That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
Baldy Mountain Resort is again speaking out against snowmobilers who use the ski hill as their own personal playground after an incident occurred while WorkSafe BC was conducting an inspection on the mountain. WorkSafe BC was on site following the death of a 70-year-old employee on Feb. 26 and during that inspection on Feb. 28 “snowmobilers came over the top of the hill and ripped down Burn Baby Burn right in front of them,” Baldy resort stated in a Facebook post Thursday. Motorized recreational vehicles using the mountain has been a longstanding issue at Mount Baldy. “It’s been an issue since Baldy re-opened. In the past two years we’ve been pushing the point of non-authorized, motorized vehicles are not permitted on the foot trails or on the hill,” said Caroline Sherrer, operations manager at Baldy. Not only does the unauthorized use of motor vehicles wreck the trails, keeping the Snowcat busy and unable to groom other trails, snowmobilers on the mountain are a safety issue, Sherrer said. “It’s also a danger. There are people out there walking, doing snowshoeing at moonlight at night. Sometimes you can’t hear these snowmobiles when they are in the trees and they come around a corner,” Sherrer said. Signs posted at all access points on the mountain make it clear motorized vehicles are not allowed, and barriers erected at Baldy entry points have been taken down in the past. “We had our investigators up here and (the snowmobilers) literally didn’t go down the Baldy trail they cut across and went up another trail right in front of the investigators. There are signs posted in every access point, they’ve been torn down. Barriers have been destroyed and we have to rebuild them. It’s destructive, it’s trespassing and it’s vandalism, plain and simple,” Sherrer said. “We don’t want someone to get hurt. That’s the reason we have been so adamant about this. We just don’t want to see a tragedy on the hill again.” Sherrer said there is an ongoing discussion in local snowmobiling groups that believe recreational vehicles have the right to access the land. “They feel they have a right to be on the hill because it’s ‘Crown land,’ but this is a recreational area that we have boundary access to, and we are the ones who are liable and responsible for this area,” Sherrer said. “We have spoken to the RCMP about it. They’re willing to come up, but need proof. Unfortunately, we don’t always get that proof or if we get proof it’s not clear enough prove who it is.” There are incidents of snowmobilers using the mountain three or four times a month during the ski season, Sherrer said, noting the latest incident, which occurred in front of WorkSafe BC inspectors was “especially egregious.” “It’s regularly. Would I say every week? No. But I would say probably at least three or four times a month. This week alone was twice,” Sherrer said. “This is a huge safety issue for us.” Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
VICTORIA — British Columbia's provincial health officer says the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be given to first responders and essential workers, but it still needs to be determined which industries will be included. Dr. Bonnie Henry says the first shipments of the recently approved vaccine are expected in the province next week and the B.C. Immunization Committee is developing a detailed plan of who should be immunized and when. She says she expects the plan will be finalized around March 18, and in the meantime, the initial supply will be used to address ongoing outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing case numbers in some communities. Henry also apologized to long-term care residents and health-care workers whose second dose of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was suddenly postponed this week after B.C. decided to extend the gap between first and second shots to four months. She says the decision was not taken lightly, but it did need to be made quite rapidly because the province was approaching a time when tens of thousands of second doses were scheduled to be given. Henry reported 564 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities linked to the virus to 1,376, and she also says two of those who died had variants of concern. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — An Alaska state senator sought an apology Thursday from Gov. Mike Dunleavy for a scathing letter in which he accused her of misrepresenting the state's COVID-19 response and said his administration would no longer participate in hearings she leads. Sen. Lora Reinbold during a news conference called the reaction by Dunleavy, a fellow Republican, “outlandish” and said the Feb. 18 letter was an “attempt to intimidate those who question him and his administration and to silence those with opposing views.” Jeff Turner, a Dunleavy spokesperson, listened to the news conference, held in a Capitol corridor. In an email later, he said Dunleavy “will not be retracting his letter” to Reinbold. Dunleavy has been working from home while recovering from COVID-19. Several bills that are key parts of Dunleavy's legislative agenda, including proposed constitutional amendments and a proposed change to the yearly oil-wealth check residents receive, are in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Reinbold chairs. The committee also has been designated to hold a confirmation hearing for Dunleavy's attorney general nominee, Treg Taylor. Reinbold did not say whether she might seek to compel testimony from the administration. But she said she will not meet with Dunleavy "until he withdraws the letter and issues a formal apology. That is my first step, and that is what I'm hoping for.” Senate President Peter Micciche, who leads a majority Republican caucus, said he hopes Reinbold and Dunleavy resolve the dispute. “We’re all grown-ups here and the public expects us to be professional and get our work done on time,” he said in a statement, adding later: "However this works out between those two individuals, the Senate’s business is going to get done in a legal and timely manner – including hearings on the governor’s appointees.” Micciche has said he expects Senate committees to take a balanced approach. Reinbold, who has held hearings highlighting views of those who question the usefulness of masks and criticize the effects of government emergency orders, said Thursday she has brought a “diversity of thought” to the committee that has gone against the Dunleavy administration's “fear-mongering” COVID-19 message. Reinbold and other lawmakers saw Dunleavy as overstepping in issuing pandemic-related disaster declarations when the Legislature was not in session. But she also has taken aim at health restrictions imposed by local governments and the Legislature, such as mask requirements, and raised concerns with COVID-19 vaccines. She was appointed in November, when Dunleavy used the state's emergency alert network to warn of rising case counts, ask Alaskans to consider celebrating the holidays differently and said he would require masks at state work sites. He also urged groups to meet remotely and encouraged people to use online ordering or curbside pickup. Dunleavy at the time said hospitalizations and sick health care workers were reaching “untenable levels.” In a social media post, Reinbold said Dunleavy “wants us to dramatically change our lives, in other words, basically to help frontline workers, that have supposedly been gearing up to take care of patients all year. Things aren’t adding up.” She said Thursday some of the information she had requested from the administration included data on hospital capacity. The state health department has long posted online data on available hospital beds and hospitalizations related to COVID-19. The department last fall, including around Thanksgiving, was reporting weekly highs in hospitalizations. “The bottom line is, we as Alaskans want to know why the disaster was extended over the Thanksgiving" holiday, she said, adding that seeing the data on hospital capacity that played a role in a disaster declaration around that time was important. “We need to be able to ask the tough questions.” Dunleavy, in his letter, said Reinbold had made “many superfluous inquiries" and that her “baseless, deleterious, and self-serving demands on government resources amounts to an abuse of public services and will no longer be endured.” The state's last disaster declaration expired in mid-February. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Forward Fredy Montero is returning to the Seattle Sounders nearly a decade after he last played for the club. Montero signed a one-year contract with the Sounders on Thursday that includes club options for two more seasons. It will be the second stint in Seattle for the 33-year-old, who was with the Sounders from their inaugural season in 2009 through 2012. Even after nearly a decade away, Montero is still the club record-holder with 60 goals across all competitions. “When good players return to Seattle, it speaks to the strong culture that we’ve built. I’m looking forward to bringing him into the group and seeing what he can contribute to our attack,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. Montero was Seattle’s leading goal scorer the first three years of the team's existence. He scored 47 times in MLS regular-season games during his four seasons with the Sounders. After leaving Seattle in 2012, Montero played for Millonarios in Colombia and Sporting CP in Portugal where he scored 27 goals over three seasons. Montero spent one season playing in China, but has spent three of the past four seasons with the Whitecaps sandwiched around a one-year return to Portugal. Montero will provide depth for a Seattle attack that faces questions following Jordan Morris’ loan to Swansea City and a subsequent knee injury that will require surgery and end his 2021 season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
Gananoque and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands are again asking local businesses for their business chronicles. The fourth edition of the project aims to showcase local businesses through social media, websites and investment campaigns. Any business, whether home-based, just starting out or well established, is welcomed to apply, said Amanda Trafford, business development co-ordinator for the town of Gananoque. "What we are doing is using the businesses to tell the story of our communities," she said. The chronicles are funded by the Rural Economic Development (RED) program through the provincial ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Along with having the businesses advertised on social media, the information and website catalogue is also used to attract new businesses to the area. "Like every other community we are trying to attract new business," said Trafford. "By using our businesses, we can tell the story of why it’s good to do business here." Trafford said the chronicles are another way to showcase a positive quality of life for a business despite being in a rural setting. Terri Dawson, the owner of the Green Gecko shop in Lyndhurst, said she also took away that the chronicle is about showing off the community. "You're not always trying to push advertising," said Dawson. "What you're trying to say is look at this great business community we have here. "You could be a part of this too." The businesses involved will also receive a free professional photograph for their use in promoting the business, something Dawson said was greatly welcomed. "I really appreciated that I was given a print-quality copy of the photo because I've used it in other promotion of my business," she said. "Most businesses are not budgeting for a professional photo of you taken so it's a real bonus." Dawson, who was a part of the first round of business chronicles, said she found the process simple and straightforward. "Because you're the one filling out the information… you make sure that you are highlighting the things you really feel are important," said Dawson, whose store sells items "from down the road and around the world." McKenna Modler, project coordinator for RED, said that over 30 businesses have been chronicled in the first three editions, dating back to 2018. Each business is found on either the town or township's chronicles webpage, depending on the location of the business. Modler said if a business is interested in joining the chronicles, the owners can email her at email@example.com or visit either the town or township versions of the chronicles webpage. The deadline is March 31. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
In her second children’s book, titled Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know, Dr. Brittany Luby explores the wonders of the four seasons, telling the story of which animals, plants and changes in the natural surroundings are connected to each season. “When an orange star shows bedtime is near, and brown Peeper sings, ‘Goodnight, little one.’ This is how I know spring,” a passage from the book reads. Aimed at younger readers but a pleasant read for anyone, the book is a short journey through how one can recognize when seasons start to show signs of change, and the different connections people can have with the environments they live in and interact with. “I like to imagine sharing these stories with my nieces and my nephews when I’m writing them,” Luby said. “I think that you can feel so loved when you are outdoors and take that moment to connect with the trees that are creating air that’s better for you to breathe. You can become attuned to how all our plant and animal relations are just giving so much of themselves so that we are living the most fulfilling life that we can.” Luby (Anishinaabe-kwe) said the book was a way for her to reflect on her upbringing. “I miss my ancestral territory when I’m away from it. This book was a way for me to reconnect that was really nourishing for me,” Luby said. “I think an important part of the story is encouraging people to reconnect with their plant and animal teachers. Who’s giving you signs that the season might be changing?” Outside of her work in children’s books, which includes her 2020 debut picture book Encounter, Luby’s research as an assistant professor of History at the University of Guelph consists of a wide range of topics related to Indigenous health, education, as well as the industrialization of the Canadian boreal forests and subarctic. She was inspired to do this work by being brought along to negotiation meetings as a teenager by her father. "My Dad was on Council for six terms and chief for two terms. Dad is an active member of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation to this day. He has acted as a chair of general band meetings, lead negotiator, and project manager. “I witnessed Dad at work in each of these roles. However, I began to watch how he worked as a negotiator. The meetings I remember most clearly focused on the damages sustained by Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation as a result of hydroelectric development." “This sparked my passion for learning about my ancestral community, water issues, and the impacts of the settler-colonialism on the territory,” Luby added. Written originally in English, Luby engaged the duo of Alvin Corbiere and his son Alan to provide the Anishinaabe translation in Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know, which is featured alongside each of the book’s passages. In both the title and on the pages of the story, the Anishinaabe translation precedes the English text. Alan, who works as an assistant professor at York University, said he and his father did the majority of the translation over the course of a weekend working together. Though he’s been studying the Anishinaabe language for more than 20 years, Alan does not consider himself fully fluent and enlists the help of his father to help with some of the tougher translations. “There’s distinctions to be made about trying to get literal and yet be true to the author’s words and sentiment,” Alan said. “I looked at this project as a challenge to try to further my understanding of the language in a different way.” The books’ illustrations come by way of Vancouver-based Woodlands style artist Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Ojibwe), a member of Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario. Originally travelling to British Columbia for only a short visit with his sister in 2015, Pawis-Steckley said he ended up enjoying himself so much — and the milder climate — that he’s now been there for almost six years. His first sample for the book was done in September 2019. Pawis-Steckley said he completed the illustrations over the course of six months or so, concluding in summer 2020. Outside of his work with children’s books, his art career has included a residency at Skwachay's Lodge in downtown Vancouver, a featured doodle on Google’s home page in July 2019 highlighting the traditional Ojibwe Jingle Dress dance from the early 20th century, and operating a new screen printing shop. When he’s not creating art, Pawis-Steckley enjoys swimming, which he said helped while creating artwork for the book. “A lot of the inspiration came from just being out on the lake with my family, swimming all day,” he said. “It’s a mix of Woodlands art and traditional children’s picture book style.” Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know is available here, as well as through most major bookstores. Windspeaker.com By Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
VANCOUVER — A Crown lawyer is urging a B.C. Supreme Court judge to ignore the "geopolitical winds swirling around" Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's extradition case and focus instead on the legal context. Robert Frater told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that Meng's legal team is trying to bring the elephant into the room by introducing arguments centred on comments made by former U.S. president Donald Trump about the case. "With respect, we urge you to focus on the facts and the law and leave the politics to the politicians," Frater said Thursday. He made the comments in response to claims from Meng's legal team that Trump's words 10 days after her arrest at Vancouver's airport in December 2018 represented a threat and poisoned the Canadian proceedings. Trump was asked by media if he would intervene in the case to get a better deal in trade talks with China, and he responded that he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary. Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny. Her lawyers allege Trump's comments constitute an abuse of process and they are asking for a stay of proceedings. It is the first of four branches of abuse of process arguments that the court will hear ahead of the actual extradition or committal hearing in May. "Everyone in this courtroom knows that the elephant in the room in this case has always been the geopolitical winds that swirl around it," Frater told the judge. "We're confident that when you look at the facts and apply the law, you will dismiss this motion." On Wednesday, Meng's team sought to tie her case to a long-brewing technological race between the United States and China. Huawei's success in establishing 5G wireless technology worldwide represents an "existential threat" to the United States and Meng's case is unfolding amid an effort by the U.S. government to "debilitate, if not destroy, Huawei," her lawyer Richard Peck said. Peck noted that in February 2020, then-U. S. attorney general William Barr said the stakes could not be higher and likened the race to the Cold War. Democrat Nancy Pelosi has warned against doing business with Huawei and White House press secretary Jen Psaki has described Huawei as a "threat to the security of the U.S.," Peck said. "This campaign is bipartisan and continues in full vigour today," he said. Frater, representing Canada's attorney general, sought to redirect the judge's attention Thursday. There is a rigorous test to meet the threshold of an abuse of process claim that warrants a stay of proceedings and Meng's argument doesn't pass it, he said. The threshold outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada says there must be prejudice to the accused's right to a fair trial or to the integrity of the justice system and there must be no alternative remedy. Where there is still uncertainty, the court must balance the interests of the accused and the societal interest in having the case heard, Frater said. In the balancing act, he argued the court should consider that the fraud charges are serious and Meng, the chief financial officer of one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, isn't a "powerless" person. Someone with "the resources to hire a battalion of lawyers, who has the full backing of a powerful state, is in a different position factually than an indigent or vulnerable individual," Frater said. Another lawyer for Meng, Eric Gottardi, countered that Meng's celebrity makes her a "higher value target" for interference, adding that a person's resources shouldn't affect how they are treated by the court. Frater told the court that comments by politicians about the case have not approached the level of threat required to compromise the legal process. And Trump's failure to win re-election has only weakened the argument, he said. "This application, in our submission, was based on the thinnest of evidence. That evidence only got worse over time, there's been material changes in circumstance that have removed the basis for it," Frater said. The political commentary has in no way affected the proceedings, he said. "They've had a hearing which has observed and continues to observe the highest standards of fairness." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
The Town of New Tecumseth has hired a new Director of Ad-ministration Services and Clerk. Pamela Fettes will take over the position effective March 22, 2021. She will fill the vacancy created when the former clerk retired at the end of 2020. Ms. Fettes’ previous experience includes the past eight years with Clearview Township as the Director of Legislative Services and Municipal Clerk. “We are excited to welcome Pamela to the Town of New Te-cumseth,” said Mayor Rick Milne. "Her experience, expertise and knowledge of Simcoe County and our growing community will be an asset to the Town. Council and staff are looking forward to her leadership in the important role of Director of Administration Se-vices and Clerk as we continue to move the Town’s administration forward.” Under the Corporate Services division, as the Director of Admin-istration Services and Clerk, Ms. Fettes will lead the Town’s admin-istrative services which includes customer service, the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement area, licenses and permits, the preparation and circulation of Council documents, records management, requests for information under the Mu-nicipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the conduct and administration of municipal elections. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Just when you thought it was safe – the Ontario gov-ernment and the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit has issued another lock-down to the region that became effective on Monday, March 1. Calling it an “emergency brake,” the lockdown was imposed locally as well as in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. The decisions were made “in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions,” according to a state-ment issued by the Province. “While we continue to see the number of cases and other public health indicators lowering in many re-gions across the province, the recent modelling shows us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures to protect Ontarians and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With COVID-19 variants continu-ing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the prog-ress we have made to date.” The statement went on to say “variants of concern continuing to spread, the number of patients requiring hospitalization and intensive care may rise once again if public health measures are not relaxed carefully and gradually. The actions of everyone over the coming weeks will be critical to maintaining the progress communities have made across the province to date.” Local medical officers of health continue to have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and municipalities may enact by-laws to target spe-cific transmission risks in the community. “Quickly implementing stronger measures to inter-rupt transmission of CO-VID-19 is a key component of the government’s plan to safely and gradually return public health regions to the Framework,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Due to data and local context and conditions in the Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay Districts, it was necessary to tighten public health measures in these regions to ensure the health and safety of the region at large and stop the spread of the virus.” To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, ev-eryone is strongly urged to continue staying at home and limit trips outside their household and between other regions for essential reasons only Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
A 20-year-old woman fatally shot by police in a Beltline hotel was found next to a replica handgun pellet pistol after being shot by officers, according to Alberta's police watchdog. A press release issued by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says Calgary police responded Wednesday to a third-floor room at the Nuvo Hotel after receiving a call from a woman who sounded distressed. ASIRT said the woman was threatening self-harm and said she had a gun. Police approached the room, at which point a woman appeared in the doorway. The woman turned and went back into the room and returned with what ASIRT said appeared to be a black handgun, allegedly confirmed by footage from body-worn cameras. "Further details regarding what the woman may have done with the handgun or what occurred thereafter are being withheld pending additional possible interviews; however, shortly thereafter, two officers discharged their service pistols," ASIRT said in the release. Calgary police were stationed outside the Nuvo Hotel in the Beltline neighbourhood on Wednesday afternoon.(Julie Debeljak/CBC) Tactical members entered the room, where it was determined that the woman had died. Nearby, they found a replica handgun pellet pistol. Speaking Thursday at a press conference, Chief Mark Neufeld of the Calgary Police Service said the situation that occurred Wednesday was "extremely dynamic" and unfolded quickly. "I do want to acknowledge that a person died in this incident, and that person had a family and friends who today find themselves mourning the tragic loss of a loved one," Neufeld said. "On behalf of all of us at CPS, I extend my condolences to all of those who have been impacted by this incident." Neufeld said he was confident that officers conducted themselves appropriately in the course of the incident. "There are times where, despite the best training, the best tactics, the best tools and even the very best of intentions, where a peaceful resolution isn't to be," he said. "In these tense moments, the preservation of life for bystanders, and even the officers themselves, necessarily becomes the immediate priority." ASIRT said that as an investigation is ongoing, no further information will be released at this time. The Nuvo Hotel is located at 827 12th Ave. S.W.
Alberta's cross-country ski community has come through to finance trail grooming in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary after the UCP government cut funding for maintaining trails last year. Nordiq Alberta, the provincial sports body for cross-country skiing and a non-profit organization, announced that with three weeks left in its grooming pilot program, users have raised approximately $270,000 after expenses through voluntary parking pass sales. It exceed its goal of raising $200,000 through a pilot project to pay the costs of the trail grooming. On top of that, the organization has raised thousands in donations to support track setting. "The pilot was set out in part to inform us and to inform the government as to the ability and the willingness of the recreational ski community to help pay for ski trail grooming," said program lead Ken Hewitt. "The pilot proved, I think, beyond the doubt, that the ski community is prepared to pay for having groomed trails." The project came about after Premier Jason Kenney's UCP government announced in February 2020 that it would be making a number of changes to Alberta provincial parks, including stopping the grooming and setting of cross-country ski trails in Kananaksis Country. Though the government was to continue grooming at the Canmore Nordic Centre and track setting in the West Bragg Creek area, it planned to end trail setting and grooming in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Village/Ribbon Creek, Mount Shark and the Sandy McNabb Recreation Area. The trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park are some of the most popular in the province with Alberta Parks estimating 100,000 site visits in the winter, representing about 40,000 vehicles. News of the cuts concerned the cross-country ski community, who said not grooming these trails would take a bite out of trail availability in the area. Under a pilot project arranged with the province, Nordiq Alberta asked people to voluntarily pay for parking if they were using the trails at Kananaskis Village/Ribbon Creek, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Mount Shark and the Sandy McNabb Recreation Area in Kananaskis Country. The passes were $10 a day, or $50 for a season. People could book online and print their passes to leave on the dash of their vehicles. Lots were patrolled by volunteer crews who would ensure people knew about the voluntary program and leave brochures on vehicles without passing asking them to consider paying retroactively and why. Meanwhile, the government continued to groom the trails with the same staff and equipment that it used for decades. Here's how the pilot program fared: Volunteers sold 5,200 season passes. Skiers bought 2,500 day passes. The program garnered $270,000 in net sales. Donors provided $22,000. The program got off the ground quickly. Hewitt said there were more than 150 volunteers assisting. Some drove in from nearby Canmore or Calgary, while others came to help from as far as Edmonton and Medicine Hat. The program now guarantees tracks will be set and groomed for the remainder of the 2020-21 season, with an estimated $60,000 left over for future grooming. Future of paid parking pass pilot unclear But it's unclear what the next steps are, Hewitt told CBC. "We're all optimistic that ski trail grooming will be sustained in next year and going forward," said Hewitt, adding the decision on how to proceed is in the government's hands. He said continuing the program as it stands, and depending on volunteers year after year, may not be sustainable. "You can only go back to the well so many times," Hewitt said. Although the future is unclear, Nordiq Alberta does plan to do what it can and ensure trail setting continues in Alberta. There are rumours in the cross-country ski community that a park fee system that operates similar to how National Parks charge for daily or yearly access could be brought forward, Hewitt said. "I don't know if that's a reality or just just a dream," he added. In a statement, Environment and Parks thanked Nordiq Alberta for its partnership and said any additional funds raised will be held in trust by Nordiq Alberta and used to support ski programs and projects in the future. "We will evaluate the pilot grooming operations program following the close of the season and discuss future plans with Nordiq," wrote Environment and Parks press secretary Jess Sinclair.
MONTREAL — A Universite de Montreal education professor has been charged with a sexual offence involving an 11-year-old child. Police in Longueuil, Que., south of Montreal, said Thierry Karsenti, 52, was arrested Feb. 23. He faces a single charge of sexual interference and is due in court on Friday. Karsenti, who is also the Canada Research Chair on information and communication technologies in education, allegedly committed the offence in 2015, according to a release issued by police. Police said Karsenti also goes by the name "Thomas." They said there could be other victims from a period between 2015 and 2017 and want people who may have information to come forward. Karsenti has been suspended indefinitely from his role at the university, according to Universite de Montreal spokeswoman Genevieve O'Mera. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74 and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus can begin booking March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of AstraZeneca will available starting March 10. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said while AstraZeneca is just as effective as the others, due to incomplete data it recommends it not be given to those over 64. Shandro says for that reason, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to adults 50 to 64 who don’t have a severe chronic illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Alberta Parks have issued a joint avalanche warning for a large portion of Alberta’s mountain parks. As Jackie Wilson reports, recent warm weather has created the dangerous conditions.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, avoiding a potential clash with moderates in their own party who were wary of reigniting the “defund the police” debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. Approved 220-212 late Wednesday, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named for the man whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked demonstrations nationwide. It would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability, and was first approved last summer only to stall in the then-Republican controlled Senate. The bill is supported by President Joe Biden. “My city is not an outlier, but rather an example of the inequalities our country has struggled with for centuries,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who represents the Minneapolis area near where Floyd died. Floyd’s family watched the emotional debate from a nearby House office building and said “defunding the police” is not what the legislation is about. “We just want to be treated equal. We just want to deescalate situations,” said Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew. “We want to feel safe when we encounter law enforcement. We’re not asking for anything extra. We’re not asking for anything that we don’t feel is right.” Democrats hustled to pass the bill a second time, hoping to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. But the debate over legislation turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that supporters were intent on slashing police force budgets. Though this bill doesn't do that, moderate Democrats said the charge helped drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country last November. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Teas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. Republicans quickly revived the “defund the police” criticisms before the vote. “Our law enforcement officers need more funding not less,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis. Still, even the House’s more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, ultimately backed the bill. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill’s prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Another possible point of contention is provisions easing standards for prosecution of law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without legal protections, fear of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it. “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity as well as those changing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a statement on behalf of the Floyd family saying the House was “responding to the mandate issued by thousands of Americans who took to the streets last summer to raise their voices for change.” “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of colour and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of colour,” Crump and Romanucci said. “Now we urge the Senate to follow suit.” That may be a taller order. Even though Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. Bass acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But she said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how “the scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, Bass conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50. She said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding, “Hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” ___ Lisa Mascaro contributed. Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
A Crown lawyer urged the judge overseeing Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings to "leave the politics to the politicians" Thursday by rejecting the Huawei executive's bid to toss the case over comments by former U.S. President Donald Trump. Robert Frater told B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the defence team's allegations of political interference were based on the "thinnest of evidence" and that there was no indication Trump's words had affected the fairness of the hearing. "Everyone in this courtroom knows that the elephant in the room in this case has always been the geopolitical winds that swirl around it," Frater said. "Yesterday, my friends tried to bring the elephant into this room. With respect we urge you to focus on the facts and the law." Operating under an oppressive 'cloud' Frater was delivering the Crown's response to the defence's bid to stay extradition proceedings against Meng because of alleged abuse of process. Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker about her company's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. In this courtroom sketch, Crown lawyer Robert Frater urges Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes not to toss the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou. Frater said the judge should leave politics to politicians. (Felicity Don) Prosecutors claim that by relying on Meng's reassurances, the bank risked loss and prosecution for breaching the same set of sanctions. This week's proceedings are part of a series of hearings spread over the next two-and-a-half months, culminating in arguments on the U.S. extradition request itself. On Wednesday, defence lawyer Richard Peck accused Trump of using Meng as a bargaining chip and reducing the 49-year-old from a human being to "chattel" in December 2018, when he told a reporter he would "certainly intervene" in the case to get a better trade deal with China. The defence team contends the former U.S. president's words amount to an individual threat to Meng and a general threat to the integrity of the Canadian justice system, as Meng tries to defend herself under an oppressive "cloud." Decision best left to minister of justice Frater said Trump's words were "anodyne" and "vague" and any power he had over the case has ended, along with his term in office. He also said any arguments the defence had to make about allegations of political interference should be made to Canada's minister of justice — if and when a decision to commit Meng for trial in the United States is made. Lawyers for Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou claim that former U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to use their client as a bargaining chip in the U.S. trade war with China.(Canadian Press photos) Both the Crown and the defence cited a 2001 decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a judge's decision not to extradite four men to the U.S. because of comments a U.S. prosecutor made to the CBC's Fifth Estate. An assistant U.S. attorney told a reporter one of the accused would "be the boyfriend of a very bad man" if he waited out his extradition hearing and ended up in jail after a trial. In that case, "the requesting state was reaching into the Canadian extradition hearing and threatening someone with harsh punishment if they availed themselves of their legal right to contest extradition," Frater said. "What you have to decide are whether [Trump's] comments either individually or cumulatively amount to a threat." 3-part test for stay Holmes' decision will come down to a three-part test established by Canada's highest court in a 2014 decision that emerged from a trial involving two Quebec men charged with firearms and other offences related to an investigation of drug trafficking involving the Hells Angels. The pair claimed they were victims of police misconduct and that prosecutors tried to force them to forego a trial by threatening additional charges if they didn't plead guilty. Vancouver police officers wait outside the downtown B.C. Supreme Court building where Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings are being held. (Ben Nelms/CBC) A lower court stayed the proceedings, but the Supreme Court of Canada overruled that decision, because societal interest in having a trial outweighed the Crown wrongdoing. The top court said judges ruling on applications like Meng's should determine: if the right to a fair trial or the integrity of the justice system is threatened, if an alternative remedy exists and if the interests of the accused outweigh the interests of society in having the case heard. It's a test Holmes will have to apply several more times in the coming weeks, as Meng's lawyers have scheduled three more hearings for alleged abuses of process. The defence team claims Meng's constitutional rights were violated on the day of her arrest, when CBSA officers interviewed her for three hours without a lawyer, before RCMP told her she was wanted for extradition. They also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of the case against Meng. And they claim the charges themselves reach beyond U.S. jurisdiction. Towards the end of his arguments, Frater said he believed the choice facing Holmes is clear. "Having these charges heard on their merits would be a triumph for the rule of law," he said. "If she goes to trial and whether she's acquitted or convicted — justice is served." The extradition proceedings will continue on March 15.
Despite a closure for public access, all is not lost for the 150-year-old Springfield House and Escott Hall. Following a committee of the whole meeting Monday evening, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands and the Friends of the Springfield House Complex both say they are comfortable with where the issue is currently regarding the two buildings in the township. Last Thursday, the township released a long-awaited report that cited structural issues in its recommendation that council close public access to the two buildings located on County Road 2. The report also recommended that council direct staff to initiate the process for the consideration of declaring the two buildings surplus, a move that would allow the township to place the buildings on the market. However, township officials stressed they are a long way from placing the two buildings up for sale and it is not the goal of the township to sell the historical buildings. "We recognize the significance of the properties," said Stephen Donachey, the township's chief administrative officer. "This isn't going to be a consultation period that is very abbreviated… we want a fulsome discussion with the public." Most on council said it is not their preference to have the buildings put up for sale, but that time is of the essence to get something done with them due to their condition. Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke said the issue is at a critical period due to the condition of the buildings. "The conditions of the buildings are what they are today because everybody has sort of pushed this around and pushed it to the side," she said. Robert Burtch, chairman of the Friends of the Springfield House Complex committee, gave a presentation Monday before councillors discussed the matter. He says he is happy with the outcome of the meeting and thinks that the current mood of council is in favour of at least one of the buildings being saved. "We have to focus on what we can do now and if we've got the goodwill of the council with us, that's all we care about right now and we need to act on it," said Burtch. During his presentation, Burtch suggested to council that a historical engineer assess the buildings to get an accurate dollar figure on potential restoration costs. Smith-Gatcke said she is on board with having a more updated and historical assessment of the buildings. Along with the option to begin consideration of the buildings being surplus, the other two options presented to the committee were to repair the two buildings or close them for demolition. Nobody on the committee considered levelling the buildings, due in part to their historical nature. Springfield House was built in 1871 and is one of the oldest still-intact buildings in the township. Following restoration in the 1980s, the house served as the township public library until 2016. Both buildings have been given historical designations, which do limit potential outcomes and options for the township. Another limiting issue is the archives. The Escott Hall serves as the home for the archives of the township. Due to the nature of belongings in the archives, the space they can be kept in is limited. Further, the process for moving the archives would require experts and would not come cheap, said Burtch. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
There seems to be some new residents living along the walking trails in Totten-ham by the Conservation Area. Local hikers have noticed little doorways that enter into secret tiny homes inside the trees along the trails. Some tiny little signs announce that it is a fairy home. While no one has yet to admit to actually seeing a fairy, there is little doubt among trail users that they are there – they’re just very secretive. Local resident and avid hiker Marc Landry first noticed the fairy homes on a recent hike down the trails.An avid bird watcher, he had his cam-era with him and took some photo and posted on them on a local Facebook page. “I’m out there at least once a week,” Mr. Landry explained. “I do a lot of birding on that trail so, for me, it’s a lot of observation. They crossed my eyesight a couple of times and decided to have a look at them. They’re pretty easy to find once you start looking for them. About two weeks ago I took all the pictures. For me it’s all about the observation of nature. If I find something, well good.” He started quite the buzz when he posted his photos. People wanted to know where the little fairy homes were coming from. At first it was a secret, but a local resi-dent had the inside scoop and let it slip. It turns out local artist Becky Crawford and her husband Tom MacDonald, have been secretly fixing the fairy doors to trees along the trail. They did it just to give other people some joy in their life. “I usually work in stained glass,” Becky explained. “We weren’t sure anyone would even notice. We started doing it a few months ago. They’re not too spread out so you can easily find them. We thought it was something that would just bring a smile to someone’s face. Times are so tough right now, we thought if we could do something light and fun, maybe someone would like it.” Becky started making the fairy doors with a friend when their children were small, and they would put them in the yard. Although she usually works in glass, it would not be the right medium for attaching to a tree so she switched to wood. “In Europe a lot of people put them around their baseboards at home,” Becky said. “Even some big businesses with have a little fairy door – it’s a tradi-tion. It’s a little bit of magic and a little fun. I wanted to put them where people were walking because that’s pretty much all you could do during the lock-down. Me and my husband make them. He cuts the wood and sands the doors down and I go from there.” Becky usually sells her stained glass at local artisans’ markets, so venturing out and putting her work on the local trail was a little different. Children love the fairy doors and make a game of trying to find them all. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times