Construction continues at Rams and Chargers' new stadium despite worker testing positive for coronavirus

Jack Baer
Writer

A worker testing positive for COVID-19 hasn’t halted construction at SoFi Stadium, the future home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, a spokesman for the site’s construction firm confirmed to USA Today on Sunday.

The worker was reportedly assigned to an isolated area outside of the building and had not entered the building or any of its common areas, according to Chris McFadden, vice president of communications for Turner Construction Company:

“First and most importantly, the worker is doing well, receiving care and is recovering,” McFadden said by email to USA Today. “The safety of the people on site and in our community remains our top priority.”

A coronavirus case isn't stopping construction at SoFi Stadium. (Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

McFadden reportedly added that all equipment used by the worker is being disinfected and all workers who were in contact with the employe have been identified and contacted. All who were in close contact are self-quarantining.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

One worker on site who spoke with USA Today had another idea for making safety a top priority:

“I think if you want to slow the virus down, just stop this job,” he said. “That would be the right thing to do.”

Construction at SoFi Stadium has continued despite a California-wide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week directing all residents to stay home except for essential needs and jobs. An exception for construction jobs has opened the door for such projects to continue.

Barring further coronavirus problems, SoFi Stadium is scheduled to have its grand opening on July 25 with back-to-back Taylor Swift concerts.

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  • Security footage retrieved from highrise where Toronto woman fell to her death
    News
    CBC

    Security footage retrieved from highrise where Toronto woman fell to her death

    Ontario's police watchdog says it has reviewed security camera footage and interviewed the officers who were at the Toronto highrise where 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell to her death — after what her family says was a 911 call that went terribly wrong.But neither the footage nor the interviews will be made public, for now. "While the investigation is ongoing, the details … will not be released in an effort to ensure the memories of other potential witnesses are not tainted," the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said in a news release Monday.The SIU said it has interviewed six officers and four civilian witnesses. It expects to interview the family later this week.  The update comes after thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to demand answers about the death of Korchinski-Paquet, who was black, and to protest the deaths of an unarmed black people at the hands of police.Questions have swirled since Korchinski-Paquet's death with her family, community advocates and various politicians asking what exactly happened in the moments leading up to her 24-storey fall from the balcony of her family's apartment.An online petition calling for transparency in the investigation has amassed over 161,000 signatures.Concerns about role of raceKorchinski-Paquet's relatives have said they worry race played a role in her death too, citing the cases of Andrew Loku in 2015 and of D'Andre Campbell who was fatally shot by police in nearby Brampton, in April, after what the SIU called a "domestic situation." Campbell's family said he suffered from mental illness."The family is extremely concerned that in recent times people with mental health distress issues across North America are ending up dead after interactions with the police," their lawyer Knia Singh said last week. A CBC News investigation found black people made up 36.5 per cent of fatalities involving Toronto police, despite accounting for just 8.3 per cent of the city's population, in the period from 2000-17.Korchinski-Paquet was an active member of her church, a talented gymnast and proud of her Ukrainian and Nova Scotian roots, her family's lawyer said.In the past five years, however, she began experiencing epilepsy, with the family sometimes requiring help from police, according to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders.Saunders has said police were called to the apartment where Korchinski-Paquet lived with her family on May 27 by multiple reports of an assault.Two of those calls stated that a knife was involved, according to the chief, but the family has said there was no assault underway or knife present when police arrived.Korchinski-Paquet, her brother and mother met police in the hallway of their apartment, Saunders said, and "words were exchanged" between her and officers.  Not long afterward, she asked to enter the apartment unit to use the bathroom. Police followed her inside, but did not allow her mother or brother to enter, the family has said.Within a minute or two, Singh said, the family heard a commotion inside the apartment. "Mom, help. Mom, help," were the final words her mother would hear her say before they heard silence, according to the family. Police officers confirmed minutes later Korchinski-Paquet was dead. In the immediate aftermath, Korchinski-Paquet's mother and cousin took to social media in a series of emotional video statements pointing fingers at police, saying they believed she had been pushed. Singh has since said those accusations would not be part of the family's official statement, but that they would instead wait for the evidence before coming to any further conclusions. Calls to fund body camerasAt a news conference last week, Korchiniski-Paquet's mother, Claudette Korchinski-Beals, said she'd sought help from the police for her daughter before, but that never had so many officers turned out as they did Wednesday. The family's lawyer has said five to eight officers were present.Toronto's police chief revealed Friday police did not send a crisis intervention team to the scene. Saunders said weapons-related calls take the highest priority, so front-line officers respond to them first. "There's no way I would put a nurse in the middle of a knife fight," he said. The chief would not say if any of the 911 calls about Korchinski-Paquet referenced mental health, but did say there was some discussion about seizures.Korchinski-Beals has said she asked officers to take her daughter to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.Saunders has said police are not "legally permitted to discuss the incident" because of the SIU investigation underway, urging calm and warning of "opportunists" seeking to fill in the blanks with misinformation. The SIU is an arm's-length civilian oversight agency that investigates deaths, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police.The chief has also said the death might be "a textbook case in which body cameras should be provided," saying he'd like to see the technology begin to roll out in the third-quarter of the year.Meanwhile Ontario's Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca issued a letter to Premier Doug Ford calling for the province to provide funding to any police force prepared to deploy body cameras, adding the privacy commissioner should be consulted to ensure the use of the cameras adheres to guidelines.CBC News requested a response from the premier's office on Del Duca's letter, but instead got a written statement from the provincial solicitor general's office saying only that it's up to police departments to decide whether to deploy the devices."Police services and Chiefs of Police have the authority to use the tools and resources they deem necessary to ensure community safety in the jurisdictions they serve," Stephen Warner, spokesperson for Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones, wrote Monday night. "We have confidence in police services to make the appropriate decisions and take the necessary steps to keep their communities safe, as well as maintain trust and accountability," the statement read.Ford addressed the protests in the U.S. and in parts of Canada in his daily briefing Monday saying, "racism and hatred have no place in our province.""We must acknowledge this pain," he said. "Many of these issues are deeply rooted. They stem  from a history of racism and abuse … but it is only by facing them, it is only be working together that we can begin to address them.

  • Russia not welcome at G7, Canada's Trudeau says
    News
    Reuters

    Russia not welcome at G7, Canada's Trudeau says

    Canada does not support Russia's return to the Group of Seven, proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend, because Moscow continues to flout international law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday. "Russia was excluded from the G7 after it invaded Crimea a number of years ago, and its continued disrespect and flaunting of international rules and norms is why it remains outside of the G7, and it will continue to remain out," Trudeau said during his daily news conference. Trump said on Saturday he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until at least September and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.

  • Temporary foreign worker dies due to COVID-19 as disease hits southwestern Ontario farms hard
    Health
    CBC

    Temporary foreign worker dies due to COVID-19 as disease hits southwestern Ontario farms hard

    A temporary foreign worker from Mexico who came to Canada to work on a farm in Ontario died on Saturday due to COVID-19, as farms in the southwestern part of the province become a major driver for a spike in new cases. The 31-year-old man had no underlying health issues, said medical officer of health for the Windsor Essex County Health Unit, Dr. Wajid Ahmed. "Any of these workers who are self-isolating, our team gets in touch with them on a regular basis, almost daily, and we do provide them with translation service," said Ahmed. "We do provide them with some written information in their own native language to help them understand all the details, what's next step to do, how to reach out to us, to EMS or to call for help if they need any of these things, and we do monitor symptoms."The man was self-isolating in a hotel room before he called emergency services and went to the hospital, said Ahmed. In the last few weeks, workers who were not able to safely self-isolate in bunkhouses provided by their employers were moved to hotels, the health unit reported. Steve Laurie is responsible for the facilitation of temporary foreign workers to Woodside Greenhouses Inc., the pepper farm in Kingsville, Ont. where the man worked. Laurie, who said the man's name is Bonifacio Eugenio-Romero, said he took the man to the hospital on May 21 for treatment and a COVID-19 test after he said he had a fever. By May 23, the test came back showing the man had COVID-19, said Laurie, and all migrant workers who the man worked closely with were put into a hotel. Laurie said the man was put into a room by himself.On May 25, Laurie said the health unit tested the 22 other workers at the facility. Of those, two came back positive, two need to be retested and the remaining were negative.By Saturday, Eugenio-Romero had trouble breathing and was taken to hospital by EMS, both the health unit and Laurie confirmed.Laurie said 30 minutes later, the man died, leaving his co-workers upset and worried. "They're rattled," he said. "It's been a wake-up call for a lot of them."Laurie added workers would sometimes hide their symptoms so as to not miss pay, but that the company did daily wellness checks which included checking for a fever. "It's definitely been scary," said Laurie. "You hope these things won't happen to you or anyone you know."In a statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Labour said it is investigating the death. The Consulate of Mexico in Toronto said it is working with Eugenio-Romero's family for the repatriation of his body.Workers feel 'unsafe,' says union representativeSantiago Escobar, national representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Canada, said he received a call about one month ago from workers at Woodside Greenhouses who said they were concerned because they had a lack of information and proper equipment to protect them from getting infected. He said he provided workers with pamphlets in Spanish to help educate them on protecting themselves.But Escobar wants the public to know which farms are under an outbreak — something the Windsor-Essex health unit will not do. "I don't know why they don't want to be open about this information, but we have spoken about these issues in the past and we think we have witnesses that employers are not providing enough information and personal protective equipment and also these workers are not able to practice social distancing," he said. Escobar said overcrowded housing units and a failure to meet provincial and federal standards for housing make the spread of the virus very easy. "Unfortunately we're witnessing that a lot of employers are not complying with the regulations they are supposed to follow," he said, adding many workers from the Windsor-Essex region have reached out because they do not feel safe at their jobs. Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer for the advocacy group, Justice for Migrant Farm Workers. said both levels of government must be held to account for "decades of inaction that have only intensified poor working and living conditions.""This death and the countless workers who are sick is not simply a tragedy it's negligence by politicians who sacrifice the needs of vulnerable workers while appeasing the interests of the regions powerful agricultural lobby," Ramsaroop said in an email to CBC News.Farms hit hard by COVID-19The news of the man's death comes after major spikes in the numbers of COVID-19 cases popped up at farms in the southwestern Ontario region. In Windsor-Essex, 175 — about 18 per cent — of all COVID-19 cases have been among farm workers from 17 different farms in the region. The Windsor Essex County Health Unit would not confirm which farms or businesses the workers were at, saying the public was not at risk because of these outbreaks. A farm operation in Norfolk County, south of Simcoe, declared a COVID-19 outbreak this weekend, after 85 migrant workers tested positive for the virus.The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit said Sunday that five workers have been hospitalized and approximately 25 others who tested positive are showing symptoms of the virus.The migrant workers are employed by Scotlynn Group in Vittoria, a major producer of sweet corn, watermelon, asparagus and pumpkins. Many workers are from Mexico.A farm in St. Thomas, Ontario Plants Propagation, had 20 people associated with it test positive this past week and is still waiting on test results for others. In that case, two health units are involved in contact tracing, as the workers lived in London but travelled daily to the Elgin County farm. Chatham-Kent's health unit reported 145 cases of COVID-19 for that community, with the majority of them linked to an outbreak at Greenhill Produce. There are now 101 workers at Greenhill Produce who have tested positive for COVID-19. An outbreak was investigated at the end of April, when about 40 cases of the disease were discovered among workers at the greenhouse operation, which also grows peppers. The health unit said those cases were contracted locally, as many of the workers had been in the country anywhere from a few months to one year. Only six of those cases are still active, according to CK Public Health. Another 95 workers have recovered.During a news conference Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would address the issue of infection among migrant workers with public health officials, both to ensure the workers get tested to keep them safe, and to keep the supply chain safe.When asked if the province would consider increasing inspections and changing laws regarding communal living in cramped bunk houses, Ford said "that's something we can put on the table.""I've been there and seen the congregate living on these farms. Can we do it a month or so? I just don't think that's a reality," said Ford."What we can do is go in and test frequently. I think it's critical that we do. First, we'll do a test and another test in a week and continue testing to keep those people safe and keep the food and supply chain safe as well."The premier added that more information will be provided in the coming days."We'll be asking public health and Ontario health to start going in there and focusing on the migrant workers that are here. There's quite a few of them."Feds fast-track foreign workers' permits to fill labour gapsLast month, the federal government began fast-tracking approvals for temporary foreign workers already in Canada, to make them available to fill labour gaps in critical sectors such as agriculture and health care during the pandemic.The government is allowing workers who meet certain qualifications, to start work as soon as they secure new employment while they wait for their new permit to go through, cutting down the time it takes for approvals from ten weeks or more down to ten days or less.The goal is to help employers in the agriculture, agri-food and health care sectors meet urgent needs for additional employees during the global health crisis.At the time of that decision, immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri told CBC News he applauds the move but says caution also must be taken to ensure the health and safety of the workers."It's a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding," said Kadri. "But we have to make sure that these workers are safe in the plants that they are working or the farms that they are working. Not only when they are in quarantine for 14 days but when they are on the job site."Many farm owners were worried in the spring that they wouldn't have the labour needed to harvest crops, fearing the work shortage could lead to a food supply shortage as well.

  • Woman sentenced in toddler's death says sorry to 'every single person' she hurt
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Woman sentenced in toddler's death says sorry to 'every single person' she hurt

    EDMONTON — A woman who was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison for her role in the death of a toddler found outside an Edmonton church says she's sorry to everyone she hurt.But she could not explain why she did what she did."I don't know why," Tasha-Lee Mack said between sobs at her sentencing hearing Monday in the Court of Queen's Bench. "It was like an out-of-body experience."I don't know why I did it. It's not me. I love kids."Mack, 28, was convicted last November of manslaughter for the death of 19-month-old Anthony Joseph Raine, who was found dead outside Good Shepherd Anglican Church in April 2017. His father, Joey Crier, was found guilty of manslaughter in a separate trial.Mack was sentenced Monday by Justice Rob Graesser."There is no doubt that the act that killed Anthony was brutal," he said in delivering the sentence.Graesser said Mack was convicted for failing to take steps to protect Anthony and in failing to take him for medical attention."These were not fleeting things," he said.Mack's trial had heard that Anthony, who was being cared for by her and Crier, went from being a chunky, happy boy to "skin and bones" in a matter of months.Court was told he suffered abuse before a fatal blow to his head and his abandonment behind the church.There was no evidence Mack struck Anthony, but Graesser said the woman consciously decided not to seek medical advice and instead spent hours "finding a place to dump Anthony dead or alive."Crown prosecutor Monica Sabo asked for a 10- to 12-year sentence, while defence lawyer Ajay Juneja suggested his client's sentence should be six years because she has severe psychological issues.Prior to being sentenced, Mack spoke to the court for at least 20 minutes."I understand what I did was wrong," she said. "The only way to make up for it is to make sure it never happens again. I have learned my lesson."Mack then apologized."I am sorry to every single person I've hurt," she said. "I really mean that."Earlier Monday, court heard victim impact statements from Anthony's family — including his mother, Dalyce Raine.Raine said in her statement that she doesn't think she'll ever be able to forgive the people responsible for her son's death."I entrusted the care of my son to Joey and I thought he was in good care," she said in her statement.Raine, who said Mack and Crier took so much from her, questioned why Crier didn't bring Anthony back to her."I wish I could see his face and see his smile one more time," she said.Raine said she doesn't wish hate on Mack or Crier, but she said they deserve to be behind bars."You should not be able to be free," she said in her statement. "I don't think I'll ever forgive you people for what you did."Raine and other family members said Anthony's death divided their community."It hurts and it beats me up inside," she said.Crier has not yet been sentenced, but a judge has said he will reduce Crier's overall sentence, because he has been assaulted in jail and spends much of his time in segregated custody.Mack's sentence was reduced by a year due to difficult conditions in the remand centre. She also received credit for time served, meaning she has five years left in her sentence.Both Mack and Crier were initially charged with second-degree murder.This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

  • Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations
    News
    Reuters

    Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

    Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank, a plan that could stoke Palestinian violence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state. Gantz's directive appeared to indicate that the centrist politician had either signed on to the move, or at least believed it would be inevitable, given right-wing support in the Netanyahu-led coalition cabinet.

  • Ontario councillor who took New Brunswick road trip claims he stayed in private home
    News
    CBC

    Ontario councillor who took New Brunswick road trip claims he stayed in private home

    A Peterborough, Ont., city councillor who entered New Brunswick despite COVID-19 border restrictions now says he stayed at the private home of an acquaintance in the province.Stephen Wright told CBC News Monday afternoon that what he calls a research trip lasted 10 days and he decided to try it because of inconsistent answers from provincial officials about whether he would be admitted to the province."I erred on the side that that was information that I needed to find out in doing part of my job and [I] took the necessary precaution that I kept myself safe, and anybody that I ever would have come into contact with, safe as well."An initial news report in the Peterborough Examiner newspaper described the road trip as lasting a weekend and quoted Wright saying he promised New Brunswick enforcement officers at the border that he would stay in his car during the entire trip.But Wright told CBC Monday that he was misunderstood when he spoke to the paper about the length of the trip.And he said he gave the officers an address and a phone number where they could reach him during his stay in the province.That was at the private residence of an acquaintance who had been working at home for several months, he said."I won't reveal where in the province I stayed because it seems there are enough people who want to do some public shaming. But no, I had friends who had made arrangements for a place for me," he said."Where I was staying, I had no contact with nobody else there, either," he added. He called it "a separate self-contained unit" apart from his acquaintance with "no shared living area or bathroom."Wright said he didn't tell enforcement officers at the border that he'd be staying at a private residence where someone was already living because "that question wasn't asked."Wright is a member of a regional economic recovery task force in the Peterborough area and said he wanted to come to New Brunswick to see how restaurant reopenings were going.He said Monday he did not enter any New Brunswick restaurants but assessed the success of their openings by looking at how many cars were in their parking lots and drive-thru line-ups.He said he chose not to check downtown restaurants without parking lots.Investigation underwayPremier Blaine Higgs said at a media briefing Sunday he wanted to know more about how Wright was allowed into the province, given a ban on non-essential visits."It is under full investigation because it does not seem like a legitimate reason to come into the province," he said. "We will evaluate just what questions were asked but more importantly what answers were given."Public Safety spokesperson Geoffrey Downey said Monday afternoon the investigation is ongoing "and we will be reviewing our records and following up with the City of Peterborough to determine if this was work travel authorized by the City."Trip not at council's directionAshley Webster, a spokesperson for Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, said the trip "was not at council's direction or the mayor's direction" and the city didn't pay for it.Wright confirmed he paid for the trip himself. He said he has sometimes funded his own research into issues to get "the other side of the argument."The deputy minister at the public safety department, Mike Comeau, said on Twitter Monday afternoon that crossing a border "often involves officers having to decide whether to believe what a person is telling them. It's inherent to border control."'Beyond disrespectful'News of Wright's trip frustrated New Brunswickers living elsewhere in Canada who've been trying to get permission to enter the province to visit relatives with life-threatening illnesses or to bury loved ones who have died."I'm floored. I can only surmise that somebody decided that this person was important and should be allowed to come in," said Lesley Shannon, a British Columbia resident originally from the Saint John area.She wants to travel to the province for the burial of her mother Lorraine, who died in April. A house has been rented for her and friends are prepared to drop off groceries so she can heed the rules to self-isolate for 14 days before the burial, she said."I think the reasoning [for letting Wright in] is shocking," she said.Shannon's mother has to be buried by early July because the cemetery does not have cooling in its vault.  "We've been told that's a non-negotiable situation."With a two-week isolation period and the scarcity of flights during the pandemic, she said her window to attend the burial is closing fast.Yet the province isn't showing her the same flexibility it showed Wright when it let him in to count cars in restaurant parking lots, she said."To me it's beyond disrespectful that my mom would have to be buried without me being there when I'm perfectly capable of being there."Questions about consistency, compassionDave Perry, an Ottawa resident originally from New Brunswick whose father is in the oncology unit at the Saint John Regional Hospital with life-threatening leukemia, said he was also stunned to read about Wright's trip."I'm just not seeing much consistency in terms of how the province determines who's allowed in, and not much compassion in the compassionate policy," he said.Both Shannon and Perry said they've been frustrated seeing the province make allowances for temporary foreign workers and university students to enter the province, but not grieving relatives."The process for figuring out the process for trying to do this is not good," Shannon said. "It's really terrible, to be honest."Perry said: "I'm just looking for a mechanism where, if I need to, I can get home to see my family."Shannon said she could have flown home before her mother's death on April 13 because the province hadn't yet stationed enforcement officers at airports to screen incoming flights.But she heeded advice not to come and now "it looks like I'm going to pay the price for doing what our provincial and federal government officials begged us all to do."Wore protective equipmentWright suggested that New Brunswick's limitations on interprovincial travel are unconstitutional, something that some experts and advocacy groups have also raised. But he said he didn't travel to the province for the sake of making a point.Wright said he always paid for gas at the pumps and used gloves, N95 masks and hand sanitizer while in New Brunswick.He said he had contacted business organizations in the province to get information about how the recovery was going but they didn't respond and he decided to travel here himself to see things firsthand.

  • Trump threatens military force and Snowbird crash investigation; In The News for June 2
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trump threatens military force and Snowbird crash investigation; In The News for June 2

    In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 2 ...\---American anti-racism protests ...Wielding extraordinary federal authority, President Donald Trump threatened the nation's governors that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality that have roiled the nation over the past week. His announcement came as police under federal command forced back peaceful demonstrators with tear gas so he could walk to a nearby church and pose with a Bible.Trump's bellicose rhetoric came as the nation convulsed through another round of violence over the death of George Floyd at a time when the country is already buckling under the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused. The president demanded an end to the heated protests in remarks from the White House Rose Garden and vowed to use more force to achieve that aim.If governors throughout the country do not deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to "dominate the streets," Trump said the U.S. military would step in to "quickly solve the problem for them.""We have the greatest country in the world," the president declared. "We're going to keep it safe."A military deployment by Trump to U.S. states would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history. Yet the message Trump appeared to be sending with the brazen pushback of protesters outside the White House was that he sees few limits to what he is willing to do.Some around the president likened the moment to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots, capturing the White House. But despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, Trump is an incumbent who risks being held responsible for the violence.Minutes before Trump began speaking, police and National Guard soldiers began aggressively forcing back hundreds of peaceful protesters who had gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, where they were chanting against police brutality and Floyd's death in Minneapolis. As Trump spoke, tear gas canisters could be heard exploding.\---Also this ...As protesters keep up their anti-racism rallies on both sides of the border, top health officials are hoping they don't forget about the risk of COVID-19.Canadian health officials are not suggesting people avoid protests, but they are stressing the importance of hand sanitizer and masks.With physical distance being nearly impossible in some of these settings, rally-goers may have to find other ways to try to keep themselves safe.Protests have taken place in several Canadian cities in the aftermath of a black man dying last week in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.George Floyd's death has sent throngs into the streets in several U.S. and Canadian cities to decry systemic racism and police brutality.Meanwhile, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is scheduled today to appear at a committee on procedure and House affairs.He is expected to discuss the hybrid parliament and how it is functioning during the pandemic.The Senate finance committee also meets today with many major industry leaders set to appear.\---COVID-19 in Ontario ...Ontario is expected today to extend its state of emergency until June 30.The measure bans gatherings larger than five people.It also orders the closure of some businesses such as restaurants and bars, except if they offer takeout or delivery.If the vote passes, the measure — which had been set to expire today — will be extended for another 28 days.Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17 as COVID-19 cases began to climb in the province.\---COVID-19 in sports ...It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn't important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada's mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.\---Snowbird crash investigation ...Military investigators are pointing to video footage as the reason they suspect a bird strike was been responsible for last month's deadly Snowbird plane crash in British Columbia.The crash was May 18, shortly after two of the Snowbirds' iconic Tutor jets took off from the Kamloops Airport while participating in a cross-country tour aimed at boosting Canadians' morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.Video posted to social media shortly after the crash showed one of the planes climbing a few seconds after leaving the runway before rolling over in the air and plummeting into a residential neighbourhood.The crash killed Capt. Jenn Casey, the Snowbirds' public-affairs officer who was riding as a passenger, while the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Both ejected from the plane seconds before it hit the ground.No one on the ground was seriously hurt.In a preliminary report released Monday, investigators confirmed that a close examination of video showed a bird very close to the plane's right engine intake "during the critical phase of take-off."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Beijing could bar exit of dual Canadians from Hong Kong amid protests: lawyer
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Beijing could bar exit of dual Canadians from Hong Kong amid protests: lawyer

    OTTAWA — A Canadian legal activist is warning the federal government to grant asylum to democracy activists in Hong Kong and expanded settlement to those with links to Canada before China prevents them from leaving.The warning came Monday from Avvy Go, the director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, which has already helped bring Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to Canada.There are 300,000 Canadians of Hong Kong descent in China, and Go says if Ottawa doesn't act now to accommodate those who want to leave, Beijing will prevent them from leaving in the future."The time to act is now. As China continues to crack down on the democracy movement in Hong Kong, it may soon find ways to prohibit Hong Kong activists from leaving that city, period," Go said Monday at a joint video press conference hosted by Amnesty International."Even with those who are Canadian citizens, China may refuse to recognize their dual citizenship status and deny their exit from Hong Kong."MPs from the four major Canadian political parties and one independent senator stood in solidarity with the proposals Go put forward at a virtual press conference convened by Amnesty International.Canada, along with the United States, Britain and Australia, have condemned Beijing's imposition of a new national security law that they say violates Hong Kong's freedom from Chinese communist interference."This is the Beijing government's most breathtaking, threatening and callous attack yet ... discarding any pretence of fulfilling China's international promises made when Hong Kong was handed over in 1997," said Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty's Canadian branch.Go called on the federal government to implement several immigration and asylum measures, to help people get out of Hong Kong before it is too late. They are:—Expediting family sponsorship applications by Canadians with spouses and parents in Hong Kong.—Expanding family-reunification sponsorship programs beyond parents and spouses.—Issuing more temporary-resident permits, work visas and student visas.—Granting refugee status to democracy advocates, and offering them stepped-up resettlement options.Last year, Hong Kong residents took to the streets in mass protests against a proposed extradition law from Beijing that was eventually abandoned.During that unrest, Go's clinic received requests from Canadians of Hong Kong descent whose relatives participated in pro-democracy protests, she said.Since Beijing announced the new security law, the clinic is getting calls from Canadians who are worried about their families even though they may not have been involved with the democracy movement, said Go."These are our people. And as parliamentarians dedicated to promoting and protecting democracy, we cannot stand by silently. I endorse all of the actions," said Independent Sen. Marilou McPhedran.McPhedran said she has travelled across Africa and seen the effect of China's massive development spending, an influence-buying effort that many analysts say is a power play by Beijing's ruling communist party."The weaponization of economic support is something that we need to understand better as we look at what is happening in Hong Kong," said McPhedran."The violation of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which is the essence of what China is saying it is going to do, is in fact a precursor to threats to democracies in many other countries as well."Conservative MP Kenny Chiu, who was born in Hong Kong, said the people of his homeland respect human rights and the rule of law, and they are prepared to commemorate Thursday's anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre that saw the Chinese army kill scores of pro-democracy student protesters in 1989."We're witnessing in Hong Kong basic dictatorship in disguise, exerting its power out of fear for these values," said Chiu.This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

  • SpaceX captures the flag, beating Boeing in cosmic contest
    Science
    The Canadian Press

    SpaceX captures the flag, beating Boeing in cosmic contest

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first astronauts launched by SpaceX declared victory Monday in NASA’s cosmic capture-the-flag game.They quickly claimed the prize left behind at the International Space Station nearly a decade ago by the last crew to launch from the U.S.“Congratulations, SpaceX, you got the flag,” NASA astronaut Doug Hurley said a day after arriving at the space station.Hurley showed off the small U.S. flag during a news conference and again in a linkup with SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California."You can bet we will take it with us when we depart back to Earth,” said Hurley, floating alongside Dragon crewmate Bob Behnken.The flag flew on the first space shuttle flight in 1981 and the final one in 2011. Hurley was on that last shuttle crew.The flag was an added incentive for Elon Musk's SpaceX company and Boeing, competing to be the first private company to launch a crew to the space station. Saturday’s liftoff of NASA astronauts was the first from the U.S. in nine years. Boeing's first astronaut flight isn’t expected until next year. The crew will include Chris Ferguson, commander of the last shuttle flight who now works for Boeing.“Proud to yield the title of “The last commander of an American launched spacecraft” to @Astro_Doug who, with @AstroBehnken, has returned US to space from KSC after 3,252 days. Well done,” Ferguson tweeted following the SpaceX liftoff.An estimated 100,000 people — suppliers, vendors, engineers, etc. — were responsible for Saturday's flawless launch of test pilots Hurley and Behnken aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule, also built and owned by SpaceX, docked at the space station Sunday.“It’s awe-inspiring for all of us,” SpaceX manager Benji Reed told the astronauts from Hawthorne.Reed asked them about the Falcon ride. Hurley said he could feel when the rocket went transonic and broke the sound barrier. The final push to orbit, on the second stage, was full of vibrations and felt like "driving fast, very fast on a gravel road," he said. The astronauts instantly went from pulling more than three G's — more than three times the force of Earth's gravity — to zero gravity as soon as they reached orbit.“Sounds like the ultimate ride in a Batmobile with the jet engine turned on,” Reed said.Behnken said one of the first things he did upon reaching the orbiting lab was call his 6-year-old son, Theo, to hear what is was like to watch his father blast into space “and share that a little bit with him while it was still fresh in his mind."Hurley and Behnken spent Monday making sure their docked Dragon is ready to make an emergency getaway, if necessary. The capsule will serve as their lifeboat during their space station visit. They joined three station residents — an American and two Russians.NASA will decide in the coming weeks how long to keep the pair there. Their mission could last anywhere from one to four months. The timing will depend on Dragon checkouts in orbit and launch preparations for the company's next astronaut flight, currently targeted for the end of August.With so much uncertainty and so many variables, Behnken said it was a little hard explaining to his son when he'd back.“From his perspective, he's just excited that we're going to get a dog when I get home,” Behnken said with a smile.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.. Hurley was on that last shuttle flight.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • Family says 'back and forth' between N.S., Ottawa over shooting probe 'unreal'
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Family says 'back and forth' between N.S., Ottawa over shooting probe 'unreal'

    HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia family has made a passionate appeal for the federal and Nova Scotia governments to end the "back and forth" over which should lead a public inquiry into a recent mass shooting.Darcy Dobson, the daughter of a licensed practical nurse who was among the 22 victims, writes in an open letter that she, her father Andrew and her five siblings "formally request the start of a public inquiry into the mass shooting on April 18 and 19."The letter notes that with few answers provided more than 40 days after the tragedy, families aren't able to heal properly, and adds "the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable."Premier Stephen McNeil has said he wants Ottawa to lead a public inquiry because the areas of key jurisdiction — such as the protocols followed by the RCMP — are federal.However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn't committed his government to overseeing an inquiry, saying only it will "work with the government of Nova Scotia" to get answers.In an emailed statement Monday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said the province is working with Ottawa to determine the best mechanism to provide victims' families with answers."This is a matter of both federal and provincial responsibility, and the province is working with the federal government to take action and move this forward together," Furey said."We believe this joint approach will yield the best results. Individuals, families, communities, and Nova Scotians impacted by this tragedy deserve no less."Dobson's mother, Heather O'Brien of Truro, N.S., was killed by the gunman on April 19 as she drove along a highway in Debert, N.S.The letter from the 30-year-old daughter is signed by the entire O'Brien family and says, "the back and forth about who's responsible for an inquiry is unreal."It says mistakes were made at both the provincial and federal levels, adding, "We need answers to heal, we need answers so we can find a way to live in this new normal that we've been forced into."The letter adds that authorities should be trying to learn from one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history."What's the hold up in the inquiry? Why hasn't this happened yet? Where are we in the investigation? Was someone else involved? Why can't we get any answers at all 40 days in?!" it asks."The fact that any one of us has to ask these questions is all very concerning and only makes everyone feel inadequate, unimportant and unsafe."Please for the people of our province, for the people of our country, for the people who have lost someone so dear to their hearts, find a way to let us start to heal."Dobson writes in her letter that her mother had taught her children to push strongly for what they believe in."This is why we are standing up. We are requesting you give us the information we all deserve."She also says other families may soon be joining hers in publishing requests for an inquiry to be called.In recent weeks questions have been raised about why the RCMP didn't issue a search warrant for the gunman's home in Portapique, after reports of domestic abuse of his spouse and possession of illegal firearms seven years ago. Last month, Brenda Forbes, a former neighbour of Gabriel Wortman — who was shot and killed by police on April 19 — said she reported an account of a 2013 incident of domestic violence by Wortman against his common-law spouse to the RCMP in Truro. She said she reported witnesses telling her that Wortman had strangled and beaten his common-law partner, and she said she told police there were guns in the house.Police have said Wortman's rampage began late on the night of April 18 with the domestic assault of the same woman, who managed to escape and hide in the woods after the gunman assaulted her at their residence in Portapique. The RCMP said in an email Friday it is still looking for the police record of the 2013 incident and declined further comment.Last week saw more revelations the Mounties had received detailed warnings about Wortman.A newly released police bulletin revealed that in May 2011, a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had "stated he wants to kill a cop."The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some "mental issues" that left him feeling stressed and "a little squirrelly."Thirty-three Dalhousie law professors have called for an inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act — which allows for broad terms of reference — arguing the province is responsible for the administration of justice.Other legal experts have said another option is for a joint federal-provincial inquiry, as there are overlapping issues of provincial and federal jurisdiction.This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

  • DC Episcopal bishop: 'I am outraged' by Trump church visit
    News
    The Canadian Press

    DC Episcopal bishop: 'I am outraged' by Trump church visit

    The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington sharply criticized President Donald Trump for staging a visit to the historic St. John's Church across from the White House, where he held up a Bible after authorities had cleared the area of peaceful protesters.The Rev. Mariann Budde, whose diocese St. John's belongs to, said she was “outraged” by Trump's visit and noted that he didn’t pray while stopping by the church, a landmark known for its regular visits from sitting presidents since the early 19th century."He took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that would be a celebratory moment," Budde said in an interview Monday after her statement on Trump's visit was posted to the diocese's Twitter account.“There was nothing I could do but speak out against that,” she added, calling for a focus on “the deeper wounds of the country” amid ongoing demonstrations against racial injustice.Trump's visit "did not serve the spiritual aspirations or the needed moral leadership that we need," she told NBC's “Today” on Tuesday. "It did not address the grievous wounds that were are dealing with and the agony of our country.”She said the church was off-guard by the visit.As protests nationwide flared following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, St. John's suffered minor damage Sunday night from a fire in the church basement. Budde said “our suffering was minimal” compared with businesses that were destroyed by recent looting, even as she defended the goals of peaceful protesters responding to Floyd's killing.“We can rebuild the church. We can replace the furnishings of a nursery,” she said, referring to the damaged area. "We can’t bring a man’s life back."The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, issued his own statement saying that Trump had “used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes."“This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or to heal us,” added Curry, the first African American to hold that leadership post for U.S. Episcopalians.Budde took her position at the church in Washington in 2011 after spending 18 years in Minneapolis.“I want to build up the liberal church again so we can be a legitimate conversation partner in the public arena," she told The Washington Post at the time.The bishop, who last year joined other Washington National Cathedral leaders in a statement that excoriated Trump's “racialized rhetoric," firmly aligned her faith with the goals of peaceful protesters driven by Floyd's death to decry systemic racism.“In no way do we support the President’s incendiary response to a wounded, grieving nation,” Budde said in her statement. “In faithfulness to our Savior who lived a life of non-violence and sacrificial love, we align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd.”Elana Schor, The Associated Press

  • Business
    The Canadian Press

    120 workers test positive for COVID-19 in outbreak on farm near Simcoe, Ont.

    NORFOLK COUNTY, Ont. — Premier Doug Ford pledged Monday to ramp up testing for thousands of migrant workers across Ontario after a number of new farm outbreaks were reported in recent days.Ford attributed a spike in Ontario's positive COVID-19 cases to the farms, saying more than 80 migrant workers have tested positive for the virus.The premier said he has seen first-hand the communal bunkhouses where workers live, which advocates say can contribute to the spread of the virus."I will definitely be addressing this with public health to make sure that we get all the migrant workers tested to keep them safe, to keep the supply chain and the food safe," he said. "We're on this."Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses. Many of the workers come from Mexico, the Caribbean and Guatemala and when they arrived this year they were required to self-isolate for 14 days.Outbreaks that have affected dozens of migrant workers have been reported in Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, Niagara Region and Elgin County.On Sunday night, the mayor of Norfolk County said 120 workers at a local farm have tested positive for COVID-19, with seven of them having been admitted to hospital."We have always understood that this was a risk that our community could face and our health unit has been preparing for this possibility," Kristal Chopp said in a statement. "Other communities in Ontario and across the country have also faced similar situations with on-farm outbreaks."The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit said over the weekend that 85 migrant workers were affected and the Mexican government liaison had been notified.The health unit said it is working with the farm, owned by Scotlynn Group, and its clinical staff are developing a plan to evaluate and monitor symptomatic workers.The company said in a statement that it has executed an isolation plan to stop the spread of the virus. It also said that with a large number of workers not available, it is looking for additional help with an asparagus harvest.Last month, advocates for migrant workers said the province should ramp up inspections of the farms and the bunkhouses workers live in.Ford said the province may have to consider making changes to the communal nature of the bunkhouses in the future, but it would be hard to take that action during the pandemic."It's something we can put on the table," he said. "Can we do it in within a month or so? I just don't think that's reality. But what we can do, we can go in and test frequently. I think it's critical that we do."Chris Ramsaroop with the advocacy group Justice for Migrant Workers wrote Ford last month and asked him to increase Ministry of Labour inspections of the farms, including of migrant workers' cramped living quarters, and bolster cleaning practices.He's not surprised there have been more outbreaks in those settings and urged Ford not to wait to take further action to protect the workers."This ...should have happened months ago, these proactive inspections and orders should have been implemented on these agricultural operations," he said. Ramsaroop said COVID-19 testing should be expanded to everyone in the province, not just migrant workers."We are concerned that migrant farm workers will be stigmatized by any specific testing," he said. "It is our understanding that most cases of COVID-19 are a result of community contact."NDP labour critic Wayne Gates said Ford's promise of testing for migrant workers should be applied across the board to all front-line workers.The province should also offer financial support to ensure companies provide migrant workers with proper work and living conditions as well as personal protective equipment."You know, at the end of the day, we have to protect our food supply, but we have to make sure that workers are safe while we do that," Gates said. "Whether you're somebody from Mexico, Jamaica, or Ontario, every life is valued."This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

  • China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO

    Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately,” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.”But behind the scenes, it was a much different story, one of significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over not getting the information they needed to fight the spread of the deadly virus, The Associated Press has found.Despite the plaudits, China in fact sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents.Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed.WHO officials were lauding China in public because they wanted to coax more information out of the government, the recordings obtained by the AP suggest. Privately, they complained in meetings the week of Jan. 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time.“We’re going on very minimal information,” said American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, now WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, in one internal meeting. “It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.”“We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV,” said WHO’s top official in China, Dr. Gauden Galea, referring to the state-owned China Central Television, in another meeting.The story behind the early response to the virus comes at a time when the U.N. health agency is under siege, and has agreed to an independent probe of how the pandemic was handled globally. After repeatedly praising the Chinese response early on, U.S. President Donald Trump has blasted WHO in recent weeks for allegedly colluding with China to hide the extent of the coronavirus crisis. He cut ties with the organization on Friday, jeopardizing the approximately $450 million the U.S. gives every year as WHO’s biggest single donor.In the meantime, Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to pitch in $2 billion over the next two years to fight the coronavirus, saying China has always provided information to WHO and the world “in a most timely fashion.”The new information does not support the narrative of either the U.S. or China, but instead portrays an agency now stuck in the middle that was urgently trying to solicit more data despite limits to its own authority. Although international law obliges countries to report information to WHO that could have an impact on public health, the U.N. agency has no enforcement powers and cannot independently investigate epidemics within countries. Instead, it must rely on the co-operation of member states.The recordings suggest that rather than colluding with China, as Trump declared, WHO was kept in the dark as China gave it the minimal information required by law. However, the agency did try to portray China in the best light, likely as a means to secure more information. And WHO experts genuinely thought Chinese scientists had done “a very good job” in detecting and decoding the virus, despite the lack of transparency from Chinese officials.WHO staffers debated how to press China for gene sequences and detailed patient data without angering authorities, worried about losing access and getting Chinese scientists into trouble. Under international law, WHO is required to quickly share information and alerts with member countries about an evolving crisis. Galea noted WHO could not indulge China's wish to sign off on information before telling other countries because “that is not respectful of our responsibilities.”In the second week of January, WHO’s chief of emergencies, Dr. Michael Ryan, told colleagues it was time to “shift gears” and apply more pressure on China, fearing a repeat of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that started in China in 2002 and killed nearly 800 people worldwide.“This is exactly the same scenario, endlessly trying to get updates from China about what was going on,” he said. “WHO barely got out of that one with its neck intact given the issues that arose around transparency in southern China.”Ryan said the best way to “protect China” was for WHO to do its own independent analysis with data from the Chinese government, because otherwise the spread of the virus between people would be in question and “other countries will take action accordingly.” Ryan also noted that China was not co-operating in the same way some other countries had in the past.“This would not happen in Congo and did not happen in Congo and other places,” he said, probably referring to the Ebola outbreak that began there in 2018. “We need to see the data…..It’s absolutely important at this point.”The delay in the release of the genome stalled the recognition of its spread to other countries, along with the global development of tests, drugs and vaccines. The lack of detailed patient data also made it harder to determine how quickly the virus was spreading — a critical question in stopping it.Between the day the full genome was first decoded by a government lab on Jan. 2 and the day WHO declared a global emergency on Jan. 30, the outbreak spread by a factor of 100 to 200 times, according to retrospective infection data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus has now infected over 6 million people worldwide and killed more than 375,000.“It’s obvious that we could have saved more lives and avoided many, many deaths if China and the WHO had acted faster,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.However, Mokdad and other experts also noted that if WHO had been more confrontational with China, it could have triggered a far worse situation of not getting any information at all.If WHO had pushed too hard, it could even have been kicked out of China, said Adam Kamradt-Scott, a global health professor at the University of Sydney. But he added that a delay of just a few days in releasing genetic sequences can be critical in an outbreak. And he noted that as Beijing’s lack of transparency becomes even clearer, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s continued defence of China is problematic.“It’s definitely damaged WHO’s credibility,” said Kamradt-Scott. “Did he go too far? I think the evidence on that is clear….it has led to so many questions about the relationship between China and WHO. It is perhaps a cautionary tale.”WHO and its officials named in this story declined to answer questions asked by The Associated Press without audio or written transcripts of the recorded meetings, which the AP was unable to supply to protect its sources.“Our leadership and staff have worked night and day in compliance with the organization’s rules and regulations to support and share information with all Member States equally, and engage in frank and forthright conversations with governments at all levels,” a WHO statement said.China’s National Health Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had no comment. But in the past few months, China has repeatedly defended its actions, and many other countries — including the U.S. — have responded to the virus with even longer delays of weeks and even months.“Since the beginning of the outbreak, we have been continuously sharing information on the epidemic with the WHO and the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner,” said Liu Mingzhu, an official with the National Health Commission’s International Department, at a press conference on May 15.___________The race to find the genetic map of the virus started in late December, according to the story that unfolds in interviews, documents and the WHO recordings. That’s when doctors in Wuhan noticed mysterious clusters of patients with fevers and breathing problems who weren’t improving with standard flu treatment. Seeking answers, they sent test samples from patients to commercial labs.By Dec. 27, one lab, Vision Medicals, had pieced together most of the genome of a new coronavirus with striking similarities to SARS. Vision Medicals shared its data with Wuhan officials and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, as reported first by Chinese finance publication Caixin and independently confirmed by the AP.On Dec. 30, Wuhan health officials issued internal notices warning of the unusual pneumonia, which leaked on social media. That evening, Shi Zhengli, a coronavirus expert at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who is famous for having traced the SARS virus to a bat cave, was alerted to the new disease, according to an interview with Scientific American. Shi took the first train from a conference in Shanghai back to Wuhan.The next day, Chinese CDC director Gao Fu dispatched a team of experts to Wuhan. Also on Dec. 31, WHO first learned about the cases from an open-source platform that scouts for intelligence on outbreaks, emergencies chief Ryan has said.WHO officially requested more information on Jan. 1. Under international law, members have 24 to 48 hours to respond, and China reported two days later that there were 44 cases and no deaths.By Jan. 2, Shi had decoded the entire genome of the virus, according to a notice later posted on her institute’s website.Scientists agree that Chinese scientists detected and sequenced the then-unknown pathogen with astonishing speed, in a testimony to China’s vastly improved technical capabilities since SARS, during which a WHO-led group of scientists took months to identify the virus. This time, Chinese virologists proved within days that it was a never-before-seen coronavirus. Tedros would later say Beijing set “a new standard for outbreak response.”But when it came to sharing the information with the world, things began to go awry.On Jan. 3, the National Health Commission issued a confidential notice ordering labs with the virus to either destroy their samples or send them to designated institutes for safekeeping. The notice, first reported by Caixin and seen by the AP, forbade labs from publishing about the virus without government authorization. The order barred Shi’s lab from publishing the genetic sequence or warning of the potential danger.Chinese law states that research institutes cannot conduct experiments on potentially dangerous new viruses without approval from top health authorities. Although the law is intended to keep experiments safe, it gives top health officials wide-ranging powers over what lower-level labs can or cannot do.“If the virologist community had operated with more autonomy….the public would have been informed of the lethal risk of the new virus much earlier,” said Edward Gu, a professor at Zhejiang University, and Li Lantian, a PhD student at Northwestern University, in a paper published in March analyzing the outbreak.Commission officials later repeated that they were trying to ensure lab safety, and had tasked four separate government labs with identifying the genome at the same time to get accurate, consistent results.By Jan. 3, the Chinese CDC had independently sequenced the virus, according to internal data seen by the Associated Press. And by just after midnight on Jan. 5, a third designated government lab, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, had decoded the sequence and submitted a report — pulling all-nighters to get results in record time, according to a state media interview. Yet even with full sequences decoded by three state labs independently, Chinese health officials remained silent. The WHO reported on Twitter that investigations were under way into an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases with no deaths in Wuhan, and said it would share “more details as we have them.”Meanwhile, at the Chinese CDC, gaps in coronavirus expertise proved a problem.For nearly two weeks, Wuhan reported no new infections, as officials censored doctors who warned of suspicious cases. Meanwhile, researchers found the new coronavirus used a distinct spike protein to bind itself to human cells. The unusual protein and the lack of new cases lulled some Chinese CDC researchers into thinking the virus didn’t easily spread between humans — like the coronavirus that casues Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, according to an employee who declined to be identified out of fear of retribution.Li, the coronavirus expert, said he immediately suspected the pathogen was infectious when he spotted a leaked copy of a sequencing report in a group chat on a SARS-like coronavirus. But the Chinese CDC team that sequenced the virus lacked specialists in the molecular structure of coronaviruses and failed to consult with outside scientists, Li said. Chinese health authorities rebuffed offers of assistance from foreign experts, including Hong Kong scientists barred from a fact-finding mission to Wuhan and an American professor at a university in China.On Jan. 5, the Shanghai Public Clinical Health Center, led by famed virologist Zhang Yongzhen, was the latest to sequence the virus. He submitted it to the GenBank database, where it sat awaiting review, and notified the National Health Commission. He warned them that the new virus was similar to SARS and likely infectious.“It should be contagious through respiratory passages,” the centre said in an internal notice seen by the AP. “We recommend taking preventative measures in public areas.”On the same day, WHO said that based on preliminary information from China, there was no evidence of significant transmission between humans, and did not recommend any specific measures for travellers.The next day, the Chinese CDC raised its emergency level to the second highest. Staffers proceeded to isolate the virus, draft lab testing guidelines, and design test kits. But the agency did not have the authority to issue public warnings, and the heightened emergency level was kept secret even from many of its own staff.By Jan. 7, another team at Wuhan University had sequenced the pathogen and found it matched Shi’s, making Shi certain they had identified a novel coronavirus. But Chinese CDC experts said they didn’t trust Shi’s findings and needed to verify her data before she could publish, according to three people familiar with the matter. Both the National Health Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology, which oversees Shi’s lab, declined to make Shi available for an interview.A major factor behind the gag order, some say, was that Chinese CDC researchers wanted to publish their papers first. “They wanted to take all the credit,” said Li Yize, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.Internally, the leadership of the Chinese CDC is plagued with fierce competition, six people familiar with the system explained. They said the agency has long promoted staff based on how many papers they can publish in prestigious journals, making scientists reluctant to share data.As the days went by, even some of the Chinese CDC's own staff began to wonder why it was taking so long for authorities to identify the pathogen.“We were getting suspicious, since within one or two days you would get a sequencing result,” a lab technician said, declining to be identified for fear of retribution.___________On Jan. 8, the Wall Street Journal reported that scientists had identified a new coronavirus in samples from pneumonia patients in Wuhan, pre-empting and embarrassing Chinese officials. The lab technician told the AP they first learned about the discovery of the virus from the Journal.The article also embarrassed WHO officials. Dr. Tom Grein, chief of WHO's acute events management team, said the agency looked “doubly, incredibly stupid.” Van Kerkhove, the American expert, acknowledged WHO was “already late” in announcing the new virus and told colleagues that it was critical to push China.Ryan, WHO’s chief of emergencies, was also upset at the dearth of information.“The fact is, we’re two to three weeks into an event, we don’t have a laboratory diagnosis, we don’t have an age, sex or geographic distribution, we don’t have an epi curve,” he complained, referring to the standard graphic of outbreaks scientists use to show how an epidemic is progressing.After the article, state media officially announced the discovery of the new coronavirus. But even then, Chinese health authorities did not release the genome, diagnostic tests, or detailed patient data that could hint at how infectious the disease was.By that time, suspicious cases were already appearing across the region.On Jan. 8, Thai airport officers pulled aside a woman from Wuhan with a runny nose, sore throat, and high temperature. Chulalongkorn University professor Supaporn Wacharapluesadee’s team found the woman was infected with a new coronavirus, much like what Chinese officials had described. Supaporn partially figured out the genetic sequence by Jan. 9, reported it to the Thai government and spent the next day searching for matching sequences.But because Chinese authorities hadn’t published any sequences, she found nothing. She could not prove the Thai virus was the same pathogen sickening people in Wuhan.“It was kind of wait and see, when China will release the data, then we can compare,” said Supaporn.On Jan. 9, a 61-year-old man with the virus passed away in Wuhan — the first known death. The death wasn’t made public until Jan. 11.WHO officials complained in internal meetings that they were making repeated requests for more data, especially to find out if the virus could spread efficiently between humans, but to no avail.“We have informally and formally been requesting more epidemiological information,” WHO's China representative Galea said. “But when asked for specifics, we could get nothing.”Emergencies chief Ryan grumbled that since China was providing the minimal information required by international law, there was little WHO could do. But he also noted that last September, WHO had issued an unusual public rebuke of Tanzania for not providing enough details about a worrisome Ebola outbreak.“We have to be consistent,” Ryan said. “The danger now is that despite our good intent...especially if something does happen, there will be a lot of finger-pointing at WHO.”Ryan noted that China could make a “huge contribution” to the world by sharing the genetic material immediately, because otherwise “other countries will have to reinvent the wheel over the coming days.”On Jan. 11, a team led by Zhang, from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, finally published a sequence on virological.org, used by researchers to swap tips on pathogens. The move angered Chinese CDC officials, three people familiar with the matter said, and the next day, his laboratory was temporarily shuttered by health authorities.Zhang referred a request for comment to the Chinese CDC. The National Health Commission, which oversees the Chinese CDC, declined multiple times to make its officials available for interviews and did not answer questions about Zhang.Supaporn compared her sequence with Zhang’s and found it was a 100% match, confirming that the Thai patient was ill with the same virus detected in Wuhan. Another Thai lab got the same results. That day, Thailand informed the WHO, said Tanarak Plipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control at Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health.After Zhang released the genome, the Chinese CDC, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences raced to publish their sequences, working overnight to review them, gather patient data, and send them to the National Health Commission for approval, according to documentation obtained by the AP. On Jan. 12, the three labs together finally published the sequences on GISAID, a platform for scientists to share genomic data.By then, more than two weeks had passed since Vision Medicals decoded a partial sequence, and more than a week since the three government labs had all obtained full sequences. Around 600 people were infected in that week, a roughly three-fold increase.Some scientists say the wait was not unreasonable considering the difficulties in sequencing unknown pathogens, given accuracy is as important as speed. They point to the SARS outbreak in 2003 when some Chinese scientists initially — and wrongly — believed the source of the epidemic was chlamydia.“The pressure is intense in an outbreak to make sure you’re right,” said Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealthAlliance in New York. “It’s actually worse to go out to go to the public with a story that’s wrong because the public completely lose confidence in the public health response.”Still, others quietly question what happened behind the scenes.Infectious diseases expert John Mackenzie, who served on a WHO emergency committee during the outbreak, praised the speed of Chinese researchers in sequencing the virus. But he said once central authorities got involved, detailed data trickled to a crawl.“There certainly was a kind of blank period,” Mackenzie said. “There had to be human to human transmission. You know, it’s staring at you in the face… I would have thought they would have been much more open at that stage.”_________________On Jan. 13, WHO announced that Thailand had a confirmed case of the virus, jolting Chinese officials.The next day, in a confidential teleconference, China’s top health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic, calling the outbreak the “most severe challenge since SARS in 2003”, as the AP previously reported. Chinese CDC staff across the country began screening, isolating, and testing for cases, turning up hundreds across the country.Yet even as the Chinese CDC internally declared a level one emergency, the highest level possible, Chinese officials still said the chance of sustained transmission between humans was low.WHO went back and forth. Van Kerkhove said in a press briefing that “it is certainly possible there is limited human-to-human transmission.” But hours later, WHO seemed to backtrack, and tweeted that “preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” – a statement that later became fodder for critics.A high-ranking official in WHO’s Asia office, Dr. Liu Yunguo, who attended medical school in Wuhan, flew to Beijing to make direct, informal contacts with Chinese officials, recordings show. Liu’s former classmate, a Wuhan doctor, had alerted him that pneumonia patients were flooding the city’s hospitals, and Liu pushed for more experts to visit Wuhan, according to a public health expert familiar with the matter.On Jan. 20, the leader of an expert team returning from Wuhan, renowned government infectious diseases doctor Zhong Nanshan, declared publicly for the first time that the new virus was spreading between people. Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the “timely publication of epidemic information and deepening of international co-operation.”Despite that directive, WHO staff still struggled to obtain enough detailed patient data from China about the rapidly evolving outbreak. That same day, the U.N. health agency dispatched a small team to Wuhan for two days, including Galea, the WHO representative in China.They were told about a worrying cluster of cases among more than a dozen doctors and nurses. But they did not have “transmission trees” detailing how the cases were connected, nor a full understanding of how widely the virus was spreading and who was at risk.In an internal meeting, Galea said their Chinese counterparts were “talking openly and consistently” about human-to-human transmission, and that there was a debate about whether or not this was sustained. Galea reported to colleagues in Geneva and Manila that China’s key request to WHO was for help “in communicating this to the public, without causing panic.”On Jan. 22, WHO convened an independent committee to determine whether to declare a global health emergency. After two inconclusive meetings where experts were split, they decided against it — even as Chinese officials ordered Wuhan sealed in the biggest quarantine in history. The next day, WHO chief Tedros publicly described the spread of the new coronavirus in China as “limited.”For days, China didn’t release much detailed data, even as its case count exploded. Beijing city officials were alarmed enough to consider locking down the capital, according to a medical expert with direct knowledge of the matter.On Jan. 28, Tedros and top experts, including Ryan, made an extraordinary trip to Beijing to meet President Xi and other senior Chinese officials. It is highly unusual for WHO’s director-general to directly intervene in the practicalities of outbreak investigations. Tedros’ staffers had prepared a list of requests for information.“It could all happen and the floodgates open, or there's no communication,” Grein said in an internal meeting while his boss was in Beijing. “We’ll see.”At the end of Tedros’ trip, WHO announced China had agreed to accept an international team of experts. In a press briefing on Jan. 29, Tedros heaped praise on China, calling its level of commitment “incredible.”The next day, WHO finally declared an international health emergency. Once again, Tedros thanked China, saying nothing about the earlier lack of co-operation.“We should have actually expressed our respect and gratitude to China for what it’s doing,” Tedros said. “It has already done incredible things to limit the transmission of the virus to other countries.”___Contact AP’s global investigative team at Investigative@ap.orgThe Associated Press

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Military: 2 dead after shooting at North Dakota air base

    A shooting early Monday has left two airmen dead at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, the military said. The base’s emergency services members responded to the shooting, which occurred at 4:30 a.m., a statement from the military said. The air base's commander, Col. Cameron S. Pringle, told reporters the two airmen died while in a dormitory, but he did not give details about what led up to the shooting, KVRR-TV reported.

  • SpaceX crew captures jaw-dropping view of space station during approach
    Science
    Rumble

    SpaceX crew captures jaw-dropping view of space station during approach

    The SpaceX Crew Dragon 'Endeavour' captured jaw-dropping views of the International Space Station during its approach on May 31st, ,2020. Credit to 'NASA/SpaceX'.

  • Sports
    CBC

    'Start by changing your team name': Inuk MP responds to Edmonton Eskimos post referencing racism

    A social media post by the Edmonton Eskimos referencing racism drew criticism over the weekend given the ongoing controversy over the team's name, which is widely considered a racial slur.Canadian Football League teams joined the wave of corporate voices denouncing racism on social media in solidarity with the widespread protests happening across North America following the death of George Floyd. He died handcuffed and pinned down by members of the Minneapolis police last Monday.On Sunday, the Edmonton Eskimos posted a statement on social media, stating, "We seek to understand what it must feel like to live in fear going birding, jogging or even relaxing in the comfort of your home. To feel unvalued. To feel used." "We stand with those who are outraged, who are hurt and who hope for a better tomorrow." The post triggered criticism and renewed calls for the team to change its name, which is widely considered a racial slur to describe Inuit. Nunavut NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq responded to the Tweet on Monday morning, writing if the football club was really seeking to understand, it could "start by changing your team name.""Stop feeding into stereotypes and offensive names." Inuk artist Tanya Tagaq was more blunt in her Twitter response: "CHANGE YOUR NAME!" Others responding online described the statement as "ironic" and "hypocritical."Professional sports teams like the Chicago Blackhawks have been triggering similar responses in making public statements about current events. Controversy over the Edmonton team's name has been an ongoing issue — one the team is well aware of. Concerns were raised about the name by Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit organization, in 2015 when the team was playing in the Grey Cup.Club sticks with name following consultationsThe football club consulted people in N.W.T., Nunavut, Edmonton and Ottawa and has surveyed its season ticket holders about the name.In an emailed statement on Monday, the club said "The Edmonton Eskimos have conducted an extensive engagement process with Canada's Inuit community regarding our team name. We announced the findings of that research several months ago. As previously announced we will continue to engage on this matter going forward.""As a team with a long history of community building we stand opposed to violence and are saddened by the events occurring across the United States."In February, the club said it had found "a range of views regarding the club's name but no consensus emerged to support a name change."Because of the lack of consensus, the club wrote that it "decided to retain its name" and committed to having more engagement with people in northern Canada. When contacted by CBC News, Tagaq said she didn't want to rehash the conversation about the team name at this time. Instead she said she wants to keep the focus on Black Lives Matter.

  • Political leaders take aim at racism in Canada as protests rage in U.S.
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Political leaders take aim at racism in Canada as protests rage in U.S.

    OTTAWA — Politicians across the country were united in denouncing racism on Monday, as anger over the police killing of a black man in the United States sparked calls for more action north of the border to end the systemic discrimination of racialized communities in Canada.Yet exactly what those same politicians were prepared to do to address the problem, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as a real and unacceptable threat to many Canadians of colour, remained unclear.The focus on racism by political leaders in Canada followed days of protests and violence in many U.S. cities, as the video showing police in Minneapolis killing a black man, George Floyd, has set fire to long-held anger over racism in the States. A police officer knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe, then fell still.Those protests echoed in Canada over the weekend, including in one largely peaceful rally involving thousands of demonstrators in Montreal Sunday that later turned violent with looting and nearly a dozen arrests.Speaking during his daily news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau condemned those who "took advantage of these peaceful protests to do significant damage to communities and stores as we saw in Montreal," saying they did not represent the majority.The prime minister went on to lament that many racialized Canadians still face discrimination and live in fear, saying: "As a country, we can't pretend that racism doesn't exist here."Yet despite asserting that the status quo is unacceptable and more action was required, Trudeau did not provide any indication that new actions or measures are being contemplated by the government to address the problem.The prime minister instead listed several initiatives the Liberals have rolled out since 2015, including last summer's release of a three-year anti-racism strategy that includes $45 million in new funding and money to collect more data on racialized communities.Trudeau himself faced accusations of racism after pictures and video emerged last year showing him wearing blackface makeup on several occasions when he was younger, raising questions about his moral authority to speak on the subject.The prime minister, who has previously apologized, acknowledged that his actions "hurt many, many people."But at the same time, we need to focus on doing better every single day, regardless of what we did or hadn't done in our past," he said. "I will continue to be an ally to minority communities, to racialized communities across this country and around the world."Several of Trudeau's cabinet ministers took to Twitter on Sunday and Monday to denounce racism, including Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, and Families Minister Ahmed Hussen, who immigrated to Canada from Somalia and said he worries about how his sons are seen and treated.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also addressed the killing of George Floyd during a news conference on Parliament Hill, saying he was "heartbroken" and that no one should ever feel unsafe around police officers because of the colour of their skin."When you're looking at a tragic incident where a man was killed in police custody — with all the context around the discrimination that many black people feel in the U.S. and around the world — it's clear all levels of government have much more to do," he said.That includes supporting communities that feel marginalized and are victims of racism and discrimination, he said, as well as calling out racist acts and teaching future generations about the damage caused by hate and intolerance.During his own emotional news conference, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh recalled his experiences dealing with racism as a practising Sikh while noting the "casual violence" and "callousness" of the Minneapolis police officers who killed Floyd."When you see somebody who looks like you being killed like that, it makes you feel like you have no worth and no value," Singh said. "It makes you angry. And I speak as an ally who has felt the painful words and the physical violence of racism."The NDP leader, who at one point criticized the Liberals for only unveiling their anti-racism strategy after four years in government, went on to call for systemic changes to police training, the justice system and education and health care to eliminate inequality.Provincial leaders also weighed in, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier Francois Legault condemning racism and intolerance while acknowledging that more action is needed to eliminate the problem."We must acknowledge where it is coming from and that means coming face to face with some of the most difficult problems we face as a society and many of these issues are deeply rooted," Ford said."They stem from a history of racism and abuse. But it is not only by bringing these issues to light, it is only by facing them. It is only by working together that we can begin to address them."Legault, whose government has been roundly criticized for introducing a controversial ban on public servants' wearing religious symbols, described the video of Floyd being killed as "shocking, revolting.""I understand all those who are revolted and I'm in solidarity with them," he added. "We have to fight against racism. All humans are equal, are all the same, regardless of the colour of their skin."The Quebec premier later went on to say that while there's "some discrimination" in the province, there isn't a "system" of discrimination.This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.— With files from Allison Jones and Morgan LowrieLee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

  • Alberta introduces bill to create own parole board like Quebec, Ontario
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Alberta introduces bill to create own parole board like Quebec, Ontario

    EDMONTON — Alberta has introduced a bill to create its own parole board.Premier Jason Kenney says it's time the province takes more control with a board staffed by members who better recognize community concerns, particularly in rural areas facing rising crime rates."Personnel is policy," Kenney said Monday prior to introducing the bill."The personnel we will be choosing to make up the Alberta Parole Board will be people who are coming from communities that have been facing this crime wave over recent years."They're going to be a lot more sensitive to the public safety imperative than we believe the federal parole board has been."Kenney said members would also know better the crime trends in their regions and the supports available to parolees. He said there are too many reports of inmates being released on parole and reoffending."Too often that's because of a revolving door justice system where criminals are arrested, convicted and are back out on the streets revictimizing more Albertans and causing frustration for our police and law-abiding citizens."The federal government controls the parole system and would continue to make parole decisions for inmates serving sentences longer than two years.For those serving terms under two years, the new Alberta board would make decisions on eligibility and conditions upon release.If the bill passes, the system would begin operating at the start of next year at a cost of $600,000 a year, Kenney said. Some of that money would come from the federal government, he said.Quebec and Ontario already operate their own provincial parole programs.Alberta has undertaken a number of initiatives, including hiring more prosecutors, to address rural crimes, which have jumped in recent years.In a 2017 report, Statistics Canada said rural crime rates on the Prairies were at least one-third higher than in urban areas.NDP justice critic Kathleen Ganley said the bill affects a proportionately small amount of prisoners.Ganley labelled it a public relations deflection from more substantive efforts to reduce rural crime, from paying for and hiring more police to dealing with affordable housing, poverty and other root causes of lawless behaviour."I don't anticipate (the bill) will have an enormous impact," said Ganley."This is more for show than it is designed to actually impact the issue of rural crime."This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

  • Chika Oriuwa 1st black woman to be valedictorian of U of T's faculty of medicine
    News
    CBC

    Chika Oriuwa 1st black woman to be valedictorian of U of T's faculty of medicine

    Chika Stacy Oriuwa has wanted to be a doctor since she was a small child.When she started medical school at the University of Toronto four years ago, she was the only black person in a class of 259 students.On Tuesday, she graduates as valedictorian. She is the faculty's first black woman valedictorian and the first woman in 14 years to receive the honour.And while a virtual valedictory address was not what she imagined, when she logs on Tuesday it will be one more way to make her voice heard.Oriuwa has a message for black medical students who follow in her footsteps: "Medicine is such an incredible and beautiful profession. And it's such a privilege and a responsibility to be able to become a doctor, and … they are more than well-equipped to be able to fulfil this role."Their place in medical school as black medical students is rightly deserved and rightly earned and to never question that for even for a moment, even if other people question it." 'Overcome any adversity'Oriuwa said she recommends that black medical students have a "resounding sense" of how they define themselves as they pursue their education."Knowing who you are and what you stand for and what you will and will not tolerate will allow them to encounter any adversity and overcome any adversity," she said.Oriuwa herself has encountered adversity, including racist and sexist comments and attacks on her character that questioned her ability to be a competent physician."One thing that has really strengthened my resolve is, really, this undying sense of conviction that I have as an advocate. I know what my purpose is and what it is that I am called to do," she said."And I think that being strengthened and bolstered by the community is something that also allows me to do the work that I know is necessary."Her four years of advocacy work, speaking engagements and mentoring others has made a difference.Twenty-four black medical students were admitted to the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine for the class of 2024. It is the largest group in Canadian history.Oriuwa's valedictory address is already videotaped but will stream on Tuesday.Watch Chika Stacy Oriuwa talk about overcoming challenges to become a doctor:

  • B.C. boat dealers report record-breaking sales amid COVID-19 restrictions
    Business
    CBC

    B.C. boat dealers report record-breaking sales amid COVID-19 restrictions

    Jes McFarlen, knows how to handle the ebb and flow of life as a boat salesman.A sales manager for the Parksville Boathouse, the father of two has weathered his fair share of economic disruptions since he got his start in 2005.But when the business, like so many others, decided to close indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 44-year-old felt the wind go out of his sails — albeit temporarily."There was definitely a few weeks where I was worried," he said, "until the phone just kept ringing".As other businesses struggle to stay afloat, McFarlen and other B.C. boat sellers say they have been buoyed by record sales, often running low on stock as mariners of all stripes and experience explore safe ways to get in a little recreation while following COVID-19 guidelines.With the Canadian government advising residents to avoid non-essential travel, McFarlen says families are dipping into reserves normally earmarked for all-inclusive getaways and instead are putting those savings toward a boat."It's not like going to Disneyland or to Mexico," he said. "The value is retained. At 10 years, there's still a lot of money left there when you go to resell the thing."While sales were steady at the start of the year, McFarlen says the past few weeks have been a real boon, with boats priced anywhere from $5,000 to $750,000 getting snapped up at an incredible pace.Vacation versus staycationFor a buyer like Jim Grant, 60, it was a no-brainer.The financial portfolio manager had been planning to visit his son in California over the summer. When COVID-19 curtailed those plans, he decided instead to buy a new boat — a 20 foot KingFisher."People aren't going to stop living" he said. "They're still going to have fun. They're just going to have to find different ways of doing it".Dwindling inventory, less international interestThat sort of staycation sentiment is also popping up across the Lower Mainland.West Vancouver's Thunderbird Marine, which deals primarily in used boats, had a record breaking May with 23 vessels sold, compared to 14 in the same period last year.That's roughly $700,000 in gross sales for the month, according to the company.But while senior yacht broker Cormac Okiely says he feels lucky to be busy, he's also concerned about dwindling inventory."We usually have around 55 to 55 listings around this time of year, he said. "Right now, we're down to about maybe 35 listings, and company-wide we're below 100."Industry associations, though, remain optimistic about supply as the pool for potential buyers remains constricted due to COVID-19."There are a number of U.S. purchasers that buy boats in Canada," said the B.C. Boating Association's Don Prittie."They'll come up here because of the dollar differential and the quality of product sometimes. So, with the border being closed, that activity has stopped and it stopped in both directions."Coastal communities closed to visitorsU.S. sales aren't the only thing that's slowed.High-end yacht sales are also stagnant, having slowed initially due to the drop in oil prices."It's definitely a double whammy when you talk about Alberta" said Prittie. "They were already in a doldrum, as boat sales were concerned, before COVID".The B.C. Boating Association also worries marinas reliant on tourism or transient and international moorage may not survive, as the amount of traffic to remote communities is expected to dip.In April, the Canadian Coast Guard asked mariners to avoid non-essential boat trips, reminding travellers that coastal communities may turn away non-residents.Since then, they have updated their recommendation, asking boaters to "proceed with caution and good judgment," with the knowledge that they "may not have access to fuel, supplies and other services," as coastal communities remain closed to visitors."They don't want to put undue stress on on local island resources" said Larry Thompson, president of the B.C. Yacht Brokers Association."People have to play by the rules".As he reflects on the busiest spring of his career, though, McFarlen isn't too worried about an influx of unwanted visitors."You don't have to go very far on the ocean until you feel like you're all by yourself," he said.

  • Murder conviction stands for former fugitive who fled to Vietnam, rules province's top court
    News
    CBC

    Murder conviction stands for former fugitive who fled to Vietnam, rules province's top court

    The first-degree murder conviction of a former fugitive who fled Calgary ahead of his trial stands after the province's top court dismissed Nathan Gervais's appeal. Lukas Strasser-Hird, 18, was swarmed, beaten and stabbed to death outside a nightclub in 2013. After fleeing the country in 2016, Gervais was eventually arrested and returned to Canada in 2018. He was convicted of first-degree murder in May of last year.The Alberta Court of Appeal called the killing a "tragic event" and ruled Court of Queen's Bench Justice William Tilleman did not err in finding the victim was forcibly confined during the attack, which led to the first-degree murder conviction for Gervais.Gervais was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.Defence lawyer Alain Hepner says he will consult with his client before deciding whether to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Appeal arguments were made in early May by Hepner and prosecutor Julie Morgan. Gervais asked the province's top court to substitute an acquittal, order a new trial or substitute a conviction of second-degree murder.Nov. 23, 2013In 2013, Strasser-Hird was just back from a year in South America.At the Vinyl nightclub, he overheard someone call the bouncer a "dirty spic" and confronted the group, which included Gervais, over the racist remark.Outside the bar, Strasser-Hird was surrounded and shoved around until a bouncer grabbed the teenager and brought him back inside.Then, staff at the night club led Strasser-Hird out the back door, where a group of angry men were waiting for a second attack.Gervais confessedThe trial judge called Gervais's actions "predatory and calculated." Before waiting in the alley for his victim, Gervais had fetched a knife from his car, which was parked across the street from the bar. As he was kicked, punched and stabbed, the victim begged for his life, according to witnesses. Following the attack, Gervais confessed to several people that he had stabbed Strasser-Hird.In 2016, just before Gervais was to go on trial alongside four others, he fled Canada. Franz Cabrera and Assmar Shlah were ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder, while Joch Pouk was found guilty of manslaughter. A fourth man was acquitted.In February 2018, Gervais was arrested in Vietnam and returned to Calgary to face his murder charge.

  • Hong Kong leader calls out 'double standards' on national security, points to U.S.
    News
    Reuters

    Hong Kong leader calls out 'double standards' on national security, points to U.S.

    Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign governments on Tuesday of "double standards" in their reaction to Beijing's plans to impose national security laws on the city, pointing to anti-police brutality protests in the United States. In her first public appearance after Washington said it will remove Hong Kong's preferential treatment in U.S. law in response to Beijing's plans, Lam warned countries threatening actions against the city that they may hurt their own interests. "They are very concerned about their own national security, but on our national security...they look through tinted glasses," Lam told a weekly news conference.

  • Amid protests, Trump talks of war  -  and reelection
    Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Amid protests, Trump talks of war - and reelection

    WASHINGTON — Embracing the language of confrontation and war, President Donald Trump on Monday declared himself the “president of law and order” and signalled he would stake his reelection on convincing voters his forceful approach, including deploying U.S. troops to U.S. cities, was warranted in a time of national tumult and racial unrest.Trump made his Rose Garden declaration to the sound of tear gas and rubber bullets clearing peaceful protesters from the park in front of the White House. It created a split screen for the ages, with his critics saying the president was deepening divisions at a time when leadership was crucial to help unify a fractured country.The president’s forceful turn to a partisan posture was reminiscent of the us-vs.-them rhetoric he has often used when under pressure, including in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. He has responded to the violence with a string of polarizing tweets, one starkly laying out the political stakes by underscoring the approach of Election Day.“NOVEMBER 3RD,” was all it said.Trump vowed to deploy the U.S. military to America’s own cities to quell a rise of violent protests, including ransacking stores and burning police cars. He offered little recognition of the anger coursing through the country as he demanded a harsher crackdown on the mayhem that has erupted following the death of George Floyd.Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down and pressed his neck with his knee as the man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Violent demonstrations have raged in dozens of cities across the nation, marking a level of widespread turmoil unseen for decades.The political ground beneath Trump has greatly shifted in the spring of this election year. He was supposed to be running on a strong economy, but now he’s facing a pandemic, an economic collapse and civil unrest not seen since the 1960s.Indeed, some around the president likened the moment to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots and captured the White House. But Trump is the incumbent and, despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, he risks being held responsible for the violence.Trump emerged after two days out of public view in the White House to threaten to deploy “thousands and thousands” of U.S. troops. Then he made a surprise walk through Lafayette Park to a Washington house of worship known as “The Church of the Presidents” that suffered fire damage in the protests.That brought a quick condemnation from Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde.“The president just used a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for," she said. But he had his campaign moment.In a video teleconference Monday morning, Trump scolded governors.“Most of you are weak,” he said. “It’s like a war. And we will end it fast. Be tough.”“You have to dominate” and “if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” Trump said, demanding the protests be swiftly crushed, even as some warned that such an aggressive law enforcement response could lead to an escalation of violence.The president urged governors to make more use of the National Guard, which he credited for helping calm the situation Sunday night in Minneapolis. He demanded that similarly tough measures be taken in cities that also experienced spasms of violence, including New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.“You’re going to arrest all those people and you’re going to try them. And if they get five years or 10 years, they have to get five years or 10 years,” the president said. “So I say that, and the winners dominate.”Trump’s exhortations came after a night of escalating violence, with images of chaos overshadowing largely peaceful protests. The disturbances grew so heated Friday night that the Secret Service rushed the president to an underground White House bunker previously used during terrorist attacks.Some West Wing officials and political advisers have acknowledged that some of the president’s tweets have not been helpful, and they have been pushing Trump to acknowledge the pain of the peaceful protesters without lumping them in with the agitators he says are responsible for the violence.But another faction within the administration, including longtime law-and-order proponent Attorney General William Barr, has encouraged Trump’s instincts to focus on the group violence. The hope is such a posture can help Trump draw a contrast with Democrats who have been less vocal in their condemnation of the unrest.The West Wing had been mostly empty over the weekend. Many staffers were told to stay home to avoid the protests, chief of staff Mark Meadows was out of town celebrating his daughter’s wedding and senior adviser Jared Kushner was marking a Jewish holiday.Among the options being discussed in the White House: a new criminal justice reform package, a task force that would include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and a listening tour of African American communities, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because nothing had been finalized.Democrats hammered Trump, accusing him of stirring the unrest.“Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks,” said the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, former Vice-President Joe Biden, speaking at a church in Wilmington, Delaware.Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump “struggles to summon even an ounce of humanity in this time of turmoil.”“The president has reacted to the pain and anger in the country by playing politics and encouraging police to be tougher on protesters by bragging about his reelection prospects and his personal safety inside the White House,” Schumer said.Long drawn to displays of strength, Trump and his advisers believe that the combative rhetoric and promises to send the military into cities will reassure voters, including senior citizens and suburban women, concerned by the lawlessness.Eager to change the narrative of the election, just five months away, from a referendum on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump and his aides see a cultural war issue that could captivate his base.Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a close ally of the president, said, “In the same way that he became the unlikeliest of champions for evangelicals and the faith community, he has it in him to do the same thing for the minority community.”Much as he has with the pandemic, Trump has tried to scapegoat the nation’s Democratic governors and mayors, much to their dismay.During the teleconference, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker bluntly told Trump that “the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse.”___Lemire reported from New York. Suderman reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Darlene Superville, Kevin Freking and Michael Balsamo contributed reporting from Washington.Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin And Alan Suderman, The Associated Press

  • As premier denies systemic racism, black Quebecers point to their lived experience
    News
    CBC

    As premier denies systemic racism, black Quebecers point to their lived experience

    When Verdun resident Alexandre Lamontagne saw the footage of George Floyd being killed by police in Minneapolis, Minn., he felt a pang of disappointment. Lamontagne is the lead plaintiff in a racial profiling lawsuit against the City of Montreal. He claims he was wrongfully detained by Montreal police while walking home at night in Old Montreal. "They put their knee on my neck, like they did to George Floyd," Lamontagne said.A medical examiner on Monday classified Floyd's death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck.Following Floyd's death, protests erupted across the United States and around the world, demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality.Lamontagne says he was walking outside a nightclub in August 2017 when police officers started yelling at him. He was ticketed as well as charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. The charges were dropped a year later. Lamontagne recognizes the parallels between his encounter with police and Floyd's. "It's very sad — it's inhumane, killing someone for no reason," Lamontagne said. "It's time for people to wake up and protest against racism. It's not black against white, it's all of us united against racism." 'Who keeps us safe?'On Sunday, thousands of Montrealers braved the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic and took to the streets in a call to end police violence against black people.Even though the incident that sparked protests around the world took place in the United States, Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present, says violent, racist policing is a pattern here in Canada, too. "That attention is only paid when something is happening in the United States is very much an insult to people living here who are undergoing violence every day," Maynard said. In the context of the pandemic, the systemic racism in our society becomes even more clear, she said. She noted the high proportion of women of colour working in essential services jobs, such as those in Quebec's long-term care facilities, where outbreaks and deaths have been most severe."These are the people being essentially sacrificed in the name of public health," Maynard said. Smaller reforms to police forces, such as increasing mental health services and sensitivity training, are no longer sufficient for activists calling for change, she said. Calls for funds to be divested from police forces into things "that would actually keep people safe," such as public housing and transit, are growing louder. "People are calling into question, what is public safety? Who keeps us safe?" she said.Premier denies there is systemic racism in Quebec Premier François Legault said Monday he "stands in solidarity with people who denounce racial violence" — though he denied, once again, that there was a systemic problem in Quebec."I think that there is some discrimination in Quebec, but there's no systemic discrimination, no system in Quebec of discrimination," he said, adding "it's a very small minority of the people who are doing some discrimination."He did, however, point out that a government committee is currently reviewing police work in the province, and racial profiling will be part of the examination. When questioned about the Sunday's protest, SPVM spokesperson Insp. André Durocher said systemic racism was present in the force and suggested the protest was fuelled by what happened to George Floyd, rather anything in Montreal.  But he acknowledged a 2019 report, which showed black and Indigenous people were four to five times more likely to be stopped by police than white people. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante acknowledged there is systemic racism in all parts of society, including the SPVM.She also said last year's study on body cameras, which determined the policing tool would not be viable in Montreal, could be revisited.Lateef Martin, who spoke at the protest, says that in refusing to acknowledge the problem head-on, authorities are going to create more problems. "It's quite frankly embarrassing that police doesn't admit this or even acknowledge it," Martin said. "There's going to be another Fredy Villanueva because the problem isn't being addressed," he said, referring to the teen who was killed by police in Montréal-Nord in 2008.The death caused the Quebec government to reform how police shootings are investigated in the province.In 2019, Martin contested a ticket he was issued for walking on a residential street on an icy night. He claims the officers who ticketed him were motivated by race. He says acknowledging systemic racism is the first step before anything changes for the better. "This is a problem that our country has always had," Martin said. "It's so frustrating, because people don't seem to understand that it's not just a black problem — it affects everyone." Watch: Protests call out problems with policing in Canada

  • Coronavirus: City of Mississauga reopens public spaces
    News
    Global News

    Coronavirus: City of Mississauga reopens public spaces

    The City of Mississauga has taken a slower pace to re-opening. On Monday, a number of dog parks, tennis courts and other green spaces reopened. Tom Hayes reports.