Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has joined the ranks of governors receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on live television in hopes of assuring the public that the inoculations are safe. (Dec. 22)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has joined the ranks of governors receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on live television in hopes of assuring the public that the inoculations are safe. (Dec. 22)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
La ville de Grande-Rivière et de nombreux acteurs de l’industrie de la pêche dénoncent l’inaction de Québec et d’Ottawa vis-à-vis un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement du port municipal. Amorcées à l’automne 2018, les démarches sont dans une impasse, ministères et gouvernements se renvoyant la balle, au désarroi des élus et des pêcheurs. «On ne demande pas la charité, on veut de l’équité», lance d’emblée le maire de Grande-Rivière, Gino Cyr. Depuis deux ans, son administration multiplie les démarches afin de faire approuver un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement de la municipalité, sans succès. D’un ministère à l’autre, «on se renvoie la balle», dénonce-t-il. Avec les années, les espaces disponibles dans les parcs de la péninsule gaspésienne se font de plus en plus rares. «Les bateaux sont toujours plus gros et les grands parcs de la région sont presque pleins. Le besoin est criant», explique le homardier et vice-président de l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière, Vincent Gallagher-Duguay. Aussi, un nombre grandissant de crabiers des provinces atlantiques viennent entreposer leurs bateaux dans les parcs gaspésiens. Les glaces se libérant plus rapidement du côté québécois, la pêche pourraiy débuter plus tôt. Ces embarcations, souvent plus grosses, ont priorité sur les petits homardiers, qui doivent se trouver d’autres endroits pour passer l’hiver. De nombreux acteurs locaux, allant des associations de pêcheurs jusqu’aux transformateurs, souhaitent donc voir apparaître de nouvelles places pour entreposer les homardiers, comme le demande la Ville de Grande-Rivière. Cette dernière a proposé aux différents ministères un projet qui ferait passer son parc d’hibernation à 48 places pour les petits bateaux. En plus d’ajouter des espaces d’entreposage, l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière souhaite installer une grue-portique ainsi qu’une rampe adaptée sur le site, rendant la mise à l’eau et l’hivernation des embarcations beaucoup plus sécuritaires. «En ce moment, on utilise une remorque archaïque, mal adaptée et dangereuse. En 2017, on a échappé un homardier avec cette remorque artisanale. Qui va prendre la responsabilité si un accident survient?», se demande le maire. La communauté met la main à la poche Le coût du projet, estimé à un peu plus de deux millions $, serait en partie assumé par la communauté, qui a déjà récolté 200 000$ en ce sens. Au moyen d’une contribution de leur part, les pêcheurs financeraient 300 000$ supplémentaires si le projet devait voir le jour. La municipalité souhaite que les gouvernements se partagent le reste de la facture, mais elle se bute à des barrières administratives. «Il n’y a pas de flexibilité dans les programmes. Après trois ans de démarches, le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) nous a ramenés à la case départ en faisant valoir la non-admissibilité du projet aux programmes et en renvoyant la responsabilité de ce dossier au MAPAQ qui n’a pas de programme pour soutenir ce genre de projets», dénonce le maire de la municipalité, dont l’économie est étroitement liée à la pêche. M. Cyr dénonce aussi la rigidité du Fonds des pêches du Québec. «La majeure partie des budgets sont toujours disponibles. Encore un exemple éloquent que ce dernier répond très peu aux besoins de l’industrie! Des changements de fond sont nécessaires rapidement». Des précédents sur la Côte-Nord et aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine Les acteurs locaux s’indignent surtout de la différence de traitement qu’a reçu leur projet si on le compare à d’autres installations similaires récemment financées à 100% par les gouvernements. Au cours des dernières années, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine et la Côte-Nord ont toutes deux vu des agrandissements dans leurs parcs d’hivernement, entièrement financés par les gouvernements via des décrets et des enveloppes dédiées. «Nous connaissons le traitement qu’ont reçu les projets des Îles et de la Côte-Nord : Nous sommes aussi des pêcheurs du Québec», conclut le vice-président de l’Administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière. MM. Cyr et Gallagher-Duguay souhaitent obtenir une rencontre avec le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêches et de l’Alimentation du Québec, André Lamontagne, dans le but que celui-ci signe un décret pour financer le projet. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Yukon's first community vaccination clinic for COVID-19 wraps up Tuesday in Watson Lake, and local officials say it's been well-received. "As a community, we're just very thankful, and we really appreciate being put at the front of the line," said Mayor Chris Irvin, who was the second person to get the Moderna shot on Monday. Irvin said he experienced no side effects, and that he felt "great." "I almost felt like it was a bit euphoric, honestly, just because it's kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel is long and dark, we don't know where the end of it is, but there is a light." Two mobile vaccination teams will spend the coming weeks travelling across the territory to provide the Moderna vaccine. They bring everything they need with them — including tables, metal folding chairs and even their own sink. Stephen Charlie, chief of the Liard First Nation in Watson Lake, was first in line for a shot on Monday. He says the First Nation has been urging citizens to get the shot. "Well, I think some individuals are really excited about it, the opportunity to combat the virus," he said. "We've been going door to door. We've been having the resources available to our health team from Liard First Nation getting the word out and offering rides to the individuals that would like to go to the to the clinic." Under Yukon's vaccine strategy, priority is given to people living in long term care homes and shelters, health care workers, people over the age of 70 and residents of remote or rural communities, including First Nations citizens. The territory is expecting enough doses to vaccinate about 75 per cent of the adult population in the territory, between now and March. After Watson Lake, mobile vaccine clinics will be set up this week in Old Crow and Beaver Creek. Appointments can be booked on the government's website. 'A lot of apprehension' Charlie says hundreds of people registered ahead of time for the Watson Lake clinic. But he says some in his community are still reluctant to get the shot. "There's a lot of apprehension out there. There's a lot of misinformation. There's a lot of stuff online," he said. Doris Bill, chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in Whitehorse, agrees. This week, she posted a video online, urging citizens to get informed about the vaccine. "I see it online all the time. And I see people talking about the vaccine and the information that they have is just not accurate," she said. She says there is still some "unease" about how new the vaccine is, and that some people have suggested those at the front of the line are like "guinea pigs." "You try and assure people that things are going to be OK and that, you know, we're doing this to protect our community," Bill said. "You know, if you're not going to take the vaccine, at least know why you're not going to take it. And at least know the information that's out there."
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
LOS ANGELES — Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame pitcher who was a stalwart of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation spanning an era from Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela, died Tuesday. He was 75. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, said Sutton died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, after a long struggle with cancer. The Atlanta Braves, for whom Sutton was a long-time broadcaster, said he died in his sleep. A four-time All-Star, Sutton had a career record of 324-256 and an ERA of 3.26 while pitching for the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, California Angels and the Dodgers again in 1988, his final season. Sutton’s passing comes on the heels of seven Hall of Famers dying in 2020, the most sitting members of Cooperstown to pass away in a calendar year. They were Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro and Tom Seaver. ___ AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Beth Harris, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia joined other provinces Tuesday in having to rapidly recast its plans to provide Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month and next. Provincial officials initially provided an estimate that it would have 13,500 fewer doses than expected over the next six weeks. However, by mid-afternoon, chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said that with Ottawa's announcement that Pfizer was shipping no vaccine next week, plans were underway to cope with a "substantive reduction in the weeks ahead." The province had forecast, as of midday on Tuesday, that due to the slowdown it would receive only 16,575 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer's Belgium plant by the end of the month and 28,275 in February. An official later confirmed Nova Scotia would no longer be receiving the 975 doses of vaccine it had expected next week. The federal government has said it's expected that the shipments will ramp back up after the company has made changes to its production facility in Belgium. Nova Scotia public health officials say it is among the best positioned jurisdictions in the country to cope with the vaccine delays due to its low case counts of the illness. As of Tuesday morning, the province has just 22 active cases, with four new cases of COVID-19 detected on Monday. Asked about the Pfizer announcement's impact, Strang said the news was still fresh. "We'll be able to talk in more detail in the next few days about what our vaccine supply will mean for the next few weeks," he said. However, Premier Stephen McNeil said the closure of a production line to allow for the increased production rate in the near future is "short-term pain for what we believe will be long-term gain." "The lack of shipment will be made up in the following month and the next six months for sure." The premier said the province will meanwhile focus on setting up vaccination sites in every region of the province. "When Pfizer starts ramping up, or a new vaccine gets permitted by Health Canada, we (will) have a system that allows us to ramp up vaccinations very quickly across our province," he said. The province had hoped to provide 78,750 vaccinations in March and then have a mass rollout of 333,333 doses in April at clinics in pharmacies and doctors offices. Over the next month, the first wave of shots will go to health workers and long-term care staff and residents, along with a pilot project for African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities. Special care homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities will also have vaccinations for staff and residents. The second phase, happening over the next 60 days, will include a pilot project for community clinics for residents over 80 years old in Halifax and Truro, more vaccinations of health workers and special care facilities and a pilot project for delivering vaccines at pharmacies. The 90-day plan is to have mass immunization clinics established in all communities with cold storage locations. As of Monday evening, about 2,200 Nova Scotians had received both vaccine doses, and 8,520 total doses had been administered from the province's supply of 23,000 doses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
A new OPP detachment has opened its doors in Moosonee. The $20-million facility has 11 holding cells, closed-circuit television technology (CCTV), a modern infrastructure design to meet technological requirements and other security features, according to a Ministry of the Solicitor General news release Located at 16 Butcher Rd., the approximately 18,000-square-foot facility is a satellite station that is a part of the OPP James Bay Detachment. "This modern, new workspace allows our Moosonee detachment members to enhance their policing services and support to many vast, remote communities and First Nations territories that present significant land and air accessibility challenges," OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in the news release. "This important modernization project demonstrates the commitment we share with our government to preserve public safety and uphold the law." The new building is accessible and was designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Standard, which recognizes buildings with reduced environmental impacts, according to the government announcement. It was built as part of the $182-million OPP Modernization - Phase 2 project. Announced in 2018, the modernization project replaced nine aging OPP facilities across the province. All nine detachments were built by Bird Capital OMP Project Co Inc. The initiative was delivered by Infrastructure Ontario through its public-private partnership (P3) model. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
Pembroke – With only 10 new COVID-19 cases in the last week in the region, Renfrew County and District Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman is encouraging residents to continue to be vigilant as they await the vaccine roll-out. “We are through the middle of January and we are seeing a turn-around,” he said on Monday afternoon. “Keep it up. Let’s bring on the vaccines and get through this.” After weeks of rapidly increasing numbers, the last week has seen the new cases trickle down to one or two a day. Currently there is one person in hospital with COVID from the district. He said they are in an Ottawa hospital and had significant co-morbidity issues. While outbreaks have all but been eliminated with one outbreak remaining at a long-term-care home, he cautioned this can “turn on a dime” and people need to continue to be cautious. Fortunately, area residents can enjoy being outdoors, he said. “We need to keep doing this,” he said. “Renfrew County is not a densely populated urban centre. Get out and get some fresh air. Stick to members of your household.” With December being the worst month for COVID cases, January seems to be improving slightly. He pointed out with seven people in isolation and no new cases on Tuesday, things were looking up. “We are seeing the fruit of the hard work everyone is doing since the Boxing Day lockdown,” he said. This contrasts with December and even the first 10 days in January where the numbers were increasing. The district, which includes not only Renfrew County but Nipissing and South Algonquin, has seen a total of 296 cases of COVID since the pandemic began in March. There has been one death early on. Numbers had begun to spike in November and December but are levelling off now significantly with only seven people currently in self-isolation with a diagnosed case of COVID. “We are seeing the drop off because of the lockdown and co-operation,” he said. With the numbers that low in the county the province might be looking at these numbers and pursuing a more regional approach again, he noted. “I don’t want to speak for Mr. Ford (Ontario Premier Doug Ford),” he said. “Maybe in another week or so we can re-assess, and certain jurisdictions can open up.” If the colour-coding system were in place, Renfrew County would be considered green right now, he said. One of the issues with the zones was people travelling from the grey (lockdown) zones to red, orange, yellow and green zones, he clarified. “And I do understand there is a lot of spillage when people find the rural areas and green zones,” he said. While many families are awaiting a provincial announcement on Wednesday about school re-opening, Dr. Cushman said this will be a provincial and school board decision. One concern by many is the impact on mental health the lockdown is having. It is not only affecting seniors isolated in long-term-care homes but children not able to go to schools and people in abusive relationships, including many others. “It is terrible,” he said of the mental health impact. “The collateral damage is almost on par. You can’t deal with one without the other.” Vaccine Roll-Out Stating he understands the desire to see businesses re-open and people able to congregate again, Dr. Cushman said it is important to wait on the vaccine roll-out and plans are in place to vaccinate the most vulnerable in early February in the county. “The latest is we think we do the long-term care homes the first of February,” he said. “We are very committed to that. “We have been advised that we can expect to receive Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines in early February, but there has been no confirmation of the number of doses,” he noted. However, a clear plan is in place on how the vaccines will be administered. “We’ve seen examples of spoilage in other centres,” he said. “That will not happen here.” Each long-term care home has a plan in place to vaccinate residents and staff, he said. “We are ready to go,” he said. “We are working with each home and they have a plan.” In this first phase, the province has announced the vaccine will be rolled out to health care workers, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of chronic home health care. Phase 2 is expected to begin in late winter and will expand to include additional congregate care settings and adults over 70. Phase three will expand the roll-out. Dr. Cushman said he remains concerned about travel as a risk factor for people in the area, noting cases have come in from travel to other regions, including Ottawa. As well, people should not let their guard down in the workplace or at home. “Don’t congregate in the work setting,” he stressed. As far as being outdoors, people don’t have to wear a mask if they are alone but should take one along in case it is impossible to keep physically distant, he said. While very few fines have been issued in the district, the health unit did go public on a few fines late last year. With the new State of Emergency order brought in by the province last Thursday, Dr. Cushman explained now by-law officers and police can also issue fines. “It means we have more means of enforcement,” he said. The health unit has received calls about some people breaking the Stay-At-Home order and lockdown order, he said. “We did have some chatter in one small neighbourhood,” he said. “We investigated and it was more chatter than reality.” In the meantime, he reminded area residents standard COVID-19 precautions go a long way and are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Area residents are reminded to: get the flu shot; stay home if sick; avoid contact with people who are ill; practice physical distancing (two metres); wear a mask/face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained; wash their hands, and use the COVID Alert App. COVID testing continues in the county with 51,243 tests completed. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
The TPD Boutique has reopened on Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) land making it the third cannabis shop within one square kilometre near the Canco Gas Station on Highway 97 just outside of Oliver. Owner of TPD, Christopher Dawe, said his shop was closed last year to get in line with requirements from the OIB. “(The OIB) had some prerequisites and safety concerns that they wanted me to satiate before I opened. So, what essentially happened was, I built the place last year, and then I was under the impression that we were allowed to open and then I realized that we had just a couple of hoops to jump through. And then with the COVID and everything, it was just a more lengthy process,” Dawe said. Those hoops included getting in line with federal legislation on lab testing and packaging, Dawe said. Dawe reopened his shop recently with OIB elders in attendance for the ribbon cutting. The OIB adopted the Osoyoos Indian Band Cannabis Bylaw, with two Indigenous Bloom stores opening on OIB land last year. TPD Boutique is the first shop to open under the OIB’s regulatory framework since. The OIB was very particular about safety of the product as well as the packaging and being in line with federal legislation, Dawe said. “Through the OIB program, we just have a little more leniency as to where we can acquire our products from. So, through the government program, you can only acquire your products from a government LP, which is a legal provider. Through the Indigenous cannabis bylaw act, I'm able to acquire my products through any of the previously legislated cannabis enrolment programs.” This means Dawe is able to work with local growers who he says have been producing cannabis in the Okanagan and Similkameen for some time for medicinal use before recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018. One of three cannabis shops in the small area, with an Indigenous Bloom location close by, and Nimbus Cannabis across the highway, Dawe does not feel there are too many cannabis shops concentrated in one area. “I feel as though we should have as many shops as the market allows for and ultimately the market will determine the right amount of shops. I think that's how the free market works for the most part,” Dawe said. Mike Lane, senior vice president of regulatory compliance for Indigenous Bloom, previously told the Times-Chronicle the Indigenous Bloom stores are not federally regulated, but their product mimics and/or exceeds federal and provincial standards. “Every single product, whether it’s a strain of dried flower, an edible, a concentrate, a rub, etc., is tested by an independent third-party laboratory licensed by Health Canada for analytical testing under the Federal Cannabis Regulations,” Lane said in early 2020. As of yet, there has not been a negotiation between the Government of Canada and First Nations for tax collection or sharing. “Until that’s done, we can’t charge taxes,” Lane previously told the Times-Chronicle. Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
A Saskatchewan First Nation near North Battleford will receive about $127 million to settle a land claim that dates back to 1905. The Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man First Nation lost over 5,800 hectares of reserve land in the Battlefords area in 1905. In a claim filed with the Specific Claims Tribunal in 2014, the band alleged the federal government illegally took and sold the land. The government denied the claim in 2014. But in a joint statement regarding validity and compensation filed with the tribunal on Dec. 21, 2017, the federal government agreed the loss of land was "invalid." The compensation hearing looked at the agricultural production in the lost land to determine the loss of its use and benefits since 1905. The tribunal determined the current market value of the land at $15.5 million, effective Sept. 21, 2017. The tribunal assessed the value of its loss through Dec. 31, 2019, at $111,433,972. The combined amount is $126,933,972. "Although the agreement did not describe the events and actions that breached Crown fiduciary duty, the evidence introduced in the compensation phase of the proceeding reveals that the Crown took a surrender vote in contravention of the statutory requirement that permitted only members of the Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man Bands to vote, and later accepted and acted on the surrender," the tribunal wrote in its decision. "This was, from the outset, a breach of the duty of ordinary prudence. This breach occurred within a Treaty relationship, with respect to a Treaty reserve, and the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land from the Claimant." The First Nation began the land claim back in the 1990s and spent decades fighting the government for compensation.
VANCOUVER — Less than a week into the NHL's pandemic-condensed regular season, a sense of urgency is already swirling around the Vancouver Canucks. A disappointing swing through Alberta left the squad with a 1-3-0 record as key players struggled to perform and special teams faltered. “Even in an 82-game season you don’t want to start this way, let alone in a 56-(game season)," Canucks left-winger Tanner Pearson said on a video call Tuesday. "You really gotta think about turning things around quicker than dipping your toes in the water and letting things play out. You’ve got to chomp at the bit. Right away, we’ve got to turn the boat around.” What awaits the team back in Vancouver isn't any easier — the Canucks are set to host the Montreal Canadiens (2-0-1) in a three-game series this week. Wednesday's game is Vancouver's home opener. The Habs' rejigged roster — including right-winger Josh Anderson, defenceman Joel Edmundson and former Canuck Tyler Toffoli — has been clicking early. The team comes to the West Coast on a high, having swept two games against the Oilers in Edmonton after an overtime loss in Toronto to open the season. “Everyone knows (the Canadiens) got better in the off-season," said Canucks coach Travis Green. "They’re a deep team throughout their lineup, they’ve got a lot of speed in their lineup. And they’ve got off to a good start.” Against a deep team like the Habs, there'll be an even greater emphasis on each line playing well, the coach said. Where Montreal has excelled to start the season, Vancouver has laboured. The Canadiens' effective penalty kill kept the Oilers from scoring on all 10 power-play chances across a two-game series. The Canucks have allowed seven goals on 21 penalties in their first four games. Montreal has the fourth-best power play in the league, capitalizing on 40 per cent of its chances with the man advantage. Vancouver is one of eight teams that has yet to score on the power play, despite getting 15 opportunities so far. “We just haven’t played well enough. That’s the bottom line. If you don’t play well enough, you don’t win in the NHL," Green said. "You can’t have half your team playing the way they should and half your team not. We need everyone to play better. And certain players need to raise their game, they know that. And I’m confident they will.” One Vancouver star looking to improve is Elias Pettersson. After raking in 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in his sophomore campaign last season, the 22-year-old Swedish centre has been limited to a single assist this year. “I think I can do a lot of better stuff out there. I think I’m maybe not playing with the best confidence right now," he said Monday night after the Canucks dropped a 5-2 decision to the Flames in Calgary. Pettersson's frustration was evident in the loss as he took two uncharacteristic penalties, including a slash on Sean Monahan that resulted in a US$3,987.07 fine from the league. He sat in the box with his head hung low. “It’s very frustrating now," Pettersson said. “When we’re not playing our best hockey, we can’t sink that low. We’ve got to find a way to get back to our game and not just let them roll over us.” There have been flashes of positivity for the Canucks. Vancouver started the season with a dominant 5-3 victory over the Oilers on Jan. 13, and put in a solid performance in the first period of Monday's loss. The Canucks held a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission. Green wants to see his group play that style of game for a full 60 minutes. “Individually, we need to have probably some better efforts out of some players. That’ll help," he said. "Our special teams haven’t been great. That’s going to help. And we’ve got to stay out of the box. And that’s going to help.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
The province urged the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday to dismiss an application for a judicial review of the UCP government's decision to allow open-pit coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. "There's no getting around the fact that the decision to rescind the coal policy may be seen as an unpopular one to some Albertans," said Melissa Burkett, a lawyer for the government. "However, an unpopular decision is not an unlawful decision," she told the virtual court hearing via video conferencing. Burkett says the courts are not the venue to resolve the issue, arguing such a policy change is within the mandate of elected officials. "This case is a classic example of what happens when courts are turned into political arenas," she said. "The rescission of the coal policy was driven by economic, social, political factors. It was a core, high level policy decision, and it's immune from this court review," she said. Landowners, environmental groups, municipalities and First Nations are hoping the court will force the government to revisit its decision to rescind the province's long-standing coal policy that was brought in under former premier Peter Lougheed in 1976. They're trying to persuade Justice Richard Neufeld to order a judicial review of the decision to rescind the policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies — and the headwaters that flow from them — for almost 45 years. However, during the two-day hearing that started Tuesday morning, Burkett says the policy is redundant and outdated since the province has since implemented a robust, regulatory framework that would review exploration and mining applications through Alberta's energy regulator. "The coal policy really is obsolete because there's a framework in place now that was not there in 1976." Not obsolete, says ranchers' lawyer Richard Harrison, the lawyer for two ranchers who are seeking the judicial review, argued the nearly half-century old policy is not obsolete. He told the hearing that it's been used as a means to protect the area from coal development for decades. "The coal policy was a document that was consistently enforced by the respondents [the Alberta government] over the course of 44 years," Harrison said. He said it was used as a mechanism to prevent the exploration and development of coal extraction in certain land classifications in southwestern Alberta. "It was used right up until the time that the coal policy was rescinded by the respondents in March of 2020." Harrison says a proposed open-pit coal mine near his clients' property will have a profound effect. Mac Blades is one of the ranchers seeking the judicial review. Harrison says Blades owns land and holds grazing rights for his cattle near an area being explored by Australian-based Atrum Coal. Harrison said a conveyor belt that would be a part of the proposed open pit coal mine would be located near the confluence of the Oldman and Livingstone rivers, a source of water that Blades is licensed to use for his cattle. "The impact of a proposed coal project on my client's ability to earn an income is profound," he said. "It will affect every single aspect of his pecuniary interest on his grazing lease." "And it will affect every single aspect of both my clients' ability to earn an income on those grazing leases," he said. Harrison is expected to conclude his submission to the court Wednesday morning, followed by a response from the Alberta government. Earlier, several groups who plan to seek intervenor status in the request for a judicial review agreed to consolidate, to reduce duplication of their arguments and potentially speed up the hearing process. Justice Neufeld still has to hear arguments from those hoping to join the application. A number of groups were represented during the hearing, including the M.D. of Ranchland, the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Alberta Hiking Association, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Livingstone Landowners Group and the Alberta chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. A lawyer representing Cabin Ridge Project Ltd., an Alberta-based coal company, also attended via video link. A request to adjourn the hearing by a lawyer representing the Ermineskin, Kainai, Siksika and Whitefish First Nations was dismissed. Landowners and First Nations behind the legal challenge are expected to argue the government was in breach of their constitutional rights because it had a "duty to consult" them before the policy change was made. If the province's application for a dismissal fails, the actual judicial review would go ahead at some point in the future.
VANCOUVER — British Columbia's health minister says the province is still on track to begin administering second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine despite the news that no vials will be delivered to Canada next week. Adrian Dix said Tuesday that B.C. had expected to receive about 5,800 Pfizer-BioNTech doses next week, which is "very significant" but a relatively small amount compared with the roughly 25,000 expected in the coming days. "Every time we get news that we're getting less vaccine, that news is obviously disappointing," he said. "Hopefully this is a one-time interruption. But what we can do in British Columbia is use the vaccine that we receive and use it effectively and on vulnerable populations, and that's what we're going to do." The volume of doses is expected to increase to about 25,000 weekly following the shortage, he said. The province will devote more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine it's set to receive this week, along with the "small amount" it has on hand, to completing first doses in long-term care homes across the province and beginning to administer second doses, Dix said. Second doses are crucial to the strength of the program and B.C. remains committed to a 35-day interval between doses, he said. The minister said second doses will begin Wednesday, which marks 36 days from the first 3,900 doses being administered in hospitals in Vancouver and Abbotsford, B.C. The following week, 8,000 doses were given out, and 12,000 the week after that, so the demand for second doses will increase over time, he said. Still, he said the loss of 5,800 vaccines next week does not pose a risk to second vaccinations. "The risk is not to second doses. The risk is 6,000 fewer first doses," he said. "Every single one of those doses is directed to a vulnerable person or someone working with vulnerable people ... and every one of them is important." A higher percentage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines given out in the coming weeks will be second doses, he said, while the Moderna vaccine will become the province's "workhorse" for first doses. The province began receiving the Moderna vaccine later, so the 35-day interval for second doses will also end later, Dix said. The federal government announced Tuesday that Canada's shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be cut by nearly one-fifth this week and then go down to zero next week. Pfizer told Canada last week its shipments would be affected because the production facility in Belgium is being upgraded to produce more doses overall. Asked whether B.C. is looking at trying to obtain vaccines outside of the supply chains set up by Ottawa, as it did with personal protective equipment, Dix said that was unlikely. There's no "back door" source for vaccines, he said. He said he expects the federal government to lead efforts to obtain more vaccine for the provinces and he's confident in Ottawa's work. Dix was in Vancouver Tuesday to announce a new urgent and primary care centre in the city’s northeast opening on Feb. 16. The centre will be the 22nd of its kind opened by the New Democratic government since it took power in 2017. The facilities are open for long hours and are aimed at providing urgent care for people suffering from injuries or illness that don’t require an emergency room visit. Urgent and primary care centres have played a "central and important role" during the pandemic, Dix said. "They have made an extraordinary difference." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
Renfrew -- While there are currently no cannabis retail stores in Renfrew, council is hoping its comments on where cannabis retail stores could be located in town will bear some weight with the final decision made by the province. This discussion occurred at Renfrew council January 12 following receipt of a letter and motion from the City of Kitchener requesting the province modify the regulations governing the establishment of cannabis retail stores to consider overconcentration as an evaluation criteria, require a 500 metre distance separation between locations, and provide added weight to the comments of a municipality concerning matters in the public interest when considering the application of new stores. Councillor Sandi Heins said council should support the motion since municipalities should have a say in the final decision, which was something council agreed to in early 2019. “We were under the understanding at that time that we would have some say, or at least some comments, in regards to the establishment of these businesses in our town,” she recalled. “We’ve seen this before, where we don’t, where we haven’t been asked. They couldn’t care less about our opinion. This is very important to certainly let the provincial government know that municipalities should have some type of comment that they entertain when allowing these stores to establish.” Reeve Peter Emon agreed, saying it mirrors the concern most rural and small-town Ontario have with regards to infrastructure. “The province, over the last few years, has deliberately excluded local comment,” he said. “(Local comments) are the cornerstone of land use planning, whether you agree with the comments you get or not.” Councils have legitimate concerns, he said. “I don’t think small town Ontario wants every third shop on their main street to be a pot shop, just like they don’t want, with every respect, every third store front to be a tattoo parlour, or something like that,” Reeve Emon said. Several stores spread across the municipality, not clustered together, is ideal, and the 500 metres that Kitchener is suggesting is ideal, he said. Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
TORONTO — A Toronto-area constable under investigation for corruption told an undercover officer he wanted to file an intelligence report about his mistress's alleged involvement in the drug trade after their affair was revealed, his trial heard Tuesday. The undercover officer, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, is testifying for a second day at the trial of Richard Senior, a longtime constable with York Regional Police. He told a virtual court Tuesday that roughly two months after he began secretly investigating Senior, the constable mentioned having an extramarital affair with a woman who at one point allegedly sold cocaine, hash and heroin and whose family was allegedly connected to organized crime. "He told me that he wanted to do an intel report on this girl" to disclose her involvement in the drug business, and talked about how "he was exposed in regards to the cheating," the undercover officer testified. In an exchange of texts read to the court, the undercover officer told Senior he had some ideas on how he could file such a report and still "insulate" himself from the information. But the undercover officer testified he never ended up sharing those ideas with the constable. At another point, Senior expressed concern that the woman would know he was behind the report, the undercover officer testified. The undercover officer asked Senior how many people had the same information, noting that the more there were, the less likely it was to be traced back to him, he said. Senior has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including breach of trust and trafficking cocaine and steroids, in connection with a corruption investigation. He was arrested in October 2018 and initially charged with 30 offences, but the remaining 16 charges were withdrawn as the trial began. Prosecutors allege, among other things, that Senior filed an intelligence report about his former flame and falsely attributed it to an informant, who was in fact one of his friends using an alias. They further allege the officer planned to rob a fictitious drug warehouse after hearing about it from a second undercover officer posing as an informant, and offered to sell the drugs to two men he knew. In an opening statement earlier this week, the Crown also alleged Senior sold steroids to the undercover officer who is currently testifying and another officer; stole money he was given to pay informants; and inappropriately accessed a police database and disclosed confidential information. The undercover officer has said he was assigned to investigate Senior for corruption and breach of trust in June 2018, but wasn't told at the time what kind of offences the officer was suspected of. He testified Tuesday that a supervisor mentioned the possible involvement of steroids in late July. Part of the undercover officer's objectives was to set up regular workouts with Senior to "continue to build rapport," and he eventually started making inquiries about steroids. In late July, Senior acknowledged he "used to know some meatheads" who had access to steroids but suggested the undercover officer get on a good diet plan first and take some supplements, court heard. At one point, the undercover officer asked Senior how much it would cost for a cycle of steroids, and the constable replied, "How should I know?" the undercover officer testified. In the following days, they exchanged texts about diet plans and supplements, court heard. At the same time, the undercover officer said he began to engage in "suspicious behaviour" to suggest he also may be involved in criminal activity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
There was a clear but unusual path for three Alberta-based teams to play in the Tim Hortons Brier this season. Curling Alberta made a difficult choice that will send two rinks to the Calgary event and leave that third team on the outside looking in. Jeremy Harty's team issued a statement Monday night that congratulated the provincial representatives while expressing disappointment that only two Alberta-based men's teams would go to nationals. "Alberta men were fortunate enough to have a Tour this year with three very well-run events and all competitive teams in attendance," the team said on Twitter. "We were No. 1 on the Alberta Tour both this season and last season and felt we had the merit to be named Team Alberta knowing that (Kevin) Koe and (Brendan) Bottcher would be guaranteed the wild-card spots. "We understand that it was a tough decision and we appreciate all of Curling Alberta's efforts this year." The association decided to invite last season's champions -- Brendan Bottcher and Laura Walker -- to wear Alberta colours again, dropping Koe into a wild-card spot. Curling Alberta waited 10 days after cancelling its championships before announcing its picks. Bottcher, ranked fourth in the country and a Brier finalist last year, was obviously a worthy selection. But Curling Alberta also had to consider Koe, since his team didn't compete in provincial playdowns thanks to its automatic Brier entry as Team Canada. Further muddying the waters was Harty, a young team that had a slight edge on the second-place Koe in the Alberta Tour points race. Bottcher and the sixth-ranked Koe were essentially Brier-bound no matter what. But picking Harty -- ranked a respectable 15th in Canada -- as the provincial rep would have meant all three could go. "We think Team Bottcher are going to be great reps," Harty third Kyler Kleibrink said Tuesday. "They're good guys and they're good mentors to us. Team Koe will be great as well. "We're not saying we're better than these teams or that we deserve it more than these teams. We just think Alberta had a good chance to send three reps." Helping ease the disappointment was a phone call from Bottcher third Darren Moulding, who Kleibrink said reached out to voice his support and say he thought the team's time would soon come. "Lifted the spirits for sure," Kleibrink said. "His words of encouragement and telling me his story and path was great." Curling Alberta's decision to send reigning champions to the so-called curling bubble was one that other provinces have used in recent weeks. The Walker pick for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected but the men's selection for the Brier was the subject of more debate. Harty's teammates were buoyed by recent decisions from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to consider results beyond 2020 provincial championships for their picks, Kleibrink said. Before the pandemic, many elite Alberta-based teams were focused on top-flight events around the country rather than just provincial bonspiels. The association also had to consider that the 2020-21 women's Alberta schedule had to be cancelled. It all left Curling Alberta board members with plenty to think about before selections were made. The decision left Koe to join Manitoba's Mike McEwen in a secure wild-card position based on the 2019-20 Canadian rankings. A Harty pick as Team Alberta would have given Bottcher and McEwen wild-card spots and Koe would have been a slam dunk for the third. "I think that it's good for Alberta that there is a discussion over situations like this because it just shows the depth that we have," said Koe lead Ben Hebert. "What we've created here in Alberta is a good curling culture. "I think that's how young teams get good is they have good competition to play against and there's a couple good, young, up-and-coming teams in Alberta here as well that are going to be around for a while." Ontario's Glenn Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is a favourite for the final wild-card entry as the highest-ranked team without a berth. Harty is a longshot to get the entry as he's in the mix with other underdog teams that may be considered by Curling Canada. The federation is expected to make its selection next month. For the Scotties, it's possible there could be a whopping five Manitoba-based teams in the 18-team draw depending on how the wild-card picture plays out. Tracy Fleury is a lock for one of the three wild-card spots, so her team will join Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and Team Canada's Kerri Einarson in the field. Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the Prince Edward Island title this month but she'd get the second wild-card spot with a loss. Mackenzie Zacharias would be next among eligible teams on the rankings list, a whisker ahead of fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson. The criteria for the third wild-card pick in both draws has not been finalized. As a result, it remains possible that higher-ranked teams skipped by Alberta's Kelsey Rocque and Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan could be considered. Both teams have two returning players, one short of the normal required minimum. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press