Video shot on Lake Fausse Point in Louisiana shows a surreal and unusual scene – trees covered in ice. (Feb. 18)
Video shot on Lake Fausse Point in Louisiana shows a surreal and unusual scene – trees covered in ice. (Feb. 18)
That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74 and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus can begin booking March 15. The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of AstraZeneca will available starting March 10. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said while AstraZeneca is just as effective as the others, due to incomplete data it recommends it not be given to those over 64. Shandro says for that reason, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to adults 50 to 64 who don’t have a severe chronic illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
A 20-year-old woman fatally shot by police in a Beltline hotel was found next to a replica handgun pellet pistol after being shot by officers, according to Alberta's police watchdog. A press release issued by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says Calgary police responded Wednesday to a third-floor room at the Nuvo Hotel after receiving a call from a woman who sounded distressed. ASIRT said the woman was threatening self-harm and said she had a gun. Police approached the room, at which point a woman appeared in the doorway. The woman turned and went back into the room and returned with what ASIRT said appeared to be a black handgun, allegedly confirmed by footage from body-worn cameras. "Further details regarding what the woman may have done with the handgun or what occurred thereafter are being withheld pending additional possible interviews; however, shortly thereafter, two officers discharged their service pistols," ASIRT said in the release. Calgary police were stationed outside the Nuvo Hotel in the Beltline neighbourhood on Wednesday afternoon.(Julie Debeljak/CBC) Tactical members entered the room, where it was determined that the woman had died. Nearby, they found a replica handgun pellet pistol. Speaking Thursday at a press conference, Chief Mark Neufeld of the Calgary Police Service said the situation that occurred Wednesday was "extremely dynamic" and unfolded quickly. "I do want to acknowledge that a person died in this incident, and that person had a family and friends who today find themselves mourning the tragic loss of a loved one," Neufeld said. "On behalf of all of us at CPS, I extend my condolences to all of those who have been impacted by this incident." Neufeld said he was confident that officers conducted themselves appropriately in the course of the incident. "There are times where, despite the best training, the best tactics, the best tools and even the very best of intentions, where a peaceful resolution isn't to be," he said. "In these tense moments, the preservation of life for bystanders, and even the officers themselves, necessarily becomes the immediate priority." ASIRT said that as an investigation is ongoing, no further information will be released at this time. The Nuvo Hotel is located at 827 12th Ave. S.W.
The head of Canada's largest private sector union says air passengers who couldn't use their tickets because of the pandemic will get refunds. Jerry Dias said Air Canada has already agreed to the refunds, which has been a sore point among consumers starting in March when travellers were forced to stay home. As Sean O'Shea reports, Dias says refunds are a condition for an airline aid package.
With restrictions still in place for large gatherings of people, the Tottenham & Beeton District Chamber of Commerce is making the best of the current situation by moving some of their events to a virtual format. By going on-line, the TBDCC can still keep people connected while promoting the local business com-munity. VIRTUAL HOME SHOW & ARTISAN MARKET The TBDCC’s annual Spring Home Show which usually takes place in March, will be going on-line. Since restrictions regarding gatherings will likely still be in place, it is not practical to plan an indoor show. Instead, the Board of Directors decided to move to a virtual format this year. Local businesses and vendors will still be able to showcase their prod-ucts and services, just in a different format. The good side of this means more businesses will be able to participate and members of the public don’t have to commit to a specific day to attend the show. Businesses and services will also be showcased for a longer period of time. Launch date for the virtual Home Show and Artisan Market is April 17.Registration information will be available on the TBDSS website. TBDCC ONLINE LEARNING SERIES The TBDCC is presenting an op-portunity for local businesses to share their expertise and promote their products and services. This gives members and non-mem-bers the opportunity to take part in workshops on a variety of different subjects. The first workshop will take place on Friday, March 12, at 1:00 p.m. and will feature Devin Merkac, from 92.1 myFM radio. He will discuss the benefits of radio advertising. Also featured over the next few weeks will be investment basics, with Horan & Associates, Wills & Power of Attorney with lawyer Jerry Switzer, Understanding real estate listing agreements with Peter Barbati of First Choice Realty, thriving after COVID with Tonia Salvaterra of DinoLand, Gypsy Moth Control with Meadowood Tree Services, and PLUS Lifestyle workshops on topics like photography and wellness. Fees are $20.00 for non TBDCC members and free for members. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
That’s it for hockey this year. After a short-lived time on the ice, minor hockey is throwing in the towel – and they have no choice. The TNT Tornados have announced the season is over. The decision to cancel the rest of the season comes after the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit decided the region needs to go back into lockdown mode. The kids were back on the ice on February 20, when the region went into a Red Alert situation. Teams were able to practice and do training drills with restrictions. Those restrictions included limiting the ice to ten people and having no contact during practice. Parents were not allowed into the arena to watch practices.No dressing rooms were available, so players had to arrive dressed for the ice with the exception of helmets and skates. The move back to a lockdown situation on March 1, means arenas will again be off lim-its. The TNT executive had no choice but to finally just cancel everything. Previously, they said they had hoped to continue playing through to the end of April with hopes that a move to a Yellow or Orange alert would allow more kids to participate and be on the ice. The on again, off again situation when it comes to lockdowns in the region has crippled most sports with many activities not tak-ing place at all this year. There is a lot of doubt whether spring and summer sports will even be allowed this year. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
OTTAWA — With a federal budget in the offing, premiers are stepping up the pressure on Ottawa to immediately boost health-care funding by at least $28 billion a year.They held a virtual news conference Thursday to reiterate their demand for a big increase in the unconditional transfer payment the federal government sends provinces and territories each year for health care.The federal government this year will transfer to the provinces nearly $42 billion for health care, under an arrangement that sees the amount rise by at least three per cent each year.But the premiers contend that amounts to only 22 per cent of the actual cost of delivering health care and doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent.Starting this year, they want Ottawa to increase its share to 35 per cent and maintain it at that level, which would mean an added $28 billion, rising by roughly another $4 billion in each subsequent year.During a virtual first ministers' meeting in December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told premiers he recognizes the need for the federal government to eventually shoulder a bigger share of health-care costs. But he said that must wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sent the federal deficit on track to exceed an unprecedented $381 billion as Ottawa doles out emergency aid, including at least $1 billion for vaccines and $25 billion in direct funding to the provinces to, among other things, bolster their health systems.Quebec Premier Francois Legault, chair of the premiers' council, stressed Thursday that the pandemic-related expenses Ottawa has incurred are "non-recurring." He pointed to studies that suggest the federal government could quickly eliminate its deficit, and even return to surplus, once the pandemic is over while provinces would be mired in debt.The premiers argued they need stable, predictable, long-term funding for their health systems, which were already under strain before the pandemic hit and will be even more stressed once it's over and they must deal with the backlog of delayed surgeries, tests and other procedures.Manitoba's Brian Pallister said wait times have been a problem for decades and are destined to get worse as Canada's population ages. But he said the pandemic has made "a bad situation much, much worse.""The post-pandemic pileup is coming and it's real and its impact on Canadians and their families and their friends is real too," he warned. "The time is now to address this issue and to address it together."Pallister accused Trudeau of ignoring the problem of wait-times and the real life-threatening impact on people. Five years ago, he said he told Trudeau a true story about a woman with a lump in her breast who had waited for tests and referral to a specialist, only to be told in the end that it was "too bad we couldn't have caught this sooner.""He looked across the table at me and said, 'I'm not your banker,'" Pallister said."We don't need a banker. We need a partner."Trudeau has offered to give provinces immediate funding for long-term care homes, provided they agree to some national standards. Long-term care facilities have borne the brunt of deaths from COVID-19.But Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Ottawa's latest offer would provide just $2,500 per person in long-term care — a drop in the bucket compared to the $76,000 it costs his province each year for every long-term care resident."The math doesn't work," he said.Legault ruled out conditional transfers for long-term care altogether as an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. He said each province and territory has its own health-care priorities and their "jurisdiction must absolutely be respected."When universal health care was adopted in Canada, British Columbia's John Horgan said the cost was originally shared 50-50 between Ottawa and the provinces. The steadily declining federal share has led to ever more challenges in delivering health care, exacerbated now by the pandemic."Our public health-care system is at risk," Horgan warned."COVID has brought (the challenge) into graphic light. It's stark, it's profound and we need to take action."Saskatchewan's Scott Moe said Canadians deserve a well-funded health system "that is supported by both levels, both orders of government in this nation, not one that is propped up by almost entirely by the provinces and territories."Trudeau's minority Liberal government is poised to table a budget this spring, which could theoretically result in the defeat of his government should opposition parties vote against the budget. Legault said premiers have already talked to opposition parties to solicit their support for their health funding demand. He said the Bloc Quebecois and NDP support the demand, while the Conservatives agree in principle with the need to increase the health transfer but have not specifically agreed to the $28-billion figure.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A Crown lawyer is urging a B.C. Supreme Court judge to ignore the "geopolitical winds swirling around" Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's extradition case and focus instead on the legal context. Robert Frater told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that Meng's legal team is trying to bring the elephant into the room by introducing arguments centred on comments made by former U.S. president Donald Trump about the case. "With respect, we urge you to focus on the facts and the law and leave the politics to the politicians," Frater said Thursday. He made the comments in response to claims from Meng's legal team that Trump's words 10 days after her arrest at Vancouver's airport in December 2018 represented a threat and poisoned the Canadian proceedings. Trump was asked by media if he would intervene in the case to get a better deal in trade talks with China, and he responded that he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary. Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges that both she and Huawei deny. Her lawyers allege Trump's comments constitute an abuse of process and they are asking for a stay of proceedings. It is the first of four branches of abuse of process arguments that the court will hear ahead of the actual extradition or committal hearing in May. "Everyone in this courtroom knows that the elephant in the room in this case has always been the geopolitical winds that swirl around it," Frater told the judge. "We're confident that when you look at the facts and apply the law, you will dismiss this motion." On Wednesday, Meng's team sought to tie her case to a long-brewing technological race between the United States and China. Huawei's success in establishing 5G wireless technology worldwide represents an "existential threat" to the United States and Meng's case is unfolding amid an effort by the U.S. government to "debilitate, if not destroy, Huawei," her lawyer Richard Peck said. Peck noted that in February 2020, then-U. S. attorney general William Barr said the stakes could not be higher and likened the race to the Cold War. Democrat Nancy Pelosi has warned against doing business with Huawei and White House press secretary Jen Psaki has described Huawei as a "threat to the security of the U.S.," Peck said. "This campaign is bipartisan and continues in full vigour today," he said. Frater, representing Canada's attorney general, sought to redirect the judge's attention Thursday. There is a rigorous test to meet the threshold of an abuse of process claim that warrants a stay of proceedings and Meng's argument doesn't pass it, he said. The threshold outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada says there must be prejudice to the accused's right to a fair trial or to the integrity of the justice system and there must be no alternative remedy. Where there is still uncertainty, the court must balance the interests of the accused and the societal interest in having the case heard, Frater said. In the balancing act, he argued the court should consider that the fraud charges are serious and Meng, the chief financial officer of one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, isn't a "powerless" person. Someone with "the resources to hire a battalion of lawyers, who has the full backing of a powerful state, is in a different position factually than an indigent or vulnerable individual," Frater said. Another lawyer for Meng, Eric Gottardi, countered that Meng's celebrity makes her a "higher value target" for interference, adding that a person's resources shouldn't affect how they are treated by the court. Frater told the court that comments by politicians about the case have not approached the level of threat required to compromise the legal process. And Trump's failure to win re-election has only weakened the argument, he said. "This application, in our submission, was based on the thinnest of evidence. That evidence only got worse over time, there's been material changes in circumstance that have removed the basis for it," Frater said. The political commentary has in no way affected the proceedings, he said. "They've had a hearing which has observed and continues to observe the highest standards of fairness." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
Gananoque and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands are again asking local businesses for their business chronicles. The fourth edition of the project aims to showcase local businesses through social media, websites and investment campaigns. Any business, whether home-based, just starting out or well established, is welcomed to apply, said Amanda Trafford, business development co-ordinator for the town of Gananoque. "What we are doing is using the businesses to tell the story of our communities," she said. The chronicles are funded by the Rural Economic Development (RED) program through the provincial ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Along with having the businesses advertised on social media, the information and website catalogue is also used to attract new businesses to the area. "Like every other community we are trying to attract new business," said Trafford. "By using our businesses, we can tell the story of why it’s good to do business here." Trafford said the chronicles are another way to showcase a positive quality of life for a business despite being in a rural setting. Terri Dawson, the owner of the Green Gecko shop in Lyndhurst, said she also took away that the chronicle is about showing off the community. "You're not always trying to push advertising," said Dawson. "What you're trying to say is look at this great business community we have here. "You could be a part of this too." The businesses involved will also receive a free professional photograph for their use in promoting the business, something Dawson said was greatly welcomed. "I really appreciated that I was given a print-quality copy of the photo because I've used it in other promotion of my business," she said. "Most businesses are not budgeting for a professional photo of you taken so it's a real bonus." Dawson, who was a part of the first round of business chronicles, said she found the process simple and straightforward. "Because you're the one filling out the information… you make sure that you are highlighting the things you really feel are important," said Dawson, whose store sells items "from down the road and around the world." McKenna Modler, project coordinator for RED, said that over 30 businesses have been chronicled in the first three editions, dating back to 2018. Each business is found on either the town or township's chronicles webpage, depending on the location of the business. Modler said if a business is interested in joining the chronicles, the owners can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit either the town or township versions of the chronicles webpage. The deadline is March 31. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Despite a closure for public access, all is not lost for the 150-year-old Springfield House and Escott Hall. Following a committee of the whole meeting Monday evening, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands and the Friends of the Springfield House Complex both say they are comfortable with where the issue is currently regarding the two buildings in the township. Last Thursday, the township released a long-awaited report that cited structural issues in its recommendation that council close public access to the two buildings located on County Road 2. The report also recommended that council direct staff to initiate the process for the consideration of declaring the two buildings surplus, a move that would allow the township to place the buildings on the market. However, township officials stressed they are a long way from placing the two buildings up for sale and it is not the goal of the township to sell the historical buildings. "We recognize the significance of the properties," said Stephen Donachey, the township's chief administrative officer. "This isn't going to be a consultation period that is very abbreviated… we want a fulsome discussion with the public." Most on council said it is not their preference to have the buildings put up for sale, but that time is of the essence to get something done with them due to their condition. Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke said the issue is at a critical period due to the condition of the buildings. "The conditions of the buildings are what they are today because everybody has sort of pushed this around and pushed it to the side," she said. Robert Burtch, chairman of the Friends of the Springfield House Complex committee, gave a presentation Monday before councillors discussed the matter. He says he is happy with the outcome of the meeting and thinks that the current mood of council is in favour of at least one of the buildings being saved. "We have to focus on what we can do now and if we've got the goodwill of the council with us, that's all we care about right now and we need to act on it," said Burtch. During his presentation, Burtch suggested to council that a historical engineer assess the buildings to get an accurate dollar figure on potential restoration costs. Smith-Gatcke said she is on board with having a more updated and historical assessment of the buildings. Along with the option to begin consideration of the buildings being surplus, the other two options presented to the committee were to repair the two buildings or close them for demolition. Nobody on the committee considered levelling the buildings, due in part to their historical nature. Springfield House was built in 1871 and is one of the oldest still-intact buildings in the township. Following restoration in the 1980s, the house served as the township public library until 2016. Both buildings have been given historical designations, which do limit potential outcomes and options for the township. Another limiting issue is the archives. The Escott Hall serves as the home for the archives of the township. Due to the nature of belongings in the archives, the space they can be kept in is limited. Further, the process for moving the archives would require experts and would not come cheap, said Burtch. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
“I want to say something to the three of you today,” Saskatchewan Justice Gerry Allbright told the grieving family members of murder victim Mark Douglas Jonson, 61. “Mark Jonson is not just a name to me. He was a person loved. I have a picture of Mark in front of me,” said Justice Allbright, adding that the victim’s daughter and two sisters brought Mark to life through their compelling victim impact statements. “He was a man who was loved. He was a man who cared about others in society and he cared about those who were down and out,” said Justice Allbright in Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench March 4. “Without you sharing those heartfelt and true comments with me I would not nave been able to see the man behind the photograph and I’m thankful for that and I’m sorry for your loss,” said Justice Allbright. Victim impact statements were read by Jonson’s daughter Lydia Holteniuk, and his sisters Lynette Jonson and Myrnel Williams. The three appeared by phone. Myrnel said her brother Mark Jonson taught her a lot – including his difficulties - during his life. “Sometimes the best teachers are people whose pasts have been a bit flawed because they can understand the human experience.” Lydia spoke about how painful and difficult it was to have her father brutally murdered. The court heard that Jonson was a generous and kind person who would help anyone. Jonson’s family said he struggled but was overcoming the challenges in his life and still had dreams to fulfill. A judge and jury trial for Nicholas Buck was previously scheduled to run Feb. 22 to March 5, 2021, but, instead, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder March 4. In July 2019, twenty-three-year-old Buck was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the death of Jonson. Battlefords RCMP found Jonson deceased in a home on the 1500 block of 100 Street on July 5, 2019. RCMP Major Crime Unit North and North Battleford Forensic Identification Services investigated the murder. They issued a warrant for Buck’s arrest on July 11, 2019. He was arrested two days later. Police also arrested David Keller, 28, on July 11, 2019. Keller’s judge and jury trial is scheduled for October 2021 in Battlefords Court of Queen’s Bench. North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Steven Laroque said Jonson died the night of July 2 or the early morning of July 3, 2019. Laroque said there are several aggravating circumstances including the brutal nature of the senior’s murder in his home where he had the right to feel and be safe. For mitigating factors, Laroque said Buck is young and was victimized as a youth. “Gladue applies in this case, which requires special consideration.” Laroque said Buck cooperated with the police and confessed. In addition, by pleading guilty he spared the family from going through a lengthy trial and helped move the case through the court system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Defence Brian Pfefferle reiterated the significant Gladue factors present in Buck’s situation. “He has had a difficult life and was born into tragic circumstances,” said Pfefferle, adding that Buck suffered abuse, poverty and racism. A clean-cut looking Buck appeared by CCTV from the correctional centre wearing grey prison attire. Gone were the dreadlocks in the 2019 police-issued photo. Justice Allbright asked Buck if he had anything to say before sentencing, telling Buck that he is soft-spoken and to speak as loud as he can. Buck held his head slightly down throughout the proceedings but stood up when he delivered an apology to the victim’s family. “I’m not apologizing because I have to, I’m apologizing because I’m sincerely…” Buck said as he struggled to get more words out, many which were inaudible between his audible cries. Justice Allbright acknowledged Buck’s apology before sentencing him. “Buck’s background is a troubled background. The other side is the gravity of the level of violence visited on this poor man. “I sentence you to life without eligibility for parole until you serve at least 12 years,” said Justice Allbright. “In life everyone makes mistakes, some mistakes are very tragic,” added Justice Allbright. “You know well the tragic mistake you made that day when you caused the loss of life of Mr. Jonson. “You have then made some good decisions since then, the lengthy statement to police about your involvement in this matter, you come before the court entering a plea of guilty acknowledging the terrible harm your actions have caused and you have expressed remorse to the family members. I truly hope that your life proceeds in a way that can bring some honour to the memory, in this case, to Mark Jonson. “You have had a difficult upbringing and background,” added Justice Allbright. “That should help you to go forward from here. One of the family members said sometimes the best teachers are people whose pasts have been a bit flawed because they can understand the human experience. You, Mr. Buck, will hopefully follow in that, the very wise words the family member said.” email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
There seems to be some new residents living along the walking trails in Totten-ham by the Conservation Area. Local hikers have noticed little doorways that enter into secret tiny homes inside the trees along the trails. Some tiny little signs announce that it is a fairy home. While no one has yet to admit to actually seeing a fairy, there is little doubt among trail users that they are there – they’re just very secretive. Local resident and avid hiker Marc Landry first noticed the fairy homes on a recent hike down the trails.An avid bird watcher, he had his cam-era with him and took some photo and posted on them on a local Facebook page. “I’m out there at least once a week,” Mr. Landry explained. “I do a lot of birding on that trail so, for me, it’s a lot of observation. They crossed my eyesight a couple of times and decided to have a look at them. They’re pretty easy to find once you start looking for them. About two weeks ago I took all the pictures. For me it’s all about the observation of nature. If I find something, well good.” He started quite the buzz when he posted his photos. People wanted to know where the little fairy homes were coming from. At first it was a secret, but a local resi-dent had the inside scoop and let it slip. It turns out local artist Becky Crawford and her husband Tom MacDonald, have been secretly fixing the fairy doors to trees along the trail. They did it just to give other people some joy in their life. “I usually work in stained glass,” Becky explained. “We weren’t sure anyone would even notice. We started doing it a few months ago. They’re not too spread out so you can easily find them. We thought it was something that would just bring a smile to someone’s face. Times are so tough right now, we thought if we could do something light and fun, maybe someone would like it.” Becky started making the fairy doors with a friend when their children were small, and they would put them in the yard. Although she usually works in glass, it would not be the right medium for attaching to a tree so she switched to wood. “In Europe a lot of people put them around their baseboards at home,” Becky said. “Even some big businesses with have a little fairy door – it’s a tradi-tion. It’s a little bit of magic and a little fun. I wanted to put them where people were walking because that’s pretty much all you could do during the lock-down. Me and my husband make them. He cuts the wood and sands the doors down and I go from there.” Becky usually sells her stained glass at local artisans’ markets, so venturing out and putting her work on the local trail was a little different. Children love the fairy doors and make a game of trying to find them all. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration stepped up its condemnation of the coup in Myanmar on Thursday, demanding that military authorities stop their brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and release demonstrators and journalists who have been detained. The White House called the situation, including the arrest of an Associated Press journalist, “troubling” and of “great concern.” The State Department said it’s working with other countries to send a unified message to the military that its actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences. The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military leaders since the Feb. 1 coup, but stepped up pressure after security forces killed as many as 38 people on Wednesday. The administration says it’s in close touch with partners and allies, as well as with countries like China, to try to convince Myanmar officials to ease their heavy-handed response to the protests. “The detainment of journalists, the targeting of journalists and dissidents is certainly something that is of great concern to the president, to the secretary of state and to every member of our administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. At the State Department, spokesman Ned Price said the administration was “deeply saddened” by reports of deaths in the crackdown on protests. “This latest escalation in violence demonstrates the fact of the junta’s complete disregard for their own people, for the people of Burma,” he said. “It is unacceptable.” “We are deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on and arrest of journalists,” he said. “We call on the military to immediately release these individuals and to cease their intimidation and harassment of the media and others who are unjustly detained for doing nothing more than their job, for doing nothing more than exercising their universal rights.” Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw and several other members of the media were arrested last week while covering security forces charging at anti-coup protesters. They have been charged with violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned for up to three years. The AP and press freedom groups have called for Zaw’s immediate release, but there has been no response from the authorities. In a statement Thursday, National Press Club President Lisa Nicole Matthews, the AP’s assignment manager for U.S. video, and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane expressed concern for Zaw’s safety. “We believe he was simply doing his job as a journalist and look forward to his swift release,” the statement said. The U.S. and other countries have roundly condemned the coup and the ensuing crackdown on dissent to little effect thus far. Price said the United States was looking toward China, Myanmar’s most powerful neighbour and friend, to exert its influence on the military. “We have urged the Chinese to play a constructive role to use their influence with the Burmese military to bring this coup to an end,” he said. “There have been a number of conversations with Chinese officials at different levels, and our message in all of those conversations has been consistent: The world, every responsible constructive member of the international community, needs to use its voice, needs to work to bring this coup to an end and to restore the democratically elected government of Burma.” Earlier Thursday, footage of the brutal crackdown on protests against the coup unleashed outrage and calls for a stronger international response. Videos showed security forces shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip in recent years, the international community lifted most sanctions and poured in investment. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Cases of COVID-19 variants of concern continue to escalate in B.C., with 46 new ones announced today. Sixteen of the 246 total variant cases to date are currently active. Of the variant cases, 218 are the so-called U.K. variant and 28 of the South African variant. The majority of these cases are located in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions—178 and 60 in those two health areas respectively. About a quarter of the cases continue to be untracked in terms of transmission. Four of the people currently in hospital have variants of concern and two deaths in recent days have been in people with variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported 564 new cases, 12 of which are epidemiologically linked. B.C.’s cumulative case total has reached 82,473. Of the new cases, 168 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 279 in the Fraser Health region, 35 in the Island Health region, 36 in the Interior Health region and 46 in the Northern Health region. As cases rise across the province, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Richmond is also experiencing a surge. Between Feb. 21 and 27 there were 100 new cases recorded here, compared to 80 the previous week and less than half that number the week before. There are 4,743 active cases and 248 people hospitalized with the virus, 63 of whom are in critical care. A further 8,659 people are under active public health monitoring. Sadly, four people lost their lives due to COVID-19 since yesterday. There were no new healthcare outbreaks announced. To date, 298,851 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, 86,746 of which are second doses. Henry also spoke today on an additional vaccination plan for first responders and other essential workers, using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Delivery of this vaccine will run “in parallel but separate from our age-based community-based immunization program,” she said. The province’s immunization committee is establishing who should receive that vaccine and in what order. Henry hopes to deliver a detailed plan to the public in the next two weeks, and she targeted March 18 as a possible date for that announcement. The initial AstraZeneca shipment will be used to address “ongoing clusters and outbreaks that are leading to rapidly increasing numbers in some places, some communities, to best protect our communities,” Henry said. She also acknowledged the uptick in new cases, and the rise of more transmissible variants, particularly in the Lower Mainland. “We can’t let these successes—the vaccines we have now—be diminished by a surge in cases that will lead us to a third wave.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
The deadline for community grants ended on March 1, and the Town is now considering those applications that were received. Community Grants assist organizations who provide beneficial, core ser-vices to the community that are not provided by the Town.Funds supplied will include requests for initial start-up funding, equipment, material, and supplies purchases, and to offset Town-established user fees. Applications are also taken in this category if a group is requesting a fee waiver to rent Town space, rent Town equipment or supplies (IE: tables and chairs) or use in-kind services. The maximum eligible grant amount is $2,000.The Community Events Grant as-sists organizations who deliver commu-nity celebrations, festivals, and special events that Council considers to be core services to the community. This does not include fundraising events, events which raise funds for an-other organization, or events hosted by the private sector or individuals. The maximum eligible grant in this category is $2,000.The Community Arts, Culture and Tourism Grants support organizations promoting opportunities in artistic expression and cultural endeavours for people of all ages through education and participation. It includes tourism and development activities as well as the operation of a significant cultural facilities providing core services to the community. The maximum eligible grant in this category is $25,000.Once grant applications are received, they are considered by the Grant Review committee in March and April of this year. The applications will go through a second review. Council will approve grant application recommendations during the first council meeting in May. Applicants are encouraged to read over the applications carefully to ensure eligibility and to make sure the applica-tion is submitted accurately. The Community Grant Program poli-cy will give preference to not-for-profit organizations that demonstrate community support, efficient use of resources, sound business practices and develop volunteer knowledge, skills, and self-reliance. The purpose of the Community Fund Program is in keeping with the Town’s strategic objective to preserve the heritage and promote the provision of a diversity of cultural activities, and active and passive recreational opportunities. Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
China will increase its annual research and development spending by more than 7% every year over the next five years, the government wrote on Friday in its work report from the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress. The government will increase expenditure on basic research by 10.6% in 2021, the report added. The ramp-up highlights the country's commitment to advancing in the tech sector, as the country increasingly clashes with the United States and other countries over technology policy.
A Green MLA who voted in favour of legislation to restrict access to vape products on P.E.I. and ban the sale of vape flavours now says the ban goes too far. The ban on flavours came into effect March 1, restricting Island retailers to selling only tobacco-flavoured vape products. Steve Howard, the MLA for Summerside-South Drive, said his understanding was the ban would be on flavours that appealed to children, but that some options would remain for adults. The specifics around the flavours banned were drawn up in regulations after the bill was passed. On Thursday, Howard tabled in the legislature an information sheet from Health Canada saying vaping is less harmful than smoking, and that switching to vapes "may reduce health risks for smokers who can't or don't want to quit using nicotine." "Most of the evidence that's out there shows that as a cessation tool, vaping is very effective compared to smoking, and it's far less harmful," Howard said. 'Powerful tool' for harm reduction He said the information from Health Canada "shows clearly that they consider it a step in the right direction." "Of course, the best option is to not use vaping or smoking. But as far as a harm reduction tool goes, vaping is a powerful tool that we should be not discouraging people from using. And the flavours are a key component to uptake." Howard said he supports getting rid of flavours with names "that are targeted toward children or youth like cotton candy," and suggested whatever options would remain for adults could be designated simply by a number to reduce their appeal. Green MLA Steve Howard said when he voted in favour of a ban on flavoured vaping products, he understood that some flavour options would remain targeted toward adults. The specifics around the flavours banned were drawn up in regulations after the bill was passed.(Kirk Pennell/CBC) He also said the ban on flavours doesn't prevent Island residents from ordering them online. A private member's bill introduced by PC MLA Cory Deagle passed with unanimous consent in 2019. As of March 2020, that law increased the age of access for tobacco and vaping products from 19 to 21, and further regulated points of purchase — with vaping products only available through vape shops and tobacconists. The ban on flavours was the last restriction from the legislation to come into effect. Deagle said the flavour ban was the key element to meet his objective of trying to keep vape products out of the hands of children. The P.E.I. Lung Association said it believes the ban "is going to have a huge impact" in reducing the appeal of vaping among Island youth. More from CBC P.E.I.
Christine Burgener called on the council for "unified support, action", asking "how much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?", following the deaths of dozens of civilian protesters this week. She said the situation in Myanmar was moving toward "an acute humanitarian crisis".
Ninety-year-old Warisó:se Myrtle Bush was the first elder living at home in Kahnawake, Que., to receive a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community began its mass vaccination campaign this week. "If they're worried about it and are afraid it's going to hurt or anything, well, you can tell them it's not going to hurt at all," Bush told CBC News. "It's better for us. I wasn't feeling bad, but I'm feeling even better now that I got it. I think we should all get it so that we don't make anyone else sick." The vaccination site, which is located at the Mohawk Bingo hall, is being run by the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre and Kahnawake's COVID-19 task force. It's only open to Kahnawake residents and members. Both Bush and her daughter Jenny Kjono said the process went smoothly. "I think it's great. She's setting an example and she's very positive about it. She's been very positive throughout this whole pandemic," said Kjono. Lisa Westaway, executive director of the hospital, said 102 elders and immunocompromised members were vaccinated Thursday, with 150 more scheduled to receive shots on Friday and Saturday. "It really hit me today when we were speaking with some of the elders of the fact that they haven't left their homes in a year," she said. "It's kind of anxiety-provoking to leave their homes and go into such a public place where there are going to be many people, so we also wanted to create an environment where, even though it's safe for everybody, we wanted to give them an opportunity to feel even safer." Residents in long-term care and at the Turtle Bay Elders Lodge received their shots earlier this year, as did the majority of health-care workers in the community. A hundred and two elders and immunocompromised community members received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 4 in Kahnawake, Que.(Submitted by Jenny Kjono) Kahnawake is expecting a shipment of around 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday and will resume vaccinating community members 70 years and older on Tuesday, followed by the rest of the community within the next three weeks. "This is the best I've felt in about a year," said Lloyd Phillips, commissioner of public safety at the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and member of the community's COVID-19 task force. "It's an exciting time and a major turning point in the community. This is what we need to get done, to vaccinate our entire community to start looking toward returning back to a normal life."