Critical care physician Jeffrey Betcher was one of the first people in Saskatchewan to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 'We're really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,' he said.
Critical care physician Jeffrey Betcher was one of the first people in Saskatchewan to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 'We're really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,' he said.
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
When Nora Funk was growing up in Stephenville on the west coast of Newfoundland, she always felt her Mi'kmaw ties to the land. After moving to Manitoba at 16 and beginning to increasingly experience her Indigenous culture, she knew she wanted to learn more. Funk, who now lives in Nanaimo, B.C., told CBC Radio's Weekend AM earlier this month that she hadn't been taking part in Mi'kmaw culture before she moved, because it was "almost lost" in Newfoundland. "I find now my heart really longs to know more," she said. Her lighter skin colour means she'd hear troubling comments about Indigenous people, made by people who didn't know she's Mi'kmaw. Moving west showed her a different world, she said, and she experienced a troubling mindset toward Indigenous people she hadn't seen in her home province. "My mom is Scottish and English, I'm whiter skin than most," she said. "The problem is you tend to hear more when you're like that, because people make allowances because they don't think that you're Native so a lot more things are said. And it really, really stung." Funk started volunteering at friendship centres to learn more about her culture, and then decided to take it step further by learning the Mi'kmaw language, which she sees as a way to help preserve her culture. "It's so crucially important not to let not only our language die, but our culture. It's so rich," she said. LISTEN | Nora Funk speaks with the CBC's Paula Gale about learning to speak Mi'kmaw: "I'm absolutely loving it. I am starting to learn how to put sentences together, proper pronunciation, participles, past participles. It's been challenging, but it's been so rewarding.… I'm starting to put out little stickers on my cupboard doors and my salt and my pepper, so I'm forcing myself to say it before I grab it. I really want to incorporate more of the language into my life." Funk's teacher, Marcella Williams, has been sharing her language skills with the Flat Bay Mi'kmaw band on Newfoundland's southwest coast. She said the band has been hosting language classes since 2014, teaching people a language seldom spoken for decades out of fear. "When we joined Confederation, it was said there are no Natives in Newfoundland," she said. "[If] they found out, you would lose your job. In order to not have that happen and to be able to make their livelihood, they hid it. Because they hid it so well … we ended up losing that piece of ourselves." Williams teaches close to 60 people over a 10-week online program. She said the core language is mostly the same among different regions like New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Conne River, with different regional dialects developing over time — similar to calling a couch a "chesterfield" or "sofa" in English. "You will find some who are taking to it like a duck to water. They love it, I can't give them enough information," Williams laughed. "There are some on the opposite ends that struggle, but even though they're struggling they're giving it their all. And that's the most important thing." The amount of stuff that I have learned in just a few years that we have done as … people of the Mi'kmaw culture would astound most people. - Nora Funk While most of Funk's family are members of the Qalipu First Nation, she said she has not been able to become a member because she doesn't live in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, she hopes her work to preserve Mi'kmaw culture can bring a different kind of recognition. "I don't really care about the health care and all the things that come with it. What I care about, and why I want status, is because I want the government to acknowledge that we exist," she said. "When Joey Smallwood basically told the government that there was no Aboriginal people, I think he thought he was doing a service so that we could join Confederation. But it was such a disservice because we've never been acknowledged. And that's not fair." She also hopes speaking with others about the nearly lost language will encourage others to learn and preserve the culture. "Knowing that my own language and my own people were almost bred out and learning and knowing that the language was dying … it was something that my soul was longing to get in touch with who I am. I didn't want to see that die out," she said. "The amount of stuff that I have learned in just a few years that we have done as … people of the Mi'kmaw culture would astound most people." Williams hopes more can be done to revive the language, like sending language students to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, where Mi'kmaw is more commonly used. Work is also being done within the Qalipu First Nation, which will launch virtual language workshops beginning in February. "If you don't use it, you lose it … just like when you do French immersion in school. Without being able to hear it, you won't end up with fluent speakers," she said. "Language ties to culture. Just by learning about the language, not even learning the words but about why things are the way they are in the language, you can learn a lot about the culture that may otherwise be lost. It's part of our identity, and it's who we are." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
BEIJING — Chinese rescuers have found the bodies of nine workers killed in explosions at a gold mine, raising the death toll to 10, officials said Monday. Eleven others were rescued a day earlier after being trapped underground for two weeks at the mine in Shandong province. One person was still missing. The cause of the accident at the mine, which was under construction, is under investigation. The explosions on Jan. 10 released 70 tons of debris that blocked a shaft, disabling elevators and trapping workers underground. Rescuers drilled parallel shafts to send down food and nutrients and eventually bring up the survivors on Sunday. Chen Yumin, director of the rescue group, told reporters that the nine workers recovered Monday died more than 400 metres (1,320 feet) below ground. He said there had been two explosions about an hour and a half apart, with the second explosion causing more damage. Search efforts will continue for the remaining miner until he is found, said Chen Fei, the mayor of Yantai city, where the mine is located. “Until this worker is found, we will not give up,” he said at a news conference. Chen and other officials involved in the rescue effort held a moment of silence for the victims, bowing their heads. “Our hearts are deeply grieved. We express our profound condolences, and we express deep sympathies to the families of the victim,” he said. Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident. Such protracted and expensive rescue efforts are relatively new in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. Increased supervision has improved safety, although demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt corner-cutting. A new crackdown was ordered after two accidents in mountainous southwestern Chongqing last year killed 39 miners. The Associated Press
After arguments between residents who lived near Meadowcrest beach erupted in the later summer, McDougall’s council has decided that boats will not be permitted to launch from that location. At the previous meeting in December, Leduc brought forward three recommendations to council on how to remedy the situation at the small beach. The first option was to operate the beach the same as before the pandemic, with the launching of small boats limited to a vessel that a person can carry to the water. Option two was to operate the beach with the added restriction of no vessel launching of any kind, and the third option was to allow people to launch small boats or vessels on trailers only from ice out until May 31 and then again from Sept. 15 to the time the lake ices. Here are some quotes from the council meeting regarding the decision: “This isn’t a resolution, it’s just direction to staff; currently it is established as a beach and I spoke at the previous meeting about leaving it as a beach and my position hasn’t changed on that,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “Are there any other spots on Portage Lake where it’s possible to look at for future boat ramps?” asked Coun. Joe Ryman. “The spot at Portage Creek right now is municipal property; there is no dock there currently, so there really is no encumbrance for us to put a dock there if we needed to, as it is our property,” said parks and recreation director Brian Leduc. At the Jan. 20 council meeting, three councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the beach remaining simply a beach. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Some Regina city councillors who originally supported a motion that would prevent fossil fuel companies from advertising or buying naming rights for city property have announced they're backing down. The motion — introduced by Ward 6 councillor Dan LeBlanc at an executive committee meeting last week — would have meant companies like Federated Co-operatives Limited could not have their logos displayed on city property. "Sponsorships are associative in nature and therefore alignment with predetermined city values is necessary," LeBlanc told the executive committee. "I think that's the very reason why we don't want sex, drugs, and rock and roll advertised on our buildings." LeBlanc is now withdrawing support from his own motion. The move came after several councillors who originally voted for the motion — including Ward 8 councillor Shanon Zachidniak, Ward 9 councillor Jason Mancinelli and Ward 10 councillor Landon Mohl — publicly announced they were withdrawing their support. Mayor Sandra Masters and councillors Lori Bresciani, Terina Shaw and John Findura voted against the motion originally. Councillors Bob Hawkins, Andrew Stevens and Cheryl Stadnichuk voted for the motion, along with LeBlanc, Zachidniak, Mancinelli and Mohl. "I acknowledge that the tone set by the amendment was counterproductive," Zachidniak said in a Facebook post late last week. "When this was introduced at the meeting, I should have realized that this was not the appropriate approach and I apologize." Numerous reasons for withdrawal: LeBlanc LeBlanc said Monday that he withdrew his support not only because of the issue fracturing unity on council, but also because he heard from many residents. "I heard from a lot of people who said 'I'm all about sustainability, but this is too much too soon,'" LeBlanc said. "I think I heard ... they are nervous about any one big step. I think what that means is many concrete steps going forward." Another reason LeBlanc cited was he and some of his fellow councillors who supported the motion receiving messages threatening physical harm. "Frankly my view is it ought to take a lot for councillors to be risking physical violence to their families to continue with sustainability motions," he said. "I'm not interested in folks getting hurt because of that." Motion created ripples in other levels of government The motion drew the ire of Premier Scott Moe, who called it "absurd" in a news release last week. He said his government would "seriously consider the future of sponsorships to the City of Regina from provincial energy companies like SaskEnergy and SaskPower," and threatened to claw back millions of dollars the city normally gets from people's power and energy bills. Asked for comment about the councillors' change of mind, a spokesperson for Moe said Monday that he would have no further comment until the motion is formally addressed by city council during its regular meeting on Wednesday. It's expected an amendment will be added to the motion to remove the ban on sponsorship from fossil fuel producers. LeBlanc, meanwhile, said he is hopeful this issue widens the discussion on sustainability. "It's been very good to see people's democratic voice come out when they're opposed to something," he said. "I hope we'll hear from them equally if we're doing things on sustainability that they're in favour of."
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials that showed it was safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unfounded theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by calling for the WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. The site had been mentioned previously by CGTN and other state-controlled outlets. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
Structure and rhythm are important for Ayden Rana. The six-year-old is on the autism spectrum and requires a little extra help to complete his studies. When the winter break turned into an extended period away from the classroom, keeping most children and teachers at home, it presented a unique challenge for Ayden and his mother, Karen, who found herself playing the role of teacher, therapist, support worker and parent. “He was very receptive the first two days, I would say, to virtual learning because he got to see the teacher and the educational assistants,” Karen said. But the novelty quickly wore off. Studying became much harder. Learning became even more challenging than usual. Touch and sense are key to Ayden’s educational development, meaning the curiously flat, two-dimensional world of pixels on a screen, fell far short of meeting his needs. “The educational assistant realized his needs for tactile material — he’s not grasping the Chromebook — so she put together a binder with all the activities,” Karen explained. “All the math, English, all the subjects he would do at school, along with his puzzles, his timer [and] his favorite pens [are included].” The binder is carefully prepared by his educational assistant every week and left for Ayden to pick up, offering new material to make the best of a difficult situation. For some other students with special needs, learning at home — even with the extra work and resources — isn’t a possibility. As a result, despite the province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home-order, some are still physically in school. A few teachers are on hand, along with a small army of special education assistants. At the Peel District School Board, they are referred to as educational assistants (EAs) and a large number of the board’s 3,800 EAs are reporting for duty. At Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, where they are known as educational resource workers (ERWs) 40 school sites are open and staffed. A major issue for EAs working at PDSB is a lack of coordination and tracking by the board, Natacha Verdiel, president of OPSEU Local 2100, the union representing EAs at PDSB, explained to The Pointer. Unlike students and teachers who cohort together, EAs do not have to sign into classrooms and are not included in contact tracing efforts when an outbreak is declared. “An EA might cross cohorts 14 times on any given day,” she explained. “They might report to 12 different classrooms to provide support to high needs students. They’re now cross contaminating between students, that’s alarming, and no one knows they’ve been in that classroom.” As a result of their specific profiles, many children with special needs are unable to wear a mask. Some even find staff wearing them to be upsetting and can attempt to physically remove them. Depending on a child’s age, size and unique needs, such behaviour can be challenging. In some instances the desire to create normalcy can even lead to aggressive actions by some students. That’s why some personal protective measures to mitigate the risk of viral spread can’t be used. “Here’s what I don’t think the public understands: the students that are reporting to the physical building right now are students who cannot wear masks,” Verdiel said. “They are all unmasked, all of the students are unmasked. Most of them are extremely behavioral, they are our highest needs students in the system.” Verdiel described one situation where a particular student coughs, spits and sneezes as part of their behavioural profile. “The staff in there are covered in bodily fluids, all day long,” she said, lamenting the lack of effective personal protective equipment and how masks can act “as a target” for some students who attempt to remove them or strike the workers wearing them. For the parents of children with special needs, the role EAs, ERWs and the education system play can be nothing short of a miracle. Staff are able to look after children during the day, calm them and tend to their various behavioural and physical needs. “Some of our workers have phenomenal skills… some of them are outrageously amazing at what they can do,” Pam Bonferro, president of the Dufferin Peel Educational Resource Workers’ Association, told The Pointer. “They’re like pied pipers, they walk into a room and the students calm down.” Karen Rana agrees, describing Ayden’s EA as a rock. “He changed three classes [due to COVID-19 attendence variations], so you can imagine,” she said. “Three classes, three teachers, three sets of students, but with the same assistant. She has been the constant and it’s been very positive for Ayden.” The work of classroom assistants is often born of passion. As a vocation, many pursue the work out of a desire to help care for children and assist with their challenging development. “It’s not that they don't want to support the students that are there,” Verdiel added. “They want the Province to acknowledge that those who are reporting in person are unable to maintain any kind of physical distancing at all. Their job is very, very, very high risk in terms of exposure to bodily fluids.” Highlighting the fact the government is working hard during a crisis, but still missing key supports, Bonferro said ERWs and EAs are being inadvertently positioned in opposition to the very families they support. “What they have technically done is they have pitted the EAs against the parents,” she said. “They are taking the EAs voice away, if an EA speaks up, they’re going to be kind of vilified as the bad guy [in the] situation. So they are way beyond stressed and what’s really tearing them apart is: they have a conscience, they care about the kids they work with.” The Ministry of Education did not provide a response in time for publication. Despite working in the same space as teachers, classroom assistants have unique demands, detailed by the unions who represent them. Where teachers can safely distance from pupils, even in the same classroom, EAs and ERWs are unable to make the space. Their duties include helping students use the bathroom, feeding and, when needed, physically helping them to calm down. “The exposure level that a teacher has when they’re standing in front of a classroom teaching versus the exposure that an EA has when they’re being spat in the face or restraining a student [is significantly different],” Verdiel said. The unions have several specific asks of the Doug Ford government to improve the situation. They include pandemic pay, more robust PPE and rapid access to the vaccine. Under the Province’s current vaccination rollout, teachers and classroom assistants find themselves on the list at the same time. The second phase, which also includes older adults living in the community and several other key worker categories, could run as late as July, which risks some EAs and ERWs not being vaccinated until during the summer break. “The government has taken on the position that EAs are now essential workers; however, they are not being provided with the same level of pay or protection,” Verdiel said. “The NDP has long called for pandemic pay for all frontline workers, and believes educators should be included among the groups prioritized to get their vaccine,” NDP Education Critic Maritt Stiles told The Pointer. “Special education assistants, who are now working in classrooms with vulnerable people, should be vaccinated as soon as possible, when the vaccine becomes available.” PDSB provided a statement offering extensive instructions to EAs around wearing PPE. It did not address questions around contact tracing and EAs working in multiple classrooms. “Since returning from the winter break, all students and staff, including EAs, who have returned to in-person learning and working are required to follow the Active Daily Screening process,” a spokesperson told The Pointer. At DPCDSB, contact tracing does not appear to be an issue and ERWs are carefully monitored. “School principals maintain a record of any ERWs that are working in the school and should a positive COVID case be reported, any staff and students that worked with, or could be considered to be a close contact, would be identified for contact tracing,” Bruce Campbell, general manager of communications and community relations for the board, told The Pointer. As most schools remain closed and the majority of children learn at home, EAs and ERWs continue to show up for work feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable. “Everybody is sympathetic, everybody understands,” Verdiel said. “Nobody is willing to do anything.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Local police and town authorities are warning the public about the dangers of thin ice after four teens fell into a pond on the weekend. The incident happened on a pond at the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Complex on Sunday, just after 2 p.m. Police said the teens went out to play hockey, but shortly after getting on the ice, it broke apart. One of the group members ended up under the water, according to Const. Terry Seguin. "They were all scared," he said. "You're just getting ready to go out and have a little fun and you don't expect the ice to give way underneath you." Police say a parent who was standing on shore called 911, and paramedics assessed the teens for any injuries or hypothermia. The group member who was submerged was sent to hospital for further assessment. Seguin said people should never go out on ice without first telling someone where they'll be. Having that parent on shore gave the teens a chance to contact emergency services immediately, rather than if or when they managed to scramble out of the water. 'It is very, very terrifying' Ice needs to be at least 10 centimetres thick to be considered safe, said Seguin. Thickness can also vary in different places and it can be difficult to know just how much ice there is without chopping a hole to be sure, he added. Regardless, police say it hasn't been cold enough — for long enough — for any ice to be safe. "It takes a good two, three weeks for sure, at least, of sub-zero temperatures, to develop a thickness of ice that can be considered safe," Seguin explained. Lakeshore is also cautioning residents to stay off of ice in the municipality. Mayor Tom Bain said in a news release that retention ponds in the municipality are not safe for skating. The news release added that several of the ponds in the area have pumps that are set to automatically turn on and off depending on conditions in Lakeshore's drainage system. As a result, ice on the ponds doesn't get very thick. For his part, Seguin said a fall into freezing water decades ago taught him just how much of a shock it can be. "I can speak from experience. It ... instantaneously takes your breath away and it is very, very terrifying," he said. "The key is, keep your wits about you and get out of the ice as quick as possible and get help as quick as you can."
Former Google executive Carlo d'Asaro Biondo has been appointed as Chief executive officer of Telecom Italia's (TIM) newly-created cloud unit Noovle, Italy's biggest phone group said on Monday. The creation of the new company is part of the former phone monopoly's strategy to boost and diversify its revenues, providing services to businesses and state-controlled offices looking to improve their digital reach. D'Asaro Biondo, who has been Google's president for EMEA partnerships, joined the former phone monopoly last year after TIM struck a deal with the tech giant to expand its cloud business in the country.
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Heavy fighting broke out overnight in a Somali town near the Kenyan border between Somali forces and those from the state of Jubbaland, as Somalia’s election troubles spill over into violence. Somalia’s information ministry in a statement early Monday accused Kenya-funded rebels of crossing into the town of Bulo Hawo and attacking Somali forces. But the Jubbaland vice-president, Mohamud Sayid Adan, told reporters that Jubbaland forces stationed outside the town were attacked by what he called forces recently deployed to the region by the government in the capital, Mogadishu. Both sides claimed victory. The information ministry asserted that Somali forces were in control of the town and that nearly 100 of the suspected rebels had surrendered to Somali forces. But Information Minister Osman Abokor Dubbe later told reporters that five children had been killed and their mother wounded when a mortar round landed on their house. “Ordinary militias don't have mortars and missiles,” the minister said. “This is proof that Kenya is arming those rebels." He added that some Somali soldiers had been wounded but none killed. The Jubbaland vice-president declined to mention any casualties. Somalia’s accusation of Kenyan involvement comes after Somalia cut diplomatic ties with Kenya in December “to safeguard the unity, sovereignty, stability of the country.” Somalia’s president has been accused by critics of stirring up such issues to draw support as he seeks a second term. Kenyan Internal Security Minister Fred Matiangi described Monday's fighting as “internal to Somalia and has nothing to do with us (Kenya). "We are not involved in it and none of our forces has crossed the border to go to Somalia,” he told journalists during a joint press conference with British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on renewing security agreements. Kenya's foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that it had raised its concern about the fighting with the African Union continental body. “Kenya’s primary concern is that the renewed fighting engenders large-scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and increasingly generates large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers to Kenya, therefore aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Kenya,” the statement said. Somalia faces a troubled national election in the coming weeks. Jubbaland is one of two states, along with Puntland in the north, that have refused to take part. In September, President Abdullahi Mohamed Abdullahi in talks between states and the federal government agreed to withdraw Somali forces from the Gedo region of Jubbaland, where Bulo Hawo is located. But that hasn’t happened, and the Somali forces remain after taking over the town mid-last year. The president also has replaced district commissioners in Gedo who had been appointed by Jubbaland leader Ahmed Madobe, who is seen to have Kenyan support. Jubbaland also contains the lucrative port city of Kismayo, where Kenyan forces are deployed as part of a multinational African Union force. The Middle Jubba region, however, remains under the control of Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist rebels. ___ Tom Odula in Nairobi, Kenya contributed. Hassan Barise, The Associated Press
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Jan. 31: Composer Philip Glass is 84. Actor Stuart Margolin (“The Rockford Files”) is 81. Actor Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) is 80. Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite is 77. Actor Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul,” ?Breaking Bad”) is 74. Actor Glynn Turman (“The Wire,” ?A Different World”) is 74. Singer Harry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band is 70. Singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols is 65. Actor Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace,” ?Murder One”) is 62. Actor Kelly Lynch is 62. Singer-guitarist Lloyd Cole is 60. Actor Paulette Braxton (“The Parkers,” ?In The House”) is 56. Bassist Al Jaworski of Jesus Jones is 55. Actor Minnie Driver is 51. Actor Portia de Rossi (“Arrested Development,” ?Ally McBeal”) is 48. Comedian Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 44. Actor Kerry Washington (“Scandal,” ?Ray”) is 44. Singer Justin Timberlake is 40. Actor Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”) is 36. Singer Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line is 34. Singer Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons is 34. Actor Joel Courtney (“Super 8,” “The Kissing Booth”) is 25. Feb. 1: Actor-comedian Garrett Morris is 84. Singer Don Everly of The Everly Brothers is 84. Bluegrass singer Del McCoury is 82. TV personality Joy Philbin is 80. Guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is 71. Blues musician Sonny Landreth is 70. Actor-writer-producer Billy Mumy (“Lost in Space”) is 67. Singer Exene Cervenka of X is 65. Actor Linus Roache (“Law and Order”) is 57. Actor Sherilyn Fenn (“Twin Peaks”) is 56. Singer Lisa Marie Presley is 53. Comedian Pauly Shore is 53. Actor Brian Krause (“Charmed”) is 52. Jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman is 52. Drummer Patrick Wilson of Weezer is 52. Actor Michael C. Hall (“Dexter,” ?Six Feet Under”) is 50. Rapper Big Boi of Outkast is 46. Musician Jason Isbell is 42. Singer Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT is 38. TV personality Lauren Conrad (“The Hills,” ?Laguna Beach”) is 35. Actor-singer Heather Morris (“Glee”) is 34. Singer Harry Styles (One Direction) is 27. Feb. 2: Comedian Tom Smothers is 84. Singer Graham Nash is 79. Actor Bo Hopkins (film’s “American Graffiti,” TV’s “Dynasty”) is 77. Singer Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers is 75. TV chef Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) is 73. Actor Jack McGee (“The McCarthys”) is 72. Actor Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) is 72. Bassist Ross Valory of Journey is 72. Model Christie Brinkley is 67. Actor Michael Talbott (“Miami Vice”) is 66. Actor Kim Zimmer (“Guiding Light”) is 66. Actor Michael T. Weiss (“The Pretender”) is 59. Comedian Adam Ferrara (“Rescue Me”) is 55. Bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots is 55. Actor Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) is 51. Rapper T-Mo (Goodie Mob) is 49. Actor Marissa Jaret Winokur is 48. Actor Lori Beth Denberg (“The Steve Harvey Show”) is 45. Steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 45. Singer Shakira is 44. Actor Rich Sommer (“Mad Men” Film: “The Devil Wears Prada”) is 43. Actor Zosia Mamet (“Girls”) is 33. Feb. 3: Actor Bridget Hanley (“Here Come The Brides,” ?Harper Valley P.T.A.”) is 80. Actor Blythe Danner is 78. Guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks is 74. Singer Melanie is 74. Actor Morgan Fairchild is 71. Actor Pamela Franklin (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) is 71. Actor Nathan Lane is 65. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth is 65. Actor Thomas Calabro (“Melrose Place”) is 62. Drummer Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 62. Actor Michele Greene (“L.A. Law”) is 59. Country singer Matraca Berg is 57. Actor Maura Tierney (“ER,” ?NewsRadio”) is 56. Actor Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter” films, “Willow”) is 51. Actor Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) is 50. Singer Daddy Yankee is 45. Actor Isla Fisher is 45. Singer Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) is 39. Actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”) is 37. Rapper Sean Kingston is 31. Actor Brandon Micheal Hall (“God Friended Me”) is 28. Feb. 4: Actor Jerry Adler (“The Good Wife,” ?The Sopranos”) is 92. Actor Gary Conway (“Burke’s Law”) is 85. Drummer John Steel of The Animals is 80. Singer Florence LaRue of the Fifth Dimension is 79. Singer Alice Cooper is 73. Actor Michael Beck is 72. Actor Lisa Eichhorn is 69. Singer Tim Booth of James is 61. Country singer Clint Black is 59. Guitarist Noodles of The Offspring is 58. Country bassist Dave Buchanan of Yankee Grey is 55. Actor Gabrielle Anwar (“The Tudors”) is 51. “Daily Show” correspondent Rob Corddry is 50. Actor Michael Goorjian (“Party of Five”) is 50. TV personality Nicolle Wallace (“The View”) is 49. Bassist Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World is 46. Singer Natalie Imbruglia is 46. Rapper Cam’ron is 45. Singer Gavin DeGraw is 44. Singer Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man is 37. Actor Ashley Thomas (“Salvation,” ?24: Legacy”) is 36. Actor Charlie Barnett (“Secrets and Lies,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 33. Actor Kyla Kenedy (“Speechless”) is 18. Feb. 5: Actor Stuart Damon is 84. Singer-songwriter Barrett Strong is 80. Actor David Selby (“Dark Shadows,” ?Falcon Crest”) is 80. Singer Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat and Tears) is 77. Actor Charlotte Rampling is 75. Actor Barbara Hershey is 73. Actor-director-comedian Christopher Guest is 73. Actor Tom Wilkinson (“Selma”) is 73. Actor-comedian Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) is 60. Actor Jennifer Jason Leigh is 59. Actor Laura Linney is 57. Bassist Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver (and Guns N’ Roses) is 57. Actor Chris Parnell is 54. Singer Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors is 54. Singer Bobby Brown is 52. Actor Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex,” ?Frost/Nixon,” ?Twilight” films) is 52. Actor David Chisum (“Black Box,” ?One Life to Live”) is 51. Country singer Sara Evans is 50. Country singer Tyler Farr is 37. Keyboardist Mark Shusterman of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is 36. Actor Darren Criss (“Glee”) is 34. Actor Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is 34. Keyboardist Kyle Simmons of Bastille is 33. Actor Jeremy Sumpter (“Friday Night Lights,” ?Peter Pan”) is 32. Drummer Graham Sierota of Echosmith is 22. Feb. 6: Actor Mamie Van Doren is 90. Actor Mike Farrell is 82. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 81. Actor Gayle Hunnicutt is 78. Singer Fabian is 78. Actor Michael Tucker (“L.A. Law”) is 76. Actor Jon Walmsley (“The Waltons”) is 65. Actor-director Robert Townsend (“The Parent ‘Hood”) is 64. Actor Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet,” ?King of the Hill”) is 64. Drummer Simon Phillips of Toto is 64. Actor Barry Miller (“Saturday Night Fever,” ?Fame”) is 63. Actor Megan Gallagher (“Millennium”) is 61. Country singer Richie McDonald of Lonestar is 59. Vocalist Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 59. Singer Rick Astley is 55. Bassist Tim Brown of the Boo Radleys is 52. TV host Amy Robach (“Good Morning America”) is 48. Actor Josh Stewart (“Criminal Minds,” ?Third Watch”) is 44. Actor Ben Lawson (“Designated Survivor”) is 41. Actor Crystal Reed (“Teen Wolf”) is 36. Actor Anna Diop (“24: Legacy”) is 33. Singer Tinashe is 28. The Associated Press
La Distillerie Beemer a signé une entente de distribution exclusive du gel désinfectant PurBoréal, un produit régional fait à avec de l’alcool de bleuet, lancé en avril dernier, en pleine pandémie. Ce partenariat permettra de développer le marché régional, notamment pour les utilisations commerciales, industrielles et institutionnelles, tout en optimisant la distribution du produit. « Nous ne sommes pas des distributeurs, alors on préfère laisser ça entre les mains de Nettoyeur FB, qui va pouvoir étendre le marché », souligne Philippe Harvey, un des entrepreneurs derrière la Distillerie Beemer, le fabricant du gel PurBoréal. Nettoyeur FB, une entreprise implantée depuis 41 ans à Saint-Félicien, est spécialisée dans le domaine de la buanderie commerciale et industrielle, dont la location de vêtements de travail, mais elle offre aussi différentes solutions de nettoyage. « J’ai eu un coup de coeur pour le produit et pour les entrepreneurs qui le fabriquent », remarque Patrice Bouchard, le propriétaire de Nettoyeur FB. Après avoir testé plusieurs types de gel, il se dit impressionné par le produit de qualité fabriqué à Roberval. « Ils ont trouvé la solution gagnante », dit-il. Son équipe de travail couvrait déjà le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean plusieurs fois par semaine avec son service de livraison pour les produits de nettoyage et pour les vêtements. En plus de livrer les produits PurBoréal à différents clients, Nettoyeur FB offrira désormais un service de location de bornes de gel antiseptique sans contact, avec le service de remplissage, ajoute Patrice Bouchard, qui se réjouit d’offrir un produit de très haute qualité à ses clients, dont le Zoo de Saint-Félicien. Ainsi, le partenariat avec PurBoréal ne fera qu’optimiser le service de distribution. Au cours des prochains mois, les partenaires visent une « belle progression contrôlée ». « On veut bien s’occuper de nos clients », souligne Patrice Bouchard. NoneGuillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
La Corporation du Moulin des pionniers a obtenu un financement de 450 000 dollars de Développement économique Canada. Ce montant permettra à l’organisation de construire de multiples infrastructures familiales, dont des jeux d’eau, une glissade et un parcours d’hébertisme, et ce, dès cet été. « C’est toute qu’une bonne nouvelle », s’est réjoui le maire de La Doré, Yanick Baillargeon, qui est également le président-directeur général de la Corporation du Moulin des pionniers. Ce dernier avait bien hâte d’annoncer la nouvelle à toute la population, car DEC Canada avait informé la municipalité le 24 décembre, offrant un des plus beaux cadeaux de Noël pour le maire de la municipalité qui compte un peu plus de 1300 âmes. « Ce n’est que la première phase de notre plan de développement », ajoute fièrement le maire. Avec l’aide de 450 000 dollars de DEC Canada, le Moulin des pionniers investira également 150 000 $ dans le projet initial de 600 000 $. La construction du parc familial commencera dès que le sol sera dégelé. On y retrouvera notamment des jeux d’eau, une glissade et un parcours d’hébertisme, lesquels viennent s’ajouter à l’offre actuelle. Le choix des fournisseurs et des modèles de structures n’est pas encore fait, poursuit le premier magistrat, mais le concept sera relié au thème du site historique, soit la forêt et le bois. Vers un camping en 2022 Ce projet permettra d’enclencher la phase 2 du projet, dès 2022, espère Yanick Baillargeon. « Selon le concept initial, on prévoit développer un camping de 139 emplacements », dit-il, avant d’ajouter que les plans sont toujours à l’étude. Cette phase de développement devrait nécessiter un investissement supplémentaire de 900 000 dollars, qui est toutefois plus facile à financer étant donné que des revenus se rattachent au projet. Les astres semblent désormais alignés pour un développement majeur, estime le maire. La piste cyclable entre Saint-Félicien et La Doré sera terminée cette année. Un sentier de quad entre La Doré et le Relais 22, sur le territoire de La Tuque, devrait se concrétiser sous peu. Un sentier de vélo de montagne a été développé jusqu’à la montagne à Ouellet et elle se rendra bientôt jusqu’au Tobo-ski. Ajoutez à cela les sentiers de ski de fond, de raquettes, les nombreux sentiers de motoneige, ainsi que le charme de la rivière. « C’est un site merveilleux qui gagne à être connu », remarque Yanick Baillargeon. Plusieurs maisons anciennes sur le site, qui sont en train d’être rénovées, seront disponibles pour la location dès l’été prochain. « C’est un premier pas pour développer l’hébergement sur le site, avant d’implanter le camping », conclut ce dernier.Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Dès qu’il y aura assez de neige pour assurer des descentes sécuritaires, Ski Saguenay offrira un nouveau secteur de glisse privé à L’Anse-Saint-Jean pour les amateurs de ski hors-piste. Ce sera un des secteurs avec le plus haut dénivelé au Québec, avec 390 mètres d’altitude en descente… et ce n’est qu’un début, car de futurs développements viendront bonifier l’offre, avec notamment de l’hébergement. C’est en voyant la croissance du ski hors-piste au Québec et au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean que Philippe Pichon et Jérôme Durocher ont décidé d’investir pour développer un nouveau secteur privé à L’Anse-Saint-Jean. « Le secteur de ski hors-piste est tellement achalandé au mont Édouard les fins de semaine qu’on a vu un potentiel », souligne Philippe Pichon. Selon les données de la Fédération de montagne et d’escalade (FQME), le nombre d’adeptes a augmenté de 177 % par rapport à l’an dernier. En regardant les opportunités pour surfer sur la vague du ski hors-piste, les deux hommes ont sauté sur l’occasion lorsqu’un terrain accidenté a été mis en vente par la fabrique de l’église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, à L’Anse-Saint-Jean, il y a deux ans, explique Philippe Pichon, un Français qui s’est d’abord établi au Québec... pour jouer plus au hockey. Mais c’est finalement le ski hors-piste qui l’a accroché. « Quand on est allé visiter le terrain, on est tombé en amour et on s’est assuré de miser un bon prix pour avoir la terre », poursuit-il, en évoquant le processus de mise aux enchères. En explorant davantage, ils ont réalisé qu’il existait un excellent potentiel de descente sur le terrain voisin, et après avoir fait une offre, ils ont agrandi leur terrain de jeu, qui fait désormais près de 70 hectares. Le ski hors-piste est en forte croissance au Québec et les premières descentes dans la poudreuse se font de plus en plus rares, ce qui ouvre des occasions d’affaires. Situés à un peu plus d’une dizaine de kilomètres du mont Édouard, les entrepreneurs ont donc lancé l’entreprise Ski Saguenay, qui offrira du ski de montagne guidé sur leur terrain privé. Pour accéder au secteur, les clients devront obligatoirement réserver les services d’un guide, cette année, pour un montant de 115 à 200 dollars par jour, selon le nombre de personnes dans un groupe. « Les gens paieront pour skier un territoire exclusif », souligne Philippe Pichon, avant d’ajouter qu’avec la croissance de l’achalandage, les secteurs de poudreuse vierge se font de plus en plus rares. Ski Saguenay développera deux secteurs de glisse de niveau intermédiaire avancé. Le plus gros aura un dénivelé de 360 à 390 mètres, avec plusieurs passages très accidentés et plusieurs obstacles et sauts naturels. « Il existe un potentiel de 100 mètres de plus au-delà de la limite de nos terrains, sur les terres publiques, mais on devrait aller chercher les autorisations pour faire cet ajout », remarque Philippe Pichon, qui fera partie de l’équipe de guides. Un secteur plus petit, de 80 à 150 mètres, a aussi été développé près du futur chalet, que l’entreprise compte bâtir dès l’été prochain, si le financement du projet se concrétise. « Nous voulons bâtir un chalet plutôt haut de gamme, avec un sauna et un bain nordique, pour offrir un produit différent de ce que l’on retrouve au mont Édouard », remarque l’entrepreneur, en ajoutant que les clients du chalet pourront skier en autonomie dans le petit secteur. Pour le construire, les deux hommes comptent utiliser leur propre bois. En tout et partout, les deux hommes ont investi plus de 70 000 dollars dans le projet jusqu’à maintenant. Dans l’attente d’une autre bordée… et de mesures sanitaires pour guider Il manque encore un peu de neige pour skier en sécurité sur les terrains de Ski Saguenay, comme partout dans la région d’ailleurs. « Avec encore 20 à 30 centimètres, on va pouvoir ouvrir les secteurs », souligne Philippe Pichon. Il faudra aussi attendre de savoir quelles seront les nouvelles mesures sanitaires qui seront annoncées après le 8 février, car il est interdit d’offrir le service de guide à l’heure actuelle, ajoute ce dernier. Au cours des prochaines années, Ski Saguenay souhaite continuer à développer de nouveaux secteurs et construire éventuellement un second chalet. Un service de remontée sur chenillette est aussi dans les cartons. Le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean se positionne Avec l’ajout de l’offre de Ski Saguenay et le nouveau secteur qui a été développé à Petit-Saguenay, la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean compte désormais cinq sites officiels, avec le mont Édouard, le mont Lac-Vert et le mont des Allemands. « La région a un très beau potentiel pour le développement du ski hors-piste », atteste Maxime Bolduc, directeur ski à la Fédération de montagne et d’escalade. NoneGuillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Canada's opposition leaders attacked the federal Liberal government's COVID-19 vaccination program today in their first encounter in the House of Commons following the winter break. Vaccine deliveries will grind to a halt this week as a shutdown at Pfizer's plant in Belgium disrupts shipments from that company. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said that while the prime minister promised a steady supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots in the first three months of 2021, the country's inoculation efforts are now "in jeopardy" and provinces are scrambling to meet vaccination targets. The delivery delay is already prompting some provinces — notably Alberta and Ontario — to warn that they will have to curtail vaccination appointments in the weeks ahead as they direct the existing supplies of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to patients who need their second shots. "We want to see our government succeed but this prime minister has abandoned us. The Liberal plan for vaccines must be reviewed by all of Parliament. We must work together to improve the Liberal vaccine plan and get Canadians back to work," O'Toole said. "We wish we could trust the prime minister but this situation demands Parliament's urgent attention." WATCH: Opposition leader calls out Liberals over vaccine planning: Earlier this month, the federal government projected that 208,650 Pfizer doses would arrive this week. Instead, Canada is getting no doses at all this week — and a dramatically reduced shipment next week — as the company retools its plant to pump out many more shots this year than planned. While Canada was expecting 366,000 doses of the Pfizer product to be delivered the week of Feb. 1, just 79,000 are now slated to arrive. O'Toole said the Liberal government should have prepared for delivery disruptions like this one with a contingency plan to prevent the provinces from running dry. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, has said Pfizer deliveries will be reduced by roughly 50 per cent over a four-week period — and Canada doesn't know for certain how many doses will arrive over that time period. The Health Canada website that tracks vaccines has been scrubbed of all Pfizer delivery forecasts, citing "changes to manufacturing timelines." "Unknown means there is no real plan," O'Toole said. "Canadians are worried. We're in the second wave of the pandemic, there's U.K. strains and this week we're receiving zero Pfizer vaccines." Moderna, which delivers shots to Canada every three weeks, is expected to deliver roughly 230,000 doses over the first week of February. Later in question period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the "ongoing challenges" with the global supply vaccine chain but said Canada is expecting "hundreds of thousands" of Pfizer doses, some in February. He said Canada expects to have enough doses on hand this year to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. WATCH | Opposition slams government for vaccine delays: Michelle Rempel Garner, the Conservative health critic, questioned that promise, saying that Canada needs to start getting through tens of thousands of vaccinations each day to reach that target. With only 100,000 people fully vaccinated so far, Canada would have to administer well over 200,000 shots a day for the next 248 days to fully vaccinate Canadians with the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna products. O'Toole said the Liberal government never should have partnered with the Chinese firm CanSino Biologics to develop a vaccine — a collaboration that was derailed last summer when China refused to ship vaccine samples to Canada for clinical trial testing. After that partnership was shelved, O'Toole said, Canada then turned to procuring promising vaccine candidates from U.S. firms like Pfizer and Moderna. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand has disputed this version of events. Speaking to reporters in December, Anand said the CanSino deal fell within former industry minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies. Anand has said she started talks with the companies behind promising vaccine candidates in July — companies that were recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force — before Canada walked away from the ill-fated CanSino partnership in late August. Canada was among the first countries in the world to sign deals with Pfizer and Moderna. "Engagement and negotiations with COVID-19 vaccine suppliers began in early July 2020, following the receipt of recommendations from the vaccine task force in June," a spokesperson for the minister told CBC News. WATCH | NDP's Singh questions PM Trudeau about vaccine delivery O'Toole said Canada should have sought domestic manufacturing of vaccine candidates to avoid having to depend on other countries for supply. The government did not pursue domestic manufacturing rights for the AstraZeneca product. Asked what he'd do to jump-start the stalled vaccination campaign, O'Toole said he would encourage Trudeau to obtain doses from the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., which is not experiencing the same disruptions as the Belgian facility and is only 220 kilometres away from the Detroit-Windsor border crossing. "There are vaccines being made not far from us, in Kalamazoo. Did the prime minister ask for the ability to have that plant used, not just rely on the retooled plant in Belgium?" O'Toole said. "There are a lot of options here, but there's never any leadership from Mr. Trudeau." Anand has said the Michigan facility's product is earmarked for the American market in the first quarter of this year. While there will be significant delivery disruptions over the next month, Anand has said that Canada still expects to receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer product and 2 million Moderna shots in the first three months of this year. That would be enough to vaccinate 3 million people by the end of March. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out that the prime minister and his office are mired in a scandal of their own making over the abrupt resignation of former governor general Julie Payette amid reports of workplace harassment. "The focus should be on the pandemic and the struggles that we're going through. This has become a distraction," Singh said of the Payette affair. "The focus ... should be entirely on making sure people are vaccinated."
One student poll in France found 72% had suffered recent psychological distress and more than a third had had depressive symptoms. View on euronews
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” by Joan Didion (Alfred A. Knopf) Back in 1968, Joan Didion identified a problem with the mainstream media. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain, very probably by an Associated Press wire …,” she begins in an essay that goes on to criticize traditional news outlets, including the wire service carrying this review, for pretending that there is such a thing as neutral, unbiased, objective reporting. That article, “Alicia and the Underground Press,” was a snarky ode to alternative newspapers in the 1960s like the East Village Other and Berkeley Barb that might have been “amateurish and badly written” but at least had the virtue of speaking directly to their readers, and speaking to them as friends. Some 50 years later, in a media landscape dominated by players who present “alternative facts” with a straight face, and consumers who get their news through platforms tailored to their specific interests, Didion’s critique seems more prescient than ever. The essay is one of 12 she wrote between 1968 and 2000 that have been collected in a new volume, “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” sure to be of interest to Didion completists and fans of such cultural touchstones as “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Others haven’t aged as well. Another piece from 1968, about Gamblers Anonymous, quotes the people at a meeting in ungrammatical English, speaking “as if from some subverbal swamp.” In “A Trip to Xanadu,” she sneers at tourists at the Hearst Castle in their “slacks and straw hats and hair rollers.” But when she punches up instead of down, the results can be devastating, as in her portrait from the same year of Nancy Reagan, then the wife of the California governor, portrayed as a media-savvy control freak and distant mother to her then 10-year-old son. Similarly, her 2000 profile of Martha Stewart captures what most observers missed at the time — that Martha wasn’t selling homemaking, she was selling success. The best of the bunch have to do with the subject Didion, 86, knows and cares about most — being a writer. In essays like “Why I Write,” whose title she borrowed from George Orwell, “Telling Stories” and “Last Words,” she makes it clear why she has been an essential voice in American arts and letters for more than half a century. Ann Levin, The Associated Press
The township of Muskoka Lakes published its new plan for how it wants to organize and upgrade the community throughout the next four years, with plans to focus on protecting the environment, boosting the township’s economy, upgrading infrastructure and more. Mayor Phil Harding said he is “very excited” to move forward as a township with the finished plan, made public on Wednesday, Jan. 13. “It really is the focus of Muskoka Lakes for the next four years,” he said. The plan is divided into four pillars organizing the goals council decided on throughout 2020 with consultation from the public. Some of the goals are short-term, being set in motion this year, while others are for down the line, in 2022 and 2023. Here are the standout goals in the strategic plan: The township is looking at its official plan to consider development restrictions, and a mandatory septic inspection program, as part of its strategic plan to preserve and protect the environment. Harding said during public consultations, many expressed concern about overdevelopment taking place in Muskoka Lakes affecting water quality and shorelines: the clear-cutting of trees and run-off from hardscaping projects, for example. Council and staff started developing their Community Improvement Plan for Port Carling and Bala and plan to make it a key project in 2021. “We want to try and build a year-round economy,” Harding said. “We need to understand what limitations businesses are having: why is it just seasonal?" He noted COVID-19 has been a challenge for businesses in 2020 but added more people are up in Muskoka Lakes during the fall and winter. One of the short-term goals listed for 2021 for strengthening Muskoka Lakes’ economy is assessing the challenges with broadband and internet connectivity in the township and working to expand internet access for everyone. In November, council discussed an effort to request the Ontario Energy Board reduce or remove the “egregious” charges broadband providers pay in rural Ontario communities like theirs to attach fibre-optic broadband to hydro poles. Internet connectivity became a pronounced issue in several rural Ontario communities throughout the pandemic. The township is working on new master plans for its recreation, parks, trails and facilities: the plan indicates it wants to implement the recommendations it forms in the plans in 2023. He added council and staff are working on a master plan for their fire services. In a previous plan, they considered closing down some of their 10 stations in the township and upgrading the remaining stations, which could have ATVs or fire boats, an idea Harding might consider for this master plan. The final pillar indicates the township wants to forge better relationships with all levels of government. Harding said his relationships with other mayors in the district and the province, including MPP Norm Miller and Premier Doug Ford, have improved since council took office in October 2018. The strategic plan is also for the next term of council that will take over late 2022. He said building good relationships now will help them down the line. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
After much discussion, the Township of McMurrich/Monteith will remain in the regional fire training program. The Township received 16 letters from residents on Jan. 18, relating to concerns of not entering into the shared fire training agreement. Here are some key quotes from the discussion: “My concern is that I will not be able to get my people trained anymore or be able to get them certified; as a result, I won’t have firefighters to meet what we need to do in our municipality,” said McMurrich/Monteith’s fire chief John Ross. “I do not have the manpower to take on a single-family dwelling, so the automatic aid has been a huge plus for us, along with everything else that comes with it: the training, the bulk purchasing … the collaboration with the other departments. Leaving just the training has such a huge fallout.” “The contract is the problem, not the trainer — I’ve never had a problem with the trainer so to be clear on that, it’s the contract,” said Coun. Alfred Bielke. “The only way I know we’re going to get the service we require is to enter into this agreement because, right now, we’re being told we can’t get the training. We don’t have the personnel to even fight a fire in our own township … we’re putting our people at risk, we’re putting their homes at risk and we’re putting lives at risk, so the only way to get this back is to rescind the motion we defeated and put it back on the table,” said Coun. Dan O’Halloran. “For the authors of our letters, and the people that are listening, this agreement (is) a prelude to the regional fire training and regional fire department …” said Coun. Lynn Zemnicky. “I just want people who are listening to realize that the previous council jumped on board to chip in on this equipment, (the) ice and fire rescue boats … they were thousands of dollars; one is housed in, I believe, Kearney and the other in Magnetawan. If you fall into Bear, Doe or Buck Lake, I hope you can stay treading water until it comes all the way from Magnetawan. That’s where your taxpayer money is sitting.” “Our stations are going to stay our own and be operated by our council and our fire chiefs. Purchases will still be done through our council and not through the region …” said Reeve Angela Freisen. “If we opt out of this, we’re losing the automatic aid and, as Chief Ross said, we don’t have enough personnel to handle our own fires, (and) we’re going to lose the benefit of group purchasing.” “I would like to see council agree to continue with the training and take an active part in the working out of the funding model over the (next three) years, but in the meantime, our fire department doesn’t suffer,” said Ross. McMurrich/Monteith council directed staff to notify the six municipalities participating in the regional firefighter training agreement that the following should be added to the draft agreement. The funding model will be discussed within three months of signing; the proposed allowance be submitted by invoice, not automatic payment, and all cost increases must be decided by unanimous vote of all the municipalities. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com