A golden retriever really gets into the winter spirit in Pickering, ON.
A golden retriever really gets into the winter spirit in Pickering, ON.
TORONTO — The Tragically Hip will be toasted with this year's humanitarian award at the 2021 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says it selected the Kingston, Ont. rock band for its "timeless music and philanthropic pursuits" that affected generations of people around the world. Known to many Canadians as the musicians behind "Bobcaygeon" and "Ahead By a Century," the Hip have helped raise millions of dollars for various social and environmental causes. Among them, they've supported several charities, including Camp Trillium and the Special Olympics, and most recently sold face masks that raised more than $50,000 for the Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides counselling and emergency relief services to the music industry. The Hip's late lead singer Gord Downie was also part of the band's final Canadian tour, which helped raise more than $1 million for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Sunnybrook Foundation. Downie died of brain cancer in October 2017. The Hip will be presented with the honour as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Junos, which will broadcast from Toronto on May 16. Since first being presented in 2006, the humanitarian award has been given to artists that include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah McLachlan, Rush and members of Arcade Fire. The Hip's members included Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair. Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nation's top counterintelligence agency Wednesday to redouble its efforts to address what he described as Western attempts to destabilize Russia. Speaking at a meeting of top officials of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the main KGB successor agency, Putin pointed at the “so-called policy of containment of Russia,” charging that it includes efforts to “derail our development, slow it down, create problems alongside our borders, provoke internal instability and undermine the values that unite the Russian society.” The Russian president added that those activities by foreign powers, which he didn't name, are aimed at “weakening Russia and putting it under outside control.” The United States and its NATO allies have rejected similar previous claims by the Kremlin that they were seeking to undermine Russia. Russia's relations with the West plummeted to post-Cold War lows following Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The recent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and a sweeping crackdown on protesters demanding his release has been another source of tension. Navalny, Putin's most prominent critic, was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation and accused Navalny of co-operating with Western intelligence agencies — claims which he has ridiculed. Earlier this month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated and the European ?ourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Navalny's arrest has fueled a wave of protests that drew tens of thousands to the streets across Russia. The authorities have detained about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days. In the wake of the demonstrations, the Kremlin-controlled parliament has toughened the punishment for disobeying police and introduced new fines for funding demonstrations. Putin on Wednesday signed those new bills into law. Without naming Navalny, Putin assailed those in Russia who allegedly serve foreign interests. “It's necessary to draw a line between natural political competition, competition between political parties, ideological platforms, various views on the country's development, and the activities that have nothing to do with democracy and are aimed at undermining stability and security of our state, at serving foreign interests,” he said. The Russian president emphasized the need for the FSB to shield the parliamentary election set for September from any "provocations." Putin hailed the agency for disrupting the activities of foreign spies, maintaining it unmasked 72 foreign intelligence officers and 423 of their informants. He ordered the FSB to tighten the protection of the country's latest military technologies, saying, “You all understand that we have a lot to safeguard.” Putin also commended the FSB for its efforts to combat terrorism. He said it prevented 72 terror attacks last year. He instructed the agency to “uncover contacts between terrorist groups and foreign special services.” “Unfortunately, anything goes, and they also use terrorists,” Putin said without elaborating. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Veteran defender Laurent Ciman has returned to Montreal, where he started his MLS playing career, this time as an assistant coach. The 35-year-old Belgian spent three seasons in Montreal before an unwanted trade to expansion Los Angeles FC in December 2017. After one season as LAFC captain, he joined Toronto FC in December 2018 after a brief stint in France with Ligue 1's Dijon. Ciman, named MLS Defender of the Year in his first season in Montreal, became a free agent after his TFC contract expired at the end of last season. For Ciman, retirement as a player means a return home. He retained his house in Montreal and wife Diana and their two kids remained there while he played in Toronto. After a successful career in Belgium, Ciman opted to come to Canada in 2015 because of the support available here for daughter Nina, who has autism spectrum disorder. "I'm very happy to be back home," Ciman said in a statement Wednesday. "It's been my wish for a long time, and this is a great opportunity for myself and my family. I just want to contribute to the club’s growth." Ciman, who won 20 caps for his country, played in the Belgian top flight from 2004 to 2015 with Charleroi Sporting Club, Club Brugge, KV Kortrijk and Standard de Liège. He played six seasons in MLS, appearing in 136 regular-season games including 126 starts. He also played in nine playoffs games, nine Canadian Championship games and eight CONCACAF Champions League matches. "We are very happy that Laurent is joining the coaching staff and that he is back with the club," said Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard. "It is a logical and beneficial association, especially knowing the attachment Laurent has always had for this club and this city. We can now count on his experience after a fruitful career in Europe, in MLS, and on the international stage." Ciman who played 515 pro matches during his career, saw limited action with Toronto but provided key backup for the injured Omar Gonzalez in the 2019 playoffs. He was a popular member of the Toronto squad. "He's got an incredible personality … a very playful personality that I think is infectious in our group," then coach Greg Vanney said during Ciman's time in Toronto. "It's something that our group needs at times, just to be able to banter, have fun, make something sometimes that is challenging or difficult into some kind of a game within the game." Ciman was a member of the Belgian squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and saw action in Euro 2016. He missed out on the 2018 World Cup, one of Belgium's final cuts. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — A new study will look at rapid COVID-19 tests at Toronto's Pearson airport. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says the research will allow for widescale workplace testing. The tests should be available to all airport employees starting March 1 as well as to eligible departing travellers willing to volunteer. The study will also compare two types of tests — antigen testing and rapid polymerase chain reaction tests or PCR's. The federal government requires PCR tests that look for the virus's genetic material. Antigen tests look for specific proteins from the virus. The airport authority says the study will consider how to implement rapid PCR tests in an airport setting. Ottawa is paying for the study. "This research will contribute substantial new scientific data to the body of knowledge used to fight this disease by improving access to testing that will identify, trace and isolate COVID-19," Deborah Flint, the CEO of the airports authority, said in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Lily is an undocumented worker at a long-term care facility in Toronto, who was denied the COVID vaccine. “I am on the frontlines every day just like everyone else who lives and works in the home but while they are now better protected from the virus, I am not,” she told a webinar today that was organized by the Migrant Rights Network. “Undocumented workers are already denied access to healthcare, housing, social services and legal rights. Now we are being denied the COVID vaccine,” said Lily. Samira, is an undocumented migrant in Montreal, who is the primary caregiver for her ill mother. These are but some of the stories behind a push by the Migrant Rights Network along with leading doctors, health policy experts, and labour leaders, who are calling for immediate action to ensure that all migrant and undocumented residents of Canada are able to be vaccinated. An open letter to the Canadian government and provincial premiers, signed by 270 organizations released today, outlined specific measures for the COVID-19 vaccine to be accessible to migrant workers and the undocumented in Canada. They include; “Hundreds have told us they are afraid that if they get the vaccine their information will be handed over to immigration enforcement, or that employers will use the vaccine to coerce them,” he said. Dr. Danyaal Raza, Board Chair, Canadian Doctors for Medicare said that early in the pandemic, many provinces made available medical care that was previously unfunded for those without, or with the wrong residency, immigration or citizenship status. “However, many of these announcements were made without proper implementation plans. As a result, previously excluded groups continued to be refused care at the point of access. As we approach the end of this pandemic, we cannot make the same mistake with vaccines,” he said. Pauline Worsfold, Chair of the Canadian Health Coalition and Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions said everyone living in Canada is covered by the five principles of the Canada Health Act. “This means everyone has universality and accessibility to health care when needed. This right must include migrants’ access to the COVID vaccine and requires measures to ensure this right is guaranteed in practice, not just in policy,” she said. The Migrant Rights Network estimates that 1 in 23 people in Canada – over 1.6 million – don’t have permanent resident status. Many are in essential jobs including healthcare, cleaning, construction, delivery and agriculture. “Many migrants in Canada don’t have a health card either because they are undocumented or because their work or study permits, to which health coverage is tied, have expired due to government processing delays. Those without health cards are being denied vaccination,” said the group in a statement. Migrant Rights Network said identifying information should not be required for the purpose of getting vaccinated, and must not be shared with immigration enforcement. “Staff administering vaccines must be provided training so that they do not turn away migrants without identification or health coverage, or those that are hesitant to share ID. A number of undocumented residents in frontline work across the country have reported being denied the vaccine because they don’t have a health card,” said Migrant Rights Network. “Some employers have also threatened migrants with job loss and deportation if they aren’t vaccinated. This is so employers don’t lose profits as a result of outbreaks or workers falling ill.” “The only way to ensure equal rights is to ensure everyone has the same immigration status,” the group said. Fabian Dawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
“Speak, Okinawa,” by Elizabeth Miki Brina (Knopf) Elizabeth Miki Brina’s “Speak, Okinawa” is a masterful memoir in which Brina examines the complex relationship she has with her interracial parents. Brina’s father, white and American, met her mother, who is from the island of Okinawa, while he was stationed there on a US military base. The two settled in the United States, where Brina’s mother spent decades feeling lonely and out of place. Brina grew up feeling close to her father and resenting her mother. Desperate to feel wholly American, she pushed her mother away, embarrassed of her accent and overall inability to truly assimilate. In this investigation of her childhood, Brina begins to see things differently. She looks at life from her mother’s perspective, and now, she starts to understand the depth of her pain, pain she endured from leaving behind all she knew and loved, and also the pain of calling occupied land home. “Speak, Okinawa” is both a mediation on Brina’s own family as well as a powerful history of the United States occupation of Okinawa, where it maintains a massive military presence to this day. Brina’s writing is crisp, captivating and profound. She is vulnerable, raw, and relatable, and her stories will no doubt cause readers to reflect on their relationships with their own parents. As educational as it is entertaining, “Speak, Okinawa” is well worth the read. —- Molly Sprayregen can be reached at her site. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
Nearly one in four residents of Pincher Creek thinks something is amiss with the municipal government. A petition requesting a municipal inspection was submitted to Alberta Municipal Affairs last November by a concerned citizens group called Our Voices Matter. The petition seeks a provincial government review of what the group says are inappropriate spending and tax increases by town council. To be accepted, the petition needed to be signed by at least 20 per cent of the town’s population. “For the Town of Pincher Creek, the minimum number of signatures required would be 729, and there were 888 valid signatures on the petition submitted to the minister,” says Mckenzie Kibler, press secretary for Municipal Affairs. According to the Municipal Government Act, each signature needed the correct address of the petitioner, contact information and an accompanying signature from a witness affirming the resident signed the petition. A municipal inspection was first called for by Jim Litkowski, acting spokesman for Our Voices Matter, during a town council meeting back in September. Mr. Litkowski brought up a number of concerns, including assertions of overspending, doubling of tax rates since 2015, insufficient economic and tourist planning, and unnecessary costs for constructing two new early-learning centres. Mr. Litkowski repeated his concerns over spending and tax increases in a Feb. 13 article in the Lethbridge Herald, though he declined an interview request this week from the Breeze. “The answers you seek are now in the hands of the minister of municipal affairs,” he wrote in an email. Town council and administration have released three responses to issues raised by Our Voices Matter, including details of its economic plan and public records that show residential taxes have increased by only 8.37 per cent since 2015. Mayor Don Anderberg says, given the economic insecurity associated with the pandemic, council appreciates the public’s financial concern. “People are worried about how they’re going to live. We get all that,” he says. Compared to other municipalities, the mayor says, taxes in Pincher Creek fall in the middle of the pack. Decreasing taxes would result in a decrease in provided services, many of which are not offered by other municipalities in the province. “We’ve tried to not have big increases in taxes but still get things done,” Mayor Anderberg adds. Municipal Affairs interviewed town council, administration and members of Our Voices Matter last week to review the issues that led to the petition. The information will be compiled into a report for Minister Ric McIver, who will ultimately determine if a full municipal inspection is required. Should the minister decide the situation warrants it, an inspection would take up to a year to complete before results are released to the public, Ms. Kibler says. “Municipal Affairs charges back the cost of inspections based on the financial capacity of a municipality,” she adds. Depending on the depth of investigation into the issues raised by Our Voice Matters, the town could be responsible for a $50,000 to $80,000 inspection bill. It is not clear what effect the inspection would have once completed, since the municipal election will be held in October. The town’s published responses to Mr. Litkowski’s concerns are available at http://bit.ly/Mayor_Updates. Image courtesy of the Government of Alberta Municipality Measurement Index. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Mono Council, at least for the immediate future, has put the the matter of the Variance Application to the Fill By-Law, regarding the property of Mr. Paul Ritchie at 833231 4th Line in Mono, to rest, by refusing the appli-cation. In discussion leading up to the vote, sev-eral Council members shared their opinions on the issue. Councillor Fred Nix expressed his frustration that, the matter had been before Council for almost 12 months, despite a public meeting in July of 2020, at which both Council and members of the public had expressed concerns. This resulted in a request for the applicant to address the issues and return to Council with an amended pro-posal. In the end the exact same proposal was brought back for consideration.Now, the applicant was asking for a defer-ral in order for his engineers to study a report from the Town engineers, thus pushing the matter back once again. Councillor Nix how-ever reluctantly felt that the deferral should be granted on the basis of transparency and fairness.Councillor Manktelow, on the other hand was of the opposite opinion. He noted that as early as January 21, 2020, Mr. Ritchie had been asked to respond to other options, including using existing soil for the fill, but did not respond. Again he was asked to address the concerns of the public at the meeting on July 14th, 2020 and again there was no response. Finally, just prior to Christmas, Town of Mono CAO, Mark Early, requested that the applicant respond to all of the issues raised and again, says Councillor Manktelow there was no response. Consequently, he said he felt that the application should be denied as it was his opinion that the applicant was not compliant with the Town’s wishes.Councillor Martin agreed with Councillor Manktelow and wanted to proceed with the decision, while Deputy Mayor Creelman said that although he was very disappointed with the way the matter was progressing and the inordinate amount of time that it had taken up, he could go with either decision, but with provisions, if Council were to grant the deferral. The provisions would be that only writ-ten submissions be accepted and that they be made available to the public, so that they could also respond in writing. He did not want to waste any further time on this matter, especially not with long winded personal presentations, taking up Council time, with material that could oth-erwise be read. Mayor Ryan was of a like minded opinion, feeling that enough time had been spent already. Prior to this, the applicant had been eager to have Council’s decision made and now wanted a deferral. Mayor Ryan could not see what new information could be received, when no responses had been forthcoming to previous requests of Council. The Mayor felt that the application should be reviewed now and a decision handed down.Councillor Nix spoke to the matter of two concerns with the application. He said that a drainage pipe running south to the neigh-bours property line would potentially flood his septic bed during the spring runoff and had agreed to remove it, but was still in the application. Also, no consideration had been made to using some of the existing soil on the site to build the track surface, despite the engineers opinion that some of the soil was certainly usable.In short, this was essentially the exact same application that had originally been submitted, with no consideration of the two stated issues. Councillor Manktelow then said that, the report received from the Town engineer, Gord Feniak, answer all of Coun-cil’s previously asked questions of the appli-cant and, that pointed to the track being able to be built almost exclusive of any imported fill.The matter was called to a recorded vote with the unanimous decision to refuse the application at this time. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
CALGARY — The story of why the Canadian women's curling championship is named the Tournament of Hearts starts over 40 years ago with sisters drinking wine. Robin Wilson and sister Dawn Knowles had just won a second Canadian championship with B.C. skip Lindsay Sparkes in 1979. That tournament was without a title sponsor after seven years as the tobacco-backed MacDonald Lassies. Wilson, the only female manager at Scott Paper, where she handled the diaper and feminine product line, successfully pitched sponsoring the women's championship to company president Bob Stewart. But Wilson needed to come up with a name and a brand to wow Stewart. "The name Scott Tournament of Hearts. That was actually my sister and I," Wilson told The Canadian Press from Vancouver. "We'd just had dinner at my mom and dad's. We were sitting on the living room carpet with a bottle of red wine. I said to her 'help me out here. Where do we go?' "We talked about all sorts of things. We put up a lot of names, threw them out." There was a dearth of elite female sport in North America in 1980, so the siblings couldn't find inspiration there. The motif of four hearts representing four curlers on a team came to them quickly, but what name should accompany it? They mulled variations on American college football bowl games, Wilson said. The Tournament of Roses that accompanied the Rose Bowl must have passed through their brains. "We thought the Tournament of Hearts," Wilson said. "The obvious thing was if we're going to pitch this to Scott paper we had to have the name Scott in it. "We took a lot of razzing with it too because people said it sounded like a parade in California." With the Hearts traditionally held in February, it's an easy assumption to draw a connection between the hearts theme and Valentine's Day, but Wilson said that wasn't a factor in the naming of it. The first Canadian women's curling championship held in 1961 was called the Diamond D Championship. An elite level curler herself, Wilson wanted the women's championship to have an identifier as enduring as the men's, which has been called the Brier since its inception in 1927. "The brand name part of it was important," she said. "It was creating something that would last forever and would be a pinnacle of women's sport in Canada." The Tournament of Hearts turned 40 years old at this year's national championship in Calgary. The tradition of the sponsor rewarding Hearts competitors with custom gold hearts jewelry, augmented with diamonds, emeralds and rubies for those who win or finish on the podium, was also the brainchild of Wilson and her sister. "The whole concept of jewelry, that's another thing we came up with when we were drinking red wine," Wilson said. "I think about the support we got from that one particular man, Bob Stewart. We had so much latitude to just come up with ideas and I can't recall any of them not going through." What was the Scott Tournament of Hearts eventually morphed into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after Scott Paper was taken over by Kruger Inc. Wilson went to bat in boardrooms to keep the Tournament of Hearts name. "We fought like heck to keep it," she said. "There were attempts made to change it and some hard discussions. "Forty years, when you think about it, that's pretty good for any brand to survive. That's quite the legacy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Rick Holmstrom, "See That Light” (LuEllie Records) Mask up, plug in and rock out to a stripped-down sound. That's the recipe for success on “See That Light,” the new solo album by Rick Holmstrom, who has been Mavis Staples’ guitarist and bandleader for the past 13 years. When the pandemic wiped out Staples' 2020 tour schedule, Holmstrom regrouped — so to speak — and assembled a power trio in a studio near his home in Venice, California. The happy result is a 12-song set built on garage band basics that showcases Holmstrom's enormous guitar vocabulary. Not that he's a showboat — his solos aren't so much high-flying as rooted, specifically in the blues and Chuck Berry, with lots of vibrato, twang and reverb. Some of Holmstrom's most impressive, inventive playing is as a rhythm guitarist in support of his singing. Equally appealing is the work of Steve Mugalian on drums and Gregory Boaz on bass. There's considerable variety to Holmstrom's original material. “Waiting Too Long” chugs like the El Camino he sings about, while “Look Me In the Eye” rides a sock hop beat, and the swinging “Come Along” is bracketed by a slow, sweet melody. Holmstrom sings about dysfunction in dyspeptic, dystopian times before an inquisitive child inspires the uplifting finale, “Joyful Eye.” After it ends in feedback, listeners can provide their own: great stuff. Steven Wine, The Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. — It is now illegal in Tucson, Arizona, to enforce dress code or grooming policies that discriminate against hair texture and hairstyles in the workplace and public schools, officials said. The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to adopt the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, joining multiple cities across the country in passing the ordinance, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The ordinance has been part of a national campaign promoted by Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty. It also prohibits workplace discrimination based on headdresses worn for cultural or religious reasons. “We want to be sure there are no barriers for people in the workplace and in schools,” said Annie Sykes, president of Tucson’s Black Women’s Task Force. “These barriers are usually rooted in discrimination and prejudice.” Sykes cited a study showing that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair and 80% more likely to feel like they have to change their hair to fit in at work. “Your hair is your crown and it connects us to our culture and to our ancestry,” said Desiree Cook, a licensed hair stylist and founder of the local organization, I AM YOU 360. “So we ask that those crowns are honoured, whether it be in schools, in the community or the workplace.” The Tucson ordinance will be enforced through the human relations section of the city code and will apply to any facility or business with public accommodations, officials said. Violations can bring civil penalties. The Associated Press
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says allocating COVID-19 vaccine doses for Indigenous people in urban areas through the provinces is faster and more effective than delivery directed from Ottawa. He says he will be working with provinces and territories to ensure they prioritize Indigenous people in their immunization efforts, even as the National Association of Friendship Centres and other advocates call for more direct federal involvement.
U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock urged Gulf states to step up next Monday when the world body seeks to avert a large-scale "man-made" famine in Yemen by raising $3.85 billion for humanitarian operations in the war-torn Arabian Peninsula country for 2021. The United Nations describes Yemen as the world's largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the people in need.
CALGARY — The CEO of Crescent Point Energy Corp. says the company is poised to benefit from rising oil prices after two years of transformation through selling assets, cutting debt and reducing costs. The Calgary-based company's move last week to buy producing light oil shale assets in Alberta for $900 million from Royal Dutch Shell reflects that confidence, Craig Bryksa said. "We have built an asset portfolio that is well-positioned to benefit from a rising price environment given our light oil weighting and high netbacks," he said on a Wednesday conference call with analysts to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results. "We expect to generate $375 (million) to $600 million of excess cash flow this year at US$50 to US$60 WTI (West Texas Intermediate) prices." The company plans to devote most of that cash flow to paying down debt, he said, adding that it will evaluate increasing returns to shareholders over time. Shell is to receive $700 million in cash and 50 million Crescent Point shares under the deal and will wind up owning an 8.6 per cent stake in Crescent Point if it closes as expected in April. The companies say the assets are producing around 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from more than 270 wells. About 57 per cent of production is condensate, highly valued as a diluent blended with oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline. Analysts said the company beat their fourth-quarter estimates on production and average selling prices although both measures fell compared with the same period in 2019. "CPG closed the chapter on a highly successful year in its business transformation toward becoming a more sustainable producer generating significant free cash flow, which should be complemented by the upcoming (Shell) acquisition," Desjardins analyst Chris MacCulloch wrote in a report. Crescent Point reported producing 111,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about 90 per cent crude oil and petroleum liquids, in the fourth quarter, down from 145,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. It attributed the drop to capital spending cuts enacted early in 2020 as oil prices fell. It's average realized fourth-quarter oil price was $49.40 per barrel, down from $65.27 in the year-earlier period. It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $51 million or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $932 million or $1.73 per share in the same period of 2019. On Wednesday, it confirmed 2021 production guidance released with the Shell announcement last week of about 134,000 boe/d, as well as a 2021 capital budget of about $600 million (both assuming the deal is closed). That's up from Crescent Point's average output of 121,600 boe/d during 2020 and down from actual 2020 capital spending of $655 million. The company reported net debt of about $2.1 billion at year-end, paid down by over $615 million during the year. It said it also removed about $60 million in budgeted operating expenses in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CPG) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general is warning of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn't address the shortage of spaces. Kim Adair-MacPherson says the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement. She says it's unclear how the province plans to address the demand. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch says 600 new nursing home beds will be opened over the next five years. He says the procedure the government uses to request proposals for new nursing homes has been streamlined, which he says should speed things up. Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, says the government should concentrate on helping seniors remain in their own homes instead of putting them into nursing residences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say a crash on Highway 16 west of Prince George has killed a Metro Vancouver man and injured a 20-year-old Alberta resident. An RCMP statement says the collision happened Monday as the Alberta man in a westbound pickup was overtaking an empty logging truck. The passing lane ended before the pickup had finished its manoeuvre and police say it collided with an oncoming car. Police say the driver of the car, who was in his 40s, died a short time later in hospital. Officers in Prince George are leading the investigation and want to speak with the logging truck driver, who stopped to assist but left before talking with police. Investigators are also appealing for dashcam video from anyone on Highway 16 between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof at around 5:30 p.m. Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Canucks forward Antoine Roussel has been fined US$5,000 by the NHL for roughing in Vancouver's 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. The 31-year-old winger dropped his gloves and went after Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi along the boards midway through the second period. Puljujarvi was an unwilling participant in the fight and did his best to avoid Roussel's fists, but appeared to suffer a cut to the bridge of his nose. Roussel was handed a two-minute minor for roughing. He has 31 penalty minutes in 22 games this season. The Canucks (8-13-2) were up 3-0 towards the end of the first period before the Oilers (13-8-0) sparked a comeback with four unanswered goals. The two sides will meet again in Vancouver on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Laurence Martin/Radio-Canada - image credit) In the municipality of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que., about an hour's drive north of Ottawa, one of the easiest ways to rile up local residents is to ask them about their internet connections. Whether it's through wireless service, satellite providers or copper lines, the usual response is that working out of home, having kids attend online classes or watching movies is a frustrating — and sometimes impossible — task. Adding to the frustration is the fact that a small portion of the municipality lives in another world, digitally speaking, after getting hooked up to Bell Fibe in recent months. What makes matters even worse, according to some, is the fact that Bell CEO Mirko Bibic owns one of the cottages along the southern portion of Pemichangan Lake — which now has broadband access. While the region is officially one of the poorest in Quebec, some of the cottages along Pemichangan are worth over $1 million, with many owners having primary residences in Ontario or the United States. About 100 households on Pemichangan, the majority of cottages and homes on the southern side of the lake, have high-speed access through Bell Fibe — a service currently unavailable for the hundreds of other residences in the municipality of Lac-Sainte-Marie and in the surrounding area. And one made even more important by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown orders. Chantal Lamarche, prefect of the regional body called the MRC de la Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, said all residences in the area need to be "treated equally." "The owners of residences that live here all year round should receive the same level of service as those who own a million-dollar cottage," she said. "Everyone deserves an equitable treatment." Bibic listens during a CRTC hearing in Gatineau, Que., on Feb. 19, 2020. CEO played no role, Bell says The project to expand Fibe into that portion of cottage country was developed by Bell and approved for government funding by the federal and Quebec governments in early 2018. Bell spokesperson Charles Gosselin told Radio-Canada that Bibic played no role in developing the project or obtaining government funding. He said the company plans to expand its network according to factors such as population density, the quality of existing infrastructure and long-term growth. "I can guarantee that our rollout is in no way influenced by anyone's presence or absence. Bell is a serious company that decides on its investments based on factors of cost effectiveness and viability," said Gosselin, who is the company's director of government relations. "Mirko Bibic's presence in the Outaouais region has nothing to do with our project in Pemichangan Lake or [elsewhere]. There is no link." Pemichangan Lake is located just east of Highway 105, about an hour's drive north of Ottawa-Gatineau. Bell is already working on a number of other projects in the area, including providing high-speed access through a wireless system to hundreds of residences in Lac-Sainte-Marie, Gosselin said. "The network reached [Bibic's residence] in January 2020, so it was far from the first to have access to high-speed internet in the area or the Outaouais, and it won't be the last," he added. Bibic and his wife bought land in the area in 2004 when he was senior vice-president of regulatory matters at Bell. He was named chief operating officer at the company in 2018 and became CEO in January 2020. That's also when his cottage was hooked up to Fibe. The governments of Canada and Quebec provided subsidies to build the "backbone" of the project, bringing optical fibre to Pemichangan Lake, while Bell paid the costs of the individual connections of its new clients. The cost of the Pemichangan project is not publicly known, but it was part of a bundle of $3.8 million in projects to connect seven communities, for which the federal and provincial governments paid a total of $2.6 million. Canada's digital divide The arrival of Bell Fibe along the southern edge of Pemichangan Lake has created an enclave of wired, high-speed data exchanges within a broad swath of cottage country north of Ottawa-Gatineau that is known for spotty or non-existent access. On one side of this digital divide, there are those who enjoy the benefits of high speed for work, business, communications and recreational purposes. Alan Smith, who owns a cottage on Pemichangan, said he's extremely satisfied with Bell Fibe, which replaced his previous internet access through a satellite provider. "It was very expensive to have poor-quality receptions. [It's] as simple as that," he said. "Now, for a cheaper price, we've got high-quality reception." On the other side of the digital divide are those who are waging a battle to obtain high-speed access, or who have to contend with a service that can be slow, unpredictable or at the mercy of the weather. Having failed to convince Bell to bring its network to the northern portion of Pemichangan Lake, some property owners there are trying to get a connection to the Starlink satellite network, which is currently being developed by American billionaire Elon Musk. "It's time we brought high speed to the lake!" wrote Cameron Jackson on the group's Facebook page. Bell's project to extend its Fibe network to some cottages on Pemichangan Lake was approved for federal and provincial funding in early 2018. Pauline Sauvé, a longtime resident of Lac-Sainte-Marie, said the high-speed lines going into the southern portion of Pemichangan Lake seem like a case of "preferential treatment." "I think it's not fair," she said. "People who work from home [and] kids with schoolwork to do — it's hard for them." In the area to take care of her mother, Rachelle Gauvreau said she's struggling as she deals with slow internet service and tries to do her work remotely. One of her solutions is working late in the evening, when there are fewer people online clogging up the system. "I brought work with me and it's a problem," she said. "Internet doesn't work well here." Bell understands the growing levels of impatience, Gosselin said, noting the company is part of a broad effort involving other providers and various levels of government to connect the minority of unconnected households in the country. "We are getting to the last communities that are not yet connected," the spokesperson said. "Obviously, we are now in areas that are less densely populated and where offering the service is more complex." Quebec Premier François Legault, who's trying to fulfil an electoral promise to offer broadband service across the province, has called on Bell to connect new customers more quickly. Political pressure building According to federal data, the quality of internet service around Bibic's cottage stands in sharp contrast with the rest of the region, where residents in nearby municipalities like Lac-Sainte-Marie and Kazabuzua don't all have access to high-speed service. "It's obviously frustrating," said Gary Lachapelle, the mayor of Lac-Sainte-Marie. "We are in 2021, we should have internet. People in the cities have it, why shouldn't people in rural areas have it too?" Caryl Green, the mayor of Chelsea, just north of Gatineau, said there's often a lack of logic in the development of high-speed networks. Some residents have access while their immediate neighbours can't get hooked up. "They feel left behind by the big companies," she said. Green said governments and companies should prioritize connections to primary residences and businesses, especially now. "That's where people are working from home, where they're schooling their children and where they're trying to buy online and to support local businesses," Green said. "So I think if secondary residences, cottages are getting hooked up… we have to demand that these large companies respond to the pockets of need that we see within our municipality." 'We are in 2021, we should have internet. People in the cities have it, why shouldn't people in rural areas have it too?' asked Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green. Neither the governments of Canada nor Quebec restrict the use of subsidies to hook up secondary residences or cottages to the internet. Access to high-speed internet is an increasingly hot-button political issue across Canada, with pressure growing on governments to expand the service to remote parts of the country. The COVID-19 pandemic and a series of stay-at-home orders have highlighted the fact that high speed has become an essential service for most families and companies. In late January, Quebec Premier François Legault directly called on Bell to connect new customers more quickly, or to provide access to its telephone poles to other providers such as Videotron. Legault is trying to fulfil an electoral promise to offer broadband services across the province. "There were 340,000 houses to connect, there are still 280,000 to connect to high speed internet. We have two summers left to do all of this," Mr. Legault said at a news conference. Last November, the federal government launched a $1.75-billion fund to expand broadband services across the country, which was on top of a $585-million program launched in 2016 to connect 975 communities by 2023. Overall, Ottawa is estimating that at least another 1.2 million households still need a broadband connection. Liberal MP Will Amos, who announced federal funding for the Pemichangan project in 2018, said he was unaware that Bibic was one of the property owners who was set to receive a broadband connection. He said the government is working to connect nearly all Canadians by 2026. "Every Canadian deserves high-speed internet," Amos said. "Comprehensive, 100 per cent coverage will take billions of dollars of investments, but it is money well spent because it is going to connect all Canadians and that is what people expect."
De courtes périodes d’activité de 20 secondes répétées tout au long de la journée permettent d’améliorer ses capacités cardiovasculaires, d’être plus productif et d’avoir plus d’énergie.