Weather Network meteorologist Nadine Powell tells us when the snow is expected to start, and how much is coming.
Weather Network meteorologist Nadine Powell tells us when the snow is expected to start, and how much is coming.
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office announced one new case of COVID-19 on the Island Friday, a man in his 50s who is a close contact of a previously announced case. A statement Friday says the P.E.I. government is "pleased to hear that Health Canada has granted authorization for the use" of the Janssen, or Johnson & Johnson, COVID-19 vaccine. The province has not yet been given any details of the planned rollout of the single-dose vaccine. This is in addition to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine approved earlier this week for use in people under 65, and the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that have been being administered for the past couple of months. Charlottetown's winter festival was put on ice this week due to COVID restrictions, but will be extended six days to make up for the pause. P.E.I. now has 24 active cases out of a total of 139 diagnosed. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. Also in the news A container of relief supplies from P.E.I. was welcomed in Grand Bahama last week, the donations spearheaded by P.E.I. man Luke Ignace, who moved here from Freeport. The container was put together to help Bahamians struggling in the wake of both Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada is the only country in the world delaying second doses of COVID-19 vaccines from three weeks after the first dose to four months, but critics say we are venturing into uncharted scientific waters that may lead to complications down the road. WATCH | Why P.E.I. is extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses: Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
A rise in hate crimes in B.C. over the past year shows an urgent need to take action against racism, says B.C.'s first parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives. The province is in the process of drafting anti-racism legislation and Rachna Singh says communities and grassroots organizations will be consulted on their unique needs during that process. "The past 12 months have shown to us that we need to do more to address systemic discrimination and hatred in this province," said Singh, who is also NDP MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers. "This legislation ... won't end racism, but it is the next step toward creating the society that we are striving for." There has been a surge in anti-Asian crimes in the past year and online radicalization is on the rise. Data from the Vancouver Police Department shows the number of anti-Asian hate crimes rose from a dozen incidents in 2019 to 98 in 2020. The federal Liberal government has identified the rise of right-wing extremism and hate as a major threat to Canada. There are at least 130 active far-right extremist groups in Canada, a 30 per cent increase since 2015. And in November, former children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond released a report with evidence that Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by systemic racism in B.C.'s health-care system. B.C. Premier John Horgan has called for violence against people of colour to be treated as a hate crime, and Singh says he is making anti-racism a priority. Singh's mandate includes focusing on lasting reconciliation efforts, having equity and anti-racism inform policy and budgetary decisions and reviewing anti-racism laws in other jurisdictions. Rachna Singh says her goal as says her goal as B.C.'s first Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives is to bring B.C. closer to becoming a more socially just and equal society.(Doug Kerr/CBC) She says her years spent working as an addictions counsellor and support worker for women facing domestic violence helped her understand the importance of speaking up for those who can't advocate for themselves. "I always liked to look beyond the medical point of view, or what things looked on the surface, to know exactly what it is that has brought a person to a situation," she said. "It could be the result of intergenerational trauma or systemic racism." Critics have raised concerns about how effective this role will be when it comes to real change. The B.C. government has been criticized for not providing data showing how COVID-19 is affecting racialized communities. Last fall, B.C.'s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner said the government could better address systemic racism in the province by collecting and using disaggregated demographic data. The commissioner called for new legislation to make that happen. Protesters are pictured during a rally against racism in Vancouver in 2020.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Singh acknowledges change won't happen overnight. She believes the upcoming legislation will put words and actions into law, and says her goal is to bring B.C. closer to becoming a more socially just and equal society. "I want to see that everybody has the right to live with dignity, with respect, and whatever we can do to break those barriers," she said. "I think the introduction of B.C.'s first anti-racism act will reinforce our goals to combat racism throughout B.C. and ... ensure that everybody is treated equally, regardless of their race or skin colour."
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting comparatively low COVID-19 case figures today, logging 990 new infections and six virus-related deaths over the past 24 hours. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 284 new cases in Toronto, 173 in Peel Region, and 82 in York Region. Two of those long-standing hotspots, Toronto and Peel, are due to rejoin the province's COVID-19 response framework at the grey lockdown level starting on Monday. The province is also reporting a single-day high of 39,698 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Friday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
A man in Regina has been issued a $2,800 ticket for disobeying the public health order on private gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, police say. Officers were called to the 3000 block of 25th Avenue at 11:30 p.m. Friday, a Regina Police Service news release said. When they arrived, nine people were in the residence, including one person from Saskatoon. Police said the gathering was in violation of the public health order which limits indoor private gatherings to people who already reside in the home. The resident at the home was issued the ticket.
Quebec is reporting 749 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 10 new deaths linked to the virus. The province also says it administered 19,865 doses of vaccine on Friday as its vaccination campaign ramps up. The latest vaccination figures, the highest the province has reported in a single day so far, come as Quebec opens vaccine eligibility to more people. To date, provincial figures show 532,012 doses of vaccine have been administered out of a total of 638,445 that the province received. Quebec reported 601 hospitalizations related to COVID-19 today, a decrease of 16 from the day before. The number of people hospitalized includes 109 people in intensive care, down by two. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
Since the beginning of the pandemic many people have been looking for new ways to connect with friends and family. ClubHouse has emerged as the latest social media platform craze. Global News Weekend host Aalia Adam talks to Social Media Strategist Wave Wyld about its spike in popularity.
SHEFFIELD, England — Southampton shrugged off the disappointment of losing Danny Ings to another injury by beating last-place Sheffield United 2-0 to end its nine-match winless run in the Premier League on Saturday. The England striker walked off the field in the 12th minute with an apparent right leg injury that was sustained off the ball and in seemingly innocuous circumstances at a free kick. Southampton overcame Ings’ absence as his replacement, Che Adams, scored from a fierce 25-meter shot in the 49th minute to add to a penalty converted by James Ward-Prowse in the 32nd. A first league win in more than two months moved Southampton 10 points clear of the bottom three and will alleviate fears that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team was being dragged into a relegation fight, despite a brilliant start to the season that saw it briefly in first place in November. Sheffield United was destined for demotion to the second-tier Championship even before this 22nd loss of the campaign, with the team 12 points from safety. Ings is set to spend a third spell on the sidelines because of injury this season. He has struggled with fitness issues in recent years, although managed to stay injury-free last season and finished second in the league’s scoring list. It remains to be seen how long this latest problem keeps him out, and Hasenhuttl will be happy fellow striker Adams got back scoring after a 16-match goal drought. It was a superb strike, too, as Stuart Armstrong chested down the ball after a clearance by Sheffield United was blocked and Adams thrashed a rising shot into the net from outside the area. Southampton had gone in front after Ethan Ampadu brought down Nathan Tella in the area. Ward-Prowse sent Aaron Ramsdale the wrong way from the spot. The defeat could have been much heavier for the hosts, with Ramsdale saving well from Adams and Takumi Minamino shooting wide when free 10 metres out. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Historical Society is honouring several scholars and groups, including a commission that designed a new state that voters adopted in November. The society presented awards during its annual meeting Friday. The lifetime achievement award went to retired professor Alferdteen Harrison, who co-founded a Black history museum in the capital city of Jackson. She was honoured for her scholarly research and preservation of Mississippi history, the society said in a news release. Harrison was president of the society in 1991 and is former director of the Margaret Walker Alexander Center at Jackson State University. She helped found the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center and is now working to preserve the Scott-Ford House in Jackson’s Farish Street Historic District. Awards of Merit were presented to several groups, including a commission that designed a new state flag that features a magnolia surrounded by stars and the phrase, “In God We Trust.” The commission was created when legislators voted in June to retire the last state flag in the U.S. that featured the Confederate battle emblem. The award for the best Mississippi history book of 2021 went to “Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power, Law and Order, and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College,” by Nancy Bristow. She is a professor and chairwoman of the History Department at the University of Puget Sound. Robert Luckett, historian and current director of JSU's Margaret Walker Alexander Center, received the Journal of Mississippi History article of the year award for “James P. Coleman (1956-1960) and Mississippi Poppycock." It was published in the journal's spring/summer 2019 issue. The Woodville Civic Club received the Outstanding Local Historical Society Award for work preserving its community. Theresa Moore, who teaches fifth and sixth grades at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg, received the Teacher of the Year award. The Associated Press
Trials have been set for two alleged street gang members accused of shooting at police who were pursuing them on Onion Lake Cree. A four-day trial will run in Lloydminster Provincial Court July 5-8, 2021, for thirty-seven-year-old Glynnis Larene Chief. Chief has been in custody at Pine Grove Correctional Centre for women in Prince Albert since her arrest New Year’s Day. She was denied bail in January and North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Oryn Holm continues to oppose her release. Chief and four others (Twaine Derek Buffalo-Naistus, Danny Lee Weeseekase, Tyler Ryan Wolfe, and Melissa Lee McAlpine) were arrested after allegedly shooting at the RCMP during a pursuit on Onion Lake Cree Nation Jan. 1, 2021. Chief is charged with discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life, being an occupant of a vehicle knowing there was a firearm, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a prohibited weapon, and assault of a police officer with a weapon. Holm said he expects there to be 14 witnesses. North Battleford legal aid lawyer Cameron Schmunk represents Chief. A trial will be held in Lloydminster Provincial Court Aug. 9 – 12, 2021, for thirty-eight-year-old Weeseekase. He is charged with breach of recognizance for possessing a weapon, discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life, being an occupant of a vehicle knowing there was a firearm, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a prohibited weapon, and assault of a police officer with a weapon. Weeseekase also remains in custody. When police searched the black SUV the five were in they found two SKS rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, a sawed-off 22-caliber rifle and ammunition. RCMP say the five were identified as street gang associates. North Battleford RCMP General Investigation Section took over the investigation. Onion Lake state of emergency The North Battleford RCMP gang unit, called the Crime Reduction Team (CRT), continues to help Onion Lake RCMP combat gang activity. RCMP CRT members collaborate with communities and partner agencies to reduce gang violence and activity. There are two CRTs operated by the RCMP in Saskatchewan; one is in North Battleford and the other is in Prince Albert. Onion Lake Cree Nation declared a state of emergency in January 2020 after a string of drug and gang-related violence threatened the safety of the community. If you are associated with a gang and want to leave it, contact STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance. If anyone has any information that could assist investigators, please contact Onion Lake RCMP at 306-344-5550. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. Onion Lake Cree Nation borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Charlottetown's winter festival was put on ice this week due to COVID restrictions, but will be extended six days to make up for the pause. Organizers behind the Ice City Festival, a "distant cousin" of the Jack Frost Festival normally held pre-pandemic, say the past week has been a whirlwind. The festival was supposed to have events throughout the city last week, but the circuit-breaker restrictions instituted Feb. 27, followed by red-phase restrictions early this week, put the festivities on pause. The province had announced a two-week stop to indoor dining as part of the bid to stop the sudden jump in cases. But at a pandemic briefing on Wednesday, Premier Dennis King announced restaurants could reopen Thursday. The current rules limit 50 patrons in a restaurant, no more than six at a table and the establishment must close by 10 p.m. With in-room dining allowed again, Ice City organizers could restart the festivities, which include outdoor activities as well as food. "Skating and stuff could have still carried on, but definitely with the in-room dining, a lot of our restaurant partners are having micro-events at their restaurants," said Heidi Zinn, executive director of Discover Charlottetown. "And certainly, you know, one of the reasons we're doing this is to bring people downtown and get them into the restaurant.... We're super excited to have the programming back." Charlottetown's Ice City Festival began on Feb. 12 and was slated to run until March 14. Now because of the pause it'll run until March 20.
TORONTO — Ontario is reporting 990 new cases of COVID-19 today and six more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 284 new cases in Toronto, 173 in Peel Region, and 82 in York Region. Today's data is based on 57,829 completed tests. The province also reports a single-day high of 39,698 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Friday's update. A total of 860,412 doses of vaccine have been administered in Ontario so far. Ontario says that 1,152 more cases were resolved since the last daily update. There have been 306,997 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 289,735 classified as resolved and 7,052 that have resulted in death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
A formal farewell to Walter Gretzky, the famed Canadian hockey patriarch, focused on his faith, his family and his love of the game during a pandemic-adjusted funeral service held in his hometown of Brantford, Ont., on Saturday afternoon. "He was a remarkable man who loved life, loved family," his son, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, said Saturday, as he paid tribute to his late father inside St. Mark's Anglican Church. "We'd be a way better world if there were so many more people like my dad." Walter Gretzky, died on Thursday at the age of 82. He left behind his five adult children and 13 grandchildren. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mourners wore masks at the service, which was limited to family and located just a few blocks from the home where Gretzky and his late wife, Phyllis, raised their family. WATCH | A look back at the life of Walter Gretzky: Canada and hockey Walter Gretzky's parents were immigrants, and Wayne Gretzky said his father, who was appointed a member of the Order of Canada, grew up to be a very patriotic individual. "I don't think I've ever met a prouder Canadian than my dad," he said. Walter Gretzky, seen here watching a Leafs-Kings game in 1988, died last Thursday at age 82.(Hans Deryk/The Canadian Press) But Walter Gretzky also loved hockey — so much so that the game wove its way into family history in many ways, including when Wayne Gretzky's brother Brent, a fellow future NHLer himself, was born. Wayne recalled that his father, who played minor and Junior B hockey, missed Brent's birth due to a hockey tournament out of town. "On a Friday night, we were going to the tournament, and my mom said to him: 'Walter, we're going to have this baby this weekend,''" Wayne Gretzky said, recounting the tale during the service. "And he said: 'It's OK, you can wait till we get back.'" Brent Gretzky was born the next day, and Walter Gretzky took a lot of ribbing about having missed his delivery — and he had one comment to make after one too many people chided him for what happened. "He was so mad," Wayne said. "He stood and he grabbed the trophy and he goes, 'Yes, but we got the trophy!"' 'We're all going to miss Wally' Tim Dobbin, the religious official delivering the homily at the service, described Gretzky as a gregarious and generous man who always made time for others. "This is a painful day for us, another chapter in our lives is drawing to a close," Dobbin said. "We're all going to miss Wally." People gathered along the sidewalk to pay their respects as the funeral procession for Walter Gretzky passed by in Brantford, Ont., on Saturday afternoon.(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press) Hockey Night in Canada fans would recognize the theme that was briefly played on the church organ as the funeral came to an end, and the casket with Gretzky's body was carried outside. An interment ceremony was to take place at the Farrington Burial Ground, according to an online obituary. As the funeral cortege left the church, people on the street — some wearing hockey jerseys — gathered along the sidewalk and gently tapped hockey sticks in tribute to Gretzky. Hundreds of people were there, according to a report from The Canadian Press. 'A profoundly sad day' Prior to Saturday's funeral service, Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis called Gretzky's passing "a profoundly sad day for all those who knew and loved Walter," saying the hockey patriarch's impact on his community extended beyond the ice. WATCH | Walter Gretzky, Canada's hockey dad: Glen Gretzky told the Brantford Expositor that his father had dealt with a series of health issues over the years. He said family had gathered at his father's Brantford home to be with him in his final hours. "We always said he's had nine lives," Glen said. "But he was unbelievable. He just wouldn't stop and nothing would keep him down." The backyard rink It was in Brantford that Walter Gretzky famously built a backyard rink where Wayne, who would go on to be known as the Great One, honed his hockey skills from an early age. "His birthday falls in January, so it was the winter that he turned three that he had skates on," Walter Gretzky said, when recalling Wayne's early days during a conversation with CBC back in 1982, as his eldest son was playing in the NHL playoffs. Hockey sticks, cards and flowers are seen on a snowbank beside Walter Gretzky's reserved parking spot at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., on Friday, following news of Walter's death. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press) That support continued throughout Wayne Gretzky's pro hockey career, something that the people who shared the ice with No. 99 noticed. "We all know that the relationship between Wayne and Walter was incredible," Mark Messier — the Hall of Fame hockey player who won four of his six Stanley Cups playing alongside Wayne during his Edmonton days — told CBC News recently. "I think it's something to be emulated, the way he nurtured Wayne." Wayne Gretzky is hugged by his father, Walter, after being presented with a car during the pre-game ceremonies for Gretzky's last game in the NHL, as a New York Ranger, on April 18, 1999.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) That included supporting his famous son when a controversial trade sent Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. "If Wayne is going to be happy there and he enjoys it, then certainly I won't regret it," his father said at the time. Walter Gretzky was also on hand for the day his son became the NHL's all-time points leader. A woman places flowers at the foot of a statue depicting Walter Gretzky outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ont., following news of his death.(Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)
New Brunswick is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as the entire province prepares to return to the less-restrictive yellow phase at the end of the weekend. There are now 35 active cases. Three people are in the hospital, including two in intensive care. The low numbers come as health officials continue to keep a close eye on Zone 7, with mass COVID-19 testing underway in Miramichi on Saturday. The region has seen rising case numbers and confirmation of a B117 case, the virus variant first reported in the U.K. The Miramichi area currently has 12 active cases. Hundreds of residents have turned out to a walk-in testing clinic over the past two days, with some waiting more than an hour in the cold. Public Health announced plans to extend testing on Saturday. The clinic at Dr. Losier Middle School, 124 Henderson St. in Miramichi, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Public Health had conducted more than 1,600 asymptomatic tests at the location as of Saturday's update. 35 active cases The new cases are scattered across four regions of the province. In the Saint John region (Zone 2), there are two new cases, both related to travel: a person in their 20s. a person in their 30s. The Fredericton region (Zone 3) is reporting one new case, which is related to travel: a person in their 30s. The Edmundston region (Zone 4) has one new case, which is under investigation: a person in their 20s. The Miramichi region (Zone 7) is reporting two new cases, both linked to previous cases: Two people in their 50s. Public Health said all six cases are self-isolating. (CBC) New Brunswick confirmed 1,453 total cases since the start of the pandemic, including 1,389 recoveries. There have been 28 deaths. Public Health has conducted 233,878, including 1,642 on Saturday. Approaching yellow phase Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said all regions will be moving back to the less-restrictive yellow recovery phase, effective Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Russell said she'll be monitoring the situation in Zone 7. "If there is a significant change over the weekend, we will revisit the decision," she said at a news conference on Friday. "We have a lot of tests that we're waiting for results of, but as of now, the Miramichi region will move to the yellow phase along with the rest of the province." The yellow phase will look a little different, with some changes including limits on close contacts. The full details on the updated level can be found on the provincial government's website. Dr. Jennifer Russell said she'll be keeping a close eye on the Miramichi region, which has confirmed a COVID variant case.(Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick) Here's some of the changes under yellow: Households can expand close contacts to a consistent 15 people. This group may visit places together, including dining at restaurants. Masks will still have to be worn in indoor spaces but will not be needed outdoors. Formal and informal outdoor gatherings of 50 people or fewer will be allowed with physical distancing. Formal indoor gatherings will be allowed with an operational plan, at 50 per cent capacity or less. Sports teams will be allowed to play within their leagues across zones, while following their operational plans. Mask-wearing in schools will depend on the school's operational plan. Public Transit can operate at full capacity with use of masks. Possible exposure at Miramichi school A Miramichi school is reporting a possible exposure to COVID-19. Greta Green Elementary School has notified community members. Close contacts will be reached by Public Health. The school was closed this week for March break. Public exposure notifications Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flight: Air Canada Flight 8906 on Feb. 20, from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:10 p.m. This week, Public Health issued a list of potential public exposures in the Miramichi region, Zone 7. Individuals who tested positive were in these establishments. Public Health said it doesn't have the exact times these people were in the businesses on the list, "but it is believed it was for a short duration on these dates." Sobeys on Feb. 14, Feb. 19, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 (273 Pleasant St., Miramichi). Atlantic Superstore on Feb. 14, Feb. 23 and Feb. 28 (408 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Shoppers Drug Mart on Feb. 14, Feb. 17 and Feb. 26 (397 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Dollarama on Feb. 20 (100 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi). Winners on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 (2441 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Giant Tiger on Feb. 24 (2441 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Walmart on Feb. 24 (200 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi). Bulk Barn on Feb. 27 (100-99 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi). NB Liquor on Feb. 27 (221 Pleasant St., Miramichi). What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
PLAINS OF UR, Iraq — Pope Francis walked through a narrow alley in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf for a historic meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric, and together they delivered a powerful message of peaceful coexistence in a country still reeling from back-to-back conflicts over the past decade. In a gesture both simple and profound, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani welcomed Francis into his spartan home. Afterward, he said religious authorities have a role in protecting Iraq’s Christians, and that Christians should live in peace and enjoy the same rights as other Iraqis. The Vatican said Francis thanked al-Sistani for having “raised his voice in defence of the weakest and most persecuted” during some of the most violent times in Iraq’s recent history Al-Sistani, 90, is one of the most senior clerics in Shiite Islam, and his rare but powerful political interventions have helped shape present-day Iraq. He is a deeply revered figure in Shiite-majority Iraq and his opinions on religious and other matters are sought by Shiites worldwide. Later in the day, the pope met with Iraqi religious leaders in the shadow of a symbol of the country’s ancient past — the 6,000-year-old ziggurat in the Plains of Ur, also the traditional birthplace of Abraham, the biblical patriarch revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Such interfaith forums are a staple of Francis’ international trips. But in strife-torn Iraq the televised gathering of figures from across the country’s religious spectrum was nearly unheard of: From Shiite and Sunni Muslims to Christians, Yazidis and Zoroastrians and tiny, lesser known, ancient and esoteric faiths like the Kakai, a sect among ethnic Kurds, Mandaeans and Sabaean Mandaeans. Missing from the picture was a representative of Iraq’s once thriving, now nearly decimated Jewish community, though they were invited, the Vatican said. Together, the day’s two main events gave symbolic and practical punch to the central message of Francis’ visit, calling for Iraq to embrace its diversity. It is a message he hopes can preserve the place of the thinning Christian population in the tapestry. Still, it faces a tough sell in a country where every community has been traumatized by sectarian bloodshed and discrimination and where politicians have tied their power to sectarian interests. In al-Sistani, Francis sought the help of an ascetic, respected figure who is immersed in those sectarian identities but is also a powerful voice standing above them. Their meeting in al-Sistani’s humble home, the first ever between a pope and a grand ayatollah, was months in the making, with every detail painstakingly negotiated beforehand. Early Saturday, the 84-year-old pontiff, travelling in a bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz, pulled up along Najaf’s narrow and column-lined Rasool Street, which culminates at the golden-domed Imam Ali Shrine, one of the most revered sites in Shiite Islam. He then walked the few meters (yards) down an alley to al-Sistani’s home. As a masked Francis entered the doorway, a few white doves were released in a sign of peace. He emerged just under an hour later, still limping from an apparent flare-up of sciatica nerve pain that makes walking difficult. A religious official in Najaf called the 40-minute meeting “very positive.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media. The official said al-Sistani, who normally remains seated for visitors, stood to greet Francis at the door of his room — a rare honour. The pope removed his shoes before entering al-Sistani’s room and was served tea and a plastic bottle of water. Al-Sistani and Francis sat close to one another, without masks. Al-Sistani spoke for most of the meeting, the official said. Al-Sistani, who rarely appears in public or even on television, wore black robes and a black turban, in simple contrast to Francis’ all-white cassock. The official said there was some concern about the fact that the pope had met with so many people the day before. Francis has received the coronavirus vaccine but al-Sistani has not. The aging ayatollah, who underwent surgery for a fractured thigh last year, looked tired. After the meeting ended, Francis paused before leaving the room to have a last look, the official said. In a statement issued by his office afterward, al-Sistani affirmed that Christians should “live like all Iraqis, in security and peace and with full constitutional rights.” He pointed out the “role that the religious authority plays in protecting them, and others who have also suffered injustice and harm in the events of past years.” Al-Sistani wished Francis and the followers of the Catholic Church happiness and thanked him for taking the trouble to visit him in Najaf, the statement said. Iraqis cheered the meeting, and the prime minister responded to it by declaring March 6 a National Day of Tolerance and Cooexistence in Iraq. ”We welcome the pope’s visit to Iraq and especially to the holy city of Najaf and his meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani,” said Najaf resident Haidar Al-Ilyawi. “It is a historic visit and hope it will be good for Iraq and the Iraqi people.” Iraq’s Christians, battered by violence and discrimination, hope a show of solidarity from al-Sistani will help secure their place in Iraq and ease intimidation from Shiite militiamen against their community. Al-Sistani’s voice is a powerful one, often for moderation. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, his opinions forced American administrators to alter their transition plans, and his approval opened the way for Iraq’s Shiites to participate in force in post-Saddam Hussein elections. In 2019, as anti-government demonstrations gripped the country, his sermon led to the resignation of then-prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. But his word is not law. After 2003, he repeatedly preached calm and restraint as the Shiite majority came under attack by Sunni extremists. Yet brutal Shiite reprisals against Sunni civilians fed a years-long cycle of sectarian violence. His 2014 fatwa, or religious edict, calling on able-bodied men to join the security forces in fighting the Islamic State group helped ensure the extremists’ defeat. But it also swelled the ranks of Shiite militias, many closely tied to Iran and now blamed for discrimination against Sunnis and Christians. Later, Pope Francis evoked the common reverence for Abraham to speak against religious violence at the inter-faith gathering at the Plains of Ur, near the southern city of Nasiriyah. “From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters,” Francis said. “Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion.” The Vatican said Iraqi Jews were invited to the event but did not attend, without providing further details. Iraq’s ancient Jewish community was decimated in the 20th century by violence and mass emigration fueled by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and only a handful remain. Ali Thijeel, a Nasiriyah resident who attended the event, said he hoped the pope’s visit would encourage investment in the area to attract pilgrims and tourists. “This is what we were waiting for,” he said. “This is a message to the government and politicians. They should take care of this city and pay attention to our history.” Francis’ visit — his first international trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Iraq. Despite concern about infections, Francis celebrated Mass in a packed, stuffy Chaldean Catholic Cathedral later Saturday in Baghdad that featured chanted Scripture readings and a maskless choir singing hymns. “Love is our strength, the source of strength for those of our brothers and sisters who here too have suffered prejudice, indignities, mistreatment and persecutions for the name of Jesus,” Francis told the faithful, who did wear masks. ___ Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad. Associated Press journalists Anmar Khalil in Najaf, Iraq, and Samya Kullab in Baghdad contributed. Nicole Winfield And Qassim Abdul-Zahra, The Associated Press
A Northwest Territories Power Corporation employee is in hospital after sustaining an injury at the Jackfish Lake generating plant in Yellowknife. In an email, a power corporation spokesperson confirmed the incident happened Friday afternoon. "Our thoughts are with our employee and his family. We will provide them with whatever support we can at this difficult time," read a statement by Noel Voykin, the president and CEO of the power corporation. The power corporation is not providing any further information about the identity or condition of the employee at this time. An update is expected early next week, the spokesperson says. The power corporation said the incident has been reported to the Workplace Safety and Compensation Commission.
The total number of Toronto residents vaccinated against COVID-19 is now 124,868, the city said on Saturday. In a news release, the city said the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Toronto is now 197,155. Because some residents have received two doses of the vaccine, the total number of residents vaccinated is lower than the total number of vaccine doses administered, the city clarified in an email on Saturday. The city said in the release that several clinics are underway on Saturday to vaccinate hospital and community-based healthcare workers who are in Phase 1 priority groups. Clinics are being held at Unity Health Toronto, University Health Network, Michael Garron Hospital, Humber River Hospital, North York General Hospital, Scarborough Health Network and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The city said it expects to vaccinate upwards of 6,700 people across 15 clinics over the weekend. Canada approved the first single shot vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, on Friday. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recently recommended a longer maximum interval between first and second doses of the three two-shot COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada to increase the speed at which Canadians get vaccinated. Toronto's population is more than 2.9 million.
A COVID-19 outbreak at Bowness High School in northwest Calgary is causing all grades to transition to online classes starting Monday. The Calgary Board of Education sent a letter to parents Friday detailing that the school was placed on outbreak status for the provincial COVID-19 map. According to the provinces' website, an outbreak refers to schools with five to nine cases. The CBE said classes will be held online until March.16 and will impact around 1,184 students in grades 10-12. Students will continue their coursework through a variety of virtual classroom programs but will not be able to transfer to Hub online learning, the CBE said in the letter. The province considers an outbreak investigation completed when there have been no new confirmed cases in the school for 28 days.
TORONTO — Ontario's New Democrats say they would create a new cap-and-trade carbon pricing system if elected in 2022. The official Opposition made the promise in an environmental policy plank of their election platform, released today at a morning news conference. Party leader Andrea Horwath says the province needs the carbon pricing system to help fight climate change. She says the system would generate $30 billion in revenue, and the NDP would raise another $10 billion through the sale of "green bonds", over four years. The NDP says that cash would be used to pay for green building retrofits, to ramp up electric vehicle sales, and to plant a billion trees by 2030. The platform also promises to give each household in the province $600 to add an electric car charging station. Ontario's Progressive Conservative government scrapped the province's cap-and-trade system in 2018, a regime introduced by the previous Liberal government. Horwath said the NDP carbon pricing system will ensure polluters pay for their emissions and promised it will not add costs to low and middle income Ontarians. The party says the plan would help Ontario reach a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. "I think more and more people have come to the realization that we must tackle the climate climate crisis," Horwath said. "A just transition means we will really look after our people while we look after our climate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister: She wept as she told him two of his nephews may have been shot in broad daylight as they left a bar in Portland, Oregon. He drove there as fast as he could. An officer told him one of his nephews was heading to the hospital and the other, Tyrell Penney, hadn't survived. “My sister, Tyrell’s mom, was on the phone; I just said, ‘He’s gone.’ And I just heard the most horrific scream that you could ever imagine,” Yarborough said. When Penney was killed last summer, unrest was roiling liberal Portland as protesters took to the streets nightly to demand racial justice and defunding police. At the same time, one of the whitest major cities in America was experiencing its deadliest year in more than a quarter-century — a trend seen nationwide — with shootings that overwhelmingly affected the Black community. Responding to the calls for change in policing, the mayor and City Council cut several police programs from the budget, including one Yarborough believes could have saved his nephew. A specialized unit focused on curbing gun violence, which had long faced criticism for disproportionately targeting people of colour, was disbanded a month before Penney, a 27-year-old Black man visiting from Sacramento, California, was killed on July 25. Yarborough and some other families wonder if ending the unit is partly to blame for Portland's dramatic spike in shootings, but officials and experts attribute increased gun violence in cities nationwide to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment, economic anxiety and stress on mental health. “Without a doubt, I think it is a possibility that my nephew could still be alive if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) was not dissolved,” said Yarborough, a crisis response volunteer for Portland police who responds to shootings to support victims’ families. “I cannot say for sure if he would, but what I will tell you is had it not been my nephew that was saved, it probably could have saved the life of someone else,” he said. More people died of gunfire last year in Portland — 40 — than the entire tally of homicides the previous year. The number of shootings — 900 — was nearly 2 1/2 times higher than the year before. The spike has continued this year, with more than 150 shootings, including 45 people wounded and 12 killed so far. Police had warned of possible repercussions of ending the unit, pointing out cautionary tales in other cities that had made a similar choice. Portland police quoted former Salinas, California, Police Chief Kelly McMillin: “Not to be overly dramatic, but if you lose the unit which focuses on removing firearms from the hand of violent offenders, people will die. It’s really just that simple.” Stockton, California, began disbanding and defunding police units dedicated to gun violence in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, the city’s homicide rates reached record highs. After the city restored the units, homicides significantly declined, according to data reported by police. While policing has been refocused in Portland, experts and officials say it's unlikely those changes caused spikes in gun violence. “I believe if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) were (around) today, we would still see a substantial, if not identical increase, in shootings in Portland,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in January. “This is clearly part of a larger national trend.” Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, announced the unit's disbanding last June and reassigned its 34 officers to patrol. He described it as an opportunity to reimagine policing and redirected $7 million in police funds toward communities of colour. The push was led by Jo Ann Hardesty, the first Black woman elected to the City Council. She cited a 2018 audit showing nearly 60% of people stopped by the gun violence team were Black — though they make up less than 6% of the city’s population. Nearly half of the 55 total homicide victims in 2020 were people of colour, many of them from Portland's historically Black neighbourhoods, according to city statistics. So far this year, there have been 17 homicides — a concerning number considering there had only been one homicide in the same period in 2020. Among the people of colour shot to death last year were a 23-year-old Iraqi refugee stopping to pick up an Uber fare; an 18-year-old recent high school graduate; and a 53-year-old woman caught in gang crossfire and killed in front of her husband. The violence has left leaders and community members scrambling for solutions. Some say the loss of the unit’s seasoned detectives has hurt the city, while others push for new approaches. Last month, police launched a squad of 15 officers and six detectives focusing on gun violence investigations. Officials say it's only part of the solution, as leaders partner with community groups, work to increase transparency and use proactive approaches that don't rely on the stop-and-frisk tactic. That’s little solace to Penney’s three children, the friends he was visiting in Portland or his family, who moved to California when he was child to avoid the exact reason he died — gun violence. Yarborough, Penney's uncle, was a gang member in the 1990s and had been arrested by officers with Portland's gun violence team. Despite that, he described the unit as "the CIA” of the police department and said they often stopped shootings before they happened because of their deep community knowledge. “They built relationships with gang members and knew who the perpetrators were,” Yarborough said. “They ... were able to band together to stop it, or at least refer people impacted to programs to help change their lives.” ___ Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Sara Cline, The Associated Press