Scientists examining a mummified wolf pup discovered in a Yukon gold field in 2016 say the pup is 57,000 years old and had a last meal of salmon.
Scientists examining a mummified wolf pup discovered in a Yukon gold field in 2016 say the pup is 57,000 years old and had a last meal of salmon.
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."
Chatham-Kent police have seized more than 25,000 marijuana plants worth $25.5 million after dismantling four illegal grow-ops in the region over the last few months, according to a news release. Since September, Chatham-Kent police have dismantled four illegal cannabis operations in the region, three of which were uncovered in January. "This past year, a significant amount of cannabis associated to illegal drug operations has been found in Chatham-Kent," Chatham-Kent police chief Gary Conn said in a news release. "These operations will not be tolerated here in our community as we know their actions may lead to violent behaviour, property crimes and organized crime." Since the operations are unsupervised, police said there are a number of threats to the community from unsafe electrical outlets, building code violations to the illegal use of pesticides and disposal of waste water. They said they are not targeting people who are legally growing cannabis for personal use or storefronts that have a legal permit. "These are large scale illegal production sites, who pose a negative impact on legitimate local businesses, as the money generated has been linked to funding organized crime," the news release reads. On Sept. 16, members of the Chatham-Kent Police Service's Intelligence Unit executed a search warrant at a greenhouse on Maynard Line. From this, more than 7,300 plant, valued at $7.3M, were seized. Police have issued an order for a 48-year-old London man to appear in court for growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that violated the Cannabis Act. On Jan. 8, Intelligence Unit members used another search warrant for a place on Richmond Street in Chatham, which led them to seize 9,004 plants valued at $9 million and a large amount of Canadian money. A 34-year-old Markham man and 62-year-old Stouffville man were arrested inside the building and charged with cultivating and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that conflicts with the Cannabis Act. They were released with a court date of Feb. 11. Police also issued an order for a 58-year-old Markham man for the same offences. That same day, emergency crews responded to a fire at a building on Grand Avenue East in Chatham and discovered that the property was being used to illegally grow cannabis. Police obtained a search warrant and seized 489 plants valued at $489,000. An order was issued for a 62-year-old Kitchener woman for growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that conflict with the Cannabis Act. Days later on Jan. 15, members of the Intelligence Unit yet again searched another property on Richmond Street in Chatham and found 8,580 illegal plants valued at $8.6 million. Following this, a 46-year-old Markham man, 26-year-old Scarborough man, 24-year-old Oshawa man, 52-year-old Markham woman and 26-year-old North York man were found hiding inside the building. They were arrested and charged with growing and possessing cannabis for the purposes of selling that was against the Cannabis Act. They are expected to appear in court on Feb. 18.
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.
The OPP is enforcing a new stay-at-home order and dispersing larger gatherings, but said it is not targeting individuals. The province introduced a new stay-at-home order Jan. 14, demanding people only leave for essential trips such as work, purchasing goods, exercise, caring for animals or others, or moving. The province also said law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines under the order. OPP spokesperson Const. Iryna Nebogatova said the attention the order has received has brought more complaints, which drive enforcement. She added gatherings - limited to five people outdoors - are the main source of the complaints. “I do understand the stay-at-home order under the emergency management and Civil Protection Act, Reopening Ontario Act are quite confusing,” Nebogatova said. “What we are focusing on here would be the large gatherings, the gatherings whether they’re indoor or outdoor. “The individuals are not the focus of this enforcement,” she added. In a press release Jan. 15, OPP said it could levy fines of $750 for failing to comply with the order and/or $1,000 for preventing others from complying. However, the press release added that officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or vehicle to check compliance with the orders. “Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work,” OPP said. “Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act.” The province said bylaw enforcement can also issue fines under the order, but Dysart et al bylaw officer Robert Mascia said he is redirecting complaints to OPP. “If the OPP require assistance in enforcement measures, the municipality’s bylaw department will gladly help,” Mascia said. Cottagers being allowed County resident Donna Pugh said she called police on a cottager neighbour who visited their secondary residence this past weekend. But Pugh said OPP indicated that it is allowed – and they were not going to attend to address someone travelling to a secondary residence. “Our premier of the province has strongly told us all to stay home,” Pugh said. “Then to see our County booming with people who don’t live here all the time, when they’re asked to stay home, I just find that really frustrating.” The order states someone can travel to another residence if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours and are attending for an essential purpose; or if they intend to reside there for at least 14 days. Nebogatova did not directly address cottager enforcement when asked but said there are exemptions for people to leave their homes under the order that should be respected. “We are requesting that the members of the public voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit their mobility outside their homes except for essential reasons,” she said. Pugh said despite the province’s words, the enforcement is not going far enough. “The whole thing doesn’t have many teeth,” she said. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
À deux ans de la fin de son mandat, un rapport d’enquête confirme que Julie Payette a instauré un climat de travail toxique pour les employés à Rideau Hall. L’information est rapportée par le réseau CBC/Radio Canada qui annonce que cette démission est intervenue à la suite de la remise au bureau du Conseil privé d’un rapport sur l’environnement de travail à Rideau Hall. La firme Quintet Consulting Corporation a été commise en septembre dernier pour faire la lumière sur des allégations graves concernant le harcèlement en milieu de travail au bureau de la gouverneure générale. Plusieurs employés avaient particulièrement visé Mme Payette et sa secrétaire, Assunta Di Lorenzo. Cette dernière est aussi sur le départ. Un communiqué de Rideau Hall est annoncé dans les prochaines heures. Des témoignages ont été recueillis auprès des employés et des ex-employés de plusieurs services, y compris Rideau Hall, le bureau du Conseil privé, le ministère du Patrimoine canadien, Affaires mondiales Canada, la Gendarmerie royale du Canada et des Forces armées canadiennes. Plusieurs services du gouvernement fédéral s’abstiennent de commenter cette information ou le contenu du rapport d’enquête remis selon plusieurs sources, au président du Conseil privé et ministre des Affaires intergouvernementales, Dominic LeBlanc. Julie Payette a été nommée au poste de gouverneure générale du Canada le 2 octobre 2017 pour un mandat de cinq ans. L’intérim devra être assuré par le juge en chef de la Cour suprême du Canada, Richard Wagner. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of a nuclear arms treaty that is otherwise set to expire in February, the White House said Thursday. Biden proposed the extension even as he asked the intelligence community to look closely into Russia's cyberattacks, its alleged interference in the 2020 election and other actions, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. Russia has said for some time that it would welcome an extension of the New START treaty, which limits the number of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons. The Trump administration made a late bid to extend the treaty, but its conditions were rejected by Russia. U.S. allies, particularly in Europe, are sure to applaud Biden’s proposal, which also provides an early signal of his intent to pursue arms control, Psaki noted that a five-year extension is permitted by the treaty and it “makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time.” She called the treaty, which is the last remaining arms control pact between Washington and Moscow since the Trump administration withdrew from two others, “an anchor of strategic stability between our two countries.” Despite the extension proposal, Psaki said Biden was committed to holding Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions,” such as its alleged involvement in the Solar Winds hacking event, 2020 election interference, the chemical poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the widely reported allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan was to convey the extension proposal to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, on Thursday afternoon, according to one official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic conversations. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier Thursday called on the United States and Russia to extend the treaty and to later broaden it. “We should not end up in a situation with no limitation on nuclear warheads, and New START will expire within days,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. The treaty expires on Feb. 5. Stoltenberg underlined that “an extension of the New START is not the end, it’s the beginning of our efforts to further strengthen arms control.” The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. Obama won Senate ratification of the treaty with a commitment to move ahead with a vast and enormously expensive recapitalization of the U.S. nuclear force. That program, which some Democrats in Congress call excessive, is likely to be further scrutinized by the Biden administration. At a projected cost exceeding $1 trillion over the next several decades, the plan is to replace each of the three “legs” of the U.S. nuclear triad — ballistic missile submarines, nuclear-capable bomber aircraft and land-based nuclear missiles. President Donald Trump had been highly critical of New START, asserting that it put the United States at a disadvantage. His administration waited until last year to engage Russia in substantive talks on the treaty's future. Trump insisted that China be added to the treaty, but Beijing rejected the idea out of hand. Trump's lead negotiator on New START discussions with the Russians, Marshall S. Billingslea, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that Biden would be making a mistake by quickly agreeing to a five-year extension. “Hope this is not true,” he wrote, referring to news reports of Thursday's proposal. “If so, shows stunning lack of negotiating skill. Took just 24 hours for Biden team to squander most significant leverage we have over Russia.” Robert Soofer, who was the Trump administration's top nuclear policy official at the Pentagon, said in an interview that he sees the Biden decision to accept a five-year extension as a lost opportunity. “The Russians are likely to pocket this extension and walk away from the table,” Soofer said, rather than accede to a longstanding U.S. request that they negotiate limits on other categories of nuclear weapons, such as tactical weapons. Some U.S. officials have been leery of renewing New START without getting a Russian commitment to negotiate limits on new types of strategic weapons, including Moscow's nuclear-capable Avangard hypersonic long-range missile. Biden, who indicated during the campaign that he favoured extending New START, is not proposing any alterations, the U.S. official said. Thus it appeared likely that Moscow would be amenable to an extension. The proposal was reported first by The Washington Post. Matthew Lee And Robert Burns, The Associated Press
A Coquitlam, B.C., manufacturer that pivoted production from pet beds to personal protective equipment is now set to start rolling out respirator masks after winning a $1-million federal grant. Novo Textiles has partnered with a company in Windsor, Ont., to develop the first made-in-Canada automated machine to produce cup-shaped, moulded respirator masks — also known as N95 or N99 masks — used in hospitals. The N95 and N99 respirators are so named because they're designed to filter out at least 95 per cent and 99 per cent of airborne particles, respectively, including pathogens. Respirator masks or higher level protection is required in hospitals and for medical procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other infections — but they remain in short supply in Canada. "That's where the greatest global shortage has been and continues to be in terms of PPE," said Novo Textiles owner Jason Zanatta. 'They created a new standard' The company's achievement was announced Thursday in a release by Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), a non-profit, industry-led organization that has awarded more than $27 million in federal government money to manufacturers and innovators under a "Strategic Supply Challenge" to develop cost-competitive critical supplies during the pandemic. Zanatta said his company invested $2 million and partnered with Windsor-based Harbour Technologies to develop the respirator technology and win a $1 million federal grant as part of the challenge. Harbour helped make the mask machine, based on Novo's prototype, but all production is being done in B.C. Two other B.C.-based companies — Inno Foods, a confectionery producer and distributor in Port Coquitlam, and Vitacore in Burnaby — are also producing N95 masks. But Novo is the first in Canada to engineer a way to automate the process and make a cup-moulded version, according to the NGen release. Zanatta said it took 11 months of work to create the machinery and design for the protective mask. "I'm very proud of my team and my staff and everyone who came together and worked the hours we worked to get to this point," he said. Novo Textiles previously made a significant switch in production last spring, moving from pet beds to surgical masks. Industry experts say Novo Textiles has created a Canadian standard for moulded N95 masks. "The fact that they created a new standard that sets a benchmark for Canadian manufacturers is amazing," said Marcus Ewert-Johns, president of the B.C. Alliance for Manufacturing. The masks are now in the final stages of product testing with federal and provincial health authorities. Novo Textiles aims to turn out up to five million respirator masks a year, alongside 15 million regular surgical masks, when it's up to full production, Zanatta said. The masks will be supplied to hospitals for now, but Zanatta hopes to get to the point where he can sell them to the public. He said it's a step toward creating the domestic infrastructure needed to produce Canadian-made protective equipment, so crises like the pandemic don't leave the country relying on supplies from abroad. "Not having it is a great risk to Canadians, frankly," said Zanatta.
REGINA — Saskatchewan says the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations will start to slow in the province as it marked the deadliest day yet of the pandemic. Health officials said Thursday that 13 more residents have died, nine of whom were 80 and older, for a total of 239 deaths. "Reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day is a somber reminder of the need to reduce the spread of this deadly virus by following all public-health orders and guidelines," Premier Scott Moe said on Twitter. Government data on Dec. 22 shows the province had recorded 125 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Thursday's total represented a 91 per cent increase in the last 30 days. Saskatchewan has a population of about 1.2 million. The Ministry of Health said more than 29,000 shots — 91 per cent of the vaccine doses received to date — have gone into the arms of critical health-care workers, long-term care staff and vulnerable seniors. But the ministry said the vaccine will run short with supplier Pfizer-BioNTech saying no new deliveries will be made to Canada next week. The province said the latest batch of 2,925 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech arrived on Tuesday and went to priority groups in and around Battleford, Lloydminster, Regina and Fort Qu’Appelle A ministry spokeswoman said the province is still figuring out how it's going to adjust its vaccine rollout in light of the supply interruption. Moe stated this week that he believes universal compliance with the current public-health measures can tamp down the spread of the virus, which is hitting the province harder in the second wave than it did last spring. He tweeted Thursday that Saskatchewan's caseload was on its way down. On Thursday, the Ministry of Health reported 227 new infections in the province and 197 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. The seven-day average of new daily cases sits at 286. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
A director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association believes provinces should set targets for vaccinating inmates in provincial jails — something half of jurisdictions have yet to do. The Correctional Service of Canada has started vaccinations for federal prisoners who are older or considered "medically vulnerable." But, as of last week, provinces had yet to start giving shots to inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences in provincial jails. "Prisoners are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that would make them very susceptible to serious illness and death as a result of COVID," said Abby Deshman with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Because of a limited vaccine supply, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends people in correctional centres get inoculated behind those in long-term care homes, seniors 70 and older, critical health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities. British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia said that, as of last week, prisoners and staff are scheduled for vaccination in the second round of inoculations, with estimated start dates between next month and June. Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec didn't provide a timeline for when inmates will receive their shots. Newfoundland and Labrador said its inmates will be part of the second phase of its vaccine distribution, but didn't specify dates. Saskatchewan said the ranking of vulnerable groups is still to be determined. The Northwest Territories and Yukon planned to start giving shots this week and the Nunavut government says it plans to start vaccinating prisoners and correctional staff in Iqaluit starting Thursday. Deshman was part of a research project that tracked COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons. It found that since Dec. 1, there have been at least 1,962 infections among staff and inmates — more than all of the cases reported from last March until November. “We should have targets for immunizing key vulnerable populations, regardless of who they are," she said. “If those targets need to be adjusted, if they cannot be met, that needs to be publicly communicated and explained.” She noted some politicians, including federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, have pushed back against early vaccinations for federal inmates. Justin Piche, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said there are far fewer older prisoners in provincial jails than in federal prisons, where one out of five inmates is 50 and older. He said rhetoric from leaders that pits one group against another isn't helpful. “Prisons are among the congregate settings that are seeing significant transmission," he said. “You have prisoners who are getting COVID-19 at higher rates. You have prison staff that are going in and out of there on a day-to-day basis, going back to their families, going back to their communities." The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers believes it's wrong that Ottawa didn’t vaccinate correctional staff along with prisoners, and instead left it up to provinces to decide where staff fall in the vaccine line. "It’s completely foolish," said national president Jeff Wilkins. “We have (Saskatchewan Penitentiary), for example, which has seen quite an extensive outbreak. Our members are getting burnt out." As of last week, Manitoba listed provincial and federal correctional health-care workers as eligible to be vaccinated. Wilkins wants to see correctional officers inoculated along with long-term care staff. "In some areas, we’ve seen the rates of the institution be much higher than the community.” Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, questions why doses were sent to institutions in Atlantic Canada, which have no active COVID-19 cases, while inmates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are at higher risk. Latimer is also concerned about what she says is solitary confinement-like measures being used to contain the novel coronavirus. “It’s a very, very harsh correctional environment right now," she said. "We’re probably going through the worst period in terms of general corrections, at least on the federal side, in the last 50 years." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Public health experts Thursday blamed vaccine shortages around the U.S. in part on the Trump administration’s push to get states to vastly expand their vaccination drives to reach the nation’s estimated 54 million people age 65 and over. The push that began over a week ago has not been accompanied by enough doses to meet demand, according to state and local officials, leading to frustration and confusion and limiting states’ ability to attack the outbreak that has killed over 400,000 Americans. Over the past few days, authorities in California, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Hawaii warned that their supplies were running out. New York City began cancelling or postponing shots or stopped making new appointments because of the shortages, which President Joe Biden has vowed to turn around. The vaccine rollout so far has been “a major disappointment,” said Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Problems started with the Trump administration’s “fatal mistake” of not ordering enough vaccine, which was then snapped up by other countries, Topol said. Then, opening the line to senior citizens set people up for disappointment because there wasn’t enough vaccine, he said. The Trump administration also left crucial planning to the states and didn’t provide the necessary funding. “It doesn’t happen by fairy dust,” Topol said. “You need to put funds into that.” Last week, before Biden took over as president, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department suggested that the frustration was the result of unrealistic expectations among the states as to how much vaccine was on the way. But some public health experts said that the states have not been getting reliable information on vaccine deliveries and that the amounts they have been sent have been unpredictable. That, in turn, has made it difficult for them to plan how to inoculate people. “It’s a bit of having to build it as we go,” said Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. "It’s a front-end supply issue, and unless we know how much vaccine is flowing down the pipe, it’s hard to get these things sized right, staffed, get people there, get them vaccinated and get them gone.” State health secretaries have asked the Biden administration for earlier and more reliable predictions on vaccine deliveries, said Washington state Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah. Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials was also among those who said opening vaccinations to senior citizens was done too soon, before supply could catch up. “We needed steady federal leadership on this early in the launch,” Plescia said. “That did not happen, and now that we are not prioritizing groups, there is going to be some lag for supply to catch up with demand.” Supply will pick up over the next few weeks, he said. Deliveries go out to the states every week, and the government and drugmakers have given assurances large quantities are in the pipeline. The rollout has proceeded at a disappointing pace. The U.S. government has delivered nearly 38 million doses of vaccine to the states, and about 17.5 million of those have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2.4 million people have received the necessary two doses, by the CDC's count — well short of the hundreds of millions who will have to be inoculated to vanquish the outbreak. Biden, in one of his first orders of business, signed 10 executive orders to combat the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, including one broadening the use of the Defence Production Act to expand vaccine production. The 1950 Korean War-era law enables the government to direct the manufacture of critical goods. He also mandated masks for travel, including in airports and on planes, ships, trains, buses and public transportation, and ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up vaccination centres and the CDC to make vaccines available through pharmacies starting next month. Biden has vowed to dispense 100 million shots in his first 100 days. “We’ll move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated for free,” he said. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been pleading for more doses. Appointments through Sunday for the first dose of the vaccine at 15 community vaccination hubs set up by the city health department were postponed to next week. Vaccinations in New York haven’t stopped, but demand for the shots now far exceeds the number of doses available, the mayor said. “It’s just tremendously sad that we have so many people who want the vaccine and so much ability to give the vaccine, what’s happening?” de Blasio said. “For lack of supply, we’re actually having to cancel appointments.” Rosa Schneider had jumped at the chance to make a vaccination appointment once she heard that educators like her were eligible in New York. A high school English teacher who lives in New York City but works in New Jersey, she said that a day before she was to be vaccinated on Wednesday at a city-run hospital, she got a call saying the supply had run out and the appointment was cancelled. “I was concerned, and I was upset,” said Schneider, 32, but she is trying daily to book another appointment. She is hopeful availability will improve in the coming weeks. ___ Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report from New York. Carla K. Johnson, Brian Melley And Karen Matthews, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
Nearly 20 new seats will be available for health-care assistants at the NVIT Merritt campus via an $8.4 million investment in education and training programs for people looking to secure jobs caring for BC’s seniors. “We’re moving forward with our plan to expand the number of health-care assistants working in B.C. to strengthen the level of care for people in long-term care homes and assisted-living residences,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The Health Career Access Program is underway and is already helping train workers for some of the most important jobs in B.C.” 600 new training seats will be created at public post-secondary institutions across the province as part of the Health Career Access Program, which was announced in Sept. 2020 and is expected to help meet the growing demand for health-care assistants in long-term care and assisted living residences. Those taking part in the Health Career Access Program will be hired as health-care support workers in long-term care and assisted living facilities where they will be paid while they work and complete the necessary coursework to become health-care assistants. This includes the 18 new seats NVIT can now accommodate. In addition, student who are completing a recognized health-care assistant program who commit to a 12-month-return-of-service and who choose to take employment in the long-term care or assisted living sector will be eligible for a $5,000 recruitment incentive. “Government is investing in relevant programs to enable people impacted by COVID-19 to upskill or reskill so they can return to work or advance their careers,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This funding for health-care assistant programs supports training for highly valued and respected workers who provide important daily care for our seniors in long-term care and assisted-living facilities.” Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit says it is ready to start rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and expects to get its first shipment in early February. Medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, addressed media Jan. 20 and said the unit submitted its rollout plan to the Ministry of Health earlier this week. Gemmill said although the date could change, the province has told the health unit to expect its first vaccines in early February. Vaccines will initially be directed to long-term care homes. “We are ready to go as soon as we get a vaccine available, with a focus on the residents, the staff and the essential caregivers in long-term care,” he said. Gemmill noted the region has relatively fewer cases, so it is a lower priority to receive the vaccine. But he added staff will be ready as soon as it does arrive. “The speed with which the general population will be protected will be determined by one factor only, and that is the supply of the vaccine,” he said. “We are going to have all hands-on deck.” Meanwhile, the district’s COVID cases are going down thanks to the Dec. 26 lockdown, according to Gemmill. There were only four new cases Jan. 20 – including zero in Haliburton – down from the 10-15 daily case average in the two weeks previous. “Our cases, at least for the last couple of days, have been diminishing. I hope that trend continues and I thank people for doing the things that need to be in place to make that happen.” However, the district saw a spike in cases the next day, with 40 new cases Jan. 21, including two in Haliburton. 35 of the cases were in Kawartha Lakes, which the health unit said was due to an outbreak at a long-term care come there. Snowmobile trails staying open The district is not planning to follow the lead of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit in closing Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club (OFSC) trails. “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19,” their medical officer of health, Dr. Jim Chirico, said. “The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously.” Their closure is effective Jan. 21. Gemmill said he does not intend to close local trails, but people need to follow the stay-at-home orders. “I have no problem with people going out for recreation,” Gemmill said. “But do keep within the spirit of the regulations so we don’t have transmission.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Irving Oil has laid off 60 workers from its Saint John refinery, saying the pandemic has had an "extreme and serious" impact on its business and industry. The company says it also reduced its contractor workforce to 225 workers from its average first-quarter workforce of about 1,000 earlier this year. Irving Oil says the collapse in demand for motor fuels, jet fuel and other refined products continues to create prolonged and significant challenges. In addition, it says extreme market volatility, serious negative impacts on refining margins and high levels of uncertainty about the depth and duration of the downturn have forced the company to make operational changes. The company says it's sorry for the impact the changes have had on its team, and it's committed to supporting its employees through the difficult transition. It says the 60 laid off workers represented about seven per cent of our Saint John refinery team. Irving Oil announced the layoffs in a statement on its website Thursday attributed to president Ian Whitcomb and executive vice-president and chief brand officer Sarah Irving. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has moved quickly to remove a number of senior officials aligned with former President Donald Trump from the Voice of America and the agency that oversees all U.S.-funded international broadcasting. The actions address fears that the U.S. Agency for Global Media was being turned into a pro-Trump propaganda outlet. The agency announced Thursday that VOA’s director and his deputy had been removed from their positions and that the head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting had resigned. The moves come just a day after President Joe Biden was sworn in and demanded the resignation of Trump’s hand-picked CEO of USAGM, Michael Pack. The agency said in a statement that VOA director Robert Reilly had been fired just weeks after having taken the job. He had been harshly criticized just last week for demoting a VOA White House correspondent who tried to ask former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a question after a town hall event. Two agency officials familiar with the matter said Reilly and his deputy, Elizabeth Robbins, were escorted from VOA's headquarters by security guards. The officials were not authorized to discuss personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, who was just recently appointed to run Cuba-focused broadcasters Radio and TV Marti, resigned at the request of the new administration, they said. Pack, who appointed all three of those terminated on Thursday, resigned just hours after Biden was inaugurated. Soon after his resignation, the Biden White House announced that a veteran VOA journalist, Kelu Chao, would head USAGM on an interim basis. Pack created a furor when he took over the agency last year and fired the boards of all the outlets under his control along with the leadership of the individual broadcast networks. The actions were criticized as threatening the broadcasters’ prized editorial independence. The moves raised fears that Pack, a conservative filmmaker and former associate of Trump’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon, intended to turn venerable U.S. media outlets into pro-Trump propaganda machines. His further actions did little to ease those concerns. Indeed, just on Tuesday he appointed new conservative members to the boards of Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. Biden had been expected to make major changes to the agency’s structure and management, and Pack’s early departure signalled that those would be coming sooner rather than later. Though many presidential appointees resign when a new administration comes in, Pack was not required to do so. His three-year position was created by Congress and was not limited by the length of a particular administration. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
New Brunswick's Green Party leader says that while the province has made some progress on meeting climate change goals, it's largely the result of years-old measures and new steps will be required to hit future targets. "We've got a ways to go," David Coon said in an interview Thursday. The province released a Climate Change Action Plan progress report comparing goals set in a 2016 plan to what has been accomplished. Thursday's report, and an accompanying news release, tout progress on 118 steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions by certain years and transition to a low-carbon economy. "New Brunswick has embraced its role as being part of the solution to the global challenge of climate change," Gary Crossman, the province's environment and climate change minister, said in the news release. "We will continue our work to make New Brunswick an environmentally sustainable province." But Coon said reductions in emissions so far can be traced to programs or initiatives started years ago. "There's been a number of studies going on, but not a lot of new initiatives at all," Coon said. Francine Landry, the Liberals' critic for environment and climate change, said the report does show there have been some positive steps, but more has to be done. "This is action that will protect the future of our planet, so we cannot just do the bare minimum," Landry said in an interview. Landry said she plans to take a deeper look at the report to compare what it says has been accomplished to what was outlined in the 2016 plan, a time when the Liberals were in power. The 2016 plan calls for the province to reduce emissions to 14.8 megatonnes in 2020, 10.7 megatonnes by 2030, and five megatonnes by 2050. Emissions were 13.2 megatonnes in 2018, the most recent available figure from Environment and Climate Change Canada. That's down from 20 megatonnes in 2005. "As such we have surpassed our 2020 target and are on our way towards our 2030 target," the report states. The 2016 plan set out specific goals, such as 2,500 electric vehicles on the road in New Brunswick by 2020. The progress report doesn't say how many are actually now on the road. There were 429 electric vehicles registered in the province at the end of 2019. The 2016 plan also laid out more significant goals, such as ending power production from burning coal. The federal government's climate plan requires phasing out burning coal as a power source by 2030. However, New Brunswick is seeking an agreement with the federal government to keep burning coal at the Belledune Generating Station. The report issued this week suggests continuing to burn coal while making "equivalent or better" emissions reductions, rather than phasing out coal. "This will result in a significant cost avoidance to electricity ratepayers while at the same time ensuring GHG emissions reductions," the report states. Mary-Anne Hurley-Corbyn, a spokesperson for the province's environment department, said in an email that negotiations with the federal government are ongoing. "It's problematic," Coon said of the effort to keep burning coal. "We need to make that transition over the next 10 years to a renewable-based energy system and to replace coal and the other fossil fuels and enable us to wind down the plant when it reaches the end of life." He said there should be more reliance on hydro power from Quebec or Labrador, which would require new transmission lines. He said the government should also address power demand with a greater emphasis on energy efficiency programs. Coon said that while the 2016 plan calls for more public transit, there have been cuts to transit in several cities and COVID-19 has also brought cuts to rail and inter-city busing. "We've got less public transit than we had," Coon said.
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, 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