Year in review: A look at news events in February 2021

·12 min read

A look at news events in February 2021:

1 - Drugmaker Novavax submitted its vaccine candidate to Health Canada for regulatory approval.

2 - The Trudeau government signed a tentative agreement for Novavax to produce millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine at a new facility in Montreal.

2 - Canada's weather-predicting groundhogs all predicted an early spring. Groundhog Day went virtual this year due to the pandemic, but there was another twist beyond that as Ontario's Wiarton Willie was a no-show. Wiarton's famous albino groundhog was nowhere to be seen as officials called an early spring after throwing a fur hat into the air.

2 - Capt. Sir Thomas Moore died after being admitted to hospital in England with COVID-19. The 100-year-old veteran was knighted by the Queen for raising 33 million pounds for Britain's National Health Service. He set out to raise just 1,000 pounds by walking 100 laps of his garden.

2 - The co-founder of the Canadian Farmworkers Union and the British Columbia Organization to Fight Racism died following a battle with cancer. Charan Gill was 84. The farm workers union led to improved pay, benefits and working conditions for farm and ranch workers across the country.

3 - Canada's top defence officials said they were troubled by allegations that former defence chief Jonathan Vance had engaged in inappropriate behaviour with female subordinates. Global News reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked. Vance is also alleged to have made a sexual comment to a second, much younger soldier in 2012, before he was appointed chief of the defence staff.

3 - The federal government added the extremist group the Proud Boys to its list of terrorist organizations, along with three other right-wing groups, after the group played a pivotal role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Groups on the list of terrorist entities may have their assets seized, and there are serious criminal penalties for helping listed organizations carry out extremist activities.

3 - Louise Bernice Halfe, who has won accolades for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works, was named Canada's new parliamentary poet laureate. Halfe, who is also known by the Cree name Sky Dancer, is the ninth poet named to the post and the first to come from an Indigenous community.

4 - Canada reached a benchmark in its mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19, surpassing one million doses given.

4 - The federal government extended a ban on sea voyages in Canadian waters for one more year to help control COVID-19. The ban until Feb. 28, 2022, applies to cruise ships carrying more than 100 people as well as pleasure crafts operating in the Arctic, except for those used by residents.

4 - Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators to clear the world's first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies. Preliminary results from a massive study showed the J&J vaccine was safe and offered strong protection against moderate to severe COVID-19.

5 - Legendary Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died at the age of 91 at his home in Connecticut. He had suffered a serious head injury in a fall a few weeks earlier. Plummer's career on radio, onstage, in movies and on television spanned more than five decades. The role of Captain von Trapp in the film ''The Sound of Music'' made him a star, though he once said he preferred to do character parts rather than leading men.

5 - Leon Spinks, the only boxer to take the heavyweight title from Muhammad Ali, died at 67. The Olympian and former heavyweight champion had been battling prostate and other cancers. Spinks won gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, but shocked the boxing world when he beat Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1978 in just his eighth professional bout.

6 - Nova Scotia's Liberals chose former provincial forestry minister Iain Rankin as their next leader and the province's next premier. Rankin took just over 52 per cent of the vote after the three-candidate race went to a second ballot. He was the youngest candidate in the race at 37, and cited both his youth and commitment to environmental issues as assets during his bid for the party's top job.

7 - Quebec surpassed 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

7 - Ontario logged its first case of a contagious COVID-19 variant that was first detected in Brazil. Toronto Public Health said the patient had recently returned from travelling to Brazil and was sent to hospital.

7 - Canadian superstar The Weeknd headlined the Super Bowl halftime show. The 30-year-old, Toronto-raised R&B singer kicked off his 14-minute set in a signature red blazer and sunglasses, directing his robotic ensemble and singing "Call Out My Name." He also performed hits "The Hills" and "Earned It." The three-time Grammy winner and dozens of his dancers also hit the field to perform "Blinding Lights."

7 - Veteran quarterback Tom Brady led his team to victory in the 55th Super Bowl. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fiercely defended their home turf, routing the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. Brady was named MVP for the fifth time in his career to go along with his seventh Super Bowl title.

8 - Alberta reinstated a policy that kept open-pit coal mines out of the Rocky Mountains for almost 45 years. Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Albertans had spoken loud and clear on the issue. In May of 2020, the United Conservative government suddenly and unilaterally revoked the 1976 policy on coal mining, prompting a massive backlash. Petitions against the mines quickly grew to more than 100,000 signatures.

9 - A World Health Organization team concluded that COVID-19 likely did not leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology into the surrounding community. The team said it was more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal. The WHO team's mission was intended to be an initial step delving into the origins of the novel coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in bats before being passed to humans through another species.

9 - The Queen's granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, gave birth to a baby boy — the first child for Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank; the first grandchild for Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York; and the ninth great-grandchild for the Queen and Prince Philip.

10 - Clinical trials began for another Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine. The Canadian Center for Vaccinology said the first of 108 healthy adult volunteers received injections in Halifax. The new serum is being developed by the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, or VIDO, at the University of Saskatchewan. It is being administered in two doses, 28 days apart.

11 - The Supreme Court of Canada said it would not hear Sen. Mike Duffy's case. Duffy had been trying to challenge a ruling that prevented him from suing the Senate for suspending him following a high-profile investigation of his expense claims. The P.E.I. senator was acquitted on 31 criminal charges in 2016.

11 - The federal government approved Air Canada's $190-million purchase of Transat after the COVID-19 pandemic diminished the deal's value. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the deal would give greater stability to Canada's air transport market.

12 - The Department of National Defence said military police opened an investigation in 2015 into Gen. Jonathan Vance's conduct while he was serving in Italy the previous year. No charges were ever laid. The Defence Department said the investigation was launched before Vance's appointment as defence chief in July 2015. The government agency didn't reveal the specific allegations that were investigated.

13 - All in-person voting in the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election was cancelled. The province's chief electoral officer made the stunning announcement less than 12 hours before polls were set to open in much of the province. It came after health officials announced they'd confirmed a virus variant first detected in the United Kingdom was behind the COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John's region.

13 - The U.S. Senate acquitted former president Donald Trump at his impeachment trial. The vote was 57-43, with seven Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in voting to convict, but still well shy of the two-third majority needed.

14 - Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, announced they were expecting their second child.

15 - New rules went into effect requiring travellers driving into Canada from the U.S. to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours, or proof of a positive test between 14 and 90 days before arrival — long enough to recover and still have some immunity.

15 - The World Health Organization gave the green light to the COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, allowing the company's partners to ship millions of doses to countries around the world as part of a UN-backed program to tame the pandemic.

16 - Prince Philip was admitted to a London hospital. Buckingham Palace said the Queen's 99-year-old husband was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital as a precautionary measure because he wasn't feeling well. The Duke of Edinburgh has only been seen a few times since he retired from public duties in 2017 and had been with the Queen at Windsor Castle for much of the pandemic.

17 - Conservative American radio icon Rush Limbaugh died at the age of 70 after a yearlong battle with lung cancer.

18 - A NASA rover streaked through the orange Martian sky and landed on the planet — the riskiest step yet in an epic quest to bring back rocks that could answer whether life ever existed on Mars. Ground controllers at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California cheered and exchanged fist bumps and high-fives in triumph and relief.

19 - The United States rejoined the Paris climate accord. The move became official almost a month after U.S. President Joe Biden told the United Nations that America wanted back in. The Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the Paris accord in 2019, but the move didn't become effective until Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after the U.S. presidential election — because of provisions in the agreement.

19 - Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will remain the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but Buckingham Palace announced they would not be returning to royal duties.

19 - Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine could now safely be stored in regular freezers for up to two weeks, rather than the ultra-low temperature freezers that had made shipping and distributing the vaccine incredibly difficult.

22 - The United States reached a once-unthinkable number: half a million deaths from COVID-19. The staggering number of 500,000 lives lost nearly matches the number of Americans killed in the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam combined.

22 - The House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of a Conservative motion declaring China's actions against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province as genocide. Dozens of Liberal MPs supported the Conservative motion, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all of his cabinet ministers abstained from the vote.

23 - Canada and Australia banded together to ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media. In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they agreed to continue "co-ordinating efforts" to ensure social media companies pay for journalism.

24 - A police officer who was first to arrive at the scene said Tiger Woods was lucky to be alive after his SUV crashed into a median and rolled over several times on a steep road in suburban Los Angeles. The golf superstar had a rod, pins and screws inserted into his right leg following extensive surgery to stabilize several shattered bones and other injuries he sustained in the crash.

24 - Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine passed a large real-world study. Results from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said the Pfizer shot is very effective at preventing serious illness or death, even after one dose. The vaccine was found to be 62 per cent effective at preventing severe disease after one shot, and 92 per cent effective after a second.

25 - Just months after taking over the job from Gen. Jonathan Vance, Admiral Art McDonald stepped aside as chief of the defence staff. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said McDonald left the post voluntarily as a military investigation was launched looking into allegations of misconduct against him. Sajjan did not specify what the allegations are. Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre stepped in to lead Canada's military.

26 - Health Canada approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for national use in people 18 and over, including seniors. It was the third COVID-19 vaccine given the green light by Canada, following those from Pfizer and Moderna.

27 - U.S. President Joe Biden scored his first big-money victory since being elected when the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the US$1.9-trillion pandemic relief bill he championed. The bill, which passed on a near party-line vote, would steer cash to individuals, businesses and states ravaged by COVID-19.

28 - Netflix won the top TV awards at the Golden Globes, with "The Crown" winning best drama for the second time. "Schitt's Creek" won two awards: best comedy or musical TV series and best actress in a TV musical or comedy series for Catherine O'Hara. "Nomadland" took the Globes' top award for best picture drama, with Chloé Zhao winning the statuette for best director.

The Canadian Press

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