(File/Getty Images - image credit) Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse caution hockey fans looking forward to an old-fashioned, 80's-style track meet in a three-game series that opens Saturday between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. For McDavid and Nurse say their Oilers know better than to give players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares on-ice real estate to work their magic. "Every time we play Toronto, the games have been pretty low scoring," McDavid says. "People expect these big offensive nights and I think both teams have that respect for each other where neither of them want to open it up and let the other offensive guys get going. "I think you can expect a tight-checking little series." Tight checking or not, the baseball-style set in Edmonton represents a rare mid-season opportunity – thanks to the creation of the NHL North Division due to the COVID-19 pandemic – to witness two of the league's best clash in a mini-playoff. And the stakes are high. The first-place Leafs (15-4-2) hold a four-point lead over the Oilers (14-8) in the North. League-leading Toronto has a game in a hand. The Oilers are the hottest team on the entire circuit, riding a five-game winning streaking with victories in 11 of their last 13. WATCH | Week 6 roundup of the NHL's North Division: "We're obviously playing better," McDavid says. "Special teams have helped. Goaltending has helped. Everyone's buying in and starting to really believe. I think that's the main thing. When everyone believes in what we're doing, that's when it gets real dangerous." On the line: North Division supremacy. "A team like Edmonton has played as good or better than anybody in the league here the last while," says Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe. "They've been picking up a lot of points here. 'But we feel like we've been going pretty well as a team here and it's still real close. You can't take any games or any days off and certainly this week, that's going to be the case going head-to-head." The series promises some amazing hockey featuring four of the top five most prolific offensive stars in the game. McDavid (14 goals, 40 points) leads the league in scoring. His Oiler teammate Leon Draisaitl is right behind in second (10 goals, 34 points.) WATCH | Connor McDavid earns 500th career point: Matthews is the league's top goal scorer (18) and tied for third in points with 31, but won't be suiting up in Saturday's game due to a lingering wrist injury, according to Keefe. Marner is fifth in league-scoring with 30 points. "They're a team with a lot of really, really good offensive weapons that can score at will if you give them time and space," Nurse says of the Leafs. "We want to check hard and not give free ice and free space to their creative players. "Because they will make you pay." Toronto defenceman Jake Muzzin feels the same about the McDavid and the Oilers. "You have to be aware when he's on the ice," Muzzin says. "You try to take away his speed, try to take away his time. You give him open ice and boom, he makes plays. And he's pretty good at it." WATCH | McDavid powers Oilers past Flames with 5 points: On defence, Nurse, for Edmonton, and Toronto's Morgan Rielly are two of the brightest stars in the game – with both in the conversation for inclusion on the Canadian Olympic team at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. In goal, Jack Campbell should be ready to start for Toronto for the first time since injuring his leg last month against Montreal. Fiery veteran Mike Smith is splitting time with Mikko Koskinen in the net for Edmonton. At age 38, Smith is a perfect 6-0 to start the season after missing the first month due to injury. "I just really want to play well for this group," Smith says. "I feel like we've done a lot of good things this year to put us in a good spot right now, and I don't want that to slide away because of goaltending. "It's a mission I'm on." WATCH | I was in net for... Auston Matthews' 4-goal debut: In a season with no training camp, both the Leafs and the Oilers have established themselves as contenders. Now they get to see where they stand against the best. "We're going to have to be ready," Muzzin says. "They're a team that's firing right now. They've got good goaltending. Their defence is playing well, and their stars are playing hard. It's going to be a challenge." Let the puck drop.
President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two days before the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, said supporters of then-President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were basically in a “death match with the Democrat Party.” A day later, right-wing activist Alan Hostetter, a staunch Trump supporter known for railing against California's virus-inspired stay-at-home orders, urged rallygoers in Washington to "put the fear of God in the cowards, the traitors, the RINOs, the communists of the Democrat Party.” The shared grammatical construction — incorrect use of the noun “Democrat” as an adjective — was far from the most shocking thing about the two men's statements. But it identified them as members of the same tribe, conservatives seeking to define the opposition through demeaning language. Amid bipartisan calls to dial back extreme partisanship following the insurrection, the intentional misuse of “Democrat” as an adjective remains in nearly universal use among Republicans. Propelled by conservative media, it also has caught on with far-right elements that were energized by the Trump presidency. Academics and partisans disagree on the significance of the word play. Is it a harmless political tactic intended to annoy Republicans' opponents, or a maliciously subtle vilification of one of America’s two major political parties that further divides the nation? Thomas Patterson, a political communication professor at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said using “Democrat” as an adjective delivers a “little twist” of the knife with each usage because it irritates Democrats, but sees it as little more than that. “This is," he says, “just another piece in a big bubbling kettle of animosities that are out there.” Others disagree. Purposely mispronouncing the formal name of the Democratic Party and equating it with political ideas that are not democratic goes beyond mere incivility, said Vanessa Beasley, an associate professor of communications at Vanderbilt University who studies presidential rhetoric. She said creating short-hand descriptions of people or groups is a way to dehumanize them. In short: Language matters. “The idea is to strip it down to that noun and make it into this blur, so that you can say that these are bad people — and my party, the people who are using the term, are going to be the upholders of democracy,” she said. To those who see the discussion as an exercise in political correctness, Susan Benesch, executive director of the Dangerous Speech Project, said to look deeper. “It’s just two little letters — i and c — added to the end of a word, right?” she said. “But the small difference in the two terms, linguistically or grammatically, does not protect against a large difference in meaning and impact of the language.” During the “Stop the Steal” rallies that emerged to support Trump's groundless allegations that the 2020 election was stolen from him, the construction was everywhere. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel accused “Democrat lawyers and rogue election officials” of “an unprecedented power grab” related to the election. Demonstrators for the president's baseless cause mirrored her language. After Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was removed from her House committees for espousing sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories, she tweeted: “In this Democrat tyrannical government, Conservative Republicans have no say on committees anyway." Trump’s lawyers used the construction frequently during his second impeachment trial, following the lead of the former president, who employed it routinely while in office. During a campaign rally last October in Wisconsin, he explained his thinking. “You know I always say Democrat. You know why? Because it sounds worse,” Trump said. “Democrat sounds lousy, but you know what? That’s actually their name, the Democrat Party. Right? The Democrat Party. So I always say Democrat.” In fact, “Democratic” to describe some version of a U.S. political party has been around since Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s. Modern Democrats are loosely descended from a split of that party. The precise origins of Republicans' truncated phrasing are difficult to pin down, but the Republican National Committee formalized it in a vote ahead of the 1956 presidential election. Then-spokesman L. Richard Guylay told The New York Times that “Democrat Party” was “a natural,” because it was already in common use among Republicans and better reflected the “diverse viewpoints” within the opposing party — which the GOP suggested weren’t always representative of small-d democratic values. Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who had just led his notorious campaign against alleged communists, Soviet spies and sympathizers, was the most notable user of the phrase “Democrat Party” ahead of the vote. The current RNC did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment for this story. The construction was used sparsely in the following decades, but in recent times has spread to become part of conservatives' everyday speech. At the height of last summer’s racial justice protests, the group representing state attorneys general criticized “inaction by Democrat AGs” to support law enforcement. In explaining its rules for cleaning Georgia's voter roles, the office of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it was following a process started in the 1990s under “a Democrat majority General Assembly and signed into law by a Democrat Governor.” Asked recently what he would think of his former health director running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine responded, “I’m going to stay out of Democrat primaries.” Using Democrat as a pejorative is now so common that it’s almost jarring to hear a Republican or conservative commentator accurately say “Democratic Party.” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said she wishes both parties would abandon their heightened rhetoric toward each other. She spoke out forcefully in September after the Ohio Republican Party maligned a “Democrat common pleas judge” who had ruled against them. The party later apologized. Her objection was the politicization of the judiciary, which she has fought against, and not specifically the GOP's misuse of the word “Democrat." But in a later interview, she said the language was a reflection of today's hyperpartisan political environment. “It's used as almost like a curse word,” said O'Connor, a Republican. “It's not being used as a compliment or even for purposes of being a benign identifier. It's used as a condemnation, and that's not right.” For their part, Democrats rarely push back, even when the phrase is used in state legislative chambers or on the floor of Congress. It wasn't always that way. Then-President George W. Bush departed from his written remarks and used the phrase “Democrat majority” in his 2007 State of the Union address. He was swiftly rebuked and apologized. “Now look, my diction isn’t all that good,” a rueful Bush said. “I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language, so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic party.” Bush’s self-deprecating joke highlighted a key issue around Republicans' use of “Democrat” as an epithet, says political scientist Michael Cornfield, an associate professor at George Washington University. Democrats don't have a comparable insult for Republicans. "It's a one-way provocation,” he said. In the 1950s, Democrats toyed with a tit-for-tat approach in which they would refer to Republicans as “Publicans,” the widely despised toll collectors of ancient Rome. Republicans scoffed at the effort, which they rightly noted no one would understand. Republicans also could turn it around as a way to burnish their brand: In British usage, a publican is someone who owns a pub. Meanwhile, “Republic” — without the “a-n” — isn’t derogatory. It's known as a “God word” in American politics, just as small-d “democratic” is, meaning a revered cultural concept that's universally understood. The truncated “Democrat,” on the other hand, “rhymes with rat, bureaucrat, kleptocrat, plutocrat," Cornfield said. "‘Crats’ are bad. So you can see why they do it.” David Pepper, a former Democratic Party chairman in Ohio, says Republicans' phrasing has “clearly been thought about." Even so, he doesn't see trying to erase it as a good use of Democrats' time as the party seeks to reset the national agenda after four years of Trump. He said that while President Joe Biden has pledged national unity, “the other side is literally trying to make the other party sound like rodents." “To me,” Pepper said, “that’s absurd and disturbing at the same time.” ___ AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report. Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press
Health Canada announced its approval of two versions of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Friday, and Dr. Joss Reimer said the province is ready and waiting on supply for deployment to clinics and pharmacies. "AstraZeneca is an important next step in our vaccine campaign because it is much easier to ship and to store as compared to the vaccines that we are currently using. It can be stored in the fridge, for example, and doesn’t require the low-temperature freezers that the other vaccines do," said Reimer, medical lead for the province’s vaccine implementation task force. "This will make it possible for people to be immunized in their doctor’s offices and in pharmacies in familiar settings, if that’s where they choose to do so." Reimer said the province has been planning for this eventuality, with 250 clinics and pharmacies that have gone through all the processes to be ready to go when the vaccine arrives. Another 500 clinics and pharmacies that have expressed interest are now in various stages of either the approval process or the logistics of becoming ready. "We encourage physicians and pharmacies who are interested and have not yet signed up to go to manitoba.ca/vaccine, where you can get some more information about how to register," said Reimer. While that is great news, Reimer also clarified the vaccine is not here, yet. "We’re waiting for more information from Health Canada about how many doses we will be receiving and when we can expect them. In the meantime, we are finalizing the eligibility criteria for this vaccine." The eligibility will be based on the task force’s analysis of the recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which has not yet been released. Reimer expects to have more details next week. Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba, weighed in by email. "This approval means Manitobans are one step closer to getting the vaccine from their doctor — a trusted medical professional who knows their health situation best," he said. "Physicians overwhelmingly trust and support the approved COVID-19 vaccines, including the version approved today. They are all safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19, particularly severe illness, hospitalization and death. We recommend that nearly all Manitobans get immunized as soon as they become eligible." He did say it is natural for Manitobans to have questions, as these are new vaccines for a new disease. "Whether you’re eligible today or not, you can call your doctor to ask questions or discuss your concerns. We care about the health and well-being of Manitobans, and we want to support everyone on their personal vaccine journey," said Baillie. Reimer said AstraZeneca’s approval is great news for the province’s vaccination timeline and pushes it closer to the high-supply scenario planning. "As soon as we find out what Manitoba can be expecting, we will be adjusting our timelines and letting Manitobans know. Certainly, this is only good news as far as how long it will take to reach all Manitobans because the more options that we have, and the more convenient it is for people to receive a vaccine, the more Manitobans will be able to receive it before the end of summer," she said. However, Reimer added the task force would remain cautious because vaccine supply is always unpredictable. "I think we need to expect that we’ll see more supply disruptions at some point. So our system is trying to plan to have multiple mechanisms to reach Manitobans that can be flexible, depending on which vaccine we have available at what time." Also of note, the age of eligibility has dropped from 95 and older to 94, and for First Nations it has dropped to 74, due to available vaccine appointments. "Our team is going to continue to look at that every day," said Reimer. "Right now, our estimate would be that next week we’ll be able to reach people who are over 90." Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Pour une deuxième journée consécutive, la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean jouit d'une absence de nouveaux cas. Le total régional demeure donc à 8 817 depuis le début de la pandémie. Aucun décès supplémentaire s'ajoute au bilan. À cet effet, le total reste inchangé à 264 décès. Depuis le 21 février, seulement 7 nouveaux cas du coronavirus se sont ajoutés au bilan régional. En date de vendredi, 15 cas étaient actifs. Le CIUSSS n'était toutefois pas en mesure de fournir le nombre d'hospitalisations. À l'échelle du Québec, on dénombre 858 nouveaux cas. Les hospitalisations sont en baisse à 599, soit 11 de moins qu'hier. 112 personnes sont aux soins intensifs. 13 nouveaux décès s'ajoutent, portant le total à 10 385 depuis un an. Vaccination En ce qui a trait à la vaccination, 15 902 doses ont été administrées hier, pour un total de 418 399, à l'échelle du Québec. Jusqu'à présent, la province a reçu 537 825 doses. Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
A man remains guilty of selling drugs outside a Prince George convenience store after his lawyer failed to convince a judge he was entrapped by undercover police officers posing as customers. Douglas William Gibbs was arrested and charged after he sold heroin-fentanyl and methamphetamine for cash to the officers on Aug. 29 and 30, 2018 outside the 7-11 at 20th Avenue and Spruce Street. The officers were from out of town and had been brought in as part of an investigation that, at first, did not include the spot. At issue was whether RCMP had reasonable suspicion to send in the officers. During a trial last month, defence counsel Connor Carleton argued the grounds for the action were "too vague and soft." In particular, he noted that in the lead up, an RCMP officer noticed suspicious activity but could not confirm an actual transaction had taken place nor provide a date for the sighting. In a decision issued Monday, Provincial Court Judge Peter McDermick agreed that on its own, it was not enough to justify the move but noted it was not the only reason the undercover officers were deployed to the spot. People involved in drug trafficking and drug use were starting to spend time at the location, there were overt signs of intoxication by some of the people seen, drug paraphernalia was found in the parking lot and nearby alley and police were getting calls to the spot several times a day for drug-related issues, the court had heard. "This was an address are or near the top of all calls for service," McDermick said. Sentencing will occur at a later date. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Calling it a difficult issue, Cariboo Prince George MP Todd Doherty says a more fulsome debate is in order on expanding medical assistance in dying to cover Canadians who are not approaching the natural end of their lives. The federal Liberals are hoping to have Bill C-7 passed to meet a court-imposed deadline for bringing the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling. But with the Conservatives signaling that they may drag out debate on recently-introduced amendments, the government has asked the court to give it one more month - until March 26, according to The Canadian Press. "I think my concern remains the same as it was back when it was C-14 in my first term, and now with C-7, is that a piece of legislation such as this is being rushed through without proper consultation and without proper communication and debate," Doherty said. The Conservatives largely opposed expanding access to assisted dying in the original bill. "I understand all sides of the argument, I truly do... and I think we would be doing a disservice to many, many Canadians if we just allowed this to pass without fulsome review and debate," Doherty said. Among the amendments proposed by the Senate is to provide assistance in dying to Canadians suffering solely from grievous and irremediable mental illnesses. As originally drafted, the bill would have imposed a blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses. A strong majority of senators argued that the exclusion was unconstitutional, violating the right to equal treatment under the law, regardless of physical or mental disability, as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They voted to impose an 18-month time limit on the mental illness exclusion, which the government now wants to extend to two years. During that interlude, the government is also proposing to have experts conduct an independent review of the issue and, within one year, recommend the "protocols, guidance and safeguards" that should apply to requests for assisted dying from people with a mental illness. "What I feel is that people with a mental illness problem, they need assistance to live and thrive, not hasten death," Doherty said. "There are dark days, there are no two ways about it, but I don't think that there is anyone there that can determine whether a mental illness represents an advanced state of decline in capabilities that cannot be reversed." Doherty was named special advisor to the leader on mental health and wellness when Erin O'Toole became Conservative leader. - with files from The Canadian Press Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The head of an economic recovery team tasked with reviewing Newfoundland and Labrador's expenses and mapping a way forward for the indebted province says the group's interim report will be delayed several weeks. Moya Greene, a St. John's-born businesswoman known for privatizing Britain's Royal Mail postal service, says the team's work has been interrupted by the province's recent lockdowns and will need up to six extra weeks. The highly anticipated report is expected to examine government spending and the way services are delivered, an undertaking that has fuelled speculation about austerity measures, public-sector layoffs and privatization. The interim report was expected to be released Sunday. But Greene says Feb. 28 was a "notional" date rather than a "time is of the essence" deadline. The economic recovery team's terms of reference says its chairperson will communicate with the province's premier on a weekly basis, but Greene says it's "not appropriate" for her to proceed with that plan since a provincial election is still unfolding. Newfoundland's general election was set to take place on Feb. 13, but a COVID-19 outbreak prompted officials to move to mail-in voting and extended the deadline for postmarked ballots to March 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Postal service along a stretch of North Kelly Road remains in limbo two months after door-to-door delivery was cut due to safety concerns. About 30 residents in the vicinity of Springwood Elementary School must continue to pick up their mail at the post office on Fifth Avenue downtown, a 15-20 minute drive away. And even then, there is no guarantee it will be worth the trip. Joyce Miller, a senior living in the 9100 block where she and her husband are housebound due to the COVID pandemic, has been able to get a neighbour to pick up her mail. It seemed to go well initially, but when the neighbour made the trip in late January, there was nothing waiting for Miller despite the fact she relies on the mail to get her bills. A week later, the neighbour made the trip again and this time came back with 60 pieces for Miller. "You should see the stack of mail I got here, it is unbelievable," she said. Miller and her neighbours received a notice on Dec. 18 saying the service has been put on hold. Traffic congestion, vehicle speed, and the street width were raised as the points of trouble in the notice. Miller prefers to see a return of service but if that doesn't happen, she noted that there are superboxes on Zral Road just a two-minute walk away from where she lives and she would be happy with that. In an email sent this week, Canada Post spokesperson Nicole Lecompte said the safety review has been completed and officials are now working on a permanent solution for the residents of North Kelly Road. "We will communicate with our customers as soon as a decision has been made. We appreciate your patience and understanding at this time," Lecompte said. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
TORONTO — There's a new multi-millionaire in Ontario. The province's Lottery and Gaming Corporation says a ticket purchased in Sudbury, Ont., is the sole winner of the $70-million Lotto Max jackpot. The Friday draw marked the sixth time that the maximum jackpot has been won in Canada and the fourth time in the province since the cap was increased in May 2019. Maxmillions tickets worth $1 million each were also sold in the Ontario communities of Simcoe County, Mississauga, North York and Woodbridge. A Maxmillions ticket worth $500,000 was sold in Ajax, Ont. The next Lotto Max jackpot is estimated at $24 million, with a draw set for Tuesday night. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Si la pandémie a affecté un grand nombre d’entreprises, ce n’est certainement pas le cas pour les entrepreneurs électriciens, qui font des affaires d’or. Pour plusieurs d’entre eux, il s’agit ni plus ni moins de la plus grosse période de leur histoire. Habituellement, le début de l’année est une période creuse. L’an dernier à pareille date, les contrats et les soumissions se sont multipliés et la tendance s’est maintenue. Que ce soit dans le secteur résidentiel ou industriel, il n’y a pas eu de relâche depuis ce temps. Selon l’un d’entre eux, la pandémie est en grande partie responsable. « En étant dans leurs maisons, les gens se sont trouvé des travaux à faire. Normalement, on est une quinzaine d’employés. Maintenant, nous sommes au-dessus de 20. On n’a pas baissé la garde du tout, tout le monde travaille. On n’a jamais autant soumissionné. Ça n’a pas diminué encore et ça ne tend pas à diminuer non plus », prédit Michel Lessard, président de Valmo Électrique, d’Hébertville-Station. Du « jamais vu » De son côté, Jacques Tremblay, président de Rémy Bouchard Électrique à Alma n’hésite pas à le dire, c’est du « jamais vu ». Il assure toutefois que même s’ils sont occupés, les électriciens ne sont pas débordés pour autant. La clientèle pourra être desservie sans problème. L’entreprise, qui se spécialise surtout dans le secteur industriel, a notamment obtenu des contrats auprès de Rio Tinto, de la Mine Niobec et Produits forestiers Résolu. « Le plus fort cette année, c’est le côté industriel. Pourquoi? Parce que beaucoup d’entreprises qui sont en rénovation, font des agrandissements, et souhaitent être conformes aux nouvelles normes environnementales », explique-t-il. De meilleurs salaires? Ghislain Tremblay, président des Électriciens du Nord, situé à l’Ascension-de-Notre-Seigneur, ne croit pas que la pandémie ait une quelconque incidence sur la demande de services d’électriciens. Selon lui, c’est parce que les gens font de meilleurs salaires qu’auparavant. « Oui, on fait de la rénovation, mais ce qu’on a le plus, c’est de la construction neuve. C’est rendu que le monde gagne tellement de gros salaires. Chaque mois, je reçois une trentaine de plans de maison et il n’y en a aucune qui est en bas de 300 000 $. On parle de maison avec des garages doubles chauffés », constate-t-il. Au niveau de la main d’œuvre, même si la relève est bien présente, Ghislain Tremblay estime que celle d’expérience se fait plutôt rare. Jacques Tremblay ajoute pour sa part que son entreprise tire son épingle du jeu grâce au bouche-à-oreille. Enfin, Michel Lessard dit ne pas avoir de problème de rareté de main-d’œuvre. Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) New Brunswickers can now travel and visit people in different regions after a series of changes to the orange phase took effect at midnight. The province reported two new cases on Saturday as the active total continues to drop. The new cases are people in their 70s in the Edmundston region (Zone 4). There are 41 total active cases across New Brunswick, with two additional recoveries announced Saturday. One person is hospitalized and in intensive care related to the virus. Residents can now go between orange zones for non-essential trips and include people from other regions as part of their steady 10 contacts. Hospital visits are also permitted as of Saturday with public health measures in place. The change follows several instances of family members unable to see ill or dying relatives. In one situation, an 80-year-old was kicked out of the hospital for holding her husband's hand. Under the revised orange rules, compassionate travel exemptions to attend a funeral will be offered to people living outside New Brunswick. People will need approval from Public Health and must adhere to guidelines that include a five-day self-isolation and negative test upon arrival. The province announced the looser restrictions at a news conference on Friday. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province chief medical officer of health, said a return to the less-restrictive yellow phase could be just over a week away if the decline in cases continues. She said rules will be modified due to the presence of COVID variants. "The fewer contacts each person has, the better," Russell said. "This is so very important." Public Health has updated and loosened some of the orange phase rules as of Friday. People will be asked to limit their contacts to a steady 15 under the yellow phase, which can include those living in other health zones. New Brunswick reported 1,430 total cases of COVID-19 in Saturday's update. There have been 1,362 recoveries and 26 deaths. Public Health has conducted 228,219 tests, including 827 on Friday. More vaccine arrives New Brunswick has a larger supply of COVID-19 vaccine after additional shipments arrived this week. The province received more than 11,000 doses, according to the latest numbers from the federal government. Those shipments boost the total number of doses to 46,775, including 36,075 of Pfizer-BioNTech and 10,700 of Moderna. Another 9,360 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive next week. Play to resume for N.B. teams in QMJHL The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has announced plans to resume the season for New Brunswick teams after the pandemic put their games on pause. The province's three teams will be allowed to compete against each other starting the week of March 8. A new schedule is expected to be released next week, and fans will be allowed at arenas. The league said the decision follows meetings with Public Health and government and that the situation will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
JUNEAU, Alaska — The federal government has approved Alaska's plan to give the state's fishing industry almost $50 million in pandemic relief. The decision came after two major revisions to the plan and more than 200 public comments from every industry sector, CoastAlaska reported Friday. “It really was a balance between getting the funds out quickly and developing a spending plan with the input of affected fishery participants,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Rachel Baker. The final details of the plan were published on Thursday. Commercial applicants will be required to provide evidence that the coronavirus pandemic caused them to lose at least 35% of revenue in 2020. Applications will be accepted from March until May and payments could begin as early as June, CoastAlaska reported. Baker said the final plan excludes commercial permit holders who fish in Alaska but live in other states that received coronavirus relief. “Non-Alaska resident commercial harvesters who fish up here but live in a state that received a CARES Act allocation must apply to their state of residence,” Baker said. “They’re not eligible to apply to the state of Alaska for a funds.” Non-resident charter guides are eligible if they have an Alaska business license, CoastAlaska reported. The money will come from the first federal coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in 2020. More than $17 million will be earmarked for commercial fishermen. Roughly $13 million will go to sport and charter guides and about $500,000 will go to the state's aquaculture businesses. About $2 million will go to rural households that had pandemic-induced problems accessing subsistence fisheries, with extra funds also available for households below the federal poverty line. The Associated Press
Twenty departments in France and one northern province in Poland have had stricter measures enforced From this weekend to stem the spread of COVID-19 following localised infection surges.View on euronews
BRUSSELS — The European Union has summoned its ambassador to Cuba to return to Brussels to explain himself after he reportedly signed an appeal asking U.S. President Joe Biden to lift sanctions against Cuba and begin normalizing ties with the country. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday that the ambassador, Alberto Navarro, was asked "to come to Brussels to provide explanations." He was also instructed "to provide a note detailing the matter,” said the spokesman, Peter Stano. Stano did not answer a question on whether Navarro will be fired. The ambassador's summons to Brussels was first reported by Politico. Politico reported that 16 European Parliament lawmakers wrote to Borrell asking him to remove Navarro as ambassador, arguing that the diplomat was "not worthy of the high functions he holds." The lawmakers' complaints included the ambassador signing the open letter to Biden that asked for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. The Associated Press
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian refused to fire the head of the country's armed forces on Saturday, intensifying a standoff between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the army over what Pashinyan said was an attempted coup to remove him. Pashinyan dismissed Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan on Thursday, but his sacking needed the formal approval of the president - who rejected the move as unconstitutional and said the army should be kept out of politics. Hundreds of opposition supporters, who had been rallying in the centre of the capital, Yerevan, welcomed Sarkissian's decision with cheers and applause after it was announced by the president's office.
WASHINGTON — Federal investigators probing the death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer killed in the Jan. 6 riot have zeroed in on a suspect seen on video appearing to spray a chemical substance on the officer before he later collapsed and died, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The FBI has obtained video that shows the person spraying Brian Sicknick and other law enforcement officers during the Jan. 6 riot, the people said. But they cautioned that federal agents haven't yet identified the suspect by name and the act hasn't been directly tied to Sicknick's death. The idea that Sicknick died after being sprayed by a chemical irritant has emerged in recent weeks as a new theory in the case. Investigators initially believed that Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, according to one of the people and another law enforcement official briefed on the case. But as they've collected more evidence, the theory of the case has evolved and investigators now believe Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance — possibly bear spray — during the riot that may have contributed to his death, the officials said. The people could not publicly discuss the details of an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Sicknick died after defending the Capitol against the mob that stormed the building as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win over Donald Trump. It came after Trump urged supporters on the National Mall to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The circumstances surrounding Sicknick’s death remain unclear and a final cause of death has not yet been determined. Capitol Police have said he died after he was injured “while physically engaging with protesters” and this week, the agency’s acting chief said officials consider it a line-of-duty death. Sicknick collapsed later on, was hospitalized and died. The Justice Department opened a federal murder investigation into his death, but prosecutors are still evaluating what specific charges could be brought in the case, the people said. In a statement late Friday, Capitol Police said the medical examiner’s report on Sicknick’s death is not yet complete. “We are awaiting toxicology results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation,” the statement said. The New York Times first reported investigators were zeroing in on one suspect in the case; CNN previously reported law enforcement had collected video evidence to identify a handful of potential suspects. The FBI has already released about 250 photos of people being sought for assaulting federal law enforcement officers during the riot. Some have already been arrested and the Justice Department said about 300 people have been charged with federal offences related to the riot. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Services Québec a lancé en novembre dernier le Programme d’aide à la relance par l’augmentation de la formation (PARAF). L’initiative vise ainsi à faciliter la réorientation de carrière et offre 500 $ par semaine à ceux qui retournent sur les bancs d’école pour des secteurs en demande. Avec un taux de chômage atteignant les 9 % au Québec, le ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité a investi 115 M$ dans ce nouveau programme, qui vise à inciter les personnes sans emploi à se requalifier ou à rehausser leurs compétences. « Qu’on soit prestataire de l’assurance emploi, de l’aide financière de dernier recours ou qu’on soit sans revenu, toute personne sans emploi est admissible. Compléter une nouvelle formation en quelques mois, être orienté vers une profession, pour plusieurs personnes, ça peut changer leur vie », explique Lison Rhéaume, directrice régionale de Services Québec. Pour y être admissible, la formation doit débuter au plus tard le 25 septembre 2021. Une rencontre avec un agent d’aide à l’emploi doit également être effectuée au plus tard le 30 avril 2021. Jusqu’à présent, plus de 400 personnes ont souscrit au programme dans la région. Secteurs visés Services Québec vise surtout les formations courtes qui permettent l’obtention d’un diplôme d’études professionnelles, d’un diplôme d’études collégiales, voire un microgramme universitaire. Selon Lison Rhéaume, si certains secteurs vivent une pénurie de main-d’œuvre, l’idée n’est pas d’imposer à qui que ce soit une formation précise. « Ceux qui viennent rencontrer nos agents ne sont pas orientés. L’évaluation du besoin de la personne se fait sur la base de ses aspirations professionnelles et de ses capacités. La rencontre permet de discuter de son projet professionnel, de son chemin parcouru sur le marché du travail et pour voir s’il y a des embuches à relever. Seulement lorsque c’est nécessaire, elle est référée en orientation. » Démasculiniser des métiers Les emplois les plus affectés par la pandémie ont été ceux à plus faible salaire ainsi que les postes temps partiels, notamment dans la restauration, les arts et spectacles, l’hébergement et le commerce de détail. Or, ces métiers sont davantage occupés par des femmes. Ainsi, 146 000 femmes ont perdu leur emploi pendant la pandémie, comparativement à 104 600 hommes. Le PARAF est selon Services Québec une opportunité pour corriger ce déséquilibre, incitant des femmes à intégrer des emplois longtemps perçus comme plus « masculins ». Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
Lheidli T’enneh Nation, McLeod Lake Indian Band and Prince George-based Formula Capital Corp. said they are close to forming a partnership to develop a petrochemical complex in the First Nations' fledgling industrial park north of the city. The move comes after West Coast Olefins Ltd. president Ken James said in December it has decided to renew a plan to build a complex at the BCR Industrial Site in Prince George. WCOL had considered properties near Summit Lake and Bear Lake - including land LTN and MLIB have their eyes on for the industrial park - but backed away, James said, because opposition to the project remained just as strong as if if was to be built in Prince George. The next day, LTN and MLIB issued a statement saying they oppose WCOL advancing the project on the BCR industrial site and that there will be no future negotiations between the parties. Formula Capital CEO Paul Tiefensee said the three are close to agreeing on a memorandum of understanding and once signed, a pre-feasibility study will be carried out to assess the project's viability. He said that, at the least, they hope to achieve a complex that extracts feedstock from the Enbridge West Coast natural gas pipeline and refines it into condensate, butane, ethylene and propane. Depending on their findings, Tiefensee indicated the goal could be much larger and rival what WCOL has in mind for the BCR, namely plants that produce plastic pellets and antifreeze and heat transfer fluid. Noted northern B.C. sawmill builder Brian Fehr is the majority owner of Formula Capital which, in turn, owns Formula Contractors Ltd. Tiefensee is the CEO for both firms. Completed projects listed on Formula Contractors' website include several related to mining and hydroelectricity. LTN Dayi Clay Pountney said the goal is to create something that will benefit the entire region. LTN and MLIB remain in the process securing land for their Shas Ti-Dlezeh Industrial Park, Pountney confirmed. They have their eyes on close to 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of Crown land about four kilometres southwest of Summit Lake and on the east side of Highway 97 North. In a response emailed Tuesday, James said WCOL will continue to move forward with its project and is "confident in its ability to advance a project with the highest probability of success." Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Chief Chris Moonias looked into a web camera as he prepared to get a COVID-19 vaccine just after precious doses arrived in his northern Ontario community. “I’m coming to you live from Neskantaga First Nation community centre where our vaccines will be administered,” a jovial Moonias, wearing a blue disposable mask, said during a Facebook live video at the start of February. Moonias was first to get the vaccine in the fly-in Oji-Cree First Nation on the shores of Attawapiskat Lake north of Thunder Bay. The vaccine had arrived by plane earlier in the day after weeks of planning, and the chief's video was part of a campaign to get community members on board. Moonias said in an interview that he had done his own research, had spoken with medical professionals and wasn’t concerned about getting the shot. About 88 per cent of eligible on-reserve members have since received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Second doses are to arrive Monday. However, earlier this week, the reserve declared a state of emergency due to a COVID-19 outbreak, with some cases linked to the Thunder Bay District Jail. Moonias said four off-reserve members in Thunder Bay, all under the age of 40 — including his nephew — have died. And he's worried about the 200 other members who live off the reserve — almost the same number as those on the reserve — and when they'll get inoculated. “I even thought about flying my people up ... to get the vaccine,” said Moonias, who added it's unlikely to be an option because of cost. Canada is in the midst of the largest vaccine rollout in its history. The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Indigenous populations much harder and Ottawa says they are a priority for vaccinations. The actual distribution remains complex and varied across the country. Neskantaga is one of 31 fly-in First Nations included in Operation Remote Immunity, part of the first phase of Ontario’s vaccination rollout. The operation was developed with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Ornge, the province's air ambulance service. The goal is to provide mass vaccinations by April 30 and it is having early successes. There are challenges getting the vaccine to remote First Nations and questions about distribution for urban Indigenous populations. The Assembly of First Nations says most Indigenous communities haven’t received sufficient supply to extend doses to their off-reserve members. The National Association of Friendship Centres says there is no national vaccination plan for urban Indigenous people. There's also concern there is no national plan to tackle decades of mistrust created by systemic racism and experimentation on Indigenous people. There are many examples throughout Canadian history of scientists sponsored by the federal government or the government itself doing medical experiments on Indigenous people, including children, who were the subject of a tuberculosis vaccine trial in Saskatchewan that began in the 1930s. Ontario New Democrat Sol Mamakwa, who represents the electoral district of Kiiwetinoong, said some constituents tell him they are scared to take the vaccine. They don’t trust it. He has been travelling to communities to help promote it and received his first dose alongside members of Muskrat Dam Lake First Nation. Community engagement has been key in vaccine uptake, Mamakwa said. Promotion begins weeks before vaccine teams arrive and includes radio campaigns, social media posts and live online question-and-answer sessions. It’s about giving people information, he said. “One of the only ways out of this pandemic is the vaccine,” said Wade Durham, Ornge’s chief operating officer, who added it's key to have Indigenous people involved in vaccine planning. Each First Nation in Operation Remote Immunity has a community member responsible for answering questions and setting up a vaccination site. Immunization teams are required to take cultural training and, when possible, include Indigenous medical professionals and language speakers. Indigenous Services Canada said it is aware that a history of colonization and systemic racism has caused mistrust, so campaigns are being developed specifically for First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities. Michelle Driedger, a Metis professor of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba, said experience has shown that stakes are high when it comes to Indigenous communities. During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, the Public Health Agency of Canada prioritized vaccines by geography. A main lesson learned was to increase Indigenous representation at decision-making tables, she said. At the time, Indigenous people were over-represented in hospitalizations and intensive care stays, as well as in deaths. Those living in remote and isolated communities experienced worse outcomes. Driedger said the vaccine response is better now, but there is “rational skepticism.” There needs to be a transparent vaccination plan for Indigenous communities — no matter where they are, she said. The Matawa First Nations tribal council said its four communities reachable by road are not getting the same vaccine access as its five fly-in ones, and more needs to be done. Provincial officials have said that remote First Nations received priority for the vaccine rollout because of less access to on-site health care and increased health risks. Chief Rick Allen from Constance Lake First Nation has said the vaccine needs to go where the outbreaks are. Back in Neskantaga, Moonias said he'll do anything he can to protect anyone he can. He continues to give updates about his vaccination. In another Facebook video posted soon after he received his shot, the chief gave a thumbs-up and said he had no pain or discomfort. “We need this. We need to beat this virus.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. ___ This story was produced through the Journalists for Human Rights Indigenous Reporters Program under the mentorship of The Canadian Press, with funding from the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch. Crystal Hardy Zongwe Binesikwe, The Canadian Press