The world's best skaters are in London, Ont., for the biggest event of the season.
The world's best skaters are in London, Ont., for the biggest event of the season.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
Alix village council heard some residents speak out against changes to a proposed fire protection policy. The policy was then passed at the Jan. 6 regular meeting of council, held via Zoom to meet pandemic requirements. Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White on public feedback to the proposed village fire department policy, primarily fees to be charged for certain fire department services. For example, the policy notes if the department responds to a fire call, the fee charges for a fire engine for over the first hour of work will be billed out at $500 for that first hour, while answering false alarms will be billed at no charge for the first one, $100 for the second one, $200 for the third one and $300 for any additional false alarms. The complete list of fire department fees is available on the Village of Alix website. The bylaw states, “NOTE: Fees will not be charged for call outs that are strictly Medical First Response.” She noted the village received two responses from the public from November notices placed on the village website, on the backs of village utility bills and hard copies which were available at the village office. The first response was in written form from Gary Thompson and Jodi Henry and stated, “Concerns regarding the new proposed user fees for emergency service. Will anything be deducted or refunded on the taxes I already pay for this service? “I realize the insurance companies will most likely absorb this cost if needed, however, this gives the insurance company legitimate reasons to raise rates considerably. “I feel this seems like ‘double dipping’ on the part of the county. Why am I paying for this service twice should I ever need it? “I’ve been paying for fire protection coverage for the last 16 years and never used it – Does this mean I get a rebate?” White noted the second response, which came in late and was given to councillors at the meeting, was from Sharon Fazer, who stated the fees are a slap in the face to taxpayers who already paid for everything at the fire hall and Fazer further stated if the fire department can’t afford to operate they should close their doors. White stated her recommendation was to approve the policy. There was no discussion and councillors unanimously approved the fire department policy. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska had 24,100 fewer jobs in December than a year earlier amid ongoing economic repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the state labour department reported Friday. Karinne Wiebold, a department economist, said there aren't many bright spots to glean from the December jobs report. “One possible glimmer is that we think oil and gas employment has bottomed out, so while the year over year losses are still steep, it should not get much worse,” she said by email. That sector reported about 6,800 jobs in both November and December, but the department said there's no sign yet of a “bounce.” Oil and gas employment stood around 10,000 in December 2019, the department said. Leisure and hospitality recorded the largest losses, with much of the December drop attributed to bar and restaurant restrictions in Anchorage aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, the department said. The sector had 8,600 fewer jobs than in December 2019, according to the labour department report. State government gained 500 jobs in December, compared to a year earlier, primarily due to pandemic-related hires, such as contact tracers and additional staff to help process unemployment insurance claims, the department said. The Associated Press
The federal government is mulling a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers as the country's top doctor warns that easing COVID-19 restrictions too quickly could cause case numbers to shoot up again. The federal government is also looking at other options that would make it harder for people to return from foreign trips, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. He said it's time to "kill the second wave of the virus." Monday will mark a year since the first recorded appearance of the novel coronavirus in Canada. Trudeau said it is understandable that Canadians are tired and fed up, but they must remain cautious. “We need to hang on and hold tight for the next few months,” he said. “We must get through to the spring and mass vaccinations in the best shape possible.” Trudeau said the next few weeks will be challenging for vaccine supply as Pfizer-BioNTech slows deliveries to Canada and other countries while the company retools its plant in Belgium. The prime minister said Pfizer-BioNTech has committed to ensuring Canada will receive four million vaccine doses by the end of March. Provinces have reported a total of 738,864 vaccine doses used so far. That's about 80 per cent of the available supply. COVID-19 cases began to spike across the country in December and January, which put a strain on hospitals. Quebec and Ontario were particularly hard hit and officials responded with restrictions. Quebec instituted a curfew, while Ontario brought in an order for people to stay at home except for essential purposes such as work, food shopping or health care. Daily case numbers have slightly decreased in Ontario in the last week. There were 2,662 new cases Friday and 87 more deaths. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 2,703, down from a high of 3,555 on Jan. 11. There were 1,512 people in hospital on Friday, a decrease of 21 from the previous day. COVID-19 continued to pressure some local hospitals, so Ottawa said it would send two federal mobile health units to the Greater Toronto Area, adding an additional 200 hospital beds. Quebec has been under its provincewide curfew for nearly two weeks. Health officials reported 1,631 new cases and 88 deaths Friday. Hospitalizations decreased by 27 people to 1,426. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said that bringing down the second wave of COVID-19 has been a "trickier path" than the first wave last spring. Daily case counts are higher than they were then and have put increased pressures on the health-care system. "If we ease up too soon or too quickly, resurgence will be swift," she said. She also expressed concern that 31 cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant, and three of the South African variant have been found in Canada. It's believed that both are more contagious. The cases were identified through screening smaller batches of tests. Tam said more needs to be done to understand the level at which new variants are circulating in communities. Nova Scotia reported four new COVID-19 infections on Friday, two of which were variant cases. Health officials said both cases were related to international travel. There were 731,450 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 18,622 deaths as of Thursday. Over the past seven days, there were a total of 42,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average was 6,079. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Last week Daisy Ridley and Jennifer Hudson went to a movie premiere together. They posed for photos and made remarks from a stage while an audience watched quietly. Or, more accurately, their avatars did. The actors were actually on different continents, brought together for a few minutes through virtual reality headsets to walk a red carpet, pose for photos in front of a step and repeat and to speak to a crowd of other avatars on behalf of their short film “Baba Yaga.” It’s being called the first ever VR movie premiere. “I truly feel like I went to a premiere,” Hudson said later. “But I didn’t leave home! I think it’s a cool way to do it, especially right now.” She especially liked seeing her team and how much their avatars looked like themselves. Virtual movie premieres have become standard in Hollywood since the pandemic started. The “events” typically just involve a start time for the film to broadcast on your home screen and, sometimes, a zoom-style Q&A with talent afterward. But Baobab Studios, the 6-year-old interactive animation studio behind a handful of cinematic VR experiences, decided to push the envelope for “Baba Yaga.” “I really don’t think we would have ever thought of this if it wasn’t for COVID,” said Eric Darnell, the man behind the “Madagascar” films and co-founder of Baobab. “We usually have our films premiere at festivals.” “Baba Yaga” actually got a real festival premiere too as part of the Venice Film Festival last year. But as it became increasingly clear that there would not be an opportunity stateside, the company started working alongside the XR consultancy firm MESH to produce the ambitious event, which included designing a rainforest room inspired by the one in the film. The virtual reality movie premiere is not entirely dissimilar to an actual premiere. There are publicists, filmmakers and actors, things to look at and displays to take selfies with (really). At this particular event, there was also a roped off “restricted” area, although organizers said it was simply there to designate the end of space and not an exclusive side party. And not unlike at actual events, sometimes you find yourself without anyone to talk to and just awkwardly wander around eavesdropping. But at a virtual reality premiere you can’t even pretend to send text messages or respond to emails. This reporter also had to take off her headset for a few minutes after getting VR dizzy. Darnell co-wrote and directed the film/experience alongside Mathias Chelebourg. It also features the voices of Kate Winslet and Glen Close. The film and the rainforest room are currently available to experience through Oculus Quest. Events like this may have been born out of necessity, but they could be the way of the future. “Even if we did go back to premiering at festivals, I still think this is an amazing way to bring people together and to say let’s celebrate this medium by actually having a party inside of it,” Darnell said. —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Tanner Stewart can think of no better way to flush 2020 down the drain than by filling up a tub with his cannabis-infused bath bombs in 2021. Stewart, founder and CEO of St. Stephen-based Stewart Farms, said his new bath bomb, made with 50 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 50 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) and essential oils, has been receiving rave reviews. "It's a really nice way to engage with a familiar thing like a bath bomb for a lot of consumers who already really like bath bombs and combine it with a cannabis-infused experience," he said. Stewart Farms makes three different types of bath bombs, each tailored with the help of the essential oils for a different experience. Trainwreck combines the scents of eucalyptus, sweet orange and Spanish rosemary to be uplifting and energizing. Bubba Kush is meant to be calming, with the scents of lavender, white grapefruit and cassia, and Blue Dream is meant to be a harmonizing bath bomb, with the scents of lemon grass, pepper, orange and lavender. CBD is a known anti-inflammatory, Stewart said, and THC is known to be antibacterial and anti-fungal. All of the products, which retail for $16.99 per bath bomb, are packaged individually in 100 per cent biodegradable packaging. Stewart said it's believed his farm is the first cannabis producer in Canada to use this type of packaging. He said environmental protection is a cannabis company’s responsibility. "We think that's setting a new precedent in the industry," he said. Stewart Farms' bath bombs have just sold out for the second time in multiple locations since launching about a month ago. Products are being sold in New Brunswick and in Alberta for now, with plans to expand from coast to coast by the end of 2021. Stewart said the bombs are a great, easy and harmless introduction for those who've never used cannabis products before, especially older people. "They need to be grabbing these things, and giving themselves a nice, well-deserved self-care treatment." Stewart said bath bomb users won't get high from the cannabis per se, but he's received feedback from customers that tell him their skin feels great after, they're relaxed and they have a great night's sleep. Some other say they feel clarity and it helps with pain, he added. Stewart, who's originally from Miramichi, said he's grateful the cannabis industry allowed him to move back to his home province in August 2019 from Alberta to start this business. "This industry has allowed me not only to come back home to my own province and have a job, but I'm able to build a business in a globally-leading industry." The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Mosquito Grizzly Bear's Head Lean Man First Nation is set to get roughly $127 million for land it lost to the federal government more than a century ago. In a Monday tribunal decision, Justice Harry Slade awarded the First Nation the money for about 5,800 hectares the First Nation lost in 1905. Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman declined to comment, but in a prepared statement said the First Nation is "deliberating possible options for (its) best interest" after the decision. The First Nation is located near the Battlefords. The decision comes more than two decades after the First Nation filed a land claim against the federal government in 1995. In 2014, the First Nation alleged it lost the land illegally, which the federal government denied. However, in 2017, the federal government acknowledged taking the land was invalid. The reason is the federal government took a surrender vote — despite a requirement that only members of the First Nation participate — but still "accepted and acted on the surrender," Slade wrote. He added that the loss of land accounted for roughly two thirds of the reserve. He went on to say "the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land" from the First Nation. The decision arrived at almost $127 million by adding together the land's loss of use value of $111,433,972, and its market value of about $15.5 million. Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
SAINT JOHN • Dogs at the Saint John SPCA Animal Rescue will be a little more cozy this winter. A group of Simonds High School students delivered Friday sweaters to 10 lucky dogs at the Saint John animal shelter. All of the sweaters were handmade by the students, who chose and bought the material, picked the pattern and sewed up each sweater. "It's a colder season. Some of [the dogs] don't have as much hair as others do. So maybe it'll just keep them warm and stylish," said student Brooklyn Darentt. All of the 14 students behind the sweater project are part of the Essential Skills Achievement Pathway, a different way to earn a high school diploma which doesn't use the traditional credit system. The program consists of three parts: the foundational learning binder, the post-secondary binder and the capstone project, which is specific to the specialty the student has chosen to go into after they receive their diploma, according to teacher Linda O’Blenis. The program was launched in 2018. The sweater project was part of the foundational learning part of the program, and the students have been working on it since the beginning of October. "That's kind of what this whole program is about is for the kids to take the ownership and really be the driving force to what's going to happen," O'Blenis said. She said typically the projects have to help out the school or larger community. "I'm really proud of them for, you know, kind of starting this, coming up with the idea and really seeing them follow it through," she said. The class is also working on a mural for the school, designing a quiet room and helping to build a stage for the school. On Friday, Saint John SPCA shelter greeter Nicole Tarcon accepted the sweaters. Students and teachers couldn't go into the shelter to deliver them personally to the dogs because of COVID-19 restrictions, but Tarcon said the shelter was happy to receive the welcome donation. "We're really happy to see the younger generation supporting us," she said. "Every time a dog is outside, whether it be for a walk or playing in the yard, they wear coats in the wintertime. Just like us they can get cold, so it's important to keep them protected from the elements." The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
Residents and local organizations are joining Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher in objection to a cluster of seven cannabis shops around Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue. It’s the second time Fletcher’s office has sent a letter to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) regarding the issue. The first was sent in July 2020, when the city passed her motion requesting ACGO to consider the proximity to community services and parks, as well as communications from the city against clustering of cannabis shops. While in the summer the initial objection referred to four pending applications for pot shops on Queen Street East, this second objection comes as the area is expecting to see seven such shops. “It is concerning that there are so many along this stretch of Queen Street East, and that they are so close to the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre, the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, the Queen/Saulter Library and public parks,” Fletcher wrote in the letter. She said she has heard from several community members, with more than 20 constituents writing in, all trying to understand why there are seven cannabis stores near one major intersection and how the AGCO approves applications for these shops. “Everyone’s clear, no one is opposed to legal marijuana,” Fletcher told the Beach Metro News. “They’re opposed to the overconcentration of shops.” She cites the corner store model adopted by the current provincial government as problematic for residents and communities, akin to having “seven LCBO stores one after the other.” Original regulations set up by the provincial government of Kathleen Wynne restricted cannabis shops within 300 metres of a school, childcare centre, or daycare centre, but Fletcher said “it flew out the window” with the change in Ontario governments. Others in the community raise economic and social concerns of the clustering of pot shops. “The problem is what’s happening on Queen is if you end up with all these stores selling the same thing a whole lot of them will go out of business,” Ralph Thornton Community Centre board chair Alan Lennon said. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small business closures and commercial evictions, Lennon is concerned that it will become more and more difficult to fill the small storefronts in an economically viable way. “The other part is, if you have a block with all the same shops, you’re not going to have a lot of traffic – you’ve limited it,” he said. “It doesn’t make economic sense to us,” Lennon said. “You’re setting up people for failure in their business, and you’re making it so they will fail, and it doesn’t make social sense, you’re setting up a community to be one-dimensional.” “That’s not what we want,” he added. “And they’re [AGCO] not listening.” Non-profit community organization Fontbonne Ministries has a branch – Mustard Seed – on 791 Queen St. E. The location is a short walk from Queen Street East and Boulton Avenue, where there are three pending cannabis shops at the small intersection. “We understand it’s something legal, regulated, and you have these stores,” Fontbonne Ministries executive director Ben Vozzolo said. “But we question the need for that many in such a small area.” The organization serves vulnerable populations and runs a drop-in program at its Mustard Seed location on Queen Street East. Vozzolo raises concerns of having so many cannabis stores in close proximity to vulnerable people. But it’s not just the social effects, they’re concerned about the diversity of retail in the neighbourhood. “I’m curious to know what AGCO’s criteria is for determining how many of these shops are put in one neighbourhood,” Vozzolo said. Fontbonne, along with Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and other community members, has sent letters to the AGCO asking about the approval of these shops. No one has received any replies. “It would be nice to have a response acknowledging the concern,” Vozzolo said. In December 2020, AGCO announced it was issuing 80 cannabis retail store authorizations per month. To date, it has received more than 1,300 applications for retail store authorizations, 305 have been issued and 269 authorized cannabis retail stores are currently open in the province. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
GREENSTONE, ONT. — Ontario Provincial Police’s commercial vehicle inspectors along with the ministry of transportation conducted a safety blitz this week which resulted in more than 50 charges being issued. The blitz was conducted in the Greenstone and Terrace Bay area this week, according to a police news release. Officers laid 54 charges in a 36-hour blitz which restyled in 17 commercial motor vehicles being taken out of service as a result of numerous safety-related defects. The charges were for load security, improper braking systems, overweight, trip inspection reports, speeding and dangerous goods violations. The goal of the blitz is to reduce the number of commercial motor vehicle-related collisions on OPP-patrolled roads and highways, the release said. “The OPP wants to remind the public that we need all commercial motor vehicle and other motor vehicle drivers to make a firm commitment to safe driving as our collective efforts will go a long way to reducing the number of collisions on our roads,” OPP spokesperson Cst. Brian Frost said in a news release. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
One of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake (MCK) chiefs was arrested for an alleged sexual assault of over a year ago. On January 13, Kanehsata’kehró:non Victor Bonspille willingly turned himself in to the Surete du Quebec (SQ) after he received a letter by mail, endorsing a warrant against him. The St. Jerome courthouse issued a warrant against Bonspille on December 22, for aggression that would have taken place between the MCK vice-chief Patricia Meilleur and Bonspille. The vice-chief had filed a complaint against Bonspille last April and the file had been under investigation ever since. The SQ confirmed that they released the 50-year-old man with a promise to appear in court at a later date. Bonspille will officially be accused of sexual assault on February 24, at the St. Jerome courthouse. Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon was reluctant to comment on the issue, saying that it hasn’t been decided yet if Bonspille can continue to sit on council as chief while the accusation hangs over his head. “Until this is brought to the other chiefs’ attention, I need to look at what our options are going to be,” said Simon. However, the grand chief also finds himself a part of another legal case. Earlier in October, Bonspille filed a defamation lawsuit against both Simon and Meilleur. It was claimed that the grand chief and the vice-chief used threats, false accusations and insults toward Bonspille - resulting in the latter seeking $75,000 in damage. The first hearing is set for next Thursday, January 28. Legal documents obtained by The Eastern Door showed that the plaintiff’s name was repeatedly mentioned over social media in many statements by the MCK, as the initiator of misinformation, which caused division within the community. It also revealed that Meilleur filed a complaint against Bonspille in regards to the sexual assault allegedly suffered on January 29, 2020. A second criminal investigation, filed this time in December 2019 by the grand chief, placed Bonspille in the middle of potential fraud accusations. Both allegations were denied by Bonspille, stating that he’s been wrongfully accused. firstname.lastname@example.org Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
The chip shelves were bare in St. John’s grocery stores after the first significant storm of the year hit the Newfoundland and Labrador capital on Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, the sun was out and 30 centimetres of snow was on the ground.
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has suspended the sale of decommissioned RCMP vehicles, two days after a man in Nova Scotia was arrested for allegedly impersonating an officer while driving a fake police car. The suspect's 2013 Ford Taurus was a decommissioned police car and was allegedly altered to look like an unmarked police vehicle. The car was similar to the replica RCMP cruiser used by a gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia during a 13-hour rampage on April 18-19. Blair issued a statement today saying the RCMP's resale process for decommissioned vehicles ensures they cannot easily be misused for criminal purposes. The minister said, however, such sales will be suspended to ensure the process is not flawed. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said today he was pleased with Blair's decision. "It's a great first step," McNeil said, adding that the province's justice minister, Mark Furey, has been working with Blair on the police vehicle file. "We have a piece of legislation that will be introduced during the next session. It deals with (police) accessories and how to deal with municipal (police) vehicles in our province." On Wednesday, the Mounties said that in the most recent case, a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have used the car in question to pull over other vehicles in the Halifax region and Antigonish County. The vehicle was outfitted with LED lights in the rear window, a microphone on the dashboard, a public address system, citizens band radio and a push bar with LED lights mounted on the grill. Police also confirmed the suspect did not appear to have any police clothing or firearms of any kind. "It remains illegal to impersonate a police officer and we will take every step possible to prevent such crimes from taking place," Blair said in the statement. "We will continue to work so that all Canadians feel safe in their communities." The vehicle used in the April mass shooting was heavily modified with an emergency light bar on the roof and decals that looked exactly like those found on marked RCMP cruisers. Early in the RCMP's investigation of the mass killing, a senior officer said the killer's vehicle allowed him to "circulate around the province, steps ahead of our investigators." The replica vehicle was so convincing that questions were raised about the availability of former police vehicles for public purchase. The Mounties have confirmed that on the night of April 18, the killer set fire to several homes and killed 13 people in Portapique before evading police later that night while disguised as an RCMP officer. The next morning, he resumed killing people he knew and others at random before he was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., which is just north of Halifax. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
More than $100,000 worth of unpaid water and sewage bills could result in the Town of St. George starting to turn off the taps for some customers as soon as this spring. Town CAO Jason Gaudet said the town couldn't shut down off any delinquent accounts last year due to the province's emergency order as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that changed in October. "We'll be back shutting water off for delinquent accounts in the spring," he said. With a total water and sewage budget of $800,000 for the town annually, Gaudet said that $100,000 in unpaid bills is "like one-eighth of our budget is being held in delinquency." Without those payments coming in, Gaudet said the town's ability to maintain its aging water and sewage system is hampered. Some of that system dates back to the 1930s. It's also believed St. George has more sewage lift stations than other towns because the town is hilly. Those lifts all require maintenance. Earlier this month, St. George had a boil water advisory because of a valve and water main break. In order to fix the problem, Gaudet said the town had to repair the water main break, pay for two tests to declare the water safe to drink again, and pay the wages for the workers involved in the project, which all in total cost about $7,000. This all come out of the water and sewage fund. The funds collected are reserved for maintenance and repairs on the water and sewage system throughout the year, said Gaudet. That work can include clearing out sewage lines, rebuilding sewage lift stations, flushing testing and preparing for capital projects. "If you don't have the money there, you have to wait until it's there or postpone the project, or work," he said. "It's tough to budget for." He said he believes some St. George water customers were less inclined to pay their bills because of the past year's emergency order and they may have just forgotten during the frenetic year, but the town will be turning off service for delinquent customers this year. Typically, the town shuts the water off on the first of April or May, he said. But before that happens, final notices are sent out followed by phone calls. Customers typically have three months from the date the bill was sent out to pay, he said. Bills are sent out twice annually, in January and June. Past due notices were recently sent out, Gaudet said, noting notices are being sent out for those who haven't paid their bills as of June 2020. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. L'initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada. Caitlin Dutt, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
TORONTO — Canada's main stock index dipped to cap a losing week as COVID-19 virus and vaccine concerns weighed on the energy sector. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 70.29 points to 17,845.91. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 179.03 points at 30,996.98, the S&P 500 index was down 11.60 points at 3,841.47, while the Nasdaq composite was up 12.14 points at 13,543.06. The Canadian dollar traded for 78.64 cents US compared with 79.2 cents US on Thursday. The March crude contract was down 86 cents US at US$52.27 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 4.1 cents US at nearly US$2.46 per mmBTU. The February gold contract was down US$9.70 at $1,856.20 an ounce and the March copper contract was down about 2.1 cents at almost US$3.63 a pound. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Images of National Guard soldiers camped in a cold parking garage after being sent to protect Washington sparked new calls Friday for investigations of the U.S. Capitol Police, now facing allegations that the agency evicted troops sent to help after its failure to stop rioting mobs two weeks ago. Members of both parties were irate about reports that Guardsmen were forced to take rest breaks outside the Capitol building. About 25,000 Guard members from across the country deployed to help secure President Joe Biden's inauguration, which went off with only a handful of minor arrests. Biden spoke Friday morning to Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She said the president thanked Hokanson and the Guard for their help the last few weeks and offered his assistance if Hokanson needed anything. She did not say if they discussed what happened at the Capitol on Thursday. First lady Jill Biden visited Guard troops outside the Capitol on Friday, bringing them cookies and thanking them for protecting her family. She noted that the Bidens’ late son, Beau, served in the Delaware Army National Guard. A jittery Washington requested the aid following the riot where police were badly outnumbered, locking down the nation's capital with soldiers, police and barricades and lawmakers and Biden took pains to thank security forces for their effort. All 25,000 Guard members were vetted by the FBI over concerns of an insider attack, and a dozen were removed from their posts including two who made extremist statements about the inauguration. The National Guard said it originally moved troops out of the Capitol Rotunda and other spaces to garages at the behest of the Capitol Police. The Guardsmen were allowed back inside late Thursday after reports were widely shared of the conditions in the garages, with few bathrooms and little covering from the cold. Capitol Police Interim Chief Yogananda Pittman issued a statement Friday saying her agency “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.” But two Capitol Police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity contradicted her statement, saying they were told department higher-ups had ordered the Guardsmen out. It was unclear why. The two officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the department to speak. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said that “multiple members of military leadership” had told him a uniformed Capitol Police officer told them to leave the Capitol Visitor Center. “The troops didn't move on their own,” said Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He added: “This isn’t a blame game, but I want to know what happened so we can make sure it can’t happen again.” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who leads a subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, said Pittman and other commanders would eventually need to testify about their decision-making. “If the Capitol Police in any way, shape, or form pushed the Guard out into a cold garage, then there’s going to be hell to pay,” Ryan said . “We’re already trying to re-establish trust with the Capitol Police and we’ve got to figure out exactly what happened.” The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with co-ordination and the logistics so that troops can get home. Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into D.C. by the planeload and busload late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting. Military aircraft crowded the runways at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, carrying Guard members into the region in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Guard forces were scattered around the city, helping to secure the Capitol, monuments, Metro entrances and the perimeter of central D.C., which was largely locked down for several days leading up to Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony. Some local law enforcement agencies have asked for continued assistance from the Guard, so roughly 7,000 troops are expected to stay in the region through the end of the month. The insurrection highlighted multiple failures by the Capitol Police to prepare for what became a violent mob overrunning parts of the building. Officers who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said there was little planning before the riot or guidance from department leaders once the riot began. The riot left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. Another officer died in an apparent suicide after the attack. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Nomaan Merchant, Lolita Baldor, And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Recent turmoil in Kahnawake required the Task Force to clarify safety measures that were put in place. Starting on December 31, Directive # 55 mandated that all non-essentials stores be closed until the end of January. This measure included tobacco stores while allowing convenience stores to continue selling cigarettes strictly to Kahnawa’kehró:non. “The Task Force decided to close retail stores, which includes cigarette/tobacco stores, as they often cater mainly to non-local clients and are therefore at risk of increasing the spread of the COVID-19 virus to the community,” said Frankie McComber, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake lead liaison for the Task Force, in a press release. The executive director of Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC) Lisa Westaway said that the decision was met with a strong response. She explained that there was a big outcry in the community, as people felt like the tobacco industry was being targeted. On January 15, the Task Force announced that stores that met certain requirements, such as selling a significant amount of food, essential toiletries and cleaning products, could be reclassified to remain open. As a result, some tobacco stores have requested to be categorized as convenience stores. “There are many businesses that have rebuilt themselves differently in order to survive during the pandemic,” said Westaway. “I think it’s part of innovation and growth, we all have to adapt.” One of the stores was the tobacco shop on Highway 132 that had received more than $15,000 in fines for going against the measures. Under the new classification, it was allowed to remain open - a decision that was also met with disagreement. “This has nothing to do with politics, these decisions are about safety,” said Westaway, in response to the backlash they received for allowing stores to be reclassified as convenience stores. The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) issued a statement in which it explained that decisions are made on a daily basis “to the best of everyone’s abilities and based on the best information available.” The Task Force also implemented new measures regarding outdoor rinks. Starting on January 14, it is now required that only one household at a time be found at any rinks across the territory. The decision was taken after the presence of a positive COVID-19 case was reported on January 10 at the town rink, along with several other community members. “The Local Public Health Team is unable to identify all potential contacts and therefore is asking any person who was at the town rink during those times to self-isolate until the end of the day on Sunday, January 24,” read an MCK statement. All Kahnawa’kehró:non need to reserve their one-hour spot with the Sports and Recreation Unit, who will be monitoring the rinks. Kahnawake extended its state of emergency for an additional 30 days, but the recent safety measures remain effective until January 31. email@example.com Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door