"All Creatures Great and Small" - a gentle dramedy with empathy and kind-hearted masculinity at its core - proves a ratings hit in the U.S. as well as U.K. (Feb. 19)
"All Creatures Great and Small" - a gentle dramedy with empathy and kind-hearted masculinity at its core - proves a ratings hit in the U.S. as well as U.K. (Feb. 19)
New laws are on the horizon for Canada’s aquaculture industry, but environmentalists are wary the proposed legislation might not be enough to protect the country’s oceans. Canada’s $1.2-billion aquaculture industry is now regulated under a patchwork of federal and provincial laws and regulations. Confusion over that regulatory maze has fuelled a years-long effort by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to develop aquaculture-specific legislation. The new laws would update rules on everything from licensing to the industry’s environmental impact. “We have concerns around the act that (with) the direction it is going, it may actually exempt or replace or undermine some of the other legislative protections around wild fish biodiversity,” said Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser for the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Currently, the Fisheries Act contains strong provisions aimed at protecting wild fish and wild fish habitat. Largely developed in the Trudeau government’s early years — an effort to restore protections gutted by former prime minister Stephen Harper — the rules established rigorous habitat protections, Proboszcz said. But he’s worried the proposed aquaculture laws could exempt fish farms from some of these protections. Of greatest concern to Proboszcz and other advocates are open-pen salmon farms, the largest industry in Canada’s aquaculture sector. In use on both coasts, open-pen nets pose a risk to wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon largely because the farms risk exposing wild populations to pests and disease. For instance, a 2012 report by Justice Bruce Cohen found that fish farms along salmon migration routes on the B.C. coast were contributing to the rapid decline of Fraser River salmon. Almost a decade later, in 2020 — and months after the river saw historically low returns — DFO decided to remove open-pen fish farms from the species' key migration route. Environmentalists in both the Atlantic provinces and B.C. have also been concerned for years about the farms’ impact on surrounding ecosystems because excrement, excess feed, and other waste leach beyond the floating pens — despite environmental protections under the Fisheries Act. “The open-pen salmon farming industry is in part governed by the protections of the Fisheries Act,” said Proboszcz. “We think that’s the way it should stay — we spent … years revising the Fisheries Act to protect habitats, to protect wild fish, and we don’t want to see an aquaculture act come in that amends those protections.” In a statement, DFO said the proposed act “would be derived from relevant sections of the Fisheries Act” and “would clearly and appropriately prohibit specific harmful activities … by maintaining the environmental prohibition currently found under the Fisheries Act.” But in a January letter, Watershed Watch and a coalition of other environmental organizations noted that less-stringent provincial aquaculture laws could leave open a loophole to these protections. The Atlantic provinces have some jurisdiction over aquaculture in their waters thanks to agreements between the federal and provincial governments. “The super obvious (concern) is that there doesn’t appear to be any requirement for a national standard of regulation,” said Simon Ryder-Burbidge, marine conservation officer with the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre. “In the course of developing a federal act, you would want to mandate some kind of national standards for the protections of ecosystems at the federal level,” but the proposed act would keep the current system — where jurisdiction over fish farms is split between the federal and provincial governments — intact. “The proposed (aquaculture) act will not impede on existing areas of provincial jurisdiction,” DFO confirmed in a statement. Those aren’t Ryder-Burbidge and Proboszcz's only worries, however. Both noted that DFO’s dual responsibility to regulate and promote Canada’s aquaculture industry is a significant conflict of interest that shouldn’t be enshrined in the planned law. “We do not want to see any sort of legislation or regulation that facilitates the government’s promotion of aquaculture as an industry,” said Proboszcz. Similar concerns have been raised for years: Justice Cohen noted it in the 2012 Cohen report on Fraser River sockeye. More recently, Chief Don Tom, vice-president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, noted the issue was central to controversy around fish farms in B.C.’s Discovery Islands. In response, the ministry said it is “committed to the conservation of wild salmon stocks” and aims to create an act that “provides greater clarity for the sector’s management and helps further enhance environmental protections.” Still, Ryder-Burbidge remains concerned. “At the end of the day, the protection of marine species falls at the foot of the federal government. We want to see them step up and take action to protect wild … salmon and other species,” he said. Marc Fawcett-Atkinson/Local Journalism Initiative/Canada's National Observer Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The architect of Australia's laws forcing Google and Facebook to pay media companies for content claimed victory on Wednesday, though critics said last-minute changes to appease Facebook favoured Big Tech over smaller news outlets. After tense negotiations prompted Facebook to cut off news in the country last week, Australia offered a host of technical concessions and the social media giant said it would restore news as the revamped bill looked set to become law this week. While Facebook said its concerns had been met and opposition lawmakers warned that smaller media players may be overlooked, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Rod Sims said the bargaining power imbalance had been righted.
All Albertans who are 75 and older can book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting tomorrow. In her Tuesday update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta Health has increased staffing at Health Link to prepare for the large wave of expected appointment bookings. “This is a massive expansion for our province and big step forward,” said Hinshaw. “However, unlike our yearly influenza campaigns, we do not have large stockpiles of the vaccines ready to go province-wide.” Anyone at least 75 and living in a licensed supportive living facility do not need to book a vaccine appointment as Alberta Health Services (AHS) is already arranging appointments. All immunizations are being administered through appointment only. There will be no walk-in opportunities. Vaccine appointments will be booked daily between 8:20 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. Hours will be extended as more vaccines arrive in Alberta. “For many folks, I know it will feel like you have been waiting a very long time for the vaccine and you are keen to get a first dose as soon as possible,” said Hinshaw. “For those who try to book after all initial appointments have been filled up, remember that new appointments will be made available as more vaccine arrives.” With the doses the province is expected to receive, Hinshaw said all seniors who want a vaccine can receive their first dose by the end of March. Each vaccine site is operated by trained medical professionals with appropriate personal protective equipment. Physical distancing and other measures are in place to limit exposure. For seniors with no transportation to vaccine sites, Hinshaw asked family and friends to help. Seniors can also call 211 for help. “It will take time to immunize all our eligible seniors and there will likely be a few hiccups along the way as we continue expanding,” said Hinshaw. “By continuing to vaccinate those at greatest risk of severe outcomes, we are protecting thousands of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, neighbours, friends and community members who are most vulnerable to this virus.” Information on how to book a vaccine can be found here. firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
The province reported on Tuesday that a resident of the North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, has had the B1.351 SA (South Africa) COVID-19 variant detected in their test, the individual was tested at the end of January and Public Health’s investigation is ongoing. According to Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab in a press conference on Tuesday the experience with the variants is not different from what other provinces have seen. “What it means for us is basically the variants of concern respond exactly the same as the previous COVID-19 strains,” Shahab said. He reminded people to take all of the common steps such as social distancing and other steps to reduce transmission as well as minimizing interprovincial and international travel. He explained that six per cent of all samples are screened for all variants by referring them to the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg including travel related cases, outbreaks, cases of people under 50-years-old in ICY and random samples. “That will also help us increase the portion that we can screen, it will also shorten the time it takes to get the results from one to two weeks to a few days,” Shahab said. “All of that must start once the initial test comes back positive. We shouldn’t wait for it to be diagnosed for the variants of concern for us to take further action,” he added. According to Premier Scott Moe work in under way to receive certification for the Roy Romanow Laboratory in Regina to expand to testing for variants of COVID-19. “That process does take a period of time, working with the lab in Winnipeg. That process is underway and I would expect that we would be able to identify the variants at the Roy Romanow Lab within the province of Saskatchewan sometime in early March,” Moe said. Shahab and Moe both said that the province expected to see the variant in the province. The B1.1.7 UK (United Kingdom) variant has been detected in two residents in the Regina zone. These individuals were tested at the end of January. Based on the contact investigation to date, there is no link to travel at this time but public health's investigation is ongoing. There is also a presumptive case of B1.1.7 UK in one individual in the Saskatoon zone. The individual was transferred from out of province to Saskatoon for acute care. Whole genome sequencing will need to be completed to confirm the results and health's contact investigation is ongoing. “All residents with a confirmed COVID-19 test are required to isolate to reduce the risk of transmission. If required, public health will issue a public service announcement to alert the general public to any risk due to any confirmed case of a variant of concern. The Government of Saskatchewan continues to plan for the impact of variants on COVID-19 including any required increase to public health measures and surge capacity planning,” the province’s release explained. This brings the provincial total of confirmed variant of concern cases to seven. Meanwhile, there were four deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. There were three deaths reported in the Regina zone with two in the 80 plus age group and one in the 70 to 79 age group. There was also a death reported in the 80 plus age group in the Saskatoon zone. The number of deaths in the province currently sits at 376. There were 122 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported four new cases. One additional case was added to North Central that had tested positive out of province. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 36 active cases. According to Shahab the province is in the 12th consecutive week of a consistent slow decline in numbers with a slight uptick last weekend. The overall seven day average has dropped from 16.6 on Feb. 9 to 12.7 on Feb. 23. “And our test positivity is also gradually trending down to around seven per cent right now. Similar to many other provinces we are seeing a decline but some provinces are also seeing a bit of a plateauing,” he said. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 47 active cases and North Central 3 has 19 active cases. There are currently 174 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 158 reported as receiving in patient care there are 17 in North Central. Of the 16 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 156, or 12.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 27,923 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,530 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 26,017 after 244 more recoveries were reported. The total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 27,923 of those 77,238 cases are from the North area (2,917 North West, 3,192 North Central and1,129 North East). There were 549 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 62,342. There were no doses administered in the North Central yesterday. Doses were administered in the adjacent North East zone, North West, Far North Central, Central East, Regina and Saskatoon zones. An additional 21 doses were administered in the Central East zone on Feb.17 and an additional 52 doses were administered in the South Central zone on Feb. 19. There were 1,872 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 21. As of today there have been 563,055 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Did you notice anything different about the Super Bowl this year? Not Tom Brady winning – that is nothing new – but the record number of women involved in the big game, from coaches to trainers to officials to operations staff. Turns out there is a quarterback behind that drive: Sam Rapoport.
Premier Scott Moe and VIDO-InterVac Director Dr. Volker Gerdts made an announcement today in Regina regarding $15 million to support world-leading research in Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan has committed this new money to further support the pandemic research that is done by Vaccine and Infectious Disease (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan. Premier Moe stated, “COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of Canada being a leader in research, development and production of new vaccines. The place that should happen is right here in Saskatchewan, at VIDO-InterVac in Saskatoon.” The City of Saskatoon has already committed funding to this project as well several private donors have made significant contributions. VIDO-InterVac has requested $45 million in funding from the federal government and Premier Moe said his government has also formally written to Ottawa to support this request. The Premier stated that this funding will support VIDO’s Centre for Pandemic Research upgrade to a Level 4 containment facility. Laboratories which are rated as a Level 4 containment facility have the safety measures necessary to work safely with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. Currently, the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg is the only such facility in Canada. VIDO’s original design of the 2000 square foot lab made it possible for future enhancement to Level 4 capability. The Centre will also provide critical animal housing for multiple species and significantly reduce the time required to advance vaccine development to human clinical trials. The Premier affirmed that he has, in his discussions with his federal colleagues, received very positive responses to calls for the support of VIDO. Premier Moe was adamant that this is a good investment not only for people in Saskatchewan but also for the people of Canada. Dr. Gerdts that he as well has had numerous conversations with relevant ministries including the Prime Minister’s office and the Privy Council, of the importance of having a centre dedicated to emerging diseases here in Canada. “The investment [from the Government of Saskatchewan] will help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to protect Canadians from future emerging infectious diseases.” The Premier also shared that the Roy Romanow Lab in Regina is currently working through the process of getting accredited to test for the new variants of COVID-19 that are now being discovered in the province and he expects that process to be completed by early March. To date there are six confirmed cases of the new variants and one suspected case in the province and once that accreditation is completed the results of new variants testing will be available within a few days as opposed to a week or two as currently exists. The production facility that is being built at the University is not only being built to manufacture VIDO’s vaccine, but it will also be capable of manufacturing all the vaccines currently available except for the mRNA ones as they require some very specialized material and processes. If a facility such as the one being built ahd already existed in the province, Dr. Gerdts stated that the vaccine developed by VIDO-InterVac would have been in clinical trails six months earlier. The research and development that was carried out by VIDO was among the first in the world, but they were stymied by having to wait for outside agencies to manufacture the materials needed to progress to those critical trials. An in-house facility would have totally eliminated that lag time and we could have been vaccine developed and produced here in Canada rather than playing the waiting game that we are now. The infrastructure is already in place and the facility at the University of Saskatchewan is the largest high containment facility in Canada and to Dr. Gerdts it only makes sense that the funding should be approved so that all research and development can be done in one place where they can house the animals these new virus’ are transmitting from and give scientists the advantage they need to meet new emergent diseases head on. The Centre for Pandemic Research will give VIDO “the capacity to develop the workforce and train the talent needed for a resilient vaccine and therapeutic ecosystem in Canada.” Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Taiwan chipmakers are buying water by the truckload for some of their foundries as the island widens restrictions on water supply amid a drought that could exacerbate a chip supply crunch for the global auto industry. Some auto makers have already been forced to trim production, and Taiwan had received requests for help to bridge the shortage of auto chips from countries including the United States and Germany. Taiwan, a key hub in the global technology supply chain for giants such as Apple Inc, will begin on Thursday to further reduce water supply for factories in central and southern cities where major science parks are located.
If Manitoba’s largest school division stops funding occupational therapy and physiotherapy services, some parents say their children will no longer have reason to attend class. Students with disabilities can access specialists through the Winnipeg School Division, free of charge — but that may not be the case next year, should the WSD board of trustees approve its 2021-22 draft budget. The board has proposed cuts to its police-in-schools program and therapy services, among other line items, to find $5 million in savings, after its provincial funding was reduced. As far as Carrie Costello is concerned, an end to in-school therapy, which costs the division approximately $667,000 per year, would make the classroom a lot less welcoming for her fourth grader. Costello’s middle child, Alejandra, who has a seizure disorder and a profound intellectual disability, receives both occupational therapy and physiotherapy, as well as speech pathology support, at school. Specialists work in teams with her teachers, educational assistants and parents to draw up her individual education plan, help with everything from goal-setting to stretching exercises, and provide updates to the family. “Math and reading aren’t on her radar yet. Trying to get a jacket on and shoes on, by herself, is. That involves lots of little steps,” said Costello, a mother of three and member of WSD’s inclusion support committee. “If nobody knows these little steps… then why would she go to school?” Teachers are not experts in educating students with diverse needs to climb stairs independently, handling tantrums, or adapting phys-ed equipment so all students can participate, she added. Chris Broughton, chairman of the board finance committee, has said proposed reductions should be funded by other areas of government. Therapy services are valuable, Broughton said in a news release published earlier this month, but they should be funded by Manitoba Health — and WSD will be “pursuing that option.” A spokesperson for the education minister said in a statement Monday the province hopes the division will adjust its draft budget to “find efficiencies in a bloated bureaucracy.” WSD has yet to bring forward discussions with Manitoba Health about the therapy programs, the spokesperson added. “They’re playing cat-and-mouse with the province and my vulnerable kid gets to be a pawn,” said David Lobson, whose daughter attends a special education program at Grant Park High School. Lobson said the primary reason his 18-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, goes to school is to access physiotherapy to help ease constant pain. He was unable to sign up to speak in opposition to axing the services at the Monday board meeting, since all delegation spots were full, with eight of 10 people registered to discuss therapy cuts. Division spokeswoman Radean Carter said WSD has also received numerous written submissions on the subject, which will be reviewed before trustees finalize next year’s budget. Sarah Kelso, who signed up as a delegation, said she wants trustees to understand these services are not about health care but rather, inclusion support for students — her child included. “(These specialists) work closely with a classroom teacher and EA to assess physical safety, identify adaptations, and modify learning activities to ensure inclusion,” she said. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Tiger Woods is in hospital after he was involved in a single-vehicle collision in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning. Erica Vella reports.
Stephanie Connell never grew out of her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. While the 29-year-old student has a long way to go before venturing into outer space, she came one step closer last week — when the Perseverance rover landed on Mars. “I was watching it from my living room, on my laptop … sweating,” she recalls of the moments Thursday, leading up to the successful spacecraft parachute. Connell, a fourth-year environmental sciences student, is part of the University of Winnipeg team at the Centre for Terrestrial and Planetary Exploration involved with NASA’s latest probe. “If you would’ve told eight-year-old Steph I’d be doing this, I would be ecstatic,” she said. Led by centre director Ed Cloutis, the Winnipeg team is working with international scientists who are scanning the Red Planet’s surface geology for signs of life to record findings during the expedition. Last week’s landing was eight years in the making for Cloutis, who has been supporting the development of the rover’s cameras since 2013. He recruited students to take part in the latest project in the summertime, at which point, Connell and Nathalie Turenne began to train for Mars exploration through shadowing experts in pre-mission operations. “This is a very high-profile mission and I’m proud of the fact we can contribute,” said Cloutis, a geography professor at U of W. Throughout his quarter-century of doing planetary exploration work, Cloutis has been a part of five missions, including Curiosity, in which a rover landed on Mars in 2012. He got involved with Perseverance after NASA scientists inquired about his interest in the project, given U of W’s unique facilities and expertise to support missions to Mars. The Centre for Terrestrial and Planetary Exploration is home to a chamber that can mimic the surface of Mars, in terms of atmospheric pressure, temperature and its carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. Before Perseverance launched, Cloutis’ team used the dishwasher-sized device to test calibration targets — equipment that was mounted onto the rover to help cameras collect images and scientific data — to ensure the pictures taken on Mars are in true colour. Two rock samples from the Winnipeg lab’s collection were also installed on the rover as part of its SuperCam instrument’s calibration pane, Cloutis said. Now that Perseverance has landed, the team is supporting the search for signs of life by taking part in “rover shifts.” Turenne, a recent U of W graduate who wants to pursue a thesis involving planetary science, had her second shift as a documentarian late Monday night, when it was daytime on Mars. The 25-year-old observed a panorama taken by cameras aboard the rover and took notes about what the mission’s science support team learned from the imagery. “It’s incredible seeing images,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to just be in awe.” When asked whether he suspects there were once living creatures on Mars, Cloutis said his answer to the question changes daily. “But if we’re going to find signs of life on Mars, they will be signs of past, microbial life.” NASA plans to explore the rover’s landing site in the Jezero Crater region for at least one Mars year, which is the equivalent of two years on Earth. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
TAMPA, Fla. — Tobias Harris had 23 points to lift the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers to a 109-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Norman Powell had 24 points while Pascal Siakam added 22 to lead the Raptors (16-16), who saw their four-game win streak end in the loss. Fred VanVleet finished with 12 points, Aron Baynes had 11 and OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher chipped in with 10 points apiece. Kyle Lowry sat out his fourth consecutive game with a left thumb injury. Two nights after a 110-103 win over the Sixers, the Raptors struggled from the opening whistle. They gave up 37 points in the first quarter and trailed by 21 in the second quarter. Down 79-65 to start the fourth, the Raptors clawed back and a driving dunk from Siakam and three-pointer from Boucher made it a six-point game with 5:07 to play. But, despite a couple of long three-pointers from VanVleet, the Raptors would come no closer and, when Joel Embiid knocked down two free throws with 1:48 to play, the Sixers (21-11) were back up by 17 points. But the battling Raptors didn't let the game go easily. A pair of Sixers turnovers led to consecutive Toronto dunks -- by Powell and Siakam, respectively -- and it was a six-point game with 21.6 seconds to play. Sixers free throws in the final few seconds clinched the game for Philly. Tuesday marked the final two-game mini-series for Toronto in the first half of the season. The Raptors swept Charlotte and Milwaukee but split games with Miami and Indiana, losing the second games in both series. Raptors coach Nick Nurse predicted Game 2 against Philly would be a challenge. "This one feels like it's gonna be tougher tonight," Nurse said in his pre-game media availability. The NBA implemented the mini-series format this season to limit travel amid COVID-19. Nurse was non-committal when asked if he likes it. "I mean, listen, going to Milwaukee and getting that first one, I woulda just as soon got out of town and forgot about them for a while, and probably be the same the other night, getting Philly and just as soon move on to the next team," he said. Furkan Korkmaz, a 30 per cent shooter from distance this season, had four three-pointers and 16 points in the first quarter and his shot from behind the arc with 7.8 seconds left in the quarter had the Sixers up 37-17 to start the second. Philly built a 21-point lead in the second, but the Raptors replied with a 13-3 run to slice the difference to 11. Toronto trailed 55-42 at the halftime break. Powell's driving floater capped a 9-0 Raptors run that pulled them to within six, but the Sixers responded with a quick 7-0 run and led by 14 with one quarter to play. The Raptors have no time for rest. They face the Heat in Miami on Wednesday, and are back "home" to host Houston at Amalie Arena on Friday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Vaccine and pandemic research in the province will be receiving a boost after the province announced that they are committing $15 million of new funding to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan. In a press conference with VIDO Director Dr. Volker Gerdts on Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe announced the funding, which is contingent on the federal government providing $45 million in funding that the province has requested. Moe explained that vaccine scarcity in the world shows the need for projects of this type adding that Canada can lead in research and development through facilities like VIDO’s proposed Centre for Pandemic Research. “This will not only serve Saskatchewan residents but it will serve all Canadians through research, development and ultimately the production of new vaccines. This would be a level 4 containment facility,” Moe said. The provincial funding commitment is contingent on the Government of Canada committing and flowing funds to the project, which has already received committed funding committed by the City of Saskatoon and significant contributions from several private donors. Moe explained that the funding would greatly enhance the facilities research and development capabilities. Currently the only level 4 facility in Canada is the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg and they have expressed support for the idea. Moe and Minister for Innovation Saskatchewan Jeremy Harrison have written and have had conversations with senior federal ministers about the proposal. “We are hopeful and quite confident that we will be able to obtain the necessary federal support for this project to go ahead,” VIDO has already begun to expand their vaccine manufacturing capabilities with a project that began in October 2020 and expected to be completed in October 2021. “Production of vaccines could then begin sometime in 2022 with the capability to produce up to 40 million vaccines per year,” Moe said. He added that the development of that project would not make a change to the current COVID-19 vaccination drive in the province where they expect Saskatchewan residents to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. “However we should be ready to produce millions of doses of vaccines to respond to any new viruses that may present or variance of the COVID-19 virus that may present in the future and respond as required,” Moe expects the province to be a leader in producing and developing vaccines for all Canadians. “We are asking the federal government and the Prime Minister to support this proposal to insure that Canada always has the ability to develop and produce our own lifesaving vaccines and to insure that the vaccine shortage that we are experiencing now at the most critical moment in our lifetime never happens again,” Moe said. Gerdts thanked the province for the commitment and called it fantastic news for VIDO and will allow them to establish their Canadian Centre for Pandemic Research. He explained that it would benefit both humans and livestock. “It will help us to prepare and be better prepared for future emerging diseases both affecting humans and animals and it will build on existing infrastructure that we already have at the University of Saskatchewan,” Gerdts said. VIDO is already home to the countries largest high containment laboratory and soon will have vaccine manufacturing capabilities. Gerdts explained that the existing elements are critical to rapidly responding to new and emerging diseases. “What today’s announcement and hopefully the commitment from the federal government will allow us to do is to now build on that existing infrastructure and leverage those previous investments to upgrade our containment abilities to the highest level,” Gerdts said. They will also allow the organization to build a new animal facility to work with animals that new diseases emerge from. Gerdts explained VIDO’s track record as the first to isolate the COVID-19 virus and an animal model to test vaccines. “We are now also the first university lab to actually have a vaccine in clinical trials, our trials are ongoing right now, we are in phase one and phase two trials and we are looking forward to taking our vaccine into development as that is possible,” Gerdts said. The province’s commitment will support VIDO’s Centre for Pandemic Research, which will include an upgrade to Level 4 containment facilities. Containment Level 4 laboratories provide the capability to work safely with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases “Today’s announcement is really a great honour for us and great for the organization and we are looking forward to the federal government to come up with the $45 million that we have asked for plus some operating funding,” Gerdts said. According to Gerdts, VIDO is already doing research on emerging variants with the UK variant already being worked on in their facility. He explained that they are testing if their vaccine and other Canadian vaccines are effective against the variants and have adjusted their own vaccine to the variant so in the future it will be more effective. VIDO was originally designed and built to accommodate the possible future enhancement to Level 4 containment capability. This includes 2000 square feet of existing lab space that can be readily upgraded to meet Level 4 containment requirements The Centre will also provide critical animal housing for multiple species and significantly reduce the time required to advance vaccine development to human clinical trials. In addition, this Centre for Pandemic Research gives VIDO the capacity to develop the workforce and train the talent needed for a strong vaccine and therapeutic ecosystem in Canada. Since the beginning of the pandemic the province has provided VIDO-InterVac with additional funding of $4.2 million to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and construct a new small-scale manufacturing facility to be completed later this year. This funding is in addition to annual operations funding of $3.8 million in 2019-20 and $4.1 million in 2020-21. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota House lawmakers on Tuesday began impeachment proceedings against the state’s attorney general, who is facing misdemeanour charges for striking and killing a man with his car and is already under pressure to resign. A bipartisan group of lawmakers filed a resolution in the House to impeach the state’s top law enforcement officer, Jason Ravnsborg, after he indicated Monday he would not heed calls for his resignation. The Republican attorney general faces three misdemeanour charges but no felonies in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Lawmakers argued in the impeachment resolution that Ravnsborg should be removed from office for “his crimes or misdemeanours in office causing the death" of Boever. The resolution also stated that Ravnsborg’s conduct following the crash was “unbecoming” and his “statements and actions failed to meet the standard” of his office. “When we started looking through and thinking about the duties that the attorney general owes to the people of South Dakota, and I think he owes a special duty to protect the people and uphold the laws. And I think that the actions in these incidents fell short of that duty,” said Rep. Will Mortensen, who represents the area where the crash occurred and who sponsored the impeachment resolution. Shortly before the impeachment resolution was filed, Gov. Kristi Noem called for him to step down. The governor's spokesman Ian Fury said she also supports the impeachment resolution. “Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign,” Noem said in a statement. But Ravnsborg's will not be stepping down, according to spokesman Mike Deaver. “As an attorney and a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves, AG Ravnsborg has fought for the rule of law and personal liberties and would hope that he is afforded the same right and courtesy,” Deaver said in a statement. While Ravnsborg has not been convicted of any crimes, Mortensen said he felt it was the "right time” to begin impeachment after looking through the publicly available evidence and prosecutors announced their charging decision. It would take a simple majority in the House to advance the impeachment charges to the Senate. There, it would require two-thirds of senators to convict and remove him from office. State law requires senators to wait 20 days from when the attorney general receives a copy of the impeachment charges before beginning the trial. Noem would get to appoint a replacement if Ravnsborg leaves or is removed from office. The attorney general, who was elected to his first term in 2018, was driving home to Pierre from a Republican fundraiser late on Sept. 12 when he struck and killed Boever, who was walking on the shoulder of the highway. Ravnsborg initially told authorities that he thought he had struck a deer or another large animal and said he searched the unlit area with a cellphone flashlight. He said he didn’t realize he had killed a man until the next day when he returned to the accident scene. After an investigation that stretched over five months, prosecutors said they still had questions about the crash but were unable to file more serious criminal charges against Ravnsborg. They charged him with careless driving, driving out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone. Prosecutors found he was not using his phone at the time of the crash, but had been using it while driving about one minute before. The attorney general could face up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine on each charge, if convicted. Michael Moore, the Beadle County State’s Attorney who is assisting in the case, said Monday that when Ravnsborg was interviewed by law enforcement following the crash, he was not clear about what had caused him to swerve on to the shoulder of the highway and gave “varying examples of possibly what could have happened.” Noem released videos of Ravnsborg's two interviews with law enforcement late Tuesday. In the videos, investigators confront the attorney general with the gruesome details of the crash, at one point telling him, "His face was in your windshield, Jason, think about that.” Ravnsborg appeared unsure of many details in the crash, but investigators told him Boever's glasses had been found in the attorney general's Ford Taurus and bone scrapings were found on the highway shoulder. As investigators described how his car swerved onto the shoulder and struck Boever, causing major damage to the car hood and windshield, Ravnsborg appears distressed. “I never saw him,” he told the investigators. “I never saw him.” __ This story has been corrected to show that the resolution to impeach the attorney general has been filed in the House, but not formally introduced. Stephen Groves, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s first bilateral meeting with Canada’s Justin Trudeau since taking office was high on policy, low on pomp and featured a very large swipe at Biden's predecessor as the coronavirus forced the two leaders to convene virtually Tuesday rather than gathering with customary Oval Office fanfare. The two leaders — Biden in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and Trudeau in the prime minister's office in Ottawa — delivered friendly opening remarks in front of the media, with flags from both countries on display at both ends of the long-distance conversation. “The United States has no closer friend, no closer friend, than Canada,” Biden said. Trudeau, in turn, commended Biden for quickly rejoining the Paris climate accord, a worldwide pact to curb climate emissions that President Donald Trump walked away from early in his term. The prime minister, who had a frosty relationship with Trump at times, worked in a jab at Trump as he praised Biden. “U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Trudeau said. “And I have to say as we were preparing the joint rollout of the communiqué on this, it’s nice when the Americans are not pulling out all the references to climate change and instead adding them in.” In remarks at the end of the talks, Biden for the first time publicly spoke out against the detention of two Canadian citizens imprisoned in China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top Huawei executive. “Human beings are not bartering chips,” Biden said of the two Canadians. “We are going to work together until their safe return.” Trudeau, for his part, publicly thanked Biden for his support in seeking the men’s release. Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China following the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada after the U.S. requested her extradition to face charges that the Chinese telecom company executive committed wire and bank fraud and violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. She denies the allegations. China lashed out at Canada last week for joining the U.S. and 56 other countries in endorsing a declaration denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes. Trudeau's broadside of Trump was a notable coda to a relationship marked by some notably undiplomatic moments. The Republican president, in a fit of pique in 2018, took to Twitter to label the prime minister “dishonest and weak” after Trudeau voiced objections to Trump raising tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Trump blew up again at Trudeau in 2019, calling him “two-faced” after the Canadian leader was caught on video mocking the American president as he spoke to other world leaders on the sidelines of a NATO conference at Buckingham Palace. In pre-pandemic times, the Biden-Trudeau meeting would have been held with far more fanfare: Biden welcoming the Canadian prime minister with great ceremony upon his arrival, an Oval Office talk between the two leaders, a joint news conference and perhaps a luncheon. But with both leaders stressing caution to their citizens, Biden and Trudeau set aside the typical protocol in favour of talks by video conference. U.S. presidents traditionally invite the Canadian prime minister for their first meeting with a world leader. While cable stations in the United States stuck with breaking news about pro golfer Tiger Woods' serious car crash, Canada's CTV and CBC carried the leaders' opening remarks live. The two leaders agreed to a “road map” outlining how the neighbouring countries will work together to fight COVID-19, curb climate emissions and pursue other shared priorities. Trudeau again raised with Biden the idea of allowing Canada, which is struggling to vaccinate its population, to buy vaccines produced in the U.S, according to a senior Canadian government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail the private talks. Canada currently is getting vaccines shipped from Pfizer and Moderna plants in Europe. Trudeau brought up the issue when the two leaders spoke by phone last month, Biden's first call to a foreign leader as president. But Biden's “first priority” remains “ensuring every American is vaccinated,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said ahead of the meeting. Biden's team offered the same message to Trudeau privately. The prime minister's office said in a statement that Biden and Trudeau discussed how the pandemic “will not end until everyone, everywhere has access to a vaccine” and "the importance of avoiding measures that may constrain the critical trade and supply-chain security between our countries.” Neither leader in public remarks mentioned differences over Biden's “Buy American” executive order or his decision to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a transcontinental project that was to bring oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. The Keystone decision came up in the talks with Biden standing by his decision to stop the project as he promised to do during his campaign, according to the Canadian government official. Trudeau, who supported the project, expressed his disappointment with Biden's decision when the two spoke by phone last month. The Canadian side also raised concerns about the “Buy American” executive order that Biden signed during his first week in office. It is designed to encourage the federal government to spend more of the roughly $600 billion earmarked for procurement to boost U.S. factories and hiring. Biden previously said that as part of the push he was creating a “Made in America” office to evaluate contracts and make sure waivers are used only in “very limited circumstances.” The issue is crucial to Canada since the U.S. accounts for about 75% of its exports. White House officials say no decisions have been made on waivers. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago and Gillies from Toronto. Aamer Madhani, Rob Gillies And Josh Boak, The Associated Press
(Kelowna RCMP - image credit) Kelowna RCMP has put its Safe Place program on hold just one day after launch, following complaints from local LGBT communities they weren't properly consulted. In a news conference Tuesday, Supt. Kara Triance apologized for what she says was the "poor rollout" of an initiative where businesses, schools and other organizations in the central Okanagan city could sign up to be designated safe havens for LGBT people. "We deeply regret a misstep and a failure in that process," said Triance. "We moved ahead too quickly with the release of this program within Kelowna." In a news release Monday, the Mounties said it would provide decals and posters for institutions to display on the front of their premises, showing they can provide shelters for LGBTQ people who need to call the police for help. Supt. Kara Triance of Kelowna RCMP says she has apologized to the Kelowna Pride Society and will have a meeting with the organization on Thursday. Participating venues were to fill out a request form for the decals and posters. Dustyn Baulkham, the general manager of the Kelowna Pride Society, says he was shocked by what he called the Mounties' "shotgun approach" in launching the program overnight without engaging his organization. And he questioned whether the RCMP had a vetting process in place for businesses applying to be safe havens. "Someone can apply for a sticker, get [it] put on the window, and then the next day they're on social media being extremely transphobic in the way that they're talking," Baulkham said. "You need to see a proper application and vetting process, as well as the ongoing accountability side of it, to make sure businesses are actually upholding what they've committed to," he said. Kelowna's Safe Place program is part of a B.C. RCMP campaign that is based on a similar initiative first developed by the Seattle Police Department in 2015. Three years ago, Prince Rupert became the first community in the province to kickstart the RCMP-led program. The Vancouver Police Department established a similar initiative in July 2016. Triance says the Kelowna Pride Society has accepted her apology and will meet Thursday to discuss how the Safe Place program should move forward. "I need to re-engage in discussions, and we need to have a new way forward, because where we're at right now is not where I want to be," she said. Tap the link below to hear Dustyn Baulkham's interview on Radio West:
CALGARY — Joey Anderson scored twice as the Toronto Marlies beat the Stockton Heat 5-1 on Tuesday in American Hockey League play.Andrew D'Agostini stopped 30-of-31 shots to lead Toronto over Stockton for the second time in three days following a 7-1 victory Sunday.Tyler Gaudet, Joseph Duszak and Richard Clune also scored for the Marlies (4-2-0), AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.Alex Gallant replied for the Heat (0-2-0), the Flames' AHL affiliate who are playing out of Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome.Garret Sparks made 20 saves for Stockton.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published February 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
A $1-million bond program has been created by the provincial government to support future rural organic waste processing facilities administered by Manitoba-based company Innovative NRG. Such facilities are being considered for the communities of Cartier, Rossburn, and Carman, the province said Monday. The sites would take organic materials — such as animal byproducts and sludge generated in wastewater treatment — and, using a gasification process and proprietary technology, capture thermal energy released to heat buildings or water for industrial uses. The $1-million Green Impact Bond will provide the upfront costs for the facilities, and a third party will ensure Innovative NRG is meeting targets for waste diversion, greenhouse gas reductions and job creation, the province said. Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard said the program would help to lower greenhouse gas emissions from organic materials decomposing in landfills, but also reduce the pressure on landfills nearing capacity. “Our (rapid organic conversion) innovation represents a leap forward in reducing GHG emissions and costs, disrupting the existing centralized waste landfill disposal system,” said Del Dunford, chief executive officer of Innovative NRG. The NDP critic for environment and climate change, Lisa Naylor, said she would rather see the province work with municipalities to create composting programs and return funding to environmental organizations such as the Green Action Centre. “Manitoba families want to do their part to create a cleaner environment, but this announcement amounts to nothing more than ‘greenwashing.’ The government has failed to release their targets for job creation and environmental impact, so Manitobans have no way of knowing if this program benefits their community,” Naylor said. Provincial estimates provided to media indicated investors have the opportunity to earn returns of up to eight per cent over the lives of the projects. Sarah Lawrynuik, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
RED DEER, Alta. — A central Alberta man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife. Satnam Singh Sandhu of Sylvan Lake was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty Tuesday to the lesser charge. The 43-year-old is to be sentenced in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday. Court heard that he got into a physical fight with his wife, Kulvinder Sandhu, on Sept. 11, 2019, over money. According to the agreed statement of facts, during the struggle they were choking each other and she hit her head on a heater while falling to the floor. The 36-year-old was taken to hospital but was taken off life-support a few days later. Crown prosecutor Bruce Ritter is seeking a sentence in the range of seven to 12 years, while defence lawyer Dan Murphy is asking for a sentence of four years, less time served. When given the chance to speak on Tuesday, Sandhu declined through an interpreter. (rdnewsNOW) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
In an effort to Lift Each Other Up, the preschool students and after school program participants at Little Badgers Early Learning Program and Nature School (LBELP) have been focused on learning about the Superheroes of Kindness curriculum. LBELP has spent a few weeks teaching about the importance of caring for yourself and for others in support of Pink Shirt Day (PSD). “Children have great empathy for their friends and loved ones,” said Evy Walker, LBELP early childhood educator (ECE). “While they are still learning to have gentle hands and kind words, they do understand the importance of helping their friends feel happy. Children tend to understand more than we give them credit for.” PSD is a Canadian movement that began in Nova Scotia when the charity CKNW Kid’s Fund began a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs and 980 CKNW to raise funds to support anti-bullying programs. Their team’s goal is to focus on raising awareness about bullying and creating programming that supports a health self-esteem in children. The CKNW’s PPSD website says representing hope, opportunities and the pride of LGBTQ2+ youth is especially important to the cause so that bullying in the community can be mitigated. According to CKNW Kid’s Fund, 59,000 youth were impacted by PSD funded programs in 2020. However, one in five children are affected by bullying. Annually on Feb. 24, 2021, Canadians are urged to wear a pink shirt to raise awareness about bullying or to purchase official PSD merchandise to support anti-bullying initiatives in B.C. through www.PinkShirtDay.ca or at London Drugs stores this month across Canada. However, the PSD’s official pink shirt launched for 2021 is actually not pink - it’s a white t-shirt with a pink graphic — a decision that was made with the hopes that all anti-bullying advocates could wear their shirt all year long as opposed to only on Feb. 24. “We have been learning about the importance of kindness and how small acts can make someone's day,” said Walker. “ We also have been learning about Bucket Filling and the importance of filling our friends' buckets. At the preschool level, we try to focus on the Golden rule of treating others how you like to be treated year round.” Walker anticipates ECEs at LBELP, along with all program participants, will be demonstrating the importance of caring for their neighbours on PSD this week. With PSD in mind, use the #LiftEachOtherUp all year long and continually advocate for vulnerable populations in your communities. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer
AUSTIN, Texas — Top board leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid operator said Tuesday they will resign following outrage over more than 4 million customers losing electricity last week during a deadly winter storm, including many whose frigid homes lacked heat for days in subfreezing temperatures. The resignations are the first since the crisis began in Texas, and calls for wider firings remain in the aftermath of one of the worst power outages in U.S. history. All of the five board directors who are stepping down, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The resignations are effective Wednesday — a day before Texas lawmakers are expected to sharply question grid managers and energy officials about the failures during hearings at the state capitol. Another candidate for a director position, who also does not live in Texas, said he was withdrawing his name. Four of the departing board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership" in a letter to grid members and the state's Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT. During the crisis, ERCOT officials removed contact information for board members off its website, saying they had become the target of threats. The board members did not reflect on their own performance in the letter. “Our hearts go out to all Texans who have had to go without electricity, heat, and water during frigid temperatures and continue to face the tragic consequences of this emergency," the letter read. The other board members are vice chairman Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper. Talberg lives in Michigan and Bulger lives in Wheaton, Illinois, according to their biographies on ERCOT's website. Cramton and Hepper spent their careers working outside Texas. The fifth board member leaving is Vanessa Anesetti-Parra. There are a total of 16 members on ERCOT's board, which appoints officers who manage the grid manager’s day-to-day operations. Historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures in Texas last week left millions without power and water for days. The storm was part of any icy blast across the Deep South t hat is blamed for more than 80 deaths, roughly half of which were in Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has largely blamed the outages on ERCOT and called for investigations. But the problems were wider than ERCOT, including power plants that were knocked offline by the extreme cold and natural gas producers didn’t protect wellheads from freezing. “The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations," Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT and uncover the full picture of what went wrong, and we will ensure that the disastrous events of last week are never repeated.” ERCOT president Bill Magness has said Texas' power grid — which is uniquely isolated from the rest of the U.S. — was on the brink of collapse in the early hours of Feb. 15 as power plants froze in the cold and a record demand for electricity to heat home overwhelmed the system. He has defended the outages as a necessity, while Abbott has accused ERCOT of misleading Texas about the readiness of the grid. As governor, Abbott picks the commissioners of the Public Utility Commission that oversees ERCOT. The selection of “unaffiliated” ERCOT board members — like most of those who are resigning — must be approved by the PUC. According to tax filings from 2018, Cramton received $87,000 in compensation and worked an average of five hours a week. Bulger got $65,250 and worked an average of eight hours a week. Three others on the board at the time were paid between $92,600 and $100,100, though it was not immediately known how many hours they worked. ERCOT valued Magness’ total compensation that year at $883,264. After ERCOT removed board members' information from the website, Magness conceded it was public information in a call last week with reporters but did not describe the nature of the threats. “It was a security, safety idea," Magness said. Cramton, whose page on the professional networking site LinkedIn lists him as living in California, declined comment when contacted Tuesday. Hepper also declined comment beyond the resignation letter, and other board members did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Meantime, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the Public Utility Commission of Texas is as responsible for the loss of electric power as ERCOT. “ERCOT alone should not be made the scapegoat," said the Democratic ex-state lawmaker who presides over the largest city in the state and one of the hardest hit by recent weather. "When I was in the Texas Legislature, I filed a bill in 2011 relating to the PUC to ensure ERCOT has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions. That bill never got a hearing. “The PUC oversees ERCOT, and the governor appoints all three commissioners. The resignations do not change the fact that the PUC and the Texas Legislature failed to provide oversight or enact common-sense policy," Turner said. ___ Koenig reported from Dallas. Paul J. Weber And David Koenig, The Associated Press