In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
TORONTO — Experts at a leading children's hospital say schools need to ramp up COVID-19 testing and masking in order to have all kids return to the classroom as soon as possible. The guidance comes a day after Ontario said it would permit just seven public health units in southern Ontario resume in-person learning Monday, while students in hot-spot regions will continue with online learning until at least Feb. 10. They join others in northern regions that returned to class last week, but areas including Toronto and Peel were deemed too-high risk to return to class. The new guidelines, led by experts at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, urge COVID-19 tests for all staff and students exposed to a confirmed case, while indoor masking be made mandatory for all those Grade 1 and up. The report's co-author Dr. Ronald Cohn says the current protocol is that testing is only required for those who display symptoms. He also stresses the social and mental-health needs of young children, recommending kindergartners be cohorted so they can play and interact with their peers. Cohn, president and CEO, SickKids, said schools closures should be "as time-limited as possible." "It is therefore imperative that bundled measures of infection prevention and control and a robust testing strategy are in place," he said Thursday in a release. The report also cautions against rapid tests using molecular or antigen tests because of their lower sensitivity and less effectiveness with asymptomatic cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) students will soon be returning to classroom based learning following their second round of virtual, remote classes. While the change to virtual learning for some students living within town hasn’t been a large issue, those who live in rural areas are facing problems due to poor internet connection. Shelley Madensky, a resident of Mulmur, has three daughters who are currently working on classes virtually and says that no matter what they each do with their “not great” internet connection, they’re consistently bumping each other out of work. “We’re finding that they’ll get their day started and everything is fine, but as they start doing more throughout the day on the internet, back and forth and sometimes on the phone for Google answers, they’re just kicking each other off,” said Madensky. Madensky’s daughter Saige, who is in Grade 11, says she’s had the Wi-Fi cut out while she’s doing school work, which results in her being signed out, it then becomes a struggle to get back online. To alleviate some of their problems, Madensky has switched her youngest daughter Jaycee, who is in Grade 7, to worksheets to allow for her two daughters in high school to be on the internet. “I find for the high school kids it’s more important to have the internet, they need to be on it more,” said Madensky. “Her teacher prepares all the sheet for me and every Thursday I go and pick up all her worksheets.” Heather Loney, Communication and Community Engagement Officer for UGDSB, told the Free Press in an email that the Upper Grand was aware of areas within the board that have poor internet connectivity, some more than others, including areas in Dufferin County. “Even in areas with good internet coverage, some families are struggling with the challenge of multiple people learning or working at home, drawing on the same resources (bandwidth, devices etc.),” said Loney. Similar to their response last spring the UGDSB has provided students and families with Chromebooks and other devices, internet support, as well as printed packages and asynchronous learning options. “Families with internet capacity issues have an option to increase their data plan or use their phone as hotspots and the board provided funding to offset the costs – families can contact their school principal for more information.” While students will be returning to in-class learning by Monday (Jan. 25) Madensky reflecting back on their experience with remote learning by saying they’re “making it through.” Online learning for all schools in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph has been extended until at least February 1st. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
Russia has ordered TikTok and other social networks to restrict online calls for nationwide protests in support of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.View on euronews
Within the East Kootenay and Kootenay-Boundary regions of southeastern B.C., there are 21 recognized harm reduction sites and a total of 95 Take Home Naloxone Kit sites. The Shuswap Indian Band’s (SIB) health unit received approval to become a safer sex and drug use supplies distribution centre as a designated harm reduction site through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) for the District of Invermere (DOI) in 2018. The SIB has continued to maintain the credentials to offer the program to Indigenous communities, as well as to provide support for individuals from all nations in the Columbia Valley community, for safer sex and drug use supplies through a regional partnership with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). The goal of the safer sex program is to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that can be transmitted to another person during sex or intimate contact through raising awareness with education and supplies. The harm reduction aspects of the program aims to raise awareness about safe usage of drug use supplies and addictions through a science-based approach in an effort to reduce the risk of opioid overdoses in the Kootenays as well as within the province. During the month of December 2020, the SIB reported a surge in requests for Take Home Naloxone Kits in the Columbia Valley with a total of 13 kits being distributed over the holidays as opposed to its usual requests from the community for about eight kits. “On average, we hand out six-to-eight kits per month,” said Danielle Armstrong, SIB health director. “In December, we saw a big increase. Around 13. It was a little bit higher because we had family members coming in from out of town.” As a result of the uptick, here are some resources about the supplies available and what you can expect to learn about the harm reduction site offered at SIB’s health unit. Take Home Naloxone Kits With the mixtures of fentanyl and benzodiazepines becoming increasingly common due to travel restrictions, the continued risks of opioid overdoses from toxic drug supplies have encompassed communities throughout the province. The SIB has joined forces with IHA and the FNHA to provide Take Home Naloxone Kits and training for life-saving training for anyone interested in recognizing the symptoms of an opioid overdose and responding to emergencies for those at-risk. “Naloxone is a medication that reduces an opioid overdose,” said Jennifer Driscoll, Interior Health Authority regional harm reduction coordinator located in the Kimberley Health Centre. “The drug supply is increasingly toxic, so just as an example today (Jan. 8, 2020), we just put out five or six drug overdose alerts because of drug checking services had picked up (mixtures of fentanyl and benzodiazepines), which means the risk of an overdose are much higher… we’re really pushing the message of staying with the person (for a buddy system).” The main goal of the Take Home Naloxone Kit program is to reduce opioid overdoses and to encourage behavioural changes in consumption of illicit substances. First Nations have the opportunity to access nasal response kits through the FNHA since 2018. However, the BCCDC Take Home Naloxone Kit program began in 2012 in an effort to mitigate the risks of a toxic drug supply fuelling an overdose epidemic in B.C. communities. Driscoll added that 145 kits were shipped to the Windermere health services area in 2020. Armstrong added that individuals with a status card could access free kits from any pharmacy, including at Pharmasave or Lambert-Kipp Pharmacy. In addition, the East Kootenay Addiction Services and the SIB provide nasal and needle kits at no-cost. The Aboriginal Response Working Group through IHA, which is composed of Indigenous stakeholders from across the region, have recently developed a label that’s fixed onto the kits with a statement to let people know that they’re not alone with a 1-800-number to get help for mental health and substance use resources. Needles kits come with three doses of naloxone as opposed to nasal kits which contain two doses. “The kits are great,” said Armstrong. “They’re set up just beautifully. There’s new gloves, new needles, there’s instructions in each kit and anybody can administer them. If you can read and follow the instructions, it’s good to go.” The SIB’s safer sex and harm reduction site is open between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. mountain time from Monday to Friday each week. Those interested in picking up supplies may visit the back door of the SIB health unit during operational hours and knock for supplies, or for the needle exchange collection service. “It’s also really important to know that all Interior Health centres accept used sharps,” said Driscoll. Armstrong added, “You can exchange old needles for new needles, or you can get it without the exchange too. We try to keep 40 (kits) on hand at any given time.” Fentanyl Test Strips It’s essential to check unregulated drug supplies for fentanyl to encourage users to make informed decisions. Armstrong stocks and distributes Fentanyl Test Strips from the SIB Health Centre, with Driscoll’s support for others within the Kootenay regions, while offering 1-1 private training about how to use the safety program effectively. “Even if it shows up as negative, it does not mean fentanyl is not present,” said Driscoll, noting that Fentanyl Test Strips will not give users information about quantity or quality in their test group. In fact, Driscoll explained some fentanyl analogs cannot be detected with test strips. “They will detect if fentanyl but they can’t detect all fentanyl analogs, so even if it tests negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have fentanyl in it,” clarified Driscoll. Armstrong added there had been at least three individuals who have returned to the SIB health centre with stories about positive Fentanyl Test Strips where users opted out of using their stashes and changing their behaviour in an effort to stay safe. “I’ve had three different people come back saying the strips have detected fentanyl in them and they chose not to use those drugs,” said Armstrong. “They were very grateful to have those strips and make an informed choice.” The duo encourages users to use the buddy system, to download the Lifeguard App on your phone and to test drive your substances gradually to minimize the risks of drug use. In order to find a harm reduction site in B.C. if you’re travelling, please visit Toward the Heart to search for centres closest to you at: towardtheheart.com/site-finder and be mindful of the hours of operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the safer sex program, please visit the Smart Sex Resource at: smartsexresource.com/ for details. In fact, Driscoll explained some fentanyl analogs cannot be detected with test strips. “They will detect if fentanyl but they can’t detect all fentanyl analogs, so even if it tests negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have fentanyl in it,” clarified Driscoll. Armstrong added there had been at least three individuals who have returned to the SIB health centre with stories about positive Fentanyl Test Strips where users opted out of using their stashes and changing their behaviour in an effort to stay safe. “I’ve had three different people come back saying the strips have detected fentanyl in them and they chose not to use those drugs,” said Armstrong. “They were very grateful to have those strips and make an informed choice.” The duo encourages users to use the buddy system, to download the Lifeguard App on your phone and to test drive your substances gradually to minimize the risks of drug use. In order to find a harm reduction site in B.C. if you’re travelling, please visit Toward the Heart to search for centres closest to you at: towardtheheart.com/site-finder and be mindful of the hours of operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about the safer sex program, please visit the Smart Sex Resource at: smartsexresource.com/ for details. Breanne Massey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer
TIRANA, Albania — Albania on Thursday expelled a Russian diplomat for allegedly not respecting the country’s virus lockdown rules. An Albanian foreign ministry statement declared Alexey Krivosheev “person non grata,” asking him to leave the country within 72 hours. The ministry said that since April last year there were continuous violations from the diplomat. It said Albanian authorities first contacted the ambassador but the diplomat still persisted in breaking pandemic restrictions. “A repeated challenging of the protective rules and steps on the pandemic, and disregarding of the concern of the Albanian state institutions related to that, cannot be justified and tolerated any more,” the statement said. The ministry did not provide details on the alleged violations, or give the post of the diplomat. Albania has set an overnight curfew, mandatory use of masks indoor and outdoors and social distancing. “We hope that such a decision ... at such a very challenging time for the globe, will be well understood from the Russian side as a necessary step to protect the health and security" of everyone in Albania, the ministry statement added. Albania resumed diplomatic ties with Moscow in 1991, 30 years after the country's then-communist regime severed previously close relations with Russia. The Associated Press
This column is an opinion from journalist and political commentator Jen Gerson. Dear Alberta Conservatives: Now that U.S. President Joe Biden has followed through on his promise to cancel the Keystone XL permit, I have to ask you all a simple question: How is this working? I'm not trying to be mean about it. I understand why this province elected the UCP with historic turnout in 2019. I get the appeal of that campaign, the lure of nostalgia that it evoked. It was a tempting fantasy, one in which Rachel Notley allied with Justin Trudeau, and Alberta's noble oil industry was beleaguered by a gaggle of environmentalists and socialists, who were conspiring to bring the province down. I also understand why so many bought into the claim that by electing a conservative government, we could just make all of these problems go away; that Alberta would return to the glory days of 2014, or 2005, or 1994. Or 1973. The 2019 campaign promised tax cuts that would bring the jobs back; fiscal discipline; fair deal panels that would put Ottawa in its place and highlight this province's growing, muscular sense of its own independence. A white knight returns Kenney promised to rescind the job-killing-carbon-tax. He promised to be a premier who would win the province glory, a white knight and returning prodigal son who would finally fight for Alberta. He promised "war rooms" and inquiries that would finally unearth Alberta's nefarious enemies. Somehow, this was all going to work wonders for pipeline capacity — which is why it made sense to invest $1.5 billion in taxpayer money in Keystone XL. Whoops. Almost two years into this mandate, I have to ask: How has it been going? Is this working? From the cheap seats, things don't look great. I've been trying to come up with one single solitary win since that election, and I can't find it. It looks to me like the UCP spun a fantasy in 2019 that it now can't make real. And, yeah, this province has been hard hit by COVID-19, but I thought I was being generous by putting that file to the side for a moment. WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reacts to Keystone decision: The jobs haven't come back. Alberta had a competitive corporate tax rate before the UCP was elected. It was always doubtful that cutting the rate even more was going to make a difference. Our public finances are in shambles. A tax hike is inevitable. Kenney did kill Notley's carbon tax — and then replaced it with another, less effective one. Meanwhile, this province's court challenge of the federal carbon tax is unlikely to hold up. Kenney's "war room" is an international joke led by a PC-party loyalist who didn't get elected in 2019. And that inquiry into foreign funding — dogged at the outset with reports that its commissioner, Steve Allan, awarded a sole-source $905,000 contract to the law firm in which his own son was a partner, because, of course — has already devolved into a series of delays and controversies. A clown show The latest, that the inquiry spent $100,000 to commission reports from several external groups, including a U.S. firm called Energy in Depth, which is affiliated with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and a paper from Calgary-based political scientist Barry Cooper, whose contribution was entitled: "Background Report on Changes in the Organization and Ideology of Philanthropic Foundations with a Focus on Environmental Issues as Reflected in Contemporary Social Science Research." Meanwhile, Greenpeace, which has already been publicly excoriated by the Allan inquiry as "a new breed of zealots less interested in saving Planet Earth than in destroying the capitalist system," has yet to be contacted to provide any evidence at all. (In fact, Greenpeace has already issued a legal warning to the inquiry.) It should be noted here that we've spent an estimated $3.5 million on this clown show. Put aside for a moment, dear Conservatives, the question of whether you think anything the inquiry is "investigating" is true. Instead, ask yourselves this question: whom is this inquiry going to convince? Is anyone under the impression that a report informed by Cooper and the climate change denial group Friends of Science is going to turn the tide for Alberta? What's the theory, here? Were we going to FedEx the Oval Office a final report that prompts Joe Biden into an epiphany on climate change? Or is it possible — just maybe — that doubling down on climate change skeptics and conspiracy theories paints a worse picture of Alberta and her priorities than anything the environmentalists themselves have concocted to date? How hard does Greenpeace really need to work to make Alberta look like a cartoonishly villainous backwater right now? In November, Premier Kenney starred in a podcast in which he criticized Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — Biden's campaign co-chair — over their attempts to decommission a segment of Enbridge's Line 5. Kenney noted that those fighting to cut off Alberta's oil and gas exports were "brain dead." Kenney also said: "We thought it was essential to send a message to the interest groups trying to block us, that resistance is futile, that Alberta is determined to take control of our own destiny." Again, I ask: How is this working? Delusions of self-importance For the record, I think Alberta has been treated unfairly and hypocritically; we clearly have been the target of international and national campaigns to obstruct oilsands development. That's not in dispute. Ironically, many of those campaigns began to abate in 2015 when Notley introduced an aggressive carbon tax policy that demonstrated Alberta was taking climate change seriously. And these anti-oilsands actors aren't the cause of all of our problems. The price of oil is down everywhere, and we're now producing a commodity that is extracted in abundance within the United States thanks to the fracking boom. Further, global concern about climate change means more banks and major companies are disinvesting in a jurisdiction that goes full ride-or-die on coal and petroleum extraction. Something needs saying here, and there's no way to say it kindly. Boom times and wealth have conditioned Albertans to believe that we matter a lot more than we do. Money gave this province delusions of self-importance that is reflected in a premier whose bombastic bar-brawl banter is increasingly revealed as short-man bluster. We're the guy who gets drunk and picks a fight but can't actually land a punch. I don't mean to be too mordant about all of this. I love Alberta, and I still think we have a lot going for us. We're good people, we work hard, and we pull together in a crisis. But we're a landlocked jurisdiction of four million on the high plain that happens to enjoy large oil and gas reserves that are costly and emissions-intensive to produce. By population, that puts us somewhere between Oklahoma and Oregon, and all the less important to a United States that is effectively energy independent. In other words: we don't matter to these people. We don't matter to Joe Biden, who would happily torch our entire provincial economy if it bought him two weeks of peace from his own restive left flank. And what's Canada going to do about it, exactly? Issue a letter of protest? Proclaim tariffs and boycotts that will hurt us more than it will hurt the U.S.? Oh wait, Kenney implied that we should do exactly that on Wednesday, or Alberta would "go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation." On and on it goes. This is the same obstinate attitude that led to the cringey display Kenney offered us in a press conference earlier this week. It included an appeal — just short of a demand — to Justin Trudeau to advocate more fiercely on behalf of the Keystone XL. By the feds' own account, Trudeau has attempted to make the case for Keystone XL, and even brought it up in his first phone call with Biden, to the prime minister's credit. But let's reflect on the idea that Trudeau has any special motivation to help Kenney out, here — Kenney, the man who has spent the last three years winning Alberta's heart by drawing blood from Trudeau's. Hey, maybe Kenney could reach out to some international oil and gas players. The very ones led by the CEOs he denounced for supporting the carbon tax in 2019. Get the head of Royal Dutch Shell on the line. I'm sure he's waiting for Alberta's call. Limitless self-aggrandizement The thing that continually baffles me about the UCP is its combination of limitless self-aggrandizement coupled with its incredible parochialism. You see this in who the government selects to head its pet projects. You see it in the habit of tripling down on ideologically derived solutions to complicated problems. You see it in the lack of original thinking; hell, their platform was practically cribbed from the Reform Party. Even the fair deal panel is just a rehash of ideas that were largely rejected as cost-ineffective in 2003. This party acts like it's run by a bunch of jocks in a secret fraternity at a second-rate school who suddenly realize that nobody who matters knows their names. They're kings of the small campus. Oil means nothing if nobody buys it. The only lever we have — the only real lever we've ever had — is vested in the relationships we maintain with the nations, provinces, interests and people around us. And, yes, that includes relationships with people who disagree with us: Ottawa, environmentalists and NGOs. So, hey, all you Free Alberta types, here's some good news for you: Kenney is teaching us all what it really means to stand alone. How is it working? This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please readour FAQ.
Commentators across the political spectrum spread anti-Islamic rhetoric, insisting that Islam is intrinsically violent and that Muslims are terrorists. But studies show these claims are unfounded.
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19, an employee of a Marine Atlantic vessel flagged by officials this week as a possible risk for spreading the virus to crew members and passengers. The MV Blue Puttees, which operates between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L., was temporarily pulled out of service for contact tracing Wednesday, after a crew member tested positive for COVID-19. The new case, the second Marine Atlantic employee this week to contract the virus, is a man in his 60s in the Central Health region. The Department of Health says the man is isolating and contract tracing is underway. The department also says it's sharing contact tracing information with authorities in Nova Scotia and advising Marine Atlantic. Health officials would not provide details on the new case, instead deferring to the ferry operator. A spokesperson for Marine Atlantic told CBC the man was part of the same shift as the previously infected employee. Marine Atlantic is adding a boat to the route, with the MV Atlantic Vision entering the schedule departing North Sydney early Thursday evening. The spokesperson said the Blue Puttees is still sidelined. "We will continue to monitor this situation and make any additional operational adjustments as required," the spokesperson said in a statement. Officials are asking passengers who travelled on the Blue Puttees to or from North Sydney or Port aux Basques between Dec. 29 and Jan. 16 to arrange COVID-19 testing. With no new recoveries since Wednesday's update, the province has six active cases, with one person in hospital. In all, 384 people have recovered from the virus, and 77,273 people have been tested. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Bernie Sanders won't be the only one needing warm mittens this week. British Columbians are in for the coldest stretch of the year as a winter high pressure zone settles into place across the province. In Metro Vancouver that means clearing skies and sub-zero temperatures beginning Thursday night. Friday is forecast to be clear with a wind chill of –6 C, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, with daytime temperatures rising to 4 C. Friday night into Saturday is set to be the coldest night this season at –3 C to –5 C. Saturday stays sunny until a low-pressure system brings in a wintry mix overnight into Sunday, including a couple of centimetres of snow. The snow will change into rain on Sunday — but the long-range forecast shows a chance of more snow falling next week. Vancouver opening warming sites As part of Vancouver's extreme weather response, the city is opening more shelter space starting Thursday to provide people with a safe place during cold winter months. Directions Youth Services Centre at 1138 Burrard St. can provide overnight accommodation for a small number of youth who are up to 24 years old. Shelter spaces for adults will be available at: Evelyn Saller Centre, 320 Alexander St. Tenth Church, 11 West 10th Ave. Langara YMCA, 282 West 49th Ave Powell Street Getaway, 528 Powell St. More shelter spaces are being added on Saturday at: Vancouver Aquatic Centre, 1050 Beach Ave. Creekside Community Centre, 1 Athletes Way. The city says measures are in place at shelters and warming centres to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
American midfielder Mix Diskerud has signed a 1 1/2-year contract with Denizlispor of Turkey's first division. Now 30, Diskerud was with Major League Soccer's New York City in 2015 and 2016, spent the spring of 2017 on loan to Sweden's Goteborg, then signed with Manchester City in January 2018 but never got into a match. He was loaned back to Goteborg for the spring of 2018, to South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai for the 2018-19 season and to Sweden's Helsingborg last June. Born in Oslo to a Norwegian father and American mother, Diskerud has six goals in 38 appearances for the U.S. and was on the 2014 World Cup roster, though he did not get into a game. Denizlispor announced his acquisition Wednesday. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has confidence in FBI Director Chris Wray and plans to keep him in the job, the White House press secretary said Thursday. FBI directors are given 10-year terms, meaning leadership of the bureau is generally unaffected by changes in presidential administrations. But Biden's spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, was notably noncommittal when asked at her first briefing Wednesday whether Biden had confidence in Wray. "I have not spoken with him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days," Psaki said. On Thursday, she cleared up any confusion, tweeting: “I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing.” Wray is keeping his position even as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny for their preparations before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The Justice Department inspector general and other watchdog offices are now investigating. Wray was appointed in 2017 by President Donald Trump following Trump's firing of James Comey. Wray later became a frequent target of Trump's attacks, including by publicly breaking with the president on issues such as antifa, voter fraud and Russian election interference. The criticism led to speculation that Trump might fire Wray after the election. The Associated Press
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s (WDGPH) roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine will be seeing impacts with pause in production lines at Pfizer’s facility. WDGPH announced on Monday (Jan. 18) that they would be making changes to their vaccine program in response to the recent announcement from Pfizer that some production lines at their facility in Belgium are working to increase their overall capacity. Public Health, in a press release, said that the pausing in production will be felt in Ontario and affect deliveries to Guelph for a short period. WDG Public Health will be continuing to move forward with the vaccine supply that they have on hand, but will be making changes to the vaccination clinic; with rescheduling of appointments unavoidable. Those who will be affected by the pause will be contacted directly. Residents, staff, and essential caregivers in long term care and retirement homes will continue to be prioritized for vaccinations. Individuals who have already received the vaccine will be able to get their second does, although for some it will be delayed. Public Health said that the delay in the second dose will not affect individuals developing immunity to the second dose. “Everyone wants to see vaccines arrive as quickly as possible to the region,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin- Guelph Public Health. “This delay is only temporary and will allow the manufacturer the ability to provide increased vaccine to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in the coming weeks. As an agency, our commitment remains, vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible according to the provincial schedule.” For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine visit www.wdgpublichealth.ca/vaccine. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
A teacher at Roncalli Central High School in Avondale has been arrested for sexual offences against a former student. Noel Strapp, 38, of Harbour Main, has been suspended from his job since the start of the investigation, RCMP said in a release Thursday. He's charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation for a number of incidents alleged to have happened between 2014 and 2016., according to the release. Holyrood RCMP were contacted on Nov. 25, 2019, by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which received the original report. Last January, RCMP confirmed they were conducting an investigation into a teacher at the Avondale school, but did not provide any further details. Strapp was released from custody Thursday on a number of conditions and is scheduled to appear in provincial court on March 2. Two teachers in nearby schools have been criminally charged in the past two years. Robin McGrath, principal of Admiral's Academy in Conception Bay South, was charged in March 2019 with four counts of assault on young students with disabilities between kindergarten and Grade 6. Substitute teacher Krysta Grimes was charged with sexual exploitation in August 2019 for an alleged interaction with a student in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Avec les confinements, nous pouvons nous attendre à une augmentation de notre facture énergétique d’environ 30 %.
When Tao Hipwell drove through Delta’s main thoroughfare, she felt the village’s strong energy, and yet, she knew it was one of those villages “that got lost to big-box stores.” She is seeking to change that by opening a wellness studio, purchasing and renovating the historic Jubilee Block building, with its 14-foot ceilings, large bay windows and hardwood floors. “It was becoming more derelict, so we decided to go ahead and purchase it in March 2019. We have an old farmhouse, so we know some things about renovations and restorations. My husband is a stonemason, but we’ve never tackled a big project. It was a steep learning curve, but it was fun, too,” Hipwell said. Hipwell is a doula, practices yoga and has taken wellness courses. Her mother is a massage therapist, with acupressure and reflexology training. “I come from a background of exposure to the benefits of those practices,” she said. When her family moved from Ottawa to Delta five years ago, Hipwell found it hard to find wellness studios in the area. She decided to open the studio “hoping to bring a more alternative, holistic understanding of health — physical, mental and spiritual to our small town. “Having a storefront and a place to actualize our vision of wellness is what we’re trying to do and embody here,” Hipwell said. As for the village’s reaction to a yoga studio, Hipwell said the response has been great. “It’s all been very positive. I was teaching yoga at the town hall, and I was getting 10 to 12 people per class three times a week. People are eager to get in touch with their health, (and) need to connect with their bodies,” she said. Fern and Fox Wellness studio was slated to open in December 2020, but had to postpone due to the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. “We’ve completed the commercial aspect. We are hoping to open (once restrictions are lifted),” she said. The studio will carry local, ethically sourced, handcrafted natural products for the home and body, according to the website. Yoga classes will be offered for seniors, kids, teens and men at $15 per adult, as well as reiki, hot stone, reflexology and readings (tea, tarot, palm and chakra). The Jubilee Block has five storefronts, and Hipwell owns the first two units, as well as the three residential apartment units on the second floor. The apartments have been gutted to its “bare bones,” according to Hipwell, and the second commercial unit, with a bakery, will open soon. On the practice of yoga, Hipwell has this to say: “Generating peace in itself gives you a broader understanding that we’re part of a much wider web. Yoga helps you understand that.” For more information, call 613-292-1564 or visit www.fernandfoxwellness.com. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
À l'instar d'autres bibliothèques du Québec, du Canada, et d'ailleurs dans le monde, les quelque 150 000 documents de la bibliothèque de Boucherville bénéficieront de la mise en place de la technologie RFID en 2022 grâce à un investissement de 350,000 $ prévu au programme triennal d’immobilisation de la Ville de Boucherville, ce qui inclus les couts d’installation de nouvelles infrastructures technologiques permettant le prêt et le retour des documents. L'introduction de cette technologie vise à assurer la simplicité d'utilisation, par les usagers, des nouveaux services autonomes : elle permettra aussi une gestion plus efficace des activités liées à leur circulation. La bibliothèque Montarville-Boucher-De-La Bruère compte 15,000 abonnés et un peu plus de 150,000 documents, que ce soit des livres ou des documents audiovisuels tels que de la musique, des films, des jeux vidéo et des livre audio. En 2019, 425,000 prêts de documents papier ont été faits et 15,000 prêts de documents numériques. Bien que les données n’aient pas encore été tous comptabilisés, on s’attend à ce que l’année 2020 enregistre une forte hausse de prêts de livres numériques mais une baisse des prêts de livre papier en raison de la fermeture de la bibliothèque durant plusieurs mois en raison de la pandémie. L’acronyme anglais RFID est couramment utilisé pour désigner la technologie d’identification par radio fréquence (Radio Frequency Identification). Cette technologie assure l’échange d’informations par le biais des ondes radio, entre un objet muni d’une ou de plusieurs puces électroniques et un système informatique, en utilisant un lecteur dédié. On retrouve la technologie RFID dans plusieurs domaines de la vie courante. Elle est notamment utilisée pour le commerce de détail, les cartes prépayées, le contrôle d’accès aux édifices ou aux services, le transport en commun, et la géolocalisation. En bibliothèque, les puces électroniques sont associées à chaque document par le biais d’étiquettes RFID. Aussi, des lecteurs RFID sont intégrés à certains postes du personnel, aux appareils de prêt et de retour libre-service de même qu’aux portiques de sécurité. Ces lecteurs RFID sont munis d’antennes qui, en émettant des ondes radio, communiquent avec les étiquettes qui se trouvent dans leur portée de détection. Les principaux avantages de cette technologie sont la simplicité et la rapidité d’exécution des tâches. Puisqu’il suffit de placer la puce électronique dans la portée du lecteur RFID, des manipulations peu précises sont requises pour enregistrer une transaction. Aussi, le délai de communication est rapide. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
À l’issue du caucus du Bloc québécois en prélude à la rentrée parlementaire, les élus bloquistes entendent se pencher prioritairement sur la gestion de la pandémie, le soutien aux aînés, la hausse des transferts en santé et la promotion de la langue française. La lutte contre la pandémie de COVID-19 et «l’identité québécoise» seront au cœur de l’action des bloquistes à la Chambre des communes alors que les livraisons des doses de vaccin de Pfizer seront interrompues au Québec la semaine prochaine. «Nous allons talonner Justin Trudeau pour qu’il assume sa responsabilité d’approvisionner le Québec en vaccins. Il devra enfin assumer sa responsabilité de gérer les frontières et les quarantaines», a prévenu le chef du Bloc, Yves-François Blanchet, selon un communiqué du bureau d’Andréanne Larouche, députée de Shefford. Ottawa vient de prolonger les restrictions sur les voyages internationaux vers le Canada en provenance de pays autres que les États-Unis jusqu’au 21 février, mais ces mesures demeurent insuffisantes aux yeux du Bloc. Le Québec demande la suspension des vols internationaux et le renforcement du contrôle des quarantaines des voyageurs. Le premier ministre, Justin Trudeau, menace d’imposer de nouvelles mesures «sans préavis» si les Canadiens continuent de voyager sans raison essentielle. Les aînés et votes à distance Le Bloc plaide également pour une hausse durable de 110 $ par mois de la pension de la Sécurité de la vieillesse. «Avec le coût des médicaments et la hausse des prix, notamment de la nourriture et des loyers, plus que jamais, les aînés ont besoin d’une bonification de leur situation financière», a expliqué la députée Andréanne Larouche, porte-parole du Bloc pour les aînés et la condition féminine. Les bloquistes n’oublient pas la question de l’augmentation des transferts en santé alors que le gouvernement fédéral pourrait déposer au printemps son premier budget en deux ans. Toutes ces priorités du Bloc doivent avoir l’approbation de la Chambre dans un contexte où le parlement hybride pourrait être reconduit. Le parti souhaite que le gouvernement obtienne l’unanimité avant de lancer une application sur le vote à distance. «Les libéraux ne peuvent pas changer par simple majorité une règle du jeu aussi fondamentale que la manière dont se tiennent les votes. Ils doivent obtenir l’unanimité. Je leur demande d’enfin faire de véritables efforts pour rallier toute l’opposition en prouvant l’efficacité de l’application et en mettant de côté toute partisanerie préélectorale au profit du bon fonctionnement de la démocratie», a plaidé la députée Andréanne Larouche. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Les audiences publiques sur le premier projet de Plan stratégique de développement du transport collectif de la région métropolitaine (PSD) ont débuté le 13 janvier dernier. Cette démarche est sous la responsabilité de l’Autorité régionale des transports de Montréal. Sept séances étaient au menu soit les 13, 14, 20, 21 et une dernière le 26 janvier pour entendre les opinions des organismes et citoyens sur la planification du transport collectif d’ici 2035. Dans le cadre de ce processus de consultation publique lancé le 27 octobre dernier, des centaines de personnes ont participé à l’exercice en ligne et, suivant l’appel de mémoire, l’ARTM a reçu 91 contributions écrites, dont 57 mémoires. « À la suite de la participation de plus de 1 200 citoyens et organismes au processus d’élaboration du projet, nous sommes heureux de constater la richesse et la diversité de l’implication publique à la consultation en cours. Ce plan sera véritablement celui de toute la région métropolitaine », a déclaré Benoît Gendron, directeur général de l’ARTM Quarante-cinq organismes et citoyens vont présenter leur mémoire devant le comité de la consultation formé de Mme Chantal Deschamps, mairesse de Repentigny, qui présidera l’exercice, ainsi que de M. Pierre Shedleur et Mme Diane Marleau, respectivement président et vice-présidente du conseil d’administration de l’ARTM. Nous vous invitons à prendre connaissance des audiences sur YouTube. L’ARTM est accompagnée dans ce processus par l’Institut du Nouveau Monde, qui anime les rencontres et rédigera le rapport final. L’ARTM a pour objectif de présenter au conseil d’administration le PSD bonifié au printemps 2021.François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Après avoir vécu quatre années tumultueuses sous Donald Trump, les États-Unis ont maintenant un président qui s’engage à plaider pour l’unité et la guérison.