Meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
Meteorologist Jessie Uppal has the details.
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
CALGARY — Parkland Corp. is reporting lower fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as affects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns continue to erode fuel sales. The Calgary-based convenience store operator and fuel retailer says it had net earnings of $53 million in the last three months of 2020 on revenue of $3.47 billion, down from $176 million on revenue of $4.78 billion in the same period of 2019. It says it sold 5.4 billion litres of fuel and petroleum products in the fourth quarter, a decrease of seven per cent compared with the year-earlier period. It says lower volumes were offset by strong per unit fuel profit margins in Canada and in its international operations, as well as robust company convenience store same-store sales growth in Canada of around eight per cent and a healthy 90 per cent utilization of its Burnaby, B.C., refinery. Parkland says it will hike its dividend by two per cent, its ninth consecutive annual increase. The company says it plans growth capital spending of between $175 million and $275 million in 2021, along with between $225 million and $275 million in maintenance capital spending, including about $40 million of work deferred from 2020. "In 2021, we will strengthen our customer offerings and continue our organic growth initiatives, advance our disciplined acquisition strategy and deepen our commitment to providing customers with low-carbon fuel choices as part of our broader sustainability efforts," said CEO Bob Espey. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:PKI) The Canadian Press
BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota House on Thursday took an unprecedented step and booted a lawmaker accused of threatening and sexually harassing women at the Capitol. The Republican-controlled chamber voted 69-25 on a resolution to expel GOP Rep. Luke Simons. marking the first time since statehood a lawmaker has been kicked out of the Legislature. Republicans hold an 80-14 advantage in the chamber. Sixty-three members of the House were needed to approve the expulsion resolution. Simons, who has denied wrongdoing and refused Republican leaders’ calls for him to resign, is accused of a pattern of sexually aggressive, lewd, and threatening behaviour, dating back to shortly after he took office in 2017. The resolution to expel Simons was crafted by Democratic and Republican House leaders. Simons has said the allegations “have been totally misconstrued and taken out of context.” A 14-page document compiled by the nonpartisan Legislative Council includes allegations that Simons made “advances” toward female staffers and interns, commented on their appearances and tried to give one staffer an unsolicited shoulder massage. One staffer described his behaviour as “really creepy.” Republican Rep. Emily O’Brien issued a statement last week saying that his harassment was so pervasive that she switched desks to get away from him. The Legislative Council this week released two additional documents alleging inappropriate and bizarre behaviour by Simons, a 43-year-old rancher and barber who is married and has five children. One woman said Simons referred to her as “that pretty one,” and insulted her husband, “saying that usually women who are classy dressers like myself are married to shmucks like my husband.” The woman, whose name was redacted in documents, also alleged that Simons once placed his lunch box in her office before leaving to use the restroom and said, “bet you hope there’s not a bomb in there, huh.” Simons is a member of the loosely organized Bastiat Caucus, a far-right group that supports limited government and gun rights. He has insisted on social media that he’s being targeted for his politics. Simons’ attorney, Lynn Boughey, said he believes the House cannot expel Simons, and beyond censure, can only impeach him, which would require a Senate trial. Legislative leaders and their lawyers note the North Dakota Constitution says either chamber can expel a member with two-thirds approval. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. A North Dakota Republican House member facing expulsion for allegedly sexually harassing women at the Capitol told lawmakers Thursday that any of them could be in his position. A defiant Rep. Luke Simons, who has denied wrongdoing and refused to resign, blamed his accusers for “twisting my words” and lawmakers for not affording him due process. “I could make any accusation against any of you," Simons said ahead of the vote. “Under this circumstance we are under, you’re guilty.” Simons is accused of a pattern of sexually aggressive, lewd, and threatening behaviour, dating back to shortly after he took office in 2017. Republican Rep. Emily O’Brien has said that his harassment was so pervasive that she switched desks to get away from him. “Prior to coming forward, I struggled with whether this was something I wanted to relive,” she told fellow House members. “It is hard to rehash the unwarranted, disturbing and uncomfortable experiences. I think ‘shame on you, Emily O’Brien, for not coming forward and being a voice for others.’” Responded Simons, "They have twisted my words. I believe in a North Dakota you are innocent until proven guilty.” Republican Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, an attorney, said on the floor Thursday that the move to remove Simons is about inappropriate behaviour, not about targeting a political ideology, as Simons has alleged. Simons, a barber and rancher, is a member of the loosely organized Bastiat Caucus, a far-right group that supports limited government and gun rights. “We have moved women away from him, we have limited his ability to work with them, but in doing that we are also punishing the women," Roers Jones said. "When we move women or restrict who they work with, we are limiting a woman’s ability to do her jobs, and thereby limiting her ability to advance because of the actions of one member.” Democratic House Minority Leader Josh Boschee of Fargo, who co-sponsored the resolution, looked at Simons and said, “You have hurt people. You have hurt the integrity of the legislative assembly.” Boschee added, “We have to make a statement to do better.” The North Dakota Constitution says either chamber can expel a member with two-thirds approval. That would mean 63 members of the House would need to approve. Republicans hold an 80-14 advantage in the chamber. Opponents of the resolution said the process was flawed and that Simons was not afforded due process. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert said the process to expel Simons went “above and beyond what is legally required.” GOP Rep. Rick Becker, who heads the Bastiat Caucus, said there was not “enough for expulsion” and wanted to amend the resolution to a censure but it was defeated 66-28. Pollert, the majority leader, urged the House to defeat the amendment. “This censure does not go far enough,” Pollert said. “It doesn’t even look like a slap on the wrist.” A vote was expected later Thursday. James MacPherson, The Associated Press
Cases of COVID-19 variants of concern continue to escalate in B.C., with 46 new ones announced today. Sixteen of the 246 total variant cases to date are currently active. Of the variant cases, 218 are the so-called U.K. variant and 28 of the South African variant. The majority of these cases are located in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions—178 and 60 in those two health areas respectively. About a quarter of the cases continue to be untracked in terms of transmission. Four of the people currently in hospital have variants of concern and two deaths in recent days have been in people with variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported 564 new cases, 12 of which are epidemiologically linked. B.C.’s cumulative case total has reached 82,473. Of the new cases, 168 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 279 in the Fraser Health region, 35 in the Island Health region, 36 in the Interior Health region and 46 in the Northern Health region. As cases rise across the province, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Richmond is also experiencing a surge. Between Feb. 21 and 27 there were 100 new cases recorded here, compared to 80 the previous week and less than half that number the week before. There are 4,743 active cases and 248 people hospitalized with the virus, 63 of whom are in critical care. A further 8,659 people are under active public health monitoring. Sadly, four people lost their lives due to COVID-19 since yesterday. There were no new healthcare outbreaks announced. To date, 298,851 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 86,746 of which are second doses. Henry also spoke today on an additional vaccination plan for first responders and other essential workers, using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Delivery of this vaccine will run “in parallel but separate from our age-based community-based immunization program,” she said. The province’s immunization committee is establishing who should receive that vaccine and in what order. Henry hopes to deliver a detailed plan to the public in the next two weeks, and she targeted March 18 as a possible date for that announcement. The initial AstraZeneca shipment will be used to address “ongoing clusters and outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing numbers in some places, some communities, to best protect our communities,” Henry said. She also acknowledged the uptick in new cases, and the rise of more transmissible variants, particularly in the Lower Mainland. “We can’t let these successes—the vaccines we have now—be diminished by a surge in cases that will lead us to a third wave.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
The sun had not yet crested the horizon on a cold Tuesday morning when a group of women from Six Nations crossed into a Caledonia construction site and set up a teepee. The occupation of the planned Douglas Creek Estates subdivision on Argyle Street started a chain reaction that would lead 15 years later to the ongoing standoff at 1492 Land Back Lane. “Some parts of it are like déjà vu,” said Dawn Smith, who stepped onto DCE on Feb. 28, 2006, and became a public face of the movement asserting Haudenosaunee land rights along the Grand River. “They experience what we experienced, but they’ve been there a lot longer than we were,” Smith said of land defenders who have held the McKenzie Meadows construction site since July, indefinitely delaying a 229-unit subdivision planned by Foxgate Developments while blocking key roadways in response to clashes with police. Within four months of Smith and her compatriots occupying DCE, after violent clashes and failed negotiations, the province bought the land from local developers to hold in trust, essentially surrendering the 99-acre property to Six Nations members who control it to this day as an unofficial extension of the reserve. How the occupation on McKenzie Road will end remains anyone’s guess, but a look back to 2006 may offer some clues. Origins of a conflict It’s easiest to start with what hasn’t changed. In July 2020, much like 2006 and two centuries before that, who owns the land along the Grand River remains an open question. Land defenders point to the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 as the justification for their claims of sovereignty over the DCE and McKenzie sites. Governor Frederick Haldimand granted approximately 10 kilometres along either side of the entire length of the Grand River — just shy of one million square kilometres in all — to the Haudenosaunee in gratitude for their allyship during the American Revolutionary War. Depending on who tells the story, the Haldimand Tract land was then legally surrendered by Haudenosaunee chiefs or “stolen fair and square” by corrupt colonial authorities, said Rick Monture, a Mohawk from Six Nations and professor of Indigenous studies at McMaster University. A land claims lawsuit launched by Six Nations Elected Council in 1995 to settle the question inches toward a November 2022 court date. In the meantime, developers of the Douglas Creek and McKenzie Meadows projects thought they were in the clear since the lawsuit seeks financial compensation and not the return of privately held land. Monture said the builders, and the governments who approved the land sales, should have known better. “I can’t believe they would even try to negotiate a land deal in an area that’s hotly contested. That makes no sense,” he said. The Douglas Creek occupation followed a pattern that has repeated itself at Land Back Lane — builders sought a court injunction to oust the occupiers, who refused to leave, and police tried different approaches to enforce the court order. “By April 20, the police came in and it was a full-scale raid,” said Smith, recalling the 2006 predawn clash between OPP officers and hundreds of land defenders and supporters who rushed to Douglas Creek. In response, demonstrators set up roadblocks and lit tire fires on the roads, just as happened after smaller-scale skirmishes between the OPP and those occupying McKenzie Meadows. “Where it sits right now — the precariousness of the situation, how it’s been this way for how long now — they’re experiencing a lot more than we did,” Smith said of the ongoing stalemate at Land Back Lane. Skyler Williams of Six Nations was 23 when he fought police on the ground at DCE. Now the spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane, Williams says he turns to people like Smith for guidance. Smith said Williams and others in the camp share her motivation for defending the land. “It’s my job as a woman to protect Mother Earth for the seven generations that are coming,” she said. “I feel that if more people sat and spoke with these young men and women, they would get a different understanding. They’re not there just to tear up roads and instigate riots. They’re there for a reason, and that reason I tuck into bed every night.” Passing the buck Things moved quickly after Smith and her compatriots stopped work at DCE, which her group calls Kanonhstaton, “the protected place” in Mohawk. Hundreds of residents and home buyers massed at the barricades to demand an end to the occupation and protest police inaction. Thus began what Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has described as “15 years of anarchy” in Caledonia. After the failed police attempt to clear the site, Ottawa and Queen’s Park started negotiating with Six Nations elected and hereditary leaders — a first for the area. Soon afterward, the province declared an indefinite moratorium on construction on the DCE land. This time, there have been no federal talks, and Premier Doug Ford has taken a hard line against the occupation. “What I’m hearing from residents is exactly what I heard 15 years ago,” said Barrett, a Conservative politician who at the time was also the provincial representative for Six Nations. “One thing has changed. They know it’s a different government now.” When news of the Douglas Creek occupation reached Queen’s Park, Barrett said he immediately crossed the floor to confer with the Liberal minister in charge of Indigenous affairs. The next day, he visited the site and met with clan mothers and some Confederacy chiefs, who asked for his help to liaise with elected council, the OPP and the federal government. “There is a bit of a formula here that’s followed,” Barrett said of the land defenders’ strategy of seeking nation-to-nation negotiations. “The messaging about rights and in this case land back, and the talk about, ‘It’s federal, and we want to meet with the governor general.’ I heard all this in 2006. That stuff just endlessly gets dragged out.” That’s exactly the problem, Monture said. No leader wants to solve the underlying issue. “It’s just this endless cycle of punting the ball to the province, the feds, First Nations, back and forth,” he said. “Meantime, our people grow more and more frustrated with it, and our neighbours grow more and more frustrated with us. So it works out in the best interest of Canada to let it simmer, since you let the next political party deal with it.” Monture worries what could happen “when that frustration boils over.” “They have to get serious about it soon,” he said. “We are a peaceful people. We’ve tried and tried and tried to put forward our complaints and our story. We’re just asking for some justice here.” Growing awareness, lingering frustration What was a conflagration in 2006 has been a slow burn this time around. Aside from minor clashes, the McKenzie Meadows occupation has not been marked by widespread violence. Still, there are those in Caledonia virulently opposed to what they consider a kind of urban warfare being waged against their community. Residents decry the vandalism in angry Facebook comments and invective-filled letters to the editor, saying if Canadians tore up roads and rail lines, they would be carted off to jail. Williams shrugs off such criticism. “We’re the nicest terrorists you’re ever going to meet,” he says with a laugh, referring to a since-retracted statement from Haldimand’s police services board calling the land defenders domestic terrorists. Williams said public sentiment feels different now than it did in 2006. Back then, Caledonia residents marched to the barricades with confrontation on their mind, whether with land defenders or police. This time around, residents organized a protest with Six Nations members, pushing the federal government for action on the land claim file. “The climate is way different. Way different,” Williams said. “We got people from town here walking across the police line to bring us food and love, and to come sit by the fire and talk and laugh. Gary McHale (a leader of the anti-Indigenous protests at DCE) wasn’t coming across the (barricade).” Canadians today are better educated about Indigenous issues, he added. “In 2021, the atrocities that have been committed against Indigenous people across the country aren’t secrets anymore. It is common knowledge now,” Williams said, listing off residential schools, the over-incarceration of Indigenous people, and murdered and missing Indigenous women as examples. “The government has said, yes, we are guilty of all those things, and so we need to reconcile with Indigenous people on a nation-to-nation basis.” Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt said opinion regarding Land Back Lane is “mixed” among his constituents, with many upset at seeing quiet detour routes clogged with traffic and having their tax dollars repeatedly go to repair damaged roads. “They’re frustrated that, once again, the community is the whipping stick of an ongoing dispute between the federal government and Six Nations,” Hewitt said. “They do not like the idea that if people in Caledonia choose to take a different position on this protest or other protests, that it could result in further closure of roads.” In 2006, Hewitt was a financial services adviser who headed the Caledonia Citizens’ Alliance, a group that lobbied the province to help the town during the crisis. “The federal government — whether it was today, 10 years or 100 years ago — has always known that there was a collision course that’s been set between First Nations people and our government,” Hewitt said. “There’s many opportunities along the way that that collision could’ve been avoided. Yet here we are, having the same conversations over and over again.” Hewitt contends the DCE occupation “was fully supported by many, if not the majority of those on the territory,” while in his view, the McKenzie standoff is not as broadly popular on Six Nations. “Fundamentally, they certainly do support a resolution of these outstanding claims that exist within the Haldimand Tract,” Hewitt said. “But to close roads to and destroy property, those efforts are not supported by most members of Six Nations.” Monture was quick to point out that he could not speak for the entire community — indeed, the diversity of opinion on the reserve is often cited as a complicating factor in talks with the federal government — but his sense is most residents are “quietly supportive” of the Land Back movement. “I think most of it is, ‘Here we go again, unfortunately,’” he said. “The mood in the community is, ‘Can’t we just resolve this and move forward?’” Monture has noticed a sea change in attitudes toward Indigenous grievances among Caledonians, even as the bypass and two key thoroughfares have been closed more often than not since July. “It’s tricky, because unfortunately the only way we can call attention to these things is when we make those stands that aren’t wildly popular,” he said. “There are friends and acquaintances of mine (in Caledonia) who kind of silently cheer us on, but they don’t want to do that (publicly) because they’re going to look bad to their white neighbours in town.” But that sympathy is not universal. Several Caledonia residents told The Spectator they are wary of publicly criticizing the current occupation because they fear retribution from land defenders and their allies. Some cited the violence and property damage carried out against residents living near DCE in 2006 — and the lack of police response — as the reason they are staying silent this time. But Bill Stoneman, who has lived in Caledonia for 65 years, said the McKenzie occupation feels less tense. Stoneman said while the roadblocks are “annoying,” he does not feel personally threatened. “It’s calmer. In ’06, they were terrorizing the town. It’s a lot calmer now,” he said. “It’s a safe area. They’re not antagonizing. In ’06, it was unsafe back in that area. This time they’re trying to stick to the issues.” Tension on the ground As the political wheels spin, the reality on the ground is dictated by land defenders and the police, who are tasked with enforcing a pair of Superior Court injunctions ordering the roads cleared and the McKenzie site returned to Foxgate Developments. The altercation between OPP officers and land defenders on the night of Oct. 22 — which saw a failed arrest attempt at the back entrance to 1492 Land Back Lane lead to supporters pelting a police cruiser with rocks and officers deploying a Taser and shooting rubber bullets — brought reinforcements to the scene near Kanonhstaton, Smith among them. “There’s quite a few people down there I care for a great deal, and I had to make sure everybody was OK,” she said. “The feeling down there that night, it was exactly the same as when it happened in 2006. It wasn’t the numbers that came out, but the numbers that were needed showed up.” Barrett has repeatedly encouraged the police to enforce the injunctions, while making it clear governments “do not interfere or direct operational decisions” of the OPP. “If I’ve been asked once, I’ve been asked several thousand times to tell the police to go in there and clear it,” he said. “The first reaction is, yes, this has to be nipped in the bud. Because, you know, reinforcements gradually arrive. Then it settles into something much more insidious for people who are living right next door.” Haldimand OPP Const. Rod LeClair said police “take no position” in land disputes and instead seek “open and peaceful dialogue” with demonstrators, an approached codified by the OPP Framework that guides the force’s reaction to “critical Indigenous incidents.” Williams said in practice, officers seek to “exploit divisions” within Indigenous communities while laying “nuisance charges” to deter supporters. “This is something that is playing out exactly the same today as it did 15 years ago,” he said. Police services board chair Brian Haggith — a retired Haldimand OPP officer who policed the DCE occupation — says the OPP’s Framework is flawed. “When lawlessness starts, it just doesn’t seem to be able to control it,” he said. Residents in 2006 criticized the OPP for letting Six Nations members wantonly break the law in plain sight, and Haggith said officers again stood by last fall as streets were torn up using stolen construction equipment. “Police officers in uniform are watching this occur, and no attempt to stop it. People just don’t understand,” he said. “When the circumstances change — when the protesters or demonstrators are no longer peaceful — it’s incumbent upon the OPP to change strategies in order to restore order and preserve public safety.” Ga’nogae, a Seneca chief from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, said officers are rightly showing more restraint this time. “(The government) kept the cattle prod to the OPP’s butt and said, ‘Come on, get those people off that land. Get those roads open,’” the chief said. “And the OPP, they learned from Ipperwash. They’re handling this with kid gloves, as they should be.” Split attention Beverly Jacobs, a Mohawk lawyer from Six Nations and associate dean of the University of Windsor law faculty, says the onus is on the government to avoid another standoff. She noted that Queen’s Park committed to “reconciling” Haudenosaunee land claims after the Douglas Creek standoff, but no progress was made, while more than 800 Caledonia residents and business owners wrung a $20-million settlement out of the province to compensate for their losses. Caledonia lawyer Peter Murray was involved in paying out that class-action lawsuit, and in November, his firm took the lead on organizing another legal action against the province and the OPP, prompted by roadblocks again cutting off access to town. “It’s fair to say that it’s less confrontational between the residents of Caledonia and the protesters than it was in 2006,” Murray said. “I’m not seeing the gatherings up at the Canadian Tire parking lot that we saw in 2006 — marching with the Canadian flag, that kind of stuff. It could be social media playing more of a role today. A lot of people are expressing their thoughts on social media as opposed to physically going there. But as far as the businesses are concerned, I’m afraid it could be very similar if it’s not resolved.” One problem with getting action from Ottawa is the Caledonia disputes, while disruptive locally, can’t compete for national attention with higher-profile conflicts such as the burning of Mi’kmaq fishing boats in Nova Scotia or Wet’suwet’en pipeline protests out west. “This isn’t that important to the majority of people in the country, which is why these steps these people are taking are counterproductive,” Hewitt said. “It’s not achieving the goals. Look at ’06. Show me the success as the result of that protest. Sure, you stopped a development, but that land — nothing’s happened, nothing’s changed.” That criticism misses the point, Williams said. “The way we live is quite a bit different than covering everything in concrete and asphalt and calling that progress,” he said. “To let the wildlife come back here, for the earth here to regrow and heal itself — that’s what progress is for us. To let Mother Nature do her bit, and let her take this land back.” Some residents have questioned the timing of the McKenzie Meadows occupation, wondering why land defenders let contractors clear the former farmland and install sewer lines before moving in. Williams blamed the pandemic, saying his group was ready to go in when work started in the spring, but that coincided with the arrival of COVID-19 to Six Nations. “Our entire community was locked down for those three months,” Williams said. “We were very concerned about (the virus) and wanted to make sure that everybody was going to be safe.” The pandemic didn’t stop some Six Nations members from blockading the Highway 6 bypass and the CN rail line from Feb. 24 to March 19, in solidarity with Wetʼsuwetʼen resistance to the pipeline. The protesters eventually retreated to Kanonhstaton, which has been a safe zone for land defenders throughout the McKenzie occupation. Monture suspects politicians are too busy managing the pandemic to pay much attention to a relatively low-priority land dispute in rural Ontario. “I don’t think people have the mental or emotional, or even the physical stamina now to put a lot of good thinking toward this,” he said. “We need to get through the pandemic first, and then go at it.” Sharing the land Things have not always been this tense in Caledonia. Locals remember decades, if not centuries, of neighbourly relations between Haldimand County and Six Nations, with residents intermarrying and intermingling at schools, shops, and social events. Some contend the DCE occupation soured that closeness and created divisions between the two communities. “The relationships were good. They worked for each other, helped each other out. It was a friendly camaraderie amongst people back then,” said Monture, whose father and grandfather were farmers on the reserve. They told him that in the 1940s and 1950s, their non-Indigenous neighbours knew the history and understood that the land along Plank Road — better known today as Highway 6 — was Haudenosaunee. He suspects the residents who massed at the barricades in 2006, some waving Confederate flags, were ignorant of the underlying issues at play. “I was shocked at the amount of animosity that was hurled at our people from folks in Caledonia,” Monture said. “Not so much this time — maybe it’s online more — but there was a palpable anger and mob mindset happening around Douglas Creek.” What’s next? With the occupation of McKenzie Meadows well into its eighth month and the trenches blocking the roads now repaired, the question of when the police will move in hangs over the camp. Williams knows McKenzie Road could yet become a battlefield. But, he says, they won in 2006. They may win again. “The amount of support across the country for our stand here has been amazing,” he said. “We know that resistance movements from Indigenous communities are growing. Our ally networks are massive and far-reaching across all Turtle Island. I think all of us have a shared struggle.” Smith sees an emotional parallel to DCE in what is happening on the ground in Caledonia today. “The way everybody’s come together as a family, that’s the way it was back in 2006,” she said. “Blood is blood. Whether we’re related by family or just we’re all Onkwehonwe. Just to know that this fight has been happening since day one. From 1492 — or the way our stories go, before that — we have fought to hold onto our way of life.” To Hewitt’s mind, protests at DCE did not spur political action on land claims, and this time will be no different if violent confrontation is the result. “What I’ve seen in the last 15 years is we’re more likely to see success for both communities by working together to find common ground than we are working opposed to each other, as we have been,” he said. “Sitting here blocking a road into a small town of 10,000 people isn’t getting the attention of Ottawa. It’s not getting the attention of Toronto. All it’s done is fan some flames of anger.” Thus far, Ford has given no indication he plans to follow former premier Dalton McGuinty’s lead and buy out the developers as a way out of the standoff. Rather than politicians simply waiting out the land defenders, Monture would like to see “a fair and sincere effort” to address land claims. “True leadership and courage — that’s what it’s going to take,” Monture said. Barrett said the answer must come from Six Nations, where elected and hereditary leaders have begun to smooth over decades of mistrust — created, Monture noted, by Ottawa supplanting the Confederacy with the band council — in order to negotiate with Ottawa as a united front. “The question I’ve been asking for 15 years — do you know who’s in charge?” Barrett said. “It’s really not the role of the provincial or federal government to step into that kind of argument. That’s internal to the community.” With occupations allowed to continue virtually unchallenged, Barrett sees the rule of law weakening. “It’s chaos. I really resent the intimidation that’s used to generate fear,” he said. “That’s not how we operate in Ontario or Canada.” To Smith, each land reclamation moves First Nations peoples one step forward to self-determination. “My passion is to see my governments sit at the table with your governments — face to face, heart to heart — and really try to come to a compassionate understanding that will benefit everybody,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Several community groups are calling for more resources for women dealing with domestic violence, as some shelters face an unprecedented demand because of the pandemic. The calls come after at least five Quebec women were killed in recent weeks — deaths that could have been prevented, according to advocates, if the province had better support systems in place. Two women were killed in a town in the Laurentians Monday. Myriam Dallaire, 28, and her mother Sylvie Bisson, 60, were found with serious injuries in a home in Sainte-Sophie, Que. They both died from their injuries that night. Dallaire's ex-partner was arrested after being involved in a traffic collision in nearby Saint-Jérôme Monday night and is considered a person of interest in the homicides. Quebec Premier François Legault addressed the double-homicide in Sainte-Sophie at a news conference Wednesday, calling the killings the act of a "barbarian." "There is nothing masculine, there is nothing virile, about being violent with women. On the contrary, it is the opposite. I find it to be very cowardly," he said. "Let's hope that the measures we are setting up for housing centres shelters for women will improve the situation." Since January, SOS violence conjugale has received close to 35,000 online and phone requests — the highest number the organization has ever seen. Melpa Kamateros, executive director of Shield of Athena Family Services, says the pandemic has created a perfect storm for victims of domestic violence. "With the lockdown and quarantine, women found themselves in close proximity with their abusive partners, which led not only to increased situations of violence but also to less time to make an escape plan," she said. "In general, COVID has added yet one more layer of difficulty for women trying to access information and services." Shield of Athena's executive director, Melpa Kamateros, says changes need to be made to Quebec's legal infrastructure to better protect victims of domestic violence. (CBC) In a survey of Quebec women's shelter clients — conducted by the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale from July to November 2020 — 42 per cent of women said they faced more intense incidents of domestic violence during the first lockdown and 43 per cent said they did not seek help because their partner was always around. Then there's issue of finding a place to stay, once their time in an emergency shelter is up. Many women in the province rely on the help of second-stage homes — shelters where women stay after they head to an emergency shelter but before they find permanent housing. But those facilities are far beyond their capacity and many regions, including the Laurentians, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie and Lanaudière, don't even have them. Gaëlle Fedida of l'Alliance MH2 speaks during a news conference in Montreal, highlighting the lack of second-stage housing and its effect on women and children who are victims of domestic violence. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press) Gaëlle Fedida of the Alliance des maisons d'hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale has been calling for more second-stage housing units to be developed in the province. She says the homes are a critical step in preventing the murders of women who are trying to leave their abusive partners. "Just include it in the next budget," Fedida called on Legault. "All those ladies who were murdered lately, it was in a situation of post-separation domestic violence." More help coming, province says Last year, the province doubled the funding for combating domestic violence to $180 million, including $2.5 million in emergency funding for shelters during the pandemic. Isabelle Charest, Quebec's minister responsible for the status of women, says the government's action plan using this funding will help women get out of dangerous situations. But part of that, she said, is ensuring women know the warning signs before the situation can turn fatal. "We know it's the crime that's the least reported," Charest said on Radio-Canada's Tout un matin Thursday. "Our role is to put in place a mechanism to prevent and help in these situations." While most of the funding is going toward "rapid intervention measures" and supporting women's shelters, she echoed Legault's sentiment that men must also be included in their plan. "We must implicate men," she said. "It's something to help women who are victims, but we must also help men who behave like this." But Kamateros says lack of shelter and housing for survivors of domestic violence in the province is only the tip of the iceberg. She is calling on the province to put more of a focus on preventing incidents of domestic violence by adopting a law similar to "Clare's law" — a piece of legislation that allows police to warn someone they could be in danger from their partner under certain conditions. Saskatchewan became the first Canadian province to adopt it last summer. "I would also see that the legal system be better prepared to receive testimonies from women victims, that perhaps separate courts could be established," said Kamateros.
Windsor will be working with existing shelters when it comes to providing services at a hotel it's in the process of purchasing to house people experiencing homelessness, according to a city councillor. Rino Bortolin says organizations such as the Salvation Army, Downtown Mission and The Welcome Centre Shelter for Women will not lose funding or be left in a lurch because of the city's plan to buy a facility of its own. "We as a city are not really the most direct [or] hands-on. We will be working with our partners on the ground to provide these services," explained the Ward 3 councillor, who represents a large section of the downtown core. "This is about everyone working together for a better system. By no means is the city leaving our partners and doing something rogue." Few details of the plan, including the location of the facility, have been released right now. But Bortolin said he anticipates more information will be provided in the next week or two. Andrew Teliszewsky, chief of staff for Mayor Drew Dilkens, told CBC News in an email Wednesday that city council had approved the deal during an in-camera meeting earlier this year and the legal steps to acquire the site are already underway. The planned purchase follows the Review of Emergency Shelter Services in Windsor Essex. A copy of the review on the city's website is dated July 14, 2020. Teliszewsky said it went to council in the fall of 2020. Among its findings was the need for more shelter space dedicated to women with or without children, youth and young adults. "The one thing that was a glaring need for specifically for families and specifically for women was increased services," said Bortolin. "So increased services means a bigger shelter." City tapping into provincial funding However, the recommendations section of the review also advises that the city deliver services through third-parties — namely the shelters and organizations already doing the work. "Direct delivery has the potential for higher costs and would not allow the city to leverage the resources and existing expertise of community partners to meet shelter needs," it reads. The review goes on to add that Windsor should explore opportunities for more family shelter beds and a dedicated facility, but notes funds "are currently not available to support" the investment in a building. When asked why buy a hotel, rather than investing in the services already running shelters in the city, Teliszewsky said the city is already regularly paying to house families in hotels when shelter space runs out. He also pointed to provincial funding that includes a grant program under which municipalities can buy a facility. "The province made available funding and we didn't want to leave it on the table," he said. "It provides the opportunity for the city to acquire a property, where in previous years we have been renting, so it relives an operating budget line item and will give us flexibility to implement some recommendations from the Emergency Shelter Review, which council had endorsed." Long-term goal is permanent housing Officials also said that just because the city is purchasing the site, does not mean it will be the one operating it. Ron Dunn, executive director of the Downtown Mission, said Wednesday evening that he was just hearing about the plans to purchase a hotel, but described the move as "progressive." "We need maybe smaller shelters. The hotel seems to fit that bill," he said. "[The mayor] did state that he's going to work with existing shelters. There's only three of us, so I think it's great." The Downtown Mission on Victoria Avenue is one of three shelters currently operating in the city. A review which went to council states ore services for women and young persons are needed in the community. (Dale Molnar/CBC) Bortolin said the need for services for the homeless community should be clear to anyone walking through downtown. While shelters serve an immediate need and can offer a bed for a night, they're just a start. "The long-term effort is permanent housing," he said. "The one cure for homelessness is housing"
Brent Braaten of Halifax is now in possession of a taxidermic three-headed duckling and he has no idea why. It arrived in the mail last week in an unassuming cardboard box that sat on his table unopened for hours because he figured it was a Pilates ball he'd ordered online. It wasn't. "I tore away at the plastic and packaging and then one of the duckling's faces emerged and I immediately sort of jumped back," he told CBC Radio's Mainstreet. "When I gained the courage to go back to the box and dig a little bit further, I noticed it wasn't just one head, but there were three duckling faces staring back at me." The package is addressed to Braaten with a return address in China, so he's certain the duck delivery wasn't a mail mix-up. "They were definitely intended for me, but I certainly did not order these ducklings," he said. To be sure Braaten didn't accidentally make the order on eBay after a night of drinking — something he admits has happened on occasion — he checked his bank statements. He can find no evidence that he sought out the strange item himself. How to care for a 3-headed duckling The three-headed duckling comes with a set of instructions. Instruction No. 1: Let your new arrival sit out in the sun or in the air for 48 hours after opening the package. "I guess sort of the same way as you'd want to off-gas a new mattress, that's the way I saw it anyway," Braaten chuckled. "The second instruction was to — this is something that I found kind of strange — it asked me to use a regular hair blow-dryer 'to fluffy' the duck's feathers." Braaten wrote on Facebook about "becoming a three-headed duckfather" and posted a video where he dutifully follows the instructions. He said a quick search online revealed a taxidermic duckling can cost between $80-$200 US. "This is an expensive artifact," he said. "I can't imagine a company … sending away all these ducklings when they're quite valuable." Email offers a clue, but no answers The only clue contained in the package is an email address. Braaten sent a message to the address but didn't receive many answers. "They didn't quite understand what I was asking. They wanted to know if I wanted to buy something, and so I asked for more information, but they haven't gotten back to me yet," he said. Some digging online also revealed the name on the email address matches the name of a Chinese zoologist who appears to be well-known for his work preserving larger animals like elephants and giraffes. "I really hope that I do find out who sent it to me," Braaten said. "I figure it's either a friend who really likes the idea of giving me a mystery or it's an enemy who's trying to send a cursed object to me." Braaten says his dog, Zelda, isn't a fan of the new arrival. 'She definitely doesn't trust them,' he said.(Brent Braaten) He asked his friends to come up with a name for the duckling, a question that led to a philosophical discussion about the nature of the soul, and whether a three-headed being deserves three names. One suggestion was to name it after three Disney cartoon ducks, Huey, Dewey and Louie. Braaten's personal favourites are Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards Hades in Greek mythology, or Howards the Duck, a spin on the name of the Marvel Comics character. Braaten might be confused, but he's not mad that this unusual gift landed on his doorstep. "I guess in these sort of COVID days, it's nice to have something whimsical happen to you once in a while." MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Pharmacies in three Ontario regions, including Toronto, will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines next week, although the province provided few details Thursday on how the pilot program would work. Health Minister Christine Elliott said pharmacies will receive doses of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province has said those shots will go to residents aged 60 to 64 based on federal recommendations. "A large number will be delivered through pharmacies because it's easier to handle," Elliott said of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. "It will be very helpful as we're trying to roll out the COVID vaccines as quickly as we can to protect as many people as possible." Elliott said Ontario will soon be releasing a revised immunization timeline that accounts for expected shipments of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot and new guidance on extending the interval between doses to four months -- both of which are expected to speed up the vaccine rollout. "We know that people are anxious and we're anxious to let them know when they will be able to receive the vaccine," she said. The Ontario Pharmacists Association said the vaccination pilot will begin with approximately 380 pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex, with the first shots to begin possibly as early as Tuesday. "It's a move in the right direction," CEO Justin Bates said in an interview. "We're more than happy to partner and be a solution, and we're looking forward to a successful rollout beyond March." Bates said pharmacies will use their own booking systems to make vaccine appointments since a provincewide web portal isn't set to launch until March 15. Vaccines will likely go to people between the ages of 60 and 64, Bates said, although that will be evaluated based on supply. Sites are expected to be able to administer about 46 shots per day, he said. The program will eventually scale up as supply increases, Bates said, noting that the pharmacists' association has about 4,600 sites across the province. About 3,200 sites are already experienced with administering flu shots every year, he noted. "All Ontarians live within three kilometers of a pharmacy, so that's our advantage in terms of our footprint," he said. Opposition politicians said they were concerned about the government's lack of detail on the vaccine rollout. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government has not done enough to guarantee that older residents most at risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19 will be vaccinated first, as recommended by experts. "Where's the assurance that folks who are ... between 60 and 64, who are healthy, are not going to get that vaccine ahead of somebody in their 70s," she said. Liberal health critic John Fraser said the lack of a clear plan is another sign that the government is not ready for the broader rollout. "Just because a plan evolves, doesn't mean you don't do one or you don't show it to people," he said. Ontario has administered a total of 784,828 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine so far. The province's top doctor said Thursday that people should continue to follow public health guidelines even with the good news on increased vaccine supply, pointing to increased cases of COVID-19 variants. Public Health Ontario confirmed 678 cases of variants, which are more contagious strains of the virus, as of Thursday. Dr. David Williams said variants are a major factor as he considers whether to recommend lifting a stay-at-home order for Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay, Ont., that's set to expire Monday. "We want to be cautious at this time," he said, noting he was concerned about rising positivity rates in Toronto and Peel as well. The government will decide Friday what restrictions to impose on those three regions. The top doctors in Toronto and Peel have said they want the stay-at-home order lifted and their regions to be placed in the strictest category of the province's colour-coded pandemic framework. That "grey lockdown" category allows non-essential retail to open at 25 per cent, but still bans indoor restaurant dining and personal care services. Meanwhile, the top doctor for the Sudbury, Ont., area suggested she wanted stronger restrictions for her region amid rising cases that have lead to institutional outbreaks and school closures. Ontario reported 994 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus. The report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, avoiding a potential clash with moderates in their own party who were wary of reigniting the “defund the police” debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. Approved 220-212 late Wednesday, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is named for the man whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked demonstrations nationwide. It would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement while creating national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability, and was first approved last summer only to stall in the then-Republican controlled Senate. The bill is supported by President Joe Biden. “My city is not an outlier, but rather an example of the inequalities our country has struggled with for centuries,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who represents the Minneapolis area near where Floyd died. Floyd’s family watched the emotional debate from a nearby House office building and said “defunding the police” is not what the legislation is about. “We just want to be treated equal. We just want to deescalate situations,” said Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew. “We want to feel safe when we encounter law enforcement. We’re not asking for anything extra. We’re not asking for anything that we don’t feel is right.” Democrats hustled to pass the bill a second time, hoping to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. But the debate over legislation turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that supporters were intent on slashing police force budgets. Though this bill doesn't do that, moderate Democrats said the charge helped drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country last November. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Teas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. Republicans quickly revived the “defund the police” criticisms before the vote. “Our law enforcement officers need more funding not less,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wis. Still, even the House’s more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, ultimately backed the bill. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the moderate New Democrat Coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill’s prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Another possible point of contention is provisions easing standards for prosecution of law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without legal protections, fear of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it. “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity as well as those changing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a statement on behalf of the Floyd family saying the House was “responding to the mandate issued by thousands of Americans who took to the streets last summer to raise their voices for change.” “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of colour and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of colour,” Crump and Romanucci said. “Now we urge the Senate to follow suit.” That may be a taller order. Even though Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. Bass acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But she said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how “the scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, Bass conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50. She said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding, “Hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” ___ Lisa Mascaro contributed. Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
A Liberal MLA wants more details about what the government plans to do to support the Island's tourism industry during the upcoming season. Heath MacDonald raised the issue during question period in the legislature Thursday. He said many Island tourism operators are currently trying to make plans for the upcoming season and are waiting for guidance from the province. "Predictability is an important part of the process of whether they're going to open their business or not and you know, they're very, very worried," MacDonald said. Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald says other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to planning for the tourism season.(John Robertson/CBC) He asked Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay when those working in the industry would have some answers. "So where is the plan? Maybe there's a plan we're not aware of for this industry. Where is the road map for this anxious industry?" Plan to be released March 18 Responding to MacDonald's question, MacKay said he knows the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and government is gearing up to release its tourism strategy at a conference later this month. "We've been working round the clock for the last eight months, with industry as a whole," MacKay said. "Obviously I wish I had a crystal ball … the road map of the future, we still don't know what it looks like but we're prepared to the best of our ability and industry has been at the table front and centre with this and it's going to be rolled out March 18," MacKay said. MacDonald countered that other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to laying out their intentions for this season. MacKay told CBC News the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. and the modified red phase were a setback in rolling out the plans. He said the tourism strategy for 2021 is being developed in partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. and includes details about the province's marketing campaign and new programs to help support operators. Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay says government will roll out its plans for the upcoming tourism season at a conference on March 18.(Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. ) MacKay didn't provide specific details of what this year's plan will include, but did say it will build upon last year's strategy that encouraged Islanders to explore P.E.I. and welcomed visitors from within the Atlantic bubble. "Islanders really stepped up last year to support the tourism industry and tour the Island. The Atlantic bubble was a success and we feel like we can improve on that. Until vaccines roll out I just can't see us having much more than that," MacKay said. "But depending on how quick we can roll vaccines out and how quick the rest of the provinces can roll vaccines out, will be the tell tale." More P.E.I. news
In her second children’s book, titled Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know, Dr. Brittany Luby explores the wonders of the four seasons, telling the story of which animals, plants and changes in the natural surroundings are connected to each season. “When an orange star shows bedtime is near, and brown Peeper sings, ‘Goodnight, little one.’ This is how I know spring,” a passage from the book reads. Aimed at younger readers but a pleasant read for anyone, the book is a short journey through how one can recognize when seasons start to show signs of change, and the different connections people can have with the environments they live in and interact with. “I like to imagine sharing these stories with my nieces and my nephews when I’m writing them,” Luby said. “I think that you can feel so loved when you are outdoors and take that moment to connect with the trees that are creating air that’s better for you to breathe. You can become attuned to how all our plant and animal relations are just giving so much of themselves so that we are living the most fulfilling life that we can.” Luby (Anishinaabe-kwe) said the book was a way for her to reflect on her upbringing. “I miss my ancestral territory when I’m away from it. This book was a way for me to reconnect that was really nourishing for me,” Luby said. “I think an important part of the story is encouraging people to reconnect with their plant and animal teachers. Who’s giving you signs that the season might be changing?” Outside of her work in children’s books, which includes her 2020 debut picture book Encounter, Luby’s research as an assistant professor of History at the University of Guelph consists of a wide range of topics related to Indigenous health, education, as well as the industrialization of the Canadian boreal forests and subarctic. She was inspired to do this work by being brought along to negotiation meetings as a teenager by her father. "My Dad was on Council for six terms and chief for two terms. Dad is an active member of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation to this day. He has acted as a chair of general band meetings, lead negotiator, and project manager. “I witnessed Dad at work in each of these roles. However, I began to watch how he worked as a negotiator. The meetings I remember most clearly focused on the damages sustained by Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation as a result of hydroelectric development." “This sparked my passion for learning about my ancestral community, water issues, and the impacts of the settler-colonialism on the territory,” Luby added. Written originally in English, Luby engaged the duo of Alvin Corbiere and his son Alan to provide the Anishinaabe translation in Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know, which is featured alongside each of the book’s passages. In both the title and on the pages of the story, the Anishinaabe translation precedes the English text. Alan, who works as an assistant professor at York University, said he and his father did the majority of the translation over the course of a weekend working together. Though he’s been studying the Anishinaabe language for more than 20 years, Alan does not consider himself fully fluent and enlists the help of his father to help with some of the tougher translations. “There’s distinctions to be made about trying to get literal and yet be true to the author’s words and sentiment,” Alan said. “I looked at this project as a challenge to try to further my understanding of the language in a different way.” The books’ illustrations come by way of Vancouver-based Woodlands style artist Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Ojibwe), a member of Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario. Originally travelling to British Columbia for only a short visit with his sister in 2015, Pawis-Steckley said he ended up enjoying himself so much — and the milder climate — that he’s now been there for almost six years. His first sample for the book was done in September 2019. Pawis-Steckley said he completed the illustrations over the course of six months or so, concluding in summer 2020. Outside of his work with children’s books, his art career has included a residency at Skwachay's Lodge in downtown Vancouver, a featured doodle on Google’s home page in July 2019 highlighting the traditional Ojibwe Jingle Dress dance from the early 20th century, and operating a new screen printing shop. When he’s not creating art, Pawis-Steckley enjoys swimming, which he said helped while creating artwork for the book. “A lot of the inspiration came from just being out on the lake with my family, swimming all day,” he said. “It’s a mix of Woodlands art and traditional children’s picture book style.” Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know is available here, as well as through most major bookstores. Windspeaker.com By Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Breaking with other Southern GOP governors, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended her state’s mask order for another month Thursday but said the requirement will end for good in April. The move came a day after President Joe Biden slammed the governors of Texas and Mississippi for deciding to lift their mask mandates, saying their actions reflect “Neanderthal thinking.” Ivey has faced political pressure to lift the mask order like her Republican counterparts but said she will follow the recommendations of medical officials and keep the mandate that was set to expire Friday in place until April 9. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer," Ivey said at a news conference. The governor called masks “one of our greatest tools” in preventing the virus’ spread but emphasized that she will not extend the mask order further, saying it will become a matter of personal responsibility when the mandate ends. “Even when we lift the mask order, I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey said. Medical officials welcomed Ivey’s decision after urging an extension, arguing that easing restrictions before more people were vaccinated could reverse recent improvements. Alabama’s rolling seven-day average of daily cases has dropped from 3,000 in early January to below 1,000 and hospitalizations are at their lowest point since summer. “This is very good news. This gives us a month to vaccinate more people and to get a better handle on the role of the UK variant,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association. So far only about 13% of Alabama’s 4.9 million people have received one dose of vaccine, according to state numbers. State Health Officer Scott Harris said vaccine supplies are increasing and if the state can get a cumulative total of 1.75 million shots delivered by early April, that would be a “terrific place to be.” Harris said about 500,000 people in the state have tested positive for the virus and there are likely others who had it but didn’t know. “We are striving to reach this herd immunity point at some point,” Harris said. Dr. Ellen Eaton, who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said schools and organizations serving people who’ve yet to receive a vaccine will need to “carefully consider how to proceed” once the order ends. “For many, continuing masking will be necessary, such as in schools and colleges. But leadership in these spaces needs time to think through the health and policy implications of recommending masks in the absence of a mandate,” she said. Ivey faced backlash on social media for her decision, with some users sharing the phone number to the governor’s office and asking callers to voice opposition to the rule. And the Alabama Senate approved a resolution Wednesday evening urging Ivey to end the mask mandate. Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also asked Ivey to end the mask requirement, which he has opposed all along, saying individuals can make decisions for themselves and follow safety rules until vaccinations and immunity levels are sufficient. “But we can do all of these things without a Big Brother-style government mandate looming over us,” Ainsworth said in a statement. The governor did lift some restrictions on how many people can sit as a restaurant table, but tables are still required to be 6 feet (2 metres) apart or have a partition. The order also allowed senior citizens to resume some activities and hospitals to increase the number of visitors patients can have from one to two ___ Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Kim Chandler, The Associated Press
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
Newfoundland and Labrador's minister responsible for the status of women says there's been a recent increase in calls to the province's domestic violence help line but there are services available to help women living with violence. Lisa Dempster says the increase in calls is concerning, but she's encouraged that women are reaching out for help, despite the public health restrictions in place. "While we are in lockdown, you do not have to feel you are locked down at home with an abuser, so we do know that there's been some increase in calls," she said. Dempster didn't give specific details about how many more calls the line is receiving. The domestic violence help line was launched in June. When someone calls or texts, the system will automatically detect the region they're in and connect them with a trained professional at the nearest transition house. If necessary, they can then be connected to services, like women's centres or police, for further help. Non-profit groups said they saw a significant increase in domestic violence calls during the early stages of the pandemic. We know that some of the calls coming in are more focused on physical violence. - Lisa Dempster Dempster said the pandemic has had a greater effect on women, and restrictions can create added pressure for women living with violence. As a result, the types of calls the line is receiving has also changed, she said. "Prior to the pandemic, we would get various calls to the line, could be around financial abuse, different types," she said. "But right now — and we know the pandemic has been really difficult for many people and it's not impacted all of us equally — we know that some of the calls coming in are more focused on physical violence." During an election, the government is in caretaker mode, but Dempster is still the minister, and she says has been checking in with staff in the department at least once a week. She said the increase in calls began within the past week. "Yesterday, maybe, when I learned there had been an increase, I felt compelled to get out, to do my part to hopefully reach some women that are in unsafe situations," she said. Help available for women experiencing violence The minister urged women not to stay in an unsafe situation at home because of the public health restrictions in alert levels 4 and 5. "To women who are struggling with violence in their lives today, I want you to know that help is available," she said. "There are services right across this province, and when you feel you are ready and you feel that it's safe for you to reach out, there are organizations waiting to help you." Dempster said transition houses across the province are open and have room to accept women in need. She said, on average, the transition houses are now at about 55 per cent capacity. "While we've made good strides and we're moving in the right direction, certainly there is progress that can be made," she said. "We're grateful that we have fared better than many other provinces. Still, we have our own issues — all is not well and we need to get out and we need to talk about those. We need to hear from folks out in the community and we need to put whatever services in place that we can to support them." The province's domestic violence help line is 1-888-709-7090, and can be reached by call or text, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s attorney general has promised a thorough investigation of allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least two women. But if the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, what then? Who gets to decide what discipline, if any, the Democrat might face? New York has an impeachment court, last used in 1913, but there are other options, like a public censure, or just letting the matter play out in the court of public opinion. Here’s a look at what could come next in the investigation: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S REVIEW Attorney General Letitia James said her office will hire a private law firm to investigate Cuomo's conduct and issue a public report. Details, like the scope and length of the investigation are unclear. The inquiry could just focus on the two members of Cuomo’s administration who said they felt harassed. Or investigators could seek out other women who were made to feel uncomfortable, even those outside the administration. Former Cuomo adviser Lindsay Boylan says the governor commented about her appearance, summoned her to an uncomfortable private meeting in his office after a holiday party and gave her an unwanted kiss at a meeting in 2018. Boylan also says the administration leaked her personnel files to reporters after she accused him of harassment. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked about her sex life and if she had ever had sex with older men, and talked about wanting a girlfriend, which she viewed as the governor asking for a relationship. A third woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times the governor put his hands on her cheeks and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding. The three-term governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but acknowledged he does kiss people’s faces as a greeting and has teased people about their personal lives in a way some women interpreted as flirting. “I didn’t mean it that way,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “But if that’s how they felt, that’s all that matters.” One possible blueprint for the investigation is one Cuomo himself oversaw as the state’s attorney general in 2010 into his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson. Cuomo enlisted the state’s former chief judge, Judith Kaye, to examine allegations Paterson pressured a woman to drop domestic violence allegations against a longtime aide. Paterson was also accused of violating state ethics laws by accepting free Yankees World Series tickets and ethics commissioners ended up fining him $62,125 for falsely testifying he intended to pay for them. Kaye took about four months to issue a report on the domestic violence probe, finding Paterson committed errors of judgment but should not face criminal charges. WHAT IF INVESTIGATORS FIND WRONGDOING? Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Wednesday that if the investigation shows something inappropriate did happen, Cuomo should resign. If Cuomo refused to go, one option could be impeachment. That process would start in the Assembly. If a majority of members vote for impeachment, a trial would then be held with a jury of senators and Court of Appeals judges. At least two-thirds of the jurors are needed to convict. New York used this process to oust Gov. William Sulzer from office in 1913. A legislative committee found Sulzer failed to report thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and commingled campaign funds with personal funds. Sulzer blamed his downfall on the Democratic Party machine of Tammany Hall, and he blasted the court’s secret deliberations: “A horse thief in frontier days would have received a squarer deal,” he complained. IS THERE A PUNISHMENT SHORT OF IMPEACHMENT? Either state legislative chamber could decide to censure the governor by majority vote, according to New York University School of Law professor Stephen Gillers. That would amount to a stern public rebuke, a largely symbolic penalty. No lawmakers have expressed public support for censuring Cuomo amid the investigation, and there’s no indication it’s being floated as an option down the road. “A public slap on the wrist seems inadequate for the moment,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris. In 1892, the state Senate censured three senators for refusing to vote on a bill. And in 2007, an assemblyman was censured and lost his position as ranking member on the chamber's alcoholism and drug abuse committee for sleeping at the home of a 21-year-old female intern after drinking at a sports bar together. Predicting the appetite for a punishment now might be premature, with the investigation still incomplete. “If there are more stories that come out, depending on who you’re talking to, people may have different sensibilities,” said Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, who chairs the legislative ethics commission. CIVIL COMPLAINT? The governor, like any one else, could face civil penalties if someone sues him for sexual harassment or files a complaint with a state or federal agency. That could lead to civil penalties, a cease-and-desist order or an order to change his practices. “Could somebody then bring a lawsuit for civil penalties based on the finding of the (attorney general)?” attorney Richard Rifkin, who was special counsel to the governor in 2007 and 2008 and serves as legal director at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. “They could.” HOW ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES? It's also possible that a prosecutor could bring criminal penalties based on the attorney general's report, according to Rifkin. Harassment could constitute a crime if it involves forcible physical touching of a sexual nature, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts. Cuomo has insisted he didn't touch anyone inappropriately and said if he kissed or touched anyone, it was in the way that politicians have been greeting allies and constituents for ages. ___ Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report from New York. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — As Lionel Desmond completed an 11-week program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in August 2016, those responsible for his care were worried about something they couldn't figure out. Though he displayed symptoms considered common among combat soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, he was making little progress under treatments that usually produced results. Kama Hamilton, a social worker at the Montreal hospital where Desmond was treated in 2016, told a provincial inquiry Thursday he suffered from angry outbursts, combat-related flashbacks, impulsivity, irritability and hyper-vigilance. Yet, she said, "he didn't stand out as particularly (different) from the others." Hamilton, who tried to help Desmond with anger management and social connections, said the Ste. Anne's Hospital team was concerned that something was interfering with his treatment, given the fact that he had lost trust in the staff and still faced a "long road" to recovery when he was discharged on Aug. 15, 2016. The inquiry is investigating why, less than five months later, Desmond bought a rifle and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. During her testimony, Hamilton said she came to the conclusion that Desmond had a constant fear of being abandoned, a condition she said could be the result of a personality disorder or a head injury that impaired his cognitive abilities. On Tuesday, psychiatrist Robert Ouellette told the inquiry that Desmond appeared to have "mixed personality traits," including obsessive compulsiveness and paranoia. Ouellette said the paranoid traits caused Desmond to mistrust virtually everyone, including his wife. Desmond repeatedly told staff at the hospital that his main goal was to become a good husband and father, but he often expressed jealousy and anger towards his wife. During her testimony Thursday, Hamilton said she learned that aside from flashbacks to his combat duty in Afghanistan, her patient also complained about gruesome nightmares about his wife being unfaithful. Hamilton said that during an hour-long telephone conversation, Shanna Desmond told her that in the dream, her husband caught her sleeping with another man and responded by "chopping her to pieces." Despite the violent nature of the nightmare, Hamilton said she was confident Shanna Desmond was not in any danger, mainly because Lionel Desmond's recollection was intended as a cry for help rather than a threat. As well, she said Shanna Desmond had made it clear she and the couple's nine-year-old daughter had never been subjected to physical violence, and she didn't believe her husband would ever hurt them. Hamilton said Shanna Desmond was deeply concerned about her husband's welfare, noting that he had unpredictable, angry outbursts that resulted in him throwing furniture — but that was the extent of the violence she had witnessed during their marriage. Still, Hamilton said she also learned that the former infantryman would sometimes resort to passive threats of suicide as a means of controlling his wife. She said Shanna Desmond recalled one disturbing incident, when he texted her to say he would soon be watching his daughter "from above," and when she returned home, she found him obsessively cleaning a rifle he owned. "If someone is feeling vulnerable, they may try to find ways to gain control," Hamilton said. "Abandonment is a situation where you feel helpless." On another front, Hamilton said her patient complained about suffering a head injury while he was training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, though he was deemed medically fit after he regained consciousness. That led to speculation at Ste. Anne's about a possible brain injury, which could explain why Desmond had some cognitive challenges, including troubles with concentration, memory, organization and language. The treatment team agreed that Desmond should undergo a full neurological assessment, which was a recommendation that was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada as he was preparing to leave the program. The assessment was beyond the scope of the hospital. Desmond never received that assessment. In the four months before the Jan. 3, 2017 triple murder and suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., Desmond received no therapeutic treatment. Earlier in the hearings, a psychiatrist at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry that Desmond desperately needed help when he returned home to Nova Scotia, but it was apparent he was "falling through the cracks." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
The municipality of Grey Highlands is calling in backup to assist in gathering public input for its Downtown Markdale Revisioning project. “In a pandemic world, as we know, we're all Zoomed out and tired of sitting at a computer screen. We wanted to make sure that this was a fulsome opportunity for the community to engage,” said Michele Harris, director of community and economic development for Grey Highlands. At a council meeting held on Wednesday, Grey Highlands council approved appointing The Planning Partnership as the consultants for the project. In 2018, the municipality purchased 20 Toronto Street North, a two-acre property located in downtown Markdale. Markdale is the largest settlement area in Grey Highlands with 1,200 residents. The rural community is also located near Highway 10 and Grey Road 12, which sees 9,300 daily travellers in the peak season. At the time of the purchase, the municipality declared the site would serve as “a place where cultural and market interests intermingle to catalyze the region’s economy and contribute to the revitalization of Markdale’s downtown core”. In late 2020, council moved the project forward, authorizing staff to proceed with an RFEI process that would seek out applicants to assist the municipality through the community engagement process. The RFEI also called on applicants to outline how they would create a plan to build awareness around the project; propose post-project recommendations on how to keep the community updated and provide a final report highlighting the results of the process. In early February, two submissions were recommended to proceed to the next step in the Downtown Markdale Revisioning RFEI. Fotenn and The Planning Partnership provided full RFP submissions to the municipality’s Technical Review Team in mid-February. “The committee was unanimous in my recommendation of the Planning Partnership, they're extremely experienced in this field, their firm's depth of expertise, their approaches to community engagement are going to be really interesting,” said Harris. The Technical Review Team includes three volunteer representatives from the community, as well as the CAO and Harris. During the presentation process the proponents were asked to identify their experience in understanding how zoning and planning regulations would need to be considered; the importance of the project as a catalyst for downtown revitalization; their approach to meaningful community engagement; and experience with similar projects. “This company had been using a lot of these virtual tools, in parallel with their traditional tools, prior to the pandemic,” Harris explained. “This is not new for them. They have the experience that I think really sets them apart from most of the other submissions we received.” Council approved spending $31,000 for the consulting portion of the project, which will be funded through the municipality’s working capital reserve. According to Harris, the project is expected to begin almost immediately and staff expect to deliver the final report from the consultants by the end of June. “We will be communicating out to the public what the process is and what the timelines are,” she added. “I'm really interested to see how the community embraces this.” Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
HONOLULU — The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled a tsunami watch Thursday for Hawaii that was issued after a huge earthquake occurred in a remote area between New Zealand and Tonga. The agency previously cancelled a tsunami warning it had issued for American Samoa. The magnitude 8.1 quake struck the Kermadec Islands region. The quake forced thousands of people to evacuate in New Zealand but did not appear to pose a widespread threat to lives or major infrastructure. It was the largest in a series of tremors that hit the region over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3. The Associated Press
The head of Canada's largest private sector union says air passengers who couldn't use their tickets because of the pandemic will get refunds. Jerry Dias said Air Canada has already agreed to the refunds, which has been a sore point among consumers starting in March when travellers were forced to stay home. As Sean O'Shea reports, Dias says refunds are a condition for an airline aid package.