ll provide any updates in the coming days,” she said. A spokesperson for Greater Sudbury issued a similar statement, saying police will “continue to engage with, encourage and educate community members and business owners in order to ensure compliance.” “Officers will conduct the enforcement required for all municipal, provincial and federal legislation using the legal framework provided by the Provincial and Federal governments,” said Kaitlyn Dunn. “Those who choose to blatantly disregard the new orders including individuals, businesses or corporations will be fined under Ontario Regulation 11/21.” Set fines vary from $750 for failure to comply with an order to $1,000 for preventing others from following an order. Maximum fines are up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Police officers will be able to use their discretion in terms of whether an individual or a business needs to be ticketed. They also have the authority to temporarily close premises or disperse crowds. However, Dunn said that police were not directed to stop vehicles or question people in the streets to check for compliance with the stay-at-home order. Work, school, and childcare are all considered essential purposes under the new order, as well as leaving the house to obtain food, healthcare services or medications, or other necessary items. All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. People are also allowed to access government services, social services, and mental health and addictions support services. “Doing anything that is necessary to respond to or avoid an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual, including protecting oneself or others from domestic violence, leaving or assisting someone in unsafe living conditions and seeking emergency assistance” is considered an exception. Exercise is permitted “using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open under the Stage 1 Order.” “The Province mentioned exercise as one of its examples of essential outings. So, outdoor rinks are open for those looking to stay active and get some fresh air, but users should stay two metres away from those who are not part of their household,” said Brooks. “Hockey, shinny, ringette and any other sports or games where people are within two metres of each other are not permitted. Everyone just needs to try and do their part.” Burgess also suggested using discretion when it comes to outdoor activities. If a skating rink, a trail, or a toboggan hill is too crowded to allow for appropriate social distancing, then families are asked to opt out. It’s important to note that if an individual lives alone, they can gather with one other household, and the order “does not apply to individuals who are homeless.” The order also states that “taking a child to the child’s parent or guardian or to the parent or guardian’s residence” and “travelling between the homes of parents, guardians, caregivers, if the individual is under their care” is allowed. A full list of exceptions to the stay-at-home rule is available online at files.ontario.ca/solgen-stay-at-home-order-2021-01-13.pdf. “We realize that the restrictions that have been put in are hard. Staying at home is hard, but the disease is spreading. If we can slow it down, get it to a point where we’re not looking at overcrowding of the ICUs, that’s a benefit for everybody,” said Burgess. “Please stay home. If you are out, you must wear a face covering, wash your hands, and keep that physical distance.” For information about local COVID-19 data, visit www.phsd.ca/covid-19. For information on the provincial public health measures during the State of Emergency, visit www.ontario.ca/page/enhancing-public-health-and-workplace-safety-measures-provincewide-shutdown. Residents with questions about provincial rules and regulations or effects on City programs and services are encouraged to call 311 or live webchat with the City at 311.greatersudbury.ca. 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
In the week since a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol, the House has impeached President Donald Trump. Dozens of people have been arrested nationwide over participation in the riots. Politicians and business leaders are loudly condemning the violence. Twitter and other social media sites have banned Trump and thousands of other accounts. Yet amid all the noise, a Capitol Police officer hailed as a hero for confronting the insurrectionists and leading them away from Senate chambers has remained silent. Officer Eugene Goodman isn't saying whether he thinks he saved the Senate, as many of the millions who've viewed the video believe. In fact, Goodman isn't saying anything at all publicly — not to reporters, not on social media. And he's asked the force's union, bosses, family and friends to help him maintain his privacy and not publicly discuss the events of Jan. 6. But the video speaks volumes. Goodman, a Black man facing an overwhelmingly white mob, is the only officer seen for a full minute of the footage, shot by reporter Igor Bobic of HuffPost. Goodman stands in front of the rioters, walks backward until he reaches a collapsible baton lying on the floor, and picks it up. “Back up ... back it up!” he yells, keeping his eyes on the mob. He turns and runs upstairs, waving the baton, as the group follows. Goodman calls “second floor” into his radio, then takes a brief glance and half a step to his left at the top of the stairs. Two chairs sit on either side of an entrance to the U.S. Senate chamber, just a few steps away. Dozens of rioters are right in front of him, no other officers to be seen. Goodman shoves one of the rioters and walks to the right, away from the chamber. The mob follows, and Goodman leads them to a room where other officers wait. The time on the video is 2:14 p.m. The Senate stopped its proceedings to begin clearing the chamber at 2:15 p.m. Five died in the riots, including one of Goodman's fellow officers. Legislative offices were trashed, gallows were built outside, and a video showed a woman shot dead while journalists, Congress members and staff hid. The images of Goodman spread via social media and news sites, a foil to the bloody and messy scenes elsewhere at the Capitol. People called him brave, impressive, effective. They dissected the video, guessing about his strategy and decision-making. But not all the commentary has been kind. Backing up and running away is weak, some said. It was a staged photo op, others alleged. Goodman has been silent. He didn't respond to text messages and phone calls The Associated Press left at potential numbers for him. The head of the Capitol Police union said only that Goodman didn't want to talk to reporters. Spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the Capitol Police isn't giving interviews or discussing Goodman’s actions. Public records shed a little light on Goodman. He served in the Army as an infantryman for more than four years, leaving with the rank of sergeant in December 2006 after a year in Iraq. He has worked for the Capitol Police since at least mid-2009. But that's about it. Goodman's friends, family, buddies he would have known from the military, members of Congress and force colleagues all begged off interviews about him. They say he wants to maintain his privacy. Online and in much of the public eye, Goodman is a hero. Plenty of people, famous and not, suggested he has earned the Medal of Honor. A Republican and two Democrats in the U.S. House introduced a bill Thursday to give him the Congressional Gold Medal. “If not for the quick, decisive, and heroic actions from Officer Goodman, the tragedy of last week’s insurrection could have multiplied in magnitude to levels never before seen in American history," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri. But the representatives didn't respond to messages asking if they met with Goodman. In a tweet promoting the bill, they show not a formal photo of Goodman in uniform, but an image of him facing the mob — his eyes wide open, mask down below his nose, baton behind him. ___ AP news researcher Randy Herschaft contributed. ___ Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
The Rideau Canal Skateway will open this winter to give Ottawans another opportunity for physical exercise during the current stay-at-home order, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says. Some were perplexed when the federal agency announced Wednesday that the skateway — a prominent symbol of the nation's capital, and a powerful winter tourist draw — would open at the same time the Ontario government was telling people to stay indoors for all but essential activities. But according to Dominique Huras, strategic communications adviser for the NCC, the commission will keep all its assets open for "exercise and active use" "It's very important during this pandemic to be able to get outside," Huras said Thursday. "We're also counting on the co-operation of users to comply with the newly issued public health measures, as well as those that we've all practised for many months." 'Some sort of trap?' After the NCC revealed its plans yesterday afternoon for the skateway — which include maintaining the ice surface but not opening skate rental kiosks or concession stands — people chimed in on social media. Many, but not all, couldn't understand the rationale. Late Wednesday night, the province issued the official stay-at-home order, which outlined the acceptable reasons people could be out in public between now and Feb. 11. Exercise is among them. Huras said the NCC hoped people would abide by the provincial rules while also not venturing too far from home to use the skateway, once it eventually opens. No opening date has yet been set, she added. NCC CEO Tobi Nussbaum said on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Friday it could happen next week, weather permitting. "Physical and mental health is a very important aspect right now, and we're trying to do our part to promote that ... to get outside, exercise, get some fresh air," Huras said. The NCC is expecting people to wear masks while skating on the canal, and will also install sanitation stations where space allows. The NCC will also block a stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway to vehicular traffic to give people another option to stay active outdoors during the current lockdown. Nussbaum said that would likely happen when the Skateway opens.
The Dutch government is resigning over its response to a child welfare benefits scandal, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. View on euronews
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. There are 688,891 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 688,891 confirmed cases (77,956 active, 593,397 resolved, 17,538 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 7,565 new cases Thursday from 89,350 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 207.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 53,312 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,616. There were 156 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 960 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 137. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 14,870,942 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 394 confirmed cases (seven active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 364 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.27 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.34 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been two new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 75,828 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 405 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been two new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 84,976 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,548 confirmed cases (32 active, 1,451 resolved, 65 deaths). There were six new cases Thursday from 1,419 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.42 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 192,565 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 859 confirmed cases (247 active, 600 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 23 new cases Thursday from 1,188 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 31.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 142 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 20. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 125,083 tests completed. _ Quebec: 236,827 confirmed cases (23,208 active, 204,741 resolved, 8,878 deaths). There were 2,132 new cases Thursday from 8,955 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 273.52 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,309 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,330. There were 64 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 317 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 45. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.53 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 104.63 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,629,203 tests completed. _ Ontario: 228,310 confirmed cases (29,307 active, 193,814 resolved, 5,189 deaths). There were 3,326 new cases Thursday from 68,842 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 201.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 23,715 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,388. There were 62 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 333 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 35.62 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,429,938 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 26,954 confirmed cases (2,886 active, 23,313 resolved, 755 deaths). There were 261 new cases Thursday from 2,146 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 210.74 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,213 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 173. There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 55.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 434,323 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 19,329 confirmed cases (3,859 active, 15,264 resolved, 206 deaths). There were 312 new cases Thursday from 1,426 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 328.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 313. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 29 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 317,720 tests completed. _ Alberta: 114,585 confirmed cases (12,434 active, 100,762 resolved, 1,389 deaths). There were 967 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 284.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,116 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 874. There were 21 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 172 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 25. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.56 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,547,298 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 59,608 confirmed cases (5,965 active, 52,605 resolved, 1,038 deaths). There were 536 new cases Thursday from 4,462 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 117.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,593 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 513. There were seven new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 68 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,013,053 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 11 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,141 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (zero active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 54 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,261 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 78 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,477 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 40,283 new vaccinations administered for a total of 459,492 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,212.403 per 100,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 594,975 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.23 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 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 2,982 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 1,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 3.926 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 28.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,339 new vaccinations administered for a total of 115,704 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.522 per 1,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 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 71.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 14,237 new vaccinations administered for a total of 159,021 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.826 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.08 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 12,409 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.012 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 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 48.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,585 new vaccinations administered for a total of 11,985 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.164 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 8,809 new vaccinations administered for a total of 66,953 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 15.21 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 112 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,316 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,746 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.592 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 685 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 16.415 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 9.514 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 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 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 121 new vaccinations administered for a total of 521 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 13.453 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 8.683 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. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
SAO PAULO — Hospital staff and relatives of COVID-19 patients rushed to provide facilities with oxygen tanks just flown into the Amazon rainforest's biggest city as doctors chose which patients would breathe amid dwindling stocks and an effort to airlift some of them to other states. As heavy rain poured down Thursday in Manaus, Rafael Pereira carried a small tank containing five cubic meters of oxygen for his mother-in-law at the 28 de Agosto hospital. He didn’t want to be interviewed because of his stress, but he looked relieved when the tank — which he said would aid her breathing for an additional two hours — was taken inside. Health workers at the Hospital Universitario Getulio Vargas took empty cylinders to its oxygen provider in the hopes there would be some to retrieve. Usually, the provider picks up the cylinders and brings newly refilled ones. Despairing patients in overloaded hospitals waited as oxygen arrived to save some, but came too late for others. At least one of the cemeteries of Manaus, a city of 2.2 million people, had mourners lining up to enter and bury their dead. Brazilian artists, soccer clubs and politicians used their platforms to cry for help. Brazil's health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, said Thursday that a second plane with medical supplies — including oxygen — would arrive Friday, and four others later. The local government’s oxygen provider, multinational White Martins, said in a statement that it was considering diverting some of its supply from neighbouring Venezuela. It wasn't immediately clear whether this would be sufficient to address the spiraling crisis. “Yes, there is a collapse in the health care system in Manaus. The line for beds is growing by a lot — we have 480 people waiting now,” Pazuello said in a broadcast on social media. “We are starting to remove patients with less serious (conditions) to reduce the impact.” Hospitals in Manaus admitted few new COVID-19 patients Thursday, suggesting many will suffer from the disease at home, and some may die. The strain prompted Amazonas state's government to say it would transport 235 patients who depend on oxygen but aren't in intensive care units to five other states and the federal capital, Brasilia. “I want to thank those governors who are giving us their hand in a human gesture,” Amazonas Gov. Wilson Lima said at a news conference Thursday. "All of the world looks at us when there is a problem as the Earth’s lungs," he said, alluding to a common description of the Amazon. "Now we are asking for help. Our people need this oxygen.” Governors and mayors throughout the country offered help amid a flood of social media videos in which distraught relatives of COVID-19 patients in Manaus begged for people to buy them oxygen. Federal prosecutors in the city, however, asked a local judge to pressure President Jair Bolsonaro's administration to step up its support. The prosecutors said later in the day that the main air force plane in the region for oxygen supply transportation “needs repair, which brought a halt to the emergency influx.” The air force said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that it was deploying two planes to transport patients, starting Friday. The health ministry didn't respond to a request for comment about transportation plans. The U.S Embassy in Brasilia confirmed it had received a request from the federal government to support the initiative, without providing details. Local authorities recently called on the federal government to reinforce Manaus' stock of oxygen. The city’s 14-day death toll is approaching the peak of last year’s first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data. In that first peak, Manaus consumed a maximum 30,000 cubic meters (about 1 million cubic feet) of oxygen per day, and now the need has more than doubled to nearly 70,000 cubic meters, according to White Martins. “Due to the strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumption of oxygen in the city increased exponentially over the last few days in comparison with a volume that was already extremely high," White Martins said in an emailed statement to AP. "Demand is much higher than anything predictable and ... continues to grow significantly.” The company added that Manaus’ remote location presents challenging logistics, requiring additional stocks to be transported by boat and by plane.. The governor also decreed more health restrictions, including the suspension of public transportation and establishing a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The new measures challenged protesters who on Thursday carried Brazilian flags through the streets. Lima, once seen as an ally of Bolsonaro, has faced criticism from supporters of the conservative president for imposing new restrictions aimed at stemming the virus' recent surge. Bolsonaro has downplayed risks of the disease, saying the economic fallout of the pandemic will kill more than the virus. His son Eduardo, a lawmaker who chairs the international relations committee in Brazil's lower house, was one of the many conservatives who egged on their supporters in December to challenge social distancing and disobey stay at home orders. Park of the Tribes, a community of more than 2,500 Indigenous people on the outskirts of Manaus, went more than two months without any resident showing COVID-19 symptoms. In the past week, 29 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, said Vanda Ortega, a volunteer nurse in the community. Two went to urgent care units, but no one yet has required hospitalization. “We’re really very worried,” said Ortega, who belongs to the Witoto ethnicity. “It’s chaos here in Manaus. There isn’t oxygen for anyone.” ___ Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese reported this story in Sao Paulo and AP writer David Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro. AP photographer Edmar Barros contributed to this report from Manaus. Mauricio Savarese And David Biller, The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 15 ... What we are watching in Canada ... In an approach that differs from elsewhere in the country, Alberta announced it would be easing some restrictions next week. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said starting Monday, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people and the limit for funerals will increase to 20 people. New daily cases have fallen slightly in the province. Alberta reported 967 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths. Shandro said the small adjustments to the restrictions implemented in December will allow people to take part in some activities. But, he said, the virus is still a real risk. For Ontario, today is the second day under a stay-at-home order imposed by the provincial government. It came into effect Thursday as Ontario reported 62 more deaths and 3,326 new novel coronavirus infections. COVID-19 cases, including a new United Kingdom variant, are increasing rapidly in the province. Federal officials have also warned that access to vaccines in Canada will remain a challenge until at least April. --- Also this ... Laurent Duvernay-Tardif misses football. The Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman has no regrets about opting out of the 2020 NFL campaign to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. But the six-foot-five 321-pound Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., native is finding it increasingly difficult to be a fan and definitely plans on resuming his pro career with Kansas City after this season. After finishing atop the AFC West with an NFL-best 14-2 record this season, Kansas City begins its Super Bowl defence Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns in their first playoff contest. Duvernay-Tardif helped Kansas City cap last season with a 31-20 Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers. It was the storied franchise's second NFL championship but first in 50 years. But in July, Duvenay-Tardif — who received his medical degree from McGill in 2018 — became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While others did so for safety reasons, Duvernay-Tardif temporarily hung up his cleats to work as an orderly at a Montreal long-term care facility. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid — whose mother also graduated from McGill's medical school — and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes were among those to praise Duvernay-Tardif for his decision. Sports Illustrated named Duvernay-Tardif as one of its Sportspeople of the Year and he was later a co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, given annually to Canada's top athlete. Duvernay-Tardif, who turns 30 next month, has taken some time away from the long-term care facility to do work for his foundation as well as towards his master's degree at Harvard. But he's scheduled to receive his COVID-19 vaccination Friday before returning to the facility next week. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment could go to trial as soon as Inauguration Day, with senators serving not only as jurors but as shaken personal witnesses and victims of the deadly siege of the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure. In pursuing conviction, House impeachment managers said Thursday they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to overturn the November election results. It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president's rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he'd lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The trial could begin shortly after Biden takes the oath of office next Wednesday, but some Democrats are pushing for a later trial to give him time to set up his administration and work on other priorities. No date has been set. Already National Guard troops flood the city and protect the Capitol amid warnings of more violence ahead of the inaugural. It's a far different picture, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the threats of violence, from the traditional pomp and peaceful transfer of power. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MADRID — Most of Europe kicked off 2021 with earlier curfews or stay-at-home orders amid sharp spikes in coronavirus infections increasingly blamed on the more contagious variant first detected in the U.K. But authorities in Spain say the variant causing havoc elsewhere is not to blame for its sharp resurgence of cases and that the country can avoid a full lockdown even as its hospitals fill up. The government has been tirelessly fending off drastic home confinement like the one that paralyzed the economy for nearly three months in the spring of 2020, the last time that Spain could claim victory over the stubborn rising curve of cases. --- On this day in 1962 ... The RCMP Musical Ride became a permanent, full-time unit of the force. --- In entertainment ... With sultry mannerisms and sharp comedic chops, Kim Cattrall fully embodied confident sexpot Samantha Jones on "Sex and the City." But the Canadian-raised star won't be in the upcoming "Sex and the City" revival, and speculation abounds about what will happen with the role of the pleasure-seeking publicist, who was part of the group of four best friends living in New York. Media scholar Robert Thompson says he thinks replacing Cattrall, who was nominated for five Emmys and won a Golden Globe for the role, with another actor "would be a laboratory experiment gone bad." "Every now and again you get perfect casting, the perfect melding of an actor and a role, and I think Kim Cattrall and Samantha was that," Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said in an interview. "Which is why I think recasting would be a grave error," added the professor of television and popular culture. "It's one thing to recast the sister on 'Roseanne'; it's another thing to recast Samantha." Parker confirmed on Instagram that Samantha "isn't part of this story" for the HBO Max original series, "And Just Like That...," which will include herself as the lead character, sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw. Also returning are original co-stars Cynthia Nixon as lawyer Miranda Hobbes, and Kristin Davis as art expert Charlotte York. The news has sparked a flood of articles and social media posts about Samantha's fate. Online betting site Bovada has even released gambling odds for the character’s whereabouts in Episode 1 — options include that she moved away, is dead, or "confined to a prison or institution." Some Twitter users say Samantha was the heart of the show, which ran for six seasons, starting in 1998. There were also two films, which Cattrall was in before she declared she was done with the franchise. --- ICYMI ... Another country music star from Alberta has voiced protest against proposed coal mines on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Paul Brandt, who leads a committee on human trafficking set up by the Alberta government, has posted his concerns on Instagram in support of fellow musician Corb Lund. Lund released a Facebook video earlier this week in which he calls the government's move to open vast swaths of the area to industry short-sighted and a threat. Brandt says in his post that Lund is right and the plan is a big — and bad — deal. He is asking the provincial government to reconsider putting economic benefit ahead of long-term consequences that would devastate the land for generations to come. Alberta's United Conservative government has revoked a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of the mountains and eastern slopes of the Rockies. One mine is under review and vast areas of the mountains have been leased for exploration. Lund says coal mines would endanger the ranching lifestyles of his neighbours as well as drinking water for millions downstream. He's urging people to speak out and oppose open-pit coal mines in the Rockies. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021 The Canadian Press
A collection of children's drawings made during the pandemic illustrates the mental toll the pandemic is taking on Canadian youth, says the researcher behind a project analyzing their artwork. Many of the submissions by kids and teenagers on childart.ca depict people alone, haunted by shadowy spectres, or worse, their own thoughts. Collectively, the images paint a stark picture of how the trials of young life under lockdown could shape the next generation, says Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at University of Guelph-Humber. While the study is still underway, Martyn said initial observations suggest that coming of age during the COVID-19 crisis can create an emotional maelstrom during a critical period of adolescent development. Being a teenager is tough enough at the best of times, she said, but finding your place in the world while stuck at home has left many young people feeling like they have no future to look forward to. "The saddest part for me ... is that kind of loss of not being able to see through to the other side," she said. "There's so much pain and so much struggle right now that I think needs to be shared and seen, so that we can support our youth and make sure they become healthy adults." Since September, Martyn's team has received more than 120 pieces from Canadians aged two to 18, submitted anonymously with parental permission, along with some background information and written responses. Martyn marvelled at the breadth of creative talent the project has attracted, with submissions ranging from doodles, sketches, digital drawings, paintings, pastels, photos and even one musical composition. Researchers circulated the call for young artists at schools and on social media. While the collection includes a few tot-scribbled masterpieces, Martyn said the majority of contributors are between the ages of 14 and 17. As the submissions trickled in, she was struck by the potent and sometimes graphic depictions of adolescent anxiety, despair and isolation. Recurring themes include confined figures, screaming faces, phantasmic presences, gory imagery and infringing darkness. Some images contain allusions to self-harm, which Martyn sees as a physical representation of the pain afflicting so many of the study's participants. Just as unsettling are the words that accompany the images. Some artists transcribed the relentless patter of pandemic-related concerns that pervade daily life, while others expressed sentiments like "I'm broken," "this is too much" and "what's the point?" Martyn said many participants wrote of struggling to keep up in school, while some were dealing with family problems such as job loss, illness and even death. Many of these feelings and challenges are common across age groups, Martyn noted. However, while adults are more accustomed to the ups and downs that life can bring, young people are less likely to have fostered the coping skills to help them weather a global crisis. A coalition of Canadian children's hospitals has warned that the pandemic is fomenting a youth mental-health crisis with potentially "catastrophic" short- and long-term consequences for children's wellbeing and growth. This would be consistent with research from previous outbreaks suggesting that young people are more vulnerable to the negative psychological impacts of quarantine, including increased risk of post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and behavioural problems, according to an August report by Children's Mental Health Ontario. An online survey of 1,300 Ontario children and young adults last spring found that nearly two-thirds of respondents felt that their mental health had deteriorated since COVID-19 hit, with many citing the abrupt end of school, disconnection from friends and uncertainty about the future as significant stressors. Lydia Muyingo, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University, said when she looks through the images in the childart.ca gallery, she can see how these concerns are confounding the typical turmoil of being a teenager. Adolescence is a time for young people to figure out who they are through new experiences, interests and social interactions, said Muyingo. This transition tends to bring about intense emotions, she said, and the pandemic has exacerbated this upheaval by replacing familiar anxieties about fitting in with fears about mortality. Muyingo said she's encouraged to see that the childart.ca project is giving young people an outlet for these difficult feelings they may not even be able to put words to. She encouraged adults to keep an eye out for children's silent struggles, perhaps setting an example by sharing their own vulnerabilities. "I think parents are sometimes scared of talking about dark themes, but the reality is that kids know a lot more than we think," she said. "I think art like this can be used as a tool to communicate that it's OK to feel this way." Martyn said the study has given her hope for what a future led by the quarantined generation could look like, because while pain pervades many of the illustrations, there are also symbols of resilience, connection and compassion. "One of my visions from the very beginning of this was to have this as an art exhibit in a gallery, and to be able to go and be enveloped by it, have it around us and fully experience that lived idea of what children in Canada experienced." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
YEI RIVER, South Sudan — First, the soldiers stole their belongings. Then they took their food. On their third and final visit, the woman said, the soldiers raped her and her daughter-in-law until they were unable to walk. What sets these assaults in South Sudan apart from many other rapes by soldiers in the troubled country is this: The women brought the men to court and won. Ten years after South Sudan gained its independence and two years after its own deadly civil war ended, large-scale fighting has subsided but clashes continue between communities and between the government and groups that did not sign the peace deal — and the use of rape as a weapon remains rampant. Justice is exceedingly rare, but the September conviction has raised hopes that such crimes will increasingly be prosecuted. “I was traumatized,” the older of the two women, a 48-year-old mother of eight, told The Associated Press in Yei, a town in the southern state of Central Equatoria where she now lives. The AP does not typically identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they grant permission, and the woman said she continues to fear for her safety and is too afraid, for instance, to return to her home village of Adio. She said she has found some solace in seeing her two attackers convicted and sent to prison after she reported the rape in May to South Sudan's army chief when he visited her village. A new army chief of staff, responding to growing frustration with such crimes, sent military judges from the capital, Juba, to oversee the case and those of 10 other women and girls who also came forward. In the end, 26 soldiers were convicted, some for rape but others for offences including looting. It was the first time soldiers had been convicted of rape since the 2016 rampage at the Terrain Hotel, where five international aid workers were gang-raped and a local journalist was killed. The army hopes the trial will be a warning to its troops. “We apologize, we won’t let it happen again, and we’ll arrest people who do it,” said Michael Machar Malual, head of civilian-military relations for the army in Central Equatoria state. A government spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The woman hopes the verdict will encourage more survivors to speak up in a country where sexual assault is a scourge. Some 65% of women and girls in South Sudan have experienced sexual or other physical violence, the United Nations children’s agency said in 2019. Between July and September, the U.N. reported an 88% increase in conflict-related sexual violence from the previous quarter even as overall violence dropped. It said there were more than 260 “violent incidents” in total during the period, but it did not specify how many involved sexual violence. The villages around Yei have been hit hard as fighting continues between government forces and the National Salvation Front, which did not sign the peace deal. Civilians say they are caught in the middle, with women often accused by soldiers of supporting the rebels — and assaulted — especially if their husbands aren’t around. In February, three women and a 14-year-old girl were raped by soldiers about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Yei, according to a report by the independent body charged with overseeing the implementation of the peace deal. One woman was gang-raped while held at gunpoint, the report said. When the AP visited Yei in December, civilians and soldiers said the situation was improving and there had been fewer reports of sexual violence since the trial. The once-bustling town and nearby villages are slowly returning to life after the war. Yet some residents said they feel as unsafe as ever. A group of women walking home from the market said they hide their food in the bushes, worried that hungry soldiers will steal it from their homes. An economic crisis in South Sudan fueled by a drop in oil prices and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic means soldiers haven’t been paid in months — and experts are warning of famine. Rights groups have hailed the recent case as important — but only a first step — and are pushing the government for more accountability. “This should be a lesson for those with power, especially those with guns, to know that they are not above the law,” said Riya William Yuyada, executive director of Crown the Woman South Sudan, an advocacy group that has pressed the government for accountability. A hybrid court is meant to be established as part of the peace deal to try people accused of committing wartime atrocities, but implementation is slow. Nyagoah Tut Pur, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, noted that those convicted of such crimes are often lower-level officers, and senior leaders should be held responsible. She added that accountability must also include compensation and services for survivors. Some women brutalized by soldiers have taken matters into their own hands. In 2017, Mary Poni said she watched soldiers decapitate her father and gang-rape three of her sisters until they died, before she was assaulted herself. She has written a book about her experience in the hope that it will be a small step toward reconciliation in her country. “I want the civilian population to be confident in the army, and the army to be able to protect our women and girls,” Poni said. “Women are living in silent fear, not able to open up about things they went through.” ___ Associated Press writer Maura Ajak in Juba, South Sudan, contributed to this report Sam Mednick, The Associated Press
Harry Truman Brown, one of Toronto's basketball pioneers, has died. He was 72. Brown inspired generations of players who became stars or coaches, and helped set the tone for how the game would be played in Toronto. The basketball legend and retired Toronto District School Board teacher died Sunday at St. Michael's Hospital. Brown, a former basketball star at the University of Oklahoma was known as a multi-sport player who had been invited to play basketball with the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons and the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys. After a year of pro basketball, he eventually made his way to Toronto. "He was widely acknowledged as one of the best basketball players we'd ever seen on the court here in Toronto," said Dana McKiel, a sports broadcaster and family friend. "From no look passes to shooting from half court at the time when there was no three point line. The way that he used to drive to the bucket," McKiel recalled. Brown would make the rounds of all the city community centres that were early hotspots for the game and would play with the skills and intensity that would inspire a lot of players. "He has had such an impact on basketball in the city for the past 40 to 45 years," said McKiel. "He made basketball important to everyone in Toronto." Local legends in basketball would come out to play with him especially at George Brown College on Sunday nights where the who's who of the city's basketball scene would show up. "If Harry Brown picked you for his side then you knew you were somebody special, you knew you were doing something real well," said McKiel. "It was like being on Broadway. If you could make it there you could make it anywhere." Brown became a pillar of Toronto's basketball community inspiring local stars including Jim Zoet, Val Pozzan, Leo Rautins, Rob Samuels, Norm Clarke, Tony Simms, Simeon Mars, Joe Alexander and Danny Ainge, now president and general manager of the Boston Celtics. From players to coaches and team administrators, McKiel says Toronto has become an epicentre for basketball talent, due in part to the foundation Brown laid. Savanna Hamilton, a host with NBA Canada and the Toronto Raptors, who is a former Ryerson Rams forward, agrees that Brown influenced a generation of basketball players. "I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but a lot of the industry leaders and mentors I work with on a daily basis either played with him or were inspired by him." Hamilton says Brown is not only part of the reason why the game is so popular among GTA youth, but also why Toronto is now one of the hotbeds for top basketball talent in the world. "We have to always pay tribute and homage to those who come before us and how impactful he was to the city and the culture of basketball in Toronto," said Hamilton. "We're known as one the toughest cities to play in and our players are very gritty and you have to wonder where that comes from. "Harry Brown was one of those people who set the foundation for that reputation," said Hamilton. Brown died of complications from diabetes and long-term renal problems. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, family and friends have set up an online memorial on Facebook. A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. Donations in his name are being accepted by the Yonge Street Mission. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
ENVIRONNEMENT. La MRC de la Haute-Yamaska a déposé son bilan de mi-parcours 2019 du Plan directeur de l’eau 2017-2021. Ce plan d’évaluation et d’intervention lancé en 2017 est financé par le Fonds vert. Il a été voté il y a treize ans par le conseil des maires de la MRC. Près de 1,24 M$ seront investis entre 2017 et 2021 dans les huit municipalités du territoire. De ce budget, 200 000 $ ont été dépensés en 2019. «La MRC a activement poursuivi son engagement en matière environnementale, par la mise en œuvre d’actions concrètes pour la santé des lacs et des cours d’eau en Haute-Yamaska. Autant en matière de protection des bandes riveraines, de mise à niveau des installations septiques, de lutte à la pollution ou de contrôle de l’érosion, voire de conservation volontaire des milieux naturels», précise Valérie-Anne Bachand, inspectrice en environnement et chef de projet pour le Plan directeur de l’eau. «Ça contribue à atténuer les impacts des changements climatiques sur les milieux hydriques.» La MRC a été productive. Elle affirme avoir pu compléter près de 92 % des 60 interventions qu’elle souhaitait mener en 2019 dans le cadre de son Plan directeur de l’eau (PDE) 2017-2021 — Pour des lacs et des cours d’eau en santé en Haute-Yamaska. Selon son dernier bilan, plus de 81 % des bandes riveraines du territoire sont aujourd’hui conformes, même si 350 avis d’infraction ont été envoyés aux nouveaux propriétaires riverains au printemps 2019. Par ailleurs, de nombreux efforts ont été déployés pour sensibiliser les propriétaires à la pollution, à l’érosion et à la végétalisation des berges. Plus de 1 600 arbustes ont été distribués. La MRC a aussi versé 25 000 $ à l’OBV Yamaska pour soutenir le projet collectif d’amélioration de la qualité de l’eau en milieu agricole du bassin versant du lac Boivin. La MRC en a profité pour procéder à la caractérisation et à la mise à niveau des installations septiques de la région. Près de 88 % des installations non conformes répertoriées depuis 2010, ont été corrigées ou sont en voie de l’être. «C’est un très bon bilan considérant ce que ça représente comme coûts pour les propriétaires.» Des centaines d’hectares protégés Un projet triennal mené avec la collaboration de la Fondation SÉTHY a permis «entre 2017 et 2019 de signer 55 ententes visant la conservation volontaire de 865 hectares en Haute-Yamaska» et «55 hectares d’écosystèmes à haute valeur écologique seront aussi protégés à perpétuité grâce à la négociation d’ententes de conservation légale entre la Fondation SÉTHY et des propriétaires privés.» Près de 35 000 $ ont été accordés à la Fondation SÉTHY dans le cadre de ce projet de conservation des milieux naturels. La qualité de l’eau est considérée comme généralement bonne, selon les analyses réalisées dans 92 % des 24 stations d’échantillonnage des eaux de surface du territoire, notamment en ce qui a trait à la présence de coliformes fécaux « à l’exception de deux stations dont la qualité de l’eau est ressortie mauvaise ou douteuse (en amont et en aval de la station d’épuration de la Ville de Granby)», écrit-on dans ce rapport. Ceci ne veut pas dire pour autant que Granby ne répond pas aux normes en la matière, précise Valérie-Anne Bachand. «Concernant les résultats du programme d’échantillonnage (dont des coliformes fécaux), le temps généralement plus sec, lors des prélèvements de 2019, pourrait avoir contribué à réduire le taux de dilution de certaines sources d’apports ponctuels (dont les rejets d’eaux usées municipales)», explique Mme Bachand. Une mise à niveau prochaine de la station d’épuration de Granby devrait permettre d’améliorer ces chiffres. Sinon, la quantité de phosphore présent dans l’eau s’améliore. Mais environ 70 % des stations sont encore affectées par une concentration élevée en phosphore total (qualité mauvaise ou douteuse). «On poursuit la mise en œuvre du Plan d’action. Lutter contre la pollution diffuse, l’érosion des berges et protéger les milieux humides figure en tête de liste des priorités de la MRC. «C’est un beau plan d’action qu’on a devant nous», conclut Valérie-Anne Bachand, chef de projet pour le Plan directeur de l’eau, pour la MRC de la Haute-Yamaska. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
Mariana Turkenich had heard about a new kebab shop named after Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, but she says actually seeing his face hanging over the sidewalk in her Moscow neighbourhood made her nauseous. "I feel it's just as if you were in Berlin and had a 'Hitler doner' or a 'Göring kebab' or maybe a 'Dr. Mengele pita,' " said Turkenich, 43, as she took a photo to share on social media. "I want to cry. I'm very upset." She said the matter-of-fact way that the image of a man responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians in the last century is being used to sell fast food is a terrible sign that modern-day Russia is forgetting the oppression of its Communist past. The chief cook and creator of Stalin Doner views it differently. Stanislav Voltman, 27, opened his storefront in the middle of the Russian new year holiday last week and celebrated a vigorous first day serving more than 200 customers. "It was a stunning success," he told CBC News in an interview. Customers appeared to be especially drawn to his "double Stalin burger," followed closely by a kebab named after Stalin's henchman, Lavrentiy Beria. All of the food was served up by Voltman and other workers dressed in uniforms of the NKVD, Stalin's secret police who would later become the KGB. "Hitler for me is obvious evil," said Voltman, explaining why a store using Hitler's image to sell food would be different from one emblazoned with Stalin. He suggested Stalin wasn't the only Russian leader who employed violence to stay in power. "Under Boris Yeltsin, [people] died, too, and disappeared — and during the reign of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great — all of this happened in history." Stalin's "ambiguous" nature makes him an interesting figure to build a business around, Voltman said. "You can't just definitively say he's all good or all bad." Putin tries to reconcile 2 sides of Soviet past Stalin was a dictator who sent millions of Russians to their deaths in remote prison camps and had countless others executed over three decades. Under his totalitarian leadership, between 1929 and 1953, as many as 10 million Soviet citizens, including Russians, Ukrainians and ethnic minorities, were killed via executions, forced labour or famine, making him one of history's worst tyrants. Opponents were eliminated, dissent was suppressed and history books were rewritten to his liking. But he was also the Soviet leader whose armies defeated Nazi Germany in the Second World War and later transformed Russia into a superpower. Over the 20 years of President Vladimir Putin's rule, the Kremlin has struggled to reconcile both realities. On the one hand, Putin himself opened a Wall of Grief in a prominent location off a busy Moscow boulevard intended to commemorate Stalin's victims. Yet on the other hand, Putin's government has been attempting to rewrite the history books to portray Stalin as a victim of deceitful Western leaders at the start of the Second World War, effectively trying to absolve him for any blame in signing a pact with Nazi Germany. "For Russian youngsters, Stalin is a figure from the distant past. His appearance ... doesn't shock anyone," scholar Andrei Kolesnikov wrote in a 2019 article for Moscow's Carnegie Center where he attempted to explain how Stalin's complicated past plays into current Kremlin politics. "Even Putin's closest allies readily admit that Stalin was a cruel tyrant. But thanks to the Kremlin's well-crafted propaganda efforts, the dictator is once again becoming a symbol of Russian pride and military and industrial glory." Hours of questioning by police The Levada Center, the only independent polling agency in Russia, has noted Stalin's image has consistently improved during Putin's long rule, with roughly 70 per cent of Russians surveyed now saying he played a positive role in the country's history. Still, it appears Moscow authorities would prefer Voltman's food stand would simply go away. The day after the opening, police showed up and told him he needed to change the name or close down for good. After Voltman refused to do either, he said they unplugged his refrigerator, spoiling his food, and took him in for hours of questioning and "humiliation." "I would have pangs of conscience if I had put up slogans about the gulag and the deaths of people … but I'm not hurting anyone with this." Voltman posted a video on his Instagram account of a man taping a red hand print — symbolizing blood — to his window, with the words "Stalin and Beria were executioners." Someone else had walked by and spit on the front window, where it had then frozen. "My family was repressed," said Geliya Tagirova, 82, who stopped to talk to CBC News. "For people who lived through repressions and are still alive, this is painful. It's disrespectful to them." "In our country, unfortunately, there are people who are not as negative towards Stalin as I am," said Yevgenny Smoslky. "Morally speaking, I do not think this is right." While Voltman's kebab shop is closed for the moment, he said he hopes it won't be for long. He said his three workers quit after the opening day fearing more harassment from police, but he's expecting to hire more people and reopen soon. "If you don't like it, you can keep walking by," he said. "If you think it's OK, come in and buy something. No one is forcing you to do anything."
With two young children enrolled in special education classes, Adriana Ferreira-Legault wrestles with a dilemma every morning over in-person schooling for her children. Her son Samuel, a five-year-old with Down syndrome and autism, attends a Toronto school for children with disabilities. It's remained open amid Ontario's latest state of emergency declaration. Her daughter Sophia, a four-year-old with autism, attends kindergarten "in a special class within a regular school," said Ferreira-Legault. However, that school has now shifted to remote learning and her youngster has been unable to participate. "The children don't look at the screen. They don't pay attention. They don't follow what's going on. They don't know that there's another person on the other side of the screen talking to them. It's just a disaster," said the Toronto mother, who believes online learning is simply not meant for children who require special education. She knows how vital it is that Samuel continue in his face-to-face class, yet she's also juggling concerns about safety amid Ontario's stay-at-home order, which went into effect on Thursday. "I send him every morning and I feel: 'Am I doing the right thing?'" The current closure of in-person schools in southern Ontario COVID-19 hot spots has been extended until at least Feb. 10, but spring 2020's widespread shuttering of schools underlined why face-to-face learning is critical for many students in special education classes, some of whom cannot be accommodated appropriately through virtual or remote learning. Still, some are questioning whether it's safe for these students, their teachers and other staff supporting them to be in classrooms at this point of the pandemic. Classrooms give access to therapy It's important to heed the instructions we're receiving from public health officials about the communities surrounding schools, says developmental pediatrician Dr. Ripudaman Singh Minhas. "But a lesson that I hope we've learned from the first wave as we go and confront this second wave is that special education classrooms really should be the last to close and the first to open." Special education schools and classes have expressly trained instructors and staff. They might feature smaller staff-to-student ratios, include specialized equipment or have more space to move around in — the specifics vary based on the needs of the students within them, he said, but they're much more than simply classrooms and chalkboards. "For students that have developmental disabilities or exceptional learning needs, they're a place where they access therapy — speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work support, psychology support," said Minhas, who works with children with developmental disorders or delays, intellectual disabilities and learning disorders. "These learning programs that we've created for them are therapeutic in so many ways and the classroom is the therapy setting." Earlier pandemic closures that halted these tailored supports and therapies caused much upheaval, with families reporting students regressing, losing skills and suffering declining mental health, he said. "The research shows us that these therapies are most effective early on and need very specific windows of development when the brain is solidifying its architecture. And so for children that have difficulties in certain areas, being able to deliver these therapies in their classroom setting is so vital," said Minhas, also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto and director of pediatric research at St. Michael's Hospital and Unity Health Toronto. "For students who need hand-over-hand instruction, who need one-to-one support, for those who are not able to attend to a screen ... it's hard to transfer these really elaborate in-depth programs to an online format." This message was echoed by the Ontario government this week, in explaining why it is permitting school boards to keep special education classes open for in-person learning if they deem them required. "A key recommendation of experts in the special education community was to ensure the most vulnerable kids who cannot participate in remote learning, can continue to benefit from routine and consistency in-class, coupled with the continuation of strong health and safety measures," Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said in a statement. "We have followed that advice, supported by the chief medical officer of heath, to ensure a small number of the most exceptional children can receive the care they desperately need." Union flags ongoing safety concerns Yet that directive doesn't take into account ongoing safety concerns flagged by special education teachers, educational assistants and specialists working inside these classrooms, according to Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. LISTEN | Concerns about in-person classes for special education amid wider lockdown While some concerns overlap with those shared by educator peers — staff-to-student ratio or adequate ventilation, for instance — others are unique to their situation, he said. "[Students in special education classrooms] need the kind of support that just requires up-close physical contact. The students, in some cases, just aren't able to keep masks on. They certainly don't understand... hygiene and physical distancing protocols," Bischof said. "In limited circumstances, with appropriate safety protocols in place, we were prepared to support the idea of having some of those students return to face-to-face situations. We can't maintain that call anymore. Some school boards have completely failed to to implement any kind of criteria when it comes to which of those students should be returning." Bischof is critical of what he considers sparse planning thus far in addressing special education classrooms. "These are things that ought to have been resolved by a ministry of education, by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce taking command of this issue back in the summer and not waiting until now to start putting the appropriate supports in place," he said. WATCH | Parents decry school reopening plans as COVID-19 cases spike: Ferreira-Legault remains torn about sending Samuel to school or opting to keep him at home. Having no family living nearby to help support them — her husband's family is in Montreal, while hers is in Brazil — complicates their situation. "I want to keep [my kids] safe, of course, and I want to keep the teachers safe and the educational assistants safe. But at the same time, Samuel and Sophia need so much support and they've been regressing so much since the start of the pandemic," she said, noting that Samuel had reverted to aggressive behaviour, throwing things and slipped backward in his toilet training. "Both children are at the age where it's really, really important that they have all the encouragement and all the stimulus that they need to develop," said Ferreira-Legault. "I don't want to jeopardize their future. This is a crucial time of their lives."
Concluding debate on a resolution to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for "incitement of an insurrection," Rep. Steny Hoyer invoked one of the fundamental truths about democracy that was exposed by recent events in the United States. "For millennia, people have understood that a republic is only as stable and lasting as the citizens and leaders who commit themselves to its upkeep," the 81-year-old Democratic congressman for Maryland's fifth district said on Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, Hoyer joined 231 other members of the United States House of Representatives in voting to impeach Trump. The violent attack last week on Capitol Hill in Washington was horrifying, but also clarifying. What the mob made clear is where the forces of lying, division, fear and nihilism can lead. Such a traumatic event has provoked another moment of reckoning in the United States. But the sight of the world's so-called greatest democracy nearly collapsing is cause for introspection for every other democratic country looking on, including Canada. WATCH | Trump first U.S. president to be impeached twice: However placid and rational Canadian politics might seem by comparison, an understanding of democracy's frailty necessitates some constant level of concern about its upkeep — across the political spectrum. And there is wear and tear worth thinking about here, too. Conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool, formerly an advisor to Stephen Harper, was among the first commentators in Canada to reflect in the wake of last week's violence, writing that he "won't tolerate casual Trumpism in my personal or political cohort anymore." Going forward, he said, Canadian conservatives must become harsher judges of character and more diligent about who they associate with. To that end, he said that Conservative MP Derek Sloan — who has questioned the national loyalty of Theresa Tam and sponsored a petition that cast doubt on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine — should no longer be allowed to sit with the Conservative caucus. Accusations of 'rigging' election fly In an interview with CBC Radio's The Current this week, Boessenkool suggested he wouldn't want to work with a campaign that only wanted to stoke populist anger and said he's encouraged by the private reaction from Canadian conservatives to what he's had to say. But Boessenkool also stopped short of condemning a recently deleted page from the Conservative party's website that accused the Liberal government of "rigging" the last election. Conservatives levelled such accusations multiple times through 2018 and 2019, but Liberals resurfaced those charges last week after the attack on Capitol Hill. The Conservative party subsequently deleted the page, explaining that the content had become "stale dated" because it pre-dated O'Toole's election as Conservative leader. "Since Liberals were trying to falsely insinuate it was something new and recent, we took it down to prevent that from happening any further," party spokesperson Cory Hann explained via email on Monday. The Conservative claims of "rigging" were based on their objections to changes to the Elections Act proposed by the Liberal government — and both Boessenkool and Hann noted that MPs from other parties, including Liberals, used the term "rig" in 2014 while opposing changes made by the former Conservative government. Thus, perhaps no party has a an indisputable claim to the high ground here. Drawing democratic system into disrepute But all politicians should know that accusing your rival of engineering an unfair election result is among the most serious charges that can be laid and, if the reality of the situation does not actually rise to that level, you can fairly be accused of committing the very dangerous act of unnecessarily bringing the country's democratic system into disrepute. In this moment of reflection, O'Toole might choose to leave other elements of Andrew Scheer's leadership behind too –like the party's opposition to the UN global compact on migration. Under Scheer, the Conservative party joined several far-right parties in opposing the compact, claiming without any basis in reality that the Trudeau government's decision to sign the statement of principles would compromise Canada's ability to control its own borders. Scheer was pilloried for peddling misinformation and entertaining extremist views. But Liberals, obviously now keen to point out anything that might be described as Trumpian, have also challenged O'Toole to account for his own language. As a candidate for the Conservative leadership, he promised to "take back Canada" — though it was never clear who had "taken" Canada, how it had been taken or on whose behalf he aimed to "take" it back. He dropped that phrase after becoming leader, but just before Christmas he adopted the populist theory that Canada can be divided between "somewheres" and "anywheres." Some of O'Toole's colleagues have pushed their rhetoric further. Pierre Poilievre, the party's finance critic, has warned that "global elites" are conspiring to push an agenda that threatens people's freedom. In October, Leslyn Lewis, the former leadership candidate who is now set to run for the Conservatives in the Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, warned that a "socialist coup" was unfolding in Canada. Federal government must promote unity Conservatives might charge that it is really Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who needs to be more of a unifying figure. Recall, for instance, the Liberal government's clumsily worded attempt to ban anti-abortion groups from using public funds to promote their cause. Significant responsibility for holding this country together — in all its geographic, social and political diversity — will always belong to the federal government. And Liberals should be sensitive to any evidence of social division, be it west versus east, rural versus urban or any other construct. But the other interesting question for Trudeau's Liberals is whether they will have left the major institutions of Canadian democracy better off than when they found them in 2015. Though no amount of parliamentary reform can necessarily prevent a phenomenon like Trump, it stands to reason that healthy and widely respected institutions can at least reduce the cynicism that drives dysfunction. Trudeau's decision to walk away from electoral reform will always figure prominently in this discussion, though it's also possible that Canada's first-past-the-post system provides better protection against extremism. It is, for instance, difficult to win a national majority government in the current system without appealing broadly across racial and ethnic communities. An independent Senate, the significant innovation that Trudeau did go through with, could also prove to be a useful check on any future government. The Liberals made smaller moves to introduce new rules around omnibus legislation and prorogation, but in neither case did they go so far as to significantly curtail a government's ability to abuse such tools — and the Liberals themselves have now made questionable use of both. Those might seem like rather minor issues when compared with the dysfunction of the American legislative system. But any system will suffer when governments and political parties give voters another reason to feel cynical. Underlying everything that has befallen the United States though is a voluminous amount of lying and subterfuge. "Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president," the historian Timothy Snyder wrote this past weekend. "When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place." Beyond partisan politics and parliamentary procedure, the vital importance of truth and fact could frame efforts to address a number of policy and institutional issues, such as further strengthening the independence of Statistics Canada, regulating social-media platforms, finally fixing the woebegotten access-to-information system, increasing the independence of House of Commons committees, and addressing the decline of local media across Canada. It also puts an onus on the remaining mainstream media to be aggressive advocates for truth and substance. As the United States has now amply demonstrated, defeating lies and untruths is frightfully difficult. But nothing about keeping a democracy is ever easy.
The chief of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg says it's good news that 30 vaccine doses are on their way to the western Quebec reserve this weekend, but it's not nearly enough to safeguard the community's elders. The community near Maniwaki, Que., has 18 known active cases. Chief Dylan Whiteduck said he's concerned that number could be higher since they only have data for people who were tested on the reserve. "It's just a matter of time until it hits us hard," Whiteduck told Radio-Canada on Wednesday. "And then we see an elder [test positive], someone who's a knowledge keeper, someone who speaks the language, Anishinaabemowin, Algonquin, and then we're going to really feel it." "That's my biggest concern and my biggest fear." Kitigan Zibi recorded its first cases of COVID-19 in mid-December. According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, more than 1,600 people live there. Whiteduck said Kitigan Zibi's leadership informed Quebec health officials there were 340 vulnerable people who needed and wanted the vaccine, but they haven't received a commitment on when additional shots will arrive. While Whiteduck expects the first doses to arrive over the next few days, CISSSO did not confirm to CBC when community members can expect to be vaccinated. "Public health is actively planning vaccination in collaboration with the community," a spokesperson for the health network said in an email. "[We are] confident that the vaccination can be carried out soon." First Nations 'at mercy' of governments, chief says On Wednesday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced that the federal government will spend $1.2 billion to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, from supporting elders to providing personal protective equipment and adapting facilities. Whiteduck said the federal government needs to be proactive and ensure provinces have a clear plan for First Nations. "We're at the mercy of other governments," Whiteduck said. "And we have to depend on the government of Canada — we always have and we've always will." "We don't even know which health authorities we fall under anymore," he added. Whiteduck said a meeting between Quebec officials, CISSSO and Kitigan Zibi is scheduled for Monday. With the reserve so close to Ottawa, Whiteduck said politicians should remember whose unceded land they live on. "I keep asking myself, 'You know, when are we going to get it?'" he said. "We don't know."
A towering stainless steel monolith set up along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta comes with a message. The three-metre-tall structure, which reflects its surroundings, is one of many that have been found around the world in recent months. Monoliths have been discovered on a California trail, a Utah desert and at sites across Canada. Many have popped up without explanation, but the woman who built the one in southern Alberta says she wanted to draw attention to the threats the area is facing as the province moves to open a vast stretch of the mountains to open-pit coal mining. "This land holds the bones and dreams of our ancestors. This soil remembers the thunder of buffalo hooves and ... still fosters wild grasses. These mountain-fed waters are the lifeblood of southern Alberta," Elizabeth Williams wrote in an Instagram post on her wildstonestories page earlier this month. "They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat," she wrote. "The shiny beacon is not the focal point, but the land, which it reflects." Williams, who couldn't work as a massage therapist during COVID-19 restrictions, said she's been watching some of the provincial government's recent decisions. "I felt compelled to take action," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press. Williams is most concerned about the potential for mining along the eastern slopes and the reallocation of water rights in the area. "It's staggering to me so few Albertans are aware that this is happening," she said. She wanted to do something to inspire others to pay attention and take action. Similar concerns were raised this week by Alberta country singer Corb Lund, who criticized the plan for an area that contains the headwaters for freshwater on which millions depend. Coal mining can release selenium, a highly toxic element already poisoning watersheds downstream of coal mines in British Columbia. Paul Brandt, another country music star from Alberta, added his voice to protest the coal mines Thursday. Williams, who hopes her monolith adds to the growing conversation in Alberta, said she built it after talking to an artist, ordering the stainless steel and borrowing a welding shop. She installed it with the help of volunteers after getting permission from private landowners to put it on their property. "I thought, 'If I make this to last, if I make this extra beautiful and I get it on private land, it can stay and it can become a beacon for the curious.'" The monolith, which was installed in early January, has come with challenges. Williams broke her hand as she and some volunteers were installing it on a windy day where the Oldman River meets Highway 22, known as the Cowboy Trail. And her creation was vandalized by a man who pulled his big truck over at a pullout along the highway and tried to take the monolith apart. "I have it all on camera," said Williams, who noted people are keeping a close eye on the area. Others have expressed intrigue and interest after spotting it on the landscape. "It looked a little bit startling to see it where it hadn't been before," said Kevin van Tighem, a conservationist and author who owns property in southern Alberta. "It's really beautiful. It's a real work of art. "It's really striking how it reflects so much of the landscape and by doing that moves us into thinking about reflecting on the landscape." He said he hopes it draws attention to the natural beauty of the eastern slopes, which he believes are under serious threat as companies start exploring for coal. "Things are happening out of sight and out of mind," said van Tighem. "This thing stands up like a giant reflective beacon that says we can't leave these things out of sight and out of mind. "We have to reflect on who we are and where we're going. We're on the cusp here. This is leading us to permanent change and permanent loss. "We cannot not be paying attention." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Pooria Behrouzy was honoured to be offered a full-time job as a COVID-19 vaccine support worker at Trillium Health Partners last month. The international student in health informatics at George Brown College was already on staff at the Mississauga, Ont., hospital network after working on an IT project, and he was eager to contribute to the rollout of the vaccine that’s brought hope during the pandemic’s increasingly grim second wave. But a roadblock stopped Behrouzy from accepting the full-time shifts offered: as an international student, he can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session or he risks losing his study permit and legal status in Canada. Behrouzy, who is now working part time at the hospital, said it’s disappointing that he can’t contribute fully. “I can work and I can help against this COVID ... why (am I) not able to do that?” said the 42-year-old, who is from Iran. “It's very sad that I'm not fully available.” His colleague Passang Yugyel Tenzin had a similar experience. Tenzin, a 26-year-old graduate of health informatics currently studying in another IT program, was working on the same project at the hospital as Behrouzy before he received an offer to work on the vaccine support team as well. The non-medical role involves providing scheduling support to ensure all available doses are administered and other administrative tasks that keep the process running smoothly. Tenzin, who is from Bhutan, signed on for the job in a part-time capacity but noted that the 20-hour limit would make scheduling 12-hour shifts a challenge. Working full time would be beneficial for his own education and for the health-care system that's struggling to keep up with skyrocketing COVID-19 infections, vaccinations and other important services, he said. “We can learn more and on top of that, we can contribute more to this situation currently, because they actually need a lot of people,” Tenzin said in a phone interview. “We can contribute a lot if we were given the opportunity to work full time.” Ottawa temporarily lifted the restriction on international students’ work hours last April, saying the change was aimed at easing the staffing crunch in health care and other essential workplaces. The measure expired on Aug. 31, 2020, and has not been reinstated. The press secretary for the office of the federal immigration minister said the government is grateful for the role newcomers have played in Canada's pandemic response. "As more students returned to regular studies in the fall of 2020, the work hour restriction was reinstated at the request of provinces, territories and educational institutions, due to concerns about students working full time while also completing a full course load," Alexander Cohen said in a statement. Behrouzy said he doesn't understand why the limit on work hours was reinstated while the pandemic is still ongoing and hospitals need more support than ever. “I'm available to work and all the schools, the universities and colleges are remote now, so why not extend this exception again?” he said. “It’s really disappointing.” Trillium Health Partners said in a statement that it's continually assessing staffing needs at its COVID-19 vaccine clinics, and international students currently work on its vaccine team in administrative functions. "THP supports and accommodates international students within the federal government requirements," it said. Sarom Rho, who leads the Migrant Students United campaign with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said the pandemic is an opportunity to ditch the restriction on work hours that advocates have long fought to remove. Rho said she’s spoken with students in other health-care fields like nursing who are also eager to work more but are hindered by the limit on their hours. "This kind of unfairness is totally based on status," Rho said. "The fact that they are migrants is what is causing the limitation and the restrictions of how they can work, where they can work and when they can work, and how that work will be valued." Migrant Students United also wants Ottawa to make work hours done in essential jobs count towards permanent residency applications. Rho said it's time to consider how work done by people on study permits is valued in Canada. "Respecting the labour is fundamental," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press