Haggis loves sharing his toys with this little girl, and we can see that they have an amazing bond and will have lots and lots of fun together! So cute!
Haggis loves sharing his toys with this little girl, and we can see that they have an amazing bond and will have lots and lots of fun together! So cute!
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
CALGARY — Enerplus Corp. is increasing its bets on the Bakken light oil region in North Dakota with the purchase of a private rival for US$465 million, despite a legal fight that could shut down a major oil pipeline there. The Calgary-based company said Tuesday it has agreed to buy Bruin E&P HoldCo, LLC, which has current production of about 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. “With immediately adjacent acreage offering strong operational synergies, Bruin’s assets are highly complementary to our existing tier 1 position in the Bakken," said Enerplus CEO Ian Dundas in a statement. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about a federal appeal court decision Tuesday to uphold the ruling of a district judge who last year ordered a full environmental impact review of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Following a complaint by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the district judge ruled last spring that the review conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the 1,886-kilometre pipeline that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border was incomplete. He ordered the pipeline shut down, but that order was reversed. The ruling Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is a setback for the pipeline but also does not require it to stop operating or be emptied of oil while the environmental review is done. In its news release, Enerplus said it expects to achieve an average 2021 Bakken oil price that's discounted by about US$3.25 per barrel below benchmark West Texas Intermediate, an improvement credited to better pipeline access compared with 2020, when the discount was expected to be US$5 per barrel. "In the event DAPL (Dakota Access) is required to cease operations, Enerplus expects Bakken oil price differentials to widen reflecting rail economics ... (to) US$6 per barrel below WTI, assuming 10 months of wider differentials if DAPL cannot operate," it said. The Dakota Access pipeline was the subject of months of sometimes violent protests in 2016 and 2017 during its construction. The tribe continued its legal challenges against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017. Enerplus reported fourth-quarter production of 86,200 boe/d on Tuesday and said that is expected to rise to an average of about 106,000 boe/d in 2021 on capital spending of between C$335 million and C$385 million if the Bruin deal goes through by early March as expected. Enerplus says it will fund the purchase of Bruin with a new US$400-million term loan and a C$115-million equity financing. It says it will not assume any of Bruin's debt. It says most of Bruin's production and development prospects are located in the Fort Berthold area near Enerplus's main property. The company produces oil in Canada, but most of its output comes from the U.S., with oil and gas wells in North Dakota and Montana and natural gas production in the northeastern United States. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:ERF) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
ROCKY MOUNT, Va. — Two Virginia police officers charged in the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington earlier this month have been fired, a town official announced Tuesday. Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin announced the firings in a statement, but did not provide any additional details on the firing of former Sgt. Thomas “T.J.” Robertson and former Officer Jacob Fracker, The Roanoke Times reported. The town had no precedent to refer to for how to deal with this situation, Ervin wrote. “The events of the past few weeks have been challenging for our town, as they have been for the entire nation. The actions by two have driven our beautiful town into the national spotlight in ways that do not reflect our whole community and the people who call Rocky Mount home.” Ervin said in the statement. Robertson had told the newspaper he and Fracker received letters of termination from the town Friday, offering them the opportunity to resign before the firing took effect. Fracker, reached via text message, declined to comment Tuesday. Federal authorities have charged Robertson, 47, and Fracker, 29, with a misdemeanouroffence of knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so to engage in conduct that disrupts government business. They also face a petty offence of engaging in disruptive conduct in the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanour is a year in jail. The maximum penalty for the petty offence is six months. In a selfie Fracker took inside the Capitol Crypt on Jan. 6, Fracker is making an obscene gesture. Robertson is pointing at Fracker while holding a wooden pole. Both officers have repeatedly said they did nothing illegal and did not participate in any of the violence that unfolded Jan. 6. The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's public safety minister says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most "despicable" things he's heard in a long time. Mike Farnworth says the alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker show a "complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass." Tickets filed in a Whitehorse court show the 55-year-old man and his 32-year-old wife were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them. Ekaterina Baker did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment while Rodney Baker did not immediately return a request for comment sent to Great Canadian Gaming, which accepted his resignation Sunday. Farnworth said the couple paid a "pretty high price," with Rodney Baker losing what the minister described as a "$10-million-a-year job." An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March 2020 says Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million in compensation from the company in 2019. The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act and both people face fines of $1,000, plus fees. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Les jours de l'actuel hôtel de ville de Sept-Îles semblent comptés alors que le conseil municipal a indiqué à la séance du conseil du 25 janvier qu'il avait l'intention d'aller de l'avant avec la construction d'un nouveau bâtiment. Le conseil a d'ailleurs décidé de ne pas attribuer de citation patrimoniale à l'hôtel de ville qui est situé au 546 rue de Quen. Une telle citation aurait accordé un statut légal au bâtiment et aurait obligé son propriétaire à en assurer la protection. Pour le maire de Sept-Îles, Réjean Porlier, trois éléments expliquent cette décision. Tout d'abord, la Ville a besoin de plus d'espace pour répondre aux besoins de ses différents services municipaux et le bâtiment actuel, même rénové, ne conviendrait pas. Ensuite, il y a l'élément financier. Le maire indique que les réparations à l'hôtel de ville coûteraient environ 12 M$, mais qu'il faudrait ajouter entre 5 et 8M$ pour réintroduire les éléments patrimoniaux du bâtiment. Finalement, la Ville de Sept-Îles veut aussi collaborer avec le CISSS de la Côte-Nord qui a besoin d'espace pour procéder à un agrandissement de l'hôpital et ajouter des stationnements. La Ville de Sept-Îles est actuellement en négociation avec le CISSS de la Côte-Nord pour que ce dernier acquière l'hôtel de ville actuel. Un nouvel hôtel de ville Toujours durant la séance du conseil, le maire a indiqué que le futur hôtel de ville pourrait être construit entre le centre socio-récréatif et le boulevard Laure. Réjean Porlier affirme : « ce site permettrait la mise en valeur de l'hôtel de ville et il y a des avantages par rapport à la proximité des autres infrastructures municipales ». Le coût d'un nouvel hôtel de ville qui répondrait aux besoins de la Ville est estimé entre 16 et 20 M$. Le maire indique que les citoyens auront l'occasion de se faire entendre au cours des prochaines semaines avec le processus du règlement d'emprunt pour la construction d'un nouvel hôtel de ville. Il espère que les débats se feront de façon respectueuse.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
WASHINGTON — Easing off a stalemate, the Senate moved forward Tuesday with a power-sharing agreement in the evenly-split chamber after Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster. The stand-off between McConnell and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had all but ground the Senate to a halt in the early days of the Democratic majority and threatened President Joe Biden's agenda. Schumer refused to meet McConnell's demands. “I'm glad we're finally able to get the Senate up and running,” Schumer said Tuesday as he opened the chamber. “My only regret is it took so long because we have a great deal we need to accomplish.” While the crisis appeared to have resolved, for now, the debate over the filibuster — the procedural tool that requires a 60-vote threshold to advance most legislation — is far from over. Progressive Democrats see the tool as an outdated relic that can be used by the minority Republican Party under McConnell to derail Biden's agenda, and they want to do away with it. They point to the way the filibuster was wielded during the 20th century to stall civil rights legislation, and warn of a repeat. Democrats control 50 votes in the split chamber, with Vice-President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote, and Biden's allies would typically need Republican senators to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance Democratic priorities on COVID-19 relief, immigration or other issues. Even as he dropped his demand, McConnell warned Tuesday of all the ways the Senate business could still be tied in knots if Democrats try to press on with plans to pursue changes to the filibuster. “They would guarantee themselves immediate chaos,” McConnell warned. “Destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.” Usually a routine matter, the organizing resolution for the chamber became a power play by McConnell once Democrats swept to control after the Jan. 5 special election in Georgia and the new senators took the oath of office after Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. McConnell had been holding up the organizing agreement, which divides up committee assignments and other resources, as he tried to extract a promise from Schumer of no changes to the filibuster. Schumer would not meet the Republican leader's demands, but McConnell said late Monday he had essentially accomplished his goal after two Democratic senators said they would not agree to end the filibuster. Without their votes, Schumer would be unable to change the rules. “With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell said in a statement. He was referring to West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema who have expressed reservations about doing away with the tool. Schumer's office said the Republican leader had no choice but to set aside his demands. “We’re glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand," said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. "We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people.” But the debate over the filibuster, which has increasingly become weaponized as a tool to thwart the opposite party’s agenda, is far from over. A decade ago, then-Democratic majority leader Harry Reid ended the 60-vote threshold to confirm some judicial and executive branch nominees during the Obama administration that were being blocked by Republicans. Reid told The Associated Press recently that Biden should waste little time testing Republican’s willingness to work with him before eliminating the filibuster. He gave it three weeks. McConnell during the last administration upped the ante, and did away with the 60-vote threshold to confirm President Donald Trump's three nominees to the Supreme Court. He wanted to prevent Schumer from taking it to the next level and ending the filibuster for legislation. The details of the rest of the organizing resolution are expected to proceed largely as they did the last time the Senate was evenly divided, in 2001, with any immediate changes to the filibuster, at this stage, appearing to be off the table. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland — A Polish man who has been at the centre of an international life-support dispute has died at a British hospital, officials said. The middle-aged man, identified only as R.S., was repeatedly put on and off life support treatment during weeks of wrangling at British and European courts over whether continuing the treatment was in his best interests. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told reporters Tuesday evening that the man died. He said Poland’s authorities have been taking every effort to save his life. Poland’s government took steps last week to bring him to the country for specialized treatment. The man, a British resident for years, was hospitalized in a coma in Plymouth, England, on Nov. 6 after suffering cardiac arrest. Doctors said his brain had been severely and permanently damaged. The man’s wife and children said he should be allowed to die, but his mother, sisters and niece argued that the man’s Roman Catholic faith meant he wouldn’t have wanted his life terminated. Polish news agency PAP said Tuesday it has been informed by family members that the man died after his condition deteriorated Monday night. The Associated Press
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced on Thursday, Jan. 21, that there would be no change in the current public health restrictions at this time. Dr. Hinshaw had reported that there were 726 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 119 in intensive care. After completing 14,000 tests, Alberta's positivity rate was 4.8% at that time. After praising Albertans for their sacrifices and community spirit in bringing down the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rate in the province, Dr. Hinshaw reminded them that they were not in the clear yet. While there had been significant progress in reducing the province's number of positive cases and hospitalizations, Alberta had just as many current hospitalizations for COVID-19 as there had been when the most restrictive public measures were put in place on Dec. 8, 2020. Alberta had the second-highest number of active cases in the country as of Jan. 21, ahead of Ontario and Quebec. A decision had not been made as to how long the public health restrictions would stay in place. Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro held a joint press conference with Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Jan. 25. Minister Shandro began by describing two new variants of COVID-19 that have now been found in Alberta. One variant was first identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), and the other was first identified in South Africa (501Y-V2). Of particular concern, the new variants appear to be between 30 and 50% more infectious than the current dominant strain of COVID-19. Fortunately, evidence does not seem to indicate that they cause more severe illness or increase the risk of death. Evidence also suggests that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will still be effective with the new variants. So far, 20 cases of the UK variant have been discovered in Alberta and 5 cases of the South African variant. Almost all of the new variant cases are directly linked to international travel, but one case of the UK variant doesn't appear to be travel-related. This may indicate that the variant has entered the community. Minister Shandro presented projections of the impact that these variants could have on Alberta's population. In one scenario starting with 250 active cases and assuming that there were no health measures in place, in six weeks there would be a projected 2,217 new cases diagnosed every day with the current strain of COVID-19 compared to an astounding 10,217 new cases diagnosed every day with the UK variant. A second scenario began with similar assumptions to the previous scenario; after eight weeks, 1073 hospitalizations were projected with the current strain of COVID-19 compared to 3611 hospitalizations with the UK variant. The province is increasing its capacity to complete genetic testing to identify new cases of the new variants. Minister Shandro announced some changes to the border pilot program. The Border Testing Pilot Program allowed eligible international travellers at select airport and border crossings to reduce the amount of time they had to quarantine on arrival if they presented proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. Previously, participants could leave isolation after their first negative test upon arriving at the airport, provided that they sought a second test around six or seven days later. Now participants will have to remain in quarantine until their second negative test comes back. They cannot return to childcare, out of school care, schools, post-secondary institutions, or workplaces outside of their homes for a period of 14 days. Any current program participants must immediately return to quarantine if they have not received a second negative test result. Travellers returning from the UK or South Africa are no longer eligible to participate in this program. All of the COVID-19 tests conducted as a part of this program will be tested for the UK and South African variants. The current public health restrictions will continue to remain in place. Dr. Hinshaw reported 362 new cases that day and 25 more deaths. So far, there have been 1,574 deaths related to COVID-19 in Alberta since last March. Alberta's COVID-19 positivity rate is 5%. Six hundred thirty-seven people were hospitalized due to the virus on Jan. 25, with 113 in intensive care. Almost 99,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Alberta as of Jan. 24, including more than 9,870 people fully immunized with both of the required doses. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
At approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, officers of the Lennox & Addington (L&A) County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were on patrol and observed a vehicle being operated in a dangerous manner, travelling at a high rate of speed 401 Westbound, west of Deseronto Road. According to a release from OPP, police stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver for dangerous operation, and all three occupants were arrested for Possession of a Schedule I Substance. OPP say the vehicle was seized, along with break in tools and stolen property including identity documents, fraudulent cheques and personal documents. L&A County OPP have charged: Vikramjit Singh, age 31, of no fixed address with: - Dangerous Operation of a motor vehicle; - Six counts of Possession of Credit Card; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Fourteen Counts of Possession of a Forged document; - Possession of Instrument for forgery; - Twenty seven counts of Possession of identity Document; - Possession of a Schedule I Substance - Heroin; and, - Stunt Driving. Rajwinder Singh Chauhan, age 27, and Preetam Rattan, age 26, both of no fixed address are charged with: - Six Counts of Possession of Credit Card; - Possession of Break in Instruments; - Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; - Possession of a Forged document; - Possession of Instrument for forgery; - Possession of identity Document; and, - Possession of a Schedule I Substance - Heroin . Rattan received a further charge of Fail to Comply with release order. All accused persons were held for a bail hearing and appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice in Greater Napanee on January 24, 2021. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
A parking commissionaire who told an Arab business owner to come back when she's learned English will no longer be working with the city of Saint John, or any city until a further investigation is done. Saint John Mayor Don Darling said the commissionaire, who's employed by the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires through a third-party contract, will "no longer have any role with the city." The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires confirmed the man will not be reassigned while the organization conducts an internal investigation. However, the target of his racist comment didn't want to see him lose his job. On Monday morning, the commissionaire was writing a ticket for Yamama Zein Alabdin, who was parked in a loading zone. She tried to explain that she was unloading supplies for her Syrian restaurant, Mashawi Zein, on Germain Street and would move the car shortly, but he still wrote her the $100 ticket. As she continued trying to communicate with him in English and French, she said the commissionaire said, "Come back when you learn English" and walked away. The incident gained attention after a witness posted about it on social media. On Tuesday evening, Zein Alabdin said she is upset that someone would lose their job because of what happened to her. "I am the one affected and I forgive him," she said in Arabic. "There are millions of unemployed people, I don't want them to increase even by one because of me." She said she started working in Saint John "to make the community better." "I feel conflicted and frustrated when someone loses work because of me." Mishelle Carson-Roy, the co-owner of a store across the street, said she was nearby and heard the exchange. She wrote a letter to the parking commission and posted it in Twitter because the city's website has been down because of a cyberattack. The tweet garnered a response from many people, including Darling. In an interview Monday, Zein Alabdin said she wasn't expecting people's response to Carson-Roy's letter and was thankful the city reversed the ticket. However, she said she didn't want to see the commissionaire fired or punished. "What happened was shared everywhere, but I don't want him to be hurt by this," she said. "I came to Canada in search of safety, and I don't want to see anyone be harmed." City asked for removal Saint John spokesperson Lisa Caissie said the city takes "acts of racism and discrimination very seriously." She said as a result of an investigation started Monday, the Parking Commission told The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires the contracted employee "can no longer perform duties on behalf of the City of Saint John." The Corps complied, and is now conducting its own investigation, according to Bob Ferguson, CEO of the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island division. He said any additional actions will be decided by the outcomes of that investigation. "The comments made by the commissionaire are unacceptable by any measure," he said in an email.
OTTAWA — Former finance minister Bill Morneau says he is dropping out of the race to become secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In a statement on Twitter today, Morneau says he did not have enough support from member countries to make it to the third round of the campaign. Morneau, who became Trudeau's finance minister after the Liberals won the 2015 election, abruptly resigned from cabinet and as an MP last August. At the time, he said he would put his name forward as a candidate to succeed Angel Gurria as the next secretary-general of the OECD. But he was also facing opposition calls for his resignation over allegations that he had a conflict of interest in the WE Charity affair after he revealed the organization had paid for two trips he and his family took to Kenya and Ecuador in 2017. The federal ethics watchdog has cleared Morneau of failing to disclose a gift from WE Charity but continues to probe whether he breached the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to recuse himself from the cabinet decision to pay the charity $43.5 million to manage a since-cancelled student grant program. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Harvesting seaweed on the B.C. coast has been the on-and-off-again dream of back-to-landers intent on subsisting on nature's bounty since the '60s and '70s. But next to none have really ever been able to make a go of it long term, says Louis Druehl. And he would know. Druehl started the first commercial kelp farm in North America and now produces seed and advice for an ever-growing number of cultivators and conservationists. In his mid-80s, the retired professor and marine biologist has been researching and growing kelp for close to four decades in the waters near Bamfield on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast. “We’ve been farming seaweed, one way or the other, since about 1982,” Druehl said. “And we’ve always sputtered along. And I mean sputter, we didn’t (even) putter along.” But recently seaweed has become “a really big deal,” Druehl said. “I’d like to say it’s because of me, but I don’t know that’s true,” he said, laughing. Investment and interest in farming seaweed on the B.C. coast, as well as in North America and Europe, is reaching a fever pitch. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos recently earmarked a portion of $100 million awarded to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to curb climate change by developing new markets for cultivated seaweed. The economic potential of an expanded seaweed market in Europe could tally €9 billion in just a decade, all while creating more than 100,000 jobs and delivering both environmental and health benefits, according to a recent report by the Seaweed for Europe Coalition. Many science, industry and investment stakeholders support seaweed aquaculture as a potential means to grow a sustainable super food that benefits the economy and environment. B.C.’s Cascadia Seaweed, established in 2019, is aiming to become North America’s largest seaweed provider and believes cultivating ocean algae is the ticket to a triple bottom line, said the company’s chair, Bill Collins. Seaweed is a sustainable, plant-based nutritional food that gets its nutrients from surrounding waters while potentially capturing carbon and contributing to ocean regeneration, he said. “When we looked into it, the opportunity was tremendous. And we asked ourselves, 'Why hasn't it happened before?'” Collins said. Rising concern around impacts of climate change and the corresponding interest in plant-based foods means North American consumers are ready to consider seaweed as a fresh or dried whole food item — whether it be in salads, soups, dried snacks, as a vegetable dish or mixed into bread or plant-based burgers, he said. The time is ripe to shift seaweed aquaculture from a small, cottage-based industry to a large commercial scale for a number of reasons, Collins said, adding Cascadia’s seaweed food products should be on the shelves by summer 2021. But to shift the North American palette to a food item long eaten in Asia and by First Nations — and make seaweed products available beyond the confines of specialty health food stores — growers must produce enough to consistently supply food chain companies and grocery market selves, he added. Typically, intensive, industrial agriculture can have detrimental environmental impacts, Collins said, but unlike land crops, seaweed requires no water, feed or fertilizer inputs. “We have to pay way more attention to our climate and our planet as we create food,” Collins said, adding the company is currently growing sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) and winged kelp (Alaria marginata), similar to the Japanese-grown wakame seaweed. Cascadia will also produce seaweed for the large food ingredients market, which typically uses powders and extracts in bakery or dairy products, salad dressings or alcohol production. But the company is also doing research on B.C. seaweeds as potential sources of cattle feed and bioplastics, he said. The company has teamed with coastal First Nations communities interested in seaweed cultivation as a sustainable means for economic development, Collins said. Cascadia has partnered with Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Klahoose First Nation on Cortes Island, located in the inner passage along B.C.’s mainland. The company and its partners expect to harvest at least 100 tonnes of kelp out of the waters this April, with 20 per cent from the two farms near Cortes and the remainder from the waters near Bamfield following a six-month winter growing season, Collins said. However, the biggest obstacle hindering the expansion of seaweed aquaculture is the length of time it takes to secure licences from the federal and provincial governments and agencies, Collins said. “The biggest single threat to the business is not being able to grow fast enough,” he said. “The government has told us they want to improve and they have, but we need a wholesale commitment from government if we’re going to expand at the rate that we need to service the market.” B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham was unavailable to clarify how or if the province was working to foster seaweed farming, or if the province had any reservations about growing the industry. Part of the overall problem is there aren’t enough resources dedicated to processing aquaculture tenure requests, which typically evaluate the impacts of raising animals in the ocean, Collins added. “The process is adapted for animals, which you have to be way more cautious with,” he said. Additionally, most of the policy framework from the province focuses on the wild harvest of seaweed rather than cultivation, Collins added. Tenure licences for aquaculture operations are processed by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO). Before issuing licences, regulators evaluate the locations to ensure they don’t conflict with other land uses such as parks or natural reserves. First Nations are consulted and public comments are considered to establish whether the tenure is the “highest and best use of the land,” the ministry said in an email. Tenure holders must also submit a management plan indicating what infrastructure is on site and how and what species will be cultivated and harvested, along with estimated production yields. Druehl said given kelp operations have relatively low impacts to the marine ecosystem, in his experience, most resistance to seaweed farm operations comes from recreational boaters, fishermen and kayakers. “We have a bit of joke,” he said. “We actually have two crops. One is the kelp, and the second one is fishing lures.” Some other potential impacts to consider might be negative interactions with marine mammals or really dense seaweed operations robbing nutrients from the surrounding waters, Collins said. Cascadia minimizes the amount of equipment it deploys in the water and would work to avoid areas that might endanger wildlife, Collins said. And given the vast amount of coastline in B.C., no operation is likely to pull enough nutrients from flowing waters to endanger other marine life, he added. “We want to do this in harmony with the environment,” Collins said. “So as our industry improves and grows so, too, will our efforts to ensure that we identify the risks and accommodate them.” Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The N.W.T. Housing Corporation is introducing a program to help more residents become homeowners. A lease-to-own policy will "support expanding homeownership through either the conversion of our homeownership renting portfolio or through the sale of public housing," the corporation said in a news release. The territorial government said that would mean providing the opportunity for people to purchase a range of 221 homes currently offered for rent. The program will be available to "all income-earning families" who live in detached public housing and can afford to maintain and operate their own home, the corporation said. “We must look for creative ways to address housing needs while creating opportunities for residents to become homeowners where possible,” housing minister Paulie Chinna was quoted as saying. “The units will be in good condition and healthy and safe to occupy. New homeowners will have full access to the N.W.T. Housing Corporation's repair programs, including access to building supplies and services from local housing organizations in communities where they are not available.” The corporation said it was in the process of advising tenants whether they are eligible. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
A bail hearing for a man who was wanted by police for about eight months was adjourned again in North Battleford Provincial Court. The show cause hearing for Johnathan Swiftwolfe, 24, on Jan. 25 was adjourned to Jan. 28. Swiftwolfe was wanted on 35 charges, including assault, uttering threats, weapons-related offences, and flight from police. While police were searching for him in 2020, they issued a media release saying they were concerned about the safety of Moosomin First Nation residents while Swiftwolfe was at large. He was located after several RCMP detachments worked together to find him. When police arrested him on Highway 40 near Sweet Grass First Nation on Dec. 6, 2020, they found a loaded firearm in the vehicle that was within his reach. Cassandra Fox, 24, was with Swiftwolfe and also arrested. At the time, she was wanted on warrants for assault with a weapon and failure to comply with a release order. She was scheduled to enter a plea and election in North Battleford Provincial Court on Jan. 6, 2021, but failed to appear and a warrant for her arrest was issued. The charges against Swiftwolfe and Fox haven’t been proven in court. Moosomin First Nation is about 22 kilometres north of North Battleford. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Southgate staff reports and budgets for a few years have been forecasting municipal investment to make stores on the west side of Proton St. North accessible, and also to create an open event space. Council recently gave staff the go-ahead to apply for a grant from OMAFRA rural economic development to support a project. CAO Dave Milliner was not optimistic about the application succeeding, saying that RED is not overly supportive of capital projects. He included a map showing the middle of Proton Street closed off to create space in the centre of the block to address accessibility. This would also tie in to creating space for events. A traffic loop into the parking lot would allow for through traffic. The vision portrayed in the sketch is in “very early stages,” he said adding that the township would have to engage with the community. With the new building coming on Proton Street, he said the proposal “starts a conversation about what downtown should look like in five or 10 years. Coun. Martin Shipston said the township should get the business people involved. He said parking is a big issue, although he didn’t think much would be lost. Mr. Milliner said that the township owns most of the new medical centre parking lot, which could be an option. Council raised the fact that there were concept drawings done by Joan Burt Architect in 2010. The CAO agreed that if people were interested they could dig those back out. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmenistan's autocratic leader has established a national holiday to honour the local dog breed, media reports said Tuesday. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the holiday praising the Alabai, the Central Asian shepherd dog, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of April when the ex-Soviet nation also marks the day of the local horse breed, according to the daily Neutral Turkmenistan. The Central Asian nation of 6 million prides itself in horses and dogs, honouring its centuries-old herding traditions. Berdymukhamedov has ruled the gas-rich desert country since 2006 through an all-encompassing personality cult that styles him as Turkmenistan’s “arkadaq," or protector. The Turkmen leader has extolled the Alabai for years. He published a book about the breed and in 2017 presented Russian President Vladimir Putin with a puppy. Last year, he inaugurated a massive gilded statue honouring the dog in the Turkmen capital. In 2019, then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was also given an Alabai puppy. Berdymukhamedov's son, Serdar, who heads the international Alabai association, reported to the president that the holiday will feature a beauty contest and agility competitions. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment and address climate change. Two people with knowledge of Biden’s plans outlined the proposed moratorium, which will be announced Wednesday. They asked not to be identified because the plan has not been made been public; some details remain in flux. The move follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters announced last week and follows Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The moratorium is intended to allow time for officials to review the impact of oil and gas drilling on the environment and climate. Environmental groups hailed the expected moratorium as the kind of bold, urgent action needed to slow climate change. “The fossil fuel industry has inflicted tremendous damage on the planet. The administration’s review, if done correctly, will show that filthy fracking and drilling must end for good, everywhere,'' said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that has pushed for the drilling pause. Oil industry groups slammed the move, saying Biden had already eliminated thousands of oil and gas jobs by killing the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office. "This is just the start. It will get worse,'' said Brook Simmons, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma. "Meanwhile, the laws of physics, chemistry and supply and demand remain in effect. Oil and natural gas prices are going up, and so will home heating bills, consumer prices and fuel costs.'' Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas drillers in Western states, said the expected executive order is intended to delay drilling on federal lands to the point where it is no longer viable. "The environmental left is leading the agenda at the White House when it comes to energy and environment issues,'' she said, noting that the moratorium would be felt most acutely in Western states such as Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota. Biden lost all three states to former President Donald Trump. The drilling moratorium is among several climate-related actions Biden will announce Wednesday. He also is likely to direct officials to conserve 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, initiate a series of regulatory actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and issue a memorandum that elevates climate change to a national security priority. He also is expected to direct all U.S. agencies to use science and evidence-based decision-making in federal rule-making and announce a U.S.-hosted climate leaders summit on Earth Day, April 22. The conservation plan would set aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030, part of Biden’s campaign pledge for a $2 trillion program to slow global warming. Under Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican’s goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden, a Democrat, has made a top priority. On his first day in office last Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach — rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules on science, the environment and public health. A 60-day suspension order at the Interior Department did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity would not come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. The moratorium also is unlikely to affect existing leases. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump’s final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. The pause in drilling is limited to federal lands and does not affect drilling on private lands, which is largely regulated by states. Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 million metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. The leasing moratorium could present a political dilemma for Biden in New Mexico, a Democratic-leaning state that has experienced a boom in oil production in recent years, much of it on federal land. Biden's choice to lead the Interior Department, which oversees oil and gas leasing on public lands, is New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American to lead the agency that oversees relations with nearly 600 federally-recognized tribes. Haaland, whose confirmation hearing has been delayed until next month, already faces backlash from some Republicans who say expected cutbacks in oil production under Biden would hurt her home state. Tiernan Sittenfeld, a top official with the League of Conservation Voters, called that criticism off-base. “The reality is we need to transition to 100% clean energy” in order to address climate change, she said Tuesday. "The clean energy economy in New Mexico is thriving,'' Sittenfeld added, citing gains in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The Biden administration has pledged to spend billions to assist in the transition away from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, and Biden has said creating thousands of clean-energy jobs is a top priority. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
The Ontario government may have temporarily paused the demolition on several heritage buildings in downtown Toronto, but a challenge to stop the work won’t be easy. Matthew Bingley looks into the powers of minister’s zoning orders and why a court challenge may not be enough to save the heritage buildings.
One year ago, hosting a pizza party with co-workers or showing up to work with stomach bug symptoms were unthinkable in terms of fireable offences. But legal suits based on such incidents are now before the courts as COVID-19 upends the way managers enforce health mandates and discipline employees. Like politicians and other high profile individuals who have recently been caught travelling in defiance of regional health orders, rank and file employees are now facing career consequences for risky behaviour that would otherwise go unnoticed. A recent example is a neonatal intensive care nurse from London, Ont., who was fired on Jan. 19 after speaking at an anti-lockdown rally in Washington, D.C. In a statement, the London Health Sciences Centre said it suspended Kristen Nagle without pay in November for actions "not aligned" with its values and then terminated her after an internal investigation. The case reflects the growing issue amid the pandemic of whether someone’s behaviour is a risk to the employer’s reputation. “Things travel so fast on social media,” says Danica McLellan, an Alberta-based employment lawyer at Neuman Thompson. “Employers are definitely crafting policies to make sure that they're getting ahead of these sorts of issues.” McLellan says the starting point for an employer to look at your off-duty conduct is whether there’s a connection to the workplace. “For example … two employees go to the bar and they get into a fight. Or an employee sexually harasses another colleague. There's a nexus, a connection to the workplace,” says McLellan. “Another one is if an incident occurs on the property, but not during working hours. Two people get into a dust-up in a parking lot, or someone smoking weed in a parking lot.” There are limits to what your employer can fire you for when it comes to your off-duty behaviour. For example, getting pregnant or attending religious festivals may be protected under human rights laws. “If someone gets a DUI, and the DUI doesn't have any connection to the employment, that might not be grounds for discipline,” says McLellan. “If it's just something that an employer merely disapproved of — you smoke and your employer doesn't like smokers — well, what you do on your own time is sort of your business in that case." Some employers have built screening for risky behaviour into their workplace policies with things like COVID-19 symptom questionnaires that ask about travel. But whether or not your workplace has a policy that explicitly prohibits international travel or breaking public health guidelines, your boss can still take action on your risky behaviour under the right circumstances, says Sandra Guarascio, a lawyer at Roper Greyell who practises in British Columbia. That’s because workplace lawyers can rely on a seminal 1967 legal case, Millhaven Fibres Limited v. O.C.A.W., Local 9-670, which says your boss must prove at least one of five factors before disciplining an employee for off-duty conduct, says Nancy Barteaux, founder of Barteaux Labour and Employment Lawyers in Atlantic Canada. Those five factors boil down to: whether the employee’s conduct harms the company’s reputation or product; whether the employee is unable to perform their duties satisfactorily; whether other employees will refuse, be reluctant or be unable to work with you; whether the employee is guilty of a serious breach of the Criminal Code; or whether the employee’s conduct makes it difficult for the workplace to operate effectively. While the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed these legal principles, it has expanded the conduct that falls under these five categories, says Guarascio. “What was previously normal behaviour, like travelling during holidays, that can now expose a workplace to both significant safety concerns — which would impact operations and other employees — and also reputational risks,” says Guarascio. “That would have an impact, potentially, on the public's willingness to engage with a service provider or an organization.” Still, every case for discipline or dismissal has a unique context in the eyes of the law — for instance, McLellan says that an employee’s role at the organization, such as being in a leadership role, or having access to the till or contact with customers, could all be considered. A unionized workplace might need to meet a higher bar of just cause for dismissal, while an non-unionized shops could let someone go without cause and add a notice or severance payment, McLellan says. Although your boss does have some legal power without a COVID-19 workplace policy, many provinces require workplaces to have a COVID-19 plan anyway, notes McLellan. “In the context of a situation where an employer is dealing with employee complaints relating to, another employee engaging in risky behaviour, they can really rely on the policies,” says Nadia Zaman, a lawyer at Rudner Law who practises in Ontario. “Employers will have a progressive discipline policy … a verbal warning, and then a written warning, suspension, etc.” Zaman said there is recourse for a worker who feels a fellow employee is bringing a COVID-19 health risk to the physical workplace through dangerous off-duty conduct. “The employee can refuse to work if there are reasonable and legitimate grounds for them to believe that there's a safety risk in the workplace,” says Zaman. “Once the employee reports their safety concerns, the employer is then required to investigate the situation and advise them whether the safety risk has been resolved or not. And if the employee continues to believe there's a safety concern, the Ministry of Labour can be asked to come in to investigate.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
Thousands of users across the U.S. East Coast faced widespread internet outage from providers including Verizon Communications Inc on Tuesday, disrupting services offered by Google, Amazon, Zoom, Slack and other tech firms. Verizon, a major broadband services provider in the United States, alerted users about a fiber cut in Brooklyn. Spokesman Rich Young said the company was "aware of an issue impacting the quality" of its broadband service "throughout the Northeast corridor."