Details of this damaging low pressure with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Details of this damaging low pressure with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
A weekly book club promoting early literacy is launching tomorrow on Family Literacy Day. The three EarlyON centres in Timmins have partnered to offer a free virtual storytime session for children and their families and caregivers. The book club will take place every Wednesday, starting Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Three different stories — in English, in French, and about Indigenous culture — will be read by a representative from each of the centre via Zoom. The three EarlyON centres are the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Timmins NEOFACS and Timmins YMCA. “This way, we’ll help families engage in literacy with their children and read books,” said Julie Nowlan, Timmins YMCA's early years co-ordinator. “Sometimes, they may not know which books to read or they may not have books at home either, so at least having the program every week, they have three books read to them.” All of the books can be counted toward the Timmins 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten (B4K) program. It is an early literacy program that encourages families and caregivers to read 1,000 books with their children before they go to kindergarten. “If you read three books a day for three years, you can get to 1,000 books before your child reaches kindergarten,” Nowlan said. "Literacy is always a big component in all our of our centres, so it’s nice to be able to offer that.” For each hit milestone, such as reading 100, 250, 500 and 750 books, children will receive a certificate and a prize. Once they read 1,000 books, they get a bigger prize and can start the program again. The program was launched last year in partnership with the Timmins Public Library. So far, there are 326 children registered for the Timmins 1,000 B4K program. “We had people hit their milestones of reaching 1,000 books,” said Gabriella Desmarais, Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB) program manager for EarlyON Child and Family Centre Quality Assurance. Once someone registers for the 1,000 Books B4K program, they will receive a literacy kit that contains a reading log, a book and all the information needed for the program. “We’re definitely going to continue it for sure,” Nowlan said about the virtual book club. “I assume it will continue until virtual programming is no longer. And if not, it will continue in our centre, so we’ll definitely read books when they come in and visit us.” The Zoom link for Jan. 27 book club meeting can be found here. Registration is not required to join the event. For more information about the Timmins 1000 Books B4K program, click here. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
NEW YORK — CBS has placed two top executives on administrative leave as it investigates charges of a hostile work environment for women and minorities at news operations in some of its largest individual stations. Peter Dunn, president of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, senior vice-president for news at the stations, are on leave pending the results of an external investigation. “CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary,” the network said in a statement. The accusations were outlined over the weekend in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and a subsequent meeting between CBS and the National Association of Black Journalists. Since 2009, Dunn has been head of stations owned and operated by CBS in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago and others. The Times said Dunn had referred to a Black male news anchor in Philadelphia as “just a jive guy." One executive at the station quit because she couldn't tolerate the culture and another has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relates Commission alleging he was fired for co-operating with an internal review of his bosses, the Times reported. The NABJ has said CBS stations lag in maintaining diverse staffs, saying New York's WCBS-TV had only one female Black full-time reporter and went five years without a male Black reporter. “This is toxic. There's no other way to put it,” said Ken Lemon, the NABJ's vice-president of broadcast, on Tuesday. Since the story was published, Lemon said he had talked to at least five other people with new experiences to tell about the working atmosphere at CBS. He said the NABJ is optimistic about the steps CBS has taken. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Months-long protests in India escalated on Tuesday as thousands of farmers clashed with police in New Delhi over new laws that they say will push small farmers out of the market and let private corporations exploit them.
DEER LAKE, N.L. — Police in Newfoundland and Labrador said they arrested a man with a "large quantity" of knives in a parking lot outside an election candidate's office Tuesday.A spokeswoman for Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said his campaign has been advised he was likely the intended target."The police investigation is ongoing, but from what we know so far we’d like to thank the members of the public who stepped in to do what they could to prevent an unimaginable outcome, and all police officers who ensured the safety of the public," Furey spokeswoman Meghan McCabe said in a release Tuesday evening."This is a traumatic incident, for everyone working and volunteering in Newfoundland and Labrador’s election."In a news release, RCMP said they were notified Tuesday morning about a man behaving strangely, talking about guns and saying he was going to Deer Lake in western Newfoundland to stop the provincial election, which is set for Feb. 13. Deer Lake is in the Humber-Gros Morne electoral district, where Furey is running, though McCabe confirmed he was not there at the time of the incident.Police said they found the man driving a truck just outside of Deer Lake and tried unsuccessfully to flag him down. A high-speed chase ensued as the man drove through the town and finally stopped in a parking lot at a local business, in which a provincial election candidate maintains an office, police said. "The man was removed from the vehicle and was arrested in the parking lot. Officers located and seized a large quantity of various knives inside the vehicle," RCMP said in the release. "The truck was seized and impounded."The release did not name the candidate but McCabe said in a statement that Furey's campaign was told he was likely the target. "Our team is connecting with the leadership of the other political parties and connecting with our team members on the ground in Deer Lake to offer support," she said. She said Furey would release another statement as more details become available.Police said there is no longer a concern for public safety and that they anticipate the man will be charged with "a number of criminal and traffic offences." The investigation is ongoing, they said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Village of Hussar has reason to celebrate 2020, from completing infrastructure upgrades, to overcoming financial constraints and cancelled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the village celebrates accomplishments in 2020, council is also looking forward to what 2021 will bring. Hussar Mayor Corey Fisher says upgrades to the water and sewer system along 2nd Avenue East, from Centre Street to 1st Street East, were completed “on time and on budget.” The village also completed demolition of the old Hussar School building. The school grounds were purchased by the village and Mayor Fisher says the village has “begun the process of annexation,” which will provide additional space for future projects. Big challenges for the village in 2020 were budget constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cancellation of community events such as Summer Daze and Canada Day celebrations. Mayor Fisher says, “We overcame (budget challenges) through steady management and a common sense approach to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.” The village held a socially distanced Light Up The Night event, with viewing limited to drive through only, on Saturday, December 5. Donations received from the event will be used for a new underground watering system for the Hussar Cemetery in the spring of 2021. Other projects scheduled for 2021 include paving of a key intersection at Centre Street and 2nd Avenue, with work anticipated to begin in the spring. “We look for a realistic ‘can we afford it’ approach for capital project spending and a ‘hold the line’ operations budget, while ensuring the village remains strong fiscally in 2021,” Mayor Fisher said. The Village of Hussar’s council for 2020 is made up of Mayor Corey Fisher, Deputy Mayor Les Schultz, and Councillor Tim Frank. Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
CAMEROON, Cameroon — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of the Trump administration’s cutoff and a key element of its new support for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills made the announcement of Biden’s approach to a high-level virtual Security Council meeting, saying the new U.S. administration believes this “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.” President Donald Trump’s administration provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, slashing financial assistance for the Palestinians and reversing course on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war. The international community considers both areas to be occupied territory, and the Palestinians seek them as parts of a future independent state. Israel has built a far-flung network of settlements that house nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem since their capture in 1967. The peace plan unveiled by Trump a year ago envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel, siding with Israel on key contentious issues including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements. It was vehemently rejected by the Palestinians. Mills made clear the Biden administration’s more even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” he said. Mills said peace can’t be imposed on either side and stressed that progress and an ultimate solution require the participation and agreement of Israelis and Palestinians. “In order to advance these objectives, the Biden administration will restore credible U.S. engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis,” he said. “This will involve renewing U.S. relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people,” Mills said. “President Biden has been clear that he intends to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic relations that were closed by the last U.S. administration,.” Mills said. Trump cut off funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency known as UNRWA, which was established to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948. It provides education, health care, food and other assistance to some 5.5 million refugees and their descendants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The U.S. was UNRWA’s major donor and the loss of funds has created a financial crisis for the agency. The Trump administration closed the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington in September 2018, effectively shutting down the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission to the United States. Mills said the United States hopes to start working to slowly build confidence on both sides to create an environment to reach a two-state solution. To pursue this goal, Mills said, “the United States will urge Israel’s government and the Palestinians to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement to violence, and providing compensation for individuals in prison for acts of terrorism.” Israel has accused the Palestinians of inciting violence and has vehemently objected to the Palestinian Authority paying families of those imprisoned for attacking or killing Israelis. Mills stressed that “the U.S. will maintain its steadfast support for Israel” -- opposing one-sided resolutions and other actions in international bodies that unfairly single out Israel and promoting Israel’s standing and participation at the U.N. and other international organizations. The Biden administration welcomes the recent normalization of relations between Israel and a number of Arab nations and will urge other countries to establish ties, Mills said. “Yet, we recognize that Arab-Israeli normalization is not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said. Mills stressed that the fraught state of Israeli-Palestinian politics, and the fact that trust between the two sides “is at a nadir,” don’t relieve U.N. member nations “of the responsibility of trying to preserve the viability of a two-state solution.” Before Mills spoke, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki sharply criticized the Trump administration for using “the United States’ might and influence to support Israel’s unlawful efforts to entrench its occupation and control” and reiterated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' hopes “for the resumption of relations and positive engagement.” “Now is the time to heal and repair the damage left by the previous U.S. administration,” he said. “We look forward to the reversal of the unlawful and hostile measures undertaken by the Trump administration and to working together for peace.” Malki called for revival of the Quartet of Mideast mediators -- the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia -- and reiterated Abbas’ call for an international peace conference “that can signal a turning point in this conflict.” He also expressed hope that “the U.S. will play an important role in multilateral efforts for peace in the Middle East.” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is convinced that the Quartet, working closely with both sides and Arab states, “can play a very, very effective role.” In support of Abbas’ call for an international conference, Lavrov proposed holding a ministerial meeting this spring or summer with the Quartet and Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as well as Saudi Arabia to analyze the current situation and assist “in launching a dialogue” between Israeli's and Palestinians. Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said “Palestinians suffered from unprecedented pressure from the former U.S. administration" and said the organization's 22 members look forward to Biden correcting Trump's actions and working with international and regional parties to relaunch “a serious peace process." But Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the council that instead of focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should focus on Iran, which “does not try to hide its intention of destroying the world’s only Jewish state.” On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he suggested that the council discuss what he called “the real obstacles to peace: Palestinian incitement and culture of hate.” Israel remains willing to make peace “when there is a willing partner,” Erdan said, accusing Abbas of inciting violence, and saying he should come to the negotiating table “without making outrageous demands and not call for another pointless international conference ... (which) is just a distraction.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Ice coverage on the Great Lakes hit record lows in January and is well below the seasonal average, prompting concerns from experts about the environmental impact caused by a lack of ice. As of Jan. 25, 7.7 per cent of the Great Lakes have frozen over, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a U.S. science agency. Ice levels were as low as 1.8 per cent on Jan. 15, a record-low for the mid-January period. The abnormally low levels in 2021 reflect a longstanding trend of Great Lakes ice coverage declining by about 5 per cent per decade since the 1970s. “The downward trend is a trend by global warming,” said Jia Wang, an ice climatologist with U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But this year’s significant low is the result of local weather patterns, which have the biggest impact on ice formation on the lakes. “On the Great Lakes, our local climate, like surface air temperature, is the main determinant of if the ice is severe or mild,” Wang said. He projects the maximum ice coverage this year will be 30 per cent, sometime in February or early March. The long-term average is 53 per cent. Lake Huron is hovering around 15 per cent ice coverage. The late-January long-term average is about 35 per cent. Erie, one of the shallowest lakes, is sitting at 8.8 per cent ice coverage as of Jan. 25, and that figure had been less than 1 per cent as early as last week, a far cry from the almost 50 per cent average. Wang said low ice levels bring a “negative impact more than a positive impact.” Save for a potential boon for lake freight shipping, which would be less reliant on ice breakers, lack of ice can devastate the Great Lakes environment. “What’s worrisome is this higher frequency of lower ice,” said Michael McKay, executive director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor, adding years with abnormally low ice are becoming more common. Since 2000, 14 of the last 21 years have had ice coverage levels below the 53 per cent average. McKay said ice cover on the Great Lakes has dropped 70 to 75 per cent in the past 40 to 50 years. “It has really run parallel to what we’re seeing the arctic and Antarctic,” he said. The effects of low ice on the Great Lakes can be felt throughout Southwestern Ontario. “This is going to exacerbate other problems we find in the lakes,” McKay said. One major challenge is the increased risk of shoreline erosion without the protection of ice coverage. “Ice cover in the winter can help protect coastal communities from erosion,” McKay said. “In Southwestern Ontario, we’ve seen regions on the Lake Erie coast that have caved in … in part because it no longer has had that protection because of ice cover and waves just keep slamming.” The runoff effects extend to inland communities too, like London and Huron and Perth Counties, which often are hit by lake effect snowstorms. Without ice on the lakes, prevailing winds pick up more precipitation and dump it in communities downwind. “We’ll continue to get hit by large snowfall when lakes remain ice-free,” McKay said. Blooms of cyanobacteria which have plagued the Great Lakes in recent years, also can be made worse by a lack of ice. Ice cover calms lake water in the winter and allows some runoff nutrients and contaminants to settle in the sediment. Without ice cover, more resuspension events occur, reintroducing the contaminates into the water, which contributes to cyanobacteria blooms. Fish too are impacted, with some species, like white fish, spawning in winter months and needing still waters so their eggs are not disturbed. And beyond the environmental impacts, McKay said less ice on the Great Lakes means losing a “cultural identified” for Canadians. “It's part of our identity, certainly in Canada, to have outdoor skating and ice fishing,” he said. While McKay said it may be past the point where actions to slow climate change could yield visible results within our lifetime, he said attention should still be paid to mitigating the effects that are indirectly related to the declines in Great Lakes ice cover. The good news, he said, is the waters are resilient. “Time and again, we’ve seen the lakes assaulted by various pressures, usually human-induced, things ranging from containments to invasive species, the (cyanobacteria) blooms,” McKay said. “It may not be exactly the same as it was before, but there’s a lot of resiliency in the lakes and they seem to bounce back and still be intact and important ecosystems.” (AS OF JAN. 25, 2021) Superior: 4 per cent Michigan: 6.7 per cent Huron: 15.3 per cent Erie: 8.8 per cent Ontario: 1.1 per cent St. Clair*: 33.8 per cent Great Lakes average: 7.7 per cent *Lake St. Clair is not technically a Great Lake firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Ojibway Park will be closed to the public from Wednesday to Friday for trail maintenance. The temporary closure will give staff time to replenish mulch on the trails, which will help maintain the safety of the paths for users, said the City of Windsor in a news release Tuesday. The maintenance is needed during the winter months when the ground is frozen and wildlife are hibernating, the city said. In the meantime, the city said there are other city-owned natural areas to explore including Black Oak Heritage Park, Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park, Spring Garden Natural Area, Oakwood Natural Area, South Cameron Natural Area and Little River Corridor. More from CBC Windsor
Some Tiny council members want some serious action being taken against big corporations that threaten the township's water supply. "We need to stop playing by the rules," said Coun. Gibb Wishart, addressing the question to appeal or not to appeal in the case of the renewal of the permit to take water (PTTW) for the Teedon Pit. "The reason the dump (Site 41) got stopped is that an old couple got arrested; First Nations were there and set up camp, nobody played by the rules. "I think if we play the game the ministry...," he was saying, when Mayor George Cornell cut him off to remind him that even at that time the council played by the rules. Even though Cornell was cautious about siding an appeal process in the matter, Coun. Tony Mintoff spoke his mind clearly. "Anything I’ve heard is overwhelmingly against any kind of operation there," he said. "I encourage council to put their concerns ahead of the province’s unwillingness to allow municipalities to decide what’s best for them within their boundary. "As members of council, it’s our obligation to represent the interests of our residents," added Mintoff. "My suggestion would be we clearly appeal every step." Another member of council, however, was a bit cautious about going the appeal route. "Maybe," said Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma.said, "the right course of action would be to break out some of our concerns around the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) process reform and how we work with the MOECP (Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) in future to make sure the municipality and adjacent landowners are notified of big decisions like this one. "Maybe this goes back to our flaws in the first appeal or commenting process with regards to monitoring water quality." Walma also suggested that if the council does plan on appealing the renewal, it should hold further discussions in-camera. "We have a community member that has made significant upgrades and worked with the township on our comments to date," he added. "There was no need for them to install that many wells. They could have gotten away with a lot less. I think that’s something we want to maintain. It’s a good working relationship so in the future we can share our concerns with them. I think going the legal route potentially cuts those options down." The discussion came forth after council had heard the united plea -- save our water --- from various residents of Tiny and beyond that made deputations to elected officials at Tuesday's special council meeting. Council had convened a special session after it became aware of the Jan. 14 decision by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks to renew a 10-year PTTW for CRH Canada Group Inc., which operates the aggregate quarry. "The approval of the water taking permit may compromise the quality of this water," said Tiny resident Bonnie Pauzé. "As elected officials, we, the taxpayers are putting it all on your shoulder to stop this potential disaster. Every single voter drinks water. Do we want to go down in history as heroes that protected and saved one of the world's purest aquifers? Please don't disappoint us. We need you to step up to the plate. Protect the water." Similar messages were presented by others as well. "Our water needs are being undermined for the sake of a global business," said Erik Schomann, another Tiny resident. "The cost business analysis as I have been able to tell is incomplete. There was no announcement regarding the permit, no civilian insight." Even residents of Guelph had joined in the fight. "Matters of groundwater protection are of extreme concern to people across the province," said Karen Rathwell. "The community is asking for a pause; time to study this phenomenon. Once the overburden is scraped away and the digging eats away through the layers of protection, the groundwater is exposed to pollution." According to the township's legal counsel, Sarah Hahn, if the township decides to appeal, it has to clear a two-part test to seek leave to appeal. "First, you look at whether granting of the permit or any conditions within are unreasonable," she said, explaining that this means, "No reasonable person having regard for law and policies have issued the permit. It’s a pretty high test to have to reach. Secondly, could it result to significant harm to the environment. "It’s not a will, it’s a could, so I think there’s some grounds there," added Hahn. "The test for reasonableness is quite high. Having some evidence that what the ministry did was unreasonable is certainly something we would want to put forward if an appeal was brought." The township said they were satisfied with the conclusion drawn by the professional hydrogeologist, who said the ministry had addressed the municipality's concerns laid out in a 2018 letter to the ministry. "Staff’s opinion is that we rely on our experts and in this case it’s Burnside," said Shawn Persaud, director of planning and development. "Based on their letter, we recommend the township not file an appeal relative to the permit to take water." In his Jan. 25 letter, Dave Hopkins, senior hydrogeologist with R. J. Burnside and Associates Ltd., states that ministry has met and addressed the requests laid out by the township in 2018. "The new PTTW has a much more robust monitoring program than the original PTTW and addresses the Township’s request for additional wells," reads his conclusion. "The monitoring program will be completed, and the annual report is to be prepared by a qualified person (P. Geo. or equivalent). "The Permit requires that an annual report documenting the monitoring well results be submitted to the MECP (MOECP). This will allow the MECP to evaluate the impacts of pumping and make any necessary additions to the monitoring program/permitted rates as required. The PTTW also requires the monitoring of specific domestic wells, which is unusual. "Residents, who feel that their wells may have been impacted, may wish to contact CRH to have their well added to the monitoring program. It is Burnside’s opinion, that all of the Township comments have been addressed by the MECP and the conditions included in the new PTTW." Wishart, however, felt all concerns had not been addressed. "I think the major issue that the township is up against the wall with is that we’re talking about water quality, not the serviceability of a gravel pit," he said. "The province doesn’t seem to address that at all. They dance around saying that the various authorities, namely the gravel pit operators, operate within the guidelines that they’re given. "They’ve answered all the questions we had, but we’re talking about water quality and the potential," added Wishart. "We have no proof at all. All we have is the wish they not take away the filtering medium between the sky and the water." Based on that, he asked, does the province even want to hear us if we conclude that they’re not answering our questions? Mintoff didn't seem to think so. "The MOECP didn’t inform us," he said, "and gave us only 15 days to prepare with documented support, so clearly in their mind they didn’t want an appeal. I think they gave us scant time to prepare for these appeals because they’re not welcoming." Mintoff said he would like to see council adopt the two principles that it doesn’t support the taking of aggregate or washing it in an environmentally sensitive area. Further, he said, the municipality also asked that no further licences be issued until a water study by Dr. John Cherry, professor emeritus at University of Waterloo, has produced its findings. "One of the basic risk management principles is to weigh the risks and rewards," said Mintoff. "In my opinion, CRH gets all the rewards and the township and residents assume all the risks. If their experts are wrong, what are the consequences and who is going to live with them? I don’t think it’s going to be CRH." He said he was tired of hearing that ministries are understaffed or under-resourced and don’t have the wherewithal to operate effectively. "They cannot be, in my opinion, entrusted to protect our most valuable resource," said Mintoff. "We need to err on the side of caution. There’s nothing in it for us, only serious potential for impact on water quality and other environmental components." He also offered a somewhat long-term solution to the situation. "Perhaps it’s time for us to offer the purchase of these specific properties at fair market value and once rehabilitated by the current owners, we could create public-private partnerships to use this land to create more affordable housing," said Mintoff. "And if they choose to decline our offer, then we should look at the practicality of the legal feasibility of expropriating that property in order to do so." Unable to decide whether to appeal or not, council moved into an in-camera session around other matters, promising to reconvene at 1 p.m. Wednesday to further discuss the issue. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he remains confident in Canada's vaccine supplies despite threats from Europe that it might impose export controls on vaccines produced on that continent. Speaking to reporters outside his Ottawa residence Tuesday morning, Trudeau said the situation in Europe is worrisome but he is "very confident" Canada is going to get all the COVID-19 vaccine doses promised by the end of March. And despite the sharp decline in deliveries of a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech this month, he said Canada will still vaccinate all Canadians who want shots by the end of September. "We will continue to work closely with Europe to ensure that we are sourcing, that we are receiving the vaccines that we have signed for, that we are due," Trudeau said. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video statement posted to Twitter Tuesday that Europe will set up a "vaccine export transparency mechanism" so Europe knows exactly how many doses are being produced in the world's largest trading bloc and where they are being shipped. "Europe invested billions to help develop the world‘s first COVID-19 vaccines to create a truly global common good," she said. "And now the companies must deliver." Europe is also getting smaller shipments from Pfizer than promised, because the company temporarily slowed production at its plant in Belgium so it can be expanded. AstraZeneca has also warned Europe its first shipments of vaccine will be smaller than expected because of production problems. But Europe, which invested more than C$4 billion in vaccine development, is demanding the companies fulfil their contracts on time. "Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good but it also means business," said von der Leyen. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said she had spoken to her European counterpart, Valdis Dombrovskis, about the situation and will keep working with Europe to keep the supply chain open. "There is not a restriction on the export of vaccines to Canada," Ng said in question period. Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner accused Ng of playing games with her response, noting the issue isn't that there is an export ban now, but that Europe is threatening to impose one. With all of Canada's current vaccine doses coming from Europe, "that's a concern," Rempel Garner said. "If the Europeans ban exports of vaccines, what's Plan B for Canada?" she asked. Both Pfizer and Moderna are making doses of their vaccine in the U.S. and in Europe, but all U.S.-made doses are currently only shipped within the U.S. Former U.S. president Donald Trump invoked the Defence Production Act last year to prevent export of personal protection equipment. He then signed an executive order in December demanding U.S.-produced vaccines be prioritized for Americans only and threatened to use the act to halt vaccine exports as well. President Joe Biden has already invoked the act to push for faster production of PPE and vaccines. Though he has not specifically mentioned exports, Biden has promised 100 million Americans will be vaccinated within his first 100 days of office, making the prospects the U.S. shares any of its vaccine supply unlikely. Canada has contracts with five other vaccine makers, but only two are on the verge of approval here. AstraZeneca, which has guaranteed Canada 20 million doses, needs to finish a big U.S. trial before Health Canada decides whether to authorize it. Johnson and Johnson is to report results from its Phase 3 trial next week, one of the final things needed before Health Canada can make a decision about it. Canada is to get 10 million doses from Johnson and Johnson, but it is the one vaccine that so far is administered as only a single dose. Trudeau said AstraZeneca isn't supplying Canada from its European production lines. A spokeswoman for Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada will not say where the other vaccines are coming from because of the concerns about security of supplies. AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson have set up multiple production lines in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia and Africa. Canada has no current ability to produce either those vaccines or the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It is entirely reliant on foreign production at the moment. More than 113,000 people in Canada have received two full doses of either the Moderna or BioNTech vaccine. Another 752,000 have received a single dose. But the reduction in Pfizer shipments to Canada forced most provinces to slow the pace of injections. Europe, Mexico, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia also have slowed their vaccination campaigns because of the supply limits. Trudeau said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla assured him the full shipments will resume in mid-February, and that Canada will get its contracted four million doses by the end of March. He said he spoke to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel Tuesday morning and was promised Moderna's shipments of two million doses by March 31 are also on track. MPs were scheduled to have an emergency debate on Canada's vaccine program Tuesday night. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Typically in Canadian elections, Conservatives promise to balance budgets while Liberals accuse them of hiding secret agendas to cut public services — but not in Newfoundland and Labrador. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says he has no plans to balance the provincial budget within a four-year mandate if he's elected on Feb. 13. Instead, the Tory leader says he'll help grow the economy through government spending. Crosbie's position is a rebuttal to what he claims is Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey's secret plan for budget cuts. The reversal of traditional roles among the two main parties is beffudling to Tim Powers, managing director of polling and market research company Abacus Data. "I feel like I'm watching and living in what a toddler would describe as 'Opposite Day,'" he said in an interview Monday. "It really is a strange thing to see the Conservatives accusing the Liberals of effectively having a hidden agenda." He adds: "Somewhere Stephen Harper is smiling," referring to similar allegations that were lobbed for years by the Liberals against the former Conservative prime minister. Newfoundland and Labrador has always marched to the beat of its own drum, Powers said, adding that the province's distinct nature is likely not going to change in a winter election held in the midst of a global pandemic. Polls had Furey with a robust lead over Crosbie before the Liberal leader called the election on Jan. 15. Crosbie is working to close that gap by promising to increase government spending and by pressuring Furey to release what he calls the "Greene report" before the Feb. 13 vote. The so-called Greene report is what Crosbie calls the review of government services and spending undertaken by an economic recovery team assembled by Furey in the fall. The team is chaired by Moya Greene, a St. John's-born businesswoman with a reputation for privatization. A draft of the report is due two weeks after election day. Crosbie's approach is "risky," Powers said, adding that the hidden agenda narrative might be hard for the public to swallow. Furey, meanwhile, has made a series of low-cost and low-key promises, while skirting discussion about the province's troubling financial situation, which includes a $16.4-billion net debt, Powers said. Even before the pandemic hit, the province's flirtation with insolvency was big enough news that Manitoba millionaire Walter Schroeder financed a national musical theatre production about it. The Liberal leader's strategy could pay off, Powers said. "Elections are no time to talk about policy," he joked. "And that's not entirely unusual in Newfoundland (and Labrador) campaigns; they can be about personalities." Furey is a young surgeon who founded Team Broken Earth, a non-profit that sends volunteer health-care workers to Haiti and to a few other countries. He has connections to the federal government through his father, George Furey, the current Speaker of the Senate. During a campaign stop in Labrador on Tuesday, Furey told reporters he wants to remain premier because he wants to rebuild the province's prosperity. Crosbie is a lawyer and the son of notoriously outspoken politician John Crosbie, and he's not without his quirks: In his 20s, he lived on a kibbutz in northern Israel and he's a noted practitioner of yoga. "More recently, I got into doing Kundalini-style yoga," he said in a recent interview. Powers says the Tory leader has a few more public relations hurdles to overcome than Furey does. Crosbie famously refused to concede the 2019 election and then apologized, admitting later that he was perhaps not the most charismatic candidate. Crosbie said he sees a "Progressive Conservative" as a progressive in social policy and conservative in spending — as long, he said, as the province can afford it. "And we can't afford it at the moment," he said. Powers says voters are looking for more than accusations of hidden agendas and campaign promises that downplay the province's financial problems. "There are real issues that all of the leaders and all of the parties should be talking about," Powers said. "The Newfoundland and Labrador public is not dumb, and they know that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
Dr. Jeannette Armstrong is the associate professor in Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan (UBCO) campus. Armstrong was one of three speakers discussing systemic racism in science in a conversations on Indigenous knowledge in academia. Indigenous people still face systemic racism, and their voices are often left unheard, said Ananya Mukherjee Reed, provost and vice-president of UBCO during her opening remarks of the Jan. 20 webinar. During the two-hour discussion, three Indigenous leaders and researchers discussed some of the differences and misunderstandings of Indigenous knowledge and western science, as well as the impacts of what they framed “environmental racism.” Armstrong, who shared a Syilx Okanagan perspective, spoke alongside Aaron Prosper from Eskasoni First Nation, and Elder Albert Marshall from the Mi’kmaw Nation. “In these times of climate change, societal disease and diseases, we need Indigenous knowledge,” said Armstrong. As Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy, Armstrong has been recognized for her award-winning literary work on education, ecology and Indigenous rights. Indigenous knowledge remains overlooked in academia, particularly in science, because unlike a western scientific method, Indigenous knowledge is not evidence-based, according to Armstrong. Indigenous knowledge is focused on a holistic perspective incorporating traditional knowledge and lived experiences, she says. “A general definition of Indigenous knowledge consists of those beliefs, assumptions, and understandings of non-western people developed through long-term associations with a specific place,” Armstrong told participants during the event. “Therefore, Indigenous knowledge is considered the second tier of knowledge, that is, below science. This is racist.” According to Prosper, Indigenous knowledge has been misused or co-opted within the scientific field. “Indigenous people had knowledge prior to Western scientific knowledge, in terms of traditional medicine,” said Prosper, who studies Indigenous Health and Indigenous Ethics & Research Methodologies. “In my personal opinion, there is a significant issue within the scientific field when it comes to racism, systemic racism.” Prosper feels Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous information or data should be valued the same as Western scientific knowledge. “Usually what you see done is an Elder getting interviewed, getting traditional knowledge taken out, and then the researcher collects the data as a western methodology, to interpret that data, which makes it incorrect,” Prosper explained. Marshall believes two-eyed seeing is the transformative change society needs to understand and incorporate Indigenous knowledge. “Being Indigenous, I see everything through my Indigenous lens,” said Marshall, who says ‘two-eyed seeing’ means a worldview which reconciles and incorporates Indigenous ways of knowing and western scientific ways of knowing. “To see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledge, and to see from the other eye with the strengths of Western science knowledge and to use both of these eyes together, is two-eyed seeing.” Indigenous knowledge systems can offer society solutions for living in balance with the environment, the speakers stressed. According to Armstrong, the Syilx Okanagan people view the land as a dynamic system, and their sole purpose is to protect the tmxwulaxw (land) and tmixw (all living lifeforms). “In the Syilx view, the human duty is to perceive how the tmixw are regenerating themselves and how therefore the human must move forward in unity with them,” she said. “Immersion in the knowledge of tmixw allows us to view its reality and makes it possible for the aliveness of each separate life form.” During the webinar, environmental racism was discussed. “In the context of environmental racism, the government had been failing to shut down treatment plants in Indigenous communities,” Prosper told participants. The Pictou Landing First Nation community in Nova Scotia is east of Boat Harbour and is utilized for traditional fishing and hunting. “This place is a significant importance to the Pictou Landing First Nation community,” he said. According to Prosper, Boat Harbour has been receiving wastewater effluent from the industry, and the government has neglected health concerns from the Indigenous people living there. The government told the community that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to make a change, he says. “The government told the people, there’s no evidence of this effluent that we’re putting into boat harbour is affecting the health of the people,” says Prosper. “If our environment is not healthy, how can we be healthy?” said Marshall. Marshall said Indigenous Peoples need to amplify our voices, to protect the environment for future generations. People cannot live in silence, he says, allowing the government to continuously destroy the land. “The government needs to be held accountable because all they do is compromise the ecological entirety of the area, and they compromise the system,” Marshall says. “I was taught, while you stay here on earth, you have to be mindful for the next generations. Most importantly, the future generations will have the same opportunity as we had, of being able to sustain themselves in a healthy environment.” Armstrong is committed to pursuing an alternative academic approach to Indigenous environmental knowledge in her research and study. She has created a methodology that she says may assist as a model in Indigenous Peoples’ struggle to include Indigenous knowledge in the academy. “I am developing better access to Indigenous knowledge through Indigenous oral literature situated as the knowledge documentation system of the Syilx peoples,” Armstrong explains. Marshall is working on cultural understandings and healing of our human responsibilities to care for all creatures and our Earth Mother through two-eyed seeing. “These essentials of the web of life should be protected under the charter of human rights because they constitute to me, a climate emergency,” says Marshall. In response, Prosper is committed to approaching his research mindfully. “How do Indigenous communities consent to research when they were exposed to these unethical experiments, whether be in the residential school or within their own communities?” Prosper asked the group. “We have to be mindful when engaging with Indigenous communities.” “Even the most adverse individuals are still dealing with various issues as a result of their experience with colonialism, and they are still trying to reconcile that.” Prosper acknowledges that little progress in the scientific field has been made, but a lot of work needs to be done. “Yes, we’ve been a lot done within 100 years. Have we done a great job? I don’t think so,” explained Prosper. “I think it’s going to take another hundred years to see a difference.” This event is the second of three examining racism in science, specifically from Indigenous perspectives, with the final one, planned for the spring, will explore Black scientists’ views. Editor’s note: Jeannette Armstrong is reporter Athena Bonneau’s grandmother. At IndigiNews, we take journalistic independence seriously, adhering to the Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines. Due to Armstrong’s role at UBCO and participant in the webinar as an elder and knowledge keeper, we felt it was important to include her perspective in this piece. Athena Bonneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
KELOWNA, B.C. — An attempted murder trial came to an abrupt end Tuesday when a man from West Kelowna, B.C., pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother. Kevin Barrett admitted to savagely beating and choking Eleanor Holmes before throwing her down a forest ravine. An agreed statement of facts presented in court by Crown attorney Patricia O'Neil says Barrett's 79-year-old mother decided to "play dead," believing that would spare her further assault. Holmes had been expected to testify Tuesday when the Crown and defence attorneys told the judge the 59-year-old Barrett had agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge. During the sentencing portion of the trial, the court heard Barrett has bipolar disorder, frequently goes off his medication and his mental-health problems are exacerbated by a history of alcohol use. The court heard that Barrett was often verbally abusive toward his mother, although she allowed him to live with her in a trailer park after the rest of the family turned their backs on him. “She loved him and she did not want him to be homeless," O’Neil said. On April 29, 2019, Barrett was in a loving mood, the court heard. "Mr. Barrett kissed Mrs. Holmes and told her she was the best mom a man his age could ever have,” O'Neil said. But when Barrett asked for his mother to drive him somewhere and she said no, he flew into a violent rage, the court heard. Holmes told investigators it was as if her son had turned into “Satan himself,” O'Neil said. Barrett savagely beat his mother, using both his fists and a blunt object to hit her in the face, head, neck, stomach, and legs. He yanked out much of her hair, hit her so hard her dentures were dislodged, bit her, and choked her with a seatbelt, the court heard. "Mrs. Holmes believed Mr. Barrett was going to kill her," O'Neil said. Barrett dragged his mother out of the vehicle and tossed her down a 100-metre embankment towards a creek. He then used her bank card to buy liquor and ice cream before returning to her trail, the court heard. Despite her serious injuries, Holmes was able to climb the embankment and was found, barefoot, bloodied and cold, by a West Kelowna couple, the agreed statement says. Barrett was quickly arrested at the trailer and has been in custody for almost two years. O'Neil said Holmes told investigators last year that she loved her son and forgave him for what he had done to her. “That speaks to the depth of her compassion as well as the profoundness of a mother's attachment to her child,” O’Neil said. However, in a brief victim impact statement written by Holmes earlier this week and read into the court record on Tuesday, Holmes said: “I’m terrified of Kevin. I’m old and have a bad heart. I do not want Kevin back here.” (Kelowna Daily Courier) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Ron Seymour, Kelowna Daily Courier, The Canadian Press
Public health regulations in the Sudbury district could be made even more restrictive than the current lockdown and stay-at-home order if a variant of the COVID-19 virus somehow increases the number of infections. The issue was discussed in an online interview hosted by Science North on Monday with Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for the Public Health Sudbury and Districts. Staff scientist Katrina Pisani joined Sutcliffe for a 40-minute discussion on why the COVID-19 guidelines in Ontario keep changing. Pisani told the online audience the purpose of the discussion was to get a better understanding of why guidelines change and what the public needs to know about the current emergency regulations and the stay-at-home order currently in place. On Monday afternoon, the province decided to expand the order for an additional two weeks. Sutcliffe said despite some initial confusion, the order was simple and direct. "So the stay-at home order is exactly that for all Ontarians, to stay home unless it is really essential that you're not at home." She said it is intended to be as simple as possible notwithstanding some of the confusion about it. This is despite speculation and questions that people might have about every little excuse to somehow get around essential reasons for leaving home. Sutcliffe said essential reasons could include such things as picking up groceries, going to the pharmacy, getting health care or doing some essential work that cannot be done from home. "It's different from the lockdown, because the lockdown is one of the areas of the coded phases for management of COVID in our province. And so those that were in the gray or lockdown parts of our province meant that they had high rates of COVID-19 and there are specific requirements there, but not an overall stay-at-home order as we have now, really to protect our health and our health-care system as we have seen rates of the disease really increase across the province," said Sutcliffe. Pisani asked about the importance of one's mental health, because some people believe it is important to get out of the house for something like a walk around the block. Sutcliffe said it was an important point as the pandemic has left many people feeling isolated, not being able to engage with their friends or their families as they would normally. She added it has had an impact on people with addictions and risks associated with drug overdoses. Sutcliffe said the stay-at-home order does allow people to go outside for exercise. It allows you to spend time with members of your own household, but not to have more than five people when you are gathered outdoors and no gatherings indoors. Sutcliffe said from the public health perspective the order does recognize the importance of having time outdoors. She said it is understood the risk of the virus outdoors is lower, with fresh air and better ventilation by not being in an enclosed space, but it is still important to wear a face mask when one is close to others in the outdoors. When asked if the outdoor activities could be made more restrictive, Sutcliffe said that had more to do not necessarily with an increase in active COVID-19 cases, but more about the kind of virus that presents itself. "People will be aware that there are the variants of concern (VOC) or different variants; the UK Variant, the South African Variant, the Brazil Variant that we understand are more transmissible," Sutcliffe explained. It was revealed Monday afternoon that a variant of the COVID virus might have infected a Sudbury person who had been travelling. That person is now in isolation. "The big concern is, as those get more commonplace and spread in our communities, what additional public health measures might be needed to prevent transmission?" said Sutcliffe. "If something is so transmissible that it might require further restrictions outdoors then those decisions, based on science, will have to be made," she added. "But really I think that the kind of virus we are seeing and the transmissibility is a big factor in that. If we're finding that being outdoors people are still gathering together closely, then there might be additional measures and we know that's been the case in some parts of the province put in place." Pisani mentioned the situation of the North Bay Parry Sound district health unit, where it was decided earlier this month that snowmobiling, outdoor skating and tobogganing would be banned for the time being. Sutcliffe also acknowledged that the pandemic is indeed frustrating and people are having a difficult time with it. “I think we are tired of hearing that we are all in it together, but we are still all in it together. And that means Team Sudbury, or Team Northern Ontario or Team Ontario or Team World. You know we are all in this together and we need to support each other.” Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday rescinded a Trump-era memo that established a “zero tolerance” enforcement policy for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, which resulted in thousands of family separations. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued the new memo to federal prosecutors across the nation, saying the department would return to its longstanding previous policy and instructing prosecutors to act on the merits of individual cases. “Consistent with this longstanding principle of making individualized assessments in criminal cases, I am rescinding — effective immediately — the policy directive,” Wilkinson wrote. Wilkinson said the department’s principles have “long emphasized that decisions about bringing criminal charges should involve not only a determination that a federal offence has been committed and that the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction, but should also take into account other individualized factors, including personal circumstances and criminal history, the seriousness of the offence, and the probable sentence or other consequences that would result from a conviction.” The “zero tolerance” policy meant that any adult caught crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted for illegal entry. Because children cannot be jailed with their family members, families were separated and children were taken into custody by Health and Human Services, which manages unaccompanied children at the border. While the rescinding of “zero tolerance” is in part symbolic, it undoes the Trump administration’s massively unpopular policy responsible for the separation of more than 5,500 children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border. Most families have not been prosecuted under zero tolerance since 2018, when the separations were halted, though separations have continued on a smaller scale. Practically, the ending of the policy will affect mostly single men who have entered the country illegally. “While policies may change, our mission always remains the same: to seek justice under the law," Wilkinson wrote in the memo. President Joe Biden has issued an executive order to undo some of Trump’s restrictive policies, but the previous administration has so altered the immigration landscape that it will take quite a while to untangle all the major changes. Some of the parents separated from their children were deported. Advocates for the families have called on Biden to allow those families to reunite in the United States. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with Trump and other top leaders in his administration, were bent on curbing immigration. The “zero tolerance” policy was one of several increasingly restrictive policies aimed at discouraging migrants from coming to the Southern border. Trump’s administration also vastly reduced the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. and all but halted asylum at the border, through a combination of executive orders and regulation changes. The policy was a disaster; there was no system created to reunite children with their families. A report from the Justice Department’s inspector general, released earlier this month, found that the policy led to a $227 million funding shortfall. Children suffered lasting emotional damage from the separations and the policy was criticized as grossly inhumane by world leaders. The policy began April 6, 2018, under an executive order that was issued without warning to other federal agencies that would have to manage the policy, including the U.S. Marshals Service and Health and Human Services. It was halted June 20, 2018. A federal judge ordered the families to be reunited and is still working to do so. The watchdog report also found that Sessions and other top officials knew the children would be separated under the policy and encouraged it. Justice officials ignored concerns from staff about the rollout and did not bother to set up a system to track families in order to reunite them. Some children are still separated. ___ Follow Balsamo and Long on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and https://twitter.com/ctlong1. Michael Balsamo And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Shortly after the House of Commons voted unanimously to call on the Trudeau government to identify the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he'll listen to the intelligence collected by the country's security agencies before deciding on next steps. "To be clear: the decision to list any organization as a terrorist entity is based on intelligence and evidence collected by our national security agencies," said the minister in a statement sent to CBC News last night. "Terrorist designations are not a political exercise." Canadian authorities have been collecting information about the far-right Proud Boys group as part of a possible terrorist designation following reports about the organization's role in this month's deadly U.S. Capitol attack. Multiple media reports have linked Proud Boys members to those who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., after a speech by then-U.S. president Donald Trump on Jan. 6. Last week, a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys was arrested for taking part in the siege. The Canadian government has not said if the Proud Boys will be added to Canada's formal list of terrorist groups. Such a move would come with immediate ramifications for the group; financial institutions would freeze their assets and it would become a crime to knowingly deal with the group. "We're very mindful of ideologically motivated violent extremists, including groups like the Proud Boys. They're white supremacists, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynist groups. They're all hateful, they're all dangerous," Blair told CTV News in an interview earlier this month. "Our national security officials are very mindful of these individuals. They're gathering intelligence. They bring that intelligence before me and I bring it before cabinet ... We're working very diligently to ensure that where the evidence is available, where we have the intelligence, that we'll deal appropriately with those organizations." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh brought forward a motion Monday calling on the government "to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacist and hate groups, starting with immediately designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity." 'Pretty direct politicization of the process' While the motion is non-binding, it has some national security experts troubled by what they see as the politicalization of the terror list. "The issue I have is by including the call to list the Proud Boys, it is a call for the government to engage in a legal process and with a predetermined outcome," said Leah West, a former Department of Justice lawyer and now a national security professor at Carleton University. "I tend to have issues with parliamentarians asking for certain criminal law effects to take place on individuals in the House of Commons. I think that there should be a separation between parliamentarians and a process that, in this case, is not a typical criminal law process but is a legal process that could have a criminal effect." West said she worries about setting a precedent. She pointed to statements by some MPs in early 2020 describing Indigenous-led rail blockades as terrorism and asking whether the groups protesting should be added to the terror list. "There's nothing to stop a similar type of motion from being brought to the House floor around Indigenous or environmental protesters who arguably engage in activity that could give rise to meeting the threshold," she said. "I just want us to be careful [and avoid] approaching listing terrorist entities in the same way we saw with the Trump administration in the U.S., where basically [he] used terrorist listings as a way of condemning groups that were unfavourable, or his enemies, or that were critical of the government" Jessica Davis, a former senior intelligence analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who now heads Insight Threat, called the vote "a pretty direct politicization of the process." "All of these MPs should know better in terms of how the process actually works. It's been well-articulated. They have access to information about how these things happen," she said. "This motion is meant, I guess, to put pressure on the government to list a group, but we don't even know yet if the group meets a technical threshold." A spokesperson for the NDP said the party isn't trying to politicize the process, but argued the Proud Boys are an undeniable threat to the United States and Canada both. "The rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazi [organizations] is an underestimated threat in Canada and people are scared. Canadians don't want to see what happened in the U.S. happen here in Canada. We need actions and we need them, now," said Melanie Richer. Decision lies with minister According to the Department of Public Safety, the process of designating a terrorist group begins with a report from the RCMP and CSIS detailing "reasonable grounds to believe that the entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity; or the entity is knowingly acting on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with, an entity involved in a terrorist activity." That report is reviewed by the minister of public safety. If the minister has reasonable grounds to believe that the group in question meets the threshold, the minister makes a recommendation to cabinet to place the entity on the list. Davis said the process could use more transparency and clarity from the government about the criteria used to make a determination. Created in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the terrorist designation list includes more than 50 organizations. Many of them are Islamist terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and ISIS. Two far-right groups — Blood & Honour, an international neo-Nazi network, and its armed wing, Combat 18 — were added in June 2019 under the public safety minister at the time, Ralph Goodale. Where does the government draw the line? "The activities that the groups are engaged in range really dramatically from al-Qaeda — who we know conducted many large-scale, high-impact attacks and inspired many others — to Combat 18, who seem to have committed one politically motivated assault and a firebombing," said Davis. "There's a lot of daylight between those two examples. "So where is that criteria? Because if it's closer to the Combat 18, I think that that's more of a problem. It really allows a very expansive definition of terrorism in this country." West said the process is not above political influence but it has some safeguards in place. "So it's not that there is no politics involved in this, in that it is a cabinet decision. But it's not unusual in the realm of national security for ministers to be making decisions like this," said West. "This decision is also reviewable by a federal court to ensure that that the minister's decision is reasonable and compliant with the statutory requirements set out in the Criminal Code." Davis said the process is inherently political because it's a cabinet decision — but bringing in a multi-party committee into the process or striking a committee of bureaucrats could remove at least some of the political taint. "So there's a number of ways to move that ministerial responsibility, but at the same time, I think that it is important that the government be responsible for this list," she said
Tisdale town council is looking to change their zoning bylaws after a letter was sent to the council from a resident regarding potentially putting in a secondary suite at their home. During the Jan. 25 council meeting, the council discussed the possibility of allowing these suites for additional income for property owners, said Brad Hvidston, Tisdale’s administrator. The bylaw received its first reading during the meeting with the town hosting a public meeting in March to discuss the change further and allow the public to voice any concerns that they may have. There was little discussion going into the first reading of the bylaw with councillors not having many concerns regarding secondary suites at this time, Hvidston said. February might bring even more changes to the town’s zoning bylaws, he said, as the town will be taking a deeper look at their zoning and community plans. “We're just going to be starting our first meeting consultation process here in February. So we fully expected our whole zoning bylaws going to be redone by June or July for the whole town and the RM. We're doing it as a joint regional project with them.” The last time the zoning bylaw was examined by staff and council was 2005, Hvidston said, so it is time to have that deeper look and see that zones have been adhered to and that the current zones make sense. “We've done a ton of amendments to the zoning bylaw. Even just to follow the zoning bylaw now is getting tougher and tougher because you've got to follow up on all the amendments and changes.” Out buildings, like garages, shipping containers, and sheds, is one area that the town will definitely have to take a closer look at since that part of the zoning bylaw has faced many amendments over the years, Hvidston said. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Colin Ratushniak is happy to see a new batch of vaccines coming into his town of La Ronge the past week. The first batch of first dose Moderna vaccines was delivered on Jan. 8, with the newly elected mayor of La Ronge getting the vaccine himself when it first arrived. Ratushniak said he was happy to see the second round of first vaccines coming to La Ronge later in January but he is expecting more challenges coming their way. “There has to be a lot more management to make sure that the second dosages are available for those people who already did receive the first one. It's going to become a little bit more challenging to make sure that happens.” Ratushniak has full trust in the health care providers in La Ronge but that will be something to be made aware of as residents reach that 28-day second dose period. The rollout has been chaotic, he said, with eligible people only given hours of notice for when they can get the vaccine. During the Jan. 19 press conference, Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone addressed the issue of the lack of social media and cell phone usage among Saskatchewan seniors, and said they are currently using the same infrastructure as they would with getting information out about flu clinics. With the storage needs of the vaccine being a challenge in small communities, time is of the essence when administering the vaccine and the Health Authority is still working on the best ways of getting the word out to those who are eligible to receive it. “We are looking at multiple ways of having the ability to contact whether that's through social media, through newspapers, through radio advertisements, direct telephone calls to patients that are, are viewed as eligible to receive a vaccine More education is also needed with people either choosing not to be vaccinated or getting the vaccine and then believing they do not have to follow public health protocols that are still in place, Ratushniak said. “There’s this false sense of believing that once you get the vaccination that you don't have to follow any protocols, and you don't have to wear a mask anymore, you can do whatever you want. That's simply not the case until we see a 70 per cent vaccination rate.” Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The new Peggys Cove viewing platform will mostly replace a paved turning lane and won't be built over any important Mi'kmaw sites, the CEO of Develop Nova Scotia said Tuesday. Jennifer Angel leads the provincial Crown corporation building the platform. Angel said she listened to the protests against the platform over the weekend and understands how much people care about the area. "We're reclaiming that space for people," she told CBC Radio's Information Morning. Angel said 12,000 square feet of the deck will replace an existing paved turning circle. Another 2,000 square feet will extend beyond that, she said. "There's a portion we're calling the Nose that is cantilevered out over some of the rocks in a bit of a more dramatic experience," she said. People will still be able to walk over the rocks and paths to the lighthouse and enjoy uninterrupted views of the ocean, she said. Some of the weekend protesters complained that they hadn't been consulted. A Mi'kmaw activist said it could block access to sacred sweet grass. Angel said they've been consulting widely since 2018, including with the 40 people who live in the village. "This is the largest and deepest public engagement we've ever done," she said. "But we do think the concerns raised are authentic and are rooted in a true desire to protect the place." Angel said she's spoken to the Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre in Halifax and with the activist, and has planned a site visit with them and a botanist. "We're 99 per cent confident we're not in conflict with any sacred sites, but we're going to double check. And we will not be building a platform over a sacred Mi'kmaw site," Angel said. Angel said people can join a public webinar Thursday at 6 p.m. to learn more. 'It's what a kind society does' Paul Vienneau, an activist for people with disabilities and Halifax's accessibility consultant, said the platform will open up Peggys Cove to more people. "I've had a 30-year span where I haven't been able to take part fully in many things," said Vienneau, who uses a wheelchair. "When I hear my human rights and my right of access easily debated away, it kind of makes me feel like I don't count as a citizen." He said making the spot accessible to more people outweighs the changes to the area. "I think it's what a kind society does. I think it's what an enlightened society does," he said. "To have a safe place to sit in that air and look at all the rocks and the lighthouse and the ocean — I can't wait for that." Gerry Post, an accessibility advocate, also welcomed the changes. He praised Develop Nova Scotia for taking accessibility seriously and said they've done great work. "Before I became disabled — I use a wheelchair — I used to go frequently. Whenever visitors come from away, it's the first thing you do, right? You go to Peggys Cove and show it off and enjoy it," he said Tuesday. "Since that, I've been there once, but basically sat in the car in the parking lot. It's not a very accessible place to enjoy that wonderful space there." Post hopes the new public bathrooms will be fully accessible, including changing tables for young children and for adults who need support. "It's not a big expense when you design it in from the front end," he said. Work has not started on the platform, but it's due to open in June. MORE TOP STORIES