Check out this snow twister captured on camera in Stowe, Vermont. How cool is that? Full credit to: @bibi_time on Twitter
Check out this snow twister captured on camera in Stowe, Vermont. How cool is that? Full credit to: @bibi_time on Twitter
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
(Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - image credit) The interim report from the Premier's Economic Recovery Team (PERT) will not be ready by the original Sunday deadline, according to Moya Greene who heads up the taskforce. Greene called a news conference on Saturday morning to offer an update on where the PERT stood on its recommendations to help dig the province out of its fiscal dilemma. She said the team will need another five to six weeks to deliver the interim "Greene Report." Greene pointed blame at the pandemic and most recent lockdown across the province for delaying the interim report, which was due by Feb. 28. "With all of the necessary rearranging that all of us have had to do as a result of the pandemic, and now this new lockdown period, we are just not going to be able to work in the time that I had originally thought," she said. "But even with that, if you look at our terms of reference, there's a lot of ground that we have been asked to cover. We want to cover it well, and so we are going to need a few extra weeks, maybe five or six extra weeks to get the report done in a way that we'll be happy with." Greene said the decision to delay has nothing to do with the ongoing provincial election, and the interim report just isn't ready. The report will be out there and it would be available for everybody to consider when it's done and it's not done yet. - Moya Greene As for the Feb. 28 deadline, she said she never thought of the date as a "time is of the essence thing." "I really thought of it as a notional date, and if all the things had gone in the way that I had hoped when we started our work, I thought that would be a reasonable period of time to prepare the interim report," she said. "A lot has changed since we started and now, most recently with the lockdown, people are working from home and the flow of our work, just like I'm sure things that you are doing, has become more interrupted." Greene said she is unsure if the interim report delay will have any effect on the final report, which is due by the end of April. When asked if she could offer some insight into what recommendations are being made so far, Greene said, "the report will be out there and it would be available for everybody to consider when it's done and it's not done yet." Premier Andrew Furey said he was informed on Friday of the interim Greene Report delay. She said over the last 15 to 20 days, she figured the deadline would be missed as it was taking longer for work to be completed. Greene noted she told this to the clerk of the executive council at least a week ago, and everybody on the team knows they needed more time to table the report, the decision wasn't hers alone. Premier Andrew Furey told reporters on Saturday he was made aware the report would be delayed on Friday by the clerk of the executive council, and he only found out about Greene's news conference on Saturday morning. "I was surprised to hear that this morning as well. I talked to the clerk this morning and he said Dame Moya Greene did approach him about a potential delay, but they were working toward trying to formulate an interim report and working hard," Furey said. "This week, it became obvious to him and to her that this was not possible, and he informed me on Friday morning." Voters misled: Crosbie Meanwhile, the province's opposition parties aren't buying the reasoning behind the delay. PC Leader Ches Crosbie said the delay "confirms our worst fears" that the provincial Liberals don't want voters to see the report before casting their ballots, and continues to accuse the party of having a secret plan to make cuts to jobs and services, specifically to rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The new fluid deadline Greene tabled on Saturday will come after the deadline for voters to have their ballots returned. Crosbie said many of the undecided voters he had been speaking with wanted to wait until Sunday to read the interim report before making their decision. "All those people have been badly misled," Crosbie said. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says voters have been 'badly misled,' given the delays to the interim Greene Report. Furey said on Thursday that he hasn't spoken with Greene since Christmas, though the team's mandate is to meet with the premier on a weekly basis, a detail that has been called into question by both the provincial Tories and the NDP. Greene said things are different now that the province is in the middle of an election, and Furey still doesn't know what is being recommended. "It's just not appropriate for me to communicate with the premier during the time from the date at which the writ was dropped, and I never arrived back after the Christmas break until Jan. 8," Greene said. "Before Christmas, I would mostly communicate with the premier by telephone to let him know how things were going. But he certainly doesn't know what the recommendations will be because they're not written yet." NDP Leader Alison Coffin accused the Liberals of being secretive after Saturday's delay. NDP Leader Alison Coffin says a delay in the release of the report means a delay in making vital economic decisions for the future of the province. She said the Liberals are back to their "antics" and "secrecy." She said she suspects if there was good news coming from the report the team would have tried to rush ahead to deliver it. "I would assume that if it's bad news then perhaps they would try to delay it as long as possible," she said. "Certainly, I'm sure, the premier would hate to have the people of Newfoundland and Labrador see the results of something that's bad before they get a chance to vote." Elsewhere, the NL Alliance said Newfoundlanders and Labradorians "aren't as naive" as Furey thinks they are. "The showing of Mr. Furey having a complete disregard for the well-being of the people of this province merely to save his own political interests is disgusting," Leader Graydon Pelley said in a statement. "First, calling a pandemic election, next the debacle of democracy on full display and now his refusal to release a plan he commissioned because he knows it will hurt his chances in a pending election." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Don Somers/CBC - image credit) The Lighthouse Supported Living announced Friday that the North Battleford location will close, effective April 1. The organization cited "substantial funding changes" as the reason for the closure. A partnership with Provincial Métis Housing Corporation (PMHC) fell through, leaving the emergency shelter with not enough money to operate. PMHC provided about half a million in funding last year, according to The Lighthouse's executive director, Don Windels. The overall budget to run the facility is between $750,000 and $800,000 a year. The organization "will continue to explore emergency shelter funding sources and partnerships. Transitional and supported housing programs will continue to operate without disruption," a release from The Lighthouse said. Opposition leader Ryan Meili said he was disappointed to hear that the emergency shelter was closing, and that this is an opportunity for the government to step up and help. "It's pretty clear that [the provincial government] could be offering more funding. This is an area that they've been very reluctant to enter into in any serious way in terms of supporting housing for the most vulnerable," Meili said Friday. CBC has reached out to the provincial government, but no one was immediately available for comment. Windels said the majority of the staff is going to be let go as a result of the loss. "There's concern both for the staff obviously because they're losing their jobs but also the tenants because people who do find themselves, for whatever reason, homeless in North Battleford are going to have a harder time now finding a place," he said. There were people in a certain part of the building who had been there longer term, but the organization will have to evict them now, too. "We will assist them. We will definitely do whatever we can to find them housing." Don Windels, executive director of The Lighthouse, said it was a hard day to let go the staff at the shelter. It's possible the closure of the 37-bed shelter will affect RCMP too. Windels said RCMP would sometimes bring folks who were intoxicated to the shelter to stay the night. Now, RCMP will likely just have to take them in. Windels said they've reached out to the province and the federal government for help, but said it was a dead end. They both said their policies don't allow them to fund the shelter the way it needs to be funded. There are a couple more irons in the fire, but nothing concrete yet, Windels said. The way Saskatchewan funds shelters needs to change and Saskatchewan should core fund shelters, Windels said. "That way, we don't have to spend our time running after money, we can actually spend our time serving individuals that need the help," he said.
LONDON — A World War II-era plane flew Saturday over the funeral service of Captain Tom Moore to honour of the veteran who single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Britain's health workers by walking laps in his backyard. Soldiers performed ceremonial duties at the service for the 100-year-old Moore, whose charity walk inspired the nation and raised almost 33 million pounds ($46 million.) Captain Tom, as he became known, died Feb. 2 in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. The private service was small, attended by just eight members of the veteran's immediate family. But soldiers carried his coffin, draped in the Union flag, from the hearse to a crematorium and formed a ceremonial guard. Others performed a gun salute, before a C-47 Dakota military jet flew past. “Daddy, you always told us ‘Best foot forward’ and true to your word, that’s what you did last year," Moore's daughter, Lucy Teixeira, said at the service. “I know you will be watching us chuckling, saying ‘Don’t be too sad as something has to get you in the end.’" A version of the song “Smile," recorded for the funeral by singer Michael Bublé, was played, as well as “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, as requested by Moore. A bugler sounded “The Last Post” to close the service. Moore, who served in India, Burma and Sumatra during WWII, set out to raise a modest 1,000 pounds for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his backyard by his 100th birthday last year. But his quest went viral, catching the imagination of millions stuck at home during the first wave of the pandemic. His positive attitude - “Please remember, tomorrow will be a good day” became his trademark phrase - inspired the nation at a time of crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described him as a “hero in the truest sense of the word.? He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. The Associated Press
(Beth Zaiken/Centre for Palaeogenetics via REUTERS - image credit) Yukon paleontologist Grant Zazula admits it — he's jealous. Until recently, Yukon had been the source of the oldest recovered DNA, from a 700,000-year-old horse fossil found a couple of decades ago near Dawson City. Now a team of international researchers say they have recovered and sequenced DNA from the teeth of three mammoths in Russia's extreme north, the oldest specimen being about 1.2 million years old. "So I'm actually a little bit jealous, now that the record now belongs to a Siberian fossil," Zazula said. The upside, he says, is that the new research opens the door to all sorts of possible new discoveries and insights from Yukon's own trove of Ice Age fossils. "It's really going to allow us to be able to look at earlier stages of the Ice Age and look at the, you know, genetics of these different extinct animals going back a million years, maybe even further back in time, as these technologies evolve," he said. "Twenty years ago, when I started getting involved in paleontology, we were still really excited about the novelty of being able to extract any DNA from ancient animals." 'The Yukon is amazingly situated to be able to play major roles and some of these projects,' said Grant Zazula, a paleontogist with the Yukon government. Ancient DNA can help fill in the blanks of how extinct species evolved and adapted — or failed to adapt — over the millennia. Zazula says a lot of information can be teased out of a genome sequence, from what a species looked like to how it interacted with its environment. There are also a lot of mysteries yet to be solved about mammoths in particular, he says, and how the population that crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia into North America relates later mammoth populations. "Most of what we know about the Ice Age is really only the last little bits of the Ice Age," he said. But for earlier periods of the Ice Age — say, a million years ago — Zazula says it's less understood. "Really there's a lot of speculation because we don't have a lot of well-dated records from that time period." The new research suggests that Yukon could play an even bigger role in paleontological research, because the territory is a rich source of ancient fossils. It's not uncommon for Yukon gold miners to stumble across amazing finds preserved deep in the permafrost. "The Yukon is amazingly situated to be able to play major roles in some of these projects," Zazula said. He was already contacted a few months ago by one of the Swedish scientists involved in the Russian mammoth fossil research. "He contacted me saying, 'hey, do you guys have any old mammoths from the Yukon?' And I said, 'well, we have one that's about 700,000 years old,'" Zazula recalled. "So, yeah, hopefully in a few months we can add to this story and talk about how that lineage crossed the Bering Land Bridge for the first time into North America roughly a million years ago."
The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
Several schools in Ontario are already planning virtual graduation ceremonies for the class of 2021 as the pandemic makes in-person celebrations unlikely. While most high school graduations are still a few months away, some boards are already thinking about online events to mark the occasion that typically takes place in June. In Toronto, Canada's largest school board said it was expecting to have graduation ceremonies take place online but was giving individual schools some flexibility in the matter. "While graduation ceremonies will very likely be virtual again this year, we defer to local schools to develop an event that works best for them and their school communities," said Ryan Bird, spokesman for the Toronto District School Board. The Peel District School Board – which serves Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon – said it was planning virtual celebrations as well, but was also looking into having students accept their diplomas in a drive-by ceremony with social distancing measures in place. "In preparation for 2021 celebrations, we are in discussions about all potential landscapes within which these events might take place as the COVID-19 global health crisis continues to evolve," said board spokeswoman Tiffany Gooch. In June 2020, more than 10,000 people tuned in to watch a virtual celebration of Peel's graduating students – which featured performances by students and alumni, said Gooch. In Sudbury, Ont., one school board has already told parents upcoming graduations will be virtual. "Last year, we held out hope that we would be able to gather for traditional graduation ceremonies. With the ongoing pandemic, however, it simply was not possible and our schools hosted virtual ceremonies last fall," the Rainbow District School Board wrote in a recent letter to parents. "This year, we are accepting the reality sooner rather than later." The board said its schools "will go the extra mile" to make graduation memorable for students. Madeline Terzo, a Grade 12 student from Aurora, Ont., said teachers have told her class not to count on having an in-person ceremony this year as the pandemic shows no sign of ending by the summer. "It's not what I pictured. You walk into high school and you look towards your future, you look towards prom and graduation," said 17-year-old Terzo. "When you find out that it might be virtual, you won't get to wear that cap and gown, and throw your cap up, it's very upsetting." Terzo said her family is making plans to make her graduation day special in some way. "We're trying to be positive," she said. "But it's hard." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
(Submitted by David Voelker - image credit) Forty-three years ago, Dave Voelker spent two days walking 48 kilometres across a frozen Lake Erie. On Feb. 25, 1978, Voelker left Cleveland, Ohio by himself and was set on reaching Colchester, Ont. in the next 48 hours. On his back he carried all that he would need, including a tent, walkie talkie, and a tripod with a camera. "I knew it was frozen across I had to give it a shot, I'm a bit of an adventure junkie," Voelker told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. He said the temperature that year had been below freezing for at least a month and to be certain the water was frozen through, he checked in with the coast guard. A frozen Lake Erie as photographed by Voelker. When he first started crossing he said he saw some ice fishers, but there eventually came a point of "absolutely nothing at all." LISTEN: Dave Voelker talks about what the journey across was like with host Chris dela Torre "I was in my element," he said. "I'm a bit of a loner to begin with and being in the middle of a frozen Great Lake is the ultimate alone time, you're just left alone on your thoughts and I just reflected on what I was doing." He said he wasn't really scared, but the adventure didn't come without its challenges. At one point he could tell an ice breaker had gone through the lake and it caused the ice to bunch up in odd places. He also had to check a compass to make sure he was headed in the right direction. Eventually he made it to the other side and said a family witnessed his arrival. They then invited him in for dinner. Voelker pitched up a tent one day into his hike across the lake. Upon arriving in Colchester, he said he was relieved because he was so tired. Afterwards he says he ended up hitchhiking back home and passed through Windsor to do so. Some people still don't believe that Voelker crossed the lake, but he says he hopes the photos are enough. "Even if people don't believe it I know that I did it," he said.
At his wits end with the province and in fear for his most vulnerable people, David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, is approaching COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in the hopes of purchasing doses directly. "I’m sending a letter out to every one of them pleading with them to consider allowing me to buy direct, that my people are going to die and likely probably going to continue to suffer mental anguish and everything else that comes with it," Chartrand said. In British Columbia, Métis and other Indigenous people are eligible to get their shots sooner and at 15 years younger than the rest of the population, meaning they can get their shot at 65 when 80-year-old residents are being called. Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, the deputy provincial health officer for Indigenous Health, said they’ve been working hard to make Métis people "feel seen" during the vaccination process. Alberta is taking a similar approach and the Métis Nation Saskatchewan is working with the provincial government to work out a vaccine rollout. Here, in Manitoba, the age differential is 20 years — when eligibility for the vaccine is at 95 for the general population, it is 75 for First Nations. That does not include Métis. When asked by The Brandon Sun for the rationale for Manitoba not engaging with Métis in similar ways, when the conditions, vulnerabilities and disproportionate effect in the Métis population are the same, if not worse, than First Nations, Dr. Joss Reimer spoke about data. "Our initial decisions were based on the epidemiology and the data that we had in front of us. The data was very clear that our First Nations, the First Nations people in Manitoba, were experiencing worse health outcomes and at younger ages," said Reimer, medical lead for the vaccine implementation task force. She said the province does not have the same access to data when it comes to the Métis population in Manitoba. When asked if the task force would consider the same age differential for Métis, Reimer said nothing is off the table. "If we have data to demonstrate that something is essential to provide the best possible care for Manitobans, we absolutely move in that direction. Right now, we don’t have that data to depend on. But that’s something that we’re trying to work on together," she said. Chartrand said that’s false. He said the federation has been making efforts to resolve the matter since the summer, to no avail. Further, he says the government is in possession of a four-year study that clearly shows the health vulnerabilities of Métis. "We started asking, why are you not signing one (data sharing agreement) with us? They just basically said, well, we’ll get back to you. And nobody had an answer. We had nowhere to turn. Everybody we turned to said, we’ll get back to you. We’ll get back to you. I can go through emails and letters and meeting minutes. They’re all gonna give you the same response, we’ll get back to you," said Chartrand. "Nobody ever gets back to you. No reason whatsoever. Not to say, it’s complicated. Not to say, can’t be done. Not to say, we don’t have any data in our own health system." Chartrand said the federation has plenty of data it can provide. "We could provide you with ours, and give you a really good surface view of where we’re stating our position and even the health state of our people. We can share that with you. We have sufficient data that any statistician would have been embracing and kissing you for it, because it would (be) such a valuable tool of information. They still wouldn’t work with us. They never provided an answer why," he said. When Pine Creek First Nation, which is between the Métis villages of Camperville and Duck Bay, saw two cases of COVID-19 in January, Chief Karen Baston put the area on lockdown. Chartrand told his people to stay put for two weeks. "We delivered hampers to every house whether they were First Nation, whether they were Métis, whether they were not Indigenous. We took hampers to every house. We told them, don’t go out and shop. Stay locked up for two weeks, and we’ll bring more supplies. Whatever you need, contact us. We delivered to 275 houses," Chartrand said. "Those are some big families. Some are $400 hampers some $150 hampers for a smaller family." Currently, the federation is delivering 40,000 pounds of fish through its partnership with Freshwater Fish. These actions are possible with financial help from the federal government. Chartrand said, while there have been COVID-19 cases and death in the Métis population, so far the federation’s pandemic action plan has been minimizing spread. There have been no outbreaks in Métis communities. The federation even recently set up its own testing site for its citizens, to collect its own data. Acquiring vaccines independently is the next step. – with files from the Canadian Press Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The Pest County Rescue Research Service, which helps everyone from lost hikers to people under rubble after an earthquake, has seen a drop in donations.View on euronews
MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City won its 20th straight game in all competitions and opened up a 13-point lead in the Premier League by beating West Ham 2-1 thanks to goals from centre backs Ruben Dias and John Stones on Saturday. Playing less than 72 hours after a Champions League match in Budapest, City produced one of its sloppiest displays in recent months but emerged with its winning run intact as Stones swept in the decisive goal in the 68th minute from Riyad Mahrez’s pass. Dias, Stones’ partner in central defence, put City in front off a header from a deep left-footed cross by Kevin De Bruyne in the 30th only for Pep Guardiola’s team to concede its first home goal in 2 1/2 months when Michail Antonio equalized just before halftime. “Some days it doesn’t come off for the forwards, and today me and Ruben chipped in,” Stones said. “That's part of us being such a good team and the collective. In big games or important games, everyone chips in, maybe sometimes the person you don’t expect.” It was City’s 14th win in a row in the league — only the sixth time that has been achieved in English top-flight history. Three of those have been attained by City under Guardiola since his arrival in 2016. Manchester United and Leicester are tied for points as City’s nearest rivals, and both play Sunday. Guardiola rotated his team, as he promised he would, and included record scorer Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup for the first time in the league since Oct. 24 — coincidentally against West Ham, too. The injury-plagued Argentina striker lasted only 60 minutes before being taken off and he looked off the pace. He was partially to blame for West Ham’s 43rd-minute goal, too, after losing possession cheaply inside City’s half before the visitors broke forward quickly through Pablo Fornals and Vladimir Coufal. Jesse Lingard turned Coufal's cross toward goal and Antonio applied the final touch from close range. West Ham, in the unusually elevated position of fourth, allowed City few clear-cut opportunities at an empty Etihad Stadium and posed quite a threat at the other end. Antonio struck the post before his goal, while centre back Issa Diop headed narrowly wide in the third and final minute of stoppage time. “We had to fight right until the last few minutes,” Stones said. "They made it difficult. So, really satisfied. “We weren’t (playing) our free-flowing football like we have been used to in recent weeks, but that's how they set up against us. We showed great character in the second half.” City has won all of its games — across four competitions — since a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion on Dec. 15, which left Guardiola's side in ninth place in the league at the time. That was the last time City had conceded at home, and even that was an own-goal by Dias. Antonio became the first opposition player to score a goal from open play against City at the Etihad in 12 league games, since James Maddison of Leicester on Sept. 27. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two days before the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, said supporters of then-President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were basically in a “death match with the Democrat Party.” A day later, right-wing activist Alan Hostetter, a staunch Trump supporter known for railing against California's virus-inspired stay-at-home orders, urged rallygoers in Washington to "put the fear of God in the cowards, the traitors, the RINOs, the communists of the Democrat Party.” The shared grammatical construction — incorrect use of the noun “Democrat” as an adjective — was far from the most shocking thing about the two men's statements. But it identified them as members of the same tribe, conservatives seeking to define the opposition through demeaning language. Amid bipartisan calls to dial back extreme partisanship following the insurrection, the intentional misuse of “Democrat” as an adjective remains in nearly universal use among Republicans. Propelled by conservative media, it also has caught on with far-right elements that were energized by the Trump presidency. Academics and partisans disagree on the significance of the word play. Is it a harmless political tactic intended to annoy Republicans' opponents, or a maliciously subtle vilification of one of America’s two major political parties that further divides the nation? Thomas Patterson, a political communication professor at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said using “Democrat” as an adjective delivers a “little twist” of the knife with each usage because it irritates Democrats, but sees it as little more than that. “This is," he says, “just another piece in a big bubbling kettle of animosities that are out there.” Others disagree. Purposely mispronouncing the formal name of the Democratic Party and equating it with political ideas that are not democratic goes beyond mere incivility, said Vanessa Beasley, an associate professor of communications at Vanderbilt University who studies presidential rhetoric. She said creating short-hand descriptions of people or groups is a way to dehumanize them. In short: Language matters. “The idea is to strip it down to that noun and make it into this blur, so that you can say that these are bad people — and my party, the people who are using the term, are going to be the upholders of democracy,” she said. To those who see the discussion as an exercise in political correctness, Susan Benesch, executive director of the Dangerous Speech Project, said to look deeper. “It’s just two little letters — i and c — added to the end of a word, right?” she said. “But the small difference in the two terms, linguistically or grammatically, does not protect against a large difference in meaning and impact of the language.” During the “Stop the Steal” rallies that emerged to support Trump's groundless allegations that the 2020 election was stolen from him, the construction was everywhere. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel accused “Democrat lawyers and rogue election officials” of “an unprecedented power grab” related to the election. Demonstrators for the president's baseless cause mirrored her language. After Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was removed from her House committees for espousing sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories, she tweeted: “In this Democrat tyrannical government, Conservative Republicans have no say on committees anyway." Trump’s lawyers used the construction frequently during his second impeachment trial, following the lead of the former president, who employed it routinely while in office. During a campaign rally last October in Wisconsin, he explained his thinking. “You know I always say Democrat. You know why? Because it sounds worse,” Trump said. “Democrat sounds lousy, but you know what? That’s actually their name, the Democrat Party. Right? The Democrat Party. So I always say Democrat.” In fact, “Democratic” to describe some version of a U.S. political party has been around since Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s. Modern Democrats are loosely descended from a split of that party. The precise origins of Republicans' truncated phrasing are difficult to pin down, but the Republican National Committee formalized it in a vote ahead of the 1956 presidential election. Then-spokesman L. Richard Guylay told The New York Times that “Democrat Party” was “a natural,” because it was already in common use among Republicans and better reflected the “diverse viewpoints” within the opposing party — which the GOP suggested weren’t always representative of small-d democratic values. Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who had just led his notorious campaign against alleged communists, Soviet spies and sympathizers, was the most notable user of the phrase “Democrat Party” ahead of the vote. The current RNC did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment for this story. The construction was used sparsely in the following decades, but in recent times has spread to become part of conservatives' everyday speech. At the height of last summer’s racial justice protests, the group representing state attorneys general criticized “inaction by Democrat AGs” to support law enforcement. In explaining its rules for cleaning Georgia's voter roles, the office of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it was following a process started in the 1990s under “a Democrat majority General Assembly and signed into law by a Democrat Governor.” Asked recently what he would think of his former health director running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine responded, “I’m going to stay out of Democrat primaries.” Using Democrat as a pejorative is now so common that it’s almost jarring to hear a Republican or conservative commentator accurately say “Democratic Party.” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said she wishes both parties would abandon their heightened rhetoric toward each other. She spoke out forcefully in September after the Ohio Republican Party maligned a “Democrat common pleas judge” who had ruled against them. The party later apologized. Her objection was the politicization of the judiciary, which she has fought against, and not specifically the GOP's misuse of the word “Democrat." But in a later interview, she said the language was a reflection of today's hyperpartisan political environment. “It's used as almost like a curse word,” said O'Connor, a Republican. “It's not being used as a compliment or even for purposes of being a benign identifier. It's used as a condemnation, and that's not right.” For their part, Democrats rarely push back, even when the phrase is used in state legislative chambers or on the floor of Congress. It wasn't always that way. Then-President George W. Bush departed from his written remarks and used the phrase “Democrat majority” in his 2007 State of the Union address. He was swiftly rebuked and apologized. “Now look, my diction isn’t all that good,” a rueful Bush said. “I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language, so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic party.” Bush’s self-deprecating joke highlighted a key issue around Republicans' use of “Democrat” as an epithet, says political scientist Michael Cornfield, an associate professor at George Washington University. Democrats don't have a comparable insult for Republicans. "It's a one-way provocation,” he said. In the 1950s, Democrats toyed with a tit-for-tat approach in which they would refer to Republicans as “Publicans,” the widely despised toll collectors of ancient Rome. Republicans scoffed at the effort, which they rightly noted no one would understand. Republicans also could turn it around as a way to burnish their brand: In British usage, a publican is someone who owns a pub. Meanwhile, “Republic” — without the “a-n” — isn’t derogatory. It's known as a “God word” in American politics, just as small-d “democratic” is, meaning a revered cultural concept that's universally understood. The truncated “Democrat,” on the other hand, “rhymes with rat, bureaucrat, kleptocrat, plutocrat," Cornfield said. "‘Crats’ are bad. So you can see why they do it.” David Pepper, a former Democratic Party chairman in Ohio, says Republicans' phrasing has “clearly been thought about." Even so, he doesn't see trying to erase it as a good use of Democrats' time as the party seeks to reset the national agenda after four years of Trump. He said that while President Joe Biden has pledged national unity, “the other side is literally trying to make the other party sound like rodents." “To me,” Pepper said, “that’s absurd and disturbing at the same time.” ___ AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report. Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Kathryn Joel - image credit) Kathryn Joel has instructed in-person cooking classes with a focus on global dishes made with local ingredients for nearly a decade, but last year she was unsure if she'd make it another year with health restrictions related to the pandemic halting classes. In April, she started cooking meals in her commercial kitchen and delivering them door-to-door, but it was only a temporary measure. "There were just two of us working initially and we did that for maybe two weeks," said Joel, owner and chef of Get Cooking. "Then I was miserable and it was hard work for almost no money, and I had to sit myself down and think, you can't do this." With the help of her sons, she upgraded her cooking studio, adding video cameras, sound mixers and video cards to host virtual cooking classes. This year has been a busy one for Jordan — along with three other chefs, she's been hosting public and private sessions almost every day. Since launching a winter season of virtual classes in January, almost all of the 30-person classes have sold out. Offerings include the Vietnamese noodle dish bun cha, South Indian crepe-like dosas, and the French classic coq au vin. The classes range from an hour and a half to two hours. The head chef cooks from the Get Cooking kitchen studio, while another host engages with close to 30 participants on the video chat as they cook along at home, making sure everyone is caught up on each step of the recipe. Jordan charges $25 per device, while the at-home cooks supply their own groceries based on the recipe supplied. Jordan is happy with the accessibility that she can now offer through the virtual classes. "It can be a whole household joining in, which often is couples and families cooking. And it's under thirty dollars," she said. "So you either have to buy the ingredients, but they also have a meal at the end of it. So I love that. I love the accessibility of it. I have not always felt good that it's such an extremely expensive experience for people to come to." On Wednesday, a group learned how to make gnocchi Parisienne, a version of the pasta that's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, along with a lamb ragu sauce. Making the gnocchi involves a tricky process of using a transferring choux pastry through a piping bag and cutting pieces of it as they fall into boiling water. The finished product from Kathryn Joel's cooking class featuring gnocchi parisienne topped with a lamb ragu sauce. "It was one of those ones where you've had gnocchi and then you have this and you're like, 'Oh, I'm going back.' I felt like a Parisian chef. It was fantastic," said Trisha Roffey, a participant in the cooking class. Roffey has taken part in previous Get Cooking classes over the past three years, but has been logging onto the virtual sessions almost weekly "Instead of going in, doing something, tasting something, coming back and describing it to your family, my family became immersed in it," she said. "The kids started cooking with me while we were doing it and learning the techniques and commenting on the foods and looking forward to the different classes." Cooks logging on from across the province The virtual classes have allowed people from around the province — and country — to participate A couple from South Carolina recently joined a class after searching for a class that teaches Indian dishes. Eileen Dooley of Calgary took part in the Wednesday class, trying the soft gnocchi dish a shot for the first time. She's signed up for classes with her mother as a way to spend time together as they cook in their own homes. "Food, I think because we're home, it's just kind of brought people together during this pandemic and again, making things you normally don't make," she said. Dooley was supposed to be travelling in Taiwan at this time and trying out local dishes. She appreciates that the Get Cooking classes focus on International cooking as it's the closest thing to escaping an Alberta winter and tasting different flavours. Kathryn Joel, cooks lamb in a skillet in her Get Cooking studio as class of students watch through a video chat and cook along in their kitchens at home."They kind of know you're missing travelling, and you can make it at home. It's not the same, but it's something. It's better than nothing," she said. Jodena Rogers of Calgary said she usually avoids cooking. Between work as a property manager and keeping her kids busy, making something that involves trial and error was the last thing on her mind, but having time at home during the pandemic has her looking to learn something new like cooking. "I think social engagement is huge, but sometimes people are intimidated by that experience," she said. "So for me, I came home from work. I'm able to get right into it. I do my prep work and I do think that there is a trend in virtual learning and we'll continue on with that." Joel agrees with that sentiment. She prefers the virtual cooking classes compared to the in-person group sessions she previously offered. She plans to make virtual classes as part of her business permanently, as she expects the trend of cooking at home to continue.
A man remains guilty of selling drugs outside a Prince George convenience store after his lawyer failed to convince a judge he was entrapped by undercover police officers posing as customers. Douglas William Gibbs was arrested and charged after he sold heroin-fentanyl and methamphetamine for cash to the officers on Aug. 29 and 30, 2018 outside the 7-11 at 20th Avenue and Spruce Street. The officers were from out of town and had been brought in as part of an investigation that, at first, did not include the spot. At issue was whether RCMP had reasonable suspicion to send in the officers. During a trial last month, defence counsel Connor Carleton argued the grounds for the action were "too vague and soft." In particular, he noted that in the lead up, an RCMP officer noticed suspicious activity but could not confirm an actual transaction had taken place nor provide a date for the sighting. In a decision issued Monday, Provincial Court Judge Peter McDermick agreed that on its own, it was not enough to justify the move but noted it was not the only reason the undercover officers were deployed to the spot. People involved in drug trafficking and drug use were starting to spend time at the location, there were overt signs of intoxication by some of the people seen, drug paraphernalia was found in the parking lot and nearby alley and police were getting calls to the spot several times a day for drug-related issues, the court had heard. "This was an address are or near the top of all calls for service," McDermick said. Sentencing will occur at a later date. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Lheidli T’enneh Nation, McLeod Lake Indian Band and Prince George-based Formula Capital Corp. said they are close to forming a partnership to develop a petrochemical complex in the First Nations' fledgling industrial park north of the city. The move comes after West Coast Olefins Ltd. president Ken James said in December it has decided to renew a plan to build a complex at the BCR Industrial Site in Prince George. WCOL had considered properties near Summit Lake and Bear Lake - including land LTN and MLIB have their eyes on for the industrial park - but backed away, James said, because opposition to the project remained just as strong as if if was to be built in Prince George. The next day, LTN and MLIB issued a statement saying they oppose WCOL advancing the project on the BCR industrial site and that there will be no future negotiations between the parties. Formula Capital CEO Paul Tiefensee said the three are close to agreeing on a memorandum of understanding and once signed, a pre-feasibility study will be carried out to assess the project's viability. He said that, at the least, they hope to achieve a complex that extracts feedstock from the Enbridge West Coast natural gas pipeline and refines it into condensate, butane, ethylene and propane. Depending on their findings, Tiefensee indicated the goal could be much larger and rival what WCOL has in mind for the BCR, namely plants that produce plastic pellets and antifreeze and heat transfer fluid. Noted northern B.C. sawmill builder Brian Fehr is the majority owner of Formula Capital which, in turn, owns Formula Contractors Ltd. Tiefensee is the CEO for both firms. Completed projects listed on Formula Contractors' website include several related to mining and hydroelectricity. LTN Dayi Clay Pountney said the goal is to create something that will benefit the entire region. LTN and MLIB remain in the process securing land for their Shas Ti-Dlezeh Industrial Park, Pountney confirmed. They have their eyes on close to 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of Crown land about four kilometres southwest of Summit Lake and on the east side of Highway 97 North. In a response emailed Tuesday, James said WCOL will continue to move forward with its project and is "confident in its ability to advance a project with the highest probability of success." Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Health Canada announced its approval of two versions of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Friday, and Dr. Joss Reimer said the province is ready and waiting on supply for deployment to clinics and pharmacies. "AstraZeneca is an important next step in our vaccine campaign because it is much easier to ship and to store as compared to the vaccines that we are currently using. It can be stored in the fridge, for example, and doesn’t require the low-temperature freezers that the other vaccines do," said Reimer, medical lead for the province’s vaccine implementation task force. "This will make it possible for people to be immunized in their doctor’s offices and in pharmacies in familiar settings, if that’s where they choose to do so." Reimer said the province has been planning for this eventuality, with 250 clinics and pharmacies that have gone through all the processes to be ready to go when the vaccine arrives. Another 500 clinics and pharmacies that have expressed interest are now in various stages of either the approval process or the logistics of becoming ready. "We encourage physicians and pharmacies who are interested and have not yet signed up to go to manitoba.ca/vaccine, where you can get some more information about how to register," said Reimer. While that is great news, Reimer also clarified the vaccine is not here, yet. "We’re waiting for more information from Health Canada about how many doses we will be receiving and when we can expect them. In the meantime, we are finalizing the eligibility criteria for this vaccine." The eligibility will be based on the task force’s analysis of the recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which has not yet been released. Reimer expects to have more details next week. Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba, weighed in by email. "This approval means Manitobans are one step closer to getting the vaccine from their doctor — a trusted medical professional who knows their health situation best," he said. "Physicians overwhelmingly trust and support the approved COVID-19 vaccines, including the version approved today. They are all safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19, particularly severe illness, hospitalization and death. We recommend that nearly all Manitobans get immunized as soon as they become eligible." He did say it is natural for Manitobans to have questions, as these are new vaccines for a new disease. "Whether you’re eligible today or not, you can call your doctor to ask questions or discuss your concerns. We care about the health and well-being of Manitobans, and we want to support everyone on their personal vaccine journey," said Baillie. Reimer said AstraZeneca’s approval is great news for the province’s vaccination timeline and pushes it closer to the high-supply scenario planning. "As soon as we find out what Manitoba can be expecting, we will be adjusting our timelines and letting Manitobans know. Certainly, this is only good news as far as how long it will take to reach all Manitobans because the more options that we have, and the more convenient it is for people to receive a vaccine, the more Manitobans will be able to receive it before the end of summer," she said. However, Reimer added the task force would remain cautious because vaccine supply is always unpredictable. "I think we need to expect that we’ll see more supply disruptions at some point. So our system is trying to plan to have multiple mechanisms to reach Manitobans that can be flexible, depending on which vaccine we have available at what time." Also of note, the age of eligibility has dropped from 95 and older to 94, and for First Nations it has dropped to 74, due to available vaccine appointments. "Our team is going to continue to look at that every day," said Reimer. "Right now, our estimate would be that next week we’ll be able to reach people who are over 90." Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
BERLIN — Germany's Left has picked two women to lead the anti-capitalist party into this fall's national election. A party conference Saturday elected Janine Wissler und Susanne Hennig-Wellsow as co-leaders. Wissler is the Left's parliamentary caucus leader in Hesse state. Hennig-Wellsow is the party's chairwoman in Thuringia, the only German state where the Left leads a government. The succeed Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger, who have led the party since 2012. The Left, which is partly rooted in East Germany's governing Socialist Unity Party, received 9.2% of the vote in the 2017 national election. Current polls ahead of the vote on Sept. 26 put its support at 7-8%. The Associated Press
(Photo submitted by Driftwood Holly. - image credit) When Holger Haustein moved to Dawson City 22 years ago, he brought with him little more than a thirst for adventure, and a willingness to try anything. A lot has happened since then. He and his wife, Kirsten, have raised two children and built a home on the west side of the Yukon River. Haustein has renamed himself Driftwood Holly and launched a music career that has seen him play all over Yukon and Europe. Last year he sailed his small wooden houseboat down the Yukon River from Lake Laberge to Dawson City. It gave him the idea for his latest adventure: building another boat in his native Germany and sailing down the Elbe River, putting on concerts along the way. "What does it really take to build one of these vessels and travel a river anywhere in Europe?" asked Haustein. "It turns out it's pretty possible. These rivers aren't so dangerous like our rivers here, so there's no driftwood or rapids or stuff. It's pretty organized, there's a lot of signs. And with the technology we have today, we can put everything on the vessel and be self-sufficient and perform gigs from the boat." Dawson City musician Holly Haustein is planning to build this floating stage and sail it down the Elba River in Germany this fall. Haustein has a lot of followers in Europe, and they've rallied to his cause in the past and helped him realize his dreams, however outlandish. He raised $1,000 to make a record in the ancient city of Venice a few years ago, a place that has a long history, but not much of a music scene. He said some of his fans in Europe have already expressed interest in supporting this latest venture. "I think that's the best [thing] about it, that everybody's so excited at a time when there's not much good exciting stuff going on, and now we have something to work on. I can't think about anything else right now." He also knows it won't be like building a raft in the Yukon, where materials are easily found along the river. "This will be a problem, there's no driftwood in these rivers because they're pretty cleaned up on the beaches," he said. "We'll have to go into the forest and drag a bunch of wood out of there, but there will be a lot of help." Haustein is planning to go to Europe in the late summer and begin working on the boat with an eye toward launching the craft, and the tour, in the fall. Driftwood Holly entertains paddlers during a concert on the Yukon River at Dawson City.
Calling it a difficult issue, Cariboo Prince George MP Todd Doherty says a more fulsome debate is in order on expanding medical assistance in dying to cover Canadians who are not approaching the natural end of their lives. The federal Liberals are hoping to have Bill C-7 passed to meet a court-imposed deadline for bringing the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling. But with the Conservatives signaling that they may drag out debate on recently-introduced amendments, the government has asked the court to give it one more month - until March 26, according to The Canadian Press. "I think my concern remains the same as it was back when it was C-14 in my first term, and now with C-7, is that a piece of legislation such as this is being rushed through without proper consultation and without proper communication and debate," Doherty said. The Conservatives largely opposed expanding access to assisted dying in the original bill. "I understand all sides of the argument, I truly do... and I think we would be doing a disservice to many, many Canadians if we just allowed this to pass without fulsome review and debate," Doherty said. Among the amendments proposed by the Senate is to provide assistance in dying to Canadians suffering solely from grievous and irremediable mental illnesses. As originally drafted, the bill would have imposed a blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses. A strong majority of senators argued that the exclusion was unconstitutional, violating the right to equal treatment under the law, regardless of physical or mental disability, as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They voted to impose an 18-month time limit on the mental illness exclusion, which the government now wants to extend to two years. During that interlude, the government is also proposing to have experts conduct an independent review of the issue and, within one year, recommend the "protocols, guidance and safeguards" that should apply to requests for assisted dying from people with a mental illness. "What I feel is that people with a mental illness problem, they need assistance to live and thrive, not hasten death," Doherty said. "There are dark days, there are no two ways about it, but I don't think that there is anyone there that can determine whether a mental illness represents an advanced state of decline in capabilities that cannot be reversed." Doherty was named special advisor to the leader on mental health and wellness when Erin O'Toole became Conservative leader. - with files from The Canadian Press Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at risk of domestic violence has had a slower-than-expected uptake in its first eight months. Legislation known informally as "Clare's Law" came into force in Saskatchewan last June. It allows police to warn someone that they could be in danger from their partner. A committee with police and victims services recommends what should be disclosed. An advocate who sits on that committee says six requests for information were made between June and January. “It’s hard to say at this point whether it’s because people don’t know … or it’s because it really is geared at people who are just beginning a relationship and begin to notice red flags," said Jo-Anne Dusel, executive director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses of Saskatchewan. “During a pandemic, people aren’t generally getting involved in new relationships, so that could be why we haven’t had many." The legislation originated in the United Kingdom and is named after Clare Wood, a woman who was murdered in 2009 by a partner she didn't know had a violent criminal history. Saskatchewan was the first in Canada to adopt the measure. The province has struggled with some of the highest rates of domestic violence per capita in the country. Alberta expects to implement Clare's Law in April after consulting with victims advocates, Indigenous groups and new Canadians, a government spokesman said. Newfoundland and Labrador has also been working on bringing similar legislation passed in December 2019 into effect. The law allows people who feel they might be at risk from a partner — or know someone who is — to apply to police for information on an individual's past. Police can choose to warn potential victims if there has been abuse. Officers can also trigger a disclosure if they feel someone is in danger. Critics say the law is well-intentioned, but won't reduce domestic violence rates. They say women trying to leave dangerous relationships need resources, housing and child care. Dusel said it's meant for people who are early into a relationship before violence or abuse starts. “One case was an individual who’d met someone quite recently and this person was pressuring them to move out of province and that wasn’t quite sitting right with them, " she said. In the six requests, those at risk were women and the partners were men, many of whom showed a pattern as serial abusers, said Dusel. Dusel said what gets disclosed is a risk assessment, and in five out of the six cases, potential victims were deemed at high risk. "There was actually one situation where the person got the call back from the police about the disclosure and they said, ‘You know what? That’s all I needed to know. If you have something to share with me, I’ve made my decision. I won’t be continuing this relationship.'" Dusel, along with the Saskatchewan Party government, believes another hurdle is the lack of participation by the RCMP, which is the police service for small towns in the primarily rural province. "This has prevented a majority of rural residents from accessing Clare’s Law in their own community," wrote Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Margherita Vittorelli in an email. "In light of the pandemic, it is important for people to know that they can access Clare’s Law through a remote application." The Mounties have said their participation could risk violating federal privacy rules. But that may change. "The RCMP is developing draft amendments to the RCMP Regulations, 2014 that will expressly authorize disclosure of personal information under Clare’s Law," wrote spokeswoman Cpl. Caroline Duval. "We are not able to, at this time, provide a timeline for when we expect the regulations will be finalized, but can confirm they are a priority for the RCMP." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press