Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed off damning new allegations that a Kremlin-controlled hit squad uses nerve agents to eliminate opponents, including Alexei Navalny.
Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed off damning new allegations that a Kremlin-controlled hit squad uses nerve agents to eliminate opponents, including Alexei Navalny.
WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — The Metis Nation of B.C. says its board of directors has voted to suspended its elected president, alleging there has been a breach of its policies and procedures. Its board of directors say in a statement that Clara Morin Dal Col, who was re-elected to the role in September, was suspended with pay on Monday. In a statement on its website, the board also alleges there was a contravention of the president's oath of office. The board says it made the decision after being left "with no other option," but it offered no further explanation of what led to the suspension. Dal Col had no immediate comment when reached by phone, saying she'll be releasing a statement later. Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis. The Metis National Council and Manitoba Metis Federation criticized the decision to suspend Dal Col, calling it a "shocking coup" in a statement. David Chartrand, the Manitoba federation president and national council spokesman, says in the statement that the organizations do not recognize Smith as B.C.'s new president. "This is a black eye for democracy," national council president Clement Chartier added in the statement. Daniel Fontaine, the CEO of the Metis Nation of B.C., was not available for comment on Friday, but the organization responded to the Metis National Council in an open letter signed by Smith on behalf of the board of directors. The letter posted to its website questions the accuracy of the national council's statement. "By suggesting that actions clearly written in our constitution, approved by our citizens, are inherently undemocratic, 'unwarranted, and without merit' are baffling," the letter says. It says it expects Smith to be given the same privileges and powers afforded to Dal Col until any appeal process is complete. In its statement announcing the suspension, the Metis Nation of B.C. says anyone who has been suspended can appeal the decision to its senate, and its decisions are final and binding. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
The province’s largest vaccination effort in history is projected to vaccinate all 4.3 million eligible British Columbians by the end of September, health officials announced today. The province is prepared to deliver 8.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — both of which require two doses — to all adults who want one at a rate of up to 500,000 per week as vaccine supply increases. No vaccines have been approved for use by B.C.’s 900,000 children and youth under 18. “By the end of September, everyone who wants a vaccination will have one,” said Premier John Horgan. The province has changed early plans to continue prioritizing specific at-risk groups as is being done in other provinces. Instead, the vaccine will be administered largely based on age in B.C.’s four-phase strategy. “Our immunization plan is based on evidence and data,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “And we know the single greatest risk factor for serious illness and death from COVID-19 is increasing age.” Initially the province said frontline workers such as those in law enforcement, grocery stores and essential businesses and teachers and emergency responders could be prioritized in its plans. But research from B.C. and the rest of Canada indicates that risk of serious illness and death due to COVID-19 increases “almost exponentially” with age, Henry noted. Those over 80 are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those in their late 60s, who are five times more likely than people under 45. Even the other chronic conditions proven to increase the risk of hospitalization and death, such as serious asthma, heart disease and diabetes, are heavily correlated with age, Henry said. “Going on an age-based model captures the majority of people with underlying risk factors first,” she said. “This is going to be, and needs to be, an all-B.C. effort to make sure we can protect those most vulnerable and all of us in our communities.” Phase 1 of the strategy is already well under way, focusing on long-term care staff and residents and essential visitors, health-care workers treating COVID-19 patients and remote First Nations communities. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated so far, and the phase will wrap up by March, Henry said. Under Phase 2, starting in March, 172 communities will see stadiums, high school gyms and public plazas turned into mass immunization centres. Mobile vaccination clinics and house-call teams will also be available for smaller communities and people who can’t make it to a vaccination centre. More than 240,000 seniors over 80 living in the community will be immunized, as well as Indigenous seniors over 65, hospital staff and community practitioners and homeless or vulnerable populations living in settings like shelters and group homes. At the same time, vaccination pre-registrations will start for the general population by phone and online, opening two to four weeks before each age group is eligible on a rolling basis. In Phase 3 starting in April, about 980,000 seniors in the community will be immunized. The plan is to start with people 75 to 79 and move through the population in five-year increments until everyone over 60 is vaccinated. B.C.’s vaccination lead Dr. Penny Ballem said immunocompromised adults and teens over 16 will get the vaccine if it’s deemed medically necessary during this phase, as well as organ transplant recipients and those with other clinical vulnerabilities. And the final phase starting in July will see about three million people aged 18 to 59 vaccinated in descending age order. Patients will also receive physical or digital vaccination records noting the date and kind of vaccination they received, and all immunization records will also be available through the provincial health gateway. The plan is based on the increasing availability of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the anticipated approval of additional vaccines on order. Vaccine shortages have already delayed vaccinations in B.C. and across Canada. The province expects more than 800,000 doses to arrive in B.C. before the end of March, 2.6 million from April to June and six million by the end of September. Planning also assumes 100-per-cent uptake in the population, which surveys indicate will not be the case. Henry hopes around 70 per cent of those eligible will be vaccinated to build community immunity. “This can be reached if the large majority of people in B.C. choose to be immunized,” she said. Officials say the timeline could shift if the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved and available in the province, or if vaccines need to be rerouted to deal with community outbreaks, clusters or high-risk workplaces. Ballem said the baseline estimates “allows us to know how to schedule human resources, supply chains for vaccines and other supplies that are necessary.” Horgan said more delays are possible if vaccine production is slower than expected. But the plan is a good starting point and can be adapted as vaccine supplies increase or acute needs emerge in communities, he said. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to continue washing their hands, staying home when sick and masking up in public areas. It will be a long time until any sense of normalcy can return, and this is a critical time to protect the most vulnerable before they are immunized, they said. “What’s really important for success and us getting through these next few months is continuing to take the precautions that we know work,” said Henry. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
TORONTO — A former senior employee with the Ontario government has repaid more than $11 million in COVID-19 benefits the province alleges he took fraudulently, his lawyer said on Friday.The unproven civil claim named Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop the computer application for applying and approving the benefit for families with children.In a brief statement, Madan's lawyer Christopher Du Vernet confirmed his client had made the repayment."In fact, the province has recovered in excess of the funds it presently alleges Mr. Madan took from the Families Support Program," Du Vernet said. "However, it is also seeking its legal costs, interest and punitive damages, so the action continues."In its untested lawsuit filed last fall, the province alleged Madan, his wife and two adult children who all worked for the Ontario government in information technology defrauded the province of at least $11 million.The civil claim, which also sought $2 million in punitive damages, accused them and others of illegally issuing and banking cheques under the program that aimed to defray the cost of children learning at home."The Madan family exploited their positions of employment with Ontario and unique access to the (program) and payment processing system," the government alleged in the claim. "The plaintiff was uniquely vulnerable to Sanjay, particularly with respect to the integrity of the...application."The Ministry of the Attorney General did not immediately confirm the recovered money, first reported by the Toronto Star. Du Vernet said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his condition.According to the lawsuit, Madan and his family opened more than 400 accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May. They then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants with thousands of non-existent children under the support program.Most deposits were made over a four-week period starting on May 25, coinciding with a rule change that allowed more than five payments to be made to an applicant. The government alleges Madan either sparked the rule change or knew about it and took advantage.In other court filings, Madan is said to have told the government that he could explain "all of this" and that he has "helped many families."The government had served notice it intended to seize any money the family obtained fraudulently and obtained a court order to have their bank accounts turned over to the court pending the outcome of the lawsuit.The government also obtained a court order freezing the family's assets, which included a list of properties in Toronto.Madan was fired in November. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
CHORLEY, England — Separated from Chorley by 109 places in the English football pyramid, Wolverhampton didn't only manage a single goal in its 1-0 win. The Premier League millionaires also only managed a single shot — the goal — against the part-timers from the sixth tier. Vitinha's 35-yard, swerving strike in the 12th-minute moved Nuno Espírito Santo’s side into the round of 16 in the FA Cup on Friday night. It was spectacular but actually a rare moment of quality from the visitors to this tiny stadium in a former mill town in northern England. Contrast that with the attacking threat from the minnows. Incredibly, John Ruddy from Wolves was the busier of the two goalkeepers — facing five shots on target, including tipping over a header from Andy Halls, who is a personal trainer in his day job. And it was Wolves having to hang on to avoid being forced into extra team by a disciplined Chorley side that belied its lowly status. No wonder manager Jamie Vermiglio wasn't just savoring his chance to take on a Premier League side. A primary school headmaster in his day job, Vermiglio felt far from outclassed by his Wolves counterpart. “I thought were were fantastic — I feel really proud, of course I do,” Vermiglio said. "But I feel disappointed as well and I never thought I would come off the field feeling the way I feel. “It’s a strange emotion because I feel we have just taken a Premier League team all the way. We were in a game right until the last minute.” It says a lot about the breadth of English football that the last non-league side remaining in the FA Cup could prove more than a match to a Wolves side that reached the Europa League last-16 last season. “Credit to Chorley," Nuno said. "They are in the lower divisions but they were organized and had a good striker that fights and was strong in the duels and created problems. “I felt the scenario was created for a surprise to happen. We spoke about that but the boys were professional and achieved what we wanted. I have been on the other side and played in the lower divisions against big teams, so I know what it meant for Chorley." This was not a significantly weakened Wolves side, with the starting lineup featuring Fabio Silva — the team’s 40 million euro record-signing. “I thought we were the better team in the second half,” Chorley forward Connor Hall said. “We had them on the ropes for 10-15 minutes so we can be proud of ourselves. They showed us respect bringing a strong side and we didn’t do ourselves any harm. It is mad. In a couple of days time we will look back with pride.” Being live on television across Britain and around the world could certainly help some of the players. “Most of them could step up a level,” Vermiglio said. “There’s no way we could preform like that consistently at that level week in, week out.” Chorley isn't even top of National League North. It is only ninth in the 22-team standings. “Cup games get a little bit of something else out of you," Vermiglio said. “They are just 11 people coming up against 11 people and if you are that organized you can stay in a game of football and that’s what we have done.” The pandemic meant the only fans who got to glimpse this array of Premier League talent were those who perched onto walls next to houses packed into streets around the tiny stadium with one stand. Neither the fans nor the team know when they will be back in action at Victory Park, with the league suspended due to a tightening of coronavirus restrictions nationally. Warnings to players to social distance — and not finding a way past Wolves, perhaps — meant this game did not end with the club posting a video of the players singing the Adele ballad “Someone Like You.” That has been the soundtrack to a cup run that saw Chorley eliminate professional league sides Wigan, Peterborough and Derby to get this far and earn around 500,000 pounds ($685,000) — vital income as the club feels the financial impact of the pandemic. For a community also suffering through lockdowns, the inspiring progress of the town's team has lifted spirits. “Up and down the country people are struggling and it’s no different in Chorley,” Vermiglio said. "Those players in there have given them something to look forward to and that makes me immensely proud.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
White City ratepayers will see a property tax increase in 2021 after town council set its annual budget Jan. 11, but the increase will be mitigated in part by the results of this year’s provincial property revaluation. Settled by a 5-2 vote, council passed a budget that increases the residential and commercial mill rate by 0.33 mills, or 9.7 per cent, to 3.719 mills. Base taxes are also going up, with developed properties to pay $990 this year — up $40 or 4.2 per cent from last year — and undeveloped properties to pay $710, up $30 or 4.4 per cent over last year. With preliminary data from the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency’s 2021 revaluation showing a province-wide decrease in residential property values, however, the actual increase to White City’s property tax revenues is budgeted at 2.86 per cent. Council had initially sent the budget back to administration in December with the goal of achieving a 0.01 per cent tax increase. However, with utility accounts running in deficit, recent water rate increases yet to bring those services to self-sufficiency, and concerns over the future impact of hypothetical spending cuts that would have been required to balance the budget without increasing taxes, administration came back in January and recommended the tax increase to council. Councillors Hal Zorn and Scott Moskal voted against the final budget as presented, while Mayor Brian Fergusson, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Otitoju and councillors Andrew Boschman, Bill Krzysik and Kris Moen voted in favour. The 2021 budget projects gross operating revenues of $7.09 million, gross operating expenditures of $7.161 million and gross capital expenditures of $5.541 million. With $2.231 million in grants and other capital contributions factored in, along with amortization, debt repayments, a $390,394 transfer from the town’s reserves, and the issuance of $2.673 million in new long-term debt, the town is projecting a surplus of $4,552 for the year. White City residents had previously taken on almost $5.5 million in debt over the 2019 and 2020 tax years combined. Overall outstanding debt levels are projected to double from $9,037,900 in 2019 to $18,346,275 in 2023 due to projects such as the Multi-Use Recreation Facility, Betteridge Road buildout, and a Town Centre Office. Some of these projects, such as Betteridge Road, are slated to be funded by development levies. “There are some risks council should be aware of here, with respect to how soon we get development moving in this community again,” town manager Ken Kolb told council. “One, potential new borrowing would be required for the wastewater facility, and how soon we are able to collect that back as well. Those are a couple of unknowns which affect our capital plans going forward this year.” When Fergusson asked what that risk meant overall, Kolb replied if lands around the Town Centre area aren’t developed, the development levies needed to pay for it won’t be collected. “If we do get the ability to approve development in 2021, then our risk is significantly reduced,” Kolb said. “I wouldn’t recommend you proceed with construction until such a time you have development agreements signed and the developments approved by Community Planning.” Kolb said they can continue to plan for projects such as the Betteridge Road improvements or the Multi-Use Recreation Facility though there could be delays. When councillors started debate after the budget presentation, Moskal repeated his support for the near-zero per cent tax increase. “To draw that contrast in that unfortunate and unnecessary competitive nature between the RM and White City, and that they have held the line in the last two years while we have increased, it is important for us to hold the line noting that things will change with the annexation decision regardless of that decision,” Moskal said. “If we are successful in that annexation as we have proposed, things will change and they won’t change for the worse as taxes would not be going up for residents. That being said, if the decision is in part or fully declined we will need to revisit how we operate and spend in this town. We will be limited in future growth. We will not be able to expand. We will be restricted and that means a lot of things change.” Others such as Otitoju, said they shouldn’t be comparing tax rates with the RM of Edenwold in the first place. “We do need to be competitive and comparable, but I have a concern services could be stopped by doing this,” Otitoju said. “We need to make sure we make a budget that addresses concerns now. Whether we are successful with annexation or not, those are concerns for tomorrow.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
Clover Leaf Seafoods Corp. is recalling its two of its Clover Leaf brand boneless sardine fillets products due to the potential presence of dangerous bacteria. The recalled products — Sardines Boneless Fillets: Garlic & Chive in Oil and Sardines Boneless Fillets: Smoked Jalapeño in Oil — may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says. The garlic and chive flavoured sardines come in a 106-gram container with the UPC code 0 61362 46008 6. The smoked jalapeño product is in a 106-gram package with the UPC code 0 61362 46009 3. The sardines were sold in New Brunswick, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, and "possibly national," it says. If you have these recalled products in your home, they should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers are warned not to eat the product There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says not to eat them. Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. The agency says symptoms in adults can include: Facial paralysis or loss of facial expression. Unreactive or fixed pupils. Difficulty swallowing. Drooping eyelids. Blurred or double vision. Difficulty speaking, including slurred speech, and a change in sound of voice, including hoarseness. Symptoms of foodborne botulism in children can include difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, generalized weakness and paralysis. Botulism does not cause a fever, but in severe cases of illness, people may die, the agency says.
B.C. has released its COVID-19 vaccination plan, which goes until the end of September, with age being a care factor in the rollout.
A $60-million class action filed in the days after a January 2019 bus crash at Westboro station that killed three people and injured at least 23 others will not go ahead in its current form. The Ontario Superior Court issued a decision Thursday rejecting the certification of the proposed lawsuit, according to a memo issued late Friday afternoon by City of Ottawa solicitor David White. The lawsuit had alleged the city was liable for the crash itself, as well as the design and maintenance of the Transitway and its stations. It had been filed along with — as of last week — 17 other individual statements of claim. The city has already acknowledged its civil responsibility and has paid out more than $5 million in settlements. "The court took note of the fact that, in its handling of the individual court actions, the city has admitted liability for the losses arising out of the motor vehicle collision," White wrote in his memo to city council and the transit commission. Not in 'the interests of justice' In the superior court's dismissal, Justice Calum MacLeod wrote that the proposed lawsuit and its single plaintiff — a passenger who was on board the double-decker bus — did not provide evidence that a class-action proceeding would be "the best vehicle to deter future negligence or to enhance public safety." The Ottawa Police Service, with help from the Transportation Safety Board, investigated the crash, MacLeod wrote. An inquest and subsequent safety directives from Ontario's Ministry of Transport could also occur, he noted. "Class proceedings are not to be used to needlessly inflate tragic incidents into public spectacles," MacLeod wrote. "I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that a class proceeding is either necessary or in the interests of justice." The plaintiff now has until April 23 to either file an individual claim or amend the class-action lawsuit and resubmit it for certification. As for the City of Ottawa, it would be making submissions to recoup its legal costs, White said. The eight-week criminal trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo is still slated to get underway March 22. She faces more than three dozen charges, including three counts of dangerous driving causing death.
A Komoka resident and lifelong environmentalist is building Middlesex Centre’s first net-zero energy house, hoping to spark a trend in the region. A net-zero home minimizes energy use for heating and cooling, while producing its own energy through solar panels. “It’s been a personal mission and passion of mine to try to educate, not to preach, and to live by example,” said Terry Keep. “Even a guy who is not a builder can do this with the right people around them.” Keep has been building his new carbon-neutral family home amid the pandemic and expects to be finished by April. He spent years researching the process before breaking ground last fall. The 2,300-square-foot (214-square-metre) home will feature solar panels on its steel roof, along with thicker walls for better insulation and triple-pane windows to reduce energy use. The lumber used is all Forest Stewardship Council certified. The driveway will use permeable pavers so stormwater can drain through into the ground. “It’s a nicer, quieter, dryer, tighter home,” Keep said. It’s also one of few homes to feature an electric furnace — the home uses no natural gas — and a heat pump. The house is divided into three zones, each heated only when necessary. Though net-zero homes are available in the London region — Sifton’s West Five development, for example, is geared toward sustainable living — Keep said building one independently in other neighbourhoods isn’t common. He’s documenting the building process — he calls it a “labour of love” — on YouTube, aiming to show carbon-neutral homes can be accessible and affordable for everyday consumers, not just environmentalists. He also wanted to prove you don’t have to move to a new neighbourhood to get a carbon-neutral house. “It’s the desire to show people it’s a regular neighbourhood, my home will stand beside a regular, code-built home,” Keep said. “I want people to see it can be done.” Walk through Keep’s house in progress, and it looks like any other mid-century modern home — with hints of Frank Lloyd Wright — not something out of The Jetsons. About 20 per cent of the average home's carbon footprint comes from household energy consumption. It takes about seven years for a solar-powered house to recoup the investment costs. But Keep has faced many hurdles getting his environmentally sustainable house off the ground, even without pandemic hiccups, such as labour and supply shortages. Finding architects, builders and tradespeople with knowledge and experience in developing net-zero houses was a challenge, Keep said, and getting them to commit to a single house even harder. “It’s been a really interesting ride,” said the home's builder, Frank Oosterhoff, who owns Great Lakes Construction. Keep said Middlesex Centre is a progressive area in terms of sustainability, citing the newly built net-zero firehall, and the community centre’s solar panels. Once his own house is finished, Keep plans to pursue building a row of affordable, net-zero townhouses. “The next generation is starting to realize there's value in that,” he said. “If everyone can afford one, they’ll buy it — if they can’t afford one, they won’t.” Keep drives a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is also a vegetarian. He was a founding member of EnviroWestern, a group at Western University that promotes sustainability. “We make small steps to get to a big impact over our life,” Keep said. “It doesn’t happen over a short period.” firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
The Ontario government is kicking off a new social media campaign with actors, singers, athletes, and business owners who are all asking you to remain at home. Meanwhile, data tracking mobility in the city continues to show progress. Matthew Bingley reports.
WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his piece with U.S. President Joe Biden. The two leaders spoke by phone for about 30 minutes late Friday — Biden's first conversation with a foreign leader since Wednesday's inauguration. It was also Trudeau's first chance to express Canada's official dismay at the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, and Biden's first to explain it. One of Biden's first actions in the White House was to rescind predecessor Donald Trump's approval for the US$8-billion cross-border expansion project. Trudeau, however, is urging Canadians to look past the decision and focus instead on all the areas of mutual agreement the two countries can look forward to. In particular, Trudeau says Biden and Canada share a vision of tackling climate change while fuelling economic growth at the same time. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
WHITEHORSE — A cabinet minister says a couple from outside Yukon travelled to a remote community in the territory this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine.Community Services Minister John Streiker says he's outraged the man and woman allegedly chartered a flight to Beaver Creek, the most westerly community in Canada near the border with Alaska, to get the shots.Streiker says he heard Thursday night that the Canadian couple arrived in Yukon on Tuesday and declared they would follow the territory's mandatory two-week self-isolation protocol, but instead travelled to Beaver Creek.He says the two people have been charged under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act for failure to self-isolate and failure to behave in a manner consistent with their declaration upon arrival. Streiker says the couple allegedly presented themselves as visiting workers, misleading staff at the mobile vaccination clinic in Beaver Creek. He says territorial enforcement officers received a call about the couple, who were later intercepted at the Whitehorse airport trying to leave Yukon.The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail.The RCMP have been notified, he said in an interview on Friday.Streiker hadn't confirmed where the couple are from, but he said they didn't show Yukon health cards at the vaccination clinic.Yukon has two vaccination teams that are visiting communities throughout the territory with priority going to residents and staff of group-living settings, health-care workers, people over 80 who aren't living in long-term care, and Yukoners living in rural, remote and First Nation communities.Beaver Creek was chosen as a priority community to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine because it's a remote border community, he said.Yukon's chief medical officer of health has indicated he believes the risk to the community as a result of the couple's visit is low, Streiker added. Streiker said there may be more scrutiny at vaccine clinics when people show up from outside Yukon, but officials are still working through options to prevent such a situation from happening again. "I find it frustrating because what that does is it makes more barriers," he said. "We've been trying to remove all barriers to get the vaccine for our citizens and so if there's another sort of layer of check, I just don't want it to make it harder for Yukoners to get their vaccines."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
It’s been used for a tent city twice, a community garden, a street market and informal overdose prevention site, and for an emergency medical unit during the early days of Vancouver’s overdose crisis. Now construction of badly-needed social housing for the Downtown Eastside, promised in 2016, is set to start at 58 W. Hastings St. The lot has a long history of housing protests. It was a tent city during the 2010 Olympics and again in 2016 as housing prices and rents spiked and homelessness numbers rose. The 2016 tent city lasted from July to November. In August 2016, then-mayor Gregor Robertson met with community members and agreed to bring a rezoning proposal for the site to city council, promising 100-per-cent social housing on the lot. Karen Ward, one of the community activists who met with Robertson, now works for the city as a drug policy advisor. Fundraising for the project and getting the province and federal government on board took a long time, Ward said, but she’s happy to see the project finally break ground. “We definitely need a new way to do this because the supportive housing thing is just not working great,” Ward said, referring to increasing death rates in many supportive housing buildings and friction between tenants and housing providers over visitor restrictions. After Robertson signed the agreement with Downtown Eastside community members, the Chinatown Foundation signed on to develop a 10-storey building with 230 housing units and a health-care centre run by Vancouver Coastal Health. The Chinatown Foundation also fundraised $30 million for the building, and the provincial and federal governments will fund the rest of the $115-million project. Robertson originally promised that all the housing units in the building would be rented at rates affordable to people on welfare or pensions. The current plan is to rent 117 of the apartments at the income assistance shelter rate of $375 a month, while the other 113 are to be rented at rates considered affordable for people making no more than $55,500 for a one-bedroom and no more than $67,500 for a two-bedroom unit. Some activists have protested the plan in the past because not all the units will be rented at the welfare shelter rate. But Ward defended the project, saying the non-shelter rate units will provide housing for people with low incomes who still can’t afford to rent in the private market. “People will qualify for this housing if they make minimum wage, or [work] part-time,” Ward said. Construction will displace the Downtown Eastside Street Market, which has been located at the site for a year, and an informal outdoor overdose prevention site that operates beside the market. Vendors were initially told they had to be out by the end of January, but that deadline has been extended to Feb. 28 while the city looks for an alternate spot for the market. Sarah Blyth, a founder of the Overdose Prevention Society, said she was relieved to hear the deadline had been extended because the market provides a vital source of extra income for people who live in the neighbourhood. “Obviously, we don’t want to fight housing,” Blyth said. “But there should be an alternate location if you’re going to ask people to leave.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Snowmobiles and walking paths rarely mix well, especially if the sleds run at high speeds through an urban-like area in Emerald Park. However, enforcing the bylaws intended to keep the public safe can be easier said than done, said RM of Edenwold community safety officer Ron Roteliuk. “The problem is the same as with the ATVs,” Roteliuk told RM council at its Jan. 12 meeting. “We go to stop them, they take off. As far as private lands go, unless someone has a plate number, a good description and can provide a statement, that’s what we are restricted to unless we see it ourselves and can talk to the snowmobile rider.” Under terms of the RM’s bylaw, fines for the unsafe or illegal use of a snowmobile can range from $250-$1,000. However, Roteliuk said the onus is on those reporting the incidents and complaints to have as much information about the situation as possible to ensure that community safety officers or RCMP can do anything about it. “I heard you say you’ve had numerous complaints — well we have only received one and that was yesterday,” Roteliuk told council. Coun. Tim Brodt said when there are snowmobiles riding at higher speeds in Emerald Park than vehicles in a 30 km/h zone, those are the ones who need to be stopped. “But those guys aren’t going to stop for you,” Brodt said. “You have to get the public to report more of these so you can open up a file and the RCMP can open up a file.” Under the RM’s snowmobile bylaw, speed limits for snowmobiles inside hamlets are 30 km/h during times where snowmobile use is permitted. The RM bans snowmobile use in hamlet limits between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Snowmobile riders also must have a driver’s license and be riding a registered machine. Streets may be used as a snowmobile path only as the most direct path out of town. Highway ditches may also be used as snowmobile trails and riders can cross highways or bridges if that is the most direct path out of a hamlet to where they are going. However, no snowmobile traffic is allowed in playgrounds, parks, public reserves, on boulevards, or on any other land owned by the municipality. Snowmobiles are also not to be operated on any property inside a hamlet, “in such a manner that is dangerous to other persons and properties.” Other issues include snowmobile use on the Aspen Links Country Club, where there are no trespassing signs in place, Coun. Rod Tuchscherer said. “During the weekends, it’s crazy,” Tuchscherer said. “They are going right beside pathways. I don’t know how fast they are going, but that’s really dangerous. We need to get this out to the public.” Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum
Westport is closing its arena for the rest of the season, effective immediately. The Westport Community Arena didn't open this winter season until October. It closed again on Dec. 7 when the village declared a state of emergency in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the community. "The arena never had the opportunity to re-open, as the province's lockdown orders then came into effect," said Anne-Marie Koiner, village treasurer. At the same time, demand for ice rentals is dropping off as leagues assess what remains of the season. "We just got confirmation from Leeds Minor Hockey, that they're cancelling the rest of the season," Peter Evans, manager of public works, told council. The cancellations represent a drastic drop in demand, and closing the arena now and decommissioning the ice could save the village about $25,000 this season compared to a normal season. The village usually sees a financial loss of $80,000 between September and March, according to Koiner, but as Mayor Robin Jones points out, the arena's value goes beyond the dollar figure. "The arena is such an important part of the village. So yes, we normally don't break even on the finances - but there is nothing 'lost' about our arena," said Jones. The Westport Community Arena is the recreational hub not just for the village of Westport, but for the surrounding area, providing a range of services and recreation for the larger community. The early shutdown and ice decommissioning mean the village will be out $55,000, this season because even while the facility is shuttered it has to be maintained and heated through the balance of the season. The decision to close the arena at this time was not an easy one, and its impact is going to be felt. "Businesses rely on the moms and dads who bring their hockey player children to the arena for tournaments and slip away to shop. In particular, our grocery store owner will confirm the importance of the arena during the slower months of January-March," said Jones. This year has been anything but normal and with lockdown expected to last until mid-February at best, and numerous restrictions expected to continue indefinitely, keeping the arena open for the balance of the season doesn’t make sense in light of the pandemic, officials said. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The former top editor of The New York Daily News has been tapped as the next executive editor of The Providence Journal. David Ng succeeds Alan Rosenberg, who retired in December 2020 after more than four decades working at Rhode Island's largest paper. The 62-year-old said he hopes to continue the Journal's mission of serving as the “town square for its citizens” to gather to “share our stories and to exchange ideas and debate our opinions.” Lisa Strattan, a vice-president of news at Gannett, which owns the Journal, said Ng's “drive to win" and commitment to diversity and inclusion will elevate the Journal's coverage. Ng also previously served as associate managing editor at The New York Post, a former senior news editor at Newsday on Long Island and an assistant managing editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. The Providence Journal is considered the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the country and has won four Pulitzer Prizes. Ng starts Jan. 28. The Associated Press
A supervisor with the Cape Breton Regional Police testified Friday that he was instructed by another department to arrest Christopher Garnier in 2017 for breaching conditions of his release. Sgt. Dave MacGillivray told a hearing of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board there was no discussion regarding a warrant when the request came from Halifax Regional Police to detain Garnier, who was awaiting trial for murder. Members of Cape Breton's municipal force did not charge Garnier after he was taken into custody. "We did not know at the time that there was a definite breach," MacGillivray told the three-member panel. MacGillivray reiterated that Halifax police were handling Garnier's file and keeping track of his whereabouts. 2 constables sent to make arrest He said two Cape Breton constables were sent to pick up Garnier in Millville, N.S., on Feb. 19, 2017 — about 33 hours after Garnier failed to show up at his mother's door as part of a bail compliance. That same year, Garnier was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. The hearing into the conduct of four Cape Breton Regional Police officers was launched Monday, after Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, complained police violated his son's rights. Causeway handover After he was taken to a central lockup in Sydney, Christopher Garnier was driven to the Canso Causeway where he was picked up by Halifax officers. MacGillivray was asked if it is uncommon for charges to be laid outside a jurisdiction where an alleged offence took place. "It's not our practice, but in this case it did happen," he said. Governed under the Nova Scotia Police Act, the review board is an adjudicating body for complaints in relation to municipal policing organizations in the province. Board chair Jean McKenna said written arguments are expected, noting the panel could make recommendations on how interdepartmental affairs are handled. "It may seem as though there was information that may not have been properly transmitted," she told hearing lawyers and Vincent Garnier, who has been representing himself as a complainant. The board also has the authority to dismiss the matter, find a complaint valid and award or fix costs where appropriate. Hearing to wrap The constables accused of misconduct are Steve Campbell, Gary Fraser, Dennis McSween and Troy Walker. All of the men, with the exception of McSween — who was given a medical exemption — have testified. In total, 11 witnesses have given testimony, including members of Christopher Garnier's family and an ex-girlfriend. A Halifax police constable is the final person who will give sworn evidence when the hearing resumes Monday. Vincent Garnier alleges police unlawfully arrested his son, took photographs on private property without the knowledge or consent of the homeowner, and invited themselves into the home where his son was staying. Officers who spoke at the hearing said they were only performing their duties according to proper police protocols. MORE TOP STORIES
VICTORIA — British Columbia's oldest residents will be able to pre-register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting in March after the most vulnerable groups have been immunized under a plan announced Friday as the premier joined health officials in urging residents to remain committed to reducing transmission of the virus. Premier John Horgan said "unprecedented hardship" and grief have continued a year after the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Canada, though the rollout of a vaccine strategy means more than 110,000 people have been vaccinated in the province so far. "We have a long, long way to go," he said, adding public health guidelines including wearing a mask and physical distancing must be followed while the mass vaccine campaign begins in April. B.C. reported 508 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and nine more deaths, pushing the death toll in the province to 1,128. There were 4,479 active infections, including 315 people in hospital. The province is aiming to immunize 4.3 million residents aged 18 and over by the end of September. People who register for the plan will get a reminder to book appointments when eligible, but provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said timelines for vaccination will depend on available doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines as others are expected to be approved by the federal government. Residents of long-term care homes, health-care workers who look after them, as well as essential visitors are among those who are currently being vaccinated. They will be followed in February and March by more residents of Indigenous communities, those who are 80 and over and Indigenous seniors over 65. Seniors aged 75 to 79 are expected to be vaccinated starting in April as part of the pre-registration strategy that will then move on to younger people in five-year age groupings. Those in the 70-to-74 age group will follow, along with people with severe health conditions that put them at high risk for infection. Henry said vulnerable populations include people who have had an organ transplant, patients with specific cancers and respiratory conditions including severe asthma, and pregnant women with significant heart disease. Second doses will be administered about 35 days later as part of the plan, which will be rolled out in 172 communities across the province. Henry said vaccines will be given in facilities including school gyms, arenas and mobile clinics, as well as home visits for those who are unable to attend a clinic as B.C. calls on volunteers for support. Everyone who is vaccinated will get a record of their immunization and a reminder of their second dose, about 35 days after the first shot. While people with chronic illnesses have called for early vaccination, Henry said scientific evidence from around the world supports the province's age-based approach because older populations are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19. "We know that adults older than 60 have at least a five times increased risk of hospitalization and death compared with those less than 45 years of age and, in particular, people over 80 have double the mortality risk of even those in the 60 to 65-year age group." The message is the same for essential workers, such as grocery-store employees, as well as police and correctional officers, Henry said, adding the approval of more vaccines may mean the province's plan could be revised to vaccinate those groups between April and June. Youth who are 17 and under will not be vaccinated because the current vaccines have not been approved for them, she said, adding everyone who is eligible should get immunized in order to create so-called community immunity to protect as many people as possible from getting infected. Health officials are seeking guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization about whether people who have received one of the vaccines could get a different one for their second dose in case of a shortage, but that would happen only as a last resort due to lack of data on such a plan, Henry said. Residents should put off any plans to travel internationally this summer, but trips within the province could happen, but not in the large groups that led to outbreaks in regions including the Okanagan last year, she said. On Friday, British Columbia also announced people with ongoing COVID-19 symptoms — sometimes referred to as long haulers — will now have access to treatment at three clinics where specialists are working to understand how best to manage the condition. Dr. Adeera Levin, lead of the new Interdisciplinary COVID-19 Care Network, said in a statement it's believed to be the only such group in Canada focusing on research to understand the long-term effects for people who have not recovered. One of the clinics at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver has so far seen 160 post-COVID-19 patients after they were discharged from hospital or referred by their doctor. — By Camille Bains in Vancouver This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the first Canadian case of COVID-19 was in British Columbia.