Tyler Hamilton has more on the messy rain, snow mix across the province.
Tyler Hamilton has more on the messy rain, snow mix across the province.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
ROCKY MOUNT, Va. — Two Virginia police officers charged in the storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington earlier this month have been fired, a town official announced Tuesday. Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin announced the firings in a statement, but did not provide any additional details on the firing of former Sgt. Thomas “T.J.” Robertson and former Officer Jacob Fracker, The Roanoke Times reported. The town had no precedent to refer to for how to deal with this situation, Ervin wrote. “The events of the past few weeks have been challenging for our town, as they have been for the entire nation. The actions by two have driven our beautiful town into the national spotlight in ways that do not reflect our whole community and the people who call Rocky Mount home.” Ervin said in the statement. Robertson had told the newspaper he and Fracker received letters of termination from the town Friday, offering them the opportunity to resign before the firing took effect. Fracker, reached via text message, declined to comment Tuesday. Federal authorities have charged Robertson, 47, and Fracker, 29, with a misdemeanouroffence of knowingly entering a restricted building without authority to do so to engage in conduct that disrupts government business. They also face a petty offence of engaging in disruptive conduct in the Capitol in order to interfere with a session of Congress. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanour is a year in jail. The maximum penalty for the petty offence is six months. In a selfie Fracker took inside the Capitol Crypt on Jan. 6, Fracker is making an obscene gesture. Robertson is pointing at Fracker while holding a wooden pole. Both officers have repeatedly said they did nothing illegal and did not participate in any of the violence that unfolded Jan. 6. The Associated Press
The Swan Hills School Council held their Jan. 21 meeting at the school’s Flex Room, and the meeting was also live-streamed through Google Meet for those who could not attend in person. Student’s Union · The Div. 3/4 Students’ Union (SU) donated $200 to the food bank at Christmas time from their fundraising efforts. An article about their fundraising efforts is on the school website with a picture. · Around Feb. 15, the SU will host a small raffle for Valentine’s Day, similar to the Christmas raffle. · The SU met with the school administration at the end of November and discussed putting some small lockers in the gym change rooms for the students to secure their valuables. This could possibly be a Grizzly Cubs fundraising item to consider. Trustee Report Assurance Reporting Each school division needs to create four assurance reports annually by law; Education Planning and Reporting, Financials, School Plans and Reporting, and Infrastructure and Maintenance. Recently the Education Planning and Reporting report was addressed with a focus on the special needs section. Some interesting takeaways are that while there has been a slight increase in students who need higher support levels, there has been a decrease across the school division in the number of students needing supports overall. This may be because these students' parents may have decided to keep them at home because of COVID-19. Due to COVID-19, parents have been having virtual meetings with specialists, such as speech and occupational therapists, while working with their children. This development has been beneficial to parents because they have seen for themselves why their child is receiving special supports. Four concerns were brought forward during this report: 1. There is a need for a re-entry resource for students that have special needs. The belief is that the skills that these students have acquired will have diminished. 2. There has been a limited gain in inclusion since students left the schools due to COVID-19 3. Because of limited budgets, small schools have limited resources for mild/moderate Program Unit Funding (PUF) educational supports. 4. Alberta Health Services has given a mandate not to provide proactive programming in schools. Enrollment Projections Schools are now funded on a three-year spectrum; last year, this year, and the projected future year. Funding is based on the average of these figures, with the intention of allowing schools to cushion the effects of large drops in population. Pembina Hills has had a slight increase in population, so the funding for next year will be the same as the current year. In contrast, a lot of districts are seeing their funding decrease. Trustee Election Municipal and School Divisions will be holding elections for trustees in the fall. Last year Pembina Hills decided to reduce the number of trustees from seven to six. This means that the Swan Hills’ electoral area and Fort Assiniboine’s will be combined to make one Ward. It would be very beneficial to get a representative from Swan Hills to apply, preferably a single representative that the whole town could get behind (instead of multiple candidates that would potentially split the votes). Division One Update · Div. 1 wasn’t able to go sledding for their December monthly celebration due to cold weather. Students were able to decorate individually packaged cookies that had been sponsored by Home Hardware and watch the virtual Christmas Concert. · On Jan. 22, students will participate in a virtual presentation offered through the Earth Rangers program, which has been sponsored by Crescent Point Energy. · Many students showed their school spirit by wearing stripes for Stripes Day on Jan. 14. The next dress-up day will be Wild West Day on Jan. 22. · For the January monthly celebration, the last recess time will be extended on Jan. 28. · The bi-annual reading testing has started. This testing is especially important because the school was unable to perform this testing last June. This test focuses on the student’s word accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. · The school is currently discussing Valentine’s Day activities. The students will not be participating in a Valentine’s Day card exchange due to COVID-19 health restrictions. Division Two Update · The Swan Hills School Handbell Group will be hosting a curbside bottle drive. The proceeds will go towards purchasing additional materials and equipment for the Handbell Group (hand chimes, mallets, gloves, possibly another octave of bells). There are a lot of new participants in handbells this year. · Students have been requesting a virtual spring concert again, so plans are in the works for that. · Safety Patrol has been up and running since the end of October. Just a reminder that the patrols are out from 8:15 to 8:30 AM and from 3:25 to 3:40 PM. Parents and the public are asked to please use the drop off zone when dropping off students. Drivers are not allowed to enter or exit the staff parking lot if the patrollers have their signs out. Division Three and Four Update · See Students’ Union news above. The School Council will move from having monthly meetings to having bi-monthly meetings in September, November, January, March, and May. Principal’s Report · The draft alternate calendar for the next school year will be posted on the school website for review and feedback. · Discussed new or different options classes for grade seven students. The school currently offers art, woods, and foods classes; drama has been offered in the past and might be coming up again. · Career and technology studies (CTS) is often a room with a number of students with particular interests, but they often have different interests than their peers, which leads to smaller groups following separate studies. The teachers facilitate and assist the students in their projects. Some students respond well to this setup, and some do not. The school is looking for new ideas or thoughts about some hands-on options that the students would actually want to do. Some ideas would be woods, foods, visual arts, and wildlife courses. · Lost and found items are piling up. Discussed how to get lost and found items back to parents. · Recently went over satisfaction surveys for Div. 3/4 students, will be doing them for Div. 2 on Jan. 21. The surveys start with a preamble explaining what the questions mean and why the surveys are taken. The next School Council meeting will be on Mar. 17, at 7:00 PM. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
The first fully battery-electric bus line in Metro Vancouver will be up and running in 2022, according to TransLink, thanks to a $16 million investment from Canada's gas tax fund. In a joint announcement, the federal government and TransLink said the money will be used to purchase 15 battery-electric buses from Canadian manufacturer Nova Bus. the vehicles will run on the No. 100 route through New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. Outgoing TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said the acquisition of the buses will more than quadruple the company's current fleet of four battery-electric buses. "Our plan is to continue to replace diesel buses being retried… with all zero-emission battery-electric buses," he said. Each zero-emission bus is expected to save 100 tonnes of greenhouse gases and $40,000 in annual fuel costs compared to a conventional diesel bus. Martin LaRose, general manager of Nova Bus, said the vehicles being sold to TransLink will have a battery range of around 350 to 450 kilometres. The buses can be charged in approximately five minutes at charging stations while picking up passengers. Nova Bus is based in St. Eustache, Que., and is a division of Swedish-owned Volvo Buses. Almost a third of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, said Desmond.
Cette initiative est lancée par les agents de découvrabilité territoriale (ADT) qui sont en poste depuis l’automne dernier. Les ADT, qui sont présents dans différentes régions comme l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, le Nord-du-Québec et le Nord-Est de l’Ontario, ont pour mission d’améliorer la visibilité et la quantité de l’information sur nos territoires qui se retrouvent sur la plateforme Wikipédia. Au départ, les ADT ont dû se familiariser avec le site Wikipédia pour ensuite répertorier tout ce qui s’y trouvait et ayant rapport aux régions concernées avant de débuter le travail de terrain. « Il a fallu effectuer un travail de terrain pour débroussailler ce qui se trouvait déjà sur Wiki. Pour ensuite modifier quelques informations, améliorer quelques pages. Il faut aussi créer du nouveau matériel », de nous mentionner Émélie Rivard-Boudreau, ADT Qu’est-ce qu’un Wiki club? Un Wiki club, c’est un regroupement de passionnés où chacun contribue, selon ses forces et compétences, à mettre en lumière différents aspects de son territoire dans la grande encyclopédie libre Wikipédia. Plusieurs manières de participer ont déjà été identifiées, soit à titre de rédacteur, de photographe amateur, de sourceur. La combinaison de ces formes variées de contribution permet ultimement de rehausser la représentativité des territoires de chacun sur Wikipédia. « L’un des objectifs visés est de recruter des ambassadeurs ou wikipédiens dans chaque territoire compris dans le Croissant boréal, c’est-à-dire l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, le Nord-Est ontarien francophone et la Baie-James », a précisé Edma-Annie Wheelhouse, agente de développement culturel numérique au Conseil de la culture de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. « Nous partageons déjà de nombreux points communs en matière de territoire, d’économie, d’identité et de culture. En nous unissant, nous augmentons notre pouvoir d’attraction et favorisons notre déploiement à l’échelle nationale et internationale de la francophonie.» Pourquoi Wikipédia ? C’est parce qu’il n’y pas de limite avec Wikipédia. On peut y entrer des textes, bien sûr, mais aussi des photos, des graphiques, des diagrammes, des vidéos et chacun peut ajouter son grain de sel, peu importe quand il le fait. « Si on prend une personnalité X du Nord-du-Québec, il se peut qu’aujourd’hui nous n’ayons pas assez de matériel pour faire un article complet sur cette personnalité. Mais pourquoi ne pas commencer tout de suite? On peut créer sa page et mettre sa date de naissance. » C’est l’exemple que nous a donné Émélie Rivard-Boudreau. « L’initiative est de faire rayonner des gens de chez nous. Par exemple, au début du projet, il y a une page qui a été créée sur Godefroy de Billy qui a été un maire important de la ville de Chibougamau dans les années 1970. L’artiste peintre, Stéphanie Thompson de Matagami, a vu sa page créée », de renchérir Frédérique Brais-Chaput, ADT pour le Nord-du-Québec.» « Présentement, je travaille sur les pages des radios », de nous mentionner l’ADT du Nord-du-Québec. Il n’y avait pas de pages ou simplement des ébauches incomplètes et en anglais. C’est une vitrine importante pour eux. Un autre exemple, la page de Romeo Saganash est incomplète, selon Mme Brais-Chaput. C’est lui aussi un personnage important. Il faut que l’information que l’on y retrouve soit complète et exacte. » Selon les responsables du projet : « Ce n’est pas normal que les principales entreprises de la région soient absentes de la plateforme Wikipédia. » Au dire de Mme Brais-Chaput, les entreprises comme Chantiers-Chibougamau, Barrette-Chapais, Chapais Énergie et tout récemment, les Serres bleues, sont absentes. Elles se doivent d’être présentes pour que le monde puisse les découvrir. Ouvert à tous Le recrutement de personnes de chaque territoire intéressées à joindre les rangs du Wiki club Croissant boréal est déjà amorcé. « Les passionnés de la langue française, de l’histoire, de la politique, de l’actualité, de la culture, du sport ou des technologies peuvent tous trouver de l’intérêt à contribuer à Wikipédia », a-t-elle constaté. En consultant la page Wikipédia du projet « Croissant boréal », les nouveaux contributeurs pourront rapidement repérer comment ils peuvent y exploiter leurs intérêts et leurs forces. »René Martel, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
Shannin Metatawabin was raised on the principle of not only thinking about the present but generations into the future as well. “I think as Indigenous people we have a responsibility to our ancestors that we continue the focus of protecting the environment and ensuring there is a world here for the future yet unborn,” he said. “My dad raised me on that. We have to plan work and that we work for those that are not yet here. And clean energy is that opportunity to put into place clean energy projects across Canada, but this has to go hand in hand with the infrastructure in our communities.” Metatawabin, the CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association, spoke as part of a presentation at the Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering on Jan. 22. The presentation focused on clean energy as a major economic development-driver for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and peoples. “I think we can’t do anything without access to capital,” Metatawabin said. “If we wait for government, then we’ll be waiting forever. We have more than enough partners in this world and there’s more than enough capital in this world. It’s about aligning our communities to the people that want to help our community.” Metatawabin believes Indigenous people should be taking the lead with clean energy initiatives. Metatawabin also believes it’s key that governments are on board about changing the channel from fossil fuels. “I think we need to give space to renewable energy because that’s our future,” he said. “As Indigenous people we owe it to our ancestors to ensure that we’re leading in this space. And if we can, bring the government along to focus more on this and to jumpstart the investment, the creation of new instruments to attract private sector capital so that we can do more and then focus on our communities.” Chris Henderson, the executive director of Indigenous Clean Energy, said there’s another important reason to proceed with clean energy initiatives. “I believe if we do the right thing for Indigenous clean energy—clean energy for housing, clean energy with clean fuels, clean energy with renewable energy—we will have a huge impact on the health of the country, on the health of Indigenous peoples and communities,” he said. Henderson, a former hospital administrator, said the benefits would be tremendous to having countless clean energy initiatives brought forward. “If we make sure we do energy efficient housing that makes sure that we don’t breathe bad air in homes, that we make sure wood stoves are of a high quality so they’re not putting ash and particulate matter inside the home, that we’re making sure we keep mold in check so that it doesn’t contaminate people and the home, then what we will do is not only improve the health of people but let’s remember the biggest single expenditure in our country is on health care,” Henderson said. Bill Williams, the executive director of the Nunavut Economic Developers Association, believes it only makes sense who should be leading clean energy projects. “Indigenous peoples are the original sustainable developers,” Williams said. “They never take more than they need and they develop with what’s with them and around them in the community.” Williams said listening to Indigenous views on these issues would be prudent. “As a non-Indigenous Canadian, and other non-Indigenous Canadians, I think we can learn way more about sustainable development from Indigenous people if we would just listen,” he said. Dawn Madahbee Leach, the vice-chair of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, said building capacity is the most important thing that can be done now in terms of clean energy. Madahbee Leach also said the International Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released a report on Indigenous economic development last year. One of the report’s recommendations was to explore the possibility of building Indigenous centres of excellence. These facilities would lead the way in practices and research, case studies and provide communities with the proper tools to make wise decisions. “We would have a better chance to make informed decisions, to make better partnerships, to really be leaders in this industry because we would be looking at the leading practices and Indigenous businesses involved in clean energy projects and our employees and how to manage these projects,” she said. Madahbee Leach also believes collaboration with others would be extremely beneficial. “We are already building this capacity, but we need to share our progress and our missteps so we can all learn to do better,” she said. “We can share our successes with our Indigenous brothers and sisters globally as well.” Others who spoke at the presentation were Troy Jerome, the president and CEO of SEN’TI Environmental and Indigenous Services, and Hillary Thatcher, a senior director with Canada Infrastructure Bank. Darrell Brown, the chair of the Indigenous Clean Energy Network, moderated the presentation. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
A man with a history of drug charges visiting a house allegedly occupied by someone with a similar criminal past piqued the interest of Six Nations Police on Tuesday. So officers decided to follow the man’s silver Honda Odyssey as it made its way from the house on Chiefswood Road to a Hagersville business. Police say the vehicle did a full loop around the building before backing into a loading area with its trunk open. When police pulled the van over after it left the loading dock, officers noticed a meth pipe on the floor between the driver and passenger seats. A search of the van unearthed unspecified quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and pills, along with baggies, cash, cellphones and a digital scale. Police arrested and charged the three people in the van – a 50-year-old man from Hagersville, a 40-year-old man from Ohsweken and a 25-year-old woman from Ohsweken – with possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, as well as failure to comply with a release order. The Hagersville man was also charged with possessing methamphetamine for the purpose of trafficking. The three were held for a bail hearing. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Municipal leaders who sit on the Grey Bruce health board expressed their frustration with the lack of vaccine at Friday’s meeting. Medical officer of Health Dr. Arra said that we have been “the victim of our own success” in keeping COVID numbers down, because high-risk areas have been the main priority. He said a plan for using three mass vaccination hubs has been submitted. “If we don’t get a response about piloting this hub and getting enough vaccine for high-risk task force, I plan to turn to advocacy,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a matter of advocacy… but it seems there is disparity in the distribution to some degree,” he said. Brian Milne, Southgate deputy-mayor, said that it is frustrating that Grey-Bruce had received only 200 doses at that time, and many frontline staff members were left waiting to be inoculated, while in other areas the cafeteria staff at facilities had received the vaccine. Dr. Arra said he heard the frustration and shared the concern. But he added that there is a fine line that needs to be walked, so that public health is to be seen to be working with the province, at the same time as advocating for the local area. It’s important that the public perceives that there is a united approach, Dr. Arra said. And it’s not a matter of if the vaccines come, it’s when, he said. “And we will be ready whenever that happens.” On Monday, Public Health informed the public that it had received 600 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and expected delivery of another 700 doses of the vaccine next week, which will be enough to complete first dose vaccine coverage for all long-term care residents in Grey Bruce. The latest international news is that shipments that were expected are not confirmed, and that has affected many areas in the province. Health board members were happier about the return to school on Monday for Grey-Bruce students. Many parents will be relieved from the burden of making home learning work, but others are still cautions, said Selwyn Hicks, deputy-mayor of Hanover. He said that the health unit had done a good job of communication, explaining that the data shows that transmission is not taking place in schools. Members praised the outreach and media releases. Dr. Arra said that when he meets weekly with the mayors, he learns about issues in the community quickly and the health unit can address them. A standing item on the Board of Health agenda is the opioid crises, and Dr. Arra reported that there have been more than 10 overdoses in the last two weeks in Grey-Bruce – “not deaths, thankfully, overdoses.” Anecdotally, there were 13 deaths in Grey-Bruce in 2020 from opioids, zero from COVID. It’s a difficult crisis to address, Dr. Arra commented, with many complex issues, social, technical, ethical. When the pandemic ends, he said that the health unit, with credibility gained during COVID, will have an opportunity to address opioid like never before. Other partners are doing good work right now, he said, and the pandemic is the public health priority. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
A group of doctors and advocates are calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address what they call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in long-term care homes by bringing the military back for support and embarking on hiring and training drives.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick reported 10 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday as health officials prepared to ease restrictions in the Saint John and Fredericton regions. Five of the latest cases were reported in the Edmundston region, which is under a 14-day lockdown that began Sunday. Three cases were identified in the Saint John area while the Moncton and Campbellton regions each reported one new case. The Saint John and Fredericton regions were scheduled to move into the lower pandemic-alert level of "orange" Tuesday at midnight. Gyms, spas and entertainment centres can reopen in those areas under strict guidelines. Officials said the province had 339 active reported cases and seven patients were in hospital with the disease, including three in intensive care. New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,161 infections and 14 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
The deadline to apply for operational funding under the Community Investment Fund (CIF) for the Region of Queens Municipality is January 29. For years, the region has supported not-for-profit groups for funding to help them with infrastructure projects, training and expanding their services. For the 2020-21 fiscal year, the fund’s second year of existence, the region approved $189,000 to be given to local groups and organizations. “It’s a pretty sizeable amount. This doesn’t include the facade program and other related programs that we offer,” said RQM Mayor Darlene Norman. “I think this is pretty good for our size and you also have to realize that we don’t charge our not-for-profit groups taxes on any of their buildings or properties either.” The CIF was approved by council in November 2018 and the new fund brought together a number of different programs that had been in place. In its first year — 2019 — $133,111 was given out. The CIF program is separated into Operating Investment and Capital Investment Funds. Operating Investment Funds are divided into three categories – event/tournament investment funds, training investment funds and travel assistance investment funds. Assistance for eligible capital funds is open year-long. Last year, on the operational side of the fund, almost $51,000 was distributed to 10 groups. One of the recipients was the Community Food Resource Network (CFRN) in Caledonia, which is operated by Dianne Huskins and received $5,000 in April 2020. CFRN has been renting part of a building to use and the funds were allotted so the group could take over the entire building. The COVID-19 pandemic changed Huskins’s plans for this. Instead, the money was used to pay rent, allowing for the full 100 per cent of donations to be used for food to distribute to people in need in North Queens. CFRN also operates Muriel’s Closet, a place to hold rummage sales with all items donated by community members. Jessica Smith, the administrator for the Hank Snow Home Town Museum in Liverpool, said the $10,000 the museum received was a much-needed boost. “It definitely helped our museum stay open this year. It was such a huge help. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without it,” she said. Nonetheless, the museum was closed for the majority of the tourism season, and Smith reported that visitor numbers were down about 90 per cent last year from 2019. And it was unable to hold its Hank Snow Tribute, its largest annual fundraiser. Smith said she’s happy to let other groups know about the feasibility of obtaining the grant. “It helps not-for-profits and small businesses like us. It’s also not like many other grants where there are pages and pages that have to be filled out. It is pretty easy,” said Smith. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Haisla Nation duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids are leading nominees at the first-ever International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show. The celebration will stream online on May 23 from Winnipeg, this year's host city, with the winners of all 20 categories selected by the public. The Rez Kids are contending for four awards, including hip hop single of the year for "Where They At" and album of the year for "Born Deadly." David Strickland, a Mi’kmaw and Cree producer, is up for three awards, among them single of the year for "Turtle Island," featuring Supaman, Artson, Spade, JRDN and Whitey. Other categories span an array of elements tied to hip hop music. Two are devoted to R&B songs, while music videos, DJs and clothing lines all have their own awards. An international hip hop single category includes artists hailing from the United States, Australia and India. Organizers say nominees were narrowed down by a group of music judges and industry players, such as DJs, producers and other professionals. The winners will be selected through a public vote running until April 30 on the event's website. The Indigenous hip hop awards are being led by four organizers: MCs Miss Christie Lee and Jon C, as well as Indigenous artist and motivational speaker Paul Sawan and entertainment marketer Chris Sharpe. The idea came about when Sawan and Sharpe began discussing their excitement around the burgeoning Indigenous hip hop community. "I really do consider it to be the new underground," Sharpe said in a phone interview. "We would love (the awards) to be one of the premier events that really showcases the Indigenous artists across Canada, with the hope that a lot more investment will go into helping artists develop in these communities." The awards will be preceded by a virtual music industry trade show on May 22. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment and address climate change. Two people with knowledge of Biden’s plans outlined the proposed moratorium, which will be announced Wednesday. They asked not to be identified because the plan has not been made been public; some details remain in flux. The move follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters announced last week and follows Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The moratorium is intended to allow time for officials to review the impact of oil and gas drilling on the environment and climate. Environmental groups hailed the expected moratorium as the kind of bold, urgent action needed to slow climate change. “The fossil fuel industry has inflicted tremendous damage on the planet. The administration’s review, if done correctly, will show that filthy fracking and drilling must end for good, everywhere,'' said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that has pushed for the drilling pause. Oil industry groups slammed the move, saying Biden had already eliminated thousands of oil and gas jobs by killing the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office. "This is just the start. It will get worse,'' said Brook Simmons, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma. "Meanwhile, the laws of physics, chemistry and supply and demand remain in effect. Oil and natural gas prices are going up, and so will home heating bills, consumer prices and fuel costs.'' Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas drillers in Western states, said the expected executive order is intended to delay drilling on federal lands to the point where it is no longer viable. "The environmental left is leading the agenda at the White House when it comes to energy and environment issues,'' she said, noting that the moratorium would be felt most acutely in Western states such as Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota. Biden lost all three states to former President Donald Trump. The drilling moratorium is among several climate-related actions Biden will announce Wednesday. He also is likely to direct officials to conserve 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, initiate a series of regulatory actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and issue a memorandum that elevates climate change to a national security priority. He also is expected to direct all U.S. agencies to use science and evidence-based decision-making in federal rule-making and announce a U.S.-hosted climate leaders summit on Earth Day, April 22. The conservation plan would set aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030, part of Biden’s campaign pledge for a $2 trillion program to slow global warming. Under Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican’s goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden, a Democrat, has made a top priority. On his first day in office last Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach — rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules on science, the environment and public health. A 60-day suspension order at the Interior Department did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity would not come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. The moratorium also is unlikely to affect existing leases. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump’s final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. The pause in drilling is limited to federal lands and does not affect drilling on private lands, which is largely regulated by states. Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 million metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. The leasing moratorium could present a political dilemma for Biden in New Mexico, a Democratic-leaning state that has experienced a boom in oil production in recent years, much of it on federal land. Biden's choice to lead the Interior Department, which oversees oil and gas leasing on public lands, is New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American to lead the agency that oversees relations with nearly 600 federally-recognized tribes. Haaland, whose confirmation hearing has been delayed until next month, already faces backlash from some Republicans who say expected cutbacks in oil production under Biden would hurt her home state. Tiernan Sittenfeld, a top official with the League of Conservation Voters, called that criticism off-base. “The reality is we need to transition to 100% clean energy” in order to address climate change, she said Tuesday. "The clean energy economy in New Mexico is thriving,'' Sittenfeld added, citing gains in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The Biden administration has pledged to spend billions to assist in the transition away from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, and Biden has said creating thousands of clean-energy jobs is a top priority. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
L’histoire se répète en Tunisie. En ce mois de janvier, de nouvelles manifestations, violemment réprimées, ont lieu dans tout le pays. La jeunesse en particulier réclame une démocratie durable.
Midhurst residents did not attend a public meeting to show their displeasure at a new development on Old Second South, Monday (Jan. 25). Springwater council hosted a public meeting to discuss the engineering specifics of the proposed five lots, which will see single-dwelling homes developed by First Elm Holding Inc. They will be located minutes north of Midhurst, backing onto environmentally-protected land. There were no residents to query the requested zone change from A for agricultural to RIXX zoning for the small residential builds. “No commentors care to make deputations,” Clerk Renee Ainsworth told councillors midway through the 40-minute meeting. After spending almost 12 years fighting the township against more subdivisions near their small village 10 minutes north of Barrie, the Midhurst Ratepayers Association was not present and the virtual meeting was only attended by council and township staff. Coun. Jack Hanna queried the placement of septic beds on the five proposed properties that would lie on the west end of 43 hectares adjacent to the Old Second South. “Water courses are fairly well removed,” said Brian Goodreid of Goodreid Planning Group, which is responsible for the engineering report presented to council. Hanna also questioned the regulations of a maximum of 15 persons per the five lots allotted to, but Brent Spagnol, director of planning services, allayed those concerns. “There are no people police monitoring to ensure we only have three persons per home. There’s no limitations on the number of people per home,” Spagnol said, noting the single-dwelling detached homes meet the provincial settlement population allotment requirements. Further input from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority is expected. The application was reviewed and returned to staff for further investigation. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island says it's on track to complete the first phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan despite delivery delays of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison said today the province still expects residents and staff of long-term care homes along with front-line health workers to receive two vaccine doses by Feb. 16. Morrison says the province won't be receiving a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine this week but says deliveries will resume next week. As of Saturday, 7,117 doses of vaccine had been administered, 1,892 of which were second doses. Morrison says she will release details later this week on how the province will fast track the vaccine rollout to registered rotational workers, truck drivers and to people over 80 years old. The province is reporting zero new cases of COVID-19 today and says it has six active reported cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
In response to residents’ concerns about construction plans in Small’s Creek Ravine, Metrolinx is meeting with the community in a series of workshops and is also hosting a public online open house on Feb. 3. Metrolinx’s rail corridor expansion plans include expanding the railway from three to four tracks in a segment that runs through Small’s Creek, which is in the Woodbine Avenue to Coxwell Avenue and Gerrard Street East area. The proposed construction would remove 268 trees and other environmental impacts that prompted residents to organize a campaign called Save Small’s Creek. The campaign gathered almost 6,000 signatures in an online petition, from residents across the neighbourhood, eager to see a better construction plan in which a high number of trees would not be removed. Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford is also hosting a stakeholder meeting with the city’s Urban Forestry department this week to determine the steps necessary to minimize tree loss, his office confirmed. Metrolinx will host its virtual open house on Wednesday, Feb. 3 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the Lakeshore East Corridor Expansion Project. Residents can participate by visiting www.metrolinxengage.com/en/lakeshore-east-live-event The open house will feature a presentation from Capital Projects Group executive vice president Stephanie Davies and vice president of pre-construction services Jason Ryan. A question and answer session will follow. For more on the plans for Small’s Creek, please see Beach Metro News’ earlier story at https://www.beachmetro.com/2021/01/04/save-smalls-creek-group-formed-to-protest-metrolinx-plans-to-cut-down-trees-build-new-culvert-for-railway-track-expansion/ Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Saskatchewan saw its deadliest day of the pandemic, with a record-high 14 fatalities reported on Tuesday. The previous record came on Jan. 21, when 13 people died after being diagnosed with the virus. The province has now reported 268 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic came to the province. Of those, 115 deaths have happened in 2021. One of the newly reported deaths Tuesday was a person was in their 40s who lived in the north central zone. Two people were in their 50s, with one from the Regina area and the other from the Saskatoon zone. Another two people were in their 60s from the Saskatoon zone. Three people were in their 70s and were from the Regina, Saskatoon and southeast zones. Six people were in their 80s and lived in the far northwest, north central, Regina, southeast and Saskatoon zones. New cases The province also reported 232 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total provincial caseload so far to 22,646. Here's where the new cases are: Far northwest: 23. Far north central: three. Far northeast: four. Northwest: 45. North central: 31. Northeast: seven. Saskatoon zone: 47. Central west: three. Central east: four. Regina zone: 46. South central: two. Southeast: six. There are 11 cases with pending locations. The seven-day average of daily new cases is 254, or 20.7 new cases per 100,000 people. The province says a total of 19,729 known cases have recovered from the virus, an increase of 839 since Monday. Of the province's total cases, 2,665 are considered active. There are 208 people with COVID-19 in hospital, 33 of whom are in the ICU. The province processed 2,160 COVID-19 tests on Monday. Public health measures extended The province is not implementing any new health measures to contain the spread of the virus, but it is extending the measures that currently are in place. The public health order will remain in effect until Feb. 19. They were set to expire on Jan. 29. The measures include a province-wide mask mandate, outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people maximum, while private indoor gatherings are limited to immediate households only. Visits to long-term care and personal care homes remain suspended except for compassionate reasons. Additionally, no alcohol sales are permitted after 10 p.m. in licensed establishments and sports remains suspended. A full list of current measures is available here. 3 businesses fined for not following public health order The government of Saskatchewan says enforcement of public health orders will continue to ensure businesses and events are brought into compliance as quickly as possible. On Tuesday, three businesses were fined under the Public Health Act. Crackers and the Crazy Cactus in Saskatoon and Stats Cocktails and Dreams in Regina have each been fined $14,000 each. Vaccine update The province administered 362 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, bringing the total number of vaccines administered in Saskatchewan to 34,080. The doses were administered in the following areas: Saskatoon: 241. Far North West: 22. North East: 23. North West: 66. Central East: 10. As of Tuesday, the province says it has administered 104 per cent of the number of doses it has officially received, with the overage due to efficiencies in drawing extra doses from vials.
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's public safety minister says a Vancouver couple accused of flying to Yukon to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most "despicable" things he's heard in a long time. Mike Farnworth says the alleged actions of former Great Canadian Gaming Corp. CEO Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina Baker show a "complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass." Tickets filed in a Whitehorse court show the 55-year-old man and his 32-year-old wife were each charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon. The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them. Ekaterina Baker did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment while Rodney Baker did not immediately return a request for comment sent to Great Canadian Gaming, which accepted his resignation Sunday. Farnworth said the couple paid a "pretty high price," with Rodney Baker losing what the minister described as a "$10-million-a-year job." An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March 2020 says Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million in compensation from the company in 2019. The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act and both people face fines of $1,000, plus fees. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Huronia Airport's tri-party owners pored over the various options presented by a consultant to keep the asset viable. Trent Gervais, president and CEO of Loomex Group, which was hired to prepare a detailed report around the aviation property, talked Monday evening to the three municipalities that own the 300-acre piece of property in Tiny Township. He said the airport has some crucial positive features, such as room to grow, an approximately 4,000 foot runway that can accommodate small charters, commercial and larger general aviation aircrafts, proximity to cottage country, and low tax, utilities, and fuel costs. Some downsides, as Gervais pointed out, include weak internet access, outdated machinery and equipment, outdated fuel system and lack of a flight school. In the report, he lists a number of ways the airport can be revived as a revenue-generating asset for the area. Increasing communications on various channels can not only bring in tourism and visitors, but also attract a flight school, and open up the space to events. Additional hangar spaces can be added and some of the airport building space can be leased out to other businesses. Another suggestion was to strike a partnership with Tay Township, which is the only North Simcoe municipality currently not sharing in the ownership of the airport. When the floor was opened for questions, Midland's Coun. Jon Main was the first to jump in with a query. "How have you seen the airport industry change in the pandemic and are we close to seeing it return to normal?" he asked. Gervais said it's no secret that COVID-19 has decimated the aviation industry. "Airports hurting the most are those that rely heavily on schedule service," he said, adding some airports have lost 90% of their business. Despite that, it’s still going fairly strong, said Gervais. "We also think it’s a great opportunity that when the general population gets out and moves around, it’s going to take them time to build up the trust to travel abroad," he said. "Domestic travel is a great asset. What can your airport do to attract that potential business to the area?" Tiny Township's Coun. Tony Mintoff said despite the challenges and the hardships COVID-19 has created in every other area of life, the airport's movements were up by 17% over 2019. "Our fuel sales are up 60% over last year," he said. Main asked about another use for the airport. "We have all these extreme weather events that are potentially going to be affecting us, so are the airport's emergency capabilities would be fantastic to be further explored?" he said. Gervais said that could work. "Your airport could be equipped to assist with emergency management," he said. "It could be a small evacuation shelter. It could be a small transportation hub. It could play another role. It's just an asset sitting there." Penetanguishene councillor George Vadeboncoeur wanted to know if the tri-party municipal agreement would be reviewed. Jeff Lees, chief administrative officer for Penetanguishene, said that was one of the suggestions made by Loomex and agreed upon by the three CAOs. Midland's Coun. Bill Gordon wanted to know more about the suggestion around hosting events on the airport property. "I've heard that a couple times now, and as I recall there were at least two events that were proposed and denied," he said. "Has there's been a shift in the mentality now?" Gervais clarified the types of events the report was suggesting. "What we are really encouraging is that the events should be aviation and aerospace related," he said. "They're the types of events we would encourage you to attract to the airport." Mintoff, who is part of the Huronia Airport Commission, added to that. "We've had two significant proposals brought to us," he said. "One was for a concert-type venue. We worked with the proponent, but what happened was that they were asking us to undertake all the liabilities and responsibilities, without any commitment to revenue from that opportunity. "The second opportunity was to host drag races on the airport runway," continued Mintoff. "We worked very much with the proponent to make sure we had the appropriate insurance policies, but found out that these events can create significant damage to the runways. The amount of money we were being offered wouldn't have cleaned it up." The commission, he said, understands the desire of the three host municipalities to generate revenue to offset the deficit. "We feel we have to have the right things that will generate reasonable revenue without exposing municipalities to the liabilities," Mintoff said. Gordon then asked about the airport competing with the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro-Medonte. "The Lake Simcoe (Regional) Airport is in significant growth mode and it's proven so likely to produce income," he said. "Are we really wise to be competing against our own upper tier of government when our collective tax dollars are promoting their growth?" Gervais said there's plenty of room in the airspace for all the airports. "The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport sits as part of the Southern Ontario Airport Network," he said. "Each one of those airports is defined around the type of business they're in. Although Simcoe won't turn away general aviation traffic, that's not what they're promoting. They're out there promoting the big jet traffic. "Those that are travelling to North Simcoe are going to want to land in North Simcoe," added Gervais. Gordon then asked about divestment. "Why did we choose not to look at divestment as an option?" Gervais said that wasn't part of the mandate. However, the report does include a section about divestiture. Small and medium-sized municipalities may look at selling off airports with aging infrastructures, but there are many advantages and disadvantages to consider, says the report. Selling may be difficult negotiate considering the agreements already in place with hangar owners. Private investors may not want to invest back in the airport. "Another challenge with a private airport structure is managing noise and other environmental externalities generated by airports," says the report. "Seldom, costs of noise pollution are included in the profit and loss sheet of a private airport. Often, politicians spend tax dollars to cover the costs of noise mitigation; this would remain a burden on the municipality, regardless of ownership structure, in order to calm neighbouring voters/taxpayers." As well, the Loomex report says, selling the airport to a private owner would take away municipal control over the activities at the airfield. Midland's Mayor Stewart Strathearn spoke up against divestiture. "If you divest totally of the airport, you'll never get it back," he said. He then asked about the runway capacity to allow larger planes to land. "We have a 4,000-foot runaway, can it accommodate a Dash-8? What would the range of an aircraft like that be?" he said. "If we're talking about a more focused marketing plan, tied into something like cruise ships, then you start to have people who are deposited in our area and may need to go back to, for example, Chicago." Gervais said the strip is equipped for a Dash-8 to land on it. "We'd have to look at what size, but a Dash-8 300, would have 50 to 70 passengers," he added. Strathearn also wanted to know how the Huronia Airport would stand apart from all the other airpotrs in the region that already offer flight school. Gervais' advice was to look for the niche. "There are a lot of international pilots that could be attracted," he said. "Could it be an ultra light flight school? There are a lot of unmanned aircrafts that are reaching potential. I wouldn't suggest attracting just another flight school, but what niche market can you get into that nobody else is doing?" Strathearn then asked about funding. "If this airport were to attract a charter services, what would it do to its status in the hierarchy of airports?" he said. "Would we be eligible for significant federal funding as a consequence?" Gervais said the airport would have to reach a certain threshold for regularly scheduled service for that. "The better you can collaborate as a region and have a solid business plan, the more inclined you are to be able to get some federal and provincial funding," he said. Tim Leitch, Tiny Township's acting CAO and director of public works, explained next steps. "Moving forward on this, we felt that one of the main things to get us going would be a task force made up of three staff members from the ownership groups, an aviation expert, the airport manager, and representation from our councils," he said. "We want to develop a road map for how we're going to move forward to make sure the airport is a sustainable business." The task force, said Leitch, will bring back a report to respective councils to create a consistent plan of action moving forward. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com