NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.“That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.“Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said.The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said.By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year.Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort.“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency.“That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.”Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events.Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required.Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans.Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views.Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from breaking his right foot while playing with one of his dogs, his doctor said.Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said.“Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle of his right foot, O’Connor said.“It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Connor said.Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment. At 78 he will become the oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January; he often dismissed questions about his age during the campaign.Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor's office Sunday, despite multiple requests. Leaving the doctor's office to head to an imaging centre for his CT scan, Biden was visibly limping, though he walked without a crutch or other aid.Biden sustained the injury playing with Major, one of the Bidens’ two dogs. They adopted Major in 2018, and acquired their first dog, Champ, after the 2008 election. The Bidens have said they’ll be bringing their dogs to the White House and also plan to get a cat.Last December he released a doctor's report that disclosed he takes a statin to keep his cholesterol at healthy levels, but his doctor described him as “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”___Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Kawartha Dairy announced on Sunday that it is recalling some of its ice cream products due to the possible presence of pieces of metal, a release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said.The recalled products from the Ontario dairy include the company's chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chip ice cream, flavours sold in 1.5-litre and 11.4-litre containers.People who purchased these products should throw them out or return them to where they were purchased, the CFIA release said. The company, which is based out of Bobcaygeon, Ont., triggered the recall, the agency added.The products are sold in Ontario.The CFIA also announced that it is conducting a food safety investigation into the dairy. "If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings," it said in the release. "The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace."There have been no reported injuries associated with consuming these products, the agency said.
TORONTO — A new report on food bank use across Ontario shows there was a surge in demand for those services when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the province over the winter. The latest study released today by Feed Ontario says the number of people accessing food banks had already gone up over the previous year when the global health crisis began, which exacerbated existing issues. The organization included a special analysis of the impact of the pandemic alongside its usual report on annual food bank use, which gathers data from 130 member food banks and 1,100 affiliate agencies. The annual report looks at data from April 2019 to this April, while the pandemic analysis covers data from 71 members and 339 affiliates between March 17 — when Ontario declared a health emergency — and September. It says all food banks reported a significant increase in the number of first-time users in the first four months of the pandemic. And 20 per cent of food banks surveyed reported seeing a "continued surge" in the number of people accessing their services on an ongoing basis — an increase of five to 54 per cent — even beyond that period. Government intervention in the form of income support programs or eviction bans helped reduce the demand for food banks in many regions later in the pandemic, the report says, as did the emergence of community initiatives such as meal programs. "What this means is that lowered numbers are not always representative of a decrease in need, but rather a redistribution of community support services that fall outside of our network’s data collection and surveying," the organization says in the report. It also notes that some people, notably seniors, were too afraid to leave their homes to access community services, which may have contributed to the decrease in demand. Food banks in Burlington, Cornwall, Kanata, Orillia and Windsor surveyed close to 200 or their visitors in September and found each said the pandemic had made the challenges they already faced much more difficult, the report says. "Many survey respondents reported incurring increased debt to help pay for monthly necessities, as well as choosing to go without food in order to pay the bills," the document says. "Perhaps most staggering is that one out of two survey respondents reported that they are worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the coming months." The number of people accessing Ontario's food banks between April 1, 2019 and March 31st of this year went up more than five per cent compared with the previous year, to 537,575, according to the report. Feed Ontario says its data shows the primary drivers of continued growth in food bank use are inadequate social supports, precarious employment and a lack of affordable housing. More than 65 per cent of food bank users in the last year listed social assistance programs such as Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program as their primary source of income, the report says. Food banks continued to see a rise in the number of employed adults using their services, with an eight per cent increase in the last year and a 44 per cent increase over the last four, it says. "This continuing trend is largely the result of a rise in casual, contract, and part-time employment, which makes it difficult for wageworkers to secure sufficient income each month, changes to Ontario’s labour laws, including the removal of paid sick days, and the inadequate support and accessibility of worker support programs," the document says. The report says more than 86 per cent of food bank users in the last year were living in rental units or social housing and spent most of their income on rent. What's more, food banks have seen a 27 per cent increase in the last year in the number of users living in precarious housing such as emergency shelters or staying with friends and family, the report says. The organization does not collect data on race but acknowledged racialized communities face systemic hurdles as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Tougher COVID-19 restrictions are taking effect today in five Ontario regions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.The provincial government announced last week it would move Windsor-Essex into the red alert level of its tiered framework, the strictest level short of a lockdown.In that level, indoor dining at restaurants and bars is capped at 10 customers, while social gatherings must have fewer than five people indoors and 25 outdoors.Meanwhile, Halidimand-Norfolk is shifting to the orange level, and three other regions -- Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern -- are going into the yellow level.The province says the regions will stay in their new categories for at least 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, before a change is considered.Officials say they continue to monitor public health data weekly to see if any other regions require additional intervention.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Eighteen students and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at an east-end Toronto elementary school. A spokesman for the Toronto District School Board says the staff and students at Thorncliffe Park Public School were tested for the virus as part of a new pilot project. Ryan Bird says 14 classes have been asked to self-isolate, but the school will remain open. In a letter to parents sent Sunday night, the school principal says that's because four per cent of the school tested positive, compared to a 16 per cent positivity rate in the broader Thorncliffe Park community.He says he understands the cases are worrisome, but notes the school is actively monitoring the situation and communicating with Toronto Public Health. The Ontario government announced Thursday that it was introducing voluntary testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff at schools in regions with high infection rates. The expanded testing will be provided for four weeks in schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Ottawa. Those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press
STEINBACH, Man. — Mounties have ramped up enforcement at a Manitoba church that was slapped with a fine for holding a service last weekend that allegedly violated provincial COVID-19 health orders. The Church of God Restoration in Steinbach posted videos on its Facebook page that appear to show the church's empty, snow-covered parking lot, with RCMP officers positioned at its entrances and a long line of vehicles parked along the roadway. In one video, Pastor Tobias Tissen addressed the people in the vehicles via a radio transmitter from a pulpit outside the church, and claimed the officers blocking the entrance were "blocking God." No one with the church could be reached for comment. RCMP say that their officers were stationed at parking lot entrances to remind would-be churchgoers of public health rules, and warn them that attending a service would result in a fine. They say most people heeded the warning, save for one man who continued on to the church property and was fined $1,296. The province ordered churches to close earlier this month to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases that has clogged the hospital system, saying people could only attend services virtually. The church previously confirmed it was ticketed and fined $5,000 for breaking a provincial public health order last Sunday, and RCMP said there were well over 100 people inside the church at the time. "What you all see this morning is not people recognizing the supremacy of God. Come on, if other stores can be essential and church is not essential, you're saying that God is not supreme," Tissen said from the pulpit in the Facebook video on Sunday. RCMP reminded people Friday that participating in any type of large gathering is now a contravention of the public health orders, and it specifically mentioned worship services in the Steinbach area. “Our goal is certainly not to hand out a bunch of tickets,” Steinbach Detachment Commander Harold Laninga said in the release. It said Sunday the investigation is continuing and that more tickets are possible. The Manitoba government said Sunday that officers would have been aware of the service, as well as reports of a drive-in church service on the weekend in Winnipeg, but that an update on enforcement action would not be available until Tuesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A mysterious silver monolith that was placed in the Utah desert has disappeared less than 10 days after it was spotted by wildlife biologists performing a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep, federal officials and witnesses said.“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’ has been removed from Bureau of Land Management public lands by an unknown party,” on Nov. 27, BLM spokesperson Kimberly Finch said in a statement. The agency did not remove the structure, she said.The Utah Department of Public Safety said biologists spotted the monolith on Nov. 18, a report that garnered international attention. It was about 11 feet (3.4 metres) tall with sides that appeared to be made of stainless steel.While Utah officials did not say specifically where the monolith was located, people soon found it on satellite images dating back to 2016 and determined its GPS co-ordinates, prompting people to hike into the area.Reporters with The Salt Lake Tribune hiked to the spot on Saturday and confirmed that it was gone.Spencer Owen of Salt Lake City said he saw the monolith Friday afternoon and camped in the region overnight, but as he hiked to the area again on Saturday people passing him on the trail warned him it was gone, the Tribune reported. When he arrived at the spot, all that was left was a triangular piece of metal covering a triangular-shaped hole in the rocks.“I was really bummed,” said Owen, who posted a video on his Instagram. “It was so pretty and shiny. I wanted to go see it again.”Riccardo Marino and his girlfriend Sierra Van Meter were travelling from Colorado to California on Friday and decided to stop and see the object after finding the GPS co-ordinates online.“This was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we couldn't miss out,” Marino told KUTV.On the way, they passed a long-bed truck with a large object in the back and he said he joked “oh look, there's the Utah monolith right there,” he said.When they arrived at the spot, it was gone.Steve Adams said he left Helper, in central Utah, at 7 a.m. Saturday to drive to the area. When he arrived and asked someone for directions he was told the tower was gone. He and some friends made the hike anyway.“It was pretty disappointing,” he told the Tribune. “We were really excited to go down and have an adventure to see it. It feels like it was everybody’s and then it was nobody’s. It’s gone.”Riccardo MarinoThe Associated Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):6:20 p.m.Alberta is reporting its second-highest number of new COVID-19 cases. The province is reporting 1,608 new cases today. The figure is down slightly from the record single-day high of 1,731 diagnoses reported the day before.The province says there are also nine additional deaths linked to the virus over the past 24 hours.\---3:30 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting 351 new COVID-19 cases, but no new deaths today. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in the province stands at 45. Saskatchewan's daily COVID-19 updates have noted this weekend that community transmission can happen quickly. The updates state that 17 nurses in one hospital were recently required to self-isolate after being identified as close contacts to positive cases linked to sporting events and general community transmission.\---2:30 p.m.Nunavut health officials are reporting 13 new cases in the territory. The number of local active cases, however, declined today due to 32 people who have recovered.That figure now stands at 112. The territory reports that everyone with active COVID-19 is doing well, with mild to moderate symptoms.\---2:15 p.m.Manitoba is reporting 365 new COVID-19 cases today and 11 new deaths. Those who died range in age from their 60s to their 90s, and the province says almost all were linked to outbreaks in care homes. Manitoba's daily COVID-19 update says an outbreak has been declared in the acute care inpatient unit at The Pas Hospital, and the site has been moved to critical on the provincial pandemic response system.\---2:00 p.m.The number of COVID-19 cases continues to creep up across most of Atlantic Canada. New Brunswick is reporting 14 new cases of the novel coronavirus today, the highest in eastern Canada. Elsewhere Nova Scotia says it's identified 10 new diagnoses, nine of which are in the province's central zone, while Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting four new cases.Health officials IN Prince Edward Island held a rare weekend news conference today, but say there are no new cases in the province. \---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,395 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths linked to the virus. Health officials say four of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours and eight others took place between Nov. 22 and 27. Hospitalizations went down by 13 today for a total of 665, including 92 people in intensive care - a decrease of one compared to the previous day. Quebec has now reported 141,038 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 7,033 deaths.\---11:00 a.m.Ontario is reporting 1,708 new cases of COVID-19 today and 24 new deaths related to the virus.More than half of the new cases remain in Toronto and Peel Region, which recorded 463 and 503 respectively.The two regions are the only ones currently under lockdown under the province's tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework.The province is moving five regions to higher alert levels tomorrow, which means tougher COVID-19 restrictions.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
Steeles Avenue is the border between Toronto and York Region, two communities under different COVID-19 restrictions — including non-essential, in-store shopping.
WASHINGTON — She's fended off protesters who made a run at her husband. She's moved him farther from reporters during the coronavirus pandemic. She's supported his presidential ambitions again and again — except in 2004, when she deployed a novel messaging technique to keep Joe Biden from running.“No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush.Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden's many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband's career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama's vice-president. She's a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster.Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example.She intends to keep working as a college professor, which would make her the only first lady to keep her day job outside the home. And if four decades in the public eye are any indication, she'll continue being Biden's chief protector.The role isn't completely unfamiliar territory for Jill Biden. She's been a political wife the entire time she's been married to Joe Biden. Plus, she had a bird's-eye view of what a first lady does during Obama's two terms.But the scrutiny level will change. And all eyes are on the incoming Biden administration to deliver what both Joe and Jill have promised — getting the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country under control.Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and the author of several books about first ladies, recalled Barbara Bush telling her: “You know, when I was second lady, I could say anything I wanted, and no one really paid much attention. But the minute I became first lady, everything became newsworthy.”Still, Jill Biden won’t have the learning curve most other new first ladies faced. “She’s been in the public eye for a long time," Gutin said. “She’s going in eyes wide open.”The coronavirus has killed more than 260,000 Americans and upended much of daily life. The Bidens offered themselves as agents of comfort at a time of loss and grief, experiences they know well particularly after their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.From the start, she brought comfort to the Biden family.Joe Biden's first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Jill Biden helped raise his surviving young sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to their daughter, Ashley, in 1981. She refers to all of them as her children.As Joe Biden commuted from Delaware to Washington while serving as a senator, Jill Biden built a career as a teacher, ultimately earning two master’s degrees and then a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.Throughout, Jill Biden's protective streak was notable. There she stood at his side, when Joe Biden withdrew from his first presidential bid under accusations of plagiarism. She says she emulated her mother's stoic style. Jill Biden's mother, she said, didn't even cry when her own parents died. She saw that as strength. “I decided early that I would never let my emotions rule me,” she wrote in her memoir, ”Where the Light Enters.”“As a political spouse, I’ve found that my stoicism often serves me well,” Jill Biden wrote. “In 1988, when Joe’s first presidential campaign started to look bleak, people were constantly looking for cracks in our team. We all felt scrutinized, but I refused to show weakness.”It showed early in the 2020 race when several women accused Biden of inappropriate touching. The candidate denied acting inappropriately but acknowledged that social norms had changed. He pledged that he would change, too.Jill Biden defended him.“I think what you don’t realize is how many people approach Joe — men and women, looking for comfort or empathy,” she told ABC’s ”Good Morning America." “But going forward, I think he’s gonna have to judge — be a better judge — of when people approach him, how he’s going to react. That he maybe shouldn’t approach them.”She recalled a time in her life when she had been treated inappropriately and didn't speak up.“I can remember specifically — it was in a job interview," Jill Biden said. "If that same thing happened today, I’d turn around and say, ‘What do you think you’re doin’?”She's quick to rally to her husband's side, sometimes physically.In New Hampshire in February, a man tried to cross into the roped-off area near Joe Biden. In a flash, Jill Biden crossed behind her husband and put her arms around the man, turned him around and helped push him away.A month later in Los Angeles, she similarly blocked one protester, then a second one, who had stormed the stage while Joe Biden was delivering his Super Tuesday victory speech.When the first one approached waving an anti-dairy sign and yelling, Jill Biden stepped between the protester and her husband. She did the same with the second one, this time putting her arms up to block the intrusion.Both were removed without coming in contact with the candidate. After the 27-second confrontation, Jill turned around saying, “We're okay,” and encouraged Joe to keep the event going. The Bidens then said it might be time for Secret Service protection, and they got it soon after.“I worry about Jill,” Joe Biden said.She's been protective during the pandemic.On Oct. 5 at New Castle Airport in Delaware, she moved her husband back from members of the media as he spoke outside his campaign plane before a trip to Miami.Like many American families, the Bidens spent Thanksgiving differently this year. They stayed at their house in Rehoboth, Delaware, rather than their usual “Nana-tucket,” as her grandchildren have called the Massachusetts island where the Bidens started going early in their marriage to establish a new holiday tradition.In 2020, instead of the usual sprawling family tableau, their daughter and her husband were the only Biden visitors to the house in Delaware. A Zoom call with the larger group was on the evening's agenda.Look, too, for Jill Biden to try to keep things light.“She's not your average grandmother,” granddaughter Naomi said on a video shown at the Democratic National Convention, recalling that Jill Biden once woke her up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning to go “soul cycling.”“She’s a prankster, she’s very mischievous,” Naomi added with a grin. “When she goes on a run, sometimes she'll find, like, a dead snake and she’ll pick it up and put it in a bag and use it to scare someone.”—-Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellmanLaurie Kellman, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Tessa Virtue doesn't feel the same sense of exhilaration or rush of adrenaline as she did standing at centre-ice after a gold-medal performance.At least not on that scale or of that magnitude. And that's okay. "There are so many things that are making me really content and joyful that were just impossible to experience as an athlete in training," Virtue said. "So, there's sort of something offsetting that where I might not be getting that adrenaline rush, there's so much that I feel passionate about and new goals that I'm striving for - which is both scary and exhilarating."Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada on Friday. They're the most decorated ice dancers in history, capturing five Olympic medals, including a pair of ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018.Virtue is swamped with school work these days as part of Queens University's Executive MBA program - one of the new pursuits that's pushed her out of her comfort zone.She's typed out frantic text messages to retired Paralympic swimmer Ben Huot - who graduated from Queens' EMBA program - saying, "Have I made a mistake? What am I doing?" she laughed. "(Huot) been so wonderfully supportive. "But I am so happy I did it. And it's an extraordinary cohort, everyone is so impressive and has accomplished such wonderful things and in such diverse spheres, and so the conversations are so exhilarating, and especially right now, I'm so grateful to have the chance to sort of expand my mind."Virtue spent the first few months of the pandemic living in North Vancouver with boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly. The power couple joined Arkells frontman on an Instagram live stream back in March. They appeared virtually on the Great Kitchen Party: Home Edition a month later.The couple is back living in Toronto now, and recently purchased a puppy they named Zoe.Virtue and Moir's captivating free dance to music from "Moulin Rouge" in Pyeongchang will endure as one of the greatest Olympic figure skating performances ever. Just one of the numerous YouTube streams has over 1.3 million views.But Virtue has barely watched it."I've seen parts of it here and there. And I love the feeling that it evokes in me," she said. "I'm still so proud of that moment of course. But I can't decide if it feels like it was yesterday or honestly if I feel just a few lifetimes away from it. So, it's like that disconnect, right, where I kind of hold onto the feeling that we had when the program ended. "And when we reflect together, so much of our sporting life just seems so fresh that I'm sure there hasn't been enough time for perspective, right?"Virtue and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., competed for two decades. Earning Order of Canada honours, she said, was an honour that had her reflecting on their early days."This is not something we would have ever known to even dream for. We weren't seven and nine (years old) cruising around the ice together talking about this, it seemed unfathomable," she said. "And yet, we watched so many of our friends and peers along the way receive this incredible honour. I just feel humbled, and just so, so honoured."Virtue talked by telephone Sunday before appearing virtually on Hayley Wickenheiser's "WickFest: Female Hockey Festival," calling a few minutes early to ensure she wouldn't have to duck out too soon. Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the global pandemic. Wickenheiser, of course, teamed up with actor Ryan Reynolds and others for "Conquer COVID-19," an initiative that delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals. Numerous other athletes have hosted virtual practices, information sessions, etc. for Canadian kids."It can be underestimated, I guess, what that kind of mentorship or connection with an athlete does," Virtue said. "I think about those kids watching the next Olympics and how invested they'll be and it's pretty neat to share that."The international figure skating schedule has been a bust since last March when COVID-19 forced cancellation of the world championships in Montreal.Keegan Messing is the only Canadian to have competed so far this season (Skate America). Skate Canada International was scrapped, and if Stockholm, Sweden does manage to host the world championships in March - organizers want to host it in a "bubble" - there's no guarantee Canada will even go because of lack of preparation, quarantine restrictions, etc."I think there's a caveat to everything in that it offers great perspective. You realize just how seemingly insignificant ice dance can be or skating," Virtue said. "But at the same time, in their relative spheres, and as far as their goals and pursuits go, it's huge to miss out on one competition, let alone a season. "I think just changing that benchmark of knowing when to prepare for something, how a peak, how to maximize your time, the unknown, the uncertainty, like so many people are facing, must be really challenging. And my heart goes out to (the skaters)."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
When Retired Gen. Rick Hillier received a call from Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking him to oversee the province's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he knew he couldn't say no."My reaction was, I'm not looking for a job, I'm not looking for the stress that goes with this kind of appointment," Hillier told CBC Radio's Fresh Air on Sunday."And I thought about it for some hours after I spoke with Premier Ford, and then thought, you can't sit back, be critical of what's going on around you in many ways, I suppose, be saying I want to get back to a regular life, and then when your premier phones and asks you to be part of an effort to get us back to what we believe is a normal life, you can't say no," Hillier said."Duty calls is what went through my mind at the end of it."Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Armed Forces from February 2005 to July 2008 and Commander of the NATO-led forces during the war in Afghanistan in 2004, said he was in Newfoundland and Labrador when he got the call.Hillier said the appointment, announced on Monday, means balancing new responsibilities with previous commitments as well as his personal life, but he decided the role matters to the province and to Canada. "There's nothing more important for the almost 15 million people in Ontario than getting this vaccine program right," he said. "And since I also believe that as Ontario goes, the rest of Canada goes, I don't think there's anything more important for Canada."His official title is chair of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. The task force will advise the Ontario government on delivery, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. It will also provide support for the health care system to deliver a "phased" vaccination program.That program will begin with immunization of vulnerable populations, then proceed with mass immunization. The province said it is planning the early rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine program with vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The task force will provide clinical guidance on vaccine administration and monitoring of vaccine uptake. And it will implement a "broad and sustained" public education and community outreach effort to encourage vaccination."I talked to the premier and said: 'Yeah, I'm in, I'll do the best I can.' Nobody can ask more of me than that. I'll do the very best I can."On Monday, Ford said: "This task force will be responsible for the largest vaccine rollout in a generation, a massive logistical undertaking, the likes of which this province has never seen. Because as soon as these vaccines are available, we have to be ready. We need military precision."Team being assembled to deal with War Against COVID-19Hillier said a small team is already being assembled against what he called "the War" on COVID-19. That team will ensure the rollout is effective, he said. In a news release on Monday, the province said it will announce other task force members in the coming days.Asked if overseeing a military operation in the Afghan desert against the Taliban will be useful experience when overseeing a vaccine rollout, Hillier said: "We're used to operating in an environment where there are a huge number of unknowns.""And we know how to parse through the information, to develop the information and try to determine all that we possibly can to allow us to plan and execute an operation appropriately. We're used to operating in a void," he said."In fact, that's where we are with the drug right now. We don't know when it's going to come. We don't know which ones will get here first. We don't know all the characteristics of it beyond the fact that there will be some challenges logistically in handling it."Hillier said he agrees with Ford that military precision is a very useful thing but added that everyone has a role to play."We're used to operating as a team and I think more so than anywhere else around. We pile on, we have each other's back, and we're straightforward and frank with each other. But we're all there with one mission."Role is to 'tie all of those pieces together'Hillier said his job is not actually rolling out the vaccine in Ontario, because there are medical professionals who will actually roll it out, but he will "tie all of those pieces together" with his small team to make it a nearly seamless operation."I've learned a lot by having the opportunity to serve with Canada's sons and daughters in uniform and their families and the civilians who support the armed forces for decades. I've learned a lot about leadership. I talk about leadership, write about leadership. And the one thing I always come back to is, if you're a leader, it's all about people," he said."And if you can energize people, focus them on the mission at hand, support them as they launch into those tasks, inspire them when they get tired, then you're going to be okay because they'll have the great ideas. Their minds will be brought to work and applied on behalf of the province and the people of Ontario."Hillier says leadership is what mattersHillier said leadership is what matters and the Canadian Armed Forces produces effective leaders.He noted there was criticism over the recent naming of Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, current chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command and a former commander of the NATO mission in Iraq, as vice president, logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Some pundits objected because Fortin is not a medical professional.But Hillier said that criticism is unwarranted."I think the Canadian Armed Forces produce leaders that are extraordinary," Hillier said. "We have a program of education and training, of experiencing people, selecting them, and then tying all that together with a mentorship program that is phenomenal," he said."I don't believe there's another organization or institution in Canada that produces leaders in a systemic manner like the Canadian Armed Forces does."In January 1998, Hillier led 15,000 military personnel under "Operation Recuperation" to help Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec recover from an ice storm.
A state crew that buzzed through the wilderness, counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter, found the alien-looking object on Nov. 18 and touched off international sci-fi speculation, harkening to the classic Stanley Kubrick 1968 film, "2001: A Space Odyssey." In the Kubrick movie, an alien monolith is a recurring symbol that appears to play a role in the development of human evolution. Neither the federal Bureau of Land Management nor the state's Department of Public Safety said they had any idea.
Police are investigating after thieves drove a truck through the front of a Lethbridge, Alta., pub, making off with the ATM.Honkers Pub manager Chelsea Meyering said she got an alarm notification at 6 a.m. Sunday, and after checking the cameras, saw the damage. The truck had driven through the front entrance of the business, located at 2808 Fifth Avenue North, and surveillance video shows the truck's two occupants stealing the pub's ATM and then driving away."The front window was completely taken out," Meyering said. "You feel violated for sure. This is not just a workplace for us, this is our other home."When police arrived, the floor was also scattered with cans of soup — the business had been collecting non-perishable donations for the food bank. * Watch | Surveillance video captures the moment robbers drove through the front of a Lethbridge pubPub owner Vicky Vanden Hoek said the damages are estimated to be more than $20,000.Nobody was injured, something Vanden Hoek said she's very thankful for.A hard time for small businessVanden Hoek said the robbery comes at the end of a tough week, as new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on local businesses like hers.The pub also has a conference room cafe, and had 19 events for 15-person groups scheduled in the coming weeks that were cancelled."The new rulings have almost taken our business to a halt, even though we're doing everything possible to distance, sanitize, wear masks," she said. Vanden Hoek said another blow came on Friday, when Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis turned off their four VLT machines even though large casinos in the city were allowed to keep operating."We just thought that's just not fair, us local pubs are trying to survive … and with the break-in, it's like strike three, it can't get worse, it's got to get better." Vanden Hoek said. She said she was told by AGLC the machines will be turned back on in time for the pub to reopen on Tuesday.Vanden Hoek said she understands everyone is struggling, but she's sad the thieves chose to hurt a small business in their desperation."We just want people to go get help. We would be the first people if they needed a free people come in, we'd cook them something … just don't sabotage our business."Vanden Hoek said the community has been extremely supportive, even starting an online fundraiser to support the business which has been a fixture in the area for 23 years. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact Lethbridge police at 403-328-4444, or to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.
The Trump administration is poised to add China's top chipmaker SMIC and national offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC to a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies, according to a document and sources, curbing their access to U.S. investors and escalating tensions with Beijing weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Reuters reported earlier this month that the Department of Defense (DOD) was planning to designate four more Chinese companies as owned or controlled by the Chinese military, bringing the number of Chinese companies affected to 35.
A church in Langley B.C., just east of Vancouver has been fined $2,300 for contravening a recent provincial health order that prohibits in-person, faith-related gatherings, which was aimed at limiting the spread of COVID19.On Sunday, Langley RCMP said they asked congregants at the small church in a strip mall to disperse. When they didn't, police issued the fine.Congregants Tanya Gaw and Kari Simpson said bylaw officers issued the fine at the 8:30 a.m. PT service.The bylaw officers returned later accompanied by three RCMP officers. There, the officers were confronted by churchgoers, but police didn't issue another fine.Earlier this month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry suspended all in-person faith-related gatherings as part of a wider effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.Worshippers were told not to attend services at their gurdwara, synagogue, church, mosque or temple. Simpson said many churchgoers disagree with the health directive."This is probably ground zero for the churches standing up," Simpson said, from the parking lot in front of the church. "There is a movement afoot to ensure that more churches also start to defy Bonnie Henry's orders."Simpson and Gaw said they doubt the validity of Henry's orders, and question why liquor stores should remain open as an essential service, but not churches. Gaw said rising levels of depression and anxiety are signs that people need places like churches to remain open. "The church is the community for many people," she said. Gaw said she thinks the rising number of COVID-19 cases is due to faulty testing, which is causing false positives. "The deception to the public is instilling this unbelievable fear," she said. "All of it needs to stop. And we're pleading with the government to to just stop the whole thing." The province's latest report on test positivity shows that 8.5 per cent of tests performed through its Medical Services Plan— B.C.'s medical insurance plan — across the province were positive, a figure that rose to 11 per cent in the Fraser Health region.The provincial health order suspending faith-related gatherings has drawn criticism from faith leaders, including Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver J. Michael Miller, who said the move was "puzzling" considering parishes like those under his leadership have not been vectors of transmission.But Henry said on Friday that transmissions were happening at places of worship.Meantime, two other churches in the Fraser Valley also said they're continuing to offer in-person services despite the health order.2 Chilliwack churches also gatheringThe Free Grace Baptist Church and Free Reformed Church in Chilliwack both held services last week. On Sunday, the Free Grace Baptist Church again held a service.Lindsay Britton lives across the street from the Baptist church. Britton said he phoned police Sunday morning because people were gathering there. He was concerned they would spread more of the coronavirus into his community"I think we have to take a firmer stand," he said. The two churches' leaders argue that restricting the gatherings violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Both said they consider in-person worship an essential service and that, as commanded by God, they are required to attend public worship.
Sherbrooke - Grande nouvelle pour les serriculteurs : le gouvernement investit 112 M$ pour doubler ce type de productions d’ici 2025, à condition qu’elles servent l’autonomie alimentaire du Québec. Mais qu’arrivera-t-il du côté biologique, où on se tourne déjà en grande partie vers les États-Unis, faute de pouvoir percer le marché québécois? Russell Pocock, copropriétaire de la Ferme Sanders à Compton, s’est tourné il y a déjà 25 ans vers le marché américain, qui reçoit aujourd’hui 80 % de ses légumes biologiques. Ce n’était pas à l’image de son rêve, mais c’était l’unique solution rentable vu la faible demande québécoise, confie-t-il. Encore aujourd’hui, lui et les quatre autres maraîchers estriens membres de la coopérative Deep Root reposent donc en grande partie sur nos voisins du sud pour faire prospérer leurs fermes, tout en fournissant quelques points de vente estriens. « Je trouve qu’encore aujourd’hui, il y a peu de produits biologiques disponibles dans les épiceries et les grandes surfaces, note M. Pocock. C’est parce qu’il n’y a pas de demande. Pourtant, aujourd’hui, aux États-Unis, les plus grands vendeurs de fruits et légumes biologiques sont Walmart et Costco. Quand on parle de politiques gouvernementales pour encourager la production locale, il faut que ça passe surtout par la demande du consommateur. On peut encourager beaucoup la production, mais si on ne crée pas en même temps des incitatifs du côté de la consommation, on crée des problèmes. » Coup de pouce Avec les annonces de vendredi, les propriétaires de l’Abri Végétal à Compton pourront certainement aller de l’avant avec leur projet d’expansion, qui vise à nourrir un rayon de 50 km autour de la ferme à l’année. Il ne reste qu’à attendre l’imminente décision de la Régie de l’énergie en ce qui a trait au tarif préférentiel d’électricité pour les plus petits producteurs. Ils se réjouissent tout autant du programme d’expansion du réseau triphasé, qui pourrait leur faire économiser plus de 180 000 $, incluant les équipements électriques. Leur projet de quatre nouvelles serres dernier cri, qui représente un investissement de 500 000 $, est bel et bien conçu pour accroître l’autonomie alimentaire de la région pour la période plus morte de l’année, mais l’exportation via Deep Root devra toujours demeurer dans les cartons en été. « Il y a une demande de notre clientèle pour plus de produits en hiver, ça c’est clair et 100 % de notre agrandissement y sera consacré. En été, il y a déjà une offre avec le maraîchage. Il faut être conscient que si on double tous, il n’y aura pas de place pour tout le monde sur les marchés locaux. En exportant l’été, on évite le gaspillage et la compétition sur les marchés locaux et ça nous permet d’avoir une industrie qui est bien équipée pour soutenir l’autonomie, si jamais on a des problèmes de frontières », partage l’un des copropriétaires, Frédéric Jobin-Lawler, qui a même diversifié sa production pour pouvoir mieux fournir des détaillants. Actuellement, ce sont 55 à 60 % de ses légumes qui sont exportés. Même si le créneau biologique gagne en popularité, le défi est trop grand pour compétitionner avec l’agriculture locale conventionnelle, explique-t-il. M. Jobin-Lawler cite en exemple des épiceries de Sherbrooke qui ont cessé de s’approvisionner chez lui après plusieurs années, parce qu’elles avaient atteint leur « pourcentage d’achats directs. » « Dans le local, il y avait tellement une forte demande qu’ils ont décidé d’acheter de la production conventionnelle, avec laquelle ils pouvaient faire une plus grande marge de profit qu’avec nous. Il faudra toujours se battre pour notre place tablette, et ça va rester tant qu’il n’y aura pas une intention d’acheter locale, autre que marketing, des grandes chaînes. » En 2016, l’Estrie comptait 38 producteurs de fruits et légumes biologiques, au champ ou en serre. 10 % de plus pour le bio Interrogé par La Tribune, le cabinet du ministre André Lamontagne a annoncé une bonification de 10 % de l’aide accordée aux entreprises biologiques dans le cadre des mesures annoncées vendredi en faveur des productions en serre. Il a également rappelé que « le MAPAQ a investi une somme totalisant près de 5 M$ pour soutenir spécifiquement le développement des entreprises et l’ensemble du secteur biologique au cours de l’année 2019-2020. » Parmi les initiatives citées, on mentionne également que « pour accroître la demande des consommateurs et assurer un arrimage avec la croissance de l’offre, le gouvernement a investi 950 000 $ au cours de la dernière année en soutenant les activités de valorisation et de promotion des aliments biologiques québécois réalisées par la Filière biologique du Québec. » Doubler la production en serre d’ici 2025 Vendredi, le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation André Lamontagne a dévoilé ses mesures phares pour doubler la culture en serre au Québec d’ici 2025 et qui entreront en vigueur le 1er décembre. – Pour les entreprises qui désirent prendre de l’expansion sur le marché local : 50 % des dépenses admissibles, jusqu’à concurrence de 50 000 $. – Pour les entreprises qui alimentent les marchés régionaux ou nationaux et qui désirent augmenter leurs volumes ou diversifier leur offre : 50 % des dépenses admissibles, jusqu’à concurrence de 600 000 $ (projet d’au minimum 100 000 $). – Pour les entreprises serricoles qui sont en mesure de prendre de l’expansion dans les grandes chaînes d’alimentation : passage de 20 à 40 % de remboursement des factures mensuelles d’électricité. – Le ministre de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, a également dévoilé un programme qui permettra l’extension du réseau triphasé dans les régions non desservies par ce type de courant. Les demandeurs pourront se faire rembourser 75 % des dépenses admissibles jusqu’à concurrence de 250 000 $. – Rappelons que la Régie de l’énergie doit bientôt rendre sa décision quant au tarif préférentiel d’électricité de 5,59 cents du kW/h (environ 50 % de rabais) pour les producteurs en serre utilisant une puissance de 50 kW minimum. Actuellement, ce tarif n’est réservé qu’aux plus grands producteurs utilisant 300 kW et plus. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Shortly after Leonard Cohen died in Nov. 2016, Quebec cartoonist Philippe Girard had an idea.Girard, a Quebec City native who has published more than a dozen graphic novels and comic books, felt that there was a great story to be told about the life of one of the province's most beloved artists, but he figured someone else would beat him to the punch, and maybe even do a better job, so he held off. "But I couldn't stop thinking about it and I wanted to draw Montreal. Then I heard a Leonard Cohen song on the radio and I said to myself that I had to stop circling around the idea," Girard told Radio-Canada.In fact, no such graphic novel based on Cohen's life appeared, and so Girard dove in, beginning to work on what would become Leonard Cohen: On A Wire.The book is set to be released in French in March 2021 by Belgian publisher Casterman. The English version will be available through Montreal publisher Drawn & Quarterly in Nov. 2021.Girard said he wanted the project to be an ode not just to Cohen, but to Montreal and the artists it helps shape.The book's cover shows Cohen walking through the Golden Square Mile, carrying a guitar case and puffing on a cigarette."He's coming back from a concert. He's passing by Ben's Deli — an important restaurant for Montreal and for Leonard Cohen. On his guitar, there are pictograms which serve as winks to themes in the book," said Girard."It's Leonard Cohen at the end of his work day, probably at night, heading home like any other working Montrealer, not in a limousine or a helicopter, but on foot, walking the streets of his city."Girard said he envisions this as the first instalment in what may be a series, featuring biographical anecdotes from different periods in Cohen's life.The book opens with Cohen in Los Angeles on the last night of his life, reflecting on his accomplishments and adventures.A fan of Cohen's work, Girard said he'd listened to the 1992 album The Future "at least 1,000 times."Considering the breadth of Cohen's career, Girard had to be selective in the episodes he wanted to capture in the book.Leonard Cohen: the phoenixHe explained that he began by drawing a Star of David and assigning each point as a decade in Cohen's life. "And for each decade I would choose a song, a woman and an item," said Girard.He added that the moments he chose to include in the graphic novel tie into a central theme."Leonard Cohen is a man who has been declared dead at least 10 times in his life, but who rises from the ashes every time. He was extremely resilient and able to reinvent himself. So I decided to talk about Leonard Cohen: the phoenix, the one who always ends up bouncing back, even when he's down on his knees."More information about Leonard Cohen: On A Wire here.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 6:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 29, 2020:There are 370,238 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 141,038 confirmed (including 7,033 deaths, 122,014 resolved) _ Ontario: 114,746 confirmed (including 3,648 deaths, 97,319 resolved) _ Alberta: 56,444 confirmed (including 533 deaths, 40,219 resolved) _ British Columbia: 30,884 confirmed (including 395 deaths, 21,304 resolved) _ Manitoba: 16,483 confirmed (including 301 deaths, 7,010 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 8,239 confirmed (including 45 deaths, 4,589 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,271 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 481 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 363 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 333 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 297 resolved) _ Nunavut: 177 confirmed (including 65 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 370,238 (0 presumptive, 370,238 confirmed including 12,032 deaths, 294,383 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press