People skate along the frozen Assiniboine River on a bright winter day.
People skate along the frozen Assiniboine River on a bright winter day.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals. “That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug's makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.” Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva. The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated. ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things. Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots. “Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine. Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems. “There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said. Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
County council debated the future of its shoreline bylaw and will hold another special meeting to address an increasingly fraught debate over the legislation. Council decided to schedule a special meeting Jan. 27 to examine the bylaw and its upcoming public consultation, which will include both an online survey and a public meeting in February or March. Councillors weighed whether the document – which would restrict development within 30 metes of the shoreline – should be slowed in the wake of increased outcry. Warden Liz Danielsen lamented the spread of misinformation and council receiving some vitriol. “Disappointed to see the number of people who are willing to cast aspersions about us and our work,” she said. “About the thought that this is being sprung upon them and we’re doing this under the cloak of secrecy. This is a topic that’s been under discussion for 2.5 years and longer. “It is unfortunate that people feel they need to start calling us names and giving members of council a difficult time … The raft of emails we have received in the last couple of weeks, I believe are reactive of the misinformation.” She said they must find a way to combat the misinformation. She indirectly referenced the Haliburton County Home Builders Association (HCHBA) estimating a $750,000 cost to enforce the law and advertising that. However, that figure is inaccurate. The County’s current 2021 draft budget features $115,000 towards enforcement, including $88,000 for a new officer to assist the one already on staff. The HCHBA and others have also pushed to delay the changes until after the pandemic is over to allow for an in-person public meeting. But Coun. Brent Devolin said he opposed that because the pandemic could linger for the rest of the term. “For us to delay it because of COVID … I don’t think (the bylaw) will be dealt with in this term of council and I think that would truly be a mistake,” he said. However, deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said they should hit a pause button on the document and it is not yet good enough to move forward. “I’m not in anybody’s back pocket on this. I am as much in love with the water as anybody at this table or in this County,” he said. “I don’t feel this bylaw is at that stage yet, to the point it can be taken out to the public for comment. I fully endorse a step back … I feel like we have lost the public trust on both sides of the issue.” Kennedy suggested an external consultation group or committee examine the document, but Coun. Carol Moffatt pushed back on that. “Ultimately, it’s our job as the people who are elected to listen to the public,” Moffatt said. “Our problem right now is, I think, all the noise that’s out there. We can’t address the misinformation without a competing information campaign, and we can’t do that without dedicated resources.” She added council needed to provide input into what is going out to the public and what questions will be asked. Danielsen said people should be more specific about what parts of the bylaw should be addressed, which she said it not being seen in messages lately. “We’re hearing a lot from all angles and we need to work hard to try and get it right.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
The Vancouver Whitecaps went international in the first round of Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, taking a Nigerian forward and Jamaican defender. The Whitecaps selected Akron forward David Egbo ninth overall before taking Jamaica's Javain Brown from South Florida with the 23rd pick, obtained in the December 2018 trade that sent Erik Hurtado to Sporting Kansas City. Egbo, a 22-year-old senior from Enugu, Nigeria, scored 21 goals and added 13 assists in three seasons with the Zips. Egbo, who says he can play a variety of attacking positions, is not short on confidence "Personally I think I'm good at everything," said Egbo, who came to the U.S. in 2014 on an academic scholarship to Pennsylvania's Kiski School. "That's not to sound cocky … I wouldn't say I'm the perfect striker but I think I have a little bit of everything and that's what makes me different from the rest of the strikers." The 24-year-old Brown, who has won four caps for Jamaica, scored three goals in 15 games with South Florida in 2019. Expansion Austin FC took Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira first overall. The 20-year-old sophomore started all 26 games he played in for the Hokies with six goals and six assists. A native of Venezuela, Pereira was a teenager when his family came to the U.S. seeking asylum. Pereira was one of five players signed to Generation Adidas contracts, which don't count against the league's salary cap. All five went in the top seven of the draft. Toronto traded its 18th overall pick to Minnesota United, acquiring the 25th pick and US$50,000 in general allocation money in exchange. TFC used the pick to fill a need at fullback with Maryland's Matt Di Rosa. Toronto has incumbents Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro at fullback. Veteran Justin Morrow's contract has expired and Tony Gallacher's loan from Liverpool is over. Di Rosa won the 21018 NCAA title with the Terrapins, scoring the winning goal in the semifinal against Indiana. CF Montreal's Amar Sejdic scored the lone goal in Maryland's 1-0 win over Akron in the championship game with Canadian Dayne St. Clair, now with Minnesota United, getting the shutout. Di Rosa's twin brother Ben, a defender from Maryland, went in the second round (44th overall) to New York City FC. Toronto chose Virginia forward Nathaniel Crofts in the second round (45th overall). The native of Sheffield, England, had 11 goals and 11 assists in 64 games (63 starts) with the Cavaliers. Vancouver picked UCLA midfielder Eric Iloski and Michigan defender Joel Harrison, a native of Langley, B.C., in the second round (46th and 53rd overall, respectively). CF Montreal, formerly known as the Montreal Impact, previously traded its first-round pick to Austin for Canadian defender Kamal Miller and its second-round selection to Minnesota in the Mason Toye deal. In 2019. the six-foot-one 185-pound Egbo led Akron in goals (7), assists (4), points (18), shots (49), while ranking second in shots on goal (19) en route to earning first-team all-Mid-American Conference honours. The 5-11 160-pound Brown played for HarbourView FC in Jamaica. Both players will require an international spot if signed to an MLS contract. There were 12 Canadians among the 170-plus players available in the draft, which was reduced to three rounds from four this year. Wake Forest and Clemson dominated picks No. 2 through 4. FC Cincinnati used the second overall pick on Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris, another Generation Adidas player and the son of former Sheffield United player Terry Harris. The 20-year-old from England, who grew up in Hong Kong and New Zealand, had 16 goals and six assists as a sophomore in 2019, his last season. Colorado traded up to get the third pick from Houston, using it to select Clemson midfielder Phil Mayaka. The 21-year-old, another GA player, was ACC Freshman of the Year and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2019. Mayaka emigrated from Kenya to the U.S. as a teenager. The pick cost Colorado $200,000 in general allocation money, with Houston possibly receiving another $50,000 of 2022 GAM as part of the deal. D.C. United took Clemson forward Kimarni Smith with the fourth pick and then acquired the fifth overall selection from Atlanta, using it to select Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields. D.C. also got the 32nd overall pick in the deal that sent Atlanta $125,000 in general allocation money and the 31st selection. Houston took Washington centre back Ethan Bartlow with the sixth pick. Virginia midfielder Bret Halsey went seventh to Real Salt Lake. Both are Generation Adidas players. Orlando City used the No. 8 selection on Georgetown' forward Derek Dodson. The pick was acquired from Portland in exchange for $100,000 in general allocation money — $75,000 in 2021 and $25,000 in 2022. Earlier Thursday, the Whitecaps flipped second-round draft picks with Nashville SC, acquiring a 2021 international roster slot in the process. Vancouver gave up the 36th overall pick, receiving the 46th overall selection. The deal also involved an exchange of general allocation money. Vancouver sent $175,000 to Nashville with a promise of up to $75,000 in return based on "performance benchmarks" of the player selected by Nashville. In other moves, Houston acquired former U.S. youth midfielder Derrick Jones from Nashville SC for $100,000 in general allocation money and $150,000 in 2022 GAM. ---- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is drafting legislation around the sale of used police vehicles and equipment, after a man driving a replica RCMP cruiser killed 22 people last April. Justice Minister Mark Furey told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the legislation will regulate how police vehicles are decommissioned, which will include, he said, ensuring they are stripped of equipment and decals. "We are certainly aware of the previous circumstances and the most recent circumstances," Furey said. The minister made the comments a day after the Mounties said a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have driven a vehicle that looked like an unmarked police car and pulled over drivers. The vehicle in question, a white 2013 Ford Taurus, is similar to the car Gabriel Wortman used during his 13-hour, deadly rampage in northern and central Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020. Furey noted that under current law it's illegal to impersonate a police officer. "When it comes to police articles and decommissioned police vehicles there is certainly some work to do to fine-tune that legislation and the ability to mitigate and prevent, as best we can, access to this equipment that is used to mock-up police vehicles." he said. Furey said there are no plans to ban the sale of decommissioned police vehicles despite calls by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives to prohibit those sales. He said RCMP and municipal police services have been consulted and are in support of the government's draft legislation. Furey is recommending the Liberal government table a bill during the next sitting of the legislature. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
CALGARY — An industry analyst says Western Canada's oil producers will likely cope better in the short term with Joe Biden's cancelling of the Keystone XL presidential permit this week than they did with the same move by ex-president Barack Obama in 2015. But Phil Skolnick, a New York-based analyst for Eight Capital, agrees with other observers that the end of the pipeline will stifle new investment and production growth in the Canadian oilpatch for years to come. Shortly after being inaugurated on Wednesday, U.S. President Biden, who was Obama's vice-president, fulfilled a campaign promise and took away the pipeline permit that former president Donald Trump returned to builder TC Energy Corp. in 2019. Skolnick says the difference between now and 2015 is that producers are looking forward to opening two other export pipelines -- Line 3 and Trans Mountain -- that together provide nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity. Richard Masson, an executive fellow and energy expert at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, agrees the two remaining pipelines will provide enough capacity to allow oil production to grow into the second half of this decade. But he says uncertainty about capacity beyond that point makes it impossible for producers to make decisions about new multibillion-dollar oilsands projects, which could take five years or more to plan and build. Canadian Energy Pipeline Association CEO Chris Bloomer, meanwhile, says excess space in the oil transport system is vital going forward to provide optionality, energy security and stable pricing for producers. Earlier Thursday, TC Energy Corp. said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. The company had previously warned that blocking the project would lead to thousands of job losses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) The Canadian Press
Muskoka Climate change co-ordinator Kevin Boyle said the district’s goal of reducing its corporate and community emissions by 50 per cent in the next 10 years was no certainty. Boyle spoke to an audience of 37 at the Environment Haliburton! (EH) enviro-café Jan. 12 to discuss “A New Leaf: Muskoka’s Climate Strategy” and its creation. The strategy’s goal is significantly greater than Haliburton County’s corporate plan to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent from 2018 levels by 2030. Boyle doubted the goal would have been reached without the advocacy efforts of Climate Action Muskoka (CAM), who demanded it. “You see them every Friday on the corner. That momentum really builds,” Boyle said. “While that is an ambitious target, that shouldn’t be seen as an ambitious target. That is what the science tells us we should do. That should be seen as the baseline.” Boyle highlighted the years of effort that went into building the climate strategy passed Dec. 21, which also includes a net-zero emissions target by 2050. He said action is needed to address climate change and took pride in Muskoka’s efforts. “I am very happy despite how confusing the process was - and it was - where we got to and how much support the council has for it and how much support the community has for it,” Boyle said. “It brings strong policy leadership and firm targets which put climate action at the forefront of all decision-making,” CAM spokesperson Melinda Zytaruk said in a press release. The County of Haliburton passed its corporate climate change mitigation plan in September. The County is still working on adaptation and community plans. Boyle complimented the County for getting all its lower-tier townships on board with the overarching plan but said he could not celebrate if Muskoka went for a lower target, given scientific consensus about the need for greater reductions. “I would rather fail at meeting 50 per cent but try, rather than set something lower. In saying that, I’m not criticizing other governments that haven’t set that target. Maybe they could set that target and blow beyond it,” Boyle said. Canada’s formal goal is to reach a 30 per cent reduction of 2005 levels by 2030, though the federal government has said it will exceed that. Ontario’s climate action plan aims to reduce its emissions by 37 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels. Boyle said Muskoka's goal will require community buy-in, given 98 per cent of the district’s emissions are from community-based sources. “You need buy-in from everybody. So, you really want everyone at the table when you’re developing those reduction strategies,” he said. EH! vice-president Terry Moore said the presentation had takeaways for the organization for when the County begins its community planning. “It’s a lot of encouragement,” Moore said. “Some really good ideas and lessons for us.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood to a one-year, US$3-million contract. The move, which had been reported earlier this week, adds another arm to the Blue Jays' pitching staff along with 2019 MLB saves leader Kirby Yates, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto on Wednesday. The moves are part of a busy off-season for Toronto that includes an agreement with star outfielder George Springer on a six-year contract worth a reported $150 million, pending a physical. The 31-year-old Chatwood started five games for the Chicago Cubs in 2020, going 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings before getting derailed with various injuries, including a right forearm strain that shut him down for the second half of the season. Chatwood, from Redlands, Calif., is 51-57 with a 4.40 ERA over nine seasons split between Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies and Cubs. He made his debut with the Angels as a 21-year-old in 2011 before getting traded to the Rockies at the end of his only season with the club that drafted him. Chatwood spent the next five seasons in Colorado, before signing a three-year, $38-million deal with Chicago in 2017. Chatwood, who has been a starter for the majority of his career but has served as a reliever when needed, missed most of 2014 and all of 2015 following Tommy John surgery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario's COVID-19 numbers are showing improvement, but it's too soon to say if that's the start of a downward trend, one of the province's top doctors said Thursday. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health, said the provincial case rate has started to decline for the first time since November – sitting now at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people – although that figure is still high. The average per cent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests has also dropped – down to 5.3 per cent from 6.3 per cent last week – and 26 of the province's 34 public health units have seen case rates decline, the government said. "We're seeing some improvement," Yaffe said. "But we do need to see more data to determine if those decreasing rates are a real trend." The positive numbers come a week after Premier Doug Ford's government imposed a state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order to bring soaring rates of COVID-19 under control. Schools throughout much of southern Ontario remain closed for in-person learning because of high community transmission and the government has not provided a timeline for a return to class. Yaffe warned that there are still 1,533 people in hospital with COVID-19 across the province and 388 in intensive care units. The province is also reporting 15 cases of the so-called U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, with four that have no travel history, indicating there could be community spread of the more contagious strain. "We do certainly expect to see more as our laboratories test for this, and for other variants," she said. Yaffe also noted that a yet-to-be identified variant has been found in six cases at a Barrie, Ont., nursing home where 122 residents and 69 staff have been infected. Nineteen residents have died. She said the province is working with the local health unit to identify the variant and take action to halt the outbreak at Roberta Place. "We know there is a mutation in there ... that's associated with increased transmissibility, about 56 per cent more transmissible," she said. "We don't know which mutant it is." Ontario reported 2,632 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford continued to express frustration at COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays from Pfizer amid a production slowdown at the company. "It's absolutely critical that Pfizer steps up to the plate and not leaves us behind the eight ball, which they have," he said Thursday. Canada was to get more than 417,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and next, but will now get just 171,093 doses this week and nothing the next week. The federal government and Pfizer have said shipments of vaccine are expected to get back to normal levels in late February and early March. Canada's doses of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine are coming from a factory in Belgium that is being upgraded to ramp up production in the coming months. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
When U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking the presidential permit enabling construction of the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline Wednesday afternoon, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney suggested the future of this project could still be up for negotiation, if only the federal government would get tough. And if U.S. Democrats want to move on and not continue what Kenney called "a constructive and respectful dialogue" about the energy and environmental issues the project raises? "Then it is clear that the government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response to defend our country's vital economic interests," he told reporters. "Not doing so would create a dangerous precedent." In an interview Thursday with CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Kenney said he was worried about the precedent that could be set for other pipeline projects if the Americans start retroactively repealing permits. "The Biden administration refuses to give this country sufficient respect to hear us out on this pipeline. In that policy context then, yes, there absolutely must be reprisals," he said. "We need to stand up for ourselves." WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Ottawa 'folded' on Keystone But what does Kenney mean by "reprisals"? What's legally possible? And what's wise, at this point in Canada's relationship with a new administration? Let's start with the most obvious legal path: seeking damages under Chapter 11 of the original North American Free Trade Agreement. New NAFTA protects 'legacy investments' After the Obama administration blocked Keystone's permit, its owner — then called TransCanada — used NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process to seek $15 billion in damages. The company later dropped its case when U.S. President Donald Trump reversed the decision. Critics of Chapter 11 proceedings say governments should not be constrained in their ability to regulate in the public interest by the threat of lawsuits from corporate investors. The new NAFTA tried to address this, with stronger measures on the environment and weaker investor protections. Canada and the U.S. agreed, however, that their ISDS process would continue for three more years, offering "legacy investors" like TC Energy some continued protection. Because of its $1.5 billion equity stake, the province of Alberta could join the company's action and try to recoup its own losses. Kenney told Power & Politics he believes Alberta's case is strong. But it isn't a slam dunk. Both TC Energy and the Alberta government could have anticipated that Trump would lose the election and their permit could be revoked. Democratic pledges to block the pipeline should have factored into their investment risk calculations. On the other hand, Biden wasn't deterred by the risk of re-igniting a legal case by re-revoking the permit. "It does set an unfortunate precedent and possibly even has a cooling effect on this type of investment, so I do think Canada should fight hard for this," trade lawyer John Boscariol told CBC News. A settlement that compensates for costs and future lost profits could be pricey for the American taxpayer, but it would not reverse Biden's decision. Biden acted on 'climate imperatives' Chapter 31 of the revised NAFTA also has a state-to-state dispute settlement process — for the times when one country feels another isn't keeping its commitments. The U.S. recently initiated a Chapter 31 consultation on Canadian dairy import regulations. Could this executive order on Keystone trigger a Chapter 31 complaint by Canada? When President Barack Obama made his move, TransCanada argued that Congress, not the president, has the proper constitutional authority to regulate pipeline projects. Since Democrats will control both the Senate and the House for the next several years, it's not clear there's any point in reviving that argument now. Has the U.S. violated anything in the new NAFTA? That's also unclear, especially since one of the goals of its do-over was to give governments more power to regulate or legislate in areas like the environment. Biden's executive order said the pipeline "disserves the national interest" because the U.S. and the world are facing a climate crisis, and domestic efforts to reduce harmful emissions "must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement" as it exercises "vigorous climate leadership." "Leaving the Keystone XL permit in place would not be consistent with my administration's economic and climate imperatives," it said. Reacting to the executive order, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't mention any perceived violations of U.S. trade commitments and made no threats. "While we welcome the president's commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president's decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL," the prime minister said in his statement Wednesday evening. International Trade Minister Mary Ng's office said Thursday that stands as the federal government's official response. So what about 'sanctions'? Punishing countries that threatened American industries was a feature of Trump's trade policy. His administration's use of "national security" as justification for tariffs on sensitive global commodities like steel and aluminum was denounced as an abuse of measures intended only for emergency situations, such as wars. Protecting domestic companies from harm may be important politically, but it's not "urgent" in a way global trading rules allow. Retaliation is sanctioned as a remedy following the successful arbitration of a dispute. Even then, it's meant to be proportionate to the damage done. When the Trump administration was lashing out with tariffs, Canada joined other countries in demanding a return to "rules-based trade." Canada has tried to play a leadership role on reforms to make the World Trade Organization more effective in resolving disputes. So it's difficult to imagine the Trudeau government striking back at Biden's order with sanctions, however strongly Alberta's premier insists on retaliation. While Kenney may resent the fact that steel and auto workers were supported with retaliatory tariffs, while oil and gas workers apparently won't see the same, the United States' behaviour in the two cases isn't really comparable. The steel tariffs were condemned as illegal under global trading rules. Biden's executive order is not. Any improvised tariffs Canada could consider now would amount to more taxes on Canadian consumers, at a time when the government wants the economy to grow, not recede further. Lashing out in some other tit-for-tat regulatory fashion to harm the U.S. would most certainly be called out and punished. Trade wars are not — as Trump once famously suggested — easy to win. Particularly with a much-larger neighbour you need to work with on other files. "We are going to focus on all of the areas of cooperation," Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told Power & Politics Wednesday. "When you develop a relationship with somebody, you take into consideration everything, and there are going to be areas where we have a difference of opinion."
OTTAWA — Oct. 2, 2017: Julie Payette is sworn in as Canada's fourth female Governor General, taking over from David Johnston. Nov. 1, 2017: Payette takes on fake news and bogus science, criticizing climate change deniers, believers in creationism and even horoscopes at a convention on science policy, rankling some critics but earning plaudits from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau January 2018: Payette appoints as her top adviser Assunta Di Lorenzo, a close friend and corporate lawyer with no prior experience in protocol or the governor general's operations. October 2018: One year into her tenure, Payette has attended 195 official events compared to more than 250 for the last two governors general, raising questions around her work ethic. She also breaks with a tradition that saw previous governors general visit all provinces and territories in their first year, as she skipped Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon. July 21, 2020: CBC News reports that Payette had yelled at and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit amid a toxic work environment. July 23, 2020: The Privy Council Office says it will launch an independent review of allegations that Payette mistreated past and current employees at Rideau Hall. Aug. 7, 2020: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says public office holders should be mindful of how they spend taxpayers' money following a CBC report that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on designs and renovations to Rideau Hall, some allegedly at Payette's personal request, for privacy, accessibility and security reasons. Sept. 1, 2020: The Privy Council Office announces it has hired Quintet Consulting Corp., an Ottawa-based consulting firm with a history of reviewing harassment allegations on Parliament Hill, to conduct a third-party probe into workplace culture at Rideau Hall. Sept. 2, 2020: Trudeau comes to the defence of the embattled Payette, saying Canada has an "excellent" representative for the Queen and that now is not the time to replace the former astronaut at Rideau Hall. Jan. 21, 2021: Payette resigns ahead of the expected release of the third-party investigation report, a move unprecedented in the history of Canadian governors general. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Members of the P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Co-operative put forward a detailed plan Thursday to increase and manage irrigation on Island farms. Appearing before the province's Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the group said P.E.I.'s ongoing moratorium on new high-capacity wells for irrigation — implemented in 2002 — hasn't achieved the goal of safeguarding the province's fresh water supply. And the group's research co-ordinator Karen Murchison said the ongoing debate around whether to lift the moratorium has "really distracted I think from the bigger conversation that we really need to be having about how we value, protect and manage our very precious resource, which is water on this Island." The group's presentation comes more than three years after MLAs passed new legislation, the Water Act, meant to manage the province's water supply. But that legislation still has not been enacted by government, pending another draft of regulations as the province looks for a way to provide the irrigation that farmers say they require, while at the same time satisfying those who worry that allowing more water for agriculture could leave streams or household wells without enough. Urgent need for water cited Until now, the case put forward on behalf of producers has primarily been voiced by some of the biggest players tied to P.E.I.'s potato industry, including the P.E.I. Potato Board and processor Cavendish Farms. The last few years, it seems like the heat and the wind have turned up even more. - Matt Ramsay Just like those other industry players, organic farmers described an urgent need to allow farmers access to more water to grow their crops. Matt Ramsay, whose farm includes traditional and organic production, said rainfall in 18 of the last 20 years has been below the level needed to produce an optimal crop on P.E.I. "The last few years, it seems like the heat and the wind have turned up even more," Ramsay said. "We need to consider at what point we can't reverse the effects of this… Once farms go under, there's no coming back. And we are at a point where the rainfall we've been seeing is not enough to at least stabilize crop yields." The co-op's plan proposes making drinking water the top priority for water usage on P.E.I., with water for food production the second priority. That would make farmers a higher priority than other industrial users of water, such as golf courses and car washes. Proponents of the agriculture industry have frequently pointed out the moratorium doesn't include wells to supply those other industrial users. The co-op is urging government develop a specific management plan for water used in agriculture, though. Representatives suggest that plan should require farmers to follow certain management practices around tillage and crop rotations to maximize water retention before they are allowed to irrigate. Their water usage would be metered, and the co-op suggested there be a discussion around requiring farmers to pay for the water. The group also said water levels would have to be closely monitored throughout the growing season in every watershed, with the ability to turn off irrigation taps if levels drop too far. "I do think there's going to be a lot of situations where we're just not going to be able to meet everyone's water demands, because we'll start seeing those upstream ecosystems suffer," said Ramsay. Moratorium has failed, group says Co-op chair Brian MacKay said the moratorium isn't serving to protect the water supply because the agriculture industry has found a work-around, with some farmers installing multiple low-capacity wells and using those to fill holding ponds. The net result to our groundwater? It's a wild west right now. - Brian MacKay "The net result to our groundwater? It's a wild west right now," said MacKay, noting that even more holding ponds and wells are being dug in his area for next season. "The moratorium has not restricted water. It's restricted the deepwater well, and that's all." Government officials have said they're working on a second draft of water extraction regulations after the first draft was presented in July 2019, but the target date to deliver the regulations has been pushed back numerous times. The King government has also said it needs the new regulations in place before the Water Act can be proclaimed into law. It is required to present the regulations to committee 90 days before they're adopted by cabinet. Committee chair Cory Deagle said he didn't know when the regulations might be put forward, and there was no immediate response from the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change on a request for a timeline. While waiting, the committee has been providing further recommendations on the Water Act. In November, it recommended that the government immediately proclaim the legislation, and expand the moratorium to include all new high-capacity wells except those for residential use. More from CBC P.E.I.
La Sûreté du Québec demande l’aide de la population dans le but de retrouver le conducteur d’une camionnette qui aurait provoqué un accident, dimanche dernier, à Waterville, et qui aurait fui les lieux. Selon le communiqué publié par la SQ, jeudi après-midi, le conducteur recherché aurait eu un comportement dangereux alors qu’il circulait sur la route 147 dans le secteur du golf Milby, à Waterville, en Estrie. D’après le récit des événements fourni par les policiers, les faits se seraient produits vers 10 h 15, dimanche dernier. Le conducteur, au volant d’une camionnette blanche de type «pick up», modèle F150, circulait en direction nord vers Sherbrooke lorsqu’il aurait effectué «un dépassement illégal en empiétant sur la voie en sens inverse». «Cette manœuvre a provoqué la perte de contrôle d’un premier véhicule qui circulait en direction sud et ce dernier est entré en collision avec un second véhicule qui circulait en direction nord», peut-on lire dans le communiqué de la SQ. Les deux conductrices impliquées dans la collision ont subi des blessures qui ont nécessité leur transport à l’hôpital. L’individu en cause pourrait être accusé de conduite dangereuse causant des lésions. Les enquêteurs demandent à toute personne détenant de l’information permettant d’identifier le véhicule ou son conducteur de communiquer avec la Centrale de l’information criminelle au 1 800 659-4264.Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, explained on Thursday that with the emergence of more COVID-19 variants that are more transmissible, more people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Julia Letlow, the widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, described herself as “both full of grief while also having hope for the future" as she registered Thursday to compete for the congressional seat her husband was unable to fill because of his death from COVID-19 complications. After filing her paperwork for the March 20 election, Julia Letlow faced reporters at the same podium where she stood with her husband six months earlier when he signed up for his bid to represent northeast and central Louisiana. This time, she stood alone. She pledged to continue Luke Letlow's vision for the 5th District, defended her own accomplishments and talked of the respect for public service she shared with her husband and wanted to pass along to their two young children. “We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose how to respond. Today, I choose to continue to move forward. Today, I choose hope,” said Julia Letlow, 39, a Republican who lives in the small town of Start in Richland Parish. Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41, only weeks after winning a runoff election for the congressional seat and days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said she knows the issues of the poverty-plagued district from travelling with her husband during the campaign and because of Luke Letlow's tenure as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who stepped down after three terms and endorsed Luke Letlow for the job. Abraham now is supporting Julia Letlow for the seat in the special election. “I wouldn’t have done this without his blessing,” Julia Letlow said of Abraham. Julia Letlow has never run for office “besides sixth-grade president" but said she often had conversations with her husband about the possibility. She dismissed suggestions she was riding her husband's political coattails or trying to capitalize off sympathy to get the congressional job, saying she has her own experience to qualify her for the position. “While Luke and I were a dynamo team and I miss him every day, still you’re your own individual person with your own qualifications and accomplishments in life, and I feel like I am very well qualified to run for this 5th Congressional District seat,” Julia Letlow told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “Look at my qualifications. Take a look at my bio. Make your decision there.” She has a career in higher education, with a Ph.D. in communication. She's on leave from her job with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she works as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach. Six other contenders so far are vying for the congressional seat on the March ballot, including two who ran last fall. One of them, Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, said Wednesday he’s worried about Julia Letlow’s two young children. Guillory said if Julia Letlow wins the congressional seat, “those kids could lose two parents.” Julia Letlow responded that she's running because of 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Jacqueline. “I hope to illustrate for them the power of fortitude, resilience and perseverance," she said. Her campaign platform remains similar to her husband's priorities, with a focus on job development, expanded access to broadband internet and support for agriculture industries. She said she intends a bipartisan approach, “while staying true to my conservative ideals and values that I hold dear.” Asked if she thought President Joe Biden was properly elected to the office, Julia Letlow paused. Then, she said she believes Biden “is the legitimate U.S. president." When pressed, she said she does not have the continuing concerns that some Republicans have cited about fraud. She noted those allegations were litigated in many court cases, where no widespread voter fraud was found. “I have faith in our election cycle, I do,” she said. “I have faith in our democracy.” The sprawling 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, including the cities of Alexandria and Monroe. It's one of two congressional seats on the March ballot. Voters also will fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat, which is open after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the position to work for President Joe Biden’s administration. The signup period for both races wraps up Friday. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan says the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations will start to slow in the province as it marked the deadliest day yet of the pandemic. Health officials said Thursday that 13 more residents have died, nine of whom were 80 and older, for a total of 239 deaths. The Ministry of Health reported 227 new infections in the province and 197 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. It says 91 per cent of the vaccine doses received to date have gone into the arms of critical health-care workers, long-term care staff and vulnerable seniors, for a total of more than 29,000 shots. But the ministry says vaccine supply will run short because there are no new deliveries coming next week. A ministry spokeswoman says the province is still figuring out how it's going to adjust its vaccine rollout in light of the supply interruption from Pfizer-BioNTech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
At some point this year, the respective councils of Sundridge and Strong will need to make a strategic decision on how to go about replacing two of their firefighting vehicles. First up for replacement in 2023 at the Sundridge-Strong (Volunteer) Fire Department is the pumper, which holds about 900 gallons of water and was acquired in 2003. Then in 2026, the department's tanker which, transports about 1,600 gallons, is scheduled to be replaced. In order to have the first vehicle by 2023, Fire Chief Andrew Torrance says he needs to place an order before the end of this year. Torrance says the ordering process is long because, assuming he gets the go-ahead, a request for proposals is made and contract awarded, it takes time to put together a vehicle to the department's specifications. “So it's not a question of trying to replace a vehicle in the year you need to replace it,” says Torrance. “And if (the process) doesn't get started by the end of this year, then we're not likely to see that delivery take place for 2023.” It's the fire chief's hope he can have a proposal ready to be considered by the Sundridge-Strong Fire Department management board in the near future. That sets the stage for the board members to discuss the proposal before they take it to their respective councils for review. However, the proposal Torrance is putting together also will include a section showing how both municipalities can save money if the fire department reverses the ordering timeline and changes the holding capacity of both vehicles. As it stands now, Torrance says, the option to replace the vehicles as scheduled is the more expensive route because it involves the purchase of two full-sized vehicles; the pumper for 2023, followed by the tanker in 2026. But Torrance also plans to suggest an alternative where the department buys a tanker for 2023 that carries about 2,500 gallons of water and then a mini-pumper in 2026 that holds nearly 500 gallons. Torrance says there are no water hydrants in Sundridge or Strong. “And that's one of our main issues,” he says. “We have to make sure we bring enough water to fire-related emergencies.” Torrance says a larger tanker addresses the water capacity issue. He also says the tanker, which went into service in 2006, “would fetch more if it's replaced sooner than later because it has more value now and that would help offset the cost of the larger tanker.” As for the mini-pumper, the fire chief says the vehicle will cost less because of its smaller size, but also will improve firefighting because it's more versatile. “It's more agile and creates more accessibility to long driveways and challenging locations,” Torrance explains. The department also has a second full-sized pumper, which is its primary pumper. The unique feature with this vehicle is it can carry up to five firefighters and is also able to carry and dump water in addition to pumping it at a fire scene. Torrance says the primary pumper won't have to be replaced for many years because it was bought in 2016. The response to a typical fire emergency would see the tanker and pumpers arrive on the scene with the tanker dumping its load of water into portable tanks that sit on the pumpers. Firefighters then battle the flames by using the pumpers to draw or draft out the water from the portable tanks. The tanker, meanwhile, makes its way to the closest water source to refill its reservoir and returns to the fire site with more water for the portable tanks that is again drafted by the pumpers. The action is repeated until the fire is out. A tanker capable of carrying more water, like the 2,500-gallon vehicle that Torrance plans to propose, means fewer refilling trips and that, he says, makes for a more efficient firefighting department. Torrance also addressed the issue of why buying a mini-pumper now won't work. “If we went to a mini-pumper without changing the size of our tanker, then we carry less water and that's not improving our fleet,” he explains. Torrance says that's not to suggest there's anything wrong with the existing tanker. “It's a great truck and has served the area very well,” he says. “And it will continue to serve us well even if we don't immediately replace it.” Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Le maire de Baie-des-Sables et ex-préfet de la MRC de La Matanie, Denis Santerre, a confirmé son départ de la vie municipale en 2021 depuis décembre, à la suite de rumeurs entourant sa santé. M. Santerre s’explique sur la situation et dresse un bilan de son expérience politique. Les élections municipales de 2021 arrivent à grand pas, où il sera temps en novembre de nommer un nouveau conseil municipal à Baie-des-Sables. En effet, M. le maire ne pourra pas se représenter à nouveau pour un énième mandat, alors qu’il est maintenant âgé de 63 ans et aux prises avec des problèmes de santé. « J’adorerais pouvoir me présenter, mais malheureusement je suis atteint de la maladie du Parkinson, et elle s’est détériorée avec le temps. Sinon, c’est certain que je ferais d’autres mandats : les gens m’ont élu dans le passé avec un taux de participation à 74 %, et j’ai gagné 75 % des votes de la municipalité », a expliqué M. Santerre. La communauté l’a poussé dans le dos et encouragé depuis le début, a-t-il ajouté. « Quand on parle aux gens de Baie-des-Sables, ils disent qu’ils sont contents de ce qui a été fait par le conseil et de mes accomplissements à date », assure-t-il. Il mentionne notamment les installations et infrastructures de qualité dont ses citoyens bénéficient. Peu importe, M. Santerre ne pourra pas renouveler un mandat municipal, strictement pour des raisons de santé. Denis Santerre concluera sa douzième année à la tête de la municipalité et son troisième mandat au conseil municipal en 2021. Il se dit fier et satisfait du travail accompli, mais aussi fatigué après ces années. « Il faut aimer ça, car ça te demande beaucoup d’être maire, même pour les petites municipalités. S’ils sont sur le marché du travail en plus, c’est plus difficile. » Il défend qu’une de ses grandes qualités en tant que maire est d’être l’élément rassembleur au sein de sa municipalité. En effet, en entrant dans le monde municipal en 2009, ses concitoyens exprimaient des désaccords sur plusieurs dossiers, mais ils ont finalement été résolus. « Je souhaite donc que la prochaine personne à prendre la place soit à l’écoute de la population, qu’elle fasse des consultations publiques comme nous l’avons fait, par exemple », évoque-t-il. Le maire Santerre s’est d’ailleurs entretenu avec ses conseillers municipaux en décembre pour évaluer si une des cinq femmes ou l’homme étaient intéressés à se présenter comme maire, mais personne ne s’est avancé pour l’instant. Il juge que cette situation pourrait changer dans un futur rapproché.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane