A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced prominent women's rights activist Loujain Alhathloul, who spent five years in Canada, to almost six years in jail under a broadly worded law aimed at combating terrorism.
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced prominent women's rights activist Loujain Alhathloul, who spent five years in Canada, to almost six years in jail under a broadly worded law aimed at combating terrorism.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
TORONTO — Ontario's COVID-19 numbers are showing improvement, but it's too soon to say if that's the start of a downward trend, one of the province's top doctors said Thursday. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health, said the provincial case rate has started to decline for the first time since November – sitting now at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people – although that figure is still high. The average per cent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests has also dropped – down to 5.3 per cent from 6.3 per cent last week – and 26 of the province's 34 public health units have seen case rates decline, the government said. "We're seeing some improvement," Yaffe said. "But we do need to see more data to determine if those decreasing rates are a real trend." The positive numbers come a week after Premier Doug Ford's government imposed a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order to bring soaring rates of COVID-19 under control. Schools throughout much of southern Ontario remain closed for in-person learning because of high community transmission and the government has not provided a timeline for a return to class. Yaffe warned that there are still 1,533 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province and 388 in intensive care units. The province is also reporting 15 cases of the so-called U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, with four that have no travel history, indicating there could be community spread of the more contagious strain. "We do certainly expect to see more as our laboratories test for this, and for other variants," she said. Yaffe also noted that a yet-to-be identified variant has been found in six cases at a Barrie, Ont., nursing home where 122 residents and 69 staff have been infected. Nineteen residents have died. She said the province is working with the local health unit to identify the variant and take action to halt the outbreak at Roberta Place. "We know there is a mutation in there ... that's associated with increased transmissibility, about 56 per cent more transmissible," she said. "We don't know which mutant it is." Ontario reported 2,632 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford continued to express frustration at COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer amid a production slowdown at the company. "It's absolutely critical that Pfizer steps up to the plate and not leaves us behind the eight ball, which they have," he said Thursday. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week and nothing the next week. The federal government and Pfizer have said shipments of vaccine are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. Canada's doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine are coming from a factory in Belgium that is being upgraded to ramp up production in the coming months. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
The role of Canada's vice-regal has been held by a wide variety of people, from British nobles to military leaders to humanitarian advocates. Here is a list of all those who have served as Canada's governor general since Confederation: — Viscount Monck: 1861-1868 Lord Lisgar: 1868-1872 Earl of Dufferin: 1872-1878 Duke of Argyll: 1878-1883 Marquess of Lansdowne: 1883-1888 Earl of Derby: 1888-1893 Earl of Aberdeen: 1893-1898 Earl of Minto: 1898-1904 Earl Grey: 1904-1911 Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught: 1911-1916 Duke of Devonshire: 1916-1921 Lord Byng: 1921-1926 Viscount Willingdon: 1926-1931 Earl of Bessborough: 1931-1935 Lord Tweedsmuir: 1935-1940 Earl of Athlone: 1940-1946 Viscount Alexander: 1946-1952 Vincent Massey: 1952-1959 Georges Vanier: 1959-1967 Roland Michener: 1967-1974 Jules Léger: 1974-1979 Edward Schreyer: 1979-1984 Jeanne Sauvé: 1984-1990 Ramon Hnatyshyn: 1990-1995 Roméo LeBlanc: 1995-1999 Adrienne Clarkson: 1999-2005 Michaëlle Jean: 2005-2010 David Johnston: 2010-2017 Julie Payette: 2017-2021 This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Interior Health is ordering a review for “lessons learned” from the outbreak at McKinney Place long-term care in Oliver, after 17 residents died in just over a month. The focus of the review will be around multi-bed units in long-term care facilities, according to Carl Meadows, South Okanagan executive director of clinical operations for Interior Health. “With McKinney, I’ve requested a review for lessons learned,” Meadows told the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District Board while giving an update on COVID-19 in the South Okanagan at their Jan. 21 meeting. A total of 55 residents tested positive at the facility out of the 59 who lived there at the beginning of the outbreak in December, 2020. Interior Health has previously stated the spread of COVID-19 at the facility was partially due to a lack of single-bed rooms to isolate residents who have tested positive. McKinney Place is an older facility which does have more congregation areas and has fewer private rooms than some newer long-term care facilities, which may have contributed to the spread, Interior Health officials previously stated. “There’s going to be more awareness around these four-bed long term care units and how to do something about them in the near future because it was very difficult to cordon off or cohort infected patients with four-bed units,” Meadows said. In the South Okanagan, including Penticton and Summerland, COVID-19 case numbers are down, but so are the number of tests, Meadows said. “Our COVID numbers in the community are dropping but we have had obviously some significant events at places that have been made public so it has been a very long few months, we’re still in an incident command structure in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. “Our numbers are going down, what we don’t know is our testing numbers are also down, so we don’t know if people are getting tested and of course now we’ve got the Pfizer vaccine that has been delayed and Moderna.” Right now, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the vaccination of long-term care and assisted living staff and residents with priority vaccinations for emergency/intensive care staff and COVID units in Penticton, Meadows said. “(COVID-19) has tested our health system like we’ve never experienced and McKinney was the latest example where it was very challenging. But I can assure you our teams are nothing short of amazing, you’re in very good hands in the South Okanagan,” Meadows said. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Alice Hoagland, a beloved figure of the gay rugby movement that her own son, Mark Bingham, helped set in motion shortly before he perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks as one of the heroes of Flight 93, has died. She was 71. Hoagland, a former flight attendant who became a safety activist while carrying on her son’s athletic legacy, died Dec. 22 in her sleep at her home in Los Gallos, California, after battling Addison's disease, according to longtime family friend Amanda Mark. International Gay Rugby — an organization that traces its roots to one team in London in 1995 and now consists of about 90 clubs in more than 20 countries on five continents — held Hoagland in such esteem that one of the prizes at its biennial Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, is called the Hoagland Cup. Scott Glaessgen, of Norwalk, Connecticut, a friend of Bingham’s who helped organize New York’s Gotham Knights rugby club, described meeting Hoagland at the first Bingham Cup in 2002 in San Francisco. “Nine months after Mark was killed, and there she is with a never-ending smile on her face, just charming and engaging and happy and proud,” Glaessgen said. “And that resilience and that strength that she just exuded was really inspirational.” Amanda Mark, of Sydney, Australia, praised Hoagland for always fighting for people — and continuing to do so after losing her son by standing up for aviation safety and LGBT rights. “Through the Bingham Cup,” Mark said, “she became the inspiration and the acceptance that a lot of LGBT folks needed when they may have been challenged with their families or friends to be true to themselves.” Bingham, 31 when he died, had played on a champion rugby team at the University of California, Berkeley. He helped organize the gay San Francisco Fog team in 2000 and quickly became its main forward. He was on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers commandeered it. He called his mother and told her he loved her. “I only got 3 minutes with him and when I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through,” Hoagland told the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2019. “As a flight attendant for 20 years, I wanted to tell him to sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself.” But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Bingham fought back, posthumously winning praise as an openly gay patriot who joined other passengers in foiling the hijackers and causing the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania instead of its intended target, believed to be the U.S. Capitol. “He grew from a shy, chubby kid into a tall rugby competitor with the ability to amass his energy to face a real enemy in the cockpit of an airplane," Hoagland told the Press-Citizen. Bingham and Hoagland's stories went on to be chronicled in film and screen, including the TV movie “Flight 93," HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and the documentary “The Rugby Player.” Hoagland became an advocate for airline security and for allowing relatives of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it played a role in the attacks. “We’re less interested in any kind of financial gain than we are in bringing the truly guilty into court and making our case known,” Hoagland told The Associated Press in 2016. The first Bingham Cup consisted of eight teams and was hosted by its namesake's home team. Today, it is billed as the world’s largest amateur rugby event, and cities bid to host it. It was last held in Amsterdam in 2018 with 74 teams competing. Hoagland was a celebrity at every tournament she attended. Players flocked to meet her and have a photo taken. She always obliged. Jeff Wilson, of International Gay Rugby, recalled in a post on the organization's Facebook page a conversation with Hoagland at the 2012 Bingham Cup in Manchester, England. His mother had recently died. “I asked how she kept on during grief — she said it was a purpose, and a calling and that I would keep going because it drove me,” he wrote. “Her compassion, heart and focus on others touched me in ways that I cannot express.” No memorial service is yet planned. Jeff McMillan, The Associated Press
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — On the first day of Joe Biden's presidency, Native Americans had reason to celebrate. Biden halted construction of the border wall that threatened to physically separate Indigenous people living on both sides. He also revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that tribes fought in court for years, and he agreed to restore the boundaries of the first national monument created specifically at the request of tribes in southern Utah. Inaugural events showcased tribes across the country in traditional regalia, dancing and in prayer. But amid the revelry, some Native Americans saw a glitch in Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony. The only mention of Indigenous people came in the benediction delivered by the Rev. Silvester Beaman. And then there was the mishmash of songs sung by Jennifer Lopez that included lyrics from “This Land is Your Land." The folk tune is popular around campfires and in grade schools, but it also called to mind the nation's long history of land disputes involving tribes. “Oh, I love J.Lo," said Kristen Herring, who is Lumbee and lives in Austin, Texas. “It wasn't super disappointing that she sang it. But I was like, ‘Oh, why did that have to be on the list of things to sing?’" Woody Guthrie, who wrote the song in the 1940s, meant it as a retort to “God Bless America” and a rebuke to monetizing land at a time of economic crisis, said Gustavus Stadler, an English professor and author of “Woodie Guthrie: An Intimate Life." Lopez put a twist on it, throwing in part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish that translates to “justice for all.” The Guthrie song has been a symbol of equality, inclusion and unity. Lady Gaga sang a rendition of it at the Super Bowl months after Donald Trump took office. It was part of Barack Obama's inaugural programming, with a trio of singers, including Bruce Springsteen, adding back some of the original, more controversial verses. But arriving amid an effort by some tribes to be recognized as stewards of ancestral land, a movement known as Land Back, the lyrics hit the wrong note for some tribal members. “It's a nice little sentiment that America is this mixing pot,” said Benny Wayne Sully, who is Sicangu Lakota and lives in Los Angeles. “But does anybody believe this land was made for you and me? Or was it made for white folks? People forget this land was made of brown people before it was colonized." Rep. Deb Haaland, who is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, acknowledged that perspective in a virtual welcoming to the inaugural events over the weekend. She's been nominated to lead the Interior Department, which oversees tribal affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American in a Cabinet post. That's one of the reasons Cherie Tebo was able to look past the song that she said was inappropriate and emphasized how little some Americans know about Indigenous people. She sees an opportunity for tribes to have a seat at the table in Biden's administration, citing Haaland and Winnebago tribal member Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, who has been named a deputy solicitor for the Interior Department. “In order to make it work, ‘this land is your land, this land is my land,' people (need) to understand it doesn’t belong to us,” said Tebo, who also is Winnebago. “If anything, we belong to it. And when our land is sick, we are sick." ___ Fonseca is a member of The Associated Press' Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FonsecaAP. Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press
The following statement was released by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on Thursday announcing her resignation: "Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances. It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry. ... in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal Office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed. - Gov. Gen. Julie Payette "While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously. Not only did I welcome a review of the work climate at the OSGG, but I have repeatedly encouraged employees to participate in the review in large numbers. We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another's perceptions. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal Office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times. "From a personal side, this decision comes at an opportune time, as my father's health has seriously worsened in the last few weeks and my family needs my help. "So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation. I have informed the Prime Minister of Canada of my decision. I wish him the best as he seeks an individual to recommend to Her Majesty as the next Governor General of Canada and I wish the best to my successor. I will remain at his or her disposal. "It has been an immense privilege to serve my country and to fulfil the constitutional duties of my Office on behalf of all Canadians. I wish to extend my thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his trust and for offering me this incredible opportunity. I would also like to thank the personnel of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General for their work, especially under the difficult circumstances that we have known over the past months. All my gratitude also goes to the members of the RCMP who are willing to put their lives on the line to assure our protection; and to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have always shown tremendous respect, friendship and support. Being their Commander in chief for the last few year has been a tremendous honour. I hold them in great esteem. "For so many Canadians, the past few months have been extremely difficult. As our country, and indeed the world, faced the reality of a pandemic, we all have had to make sacrifice and do our part to limit the spread of the virus, and to protect others, especially the most vulnerable. One cannot choose when hardship comes, but one can choose how to respond to it in times of crisis, and Canadians all over the country have answered the call. At the forefront are the health and medical personnel, essential workers, military personnel, public health officials, leaders and scientists, who have been working tirelessly to provide care, support, leadership and solutions. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude. "I would like to conclude by conveying my sincere appreciation to Canadians for their support over the years. I have had the chance to meet, represent and celebrate the accomplishments of thousands of extraordinary Canadians from coast to coast over the past years and I will always cherish these memories. We live in a remarkable country. It has been an honour and a privilege."
Alphabet Inc's Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content. Google's threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds.
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
MONTREAL — Critics of the provincewide curfew who argue that homeless people should be exempted from the health order are trying to divide Quebecers, Premier Francois Legault said Thursday. The premier responded to recent calls from all three opposition parties, the mayor of Montreal and the federal indigenous services minister, who said the homeless shouldn't be included in the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Their calls followed the death of a homeless man whose body was found in a portable toilet Sunday morning. Legault told reporters he was saddened by the death of Raphael Andre. But, he added, Montreal police know the city's homeless population "very well" and won't give fines to that community "for fun." "I've asked the opposition and many people to give me one example of a police officer who took a bad decision and they cannot answer that, so it's working well," he said, regarding the hundreds of instances when police have fined people for violating curfew. Opposition Leader Dominique Anglade said on Twitter Thursday that the premier's assertion is false. She said she had told Legault about a homeless man who had reportedly received a ticket while on his way to an overnight shelter. "What the premier asserted at the press conference today is simply not true," Anglade said. Legault said everyone wants to help the homeless, adding that those who had criticized his government are trying to sow division in society. "I find it very unfortunate to see certain people try to divide us, trying to say that there are good guys and bad guys, that there are some who care for the homeless and some who don’t care," he said. "We all want to help the homeless, it’s complex and it’s not the time to divide us, it’s the time to work together." The premier said that an investigation into the man's death is ongoing and that it's not fair to say people are dying because of the curfew. Legault has said the province has sufficient overnight shelter beds to accommodate the homeless during the curfew, which is scheduled to be in effect until at least Feb. 8. Quebec, however, recently announced it was adding 262 shelter beds in the Montreal area — including 150 beds in a soccer stadium for homeless people with COVID-19 who don't need to be hospitalized. The curfew is working, Legault said, citing the fact the province's infection rate has been lower over the past ten days compared with the beginning of January, before the health order entered into effect. Meanwhile, Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters nearly 100 per cent of long-term care residents in Quebec have received a first dose of vaccine. Quebec, however, is sticking to its plan to delay administering second doses up to 90 days from the first dose, he added. Public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said he's aware of reports from Israel suggesting one dose provides significantly less protection than the two doses required by vaccine manufacturers. He said he's waiting to read scientific papers on the efficacy of a single dose before reccomending the province change course. Legault repeated his call for the federal government to ban non-essential flights to Canada. If Ottawa refuses, the premier said he'd like to see travellers forced to quarantine for two weeks in hotels — at their own expense — where they can be monitored by police. Legault said he's particularly worried that people travelling to resorts in warm destinations could catch the highly contagious COVID-19 variants and bring them back to the province. "We cannot take any chances with the new variant," Legault said. "When I see the situation in hospitals in Great Britain, we don't want to see that. Right now, the quarantine for these people is not enough of a guarantee for the protection of Quebecers." Forcing people to pay for a two-week hotel stay after a trip would not only make it easier to monitor them, it would also discourage people from travelling, he said. Quebec reported 1,624 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 66 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 22 that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by 14, to 1,453, and the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 216. The province has reported a total of 248,860 cases of COVID-19 and 9,273 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the curfew was scheduled to last until at least Feb. 9.
The first COVID-19 case in Prince Albert since schools re-opened on Jan. 18 was reported on Thursday morning as a case was connected to Ecole St. Anne School. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) identified a positive COVID-19 case in an individual at Ecole St. Anne School in Prince Albert. In a news release by the Prince Albert Catholic School Division the division explained that communication has been shared with the specific classroom/cohort, as well as the school community. The case wasn’t acquired at the school. “The Saskatchewan Health Authority is proceeding with their assessment of the situation, and all individuals deemed to be close contacts will be communicated with.” As is the case in all cases in the division no further information will be made available citing privacy concerns. “We want to reassure families of Ecole St. Anne School that school will continue to operate for in-person classes while maintaining the safety protocols that are in place,” the release added. The cohort impacted by this cases being notified and provided instruction. The students and families will be receiving updates using the Edsby platform. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this member of our school community, and we hope they are doing well.” They emphasized that everyone has a shared responsibility to decrease the risk of COVID-19 entering schools. “Thank you to everyone for continuing to be diligent in performing daily health screening, staying home if ill, calling HealthLine 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practicing proper hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing as much as possible, wearing a mask when appropriate and doing everything we can to keep each other safe,” the release stated. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
The Vancouver Whitecaps went international in the first round of Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, taking a Nigerian forward and Jamaican defender. The Whitecaps selected Akron forward David Egbo ninth overall before taking Jamaica's Javain Brown from South Florida with the 23rd pick, obtained in the December 2018 trade that sent Erik Hurtado to Sporting Kansas City. Egbo, a 22-year-old senior from Enugu, Nigeria, scored 21 goals and added 13 assists in three seasons with the Zips. Egbo, who says he can play a variety of attacking positions, is not short on confidence "Personally I think I'm good at everything," said Egbo, who came to the U.S. in 2014 on an academic scholarship to Pennsylvania's Kiski School. "That's not to sound cocky … I wouldn't say I'm the perfect striker but I think I have a little bit of everything and that's what makes me different from the rest of the strikers." The 24-year-old Brown, who has won four caps for Jamaica, scored three goals in 15 games with South Florida in 2019. Expansion Austin FC took Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira first overall. The 20-year-old sophomore started all 26 games he played in for the Hokies with six goals and six assists. A native of Venezuela, Pereira was a teenager when his family came to the U.S. seeking asylum. Pereira was one of five players signed to Generation Adidas contracts, which don't count against the league's salary cap. All five went in the top seven of the draft. Toronto traded its 18th overall pick to Minnesota United, acquiring the 25th pick and US$50,000 in general allocation money in exchange. TFC used the pick to fill a need at fullback with Maryland's Matt Di Rosa. Toronto has incumbents Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro at fullback. Veteran Justin Morrow's contract has expired and Tony Gallacher's loan from Liverpool is over. Di Rosa won the 21018 NCAA title with the Terrapins, scoring the winning goal in the semifinal against Indiana. CF Montreal's Amar Sejdic scored the lone goal in Maryland's 1-0 win over Akron in the championship game with Canadian Dayne St. Clair, now with Minnesota United, getting the shutout. Di Rosa's twin brother Ben, a defender from Maryland, went in the second round (44th overall) to New York City FC. Toronto chose Virginia forward Nathaniel Crofts in the second round (45th overall). The native of Sheffield, England, had 11 goals and 11 assists in 64 games (63 starts) with the Cavaliers. Vancouver picked UCLA midfielder Eric Iloski and Michigan defender Joel Harrison, a native of Langley, B.C., in the second round (46th and 53rd overall, respectively). CF Montreal, formerly known as the Montreal Impact, previously traded its first-round pick to Austin for Canadian defender Kamal Miller and its second-round selection to Minnesota in the Mason Toye deal. In 2019. the six-foot-one 185-pound Egbo led Akron in goals (7), assists (4), points (18), shots (49), while ranking second in shots on goal (19) en route to earning first-team all-Mid-American Conference honours. The 5-11 160-pound Brown played for HarbourView FC in Jamaica. Both players will require an international spot if signed to an MLS contract. There were 12 Canadians among the 170-plus players available in the draft, which was reduced to three rounds from four this year. Wake Forest and Clemson dominated picks No. 2 through 4. FC Cincinnati used the second overall pick on Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris, another Generation Adidas player and the son of former Sheffield United player Terry Harris. The 20-year-old from England, who grew up in Hong Kong and New Zealand, had 16 goals and six assists as a sophomore in 2019, his last season. Colorado traded up to get the third pick from Houston, using it to select Clemson midfielder Phil Mayaka. The 21-year-old, another GA player, was ACC Freshman of the Year and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2019. Mayaka emigrated from Kenya to the U.S. as a teenager. The pick cost Colorado $200,000 in general allocation money, with Houston possibly receiving another $50,000 of 2022 GAM as part of the deal. D.C. United took Clemson forward Kimarni Smith with the fourth pick and then acquired the fifth overall selection from Atlanta, using it to select Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields. D.C. also got the 32nd overall pick in the deal that sent Atlanta $125,000 in general allocation money and the 31st selection. Houston took Washington centre back Ethan Bartlow with the sixth pick. Virginia midfielder Bret Halsey went seventh to Real Salt Lake. Both are Generation Adidas players. Orlando City used the No. 8 selection on Georgetown' forward Derek Dodson. The pick was acquired from Portland in exchange for $100,000 in general allocation money — $75,000 in 2021 and $25,000 in 2022. Earlier Thursday, the Whitecaps flipped second-round draft picks with Nashville SC, acquiring a 2021 international roster slot in the process. Vancouver gave up the 36th overall pick, receiving the 46th overall selection. The deal also involved an exchange of general allocation money. Vancouver sent $175,000 to Nashville with a promise of up to $75,000 in return based on "performance benchmarks" of the player selected by Nashville. In other moves, Houston acquired former U.S. youth midfielder Derrick Jones from Nashville SC for $100,000 in general allocation money and $150,000 in 2022 GAM. ---- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars.Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province.The frustration comes as B.C. leaders have allowed gyms, restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November.Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December.Those sorts of creative rebrandings were applauded by the province's Health Ministry in a statement on Wednesday that recognized those in "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic."Bronfman says the trade group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive.""Most movie theatres don't have liquor licences, and they are on the verge of shutting their doors forever," she says."All we're asking is to be looked at as an industry, as a sector that has a very low risk of any kind of transmission of the disease."Theatres across Canada have been shuttered for a large part of the pandemic over concerns they are a spreading ground for the virus. But representatives for the industry have argued there's no data that points to cinemas as being a point of transmission.Bronfman says if concerns about airflow are part of the issue, it's unclear why health authorities would deem it safe for people to sit across from each other at a bar, but not inside a theatre with high ceilings.It's equally confusing why showing a Sunday night football game would be allowed, but not a screening of sports favourites "Rudy" or "Friday Night Lights," which are shorter and would provide less theoretical exposure to the virus."We're not getting the answers as to why we can't open," she says."There's a level of frustration and quite frankly desperation."Before they were closed, cinemas across the country had introduced various safety protocols that limited the size of crowds and kept them distanced with assigned seating.However, there were critics of the reopening of movie theatres who questioned whether proper enforcement was in place at multiplexes to prevent people from sitting in groups.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
BILLINGS, Mont. — The Biden administration announced Thursday a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega. It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The order did not ban new drilling outright. It includes an exception giving a small number of senior Interior officials — the secretary, deputy secretary, solicitor and several assistant secretaries — authority to approve actions that otherwise would be suspended. The order also applies to coal leases and permits, and blocks the approval of new mining plans. Land sales and exchanges and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency also were suspended. Under former President Donald Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican's goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden has made a top priority. On his first day in office Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach — rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules on science, the environment and public health. The Interior Department order did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity won't come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump's final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. Erik Milito with the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore energy firms, said he was optimistic companies still will be able to get new permits approved through the senior-level officials specified in the order. But Biden’s move could be the first step in an eventual goal to ban all leases and permits to drill on federal land. Mineral leasing laws state that federal lands are for many uses, including extracting oil and gas, but the Democrat could set out to rewrite those laws, said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners. The administration's announcement drew outrage from Republicans and some industry trade groups. They said limiting access to publicly owned energy resources would mean more foreign oil imports, lost jobs and fewer tax revenues. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the administration was “off to a divisive and disastrous start." He added that the government is legally obliged to act on all drilling permit applications it receives and that “staff memos” can't override the law. “Impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement. National Wildlife Federation Vice-President Tracy Stone-Manning said she expected Biden to make good on his campaign promise to end leasing altogether, or at least impose a long-term moratorium on any new issuances. “The Biden administration has made a commitment to driving down carbon emissions. It makes sense starting with the land that we all own,” she said. “We have 24 million acres already under lease. That should get us through." Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. But there are other ways an ambitious Biden administration could make it harder for permit holders to extract oil and gas. “The ability to get your resources out, to get right of way, to get roads, to get supporting infrastructure, not all of that is signed and sealed right now,” Clearview Energy's Book said. Under President Barack Obama, the Interior Department imposed a 2016 moratorium on federal coal leases while it investigated the coal program's climate effects and whether companies were paying a fair share for coal from public lands. Trump lifted the moratorium soon after taking office. __ AP writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
Since fall 2020, students in P.E.I. schools have been able to pay what they can for a school healthy lunch program — usually, hot meals that require cutlery. Since the kids were using single-use plastic cutlery, they were creating a lot of waste that was going into the landfill. Now, students are being asked to bring their own cutlery. "What we're trying to do is reduce waste as much as possible. We've been asking students for a while now to bring their own cutlery and now we're just making it official," said Brad Trivers, P.E.I.'s minister of education. Feb. 12 will be the last day vendors will provide plastic cutlery with meals. 'Going to make a difference' "It's about reduce, reuse and recycle, and really the most important thing is to reduce," Trivers said. "We're trying to make sure students realize if you can reduce the plastic that is needed, then that's a big help to the environment. "Every plastic spoon or fork that you save means that much less is going into our waste. That's the lesson here, and I think it's really going to make a difference." The cost savings to the vendors will be minimal, he said, because plastic cutlery is very cheap. Families are being notified now so they can prepare. Trivers notes there will be a small amount of cutlery on hand at schools for students who forget. More from CBC P.E.I.
Health PEI says the province's two intensive care units are operating at reduced capacity, all as a result of a nurse staffing crunch. According to the agency, only four of the six ICU beds at Summerside's Prince County Hospital are operational. That's because 9.6 of the 15.6 ICU nurse positions there are vacant. At Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, just eight of the 10 ICU beds are open. The agency says between the ICU and the critical care unit, which share staff, there are 5.9 vacant nursing positions. 'It's huge when you get a loss from the ICU' The P.E.I. Nurses' Union says while many areas of health care continue to face staffing shortages, recruiting and training ICU nurses has proven particularly challenging. "When you get vacancies in areas like ICU, you can't just train an ICU nurse in two weeks," said Barbara Brookin, the union's president. "It's six months minimum before you get a nurse that works in ICU able to work as a second, or take charge of patients and not just supporting the other nurses. So it's huge when you get a loss from ICU." According to the union president, nurses from other departments have been shuffled around to cover some ICU shifts. Health PEI says while the staffing crunch has been manageable to date, it would become more challenging if P.E.I. saw a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, and increased demand for ICU beds and ventilators. "We could have a certain number of ventilators at Prince County Hospital. But if we don't have the nursing level to safely look after them, we wouldn't be able to receive that ventilated patient," said Arlene Gallant-Bernard, the hospital's chief administrative officer. "They probably would look at going to QEH, or on some occasions, we'd have to send them off-Island." Bubble closure hurting recruitment Gallant-Bernard said Health PEI is advertising the ICU nursing positions across Canada. The agency's also offering a $5,000 signing bonus, plus $10,000 to cover moving expenses. But she said the pandemic and closure of the Atlantic bubble have made finding nurses more challenging. Normally, she said, there are nurses living in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, willing to travel here to work during the week. "People have been in those arrangements. But it's getting harder now to make that look appealing because of all the guidelines. And every province's guidelines are a bit different," said Gallant-Bernard. "So when we had the bubble, we had a much broader group to draw from. But now we don't have that." Though one aspect of the pandemic is giving the hospital CAO some recruitment hope. She said the fact P.E.I. has had relatively few COVID-19 cases, restrictions, and health-care pressures should make it a more attractive place for nurses. "It's a very appealing place to come to right now," she said. "So I think if we can recruit, now is the time." More P.E.I. news
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer's Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada's deliveries over four weeks in half. In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021. Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February. Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn't know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada's doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned. Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses. Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn't blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it. "If I was in (Trudeau's) shoes ... I'd be on that phone call every single day. I'd be up that guy's yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him," he said of Pfizer's executives. Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday. Trudeau didn't suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected. Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays. Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn't say which ones. Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment. Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks. Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March. Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
En cette période de confinement où le télétravail s’impose plus que jamais, Action Laval souhaitait suspendre l’application du règlement municipal régissant le stationnement alternatif. Déposé ce mois-ci par la conseillère de Chomedey, Aglaia Revelakis, et débattu séance tenante, l’avis de proposition à cet effet a été rejeté en bloc par le parti au pouvoir et l’opposition officielle. «Le gouvernement provincial nous demande à tous de rester à la maison pour éviter la propagation du virus, il y a donc beaucoup plus de voitures stationnées qu’en temps ordinaire sur les rues», a rappelé la cheffe de la seconde opposition et candidate à la mairie, Sonia Baudelot, dans un communiqué publié le 19 janvier. Une situation qui n’est pas sans compliquer la vie des Lavallois contraints à déplacer leur véhicule du bon côté de la rue, et ce, tous les jours de la semaine, laisse-t-elle entendre. «Abasourdie» par le résultat du vote au conseil, Mme Baudelot fait valoir que le travail des élus municipaux consiste à «trouver des solutions et apporter de la souplesse au système», évoquant du coup le «mécontentement» que suscite cette politique auprès de nombreux citoyens «depuis le début de la période de confinement». Le maire suppléant Stéphane Boyer et son collègue Ray Khalil, chargé des dossiers de travaux publics au comité exécutif, ont indiqué qu’une telle décision ne pouvait s’improviser en raison des considérations logistiques fort complexes liées aux opérations de déneigement. À cet égard, les trois projets pilotes déployés l’hiver dernier en vue d’éliminer pour 2020-2021 le stationnement saisonnier ont soulevé «d’énormes problèmes», a mentionné M. Khalil, forçant ainsi la Ville à poursuivre les essais en testant, cet hiver, quatre solutions dans six secteurs de la Municipalité, question d’ajuster ses façons de faire selon les particularités des quartiers. «Ce ne sera pas une solution mur à mur», a-t-il repris, ajoutant que pour le moment «la priorité est de sécuriser nos rues et nos trottoirs pour que les gens puissent circuler en toute sécurité». Même son de cloche du côté de l’opposition officielle. Aller de l’avant avec une telle mesure «en plein milieu de l’hiver, sans signalisation adéquate et moyen de communication efficace comme on a mis en place dans les six projets pilotes sur le territoire» serait courir à sa perte, a mentionné le conseiller Claude Larochelle. «C’est bien tentant de dire aux citoyens "on élimine ça" [le stationnement alternatif], mais ce n’est pas comme ça qu’on gère une ville», a-t-il terminé. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval