There's nothing cuter than a raccoon wearing a hoodie. So adorable!
There's nothing cuter than a raccoon wearing a hoodie. So adorable!
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
A year ago, Dr. Lawrence Loh could not have predicted how 2020 would play out. At the time, Loh was serving as associate medical officer of health for the Region of Peel under Dr. Jessica Hopkins. She was responsible for environmental health programs, immunization records and working with chronic disease and injury prevention. That mandate evolved rapidly. In March, just as the pandemic’s first wave formed, Hopkins departed the Region to take up a role as a deputy chief with Public Health Ontario, leaving Loh with big shoes to fill as a global crisis landed at his feet. By July, he dropped the ‘interim’ label from his title and was officially named Peel’s medical officer of health. Any new job is a challenge; Loh’s baptism by fire was heated further by the learning curve faced by all public health units. In particular, the rapidly evolving spread of COVID-19 meant experts, the media and public heard about new developments almost simultaneously. Loh found himself in front of the cameras at least twice per week at press conferences, presenting councillors and the public with updates and advocating to the Province for policy considerations such as paid sick days. Infectious diseases themselves are not new to public health officials, but COVID-19, and the novel coronavirus that causes it, has constantly confused even seasoned epidemiologists. The approval by Health Canada of two vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) means the path toward immunity has been opened. After a year of unfamiliar territory, Loh and his team at Peel Public Health find themselves on slightly more familiar ground. The logistics involved in vaccine distribution on its current scale are new to public health units, but the basics are not. Every year, local health professionals oversee flu vaccine campaigns. Loh himself has experience at the federal level as a medical specialist in vaccine safety between 2012 and 2013. “Immunization is bread and butter public health,” Loh told councillors at the Region Thursday, saying lessons had been learned in the past. “This is something that we’ve done year in and year out.” The pandemic complicates matters, meaning Peel Public Health is balancing its roles in contact tracing, communication, outbreak management and testing with the plans to vaccinate. The task may be simpler than managing a pandemic blind, but it remains no small feat. The goalposts of vaccine rollout have been set by the federal government, the order and eligibility decided at the provincial level and, in Ontario, local public health units are in charge of making it happen. In Peel Region, long-term care has been identified by the Province as a particular priority, with a deadline of January 21 to inoculate the most vulnerable. Ashleigh Hawkins, a spokesperson for Peel Public Health, confirmed “all consenting residents” at 28 long-term care and 15 at-risk retirement homes in the region have received their first dose of vaccine. In its first phase, Peel is concentrating on a few select groups. Long-term care residents and staff, frontline healthcare workers, including paramedics, and adult recipients of chronic home health care are among the first to receive their vaccines in Peel. Around March, when the supply of vaccines is expected to pick up, the second phase will begin. It will offer access to seniors who live in the community, teachers and some essential frontline workers, including those who work in food processing, many of whom live and work in Peel. The third and final stage of the rollout will inoculate anyone who wants to be vaccinated. It is voluntary. Peel Region is completing a rollout plan to submit to the Province by Wednesday. Janice Baker, the Region’s CAO, told councillors the task will require around 700 people to deliver the full vaccine rollout. “Council [must] understand the enormity of the task,” she said, saying active recruitment was ongoing and that Peel, “really will be mobilizing an army to get this done”. A key to the vaccine rollout in Peel will be community clinics. The first will open at the Region’s large Service building at 7120 Hurontario Street (Mississauga) and its headquarters at 10 Peel Centre Drive (Brampton) with more to follow between February and April as public health scales up. Brampton and Mississauga are weighing which facilities they can offer for vaccination efforts to expand access and get needles in arms as quickly as possible. “It is anticipated that these sites will be able to vaccinate thousands of people per day, as supplies allow, over as many hours as possible,” a Region of Peel press release explains. “Additional community clinics will be set up once vaccine becomes readily available.” It is unclear how recent delays to the Pfizer vaccine delivery in Canada could affect Peel’s plan. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, with the support of her Brampton and Caledon counterparts, has been pushing for the Province to greenlight a mass vaccination centre in Peel. The first such space opened in Toronto Monday to pilot the approach before it is rolled out across Ontario. “We know that Toronto is getting a vaccination centre with their 230 cases per 100,000, so it is only fair that our region, with 261 cases per 100,000, also has a mass vaccination centre,” she said at a press conference last Wednesday. “Mississauga and all of Peel Region has suffered greatly from this pandemic and I am doing everything I can to make sure we move past this COVID nightmare as soon as possible.” A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health acknowledged a request for comment Monday, but did not respond in time for publication. One unique discrepancy in Peel Region is among firefighters. In Mississauga, they’re a frontline group, but in Brampton firefighters will have to wait longer. Brampton Regional Councillor Rowena Santos pointed out the difference at regional council last week, saying she had “some concerns”. A Christmas COVID-19 outbreak within the Mississauga Fire and Emergency Service, which led 90 firefighters to isolate, means staff have been bumped into the first phase. Mississauga has been sending 20 to 25 firefighters per day to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for roughly the last week, according to Shari Lichterman, commissioner community services. “There was a concern — a public safety concern — that was identified by the prioritization team and so that is why Mississauga Fire was prioritized… recognizing, of course, that if they didn’t have that outbreak, they would be probably waiting the same way the rest of the fire services in the region are,” Loh explained. Peel Public Health will also demonstrate the lessons it learned testing residents for close to a year by planning drive-thru and mobile vaccination clinics as well. “Our team is working day and night,” Baker added. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
ALMA – An underground propane storage proposal is officially dead as the Local Planning and Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) case on the matter has been closed. In a letter from the LPAT sent to the Township of Mapleton, the municipality that would have hosted the site, states applicant Core Fuels Ltd. has withdrawn their appeal on a Mapleton council decision to deny their proposal. The proposal was to bury four propane tanks that would hold nearly one million litres in total at the Core Fuels location on Wellington Road 7 just outside of Alma. Mapleton council unanimously voted against this at a September meeting citing an overwhelmingly negative response from nearby residents. Alma residents formed the Concerned Citizens of Alma (CCA) as an opposition group to the development. The group presented a petition opposed to the development with 210 signatures, representing nearly every household in Alma, CCA were concerned over a possible explosion and the ability of the volunteer fire hall to respond to any issues and the proximity to a residential area as major reasons it would not be the right fit for the area. Core Fuels later appealed the decision to LPAT with the first hearing scheduled for March 17. This hearing has been cancelled because of the applicant withdrawal and the case is listed as closed on the LPAT website. “We’re glad that the township has turned it down unanimously and we’re pleased to see it withdrawn from the LPAT,” said Amanda Reid, Alma resident and CCA spokesperson. “Am I happy that it is not going to go in our residential area? Yes absolutely.” Reid noted that Core Fuels could still bring another proposal forward but underground bulk propane storage appeared to officially be squashed for Alma. “I’m sure that during COVID it wouldn’t have been very fun anyways to have dealt with LPAT,” Reid said. “I do wish Core Fuels well in their business but I know our group is happy to know they have withdrawn their appeal.” Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
A fifth person is facing a charge and a fine after a so-called "freedom rally" in Moose Jaw Saturday that police say broke public health orders. Four others were charged on the weekend. On Tuesday, police gave a breakdown of charges so far. Under the public health order measures enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Two people, both Moose Jaw residents, were charged for violating that limit, and given tickets with a $2,800 voluntary payment option. Three others at the rally were charged with the same offence but because they have been charged at previous rallies around the province, they can't just pay the ticket this time. Instead, they will have to make an appearance at court in Moose Jaw on May 19. Police said all the people ticketed were identified as taking "active roles" in the rally.
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. Dr. Deena Hinshaw says health officials may also have to rebook vaccination appointments for those getting the required second dose. Hinshaw made the announcement just hours after the federal government said there will be no shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week and reduced shipments for about three weeks after that. The slowdown is due to Pfizer retrofitting its Belgium-based plant in order to ramp up production down the road. Hinshaw says Alberta has 456 new cases of COVID-19, with 740 patients in hospital. There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died. “This is frustrating, but the factory issues in Belgium are out of our control," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a release Tuesday. "We will continue to use what we have to protect as many Albertans as possible. And we will continue to inform Albertans of any changes to our vaccination plans.” Alberta recently finished giving first doses of vaccine to all residents in its 357 long-term care and supportive living facilities. “These are absolutely the highest-risk locations, and people who live in these facilities are the most vulnerable to severe outcomes,” Hinshaw told a virtual news conference. “Two-thirds of all our (COVID-19) deaths have been in long-term care and supportive living facilities.” Alberta has given 90,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to those in the high priority cohort: those in the care homes and front-line health-care workers. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just over 171,000 this week and nothing the following week. Both vaccines require two doses weeks apart for full effectiveness. The delay has also forced the province to put off implementing the next phase of priority cases: Indigenous seniors over 65 and other seniors 75 and older. Alberta remains under strict lockdown measures, which include a ban on indoor gatherings. Bars, restaurants and lounges can offer takeout or pickup service only. Retailers are limited to 15 per cent customer capacity, while entertainment venues like casinos and movie theatres remain shuttered. The province relaxed some measure slightly on Monday. Outdoor gatherings can have 10 people maximum. Personal care services, like hair salons, manicure and pedicure salons and tattoo shops, can open by appointment only. Hinshaw said it’s not clear when further restrictions can be lifted. “Our health system is still under severe strain,” she said. “This continues to impact our ability to deliver care, not only for COVID-19 but all the other health needs Albertans have.” There were 11,096 active COVID cases Tuesday, about half the number recorded at its peak in mid-December. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 7:15 p.m. B.C. has again extended its ongoing state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 months after it was first declared on March 18, 2020. It allows provincial officials to continue using extraordinary powers to combat the pandemic, including enhanced enforcement of public health rules. The Ministry of Public Safety says in a news release that just under 700 tickets have been issued for violations related to public health measures since mid-August. That includes 119 fines of $2,300 issued to owners or organizers who violated restrictions on gatherings and events and 548 fines of $230 issued to individuals who refused to obey law enforcement. --- 5:55 p.m. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. --- 5:40 p.m. Alberta is reporting 456 new cases of COVID-19. The province says there have also been 17 additional deaths. There are 740 people in hospital, with 119 in intensive care. There are just over 11,000 active cases. --- 3 p.m. British Columbia isn't getting about 5,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that it expected next week. Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province is adjusting its vaccination plans as a result. Dix says the province will use more of the Pfizer vaccine it has in stock to complete immunizations at long-term care homes and to administer second doses. He says second doses are crucial to the success of the program and the province remains committed to giving the second dose 35 days after the first. --- 3 p.m. Premier Doug Ford appealed to U.S. president-elect Joe Biden today for help securing more COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario. Ford expressed frustration about a delivery slowdown of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot that will see Ontario receive no doses next week and thousands fewer over the next month. Ford appealed to Biden to share a million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which is manufactured in Michigan. He also expressed frustration with Pfizer executives about the delays and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ramp up pressure on the company to deliver more of the shots to Canada. --- 2:50 p.m. Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 31 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death from the disease. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. As of midnight tonight, the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions will join the Edmundston region at the red level of the province's COVID recovery plan. --- 2:50 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 309 new cases of COVID-19. Health officials say there are 207 people in hospital and 31 people in intensive care. Six more residents have also died, almost all of whom were 80 or older. As of Tuesday, the province reports giving more than 24,000 vaccine shots. --- 2:35 p.m. The Northwest Territories is still investigating the source of new COVID-19 cases in the territory. Three cases of COVID-19 were reported in Fort Liard over the weekend. There are now more than 50 people in isolation in the community of about 500 in connection with the new cases. Over the weekend, chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola put Fort Liard on a 14-day lockdown to prevent further spread. There are four active cases of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories and 24 recovered cases. The territory has also administered 1,893 first doses of the Moderna vaccine to date. --- 2 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19, giving it a total of 22 active cases. One of the new cases is in the province's northern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case. The other three cases are in the central zone and are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. One of the cases is a university student who lives off campus and attends classes online. --- 1:50 p.m. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting zero new COVID-19 infections today. The province is dealing with five active reported cases. One person is recovering in hospital with the disease. The province has reported a total of 396 infections and four deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. --- 1:40 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 111 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths. With numbers decreasing in recent weeks, the government is proposing to ease several restrictions on business openings and public gatherings by the end of the week. The possible changes, subject to public consultation, include allowing non-essential stores, hair salons and barbershops to reopen with capacity limits. Another proposed change would ease the ban on social gatherings inside private homes to allow two visitors at a time. --- 1:30 p.m. Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to ban all non-essential flights to Canada. Legault says he's worried that people travelling to vacation destinations will bring new variants of COVID-19 back to the province. While the premier says it may be difficult to determine which flights are essential, he says it's clear that flights to sun destinations are non-essential. --- 12:45 p.m. Procurement Minister Anita Anand says she has spoken to Pfizer and does not expect any more interruptions to its Canadian deliveries after mid-February. Anand says Pfizer is contractually obligated to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March. Canada expects its shipments from Pfizer to be larger than previously expected from the middle of February until the end of March to make up for smaller shipments over the next month. --- 12:25 p.m. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says Canada will get no doses of vaccine from Pfizer at all next week. Fortin, the vice-president of operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, says this week's shipment is almost one-fifth smaller than expected. That means only 171,093 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive over the next two weeks, instead of the 417,300 doses previously expected. Fortin says the deliveries over the first two weeks of February have yet to be confirmed, but Pfizer is still expected to meet its contractual obligation to ship four million doses to Canada by the end of March. --- 11:20 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says any Canadians who still have international trips planned need to cancel them. The variants of the novel coronavirus identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil could change the situation rapidly and he warns that Canada could impose new restrictions on the border at any time, without warning. --- 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting a significant drop in new COVID-19 infections today with 1,386 new cases. The province also reported 55 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 16 that occurred in the prior 24 hours. Health officials say hospitalizations rose by nine, to 1,500 and 212 people were in intensive care, a drop of five. Quebec has reported a total of 245,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,142 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:50 a.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the new cases involve a woman in her 40s who is a contact of a previously reported case, and a woman in her 20s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada. There are now seven active reported cases in the province. P.E.I. has reported 110 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. --- 10:35 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,913 new cases of COVID-19 today, likely under-reported due to a technical error in Toronto. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that Toronto is reporting 550 new cases of the novel coronavirus. Over the past three days, Toronto reported 815 new cases, 1,035 new cases and 903 new cases. There were 46 more deaths linked to the virus in Ontario. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said British Columbia expected to get 5,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump might argue the calendar is his friend when it comes to a second impeachment trial. Trump's impeachment last week by the House of Representatives for his role in inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol set up his trial in the Senate. But there's one potential wrinkle. In 2019, the last time Trump found himself impeached by the House, he had nearly a year left in his presidency. But on Wednesday, with the inauguration of Joe Biden, Trump will be out of office by the time any Senate trial gets started. Some Republican lawmakers argue it's not constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a former president, but that view is far from unanimous. Democrats for their part appear ready to move forward with a trial. On Tuesday, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she doesn’t think a post-presidency impeachment trial is constitutional. But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wasn’t so sure. “I think there’s serious questions about it,” he said. Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, meanwhile, said it was “bogus” that a trial after Trump leaves office wouldn't be constitutional, noting that the Senate has held impeachment trials of federal judges after they’ve resigned. “So whether somebody resigns, or runs out the clock it makes no difference. They can still be held accountable and there’s nothing in the spirit, or the letter of the impeachment provisions in the Constitution that argues against it,” he said. Some questions and answers about whether a former president can be impeached. WHY IS THIS OPEN TO DEBATE? The Constitution says: “The President ... shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But the Constitution says nothing about the impeachment of a former president. The question has also never come up. The only other two presidents to be impeached, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were tried while still in office. WHAT DO SCHOLARS AND HISTORY HAVE TO SAY ON THE TOPIC? A recent Congressional Research Service report for federal lawmakers and their staffs concluded that while the Constitution's text is “open to debate,” it appears most scholars agree that a president can be impeached after leaving office. One argument is that state constitutions that predate the U.S. Constitution allowed impeachment after officials left office. The Constitution's drafters also did not specifically bar the practice. Still, the text of the Constitution could be read to suggest impeachment only applies to current office holders. In the early 19th century, one influential Supreme Court justice, Joseph Story came to that conclusion. One powerful suggestion that post-office trial is acceptable, however, comes from history. The Congressional Research Service report cites the 1876 impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap. Belknap resigned over allegations he received kickbacks. The House impeached him after his resignation, and while Belknap objected to being tried in the Senate because he'd left office, the Senate heard three days of arguments on the topic and then deliberated in secret for over two weeks before concluding Belknap could be tried. He was ultimately acquitted. COULD TRUMP CHALLENGE A CONVICTION? Courts are unlikely to want to wade into any dispute over impeachment. In 1993, in a case involving an impeached former judge, the Supreme Court ruled it had no role to play in impeachment disputes because the Constitution says the “Senate shall have sole Power to try any impeachments.” DOES AN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF A FORMER PRESIDENT PRESENT OTHER LEGAL ISSUES? One other issue is who would preside at the impeachment trial of an ex-president. The Constitution says it's the chief justice's job to preside at the impeachment trial of a president. But scholars offer differing views about whether that's Chief Justice John Roberts' job if Trump's trial begins after he's out of office. The choices for who would preside appear to be Roberts, Kamala Harris, who by then will be vice-president, or Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will be the Senate’s president pro tem once the Democrats take control of the Senate. WHAT'S THE POINT OF IMPEACHING SOMEONE WHO IS OUT OF OFFICE? The consequence the Constitution sets up for a president who is impeached and convicted is removal from office. That's not really a concern for a former president. Still, conviction would send a message about Trump's conduct. Moreover, if the Senate were to convict, lawmakers would presumably take a separate vote on whether to disqualify Trump from holding future office. Some lawmakers believe that's appropriate. "We need to set a precedent that the severest offence ever committed by a president will be met by the severest remedy provided by the Constitution — impeachment and conviction by this chamber, as well as disbarment from future office," incoming Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Tuesday. ___ Associated Press reporter Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A Toronto-area constable under investigation for corruption told an undercover officer he wanted to file an intelligence report about his mistress's alleged involvement in the drug trade after their affair was revealed, his trial heard Tuesday. The undercover officer, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, is testifying for a second day at the trial of Richard Senior, a longtime constable with York Regional Police. He told a virtual court Tuesday that roughly two months after he began secretly investigating Senior, the constable mentioned having an extramarital affair with a woman who at one point allegedly sold cocaine, hash and heroin and whose family was allegedly connected to organized crime. "He told me that he wanted to do an intel report on this girl" to disclose her involvement in the drug business, and talked about how "he was exposed in regards to the cheating," the undercover officer testified. In an exchange of texts read to the court, the undercover officer told Senior he had some ideas on how he could file such a report and still "insulate" himself from the information. But the undercover officer testified he never ended up sharing those ideas with the constable. At another point, Senior expressed concern that the woman would know he was behind the report, the undercover officer testified. The undercover officer asked Senior how many people had the same information, noting that the more there were, the less likely it was to be traced back to him, he said. Senior has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including breach of trust and trafficking cocaine and steroids, in connection with a corruption investigation. He was arrested in October 2018 and initially charged with 30 offences, but the remaining 16 charges were withdrawn as the trial began. Prosecutors allege, among other things, that Senior filed an intelligence report about his former flame and falsely attributed it to an informant, who was in fact one of his friends using an alias. They further allege the officer planned to rob a fictitious drug warehouse after hearing about it from a second undercover officer posing as an informant, and offered to sell the drugs to two men he knew. In an opening statement earlier this week, the Crown also alleged Senior sold steroids to the undercover officer who is currently testifying and another officer; stole money he was given to pay informants; and inappropriately accessed a police database and disclosed confidential information. The undercover officer has said he was assigned to investigate Senior for corruption and breach of trust in June 2018, but wasn't told at the time what kind of offences the officer was suspected of. He testified Tuesday that a supervisor mentioned the possible involvement of steroids in late July. Part of the undercover officer's objectives was to set up regular workouts with Senior to "continue to build rapport," and he eventually started making inquiries about steroids. In late July, Senior acknowledged he "used to know some meatheads" who had access to steroids but suggested the undercover officer get on a good diet plan first and take some supplements, court heard. At one point, the undercover officer asked Senior how much it would cost for a cycle of steroids, and the constable replied, "How should I know?" the undercover officer testified. In the following days, they exchanged texts about diet plans and supplements, court heard. At the same time, the undercover officer said he began to engage in "suspicious behaviour" to suggest he also may be involved in criminal activity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Another Ontario COVID-19 official has resigned over foreign travel. Premier Doug Ford's office says he has accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force.Ford's office says she stepped down after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December.No other details were released other than that she has apologized.Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Stewart resigned from a group of experts that help guide the provincial government's response to COVID-19 after travelling to the Dominican Republic over the holidays.At the time, Stewart said he regretted the non-essential travel and recognized that everyone should be avoiding non-essential trips.Stewart later stepped down as chief executive officer of the Niagara Health System and the St. Joseph's Health System.Ford's office gave a brief statement Tuesday about Hasenfratz's resignation."Thanks to the efforts of all Ontarians, we are starting to see early signs of progress in bending the curve," reads the statement. "Now is not the time to let up. We continue to urge everyone to stay home." Last week, Dr. Paul Woods, the CEO of a hospital network in London, Ont., was ousted from his post after concerns were raised about his international travel during the pandemic.Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays, the London Health Sciences Centre said.Last month, Rod Phillips, Ontario's former finance minister, resigned from his post after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
A fourth COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Windsor Regional Hospital Tuesday evening. The hospital's 6N unit is the latest area of the organization experiencing an outbreak, with four positive patients and no positive staff. This news comes after the hospital announced three outbreaks in the last two weeks. "We expect to experience these situations as COVID-19 continues to spread in our community," said Karen Riddell, WRH Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Operating Officer, in a news release. "We continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that we have the correct infection prevention and control guidelines and precautions in place to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus." In a news release Tuesday, the hospital provided an update on each of the other three outbreaks: 4M at the Ouellette Campus has 10 positive patients and five positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 6. 6E at the Ouellette Campus has 10 positive patients and six positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 8. 4N at the Met Campus has one positive patient and 11 positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 14. The hospital said that admissions to the units continue, but it keeps COVID-19 patients cohorted. Transfers into units experiencing an outbreak are required to be approved by the hospital's Infection Prevention and Control department, the hospital said, adding that testing will continue. Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare is also experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared on Tuesday. The hospital said in a news release Sunday that two staff and three patients tested positive on the 3N unit of the Dr. Y. Emara Centre for Healthy Aging and Mobility.
North Simcoe's environmental association seems to be under the microscope in another municipality. This time, it's Tiny Township, which is also the residence of the Severn Sound Environmental Association's (SSEA) board chair Steffen Walma. The matter came up at a recent budget meeting when Coun. Tony Mintoff questioned the increase in municipal contributions toward the SSEA. "I’d like to get a specific cost for the SSEA," he said. "I noticed the actual in 2019 was $93,000 and for 2020 it was $176,000. I would like to know which services are mandated and the cost for those services and any other services they provide and their costs and benefits for the residents." The issue also came up recently at Tay Township's council meeting. Budget documents shared with council show that the township budgeted $93,672 for the SSEA costs in 2019 and paid a total of $119,136, which includes costs for Sustainable Severn Sound (SSS) and an invasive species coordinator. For 2020, the township budgeted $176,911 for SSEA costs and paid $181,600, which includes the SSS cost. For 2021, Tiny is being asked for $228,805, which breaks down to a $11,155 for the SSS portion, $187,630 for the SSEA core services and $30,020 for municipal drinking water source protection. Walma, who is also Tiny's deputy mayor, ventured to sum up the reasons for why the costs are the way they are. "In 2019 to 2020, we made a board decision to stop Band-Aiding our way through operations," he said, adding there was a leadership change and SSEA relocated its office to Tay Township. "In 2019, we presented a 65% increase to our municipalities. That included a change in staffing and office and upgrading of our networks." As part of its water quality sampling mandate, staff needs to visit various locations in North Simcoe, said Walma. "We’ve been borrowing vehicles from municipalities and never owned our vehicles," he said. "(From a) liability standpoint, municipalities were no longer willing to loan us vehicles, so we ended up having to purchase our own. "We had been testing wells in the municipality, so we had the responsibility to decommission those wells at the end of their life. We started budgeting a reserve we’ve never had in the past. We also found some liabilities in our existing staffing policies. We modernized our existing budget for the 65 percent." This year, the increase is five percent, according to Walma. "That was listed in the five-year plan," he noted. "We do expect to see some savings on 2020, but those savings won’t be realized by our partners this year because we don’t know what they are yet." As for the services, Walma said, every municipality pays a board-approved service level, there’s no a-la carte. Members, however, have the choice to opt out of core services on a two-year notice period. "(Core services) include cold-water stream sampling, fish habitat mapping, inland lake-water quality sampling, and invasive species programs," he said, adding he can bring to council a more comprehensive list. "The SSS portion of things, they have been rolled in together, is optional. This is a service municipalities choose to participate in." Where contracting the SSEA itself is not mandatory, "the only legislated piece is the source-water protection modelling that’s been put in place by the province," said Walma. "In short, at least until council opts out of the program, we’re obligated to the pay $187,000, not the $11,155 for the SSS." Mintoff said he would bring forward a notice of motion at a future meeting so council could take a closer look at it. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
Jasper Municipal Council directed administration to implement a paid parking pilot project in the 2021 budget year during its Jan. 19 regular meeting. Administration will also present project and public engagement plans before implementing paid parking. Chief administrative officer (CAO) Bill Given said this will allow administration to consider how paid parking will impact the 2021 budget and assist in the preparation of the budget too. “The concept of a pilot project… would give administration and council an opportunity to work with the community, including affected businesses, residents and other stakeholders on the best way to move forward,” Given said. “Administration is aware of concerns about overflow into residential areas, impact on… closely neighbouring businesses and the impact on our reserves, along with council’s priority on establishing fiscal equity and ensuring visitors are (paying) their fair share of the load of the cost of services in the municipality.” “It’s important to emphasize that the point of bringing together a pilot project is so we can adjust as we go on,” added Coun. Paul Butler. Bernie Kreiner, a “non-resident,” sent a letter to council indicating his strong support for paid parking in the commercial areas of the Municipality of Jasper. He acknowledged moving in this direction will require some courage because of “the likelihood of parking shifting to nearby residential streets” and “some business concern that this might reduce visitors.” “However, as one such customer, I will put a coin in a parking meter and still stop to get a cinnamon bun at the Bearpaw before or after enjoying a day in Jasper’s Nature,” Kreiner wrote to council. “Be bold, and do the right thing for the long term (sic) wellness of your community.” Asbestos removal Council approved a $20,000 capital budget project for asbestos removal in the Multipurpose Hall chair storage room. The Multipurpose Hall renovation capital project was under budget by $15,500, which is available in restricted reserves, and will be applied to the project. Yvonne McNabb, director of culture and recreation, told council the asbestos was detected in November. When it was tested, administration was told it would take a week or two to get approval to remove the asbestos. In addition to getting approval, McNabb said there’s the removal process itself and then replacing the gyprock. “There’s quite a few steps,” she said. “That’s why I thought it was best to get this project going in the event we open our facilities.” Coal development policy Coun. Jenna McGrath urged a letter be sent from council about the province’s decision to rescind a coal development policy, originally published in 1976, to West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, Premier Jason Kenney and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon. McGrath said the letter needs to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment and the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. “I believe it’s important for our water supply and the future generations of Albertans to stand up today,” she said. “Go back to the drawing board and encourage reinstating the coal policy.” Effective June 1, 2020, the rescission stated, “Former category 1 lands will continue to be protected from coal leasing, exploration and development of public lands but will not infringe on private lands or freehold mineral rights. “This will support critical watersheds, biodiversity… as well as recreation and tourism activities along the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Leasing outside of these areas will be subject to the same land use planning and management rules that apply to all other resources and industrial uses.” Councillors Scott Wilson, Butler and Bert Journeault said such a letter is not in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Jasper. Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey noted she would like for council to return to this matter after she did her own research. Coun. Rico Damota added a formal discussion is needed before a letter comes from council. Mayor Richard Ireland wants to check out the facts first. The matter was deferred to the Feb. 2 regular council meeting. Skating surfaces McGrath suggested skating surfaces in town would be a great idea. The consensus was to keep it simple at first. Wilson said he’s talked with members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade who have looked into it. “It might be prudent to chat with them as well,” he said. “Let’s just start with a small project, a place where most kids can walk to,” Journeault added. “Let’s keep it simple and let it grow. This is a good year to (do it).” Ireland urged a “high key but low cost” approach. Council directed administration to return to a committee of the whole meeting with a report about options for a low cost, high profile, easily-accessible outdoor skating options that can be implemented this winter season. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Robbie Fowler is doing his best to keep his name and the sport of soccer in the news in cricket-mad India. The legendary striker for Liverpool and former England international has made more headlines and waves since his arrival as a coach in the Indian Super League (ISL) than his more experienced counterparts on the subcontinent. The 45 year-old Fowler, who scored over 180 goals for Liverpool, took over East Bengal in October and has taken fans of one of India’s biggest and oldest clubs for a roller-coaster ride so far. On the field, after collecting just a single point from the opening five games, the Kolkata team is now unbeaten in seven matches to raise hopes of a top-four finish and a place in the playoff finals series. Off it, Fowler has not missed an opportunity to make controversial points. The latest came after Monday’s 0-0 draw against Chennaiyin in which Fowler was less than happy about a first-half red card for Ajay Chhetri. It was, Fowler said, just the latest in a long line of bad decisions. “It is bordering on the disgraceful, some of the decisions by the referee,” Fowler said on Indian television after the game. “I am mentally exhausted because I am fighting battles with the referees every single game. It’s an absolute joke. We can’t keep doing this, having arguments with the referees as they are spoiling the game.” Fowler declared that the next fixture, against Mumbai City, leader of the 11-team league that came into existence in 2014 and, in 2020, became India’s top tier, will be more of the same. “We know what to expect as we won’t be getting any decisions again because that’s what it’s like. Some of the decisions are awful. I’m not calling them cheats or anything like that but it is bordering on the cheating for us and it’s not right.” It is not the first time that Fowler, who had mixed results in his previous coaching spells in Thailand with Muangthong United and Brisbane Roar in Australia's A-League, has made headlines for controversial comments. After a 3-0 loss in the second game of the season to Mumbai, Fowler caused controversy in post-match comments about local players. “We will coach the players because in all fairness few of them have probably never been coached before and that is what we are doing,” Fowler said. “We will try and make our Indian players better and that takes good coaching and I don’t think they had that in the years gone by,. He later said his remarks had been taken out of context. There is a long history of British influence in Indian football but coaches and players from another European country can be found in much greater numbers in the Indian Super League. Just four of the 11 teams at the start of the 2020-21 season did not have Spanish coaches and there are over 20 Spanish players in the league. At the moment, the top four are all under Iberian influence with the three British-coached teams in the bottom half of the table. If Fowler can get a win against Mumbai then he may start to change that and make headlines for other reasons — his results on the field. ___ More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports John Duerden, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Conservatives were torn Tuesday over a decision by party leader Erin O'Toole to try to expel an MP from their ranks over a donation from a known white nationalist. The party's 121 MPs are set to vote via secret ballot Wednesday morning on whether Derek Sloan ought to be removed, with a simple majority required to oust him. While Sloan has courted his fair share of controversy for months, the idea he should be booted from caucus specifically because of a donation he said he had not realized he'd received wasn't sitting well with some MPs and party supporters. And the move prompted backlash from some anti-abortion groups, who had been firmly in Sloan's corner during the leadership race he lost to O'Toole almost six months ago. The group Right Now urged backers to contact MPs to voice their displeasure. "We feel that this an attempt to discourage pro-lifers from engaging within the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically at the upcoming policy convention," Right Now's email said. "If those officials in the Conservative Party of Canada who do not share our values were not threatened by us taking our rightful and democratic place within the party, then they would not attempt such a brazen and obviously desperate effort such as this." The controversy over the $131 donated by Paul Fromm, a longtime political activist with links to neo-Nazi causes, erupted late Monday. O'Toole declared the donation — made under the name "Frederick P. Fromm" — meant Sloan could no longer be a Conservative MP, citing an intolerance for racism within the party. O'Toole promptly kick-started the process of getting him removed from the Conservative caucus. Some MPs publicly voiced their approval on social media, but privately concerns were immediately raised about the bar O'Toole was setting. The party prides itself on collecting donations from hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters. Vetting them all against an unclear standard would be challenging, if not outright impossible. Sloan was first elected in the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and stunned many of his fellow MPs by running to lead the party not long after. He has sparked several controversies during his relatively short political life. He's been accused of racism for questioning the loyalty of the country's chief public health officer, a charge he denied. He's also suggested being LGBTQ is not a matter of science and compared a ban on therapy designed to force a person to change their gender or sexual identity to child abuse. During the leadership race, O'Toole urged MPs not to kick Sloan out of caucus over the remarks he made about Dr. Theresa Tam, even buying ads on social media trumpeting that position. The fact that a donation was the thing that finally turned O'Toole against Sloan raised some eyebrows. "That (Sloan) plays silly-bugger word games that homosexuality is a choice should have disqualified him. But kicking him out over a donation from a racist who disguised his identity? So many good reasons to kick him out. Not sure this is one," wrote longtime Conservative operative and strategist Chisholm Pothier on Twitter. "Glad he’s gone. But ends justifying the means is easy, principled politics is hard." The Liberals have been calling for months for O'Toole to eject Sloan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he's s pleased O'Toole is showing leadership. "Political parties need to remain vigilant, particularly in the wake of what we see in the United States, from the infiltration or the active presence of fringe or extremist or violent or unacceptable or intolerant elements," Trudeau said at a news conference. "And that's something that we constantly need to work towards as all politicians in Canada." Trudeau, however, did not address whether Fromm's organizations would also see money they received in COVID-19 supports clawed back as well. Fromm has been connected to Holocaust-deniers and other white nationalist groups for years. Sloan cited Fromm's use of his first name to make the donation in saying he was unaware of the source of the funds. Sloan has said he'll fight efforts to expel him. He noted he told the party to return Fromm's donation as soon as he was made aware of it, and wasn't sure what more he could have done. Fromm is a member of the party, voted in the leadership race, and had applied to attend the virtual convention the party is holding in March, none of which had raised red flags before Monday's revelation. Late Tuesday, the party said Fromm's membership will be revoked and he will not be allowed to participate in the convention. In an interview, Fromm said he's never met Sloan, and while Sloan's policies did appeal to him, to suggest his money, membership or desire to participate in the convention taints Sloan or the party is ridiculous. "I think basically, somebody is out to get Sloan and are prepared to use just about anything," he said. O'Toole won the leadership last year thanks in part to Sloan's supporters, whom he'd courted. Ever since, he has faced questions about how he'll broaden the appeal of the party, given the strength of its social-conservative wing. That faction was already gearing up to try to play an outsized role at the party's policy convention in March, organizing to advance several socially conservative positions through policy motions and ensuring they had enough delegates to make them pass. Their efforts were spurred on by Sloan, who had been pushing people to sign up as delegates, a move viewed within caucus as challenging O'Toole. Late Tuesday, Sloan urged his supporters not to shy away from their push to "be a presence at convention." "It should now be very evident just how important it is that we have a strong presence at the upcoming convention. If we do not, the types that wish to send me packing will do our party great damage," he wrote in an email. The party has been fielding complaints about Sloan's use of the membership list, and of robocalls, to encourage members to sign up for the convention. The latter could be seen as a violation of government telecommunications rules that forbid the use of robocalls for solicitation purposes, the party said. They've launched investigations into both, but spokesman Cory Hann said Sloan isn't co-operating. "We take this seriously and expect all caucus members and candidates to fully comply with all rules, regulations and laws," Hann said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist