Frosted trees and snowy conditions in a suburban neighbourhood.
Frosted trees and snowy conditions in a suburban neighbourhood.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
A former Vancouver detective openly and deliberately deceived a B.C. judge during a high-profile sex trafficking trial, the lawyer for a notorious pimp argued in court on Tuesday. Thomas Arbogast told a panel of B.C. Court of Appeal justices that James Fisher misrepresented his job as an investigator with the VPD's Counter Exploitation Unit during a hearing in the trial of violent pimp Reza Moazami. "Mr. Fisher overtly perpetrated a fraud on the court by portraying his duties as an officer with the CEU in this way," Arbogast said. During a 2013 voir dire in Moazami's trial, Fisher testified that his role with the CEU involved rescuing trafficking victims from exploitation and helping sex workers leave the industry. But, Arbogast said, "Mr Fisher did the exact opposite of that." Evidence taken from text messages and victims' statements to police suggest that Fisher was actively helping young women continue in sex work, giving them advice about pimps they might work for and even tipping off a young madam about a planned police raid on her business, the court has heard. Text messages entered into evidence also show Fisher speaking to one of the women about his idea for a phone app that would alert sex workers about bad johns, Arbogast told the court. He said while that sounds like a good idea, "having an officer from CEU initiate that type of conversation is indicative of someone who is completely unmoored from their duties." Fisher pleaded guilty in 2018 to sexual exploitation and breach of trust for kissing a 21-year-old victim in Moazami's case as well as a 17-year-old girl who'd been exploited by another pimp, Michael Bannon. But Moazami's legal team alleges that Fisher's sexual and professional misconduct was much more extensive, involving nine of 11 victims and two witnesses in the Crown's case against Moazami. Moazami is asking the appeals court to order a new trial in his case, arguing that Fisher's misconduct amounted to an abuse of process and miscarriage of justice. Arbogast said Tuesday he could only speculate about how the trial would have been affected if Fisher's misconduct was uncovered at the time but suggested a mistrial could have been declared. "We have conduct here that it is so egregious that it transgresses any concept of fair play and decency," Arbogast said. Crown counsel Matthew Scott, however, told the court it would be "indecent and unjust" to overturn Moazami's convictions. "Mr. Moazami was convicted on the basis of the complainants' evidence, not Mr. Fisher's evidence," Scott said. He argued that Moazami's legal team "has not tendered any admissible evidence at all," saying it is largely based on hearsay and most of the alleged misconduct took place after those involved had testified in Moazami's trial. Fisher's Facebook activity 'simply was not pursued' For much of Tuesday's hearing, Arbogast focused on evidence from Facebook that was not available to the defence team during Moazami's trial. He said it appears Fisher had at least two Facebook accounts — one under the name James Fisher that he described as a professional page, and another under the name Jim Fisher that he used to communicate with victims and witnesses in his cases. Text messages suggest Fisher asked at least one young woman to delete their Facebook conversations when he realized he was under investigation. And yet it appears that during that investigation, VPD officers did not look into Fisher's Facebook use. "Nothing was ever done about those accounts … It simply was not pursued by the investigators," Arbogast said. Justice John Hunter asked Arbogast if there was any evidence Fisher had used his Facebook accounts to improperly influence the testimony of victims and witnesses. Arbogast replied that his team has not been able to access records of Fisher's communications on Facebook, which has been "a source of considerable frustration" for Moazami. The Crown has said it does not have the relevant records, either. "We're saying a fair remedy is to order a new trial here so this matter can be explored appropriately," Arbogast said. "We feel like we're being put in a position with respect to Facebook of arguing with one hand behind our backs." Hearings in Moazami's appeal continue on Wednesday morning.
The current public health order will remain in effect until Feb. 19, 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan announced Tuesday. At a press conference, Premier Scott Moe explained that numbers are moving in the right direction but measures should continue. “The restrictions that we have are working but we need to leave them in place for a while longer,” Moe said. Measures remaining in place for another three weeks include limiting private indoor gatherings to immediate households with some exceptions for people living alone and caregivers and private outdoor gatherings remaining at a limit of 10 as long as physical distancing can be maintained. On the business side, most retail and personal services are still reduced to 50 per cent capacity and large retail locations are reduced to 25 per cent capacity. Restaurants remain limited to four customers per table and three meters between tables for in-person dining. As well, places of worship, concert venues and theatres are limited to a maximum of 30 people “I ask everyone to continue following the public health orders and the guidelines to keep yourself and those around you safe. These measures are working when we follow them as the vast majority of Saskatchewan people and businesses are doing,” Moe said. Chief Medical Health Officer Saqib Shahab explained later that public health measures are either seen as too much or too little depending on whom you are talking to. “You know they do try to strike a fine balance between minizing cases as long as the guidelines are followed and letting people work and enjoy other amenities as possible. According to Shahab these measures have to be balanced with economic mental, health and social costs of stricter measures. Obviously it does impact some people more than others in terms of what their interests are,” Shahab said. “The downward trend shows that if all of us abide by public health principles it has a significant impact on our case numbers. Making measures more stringent would always be an option, unfortunately, if our case numbers ramped up,” Shahab said. Moe explained that the gradual decline in case numbers can be seen in 232 cases reported Thursday and a seven-day average of 254, down from 321 on Jan. 12. He added that active cases are down to 2,665 which are the lowest since late November and down from the peak of 4,763 on Dec. 7. The province also began issuing tickets to establishments that fail to abide by public health orders. Tickets of $14,000 each were issued Tuesday morning to Crackers and the Crazy Cactus in Saskatoon and Stats Cocktails and Dreams in Regina. “There have been a small number of mainly bars and restaurants who may not have been following (orders), putting their staff, putting their customers and essentially putting their communities at risk.,” Moe said. Moe said that he had asked for an increase in enforcement and that was one reason the tickets were issued. “There have been three tickets with significant fines that have been issued to bars in Saskatoon and Regina. Some other investigations are ongoing and they may result in additional fines,” Moe said. According to both Moe and Shahab, issuing fines and penalties are a last resort but have become necessary. “What we really desire is compliance, for everyone to follow all of the public health orders and the guidelines that are in place. That is how we will continue to reduce our case numbers so that hopefully in three weeks from now we can start to maybe look at easing some of the restrictions that are in place,” Moe said. Shahab reminded people to familiarize themselves with guidelines and comply as citizens and business owners. “It’s not just up to the business owner. As a customer in a retail location or restaurant or bar, it is up to us to comply. I think when we don’t comply we put our friends, family, the business, the community at risk,” Shahab said. When asked by why these businesses had their names and fines released Moe said that they should be released. “It’s our hope that we wouldn’t have to release any more as compliance is always the effort. I have said over the course of the last few weeks that we are going to be and I was encouraging all of those involved to increase the enforcement,” Moe said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The province of Saskatchewan set another new record for deaths related to COVID-19 Tuesday with 14. There were two additional deaths reported in the North Central zone , one in the 40-49 age group and one in the 80 and over age group. The Saskatoon zone reported two deaths in the 60 to 69-year-old age group, two deaths in the 80-years-old and over age group and one in the 70 to 79-year-old age group and 50 to 59-year-old age group. Regina reported deaths in the 70 to 79-year-old age group, 50 to 59 year-old age group and 80-years-old and over age group The Far North West and South East also reported one death in the 80-years-old and over age group. The South East also reported a death in the 70 to 79-year-old age group. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 268. There were 232 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 31 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 139 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 55 active cases and North Central 3 has 98 active cases. There was one case with pending information added to the North Central zone. There are currently 208 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 175 reported as receiving in patient care there are 28 in North Central. Of the 33 people reported as being in intensive care there are two in North Central. The current seven-day average is 254, or 20.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 22,646 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 2,665 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 19,219 after 839 more recoveries were reported. Tuesday. There were 362 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan, bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 34,080. As of Jan. 25, 104 per cent of the doses received have been administered. This overage is due to efficiencies in drawing extra doses from vials of vaccine received. There were no doses administered in North Central on Monday. However 23 doses were administered in the adjacent North East zone, which includes Melfort, Nipawin and Tisdale. There were 2,160 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 25. As of today there have been 495,292 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
OTTAWA — Ongoing tensions between the provinces and the federal government over the management of the COVID-19 pandemic pivoted back Tuesday to the question of whether and how border controls can be tightened to slow the spread of the virus. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians to cancel any non-essential trips they have planned abroad or even within Canada in the coming weeks, as new travel restrictions are on the way. What shape they might take remains up for discussion. "The bad choices of a few will never be allowed to put everyone else in danger," he said at a news conference outside his Rideau Cottage home in Ottawa. The premiers for Ontario and Quebec, however, suggested new measures could be implemented swiftly, including mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers, flight bans from countries where new variants of the novel coronavirus are circulating and mandatory testing upon arrival in Canada. "We aren’t the first country to require this and we won't be the last," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said during a visit to Toronto's Pearson International Airport, where a pilot project testing some incoming travellers is underway. "I can't figure out for the life of me why we aren't testing every single person that comes through this airport … and the land crossings as well. We have to lock down." On Tuesday, the global case count topped 100 million since the novel coronavirus was first detected just over a year ago. The first cases in Canada were found a year ago this week. So far, over 19,000 Canadians have died and more than 753,000 have contracted the virus. The number of cases believed to be linked specifically to travel is less than two per cent, a fact officials generally peg on a ban that's been in place for nearly a year on non-essential travel into Canada, and the associated quarantine measures. As of Jan. 7, people coming into Canada must also take a pre-arrival COVID-19 test. The Canada Border Services Agency said Tuesday that since that requirement went into effect, there's been a 33 per cent drop in international travellers arriving by air when compared to a similar time period last year. Still, dozens of flights have arrived since that date with passengers on board who later tested positive for COVID-19. In Alberta, where a pilot project to test some returning travellers at both the land border and at the Calgary airport has been underway since November, 1.15 per cent of tests have come back positive as of last week. Data released Tuesday on the Toronto program, which began this month, showed 2.26 per cent of tests so far came back positive. Wesley Lesosky, who heads a union division representing about 15,000 flight attendants at nine airlines, told the House of Commons transport committee Tuesday there should be a "serious look" at using rapid tests at airports before anyone gets on a plane. Currently, a person departing for Canada must go and get their own test, known as a PCR, within 72 hours of their departure and provide proof of a negative result. While non-essential travel into Canada is restricted, it is much more challenging to simply block Canadians or permanent residents from travelling abroad or returning. Trudeau also said Tuesday commercial flights often carry cargo, so there are concerns restrictions could affect trade. Quebec Premier Francois Legault likened the debate to this time last year, when pressure began for Trudeau to close the border due to the arrival of the pandemic in Canada. The closures didn't end up coming until mid-March — after thousands of spring break travellers from Quebec had already left, and returned, kicking off the first wave of the pandemic in that province. He said he didn't understand why it is taking so long for Trudeau to act this time around. "Each day there are travellers arriving, each day that goes by there’s an added risk," Legault said in French. "So there’s an urgency to act." The National Airlines Council, which represents the largest airlines in Canada, said Tuesday despite concerns about winter travel, international air service is down 90 per cent, and domestic service has been cut by 80 per cent. Case numbers continued to come down in much of Manitoba, but officials there also want tougher border controls, and have decided to put some in place themselves — starting Friday, all out-of-province arrivals will have to self-isolate. Premier Brian Pallister said the move was needed given the spread of COVID-19 variants and the slowing of vaccine supplies. No doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Canada this week, and there will be a reduction in deliveries next week too as the company retools a production facility in Europe. The slowdown has seen provinces warn of running out of vaccines, and delaying second doses or even getting first ones into the arms of some priority populations, an issue they've blamed entirely on the federal government. An independent effort by researchers in Saskatchewan to track vaccine delivery and administration in Canada estimates about 77 per cent of the 1.1 million doses received so far have been administered. During an emergency debate Tuesday night, Procurement Minister Anita Anand told the House of Commons that Pfizer has assured her it will ramp up its deliveries once its plant is upgraded and will still meet its contractual obligation to supply Canada with four million doses by the end of March. Another two million doses are scheduled from Moderna by that time. With those two vaccines alone, Anand said the country remains on track to meet the government's goal of vaccinations for every willing Canadian by the end of September. If Health Canada authorizes any of the other five vaccine candidates for which the government has contracts, she said that schedule could be accelerated. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole criticized Trudeau for suggesting earlier in the day that Canada is "in good shape" when it comes to the vaccine supply. "He thinks we're in good shape when Canadians will only receive eight per cent of the vaccines his government promised Canadians just last month," O'Toole said. "If this is what the prime minister considers good shape ... what does he consider terrible shape? Three per cent?" Green MP Elizabeth May urged opposition parties to "turn the temperature down," arguing that it's "a remarkable achievement of modern science that vaccines exist for something that we didn't even know about a year ago." Still, she asked Anand if there's a link between Pfizer's call for more favourable tax treatment from the Canadian government at the same time as it is delaying the supply of its vaccine. Anand said the only things she has discussed with Pfizer is its contractual obligations and the delivery schedule for the vaccine. "I have not discussed any other matter with the vaccine suppliers at all." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. — with files from Morgan Lowrie, Mia Rabson, Steve Lambert Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered the Department of Justice to end its reliance on private prisons and acknowledge the central role government has played in implementing discriminatory housing policies. In remarks before signing the orders, Biden said the U.S. government needs to change “its whole approach” on the issue of racial equity. He added that the nation is less prosperous and secure because of the scourge of systemic racism. “We must change now,” the president said. “I know it’s going to take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well." Biden rose to the presidency during a year of intense reckoning on institutional racism in the U.S. The moves announced Tuesday reflect his efforts to follow through with campaign pledges to combat racial injustice. Beyond calling on the Justice Department to curb the use of private prisons and address housing discrimination, the new orders will recommit the federal government to respect tribal sovereignty and disavow discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community over the coronavirus pandemic. Biden directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a memorandum to take steps to promote equitable housing policy. The memorandum calls for HUD to examine the effects of Trump regulatory actions that may have undermined fair housing policies and laws. Months before the November election, the Trump administration rolled back an Obama-era rule that required communities that wanted to receive HUD funding to document and report patterns of racial bias. The order to end the reliance on privately-run prisons directs the attorney general not to renew Justice Department contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities. The move will effectively revert the Justice Department to the same posture it held at the end of the Obama administration. “This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration,” Biden said. The more than 14,000 federal inmates housed at privately-managed facilities represent a fraction of the nearly 152,000 federal inmates currently incarcerated. The federal Bureau of Prisons had already opted not to renew some private prison contracts in recent months as the number of inmates dwindled and thousands were released to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic. GEO Group, a private company that operates federal prisons, called the Biden order “a solution in search of a problem. ” “Given the steps the BOP had already announced, today’s Executive Order merely represents a political statement, which could carry serious negative unintended consequences, including the loss of hundreds of jobs and negative economic impact for the communities where our facilities are located, which are already struggling economically due to the COVID pandemic," a GEO Group spokesperson said in a statement. David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, noted that the order does not end the federal government’s reliance on privately-run immigration detention centres. “The order signed today is an important first step toward acknowledging the harm that has been caused and taking actions to repair it, but President Biden has an obligation to do more, especially given his history and promises,” Fathi said. Rashad Robinson, president of the national racial justice organization Color of Change, expressed disappointment that policing was not addressed in the executive action. “President Biden’s executive orders to not renew contracts with for-profit prisons and to investigate housing discrimination wrought by Trump administration policies provide important steps forward, but do not go far enough,” said Robinson, who noted that he had hoped Biden would have moved to reinstate an Obama-era policy barring the transfer of military equipment to local police departments. The memorandum highlighting xenophobia against Asian Americans is in large part a reaction to what White House officials say was offensive and dangerous rhetoric from the Trump administration. Trump, throughout the pandemic, repeatedly used xenophobic language in public comments when referring to the coronavirus. This memorandum will direct Health and Human Services officials to consider issuing guidance describing best practices to advance cultural competency and sensitivity toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the federal government’s COVID-19 response. It also directs the Department of Justice to partner with AAPI communities to prevent hate crimes and harassment. The latest executive actions come after Biden signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender people from serving in the military. Last week, he signed an order reversing Trump's ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. Biden last week also directed law enforcement and intelligence officials in his administration to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the United States, an undertaking launched weeks after a mob of insurgents loyal to Trump, including some connected to white supremacist groups, stormed the U.S. Capitol. White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said Biden sees addressing equity issues as also good for the nation's bottom line. She cited a Citigroup study from last year that U.S. gross domestic product lost $16 trillion over the last 20 years as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans. The same study finds the U.S. economy would be boosted by $5 trillion over the next five years if it addressed issues of discrimination in areas such as education and access to business loans. “Building a more equitable economy is essential if Americans are going to compete and thrive in the 21st century," Rice added. Biden’s victory over Trump in several battleground states, including Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, was fueled by strong Black voter turnout. Throughout his campaign and transition, Biden promised that his administration would keep issues of equity — as well as climate change, another issue he views as an existential crisis — in the shaping of all policy considerations. Biden, who followed through on early promise to pick a woman to serve as vice-president, has also sought to spotlight the diversity of his Cabinet selections. On Monday, the Senate confirmed Biden’s pick for treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, who is the first woman to lead the department. Last week, the Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin as the nation’s first Black defence secretary. ___ Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo and Aaron Morrison contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
After a lengthy delay, the Lauren Lafleche second-degree-murder trial has resumed in Edmonton. The judge-alone proceeding was supposed to continue two weeks ago, but was put on hold after Lafleche tested positive for COVID-19. She is not in custody. Lafleche is accused of causing a severe head injury that led to the death of her daughter Shalaina Arcand. The 34-year-old mother who has two other children is also accused of assaulting Shalaina with a belt and a spatula and failing to provide her with the necessaries of life. Shalaina was in care at a number of different foster homes for four years, but was returned to her mother six months prior to her death. In October 2015, the five-year-old was rushed unconscious to the Stollery Children's hospital in the middle of the night. The trial has already heard that Lafleche delayed calling 911 while she and her oldest daughter gave Shalaina a warm bath to try and wake her up. "She was already in grave condition and critically ill," pediatrician Dr. Melanie Lewis testified on Tuesday. "Shortly after arrival, she had a cardiac arrest." Lewis did not treat Shalaina, but reviewed all medical reports to testify as an expert witness for the Crown about physical abuse, head trauma and neglect. "She suffered a devastating severe brain injury that ultimately led to her death," Lewis testified. "This would have taken an incredible amount of force to cause this head injury." Court of Queen's Bench Justice Avril Inglis was told during the trial last November that the accused explained to her other daughter that Shalaina's injury was caused by a fall out of bed. Lewis rejected that explanation. "The injury that ultimately led to Shalaina's demise cannot be explained by a fall of two-and-a-half feet," the pediatrician said. "A fatal injury due to a fall in general must be more than four storeys." Lewis testified Shalaina's head injury would be the type doctors typically see following a high-speed motor-vehicle collision. Lewis also noted other non-fatal injuries that Shalaina had suffered including unusual wounds to her neck, old injuries to her liver and kidney and bruises on her chest and abdomen. She thought they could have been an indication of long-standing maltreatment and neglect. During cross-examination, Lewis also rejected the idea that Shalaina's fatal head injury could have been caused by a fall from playground monkey bars a few days before she was rushed to hospital. "Within seconds, she would have been symptomatic with this brain injury," Lewis told defence lawyer Peter Royal. Royal noted that Lafleche had complained about changes in her daughter's behaviour after the playground incident, including headaches and loss of appetite. "That could be a sign of a concussion," Lewis testified. "This was likely the result of an inflicted head injury [caused by] hitting her head against a fixed surface." 'We have a desperately-ill child' Dr. Keith Aronyk also testified Tuesday as an expert witness for the Crown. The pediatric neurosurgeon performed emergency brain surgery on Shalaina soon after she was admitted to hospital. As he recalled the rushed decision to try to save the little girl's life, Aronyk testified, "We have a desperately-ill child." She was no longer breathing on her own and had to be intubated soon after she was admitted to hospital, he said. Her heart was stopping, but she survived the surgery. During surgery, Aronyk found a clot of blood inside her head that he believed fit into the window of being three days old. He told the trial that in his clinical opinion, the clot was likely one day old, indicating that the injury had occurred within the last day. After the surgery was completed, Aronyk told another doctor he didn't expect Shalaina to live and noted that if she did, she would likely suffer irreversible brain damage. The little girl died in hospital three days later without regaining consciousness. The trial continues.
Mental health and wellness supports are in place at Jasper schools, and just being at school can be a great mood booster itself. Kelly Harding, assistant superintendent with Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD), described in an email the excitement over the recent return from an extended winter break. “The division has heard from many parents their appreciation for the province's decision to return to in-school learning, noting that their children are happier and more excited about their learning when they are with their teachers and their peers at school,” Harding said in an email. GYPSD includes Jasper Elementary School and Jasper Junior/Senior High School. “The best mental health a school can offer to students is to be open,” added Marie-Claude Faucher, principal of Ecole Desrochers, via email. “Just by being at school, with friends and teachers, it makes an enormous difference!” Harding said the division has had positive feedback from parents who are accessing the division's learn-at-home option this year, because it affords those families an extra level of safety if they are not comfortable returning to in-school learning at this time. “In addition to great teaching and learning opportunities,” Harding said, “the division has extensive mental health and wellness supports - including 10 family school liaison counsellors, three BEST (Bringing Empowered Students Together) coaches and a division psychologist. Parents can access any of these supports through their principals, as well as a number of resources and links on the GYPSD website.” Faucher said there are programs at the school to combine with the positive attitudes there. “Added to the fact that they are now back at school, with big smiles, we also have programs to teach students about Growth Mindset, to help them develop resilience and perseverance,” she said. “We also teach them to be attentive and take care of each other.” Faucher noted if the school has serious concerns about a student, they reach to Alberta Health Services and/or Jasper Outreach Services. “They are really helpful,” she said. Dealing with the pandemic is done by balancing COVID protocols with the social side of life, Harding said. “While no one is excited about having to wear a mask indoors or not being able to share a hug or high-five, the measures put in place by the government are there to keep our staff, students and communities safe,” she said. “We are deeply appreciative to our staff and to our students and families for their commitment to the protocols. Teachers miss seeing their students' smiles! We look forward to when COVID is gone and we can return to normal.” Faucher added, “Causes of mental health issues are when students are cut off from relationships, when they confront the challenges associated with virtual school, when they are playing video games alone. It's not COVID measures that challenge mental health, we are all used to it now, it is part of a routine. Schools are a safe and happy place to be. “As long as we can have all the students here, the atmosphere is focused on learning, and learning is fun!” Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
A group of doctors and advocates are calling on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to address what they call a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in long-term care homes by bringing the military back for support and embarking on hiring and training drives.
Manitoba’s first rapid testing site had no shortage of available appointments for school staffers during its inaugural week of operations. Yet, same-day tests remain out of reach for teachers who want them in the province’s COVID-19 hotspot. Between Jan. 18-24, the province took 111 nasal swab samples — an average of 16 each day — at the rapid testing site at 1066 Nairn Ave. in Winnipeg. The province set an initial goal of completing 20-40 tests daily, with an aim to ramp up to 160/day in the coming months, when it unveiled details about the “Fast Pass” pilot project earlier this month. The number of tests administered during the first week reflect the number of appointments that have been made, a provincial spokesperson said Monday, adding there have been no processing nor administrative issues at the site. Ruth MacKenzie was among the educators who booked an appointment for Monday morning, after she woke up with a sore throat. The educational assistant said she was offered numerous times when she called the booking line (1-855-268-4318) at 7:30 a.m. She picked a 10:30 a.m. slot so she could travel to Winnipeg. MacKenzie said she was pleasantly surprised by how easy the appointment was to set up, the test itself — which took under seven minutes, and that she was told to expect a result within hours. “It’s nice to know there’s a place you can go and get tested and get back to work as soon as possible,” she said. “I love my job. I enjoy it very much. I’m very thankful that I’m working.” The Monday experience was a stark contrast to her first COVID-19 test in the summertime. MacKenzie waited an hour-and-a-half before she was able to get her nasal cavity swabbed, and two days to receive a result in early August. For a positive result at the rapid site, it takes four to eight hours before the notice is posted online. Negative results take longer because they are to be verified at a lab. The province retests the latter because, according to a provincial spokesperson, the Songbird Hyris bCUBE rapid test is new to Manitoba, and many rapid-test types have been shown to have a higher volume of false negatives. The spokesperson said the turnaround for official negative results are “aligned” with those for the general testing stream; the current response time for a test processed at community sites, including the adjacent drive-thru site on Nairn Avenue, is 1-2 days. The Fast Pass site was originally open only to school staff, including teachers, educational assistants, custodians, bus drivers and workers in school-based early learning and child care facilities in Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, River East Transcona, Seine River and Hanover divisions. Over the weekend, the province broadened eligibility criteria to give all school employees in Manitoba access to quick turnaround tests, citing its ability to increase the number of daily appointments. Such an expansion was anticipated to take place in February. The president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society said Monday he is pleased the pilot has been expanded on behalf of teachers in the metro region and those who live nearby, but noted educators work all over the province. There are concerns about test accessibility in rural and northern regions, said James Bedford, who represents 16,000 public school teachers. The province has hinted Winkler and Brandon could be home to future rapid test facilities. “We need to recognize that we can’t ignore the northern part of the province,” Bedford said. To date, 27 students have graduated from Red River College with a micro-credential in how to administer rapid COVID-19 tests. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
From a dream to an award-winning short story to a novel to be published by HarperCollins Canada. It’s all “surreal,” says author Jessica Johns. Johns’ debut novel “Bad Cree” was the subject of a bidding war between three publishing houses. “Everybody connected with my work in such a deep and meaningful way,” said Johns. But she was drawn to work with HarperCollins because of the connection she felt with the editor Aeman Ansari. Johns felt that same connection with agent Stephanie Sinclair from the CookeMcDermid Agency. In fact, after reviewing the list of authors Sinclair represented – including Billy Ray Belcourt, Lee Maracle and Joshua Whitehead – Sinclair was the only agent Johns approached. They also connected on another level: both women are Indigenous. Johns is a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation located in Treaty 8 territory in Alberta, and Sinclair is of Cree, Ojibwe and settler descent. “As an Indigenous person I think I have a fundamental understanding of some of the underlying themes that many other writers that I'm working with are talking about in a way that I don't know another agent would,” said Sinclair. But it was the story Johns was telling that pulled Sinclair in. “I think we need more books that are truthful in all of its complexities of characters, complexities of plots and scenarios but that are also infused with joy, and I think that Jessica struck that balance perfectly. I think that’s really hard to find. I found it immediately just wonderful to read,” said Sinclair. The book also fit into Sinclair’s goal to curate a list of works with “political leanings” as says her profile on the literary agency’s website. “In many ways (Johns’) sort of normalizing and humanizing an urban Indigenous experience in a way that I think challenges how people think about stereotypical Indigenous people. I think that she's also offering insight and perspective into the joy that exists within many, many Indigenous families we don't hear enough about,” said Sinclair. “What I hope to accomplish with my list is to have the books that I contribute to bringing into the world change the conversation and change the landscape and challenge how people think about each other generally not just Indigenous people,” Sinclair said. The short story “Bad Cree” won the Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize in 2020. Johns said when she was writing the short story it had not been her intention to turn it into a novel. “Once I finished it, the story didn't really leave me. I felt like there was more to say. The characters were still kind of there for me and there is more I wanted to do,” she said. Writing the novel was “completely different” than writing a short story. “The short story was supposed to be short, so I’m cutting words, I’m trying to condense and make it concise. And with the novel I'm trying to open it up. I'm trying to expand. I'm trying to dig into scenes,” explained Johns. She is also a poet and says her poems are more narrative and her short stories integrate poetic elements. “Bad Cree” is about a Cree woman who is able to take things to and from the dream world. The ability manifests suddenly and she doesn’t know why. When the dreams escalate and become frightening she returns home to Treaty 8 territory in northern Alberta to find answers. She hasn’t been home for a while because of family issues but upon her return she reconnects with her mother, sister, aunt and cousin. They band together to figure out what’s going on, sort through why this is happening and what she has to do. Considering the content of the short story-turned-novel, it’s not surprising that the concept came from a dream Johns had. The supernatural, mystical aspect of novels have long been a popular draw for readers. “I think right now there may be a greater appetite for sure,” said Sinclair. “There were many, many publishers who were very eager to talk to her about it.” “Bad Cree” won’t be on the bookshelves until 2023. “It’s an industry standard actually which Jessica is experiencing. We sell the book and then the editor takes a year or two to work on the substantive changes, the stylistic changes, the copy edit, then getting it all typeset and designed and then it goes to print and gets published,” said Sinclair. Substantive edits ensure that characters are fully developed, that there are no holes in the plot line, and that the point of view remains consistent. Those “big picture” changes, said Sinclair, don’t change Johns’ story. “It just strengthens it.” Johns, who resides in Vancouver, will be balancing that ongoing work with her job as managing editor of the literary magazine “Room.” “Working on the novel is worked into my everyday life. I do it every single day. I have deadlines with my editor. It’s changed my immediate goals,” she said. Sinclair sees her job as matchmaker between author and publisher and it’s a role she’d like to have with Johns for a long time to come. “I hope that we will work together for the next 20 years … and I hope to see her next many, many books,” said Sinclair. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
VICTORIA — Canadian rescue crews are helping to search for a small plane off of the B.C. coast after United States officials received a mayday distress call. The U.S. Coast Guard says in a tweet that crews are searching the waters between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash., for a downed Cessna 170. It says one man was reported aboard the aircraft. The coast guard says the flight originated from Ketchikan, Ala. Lt.-Cmdr. Tony Wright of the Canadian Forces Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria says the pilot described his location during the mayday call Tuesday afternoon. Wright says Canada is supporting the search with the Canadian Coast Guard's Sir Wilfred Laurier vessel and a CC-115 Buffalo aircraft out of Comox, B.C. He says they are searching along with an American helicopter and vessels. "We're supporting the U.S. Coast Guard," Wright said, adding he had no other information immediately available. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
South Korean authorities were scrambling on Wednesday to rein in coronavirus outbreaks centred on Christian schools as the country reported a jump in infections, dampening hopes of a speedy exit from a third wave of the pandemic. At least 323 COVID-19 cases had been traced to churches and mission schools run by a Christian organisation in two cities, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) data. More than 100 cases were confirmed overnight among people linked to churches and its mission schools in Gwangju, about 270 kms (168 miles) south of Seoul, officials said.
LOS ANGELES — Don Johnson is getting his funny on with help from a couple of “Saturday Night Live” stars. Known for his dramatic roles in the hit series “Miami Vice” and “Nash Bridges,” Johnson co-stars with Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd in the upcoming NBC comedy “Kenan.” Thompson plays a widower juggling his job as a morning TV host with raising two young daughters. Johnson is his meddling father-in-law, and Redd is his brother. Johnson's most recent forays into series work came in ABC's “Blood and Oil” in 2015 and HBO's “Watchmen” in 2019. Hardly laugh fests. The 71-year-old actor calls doing comedy “amazingly joyful, hard work.” “The good thing about it is I get to work with these guys, who are just so good and such professionals,” he said Tuesday on a video call. “They pick me up, and they’re supportive. I just watch them and say, ‘OK, I got to try and keep up with that.’ ” Johnson was working on a movie last March when production was shut down by the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He got a call from “SNL” producer and friend Lorne Michaels, who sent him the show's script. “Kenan and I got on the phone and I felt instant chemistry with Kenan,” Johnson said. “I feel blessed. I’m working with these great comedians and writers. Come on, man, this is like the cherry on top for me.” His co-stars include real-life sisters and pre-teens Dani and Dannah Lockett, who admit not knowing Johnson's previous work. “I made stuff they couldn’t watch,” he joked. Thompson will juggle shooting the series in Los Angeles and doing “SNL” in New York. Like many productions, the global pandemic forced changes, including doing table reads over video calls, which led to a stilted feeling. “When we were able to get in person, they just clicked,” Thompson said. Even then, the newly assembled cast wasn't able to sit around and build chemistry between takes. “When we started rehearsing under COVID protocol," Johnson said, "during the first 10 days the only time I saw their faces was when I was in a scene.” The show debuts Feb. 16. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.There are 757,022 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 757,022 confirmed cases (59,551 active, 678,068 resolved, 19,403 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 4,011 new cases Tuesday from 34,572 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 158.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,271 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,324.There were 165 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 162. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 51.62 per 100,000 people. There have been 17,120,912 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (six active, 388 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 158 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.15 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 78,477 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (six active, 104 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday from 267 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 88,900 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,572 confirmed cases (11 active, 1,496 resolved, 65 deaths).There was one new case Tuesday from 934 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.11 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.13 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 201,358 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 1,161 confirmed cases (340 active, 807 resolved, 14 deaths).There were 10 new cases Tuesday from 1,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.95 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.77 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 157 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 22.There were zero new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people. There have been 137,228 tests completed._ Quebec: 256,002 confirmed cases (15,622 active, 230,803 resolved, 9,577 deaths).There were 1,166 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 184.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,268 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,467.There were 56 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 435 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 62. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.73 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 112.87 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed._ Ontario: 258,700 confirmed cases (23,036 active, 229,755 resolved, 5,909 deaths).There were 1,740 new cases Tuesday from 29,712 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 158.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,423 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,346.There were 63 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 430 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 61. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 40.57 per 100,000 people. There have been 9,007,713 tests completed._ Manitoba: 28,902 confirmed cases (3,492 active, 24,601 resolved, 809 deaths).There were 92 new cases Tuesday from 1,556 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 254.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,162 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 166.There were five new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 26 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 59.07 per 100,000 people. There have been 450,194 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 22,646 confirmed cases (2,649 active, 19,729 resolved, 268 deaths).There were 230 new cases Tuesday from 897 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 26 per cent. The rate of active cases is 225.55 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,775 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 254.There were 14 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 43 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.52 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.82 per 100,000 people. There have been 331,591 tests completed._ Alberta: 121,901 confirmed cases (8,652 active, 111,662 resolved, 1,587 deaths).There were 366 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 197.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,134 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 591.There were 13 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 124 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 18. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.41 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed._ British Columbia: 65,234 confirmed cases (5,714 active, 58,352 resolved, 1,168 deaths).There were 406 new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 112.67 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,322 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 475.There were 14 new reported deaths Tuesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 78 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.22 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.03 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed._ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,229 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (six active, 25 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 13.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 9,064 tests completed._ Nunavut: 282 confirmed cases (17 active, 264 resolved, one deaths).There were zero new cases Tuesday. The rate of active cases is 43.84 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,382 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Musician Adrian Sutherland is committed to a life in his remote home on the Attawapiskat River where it flows into James Bay in Northern Ontario. As a community serviced only by air and winter ice road that’s a big commitment for a touring musician who has spent the better part of the past decade as the lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Midnight Shine. Sutherland originally assembled the group as a backing band for an intended solo project. “I got a grant at the time to record a bunch of music I had written before the band even came together,” he says on the line from his home in Attawapiskat. “So that basically got put on the back burner once the band was formed back in 2011, and we just kind of kept running with it,” Sutherland explained. “We all felt that it was something very good and positive and we all wanted to keep it going.” A member of the Āhtawāpiskatowi ininiwak Cree community, Sutherland is a man who possesses a rich and diverse background of experience. A former paramedic, he wears many hats in the territory. He’s a Master Corporal with the Canadian Ranger Patrol, and with his wife Judy and their four children, he owns and operates a local eatery called The Moose. In addition to his family business and army reserve work, the Midnight Shine front man has dedicated himself to numerous community cultural initiatives. Sutherland was instrumental in bringing the ArtsCan Circle to his community. He’s an Artist Ambassador for the Downie Wenjack Fund. He launched a local music program with the assistance of the MusiCounts charitable organization, which works with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to bring sustainable music programs to in-need schools and communities across Canada. He’s also a vocal critic of the Canadian government in regard to its failure to secure clean drinking water for remote Indigenous communities and Sutherland has strong opinions on how COVID-19 protocols have left many community members locked out with few options to survive. In addition to the ongoing water issues, Sutherland’s James Bay community has also suffered from overcrowded housing and poor medical facilities which he feels has been made worse by the current pandemic. “It’s certainly exacerbated the problem and I think it has really exposed the situation and the types of conditions that exist up here.” “Personally, I think there's just a lot of things happening up here right now with all the restrictions that are being put on us, even the delivery of the vaccinations,” Sutherland said. “I haven’t heard anything in the community about how they’re going to roll it out. Which leads me to wonder about healthcare and how the planning of all this is supposed to unfold.” Finding himself locked down in his northern community, physically separated from the other three members of Midnight Shine, Sutherland decided it was a good time to revisit his original intention of releasing some solo material that he had been working on before COVID shut everything down. “No one has expressed that they didn’t want to continue on as Midnight Shine,” Sutherland says. “It was just a good time for me to step away for a while. We had done three albums together and it just felt like the right time, especially since the pandemic came down, even more so now that we can’t perform or get together at all. It just seems more timely now for me to put my efforts toward a solo project.” Working with Toronto musicians, brothers, and songwriting partners Chris Gormley and Matt Gormley, Sutherland recorded his solo compositions with producer Carl Jennings just before everything went into lockdown. Unable to tour the new material the Cree songwriter decided to sit on the masters for a while to wait and see how things played out. In October 2019 Sutherland released his first single from the sessions called Politician Man. Coming to his audience with a pop rock sound the Attawapiskat musician admits that his songwriting with Midnight Shine often had political overtones that were much subtler than his debut solo single. “I try to do it in a way that invites people in for conversation and not like punching you in the nose with it. Politician Man is completely the opposite. It's more in your face,” he said. As the pandemic persisted Sutherland continued to focus on running his family business and adventuring out on hunting excursions with his children. He also invested time in building a modest recording studio, as well as putting work into his first book of memoirs, commissioned by Penguin Random House Canada, which is slated for release next year. He admits that his experience writing the book so far has been more straightforward and less demanding than song structure. His compositions are influenced by his life in the north, incorporating aspects of his Cree language and traditional percussion to create underlying soundscapes within the songs with the intention of capturing the sonic ambience of the natural world that surrounds him. While embedded deep into the pandemic lockdown Sutherland was inspired by Indigenous blockades, grassroots citizen initiatives, and social justice movements like Black Lives Matter to release his second solo recording Respect The Gift, which he had been sitting on for more than a year. “We wrote this song almost as if we knew what was coming here. It’s kind of weird when you listen to the lyrics,” he says. “It's about challenging the state and rising up together. We can't continue the way we have. We all know that now. We all can see that. It’s about rising up and shining light on the darkness and trying find ways to coexist and move together.” Adrian Sutherland’s inspiring new single, Respect The Gift, is accessible on all the popular music streaming platforms, and it’s also available to download at midnightshine.bandcamp.com Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Global coronavirus cases surpassed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as countries around the world struggle with new virus variants and vaccine shortfalls. Almost 1.3% of the world's population has now been infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 2.1 million people have died. Around 668,250 cases have been reported each day over the same period, and the global fatality rate stands at 2.15%.
Grace Villa’s operator responded Tuesday to horrific reports of understaffing, deplorable sanitation and neglect inside the home’s recent COVID outbreak, while critics joined calls to revoke the company’s licence. The Spectator reported on tragic conditions exposed by workers in correspondence to Hamilton MPP Monique Taylor. The letters, which Taylor released Monday, describe in graphic detail the disturbing conditions inside the city’s biggest and deadliest outbreak. In an email late Tuesday, APANS Health Services addressed the allegations for the first time. “The safety of our residents, staff and family members is paramount and these statements are deeply concerning,” said CEO Mary Raithby. “We are continually reviewing our response throughout the outbreak. We will continue to listen to the best advice in our sector to determine where we can make enhancements to further protect our residents and staff.” She said, “Our utmost concern is for those in our home.” “Everyone at Grace Villa is continuing to pour their hearts and energy into their work each day,” Raithby continued. “We are humbled by their dedication and are saddened that some may have felt they did not have the resources or support as needed to do their jobs.” She added, “Our leadership team is working tirelessly to ensure everyone has the knowledge, training and resources to safely care for our residents now and in the future.” More than a quarter of the home’s 156 residents died in less than two months. Grace Villa had 234 cases — including 144 resident, 88 staff and two visitor cases — and 44 deaths from Nov. 25 to Jan. 20. Though the outbreak ended last Wednesday, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) still holds management powers at the east Mountain home through a provincial order. Taylor, who represents Hamilton Mountain, said the letters came from workers worried what would happen when HHS leaves the facility. The letters described “chaos, confusion and outright neglect” while workers “begged and cried for help.” “It was heartbreaking, traumatizing and it was criminal,” one read. The letters were anonymized to protect workers from reprisal and because they weren’t authorized to speak with media. “Every single room was trashed,” a worker wrote, describing cardboard boxes “overflowing” with “dirty PPE, soiled briefs and food trays, many of them untouched.” A McMaster University professor supported Taylor and SEIU Healthcare’s calls for APANS Health Services’ licence to be revoked, calling it “appalling neglect.” “It’s absolutely abhorrent to read of the conditions at Grace Villa,” said Amit Arya, assistant professor in palliative care. “It’s unimaginable suffering and grief.” On Sunday, Conservative MPP Donna Skelly, who represents Flamborough-Glanbrook, announced new provincial funding for local seniors’ homes, including Grace Villa, to cover “eligible expenses” for proper screening, staffing, equipment and supplies, and infection control. Grace Villa was allotted $124,000, bringing its total “prevention and containment support” to more than $1 million. In an email Tuesday, Skelly called the allegations at Grace Villa “disturbing,” adding they were “being looked into” by the Ministry of Long-Term Care. An emailed statement from the ministry said the province worked with the city and health organizations to address the outbreak at the Lockton Crescent home. “We take the safety of long-term-care residents very seriously,” said press secretary Krystle Caputo, noting the province invested $1.38 billion to support homes, including through orders that allow hospitals and infection control teams to manage outbreaks. Caputo added the ministry has worked directly with local public health, the LHIN and HHS “throughout the pandemic.” “In addition to improving the home’s infection prevention and control measures and educating staff on the proper use of PPE, the hospital is providing staffing for the home,” Caputo said. “The home has an adequate supply of PPE, and N95 masks are available when needed.” “We remain committed to doing everything we can, along with our partners, to help stabilize the home and have it return to normal operations.” On Monday, Hamilton’s medical officer of health said the city called for support at Grace Villa, connected the facility with HHS to improve staffing and carried out inspections. “Our job is to look at the infection control and disease control aspects,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson. “The care of the residents in the home is the responsibility of the home and ... the Ministry of Long-Term Care.” “Our hearts go out to all of those who have family in long-term care and especially those who have experienced the challenges of a bad outbreak such as that,” she said. “It’s a circumstance that none of us would want our loved ones to experience and none of us would want to go through.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
WASHINGTON — All but five Senate Republicans voted in favour of an effort to dismiss Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial on Tuesday, making clear a conviction of the former president for “incitement of insurrection” after the deadly Capitol siege on Jan. 6 is unlikely. While the Republicans did not succeed in ending the trial before it began, the test vote made clear that Trump still has enormous sway over his party as he becomes the first former president to be tried for impeachment. Many Republicans have criticized Trump's role in the attack — before which he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat — but most of them have rushed to defend him in the trial. “I think this was indicative of where a lot of people’s heads are," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, after the vote. Late Tuesday, the presiding officer at the trial, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was taken to the hospital for observation after not feeling well at his office, spokesman David Carle said in a statement. The 80-year-old senator was examined by the Capitol's attending physician, who recommended he be taken to the hospital out of an abundance of caution, he said. Later Tuesday, Carle said Leahy had been sent home “after a thorough examination” and was looking forward to getting back to work. Leahy presided over the trial's first procedural vote, a 55-45 tally that saw the Senate set aside an objection from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul that would have declared the impeachment proceedings unconstitutional and dismissed the trial. The vote means the trial on Trump's impeachment will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8. The House impeached him Jan. 13, just a week after the deadly insurrection in which five people died. What seemed for some Democrats like an open-and-shut case that played out for the world on live television is running into a Republican Party that feels very different. Not only do senators say they have legal concerns, but they are wary of crossing the former president and his legions of followers. It's unclear if any Republicans would vote to convict Trump on the actual charge of incitement after voting in favour of Paul's effort to declare it unconstitutional. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said after the vote that he had not yet made up his mind, and that constitutionality “is a totally different issue” than the charge itself. But many others indicated that they believe the final vote will be similar. The vote shows that “they've got a long ways to go to prove it,” Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said of House Democrats' charge. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, said he thinks the vote was “a floor not a ceiling.” Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said he thinks that most Republicans will not see daylight between the constitutionality and the article of incitement. “You’re asking me to vote in a trial that by itself on its own is not constitutionally allowed?” he asked. Conviction would require the support of all Democrats and 17 Republicans, or two-thirds of the Senate — far from the five Republicans who voted with Democrats Tuesday to allow the trial to proceed. They were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — all recent critics of the former president and his effort to overturn President Joe Biden's win. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Trump “provoked” the riots and indicated he is open to conviction, voted with Paul to move toward dismissing the trial. Democrats rejected the argument that the trial is illegitimate or unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, pointing to an 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned and to the opinions of many legal scholars. Democrats also say that a reckoning of the first invasion of the Capitol since the War of 1812, perpetrated by rioters egged on by a president as Electoral College votes were being tallied, is necessary. “It makes no sense whatsoever that a president, or any official, could commit a heinous crime against our country and then defeat Congress’ impeachment powers — and avoid a vote on disqualification — by simply resigning, or by waiting to commit that offence until their last few weeks in office,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Before the vote, the senators officially opened the trial by taking oaths to ensure “impartial justice” as jurors. The nine House Democrats prosecuting the case against Trump carried the sole impeachment charge across the Capitol on Monday evening in a solemn and ceremonial march along the same halls the rioters ransacked three weeks ago. The lead House prosecutor, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, stood before the Senate to describe the violent events of Jan. 6 and read the House resolution charging “high crimes and misdemeanours.” For Democrats the tone, tenor and length of the trial so early in Biden's presidency poses its own challenge, forcing them to strike a balance between their vow to hold Trump accountable and their eagerness to deliver on the new administration's priorities following their sweep of control of the House, Senate and White House. Chief Justice John Roberts is not presiding at the trial, as he did during Trump’s first impeachment, potentially affecting the gravitas of the proceedings. The shift is said to be in keeping with protocol because Trump is no longer in office. Instead, Leahy, who serves in the largely ceremonial role of Senate president pro tempore, was sworn in on Tuesday. Leaders in both parties agreed to a short delay in the proceedings, which serves their political and practical interests, even as National Guard troops remain at the Capitol because of security threats to lawmakers ahead of the trial. The start date gives Trump’s still-evolving legal team time to prepare its case, while also providing more than a month's distance from the passions of the bloody riot. For the Democratic-led Senate, the intervening weeks provide prime time to confirm some of Biden’s key Cabinet nominees. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Fans of the Voyageur Days Festival will not gather where the rivers meet in Mattawa again this summer. Council agreed during their meeting Monday night to postpone the 2021 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic without much discussion. The recommendation came from the recreation committee and the only amendment was the removal of the year it was being postponed until, with 2022 scratched from the motion as well. See: No Voyageur Days in 2020 'heartbreaking' A media release was issued Tuesday by Renee Paquette, recreation and facilities services manager: “Over the last few weeks, we have been monitoring the situation closely and have determined that, along with government mandates in Ontario, it is no longer safe to move forward with our festival in July of 2021,” the release stated. “The well-being of our fans, artists, staff, vendors, partners, and the surrounding community is our number one priority. We have, therefore, decided to hold off on having the festival this year. “These are without doubt unprecedented times but as a town and community, we will all get through this together. We will overcome this and grow from it, but now is the time to be safe and look out for one another by protecting everyone else who supports us. Stay safe and rock on.” Council decided in April 2020 to pull the plug on the festival as the first wave of the pandemic was in full force with Mayor Dean Backer saying the “risks are way too high.” Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca