It's been a long road since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a worldwide, unified effort by scientists to develop vaccines in record time. Eric Sorensen explains how the global crisis paved the way for historic medical breakthroughs.
It's been a long road since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting a worldwide, unified effort by scientists to develop vaccines in record time. Eric Sorensen explains how the global crisis paved the way for historic medical breakthroughs.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has directed law enforcement and intelligence officials in his administration to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States, an undertaking being launched weeks after a mob of insurgents loyal to Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. The announcement Friday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki is a stark acknowledgment of the national security threat that officials see as posed by American extremists motivated to violence by radical ideology. The involvement of the national intelligence office, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with a goal of thwarting international terrorism, suggests U.S. authorities are examining how to pivot to a more concerted focus on violence from extremists at home. The threat assessment is being co-ordinated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and will be used as a foundation to develop policy, the White House said. The National Security Council will do its own policy review to see how information about the problem can be better shared across the government. “The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we all know: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Psaki said, adding that the administration will confront the problem with resources and policies but also “respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities.” Asked whether new methods were needed, she said, “More needs to be done. That's why the president is tasking the national security team to do exactly this review on the second full day in office.” Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said it was “critical” that the Biden administration appeared to be prioritizing the threat of domestic extremism. “In particular, far-right, white supremacist extremism, nurtured on online platforms, has become one of the most dangerous threats to our nation,” Schiff said. The riot at the Capitol, which led last week to Trump's second impeachment, raised questions about whether a federal government national security apparatus that for decades has moved aggressively to combat threats from foreign terror groups and their followers in America is adequately equipped to address the threat of domestic extremism. It's an issue that has flared repeatedly over the years, with different attacks — including a shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue — periodically caused renewed debate over whether a law specific to domestic terrorism is needed. It is unclear when the threat assessment will conclude or whether it will precipitate law enforcement and intelligence getting new tools or authorities to address a problem that officials say has proved challenging to combat, partly because of First Amendment protections. FBI Director Chris Wray said last fall that, over the past year, the most lethal violence has come from anti-government activists, such as anarchists and militia types. Law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny for their preparations for Jan. 6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters overran the police and stormed into the Capitol. Scores of people are facing charges so far, including a man who was photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt, as well as people identified in court papers as QAnon conspiracy theorists and members of militia groups. ___ Follow Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Like most residents at her care home in Berlin, 43-year-old Kristina Lang agreed to receive the coronavirus vaccine when her turn came, but not without trepidation. "They only said 'It's a vaccine and nothing will happen', but on TV, people were warned against the side-effects," said Lang, who uses a wheelchair. She is one of 102 residents at the home.
In a landmark verdict in one of the mining world's most high profile legal cases, a Swiss criminal court found Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz guilty of corruption and forgery on Friday and sentenced him to five years in jail with a sizeable fine. The ruling after a two-week trial is a blow for Steinmetz, a diamond trader, whose pursuit of the world's richest uptapped deposits of iron ore put him at the centre of a battle that has triggered probes and litigation around the world. Steinmetz said he would appeal the verdict, which also included a 50 million Swiss francs ($56.48 million) fine.
TORONTO — After a 10-month investigation, a task force commissioned by the Ontario government has issued a range of sweeping recommendations to reform the province's securities regulator. The Capital Markets Modernization Task Force's 70 recommendations include major governance changes to Ontario Securities Commission, such as establishing an adjudicative body within the OSC to rule on alleged securities act violations. The task force also recommends expanding the agency's mandate to augment its regulatory function, and changing its name to the Ontario Capital Markets Authority. The task force was commissioned in 2019 by Ontario's finance minister, with the goal of encouraging growth and competition in the province's capital markets. In the report, the task force decried the lack of new securities issuers in Ontario, which they warned could lead to fewer head offices and fewer investment growth opportunities in the province. Over the course of its investigation, the task force met with more than 110 different stakeholders as it was developing its recommendations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
KÖNIGSSEE, Germany — Canada's Jane Channell slid to a bronze medal Friday at a World Cup skeleton event. Channell, from North Vancouver, B.C., finished tied for third with World Cup leader Janine Flock of Austria with a two-run time of one minute 42.93 seconds. Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling won the gold medal with a time of 1:42.30. Anna Fernstaedt of the Czech Republic was second at 1:42.77. It was Channell’s fourth career World Cup medal and first in more than three years. Calgary's Elisabeth Maier was sixth. "It feels great to be back (on the circuit) with everyone and back on the podium," said Channell, who was competing in her first race of the season after electing to stay home in Whistler, B.C., for the first six World Cup stops due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "The time I spent in Whistler was key today," she said. "It got me back to the roots of why I started sliding in the first place — because it is fun." In the men’s race, Germany’s Alexander Gassner won in 1:39.88, followed by South Korea’s Sungbin Yun in 1:39.92 and Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov in 1:40.01. Kevin Boyer of Sherwood Park, Alta., was the top Canadian in 19th spot at 1:42.12. Calgary’s Mark Lynch did not qualify for the second run. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
The real estate market saw “exceptional” sales activity in the Waterloo Region last year. Home sales in 2020 exceeded the “6,000-unit threshold for only the third time in our history,” said Nicole Pohl, President of Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS in a media announcement. December also marked “the sixth consecutive month of record home sales in Kitchener-Waterloo,” she added. KWAR reported a nine per cent increase in residential home sales compared to 2019. Sales rose five per cent over the five year average and 11.6 per cent above the ten-year average. December 351 home sales were the highest ever recorded by the group, with 42 per cent more home sales compared to last year. This included 204 detached (up by 46.7 per cent), and 63 condominium-style semi-detached, townhome, apartment and detached units, which were up 34 per cent. KWAR reported 3,899 detached residential units sold in 2020 (up 8.1 per cent), and 804 condominium units (up 19 per cent), compared to last year. Sales also included 450 semi-detached homes (up 6.8 per cent) and 1,346 freehold townhouses (up 7 per cent), they add.“On a year-to-date basis, the average sale price of all residential properties sold in 2020 increased by 16.1 per cent to $612,521 compared to 2019,” they report. “Detached homes sold for an average price of $719,203, an increase of 16.9 per cent compared to 2019.” Low inventory was reported to be a factor in Waterloo Region, much like the rest of Ontario. The average time on market remained less than one month through most of the year, KWAR reported. The average days on market for homes sold in 2020 was 16 days, compared to a 5-year average of 27 days. For context, the average time of residential homes on the market between 2011 and 2015, KWAR reported, averaged 4months. “Looking to the year ahead, we should expect more of the same” Pohl predicted. “Real estate continues to be one of the shining lights supporting the Ontario economy, so we do not expect to see any significant efforts to try to cool the market. Buyers should continue to expect stiff competition in Waterloo Region.” Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times
Ottawa is reporting 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 87 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death Friday. The health authority also declared another 105 cases resolved. As of Friday, OPH has received 25,350 vaccine doses, of which it has administered 22,981. The infection rate in Ottawa rose to record levels after Christmas, but has started to decline. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 36: The number of Ottawa residents being treated in hospital for COVID-19, down slightly from Thursday. 69.7: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, back down after a slight increase on Thursday. 0.88: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). Anything below one suggests the spread is coming under control. Across the region Quebec's lockdown is in effect until Feb. 8, and includes an 8 p.m. curfew.
La ministre des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation Andrée Laforest s’est donné un objectif ambitieux en vue des prochaines élections municipales. Elle souhaite voir doubler le nombre de jeunes élus dans les conseils municipaux du Québec. « Le but serait de doubler et d’avoir 16 % des élus en bas de 35 ans, explique-t-elle en entrevue avec La Tribune. C’est énorme, mais c’est tellement important d’avoir les idées et les innovations des jeunes. Ça donnerait une belle étincelle dans notre milieu municipal. On n’en a pas assez et on en veut plus » Pour ce faire, la ministre Laforest met de l’avant le projet de loi 49 qui vise à encadrer l’éthique et la déontologie en matière municipale. Le projet de loi propose notamment des formations beaucoup plus poussées pour les élus municipaux. « Il faut aider la profession, souligne la députée de Chicoutimi. Plus on va démontrer à quoi sert un élu et plus les jeunes vont être intéressés. La valorisation n’est pas toujours là en ce moment et avec les formations qu’on veut donner en éthique et en déontologie on va voir des améliorations dans les relations de travail dans les conseils municipaux. Elles seront beaucoup plus saines. » La ministre espère donc voir un meilleur équilibre dans les conseils municipaux à la suite des élections cet automne. « Une personne plus âgée amène son expérience et un jeune apporte de l’innovation, résume-t-elle. Les deux sont essentiels et quand on a un conseil municipal très âgé, c’est certain que le côté innovation est moins présent. Ce n’est pas d’avoir juste des jeunes ou juste des personnes âgées, mais vraiment un équilibre, avec des femmes évidemment. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
NORTH HURON – The Township of North Huron released a statement following the Ontario government’s stay-at-home order designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. As Ontario enters its second provincial state of emergency, the Township of North Huron asks citizens to follow the government’s stay-at-home order and avoid any non-essential trips outside their residences. Effective Jan. 14, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people. Everyone is ordered to stay at home, except for work or essential activities such as trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, or medical appointments. “I appreciate the challenges being faced by businesses, individuals, families, and institutions during this unprecedented pandemic, but the case numbers are alarming. Even Huron County has experienced a dramatic increase in COVID cases over the past two months,” Reeve Bernie Bailey said. The following measures came into effect in North Huron on Jan. 14: • All indoor recreational facilities, including the indoor pool, fitness centre, and courts, will remain closed until further notice. • The ice surfaces at the Wescast Community Complex in Wingham and the Blyth Community Centre will be removed. • Outdoor recreational amenities including parks, sports fields, courts, trails, and municipally-owned playgrounds will remain open provided any person who enters or uses the amenity maintains a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person not residing in the same household. • The Blyth Campground is closed. • The Wingham Town Hall Theatre and public washrooms remain closed. • All council and committee meetings will continue to be held through electronic participation until further notice. • Town Hall will remain closed to the public until at least Feb. 12, 2021, unless otherwise announced. During this period, staff can be contacted by phone or email. Essential meetings with staff will be arranged by appointment only. • Daycare services for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers will remain open with existing restrictions remaining in place. All before and after school programs remain closed. The Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health will be providing advice and making an announcement by Jan. 20, regarding the return to in-person learning. “The lives of our residents are at risk, and I strongly urge all residents to stay at home to the fullest extent possible,” Bailey added. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
A Candle Lake research facility has been recognized by the United Nations for its role in protecting, promoting and restoring sustainability. The Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre, an equal partnership between Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask. Poly) and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, won a 2020 Global Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) award for its role in addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 15, Life on Land. The goal is to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. The recognition comes from the United Nations University, which headquarters the Global RCE Service Centre. Hannin Creek was nominated by RCE Saskatchewan. Sask. Poly is a founding partner of RCE Saskatchewan since it was formally acknowledged by United Nations University in 2007. It’s the second consecutive year Hannin Creek won a Global RCE award. The centre is the only boreal forest field station in the province and one of just two in Canada. According to a press release, it is a “unique place to study and conduct research” in diverse programs. Currently, the centre is addressing issues such as climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, urbanization and economic austerity through its research and education programs. According to the award, conservation, education and research are critical to mitigate those challenges. The camp at Hannin Creek has been around for over 50 years. It has operated in collaboration with Sask. Poly and the SWF for the last eight. In the last few years, work has been done to upgrade some facilities and to establish a wet lab that allows for researchers to work year-round. The facility has 12 hectares of boreal forest, creek and forest, expanded from 1.2 hectares in 2013, and is surrounded by a game preserve. It’s a very broad and diverse facility in terms of people using it for hands-on learning relating to the overall focus of protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of land for Saskatchewan and beyond,” said Jamie Hilts, the Saskatchewan Polytechnic dean for the Schools of Mining, Energy and Manufacturing and Natural Resources and the Built Environment. “We do a lot of research in the areas of forestry, fishery, wildlife, programs related to natural resources, environmental law, environmental engineering, civil engineering and water (resources).” He added that other programs, such as human services, use its camp facilities for therapeutic recreation. The University of Saskatchewan uses the site for research done by the Global Institute for Water Security. The Ministry of Environment uses the site for wildfire management training, the federal environment ministry uses it for research and training and the Prince Albert Model Forest uses it for its Stewards of the Land land-based learning program. Within SWF, there are courses, youth camps and work and education training conducted at the site. According to the Regional Centre of Expertise network website, the centre allows visitors to connect with natural ecosystems, helping them return with a deeper understanding and value for natural systems and the sustainability issues that threaten them. Meanwhile, lab facilities offer data collection, sample analysis, research and hands-on learning. Several hundred students attend the centre annually. “It contributes to formal, non-formal and informal learning through the educational processes about sustainable development,” said SWF director of communications and marketing Chelsea Walters. “Our programs introduce youth to these concepts through our youth camps and conservation programs.” Hilts said Saskatchewan Polytechnic and SWF are working to continue growing the centre. The past three years have been focused on making the facility as user-friendly and adaptable as possible. Now they’re looking at establishing an Indigenous encampment and at opportunities to enhance applied research and learning in other areas. “We want to be able to work with memes of the First Nations communities around the facility to establish this learning experience and camp,” he said. “We feel we can do some significant work there in terms of education and training related to an understanding of the issues and concerns related to truth and reconciliation and also good stewardship from a First Nations and Indigenous perspective as well.” As for other research areas, Hilts said the hope is to look at alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass in a boreal forest setting. “That has applications into smaller northern or rural communities where you can establish what different energy systems can be created that will provide a good and dependable power source but at the same time be environmentally friendly. We’re going to be doing some work on that.” He also said that as it grows, the centre will continue to improve to meet the needs of the students, researchers and others who use the facility annually. The award, he said, is a big honour. “It means quite a bit,” he said. “It provides an example that we take the concept of sustainability seriously and want to improve upon that. It gives some evidence that we … walk the talk.” This is the second time the facility has won an award. “It’s a huge honour for us,” Walters said. “Everybody has been pretty excited around our office. We are really proud of our partnership with Sask. Poly.” Hilts agrees. The award, he said, provides an example of a strong, “symbiotic” relationship between the SWF and Sask. Poly. Beyond that, he said, it gives the facility recognition provincially, nationally and internationally, especially as it works to find solutions to sustainability and conservation. “We do have the facilities. We do have the people we do have the resources that lend themselves to an international l audience and we can do it right here in Saskatchewan. We don’t have to go elsewhere.” he said. “Those are the kinds of things which lend themselves to saying we have a made in Saskatchewan solution to made in Saskatchewan problems.” , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
EU lawmakers have invited the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet to a Feb. 1 hearing in Brussels as they try to crack down on the powers of U.S. tech giants. The European Parliament will in the coming months provide input into proposals by the European Commission to force the companies to play fairly with rivals and to do more to tackle online fake news and harmful content or face hefty fines. "The purpose of the planned hearing is to have an exchange with the chief executive officers of the four globally leading platform companies to learn about their current business models and future concepts as they face the challenges of altering market conditions," said an invitation sent to the companies seen by Reuters.
GREY-BRUCE – Although there are still 41 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, the number of new cases continues to drop from the post-holiday spike. As of Jan. 18, there had been five new cases in the previous 24 hours – one each in Owen Sound, Brockton, Grey Highlands, Hanover and West Grey. This brings the cumulative total to 653. There are 115 high risk contacts associated with active cases. Two people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. There are no outbreaks in Grey-Bruce. An outbreak with the Town of The Blue Mountains has been declared over. The first shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 200 doses, have been administered. People are being urged to follow the basic measures that brought down numbers during the first wave – wash hands frequently, watch your distance (ideally six feet) and wear a face covering correctly. Everyone should also avoid crowds and unnecessary travel as the provincial lockdown continues. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — As the sun rose over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Avalon Peninsula Friday morning, so too did a beeping chorus of snowplows in the province’s capital. About 30 centimetres of snow blanketed the city and the sun was shining down on people digging out their cars. The storm closed many schools, stores and offices across the Avalon Peninsula on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The weather also put a stop to door-to-door campaigning in the provincial election — for most candidates. On Thursday, Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis tweeted pictures of herself knocking on doors in a full-body snowsuit. Other candidates, however, moved their campaigning online. Tory Leader Ches Crosbie tweeted a picture of himself holding up a bag of so-called "storm chips," ahead of the storm — though people questioned the small size of the bag. The NDP used a popular internet meme involving a cropped photo of United States Democrat Bernie Sanders at Wednesday's presidential inauguration to take a swipe at the Liberals. The party pasted the photo of Sanders — who is sitting in a chair, arms crossed and wearing fuzzy mitts — in the provincial legislature. The image caption said he was waiting for the Liberals to release their economic plan, which the Liberals have said won't be made public before voters head to the polls. All parties have said that social media will likely play a significant role in the province's winter pandemic election. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey called the election last Friday as a storm raged outside the provincial House of Assembly. The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have wrinkled their noses at the timing, saying the province's hallmark winter storms will dissuade voters and cut into campaigning time. As of Friday morning, there were 122 candidates registered across the province's 40 districts. The deadline for all candidates to submit their paperwork is Saturday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay lawyer is facing charges of forcible confinement and assault related to an incident from August 2020. Court documents show Ronald Poirier, 70, and David Poirier, 36, each face charges stemming from an Aug. 28, 2020, incident. Ronald’s charges include forcible confinement and assault and David’s charges are assault, utter threats and breach of a release order. Ronald is a lawyer practicing in private in Thunder Bay. He is also retained as a federal crown agent through the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC). The federal agency confirmed this week they are aware of his charges currently before the courts. “The PPSC is aware of the situation and confirms that Mr. Poirier is one of its agents,” Nathalie Houle, a media relations advisor for the PPSC said in an email. “The PPSC has reassigned Mr. Poirier’s files at this time,” she said, adding the agency couldn’t comment any further on the case. There are currently no restrictions on his right to practice law, according to the Law Society of Ontario website. Both individuals are currently not in custody and are scheduled to appear in court next on March 8, according to court documents. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
France has one of western Europe's highest rates of distrust in modern-day vaccines. On Unreported Europe we take a look at why, what anti-vaxxers have to say and what can bring sceptics rounds. View on euronews
There’s hope at the end of a long water pipe for Verner residents who have endured ‘brown water’ issues for decades. The culprit is high levels of manganese, a naturally occurring mineral in the Veuve River. And it’s been a problem ever since the water plant was built in the 1970s. On Tuesday, West Nipissing council received a report that recommends connecting the community of 1,100 people to municipal water services as the best solution. See: Verner's 'brown water' cleared up for now See: Verner's 'brown water' problem makes rare winter appearance It will take a couple years and about $10 million, but public works consulting advisor Alan Korell told council that connecting Verner to the water line that already serves Cache Bay is the most “feasible” solution. Korell, former municipal engineer, said the latest technical memorandum by Aecon, which was received January 13, looked at several alternatives. Among the options investigated was an upgrade of the existing Verner water plant, using Cache Lake as a new water source and utilizing ground water supply. Doing nothing and relying on chemical treatment, as well as limiting town growth were also studied but rejected. The Cache Lake option would cost $15 million or so, he said, and like the upgrade for the exiting water plant, would require considerable regulatory approvals. And he said studies show there’s no indication a ground water supply is available at the volume needed. As for extending the Sturgeon Falls water plant pipe from Cache Bay, Korell said the least expensive route is running along the CPR rail way corridor. “It cuts out three to four kilometres of pipe,” he said, adding it’s also easier construction compared to running along Highway 17 for almost 14 kilometres. While CPR has indicated it would approve such a proposal, Korell said annual fees would be charged. “There’s a lot less engineering and red tape,” Korell said, noting it would take about two years for such a project with the first step requiring about $400,000 to get a consulting engineer to get the designs, agreements and permits in order. Councillors asked about potential funding available and Jay Barbeau, chief administrative officer, said they can get the project “shovel ready” for funding windows open up. Peter Ming, manager of water and waste water management, said more frequent flushing of the lines and chemical treatment should address the ‘brown water’ issues in the meantime. Ming said there’s been a learning curve when it comes to the Verner water issue, noting that a new chemical to deal with the manganese mineral in the water works well. Recent issues, he said, that left residents with brown water events at the end of December and first week of 2021 were caused by manganese settling in the pipes after leaving the plant. And when they first attempted to flush it out, they drained the system and left residents without any water. Barbeau said they are now flushing the pipes twice a year to address the settlement issues. Mayor Joanne Savage asked that staff prepare a “step-by-step” outline of the plan so councillors can see when each step is taken. Barbeau said council will be seeing the project outlined during budget deliberations and they’ll be able to consider approvals at each stage, including the design work. He said council will be able to decide on its priorities for capital projects then. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
BROCKTON – Lise Patry, of LXM Law LLP, did a presentation on the review of the municipal procurement policy. The objectives of the review were to reduce costs, streamline processes, comply with legal requirements, and ensure fair, transparent and competitive procurement policies. The review recommended updating policies, establishing a procedures manual, establishing templates, establishing standard contract terms and training for council and staff. The second part of Patry’s presentation involved reviewing e-bidding software, including one that’s currently available to Brockton – bids&tenders. It’s widely used by Ontario municipalities. The third part involved 2021 procurement policy highlights that reflect best practices outlined in the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry report – specifically, staff and council’s roles in procurement. As was discussed by council, staff and Patry, an updated and streamlined policy should result in more vendors bidding on projects, less staff time devoted to preparing documents, and some cost savings. The new policy would see the CAO be brought into the procurement process, while council provides oversight. Bylaws were passed later in the meeting to adopt the procurement policy and procedures review report, and to adopt a new purchasing and procurement policy. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
HALIFAX — The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation. Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. The inquiry has also appointed a community liaison, a mental health expert, an investigations co-ordinator and an expert in charge of research. "We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the commission said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the commission in order to fulfil its mandate and we want the best people to help us in this process." The other team members include: — Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women. — Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S. — Mental health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction. — Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia's mental health and addictions program. The independent federal-provincial inquiry, which has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents, is expected to produce an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
L’année 2020 derrière nous, à quoi peut-on s’attendre en 2021? Nous avons discuté des enjeux sociologiques qui nous attendent avec Stéphane Chalifour, professeur de sociologie au Collège Lionel-Groulx. « L’année qui vient, en fait celles qui viennent auront des bouleversements majeurs, au pluriel! » Un élément central à la présente crise, c’est la confiance : confiance envers les élus et, maintenant, confiance envers le vaccin. M. Chalifour trouve « ahurissant » qu’une part appréciable du personnel de la santé ait des réticences face au vaccin. Il parle aussi des complotistes, desquels on a beaucoup discuté en 2020, mais qui ne sont pas près de disparaître en 2021. Quant aux élus, il rappelle que : « les politiciens ont le fardeau d’agir. » Depuis le début de la crise, ils doivent prendre des décisions importantes rapidement, sur la base d’informations incomplètes, ce qui peut mener à de l’improvisation. « J’ai l’im-pression que le gouvernement québécois, malgré tout, s’en sort assez bien. Legault maintient sa cote de popularité. Mais elle demeure fragile », avertit le sociologue. Il ne faudrait pas beaucoup d’erreurs, même commises de bonne foi, pour miner cette confiance. M. Chalifour insiste que nous devrons repenser la place des personnes âgées dans notre société, pour éviter que la tragique situation actuelle ne se reproduise. « Qui aurait cru, il y a un an, qu’on serait obligés de choisir qui va mourir? », demande-t-il. Peut-être bientôt, les hôpitaux débordés devront favoriser les plus jeunes, qui ont plus de chances de survivre, au détriment des plus vieux. « Ce sont des questions morales extrêmement déchirantes. » Et il ne faut oublier que, depuis le début, les aînés forment la vaste majorité des victimes de la pandémie. « Quand tu atteins un certain âge, où tu n’es plus actif, on te place dans le couloir de la mort », déplore-t-il, en référence aux CHSLD. Pour celui qui a étudié la sociologie du travail, il est clair que le télétravail amènera des bouleversements bien au-delà de la pandémie. « Des sociologues craignent que c’est peut-être un piège. D’un côté, ça peut émanciper les travailleurs, qui sont plus libres de leur temps, et ça peut aider la conciliation travail-famille. Mais c’est aussi comme le téléphone cellulaire. Tu n’as plus besoin d’une secrétaire pour prendre tes messages, mais le cellulaire te suit partout, il dort à côté de toi! » M. Chalifour croit que le gouvernement devra légiférer au plus tôt pour encadrer et limiter le télétravail. Le sociologue tient à souligner le rôle important joué par les États-nations durant la crise. « Ce n’est pas l’OMS, ni l’ONU, ni une obscure organisation internationale qui gère la pandémie. Ce sont les états nationaux qui gèrent la crise comme ils le pensent, en amenant des solutions nationales. » Il donne l’exemple de la fermeture des frontières. Sur cet aspect Justin Trudeau, qui décrivait le Canada comme le premier État « post-national » en 2015, est d’ailleurs encore réticent à agir, indique M. Chalifour. Il note aussi le retour de la sociale-démocratie, née de la crise économique de 1929. Partout en Occident, l’État est inter-venu massivement dans l’économie. « Même pour les conservateurs! Comme Doug Ford en Ontario : il est devenu un social-démocrate redoutable! » Selon le professeur, cette intervention rapide, et surtout nécessaire, est venu « casser le mythe de la mondialisation et du libre-marché ». La méfiance qui s’est installée face aux autres est aussi là pour rester, selon M. Chalifour, même après la vaccination. « Oui, il y aura un effet sur la proximité des relations interpersonnelles, sur la manière dont les individus vont s’approcher. » Il est particulièrement inquiet des manières de tisser des liens, voire de se courtiser, virtuellement. « L’être humain est un être social, de paroles, qui a besoin de chaleur humaine. Quel sera l’effet sur ceux qui grandissent maintenant? »Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
L’année 2020 derrière nous, à quoi peut-on s’attendre en 2021? Nous avons discuté des défis économiques qui nous attendent avec Brigitte Alepin, professeure en fiscalité au Campus de Saint-Jérôme de l’UQO. D’entrée de jeu, Mme Alepin veut être claire. « Je ne peux vraiment rien prédire en ce moment. Rien dans cette pandémie n’était prévisible. » Elle indique que plusieurs économistes de renommée se sont aventurés à faire des prévisions en 2020, mais que celles-ci se sont souvent révélées erronées. Elle rappelle aussi que la situation actuelle est sans précédent. Les gouvernements ont dû prendre rapidement des décisions radicales. « On sera longtemps en train d’analyser : est-ce qu’on a pris les bonnes décisions? » Elle souligne que les présents gouvernements sont ceux qui ont le plus d’expérience dans la gestion d’une pandémie. « Je ne sais pas quelle note je donnerais aux gouvernements. Ce n’est pas parfait, mais ils l’ont quand même gérée. On doit toutefois s’attendre, espérer qu’ils ont appris, et qu’ils seront plus proactifs qu’en réaction, en 2021. » Malheureusement, Mme Alepin est certaine d’une chose : les gouvernements continueront à faire des déficits pendant un bon bout de temps. Tant au fédéral qu’au provincial, la dette publique a explosé, gonflée par les mesures pour contenir la pandémie et pour soutenir financièrement les citoyens et les entreprises pendant la crise. Si certains économistes espèrent une relance économique vigoureuse après la vaccination, Mme Alepin croit que cela sera bien insuffisant pour renflouer les coffres de l’État. Sans compter que des investissements supplémentaires seront nécessaires pour cette relance… « Ça va être difficile. Tout le monde s’en vient à sec! » Selon la fiscaliste, nous n’aurons plus le choix d’imposer davantage les « méga-riches » et les multinationales, pour qu’ils contribuent à leur juste part. « Mais la pandémie coûte tellement cher, ça ne sera pas assez », avertit-elle. Ainsi, les déficits et la dette, nécessaires pour vaincre la pandémie, devront être gérés avec prudence. Ce qui inquiète aussi la professeure, c’est l’inflation. « On n’en parle pas assez, il faut poser des questions! » Difficile de connaître l’impact précis des dépenses gouvernementales sur l’inflation, mais déjà les prix des aliments ont augmenté, par exemple. « Quelles seront les conséquences? Comment va-t-on gérer ça? Doit-on s’en soucier? Les taux d’intérêt pourraient augmenter. Là, tout est contenu, nous ne sommes pas en crise, mais ça peut débouler vite! » Si l’inflation s’accélère, elle peut devenir un cercle vicieux et se transformer en hyper-inflation. Alors les prix augmentent exponentiellement, chaque dollar a de moins en moins de valeur, jusqu’à ce que votre fonds de pension ne vaille plus rien. Difficile d’évaluer si le risque est réel ou non, mais selon Mme Alepin, les gouvernements devraient, à tout le moins, se pencher sur la question. Impossible également de prédire quel impact la pandémie aura eu sur la mondialisation. « Au début, on croyait que ça donnerait peut-être lieu à moins de mondialisation. De plus en plus, je lis des choses qui disent le contraire. » D’un côté, les États ont fermé leurs frontières, ont cherché à produire davantage de biens localement, comme les masques, et les consommateurs, comme au Québec, se sont tournés vers l’achat local. De l’autre côté, les États ont dû collaborer et se coordonner pour certains efforts, et les pressions pour plus de coopération internationale sont grandes. « Aux États-Unis, Joe Biden a tenu tête à la concurrence fiscale internationale, en promettant de rehausser le taux d’imposition des corporations de 21 à 28 %. Il y a aussi un nombre critique de pays qui veulent un impôt minimum mondial. C’est le dernier jalon qu’il nous manquait pour la mondialisation. » Dans tous les cas, l’ordre géopolitique et économique mondial est irrémédiablement bouleversé… même s’il est encore hasardeux d’en prédire les conséquences. Enfin, Mme Alepin prévient que les citoyens seront moins tolérants face à la concentration de la richesse par les milliardaires et les multinationales, qui paient peu ou pas d’impôt. « Quand les gens avaient un emploi, du pain frais à manger, de bons soins médicaux, quand tout allait bien, les gens acceptaient. Mais maintenant, ils n’accepteront plus. »Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès