British Columbians living on the South Coast awoke Saturday morning to a healthy blanket of snow, and meteorologists say there's more to come. Julia Foy reports.
British Columbians living on the South Coast awoke Saturday morning to a healthy blanket of snow, and meteorologists say there's more to come. Julia Foy reports.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island announced the start of a COVID-19 testing pilot project Tuesday for travellers arriving in the province by air. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters the four-week project will assess the feasibility of using rapid tests on travellers. Air travellers will have two swabs taken when they land on the Island: one for a rapid test and another that will be sent for confirmation at a provincial laboratory. Morrison said the test on arrival does not exclude travellers from the mandatory 14-day isolation period for people arriving from outside the province. She said authorities are looking to detect COVID-19 cases among travellers more quickly. Morrison said it would likely be at least six weeks before conditions in the Atlantic region are stable enough to allow for travel within the four-province bubble that existed until rising case numbers ended it in November. She said the province is looking closely at other jurisdictions as they loosen restrictions to monitor the spread of various variants of the virus. No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in P.E.I. on Tuesday, leaving just one active reported infection. The province has had a total of 115 cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) Foreign diplomats, unaccompanied minors, truckers and patients getting treatment abroad are among the limited number of travellers who are exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine requirements when arriving in Canada by air. The federal rule that requires such travellers to stay at an approved hotel for up to 72 hours while awaiting the results of their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 went into effect Monday. Quarantine hotel reservations must be made prior to a traveller's arrival in Canada and can only be made by calling a dedicated government phone line. Reservations must be made at the traveller's expense. Diplomats, consular couriers and their families will not be required to book the hotel stay or take a post-arrival PCR test, and will be able to complete the entirety of their 14-day quarantine elsewhere. Canada added the exception to the rule because it is bound by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The 1964 international law states that diplomats "shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention." Australia is also exempting foreign diplomats from similar quarantine requirements. "Foreign diplomats need to quarantine for 14 days on return to Australia. They can quarantine at their mission or usual place of residence," Australia's Department of Health website says. "Australia has legal obligations under the Vienna Convention to ensure diplomats' freedom of movement and travel, and protection from detention." Good policy or vulnerability gap? Anna Banerji, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the diplomatic exemption isn't a smart approach to a pandemic. "This is a vulnerability gap," Banerji said. "When we start making these exceptions — just like the politicians going down south during the holiday season thinking that they don't need to have the same rules as everyone else — that can lead to infection spreading." Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said foreign diplomats should have a post-arrival COVID-19 test and face the same restrictions as everyone else. Charles Burton, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a former Canadian diplomat based in Beijing, said it would be appropriate for the federal government to send out a diplomatic note to all embassies and consulates in Canada asking that their diplomats voluntarily comply with the hotel quarantine rule and produce a post-arrival test. "Countries that are responsible in their international behaviour will insist that their diplomats comply with these regulations, the same as any non-diplomat or Canadian would have to comply if they crossed over into Canada from a foreign country," Burton said. Sarah Goldfeder is a principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group who recently served as special assistant to two U.S. ambassadors to Canada. She said making exceptions for diplomats is good policy, since it's in line with the requirements of other countries. "It goes back to this kind of back-and-forth reciprocity of what do you, and who do you want to be in charge of your diplomats when your diplomats travel to their postings," Goldfeder said. "I don't think that there's any increased risk by any of their behaviours. In general, they're coming from their country of origin to this country. They're not travelling to multiple locations in between." Sarah Goldfeder is a principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, who recently served as special assistant to two U.S. ambassadors to Canada. Canadian diplomats abroad are fully subject to Canadian public health measures when they return, including PCR testing and federally-mandated quarantine rules, said Global Affairs Canada. The requirement to quarantine in a hotel and take a PCR test upon arrival also does not apply to unaccompanied dependent children and unaccompanied minors. A quarantine officer can release a person in "exigent" or extraordinary circumstances from the requirement; the government has not spelled out what sorts of circumstances would qualify. In such cases, an individual is still required to follow instructions from the quarantine officer. The hotel quarantine measure — which the government hopes will enable better detection and tracking of a number of more infectious coronavirus variants — has drawn criticism. Travellers have reported struggling to get through to a booking official on the government phone line. Others are worried about the cost of a hotel room. On Friday, the federal government released a list of approved hotels in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. The list now contains 18 hotels between the four cities.
OTTAWA — Crown prosecutors are asking that a Manitoba man be sentenced to six years minus time served after he pleaded guilty to eight charges related to an incident at Rideau Hall.Corey Hurren, 46, rammed through a gate at Rideau Hall and headed on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s home at Rideau Cottage while heavily armed on July 2.Police were able to talk Hurren, a Canadian Ranger and sausage-maker, down and arrested him peacefully after about 90 minutes.Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told an Ottawa courtroom today that Hurren's actions posed a serious threat to public safety and set up a potentially dangerous situation.Defence lawyer Michael Davies is seeking a sentence of three years, less time served, and acknowledged Hurren's bad choices before noting his client gave himself up peacefully.Davies said Hurren was a hardworking member of society before the COVID-19 pandemic caused him to face financial difficulties and depression. Justice Robert Wadden is expected to deliver his sentence on March 10.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) Wishful thinking and poor forecasting have led NB Power to consistently miss profit and debt reduction targets in recent years with major new expenditures on the horizon, according to an unflattering assessment of the utility's financial management by New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson. "It is ultimately management's decision to reduce debt," said Adair-MacPherson, in a 65-page review of the utility she presented to MLAs on Tuesday. NB Power ended the 2020 fiscal year with $4.9 billion in net debt, about $700 million higher than targets set for it by the Legislature in 2013. That's a concern, according to the auditor general, because the province guarantees what NB Power owes and significant new spending requirements are approaching. "It's the largest contingent risk to the province," she told MLAs, about NB Power's liabilities. Debt reduction, her report said, is "not a top priority" of utility management, who she said failed to meet financial targets "year after year" by engaging in "optimistic" and "inaccurate forecasting" of utility expenses. The report notes how in 2016 the utility projected $549 million in profits for itself over the following four years in its planning but managed to achieve actual profits over the period of just $54 million, less than 10 per cent of what it had suggested. Damaging storms, spotty performance by the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, low hydro production during dry summers and other problems have all taken turns upsetting the utility's financial plans, but Adair-MacPherson said those risks need to be better accounted for in corporate planning. An ice storm that hit the Acadian Peninsula in 2017 downed dozens of power lines and cost NB Power a record-setting $30 million in cleanup expenses. She also expressed concern about whether the utility will be able to significantly improve its finances before 2027, when up to $4 billion in major expenditures will be needed for a rebuild of the Mactaquac Dam and other projects. "NB Power does not have a definitive plan to do this," she wrote about the need for significant short term debt reduction. Although NB Power charges some of the lowest rates for electricity in Atlantic Canada, Adair-MacPherson questioned whether that makes business sense given its financial position. "While maintaining a consistently low annual rate may be advantageous to NB Power consumers, it is likely contributing to its failure to meet the debt to equity target and ever-increasing debt level," she said. Adair-MacPherson's report comes as NB Power is coping with yet another major unbudgeted cost, the unexpected breakdown of the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station last month. The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station appeared to have its reliability issues resolved in the last two years, until the utility had a surprise problem with its turbines in January. Turbine problems forced a shutdown of the plant in mid January and more than a month later it remains offline at an approximate cost to the utility of $1 million per day. In its response to the report, NB Power defended its forecasting practices and expressed confidence it will get its debt level down to the required 80 per cent level by 2027. However, it also promised to do better budgeting for trouble. "NB Power agrees to evaluate additional means to quantify the impact of significant future cost uncertainties outside management's control and to include this information in its planning process," said the utility's response.
HALIFAX — Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia's 29th premier Tuesday along with a cabinet that included two former leadership rivals.Rankin tapped ex-Liberal party leadership contenders Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey for high-profile jobs, with Kousoulis getting the crucial finance portfolio and Delorey assuming duties as minister of justice and attorney general.Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc swore in the 17-member cabinet at the Halifax Convention Centre during a ceremony that was scaled back due to COVID-19 protocols."We are writing a new chapter for sure, but it is one that reflects and respects our past," Rankin said in an address after swearing his oath of office. "Governments that have come before ours ... have provided us with strong foundations to support our agenda."The 37-year-old Rankin was chosen as Liberal party leader earlier this month at a virtual convention in Halifax. He captured his party's top job by billing himself as an agent of generational change and has vowed to be a collaborative premier who will place an emphasis on the environment.He takes office with a shortened window to establish himself — a provincial election must be called by the spring of 2022. Rankin, however, said he is immediately focused on governing and dealing with important issues such as jobs, the economy and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.He told reporters there is no shortage of challenges."I'm really impressed with the team that I have and I'm putting them in the right place to help me deliver on the commitments I made during the leadership campaign, Rankin said. "Issues of climate change, inequality and building back a strong economy that's more inclusive."Kousoulis will have the tough task of balancing fiscal discipline with the need to bolster an economy damaged by the pandemic. Nova Scotia went from a projected surplus of $55 million to a deficit of $779 million over the past fiscal year — a figure former premier Stephen McNeil recently said would be closer to $500 million by this spring's budget."The work will be to ensure that we're supporting Nova Scotians and getting ourselves back on a solid financial footing," Kousoulis said. He said that while the upcoming budget is already largely prepared, there could be a chance to tinker by adding some of Rankin's priorities.Signalling change, Rankin created a new department — Infrastructure and Housing — that will be headed by former business minister Geoff MacLellan, who has said he won't be running in the next election.He also created two offices: Mental Health and Addictions under new Health Minister Zach Churchill, who shifts from education; and the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, which will become the responsibility of Tony Ince, who remains as minister of African Nova Scotian affairs.Kelly Regan was sworn in as deputy premier and retains her position as minister of community services while taking on responsibility for the province's seniors.Cabinet newcomer Keith Irving was appointed minister of the newly renamed Department of Environment and Climate Change. Other first-time cabinet ministers include Ben Jessome as minister of the public service commission, and Brendan Maguire, who takes over municipal affairs. Irving, a former architect who lived for 26 years in Iqaluit, said he's ready to deal with what has been a long-time interest. "While living in the Arctic in the early '90s, I saw the effects of climate change," he said. "It was very real there and it is now very real for all of Canada and Nova Scotia."Chuck Porter returns to cabinet in a new role as minister of lands and forestry, while Derek Mombourquette is the new minister of education. The Immigration Department will be getting a new title as well, becoming the Office of Immigration and Population Growth, overseen by Lena Metlege Diab, who will remain as minister of labour and minister of Acadian affairs. Lloyd Hines remains as minister of transportation, while others retaining their old jobs include Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell, Service Nova Scotia Minister Patricia Arab and Culture and Heritage Minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. Rankin replaces McNeil, who announced his retirement last August after 17 years in politics. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
(Monty Kruger/CBC - image credit) The Calgary Board of Education is considering cutting some programs of choice and consolidating programs as it looks to balance student populations in public high schools across the city. "Right now, as some of you are aware, some of our schools are overflowing while others are under capacity," said acting superintendent of school improvement, Darlene Unruh. On Monday, the CBE unveiled two scenarios that are designed to fix that problem. In Scenario A, programs would be consolidated to fewer high schools, and arts-centred learning would be discontinued. In Scenario B, there would be a further reduction in the number of program locations, and arts-centred learning, Spanish bilingual and French international baccalaureate would be discontinued at the high school level. Unruh says both scenarios would balance enrolment at most high schools, and in Scenario B, even more students in the regular program would be able to attend school closer to home. "In both scenarios, four of five regular program students will attend the same school as currently designated, and 74 per cent of our communities will continue to attend the same school as they do now," she said. Parents fear scenarios spell end of Spanish program For parents like Heather Campbell, who has three children enrolled in the CBE's Spanish bilingual program at schools in the city's south, these scenarios aren't good news. Scenario A would see students wishing to complete Spanish immersion sent to Crescent Heights School, and Scenario B would see the program end. "Obviously, having it cancelled entirely is disappointing, and having it moved to Crescent Heights School is disappointing," she said. Campbell said her oldest daughter is set to graduate this year from Dr. E.P. Scarlett's Spanish immersion program. Campbell said that when her daughter started in kindergarten, there was no guarantee it would be Scarlett. The Campbell family says it fears the changes could end their children's Spanish education altogether. Pictured: Ian Campbell, Brenna Campbell, exchange student Beatriz Garcimartin Bailon from Spain, Heather Campbell, Connell Campbell, Keenan Campbell. "But the CBE did carry through and made those investments, and along with the two other schools — Canyon Meadows and Robert Warren — the whole set up of that program was having all three levels of school in one neighbourhood … that was the selling point," she said. "It's just disappointing that you do commit as a family to a program, especially a language or an arts-based education, and then it's just not supported as advertised. We feel like we're constantly fighting for our program." The CBE said it's not uncommon that they have high uptake in its alternative programs in K-9 and then see those numbers drop off in high school, and right now Spanish immersion enrolment in high schools is low. But, Campbell said, they're cutting the program off at the knees, which will ultimately lead to the end of it altogether. "I am worried that it's a trickle-down effect," she said. "They say that the program will continue, but that seems disingenuous at this point. I feel like … we will be having a conversation about our middle school in the next two years." Feedback to be gathered online, in virtual meetings Unruh said the two scenarios were developed through 2019 consultations with students, staff, parents and the community, and recognize the board's limited space and resources and attempt to have the best impact for students. "Both scenarios provide quality learning opportunities that allow students to complete their high school requirements," she said. "They do this in three key ways. Firstly, they provide a more equitable learning experience for all high school students. Secondly, they maintain a regular program at every high school, and thirdly, they allow for alternative programs and academic enrichment when possible." The board is now launching the next phase of its high school scenarios engagement process — which initially began in May 2019 and has faced many delays — in hopes of picking a scenario, or gathering enough feedback from families to create a third, hybrid scenario. Feedback will be gathered through online surveys and virtual meetings. A decision will be announced in the fall of 2021 and will be put into action for the 2022-23 school year.
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press - image credit) Public health officials are looking to contact six people who shared a ride in a van from Toronto to Ottawa last week, after a seventh occupant later tested positive for COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the white van left Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre around 1 p.m. last Tuesday with six passengers and a driver aboard. OPH didn't name the private operator, but said the trip had been advertised on Kijiji. At the time, Toronto was still under a stay-at-home order, while Ottawa's was lifted that same day. OPH said the van arrived in Ottawa around 6 p.m., dropping off passengers at Bayshore Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre. The passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 would have been contagious at the time of the trip, OPH confirmed. Health officials recommend people only get into a vehicle with members of their own household. Anyone who has to share a ride with others should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drinks, and stay home if they're sick. Anyone who thinks they may have travelled in the van last Tuesday is asked to contact OPH at 613-580-6744 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s choice to lead U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations on Tuesday. Linda Thomas-Greenfield's confirmation reflected the Biden administration’s determination to reengage with the world body and former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy that often left the U.S. isolated internationally. Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position. Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African American, and the second African American woman, to hold the job. Her confirmation was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations, who had lamented the Trump administration's unilateral approach to international affairs. “This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health and global human rights. "We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.” “We can count on Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to work with international partners to confront our collective challenges head on, and play an active role in ensuring the U.N. evolves with the demands of our era as an essential forum for collective problem-solving and catalyst for global progress,” said Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, a private group that supports the world body’s endeavours. “Hers is the leadership America needs at the UN at this critical moment for the U.S. and world." Republicans who opposed her said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies. In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law. She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and that “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbours and they are a threat across the globe.” Thomas-Greenfield spoke of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she made clear there would be a change under Biden to reengage internationally and promote American values. She stressed that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” And she said that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.” At her hearing, she recalled attending a segregated high school and then Louisiana State University “as a consequence of a lawsuit.” She said she was “not the norm” among the Ivy League graduates who also joined the Foreign Service in 1982. “And yet, I had an extraordinary 35-year career that culminated as the assistant secretary of state of African affairs,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To me, that represents the progress, and promise, of America.” Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
CALGARY — Athletes setting significant records in their sport are often too busy achieving those milestones to process their place in history at the moment. What helps Jennifer Jones wrap her head around a career 153 wins at the Canadian women's curling championship is seeing them through the eyes of people she loves. Jones became the career leader in wins at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a 6-5 win Tuesday over Newfoundland and Labrador's Sarah Hill. Jones arrived at the 2021 Tournament of Hearts two back of the 152 victories held by Colleen Jones. Jennifer Jones knows the record would have meant a lot to her late father Larry, who died two years ago at age 80. "My dad always loved the records," Jones aid Monday. "He always followed all the records. I know he would watching from above, (be) very, very proud. "It definitely means something to me. As you kind of approach the end of your career, just to be remembered for doing something that you love is pretty remarkable." The wins record is among many Jones holds in women's curling. If the six-time national champion prevails in Calgary, the 46-year-old from Winnipeg will be the only woman to win seven. Should daughters Isabella and Skyla take up curling, the record book provides a compelling argument that their mother is the best to ever play the game. "My kids do look at it. There's a book with my name in it with some records," Jones said. "I hope if anything it just shows them that if you work hard, that dreams are possible. I just want them to have the best possible life and if this can have any impact on that, it's absolutely incredible." Jones's first win in 2002 was an 8-4 victory over Prince Edward Island's Kathy O'Rourke, who is P.E.I's alternate in Calgary this year. Jones's 153rd wasn't a work of art as her team's shooting accuracy was 80 per cent, but it was one Jones and her Manitoba foursome needed to get to a 3-2 record. Sitting on 2-3 until their next game Wednesday wouldn't have felt uncomfortable. "We were grinding it out today," Jones said. "We really needed this win to stay kind of in there in the competition." Quebec's Laurie St-Georges topped Pool B at 4-1 ahead of Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt at 3-1. Manitoba was knotted at 3-2 with Chelsea Carey's Wild Card One. St-Georges downed Nunavut's Lori Eddy 7-5. Carey lost a second straight game, falling 7-5 to B.C.'s Corryn Brown. B.C., Newfoundland and Saskatchewan were even at 2-2. Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson fell 7-6 to New Brunswick's Melissa Adams, who won her first game. Nunavut was winless in five games. Ontario's Rachel Homan and defending champion Kerri Einarson at 4-0 were the only undefeated teams in the tournament heading into Tuesday's Pool A draw. The top four teams from each pool of nine at the end of the preliminary round Thursday advance to the two-day championship round and take their records with them. The championship round's top three will be Sunday's playoff teams, with the No. 1 seed rewarded with a bye to that day's final. Jones has won everything there is to win in women's curling, including two world titles a decade apart in 2008 and 2018. Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen went undefeated en route to an Olympic gold medal in 2014. "I can't believe this is my 11th year with Jennifer and the girls," Lawes said. "I still feel like I'm the 21-year-old kid when I joined the team. "I was just so eager to learn from the best. I've always looked up to Jen. She's a role model and how special is it to be able to play with people that you're inspired by?" Jones and former second Officer own the record for most Hearts final appearances (9). Dawn McEwen, who is pregnant and sitting out this year, played lead for Jones in seven of them. Jones has appeared in the most playoff games (33) and shares the playoff win record (21) with Officer. "I've been so fortunate to have the best human beings as teammates that have supported me throughout I don't know how many years," Jones said. In her 16th Hearts appearance, Jones trails only Colleen Jones (19) for the most by a skip. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — British Columbia will permanently allow restaurants, bars and tourism operators to buy liquor at wholesale prices, a move that industry hopes will help revive the struggling sector. The provincial government made temporary changes last June to allow the hospitality industry to buy alcohol at the same cost as liquor stores and it has now made that decision permanent. Previously, restaurants, pubs and tourism businesses with liquor licences paid full retail price — the wholesale price, plus a markup set by the government — on most alcohol purchases. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says in a news release that the government is making the change permanent to give businesses certainty and to help the estimated 190,000 residents who work in the sector. Trevor Kallies, beverage director for the Donnelly Group, which owns several bars in Vancouver, says in the release that wholesale liquor pricing will help alleviate some financial pressures so businesses can focus on other areas, such as the health and safety of staff and customers. Restaurants Canada says in a statement that the move fulfils a long-standing recommendation from the industry group and it thanked the B.C. government for levelling the playing field between the province's retail and hospitality sectors. "This move will go a long way to help British Columbia's hard-hit restaurant sector transition from survival to revival," said Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president for Western Canada. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
The province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for worrying variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone aged 18 and up.
THUNDER BAY — A new website launched this week features various services and tools to support victims and survivors of local human trafficking, says the co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Thunder Bay has been identified as one of the top six hubs in Ontario for human trafficking says Kristal Carlson, human trafficking youth and transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling and co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. “This crime is rampant in Thunder Bay,” she said Monday, Feb. 22. The website was created to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with access to free services and to also spread awareness and education in the community about the crime. “The Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking created the website to help community members, potential survivors and business people alike to be able to acknowledge, identify and potentially intervene if they should see human trafficking in young peoples’ lives,” Carlson said, adding the crime is often under-reported. For women, only one in 10 will report and for men only one in 20 will report to police, Carlson said. “It is such an under-reported crime so any sex-based crime we know that only six per cent will ever end in conviction so it is really hard to convince people to come forward when there is not the likelihood that something will happen,” she said. And while groups such as the Thunder Bay Coalition To End Human Trafficking exist to support victims of the crime, it is important to note they do not classify themselves as a “rescuing people” group, Carlson said. “We support individuals to move forward when they are ready in the way that is going to best suit them in their current situation,” she said. Last year alone, through various programs across the Coalition more than 60 people were successful in leaving their current situation, Carlson said. The creators of the new website also hope to address misconceptions around human traffickers that are often presented in media and movies. “Human trafficking, more times than not, is somebody being exploited by the person they identify as their boyfriend, their best friend or somebody that they know so that happens in more than 85 per cent of cases,” she said. The other most common form of trafficking is the exploitation of young people by family members, extended family members, caretakers or guardians. “More times than not it’s happening by the person they believe to be their boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend,” Carlson said. The website also teaches individuals how to identify signs and risk factors of human trafficking. “We also want to raise the education in the city of Thunder bay because we are identified as one of the top six hubs in the province of Ontario and Ontario makes up two-thirds of all human trafficking that takes place in our country,” Carlson said. Carlson also points out that coming forward doesn’t mean individuals have to report to the police. “The Thunder Bay Police have started to do some really amazing work in being able to meet survivors exactly where they are at and not needing to move forward with charges but to support them for when they are ready to do that if they are ever ready to do that,” she said. “We just want [survivors] to know they are not alone and that there are people to support you no matter where you are, whether you are currently at risk, entrenched, or you looking to exit, there are people here to support you.” For more information, visit Thunder Bay Coalition’s new website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Square Inc raised the bets on bitcoin by investing $170 million more and Chief Executive Jack Dorsey promised on Tuesday to "double down" on the payment firm's commitment to the world's biggest cryptocurrency. "The Internet needs a native currency, and we believe bitcoin is it," the longtime bitcoin enthusiast and chief executive of social media firm Twitter Inc said. Square bought 3,318 bitcoins in the fourth quarter, adding to the mainstream acceptance of the digital currency that has been winning support from several big investors.
OTTAWA — Judges peppered a federal lawyer with questions Tuesday as the Canadian government argued a refugee pact between Ottawa and Washington is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada's lawyers contend the Federal Court misinterpreted the law when it declared in July that the Safe Third Country Agreement breaches constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security. The court's declaration of invalidity was suspended for six months and later extended, leaving the law in place while a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeal examines the issue. The two-day hearing is slated to proceed through Wednesday. Under the bilateral refugee agreement, which took effect in 2004, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection. It means Canada can turn back a potential refugee who arrives at a land port of entry along the Canada-U.S. border on the basis the person must pursue their claim in the U.S., the country where they first arrived. Canadian refugee advocates have steadfastly fought the asylum agreement, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution. Several refugee claimants took the case to court along with the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International, who participated in the proceedings as public interest parties. In each case the applicants, who are citizens of El Salvador, Ethiopia and Syria, arrived at a Canadian land entry port from the U.S. and sought refugee protection. They argued in court that by returning ineligible refugee claimants to the U.S., Canada exposes them to risks in the form of detention and other rights violations. In her decision last year, Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald concluded the Safe Third Country Agreement results in ineligible claimants being imprisoned by U.S. authorities. Detention and the consequences flowing from it are "inconsistent with the spirit and objective" of the refugee agreement and amount to a violation of the rights guaranteed by Section 7 of the charter, she wrote. "The evidence clearly demonstrates that those returned to the U.S. by Canadian officials are detained as a penalty." In a written submission filed in advance of the appeal hearing, the government says the court's decision should be overturned because the refugee agreement does not breach the principles of fundamental justice. The government argues McDonald made serious legal mistakes in striking down the pact. Federal lawyers say that in finding detention makes it more difficult for asylum claimants in the U.S. to access legal counsel, McDonald ignored evidence that about 85 per cent of asylum claimants in the U.S. are represented. During the appeal hearing Tuesday, Justice David Stratas questioned the notion the judge's findings were in error. "You would admit, wouldn't you that there is a risk that someone is turned back at the Canadian border and encounters the U.S. system, including detention, without counsel. That's a possibility?" he asked Martin Anderson, a lawyer for the government. Anderson replied that when one looks at the "totality of the evidence," it tends to support the notion more people have access to counsel in detention than not. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
(Yoskri Mimouna/Radio-Canada - image credit) In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government spent at least $61 million to help public servants adapt to working from home, according to an analysis by Radio-Canada. The amount is likely higher because some departments including Global Affairs Canada haven't released their spending figures. According to Radio-Canada, the majority of the money that has been reported was used to equip workers with computers and office furniture needed to work from home. The spending doesn't include salaries. As one example, the Department of National Defence provided employees with 960 chairs, 9,896 laptops, 33,000 VPN connections and 110,000 accounts for Microsoft Office 365. The department also allowed each employee to spend $300 on smaller office items. By comparison, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation, granted its employees a monthly allowance of $80. "What worries us the most is whether there were duplicate or triplicate expenses," Renaud Brossard, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's director for Quebec, told Radio-Canada in a French-language interview. Brossard is concerned some of that money might have been spent on items that could have been picked up from the office, and said the government needs to keep tabs on all that equipment once the pandemic is over and workers return to their cubicles. Resources stretched thin: unions But Geneviève Tellier, a professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa, cautioned taxpayers to be understanding in these exceptional circumstances. "It is possible that there were mistakes, that we paid too much," Tellier said in French. But according to unions representing federal public servants, even with all the costs, resources for teleworkers are still stretched thin. "We are experiencing technical problems, such as VPNs failing," said the Public Service Alliance of Canada's Alex Silas. Stéphane Aubry of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said some departments "have not provided much equipment" to their employees. According to PIPSC, some 200,000 federal public servants are working from home during the pandemic. According to Radio-Canada's analysis, the government has also spent more than $26 million on safety measures for workplaces that have continued to function throughout the pandemic. The costs included installing signs and Plexiglas shields.