Thick layer of snow hangs over the roof, defying gravity
Thick layer of snow hangs over the roof, defying gravity
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Parks Canada issued a statement Wednesday that it is willing to meet with members of the Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation community who have put up a blockade to stop construction to replace the Burleigh Falls Dam. On Jan. 13, members of the first nation community established a blockade, putting a halt to the repair work being done to the dam — which is owned by Parks Canada — because no consultation was made with the nearby community prior to the start of construction. According to Parks Canada’s statement written by David Britton, director of Ontario Waterways, the dam at Lock 28 of the Trent-Severn Waterway is one dam in a chain of dams and an integral part of the water management structure of central Ontario. “Engineering inspections in recent years have identified the declining condition of the Burleigh Falls Dam. A significant void at the base of the dam undermines the dam’s structural integrity, and is cause for concern regarding both public safety, and the protection of properties and species, including an important Walleye fishery,” Britton wrote. “Concrete strength inspections have showed deterioration beyond what is deemed acceptable. These factors indicate that the dam is at or nearing the end of its useful life, and requires a major intervention. Parks Canada is proceeding with a full replacement of the dam, following the current phase of construction that will first stabilize the existing dam.” The protesters have said they do not dispute that the dam needs to be replaced but they wanted to be consulted before the construction began. Britton said the federal government is committed to working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationships with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership. “Parks Canada has offered to meet with the Kawartha Nishnawbe on the Burleigh Falls Dam replacement project both in 2016 and more recently to understand their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project. Parks Canada remains available to do so and hopes to connect in a meaningful way through this process,” Britton wrote. Parks Canada has met with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the first phase of the project and has arranged mitigation measures, including on-site monitors, to address their concerns, Britton added. “Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” he wrote. Originally the Trent-Severn Waterway had planned to rehabilitate the dam, but could not find a contractor that could do the work, so a decision was made to replace the dam. Parks Canada plans to complete the work by 2024. Kawartha Nishnawbe members could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
A group of high schoolers from Prince George, B.C., are showing support for a teen from Mission who was attacked by two girls last week. On Wednesday, students of Duchess Park Secondary School in the northern city sent cards and letters addressed to the 14-year-old transgender student from the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver. The student was beaten by two female Grade 8 students at École Heritage Park Middle School on Jan. 11 in an incident captured on video. "I just want to commend you on your strength and resilience for going through such a terrible thing," wrote Daisy Scheifley, Grade 11 student at Duchess Park. "Don't let others' judgment change you or scare you. Never apologize for being yourself." Scheifley was one of the students who watched the video in teacher Tanja Gattrell's class on Tuesday. "Every student felt moved by what happened," Gattrell told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West. "Lots of disbelief, anger and sadness and confusion on how people could just stand by and not do anything … in this day and age." On Sunday, hundreds of vehicles festooned with pink balloons, rainbow signs and anti-bullying messages drove slowly through a riverfront area of Mission to offer support to the bullied teen. In the past, Gattrell and her students wrote letters to seniors in care homes and decorated school windows with paper hearts to show solidarity with front-line workers. Having communicated with the principal of École Heritage Park last Friday, Gattrell suggested the whole class write to the Mission student after watching the video. "It was very emotional just watching them engage in this [letter and card writing] and doing it so wholeheartedly and lovingly," said Gattrell. Scheifley was encouraged by fellow classmates who shared her desire to show support. "I honestly find it very uplifting that so many kids in our class were so open and supportive and wanted to make a change," she said. "We need to start standing up for others, and it's OK to be different." Two girls have been arrested in connection with a violent incident in École Heritage Park Middle School, which is still under RCMP's investigation. After a separate assault on Jan. 13 at Mission Secondary School, a 14-year-old girl was arrested last Friday. Tap the link below to hear Tanja Gattrell and Daisy Scheifley's interview on Radio West:
International students who are on a co-op work term don't have to wait for their permit to begin their job placements, according to a new policy released earlier this week by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Students can start working while their applications for their co-op work permit are being processed. This is a special permit that allows international students to complete all work components related to their academic degree, including co-op terms, internships, and practicum. It is a separate permit that students have to apply for, in addition to their study permit, with which students are authorized to complete non-academic-related work. Amy Braye, the manager of the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, said students are now allowed to use the regular work hours allocation from their study permit for their co-op experience while they wait for approval for the special work permit. "Basically the regular work and the co-op work were always separate. And the government has said, listen, we're going to allow that students can use their regular work allotment for their co-op experience, if they want to, and if they can," said Braye. The new policy applies to students who are studying remotely in their home country as well. "In the past, if a student didn't have their co-op work permit, and they said, 'I'm living in China, but Nova Scotia Power wants to hire me, they are OK if I telecommute. Is that acceptable?' We would have advised that no, it's not acceptable," Braye said. But with the new policy, the answer is yes, she said. However, according to IRCC's website, it requires approval from both the institution and the employer. "Ultimately both the employer and the co-op program must be in agreement that the specific opportunity is suitable for remote work from outside of Canada and that the employer can support the student in their learning appropriately," said Janet Bryson, associate director of media relations and issues management at Dalhousie University. A standard study permit only grants students 20 hours per week of off-campus work experience. Students may work full-time off campus during an academic break. "It's still good for students. It means that they can work right towards their co-op, whereas before, they were just barred from working towards their co-op," Braye said. "It doesn't solve all of the problems, because they have to meet the co-op hours that they need." Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
Two international aquaculture companies are heading to court to try to quash a recent federal decision to phase out controversial fish farms in the Discovery Islands. Mowi Canada West and Cermaq Canada want the Federal Court to set aside federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan’s decision — in whole or in part — to phase out salmon farming operations in the region by the end of June 2022. But First Nations supporting Jordan’s decision say any reversals of the plan by the court would come at the cost of the inherent rights of Indigenous people. The two fish farm companies are seeking costs and an injunction to suspend the decision, or parts of it, from going ahead until the court hears their applications On Dec. 17, Jordan announced licences for 19 operations in the waters near Campbell River on Vancouver Island were being renewed for the last time and no new fish could be transferred to the salmon farms during the 18-month period. The fisheries minister said her decision was largely the result of overwhelming opposition to the farms expressed by the region’s seven First Nations during government-to-government consultations. Mowi and Cermaq stated in the court application that the fisheries minister gave no advance warning of the decision, and did not allow the companies to provide input on its negative impacts. The minister’s announcement followed heated public debate around the fate of the fish farms and the risks they might pose to wild salmon stocks. The farms are on key migration routes for wild juvenile salmon, and eliminating operations in the Discovery Islands was a recommendation made by the 2012 Cohen Commission investigating the decline of Fraser River sockeye. However, the recommendation depended on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) finding the fish farms posed a danger to wild sockeye. At the end of September, DFO concluded the farm operations posed minimal risk to Fraser River sockeye after studying nine different fish farm diseases. Both Mowi and Cermaq argue in their applications that Jordan’s decision was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally unfair. Cermaq said DFO’s decision not to allow any new fish into its three Discovery Islands farms will force the cull of millions of juvenile fish scheduled for transfer to the region, the loss of 20 per cent of its production volume, and the potential closure of a hatchery. The company also said 21 direct jobs are endangered, in addition to others employed in supporting positions, with total annual wages in the millions of dollars. Mowi stated their affected farms represent 30 per cent of the company’s operations and 645 direct jobs, many held by First Nation employees. The largest operator in the region, Mowi owns 13 of the salmon farms impacted — nine of which were empty of fish when the decision was announced, according to DFO. Both companies said the millions of fish slated for transfer take approximately five years to rear — starting with the selection of brood stock, the spawning of fish, hatching eggs, and finally raising fish until the smolts are ready to grow out in ocean pens. DFO departed from past practice in failing to provide advance warning before making decisions that will materially affect, severely impair and end operations without providing operators a chance to provide input into the decision, the companies said. Jordan also relied solely on input from her consultations with area First Nations, and failed to take social, economic and scientific considerations into account, the companies said. Bob Chamberlin, a former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and a longtime advocate for wild salmon, said he wasn’t surprised to hear the aquaculture companies want to challenge DFO’s decision. Jordan’s announcement was the result of consulting with the Homalco, Klahoose, K’ómoks, Kwiakah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations about whether to renew licences for the fish farms operating in their traditional territories, he said. But more than 100 First Nations dependent on wild salmon elsewhere on the coast and along the Fraser River also support the removal of the salmon farms, Chamberlin said. Aquaculture companies regularly express concern about how closing the region’s fish farms will negatively affect First Nations employees, communities, and partners, Chamberlin said. Yet the same companies are willing to challenge a decision by the ministry that is respectful of the inherent Indigenous rights of First Nations, both within the region and across the province. “They only respect us until they disagree with something,” Chamberlin said. “So, really, it’s a conditional acceptance of our human rights.” Homalco Chief Darren Blaney said DFO has had conflicting roles as both a promoter of fish farms and a regulator tasked with protecting wild salmon. Aquaculture companies haven’t faced many decisions contrary to their interests before DFO’s recent decision, he said. “They’ve gotten comfortable, and they didn’t bother to address the issues they were creating with sea lice and diseases,” Blaney said. “They never looked into closed containment or fish farming on land because they’ve had a (free ride) in the ocean.” Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver said the phasing out of the fish farms might impact jobs and revenue, but protecting depleted wild salmon is a question of food security for Indigenous people. “Those who are benefiting from the fish farms are few, (and) at a great expense to the environment and to wild salmon, and many First Nations,” said Silver, who is also fisheries representative for the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. The two aquaculture companies may be frustrated by a lack of consultation, but that’s a situation First Nations have a lot of experience with, Silver observed. “The non-consultation argument is something we’ve had for a long, long time,” Silver said. “No one talked to us about certain things that had great effect on our way of life, and are still affecting us.” Chamberlin said he had trouble believing aquaculture companies were entirely surprised by Jordan’s decision, given the Cohen Commission recommended the closure of the farms in December 2020 if DFO determined they posed a minimal risk to wild salmon. Plus, the fisheries minister is developing a plan that is due in 2025 to transition away from open-net pen salmon farms in B.C. waters, Chamberlin added. “The writing was certainly on the wall. It seems to me, (the companies) weren’t proactive,” Chamberlin said. “Their lack of business planning shouldn’t be a legal starting point to overturn a decision made in consultation with First Nations.” First Nations rights will be the collateral damage if the court decides in favour of the agriculture industry, Chamberlin added. “This could result in a message that Crown process with a company is more important, or trumps respect for Aboriginal rights — whether that is the intention or not,” he said. Jordan's office said Wednesday the minister is aware certain companies have asked for a judicial review of her decision regarding aquaculture licences in the Discovery Islands. "As the matter is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,"the ministry said. Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
SAN DIEGO — For the opening salvo of his presidency, few expected Joe Biden to be so far-reaching on immigration. A raft of executive orders signed Wednesday undoes many of his predecessor’s hallmark initiatives, such as halting work on a border wall with Mexico, lifting a travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries and reversing plans to exclude people in the country illegally from the 2020 census. Six of Biden's 17 orders, memorandums and proclamations deal with immigration. He ordered efforts to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program known as DACA that has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the U.S. as children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012. He also extended temporary legal status to Liberians who fled civil war and the Ebola outbreak to June 2022. But that's just the beginning. Biden’s most ambitious proposal, unveiled Wednesday, is an immigration bill that would give legal status and a path to citizenship to anyone in the United States before Jan. 1 — an estimated 11 million people — and reduce the time that family members must wait outside the United States for green cards. Taken together, Biden's plans represent a sharp U-turn after four years of relentless strikes against immigration, captured most vividly by the separation of thousands of children from their parents under a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings. Former President Donald Trump's administration also took hundreds of other steps to enhance enforcement, limit eligibility for asylum and cut legal immigration. Biden's package dispels any belief that his policies would resemble those of former President Barack Obama, who promised a sweeping bill his first year in office but waited five years while logging more than 2 million deportations. Eager to avoid a rush on the border, Biden aides signalled that it will take time to unwind some of Trump's border policies, which include making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court. The Homeland Security Department said that on Thursday it would stop sending asylum-seekers back to Mexico to wait for hearings but that people already returned should stay put for now. It "will take months to be fully up and running in terms of being able to do the kind of asylum processing that we want to be able to do,” Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, told reporters. The administration has been mum on a 100-day moratorium on deportations that Biden promised, though he is revoking one of Trump's earliest executive orders making anyone in the country illegally a priority for deportations. Susan Rice, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said any moratorium would come from the Homeland Security, not the president. Despite the deliberative pace in some areas, Biden's moves left pro-immigration advocates overjoyed. Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, called the legislation “the most progressive legalization bill in history.” “We made it,” she said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. "We made this day happen." It is even more striking because immigration got scarce mention during the campaign, and the issue has divided Republicans and Democrats, even within their own parties. Legislative efforts failed in 2007 and 2013. More favourable attitudes toward immigration — especially among Democrats — may weigh in Biden’s favour. A Gallup survey last year found that 34% of those polled supported more immigration, up from 21% in 2016 and higher than any time since Gallup began asking the question in 1965. Seven in 10 voters said they preferred offering immigrants in the U.S. illegally a chance to apply for legal status, compared with about 3 in 10 who thought they should be deported to the country they came from, according to AP VoteCast. The survey of more than 110,000 voters in November showed 9 in 10 Biden voters but just about half of Trump voters were in favour of a path to legal status. Under the bill, most people would wait eight years for citizenship but those enrolled in DACA, those with temporary protective status for fleeing strife-torn countries and farmworkers would wait three years. The bill also offers development aid to Central America, reduces the 1.2 million-case backlog in immigration courts and provides more visas for underrepresented countries and crime victims. The proposal would let eligible family members wait in the United States for green cards by granting temporary status until their petitions are processed — a population that Kerri Talbot of advocacy group Immigration Hub estimates at 4 million. Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens who have been waiting outside the country for more than six years are just getting their numbers called this month. Waits are even longer for some nationalities. Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico have been waiting outside the United States since August 1996. The bill faces an enormous test in Congress. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said Wednesday that he would lead the Senate effort. Skeptics will note that Ronald Regan's 1986 amnesty for nearly 3 million immigrants preceded large numbers of new arrivals and say to expect more of the same. In a taste of what's to come, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, described the bill as having “open borders: Total amnesty, no regard for the health and security of Americans, and zero enforcement.” To be clear, enforcement has expanded exponentially since the mid-1990s and will remain. Biden's bill calls for more technology at land crossings, airports and seaports and authorizes the Homeland Security secretary to consider other steps. Biden warned advocates last week that they should not hold him to passage within 100 days, said Domingo Garcia of the League of United Latin American Citizens, who was on a call with the president. “Today we celebrate," Carlos Guevara of pro-immigration group UnidosUS said Wednesday. "Tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get to work.” ___ Associated Press writers Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
Everyone wants a PET scanner, but not everyone knows what they do. In a nutshell, they pinpoint problem spots in a patient's body so a specialist can consider treatment options. While they are used for heart or neurological anomalies, they are most commonly used in seeking out cancerous tumours. Unlike a CT (computerized tomography) scanner, which uses X-rays to produce a 3-D image of the body, a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner detects tiny “particles” of light, or protons, that are emitted by a radioactive substance injected into the body. The substance used for PET scans emits positrons, which are no bigger than electrons. The amount of radiation is very low and safe. In fact, when they combine with electrons in the body, they are destroyed and give off the tiny specks of light that the machine picks up. The positrons injected are often attached to molecules of sugar called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). Why sugar? Because cancer cells are more aggressive and grow at a faster rate, consuming sugar in the process. The radioactive sugar tends to accumulate around these cells. The result is an eerie glow that shows up on the screen, and the intensity of that glow can even indicate how aggressive the cancer is. Often, a PET scan is done in conjunction with a CT scan and the two merged through computer software. This gives a better framework to pinpoint the glowing tumour. Similar to a PET scanner is a SPECT scanner (ingle-photon emission computerized tomography), except the isotopes used in this case emit gamma rays. Their purpose is to show how a patient's organs are working. They can show how blood flows to the heart and which areas of the brain are more active or less active. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
The number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Fort Liard, N.W.T., now stands at six. That's according to a 9 p.m. news release from the territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola. Kandola says she's "cautiously optimistic" that the situation in that community is now under control. "However, we do still expect to see some more infections in the community in the coming days — and things can change very quickly." The release confirms no other cases were detected in the territory Wednesday, including in Yellowknife, where last week a case surfaced with no known origin. The news release again suggests that the positive wastewater signal detected in Hay River was linked to the Fort Liard cluster, and not to Hay River. A vaccination clinic planned in Fort Liard Thursday will go ahead as planned. It will run from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Information on who will get vaccinated and how will be available at the Fort Liard health centre Thursday morning. Additional clinics will run Friday and Saturday. The territory has now given out 1,893 vaccinations, according to the N.W.T. government.
As the COVID-19 vaccine program rolls out across the province and country, polls indicate most Canadians intend to get immunized. For the minority who remain uncertain – safety and effectiveness are cited as primary concerns – we gathered the most common questions and turned to scientists, experts, and reputable sources for answers. Do vaccines work? Yes. Every year, vaccines prevent people around the world from contracting dozens of infectious diseases and their variants, including, polio, hepatitis, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis and others. According to the World Health Organization, over the past century, billions of vaccinations have been administered globally, preventing 2 to 3 million deaths annually. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are both about 95 per cent effective at preventing symptoms, serious illness, and the development of COVID-19. Seasonal influenza vaccines typically have between a 40 to 60 per cent effectiveness. “When someone receives a vaccine, it stimulates our own body's immune system to produce antibodies to that antigen, that protein,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The vaccine was developed so fast, is it safe? “The global community of scientists have collaborated in ways we never experienced before, with a single purpose in mind to develop a safe and effective vaccine for the world,” Henry said. “The greatest brains around the world were put to this process and to this task.” Each vaccine manufacturer had to demonstrate clear and substantial scientific and clinical evidence that the vaccines are safe, effective, and manufactured to the highest quality, she said. COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Dec. 10 indicated similar safety levels to other commonly administered virus vaccines. “Health Canada, and other regulators around the world, set the bar high to ensure that any vaccines that came out of this process met those standards, that they were safe, that they worked, and that they were quality vaccine,” Henry said. How long will I be immune after I get vaccinated? Immunity varies for different vaccines. Some provide immunity for years, some for a lifetime, and others, like influenza, for months. So far, the immunity levels have held steady for people who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines beginning with clinical trials last fall. “It's at least three to four months, which is good news,” said Henry. We won’t know the full length of immunity until more time passes. Can I still spread the virus after getting vaccinated? It’s not yet known whether people can shed virus after being immunized. Vaccines are effective tools against the spread of communicable disease. The COVID-19 vaccine will slow the spread of the virus by reducing the number of people who contract the disease and suffer severe illness, but it won’t eliminate the virus. “This disease appeared a year ago, and we've made so much progress in terms of knowledge about this disease in a year it is incredible,” said Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, a pediatric infectious disease physician who holds the Canadian Research Chair in Infection Prevention at the University of Montreal and is also Chair of the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI). “So yes, there are things we don't know, and I think it is important to acknowledge we don't know. But I don't think that that should stop people from getting vaccinated.” Will I still have to wear a mask after I’ve been immunized? Yes. While the vaccine is about 95 per cent effective at preventing the development of COVID-19, it’s not yet known if a vaccinated person can, subsequently, be an asymptomatic spreader of the virus, just as it’s unknown whether a person can be reinfected after contracting COVID-19 naturally. “That's why, it's still really important that everybody continues to wear masks, to clean their hands regularly, to take those measures that we know prevent transmission to droplets between people,” said Henry. COVID-19 isn’t as serious as public health is saying – why don’t we just let the disease die out naturally? “The risk of complication and death is just too high to let it run its course,” said Quach-Thanh. In Canada, as of Jan. 20, more than 725,000 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 18,462 Canadians had died from the disease (including 1,004 people in B.C.) over the duration of the pandemic. Worldwide, more than 2 million people had died and more than 97 million had been diagnosed with COVID-19. By that date in the U.S., 24.4 million Americans had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 405,000 people had died of it. Virginia Commonwealth University researchers called the COVID-19 mortality rate in the U.S. ‘calamitous,’ comparing it to having 15 Airbus jetliners carrying 150 people crash every day. Will the government make vaccinations mandatory? Neither Federal, nor British Columbian government officials have suggested mandating vaccinations. According to a recent Ipsos poll for Global News, however, 64 per cent of Canadians support mandatory vaccination, while 72 per cent said they would get vaccinated as soon as they could, including 88 per cent of British Columbians polled. Are the vaccine side effects worse than the disease? In Canada, side effects so far have been similar to mild flu symptoms, sometimes intensifying after the second dose, Quach-Thanh said. Common side effects include pain at the site of injection, body chills, fatigue or feeling feverish. These indicate a healthy immune system response and tend to occur within one to three days of inoculation, resolving within hours or a few weeks, according to Health Canada. As of Jan. 20, almost 700,000 COVID-19 shots had been administered in Canada, including almost 98,125 in B.C. By the same date, more than 55 million COVID-19 vaccine shots had been administered worldwide, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. “If something happens, we will hear about it, because the company has to report it to Canada,” said Quach-Thanh. Pregnant women, people with severe autoimmune conditions such as cancer patients, and people who have previously had severe allergic reactions to vaccines should consult a health practitioner before getting vaccinated. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? “There is absolutely no way you can get COVID-19 from the vaccine. It is not possible,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at University of California Davis Children’s Hospital in the school’s health bulletin. “None of the vaccines being developed use the live virus. There is nothing in the vaccine that could cause COVID-19.” Should I get vaccinated? “I think that if we are able to stop this pandemic, it will be due to the vaccine, otherwise, it will strain our lives like this for many, many, many years to come,” said Quach-Thanh. “The Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are very effective at preventing symptoms, especially severe symptoms, and preventing people from hospitalization and dying from COVID,” said Henry. For more information, visit: BCCDC.ca or Canada.ca Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
ORLANDO, Fla. — Two Florida men, including a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, were arrested Wednesday on charges of taking part in the siege of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, authorities said. Joseph Biggs, 37, was arrested in central Florida and faces charges of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, entering a restricted on the groups of the U.S. Capitol and disorderly conduct. According to an arrest affidavit, Biggs was part of a crowd on Jan. 6 that overwhelmed Capitol Police officers who were manning a metal barrier on the steps of the Capitol. The mob entered the building as lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden’s election win. Biggs appeared to be wearing a walkie-talkie during the storming of the Capitol, but he told FBI agents that he had no knowledge about the planning of the destructive riot and didn’t know who organized it, the affidavit said. Ahead of the riot, Biggs told followers of his on the social media app Parler to dress in black to resemble the far-left antifa movement, according to the affidavit. Biggs had organized a 2019 rally in Portland, Oregon, in which more than 1,000 far-right protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators faced off. The Proud Boys are a neofascist group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies. During a September presidential debate, Trump had urged them to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator. An online court docket did not indicate whether Biggs has an attorney who could comment. Jesus Rivera, 37, also was arrested Wednesday in Pensacola. He faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building, intent to impede government business, disorderly conduct and demonstrating in the Capitol buildings. Rivera uploaded a video to Facebook showing himself in the U.S. Capitol crypt, authorities said. The five-minute video ends with Rivera starting to climb out a window at the Capitol, according to an arrest affidavit. An online court docket also did not list an attorney for Rivera. The cases are being handled by federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia. More than a half-dozen other Floridians have been charged in relation to the Capitol assault. Associated Press, The Associated Press
Washington– This is the verbatim executive order killing the Keystone XL pipeline, again, assigned by newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden within his first hour in the Oval Office: “Sec. 6. Revoking the March 2019 Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. (a) On March 29, 2019, the President granted to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. a Presidential permit (the “Permit”) to construct, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada (the “Keystone XL pipeline”), subject to express conditions and potential revocation in the President’s sole discretion. The Permit is hereby revoked in accordance with Article 1(1) of the Permit. “(b) In 2015, following an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest. That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs. The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action. “(c) Climate change has had a growing effect on the U.S. economy, with climate-related costs increasing over the last 4 years. Extreme weather events and other climate-related effects have harmed the health, safety, and security of the American people and have increased the urgency for combatting climate change and accelerating the transition toward a clean energy economy. The world must be put on a sustainable climate pathway to protect Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts, and to create well-paying union jobs as part of the climate solution. “(d) The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest. The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. Our domestic efforts must go hand in hand with U.S. diplomatic engagement. Because most greenhouse gas emissions originate beyond our borders, such engagement is more necessary and urgent than ever. The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is warning Regina city council there could be financial consequences if it restricts energy companies from sponsoring or advertising with the city. Council's executive committee voted Wednesday in favour of a motion that would ban fossil fuel producers and sellers from advertising or having sponsorship agreements for city operations. The motion must now go to the full city council for another vote. If approved, it would see non-renewable energy-based companies added to other types of firms or organizations that could compromise the city's reputation. Moe calls the motion passed by the executive committee "absurd" and thanked Mayor Sandra Masters and some other council members for voting against it. He says the motion is a hypocritical attack on the hardworking workers and employers that fuel Saskatchewan’s economy and fund important community initiatives through voluntary sponsorships. "Should this motion pass Regina City Council next week, our government will seriously consider the future of sponsorships to the City of Regina from provincial energy companies like SaskEnergy and SaskPower," Moe said Thursday in a release. "I would also note that the City of Regina receives about $29 million a year from the municipal surcharge on SaskPower bills and $4.3 million from the municipal surcharge on SaskEnergy bills. "If these Regina city councillors have such a strong aversion to accepting money from energy companies, I assume they will no longer want to receive these funds, which could instead be distributed to other Saskatchewan municipalities." The motion was brought forward by Coun. Daniel Leblanc, who said allowing such sponsorships implies acceptance, at the city level, of what the companies do. He said that contradicts council's moves to make Regina more environmentally sustainable. "We are concerned about the amount of carbon used in our city, I think it is similarly or more inconsistent for us to have buildings and parks named after fossil fuel corporations than it is to be named after a pack of smokes." LeBlanc said. (The Canadian Press, CTV) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 The Canadian Press
One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Brooks RCMP say a fire at a grain elevator on Wednesday sent three workers to hospital. According to a release, RCMP responded at 1:34 p.m. to a fire at a grain elevator west of Brooks, near the JBS meat plant at Range Road 150 and Highway 1. The Brooks Fire Department, EMS and Fortis also responded to the incident. RCMP said three workers were transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and asked the public to avoid the area. The fire department has remained on scene for fire suppression efforts. Alberta Occupational Health and Safety will be investigating the fire with Brooks RCMP.
TORONTO — A mouth-watering matchup featuring some of hockey's most gifted players fell far short of expectations Wednesday. And that suited the Oilers just fine. Leon Draisaitl scored the winner on a third-period power play as Edmonton defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on a night where two offensive juggernauts largely cancelled each other out. "Sometime the boring games are the most solid," Draisaitl said after burying his first of the season to help snap a two-game slide. "We were very solid for 60 minutes ... that's a huge win. "That's more the way we want to play." Kailer Yamamoto was credited with the opening goal for the Oilers (2-3-0), who were coming off consecutive home losses to the Montreal Canadiens, when the Leafs fumbled the puck into their own net in the first. Mikko Koskinen made 25 saves to get the win, while Josh Archibald scored into an empty net with 1:06 left in regulation. Auston Matthews replied for Toronto (3-2-0), which got 19 stops from Frederik Andersen. Correctly billed as a battle of superstars between Matthews and Oilers captain Connor McDavid, one of the only positives from a neutral's perspective was the fact no fans paid for tickets inside an empty Scotiabank Arena because of COVID-19 protocols. "I think both teams watched the pre-scout and were just trying to key in on the top guys," Matthews said. "It was a pretty uneventful game. Not really much going on. "Not really expected, but we've got to do a much better job creating." Edmonton and Toronto will go back at it again Friday in the second of nine North Division meetings between the clubs in the NHL's 56-game abbreviated schedule. Matthews said while the Leafs mostly contained McDavid and Draisaitl — no slouch himself as the reigning Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy winner — at 5 on 5, that shouldn't mean sacrificing their own offensive identity. "Obviously we key in on those two guys," said the Leafs centre, who spent some of the off-season training with McDavid in Arizona. "They're extremely dangerous — two of the top players in the world — but we can't get away from our game. We've got to go out there and play our game and try to produce offence. We've got to play to win, not play to contain two guys. "We were just too safe." Draisaitl snapped a 1-1 tie on the man advantage at 9:12 of the final period with Jake Muzzin in the penalty box for tripping when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' initial shot hit Edmonton's Jesse Puljujarvi in front. The goal snapped an 0-for-12 streak for a power play that led the league with a success rate of 29.5 per cent in 2019-20 before the season was halted by the pandemic. "Maybe that's the bounce that we needed," Draisaitl said. "Maybe that's one we deserved." Toronto wasn't able to do much in response before Archibald fired his first into an empty net. "We're frustrated with the way we started the season," Draisaitl added. "That's a very good team over there — very skilled, very dangerous. Letting up one goal against a team like that, that's always a success." Trailing 1-0 through 40 minutes, the Leafs evened things up at 6:44 of the third when Matthews outmuscled Zack Kassian in the corner before firing shortside for his second on Koskinen. Toronto once again dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, but was left with just 10 skaters up front when Joe Thornton took a hit from Archibald and headed to the locker room with what looked like an arm or wrist injury early in the period. Head coach Sheldon Keefe said post-game it appears the 41-year-old "will definitely miss some time." The Leafs came in feeling good about themselves after consecutive victories over the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets, while the Oilers were in a different frame of mind following those losses to Montreal to close out their four-game homestand to open the season. Playing its first road contest since March 5, Edmonton grabbed a 1-0 lead at 10:42 of the first on a strange own goal. After the Leafs couldn't get out of their zone, Yamamoto fed a pass from behind Andersen's net that Toronto winger Jimmy Vesey intercepted before accidentally firing a clearing attempt in off Muzzin for Yamamoto's second of the campaign. The Leafs held the Oilers to just three shots in the period, but Andersen had to be sharp with a pad save on Alex Chiasson late to keep the deficit at one. Edmonton's power play — which went 0 for 10 and gave up two short-handed goals in those losses to Montreal — got two chances in the second, but continued to struggle with former Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie quarterbacking the first unit in place of the injured Oskar Klefbom. Toronto blue-liner T.J. Brodie then blasted a one-timer late in the period that hit Koskinen, struck William Nylander in front and dribbled just wide. The Leafs got their second man advantage off that sequence when McDavid, who scored a highlight-reel goal that even brought Wayne Gretzky out of his seat to put a bow on Edmonton's 6-4 victory in Toronto last January, was whistled for hooking. Wayne Simmonds fired a shot looking for a tip from Mitch Marner that hit the post before Matthews flubbed one attempt and saw Koskinen snag another with his glove inside the empty rink. "It was a strange game," Keefe said. "It was the first game that felt like a game with no fans. "Being on the bench, it just felt like one of those nights where you try and get something going. We didn't feel like we ever really got there." Notes: Puljujarvi's assist on the winner was his first NHL point since Jan. 19, 2019, after spending all of last season in Finland. ... The Oilers head to Winnipeg for two following Friday's game before hosting the Leafs on Jan. 28 and 30. ... Toronto opens a four-game Alberta road trip Sunday and Tuesday in Calgary. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
REGINA — A former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash has submitted paperwork with reasons why he should not be sent back to India when he gets out of prison. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu is now waiting for the Canada Border Services Agency to write a report that will recommend whether he be allowed to stay in his adopted country or be deported. A grieving father of one of the hockey players killed will be waiting, too. Scott Thomas said he aches every day for his 18-year-old son, Evan, but submitted a letter in support of Sidhu. “I know for a fact that he’ll never drive a semi again. I know for a fact that if he could take back what happened that day he would in a heartbeat. He would trade places with any one of those boys," said Thomas. Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 2018 collision that killed 16 people and injured 13. Court was told that Sidhu, a newly married permanent resident, had missed a stop sign at a rural Saskatchewan intersection and driven into the path of the Broncos bus carrying players and staff to a junior hockey league playoff game. The lawyer for the then-30-year-old Sidhu noted during sentencing arguments that jail time would mean the commerce graduate wouldn't be allowed to stay in Canada, where he has lived since following his partner who had come over in 2013. A criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than six months makes a permanent resident ineligible to remain in the country. An immigration lawyer says Sidhu's bid has the makings of other cases where deportation was avoided. “ I do think this is one of those types of cases where (border services) could choose to exercise their discretion … given the exceptional circumstances," said Erica Olmstead, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, who's not representing Sidhu. But some other parents do not support Sidhu's attempt to stay in Canada.Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, said he intends to send a letter to the Canada Border Services Agency asking for the deportation to go ahead. Joseph said he doesn't want the world to think that all of the families support Sidhu."I don't think the rules should be bent again for him to allow him to stay in the country," Joseph said. "I don't doubt that he lives with regret every single day. I'm not sure that his staying in Canada is best for him."Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband Tom have a constant reminder of the accident. Their son Ryan is paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the crash."I'm not in any way trying to be punitive but absolutely the law is the law and it's not special for anybody else," she said. "I wish I could be more forgiving but we never want this to happen again and there's got to be consequences. I do feel sorry for his family."Sidhu's lawyer, Michael Greene, acknowledges his client's crime had catastrophic consequences but his actions weren't malicious. Greene notes Sidhu wasn't impaired, has a low likelihood to reoffend, and deporting him would also mean deporting his wife. "This offence was more of a tragedy than it was a crime," Greene said Wednesday. He said he has been overwhelmed with letters in support of Sidhu, including from a retired judge, some of which he submitted to border services. “The main thing we’re up against is the perception that ... it would be offensive to the victims and their families and/or the Canadian public to allow him to stay given the magnitude of the tragedy.” “We want to show that ... the Canadian public is not hell-bent on giving him further punishment." Thomas said he's more concerned about regulations that allowed the inexperienced truck driver, three weeks on the job, to get behind the wheel. “We just always felt that the deportation part of it shouldn’t necessarily apply. He’s a broken man. He’s broken psychologically and spiritually, and to deport him now would just add to the suffering to him and his family." Thomas forgave Sidhu in court and has kept in touch with his wife, who shared their emails with her husband. Thomas realizes Sidhu's desire to remain in Canada is divisive. “There’ll be a lot of families that would never support this and there are going to be some that do, too.” Greene said support has come from some other Broncos families, but they asked to remain anonymous so as not to upset others. Olmstead said the deportation policy is there to protect Canada's security, but she has seen orders avoided when someone is guilty of a single offence as in Sidhu's case. "But on the other hand, you’ve got this terrible tragedy where there were so many victims." She explained that a border officer considers community connections and someone's chance of reoffending when writing a report, which could take months, and decides whether there are "exceptional circumstances" that would allow a person to remain in Canada. "It’s quite rare for people to not then still get referred for a removal order.” The Immigration and Refugee Board then holds a hearing to consider the report and is responsible for issuing any deportation order. A permanent resident can appeal the board's decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but not if a sentence, like Sidhu's, is longer than six months. “This is the end of the road for him," Olmstead said. Sidhu could seek a review before a Federal Court, but would first need to be granted leave to do so, she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 -- With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is moving swiftly to dismantle Donald Trump's legacy on his first day in office, signing a series of executive actions that reverse course on immigration, climate change, racial equity and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The new president signed the orders just hours after taking the oath of office at the Capitol, pivoting quickly from his pared-down inauguration ceremony to enacting his agenda. With the stroke of a pen, Biden ordered a halt to the construction of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, ended the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, declared his intent to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization and revoked the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, aides said. The 15 executive actions, and two directives, amount to an attempt to rewind the last four years of federal policies with striking speed. Only two recent presidents signed executive actions on their first day in office — and each signed just one. But Biden, facing the debilitating coronavirus pandemic, a damaged economy and a riven electorate, is intent on demonstrating a sense of urgency and competence that he argues has been missing under his Republican predecessor. “There’s no time to start like today," Biden said in his first comments to reporters as president. Biden wore a mask as he signed the orders in the Oval Office — a marked departure from Trump, who rarely wore a face covering in public and never during events in the Oval Office. But virus precautions are now required in the building. Among the executive actions signed Wednesday was one requiring masks and physical distancing on federal property and by federal employees. Biden's order also extended the federal eviction freeze to aid those struggling from the pandemic economic fallout, created a new federal office to co-ordinate a national response to the virus and restored the White House’s National Security Council directorate for global health security and defence, an office his predecessor had closed. The actions reflected the new president's top policy priority — getting a handle on a debilitating pandemic. In his inaugural address, Biden paused for what he called his first act as president — a moment of a silent prayer for the victims of the nation’s worst public health crisis in more than a century. He declared that he would “press forward with speed and urgency” in coming weeks. “For we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities — much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain,” he said in the speech. But Biden's blitz of executive actions went beyond the pandemic. He targeted Trump's environmental record, calling for a review of all regulations and executive actions that are deemed damaging to the environment or public health, aides said Tuesday as they previewed the moves. Another order instructs federal agencies to prioritize racial equity and review policies that reinforce systemic racism. Biden revoked two Trump orders related to the 2020 census. The first attempted to discern the citizenship status of every U.S. resident, and the second sought to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used for apportioning congressional seats among the states.” He also ordered federal employees to take an ethics pledge that commits them to upholding the independence of the Justice Department. The president also revoked the just-issued report of Trump’s “1776 Commission” that promotes “patriotic education.” Those moves and others will be followed by dozens more in the next 10 days, the president’s aides said, as Biden looks to redirect the country without having to go through a Senate that Democrats control by the narrowest margin and will soon turn to the impeachment trial of Trump, who is charged by the House with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. Republicans signalled that Biden will face fierce opposition on some parts of his agenda. One of his orders seeks to fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, a signature effort of the Obama administration that provided hundreds of thousands of young immigrants protection from deportation and a pathway to citizenship. That's part of a broader immigration plan Biden sent to Congress on Wednesday that would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. The plan would lead to “a permanent cycle of illegal immigration and amnesty that would hurt hard-working Americans and the millions of legal immigrants working their way through the legal immigration process,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Even that familiar criticism seemed a return to the normalcy Biden has promised after years of disruptive and overheated politics. Hewing to tradition, Biden started his day by attending church with both Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress. His press secretary, Jen Psaki, held a briefing for reporters, a practice the Trump White House had all but abandoned in the final two months of the presidency. Psaki said she intended to restore regular briefings as part of the White House's commitment to transparency. “I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play," she said. Biden took other steps to try to signal his priorities and set the tone in his White House. As he swore in dozens of political appointees in a virtual ceremony, he declared he expected “honesty and decency” from all that worked for his administration and would fire anyone who shows disrespect to others “on the spot.” “Everyone is entitled to human decency and dignity,” Biden said. “That’s been missing in a big way for the last four years.” Zeke Miller And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Hamilton’s public school board is asking the province for pandemic pay for educators supporting students learning in the city’s schools. “Educational assistants and teachers are providing direct care and in-person instruction for students who are not able to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks or physically distancing,” Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) chair Dawn Danko wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. The letter calls on the Ontario government to administer an additional payment for education workers who have been “attending in-person at a physical school” in Hamilton — many since Jan. 4 — “in recognition of the elevated risk to staff performing the essential work of supporting students with significant special needs during the lockdown and remote period.” Temporary pandemic pay was initiated by the Ontario government last spring to provide financial support offered to “eligible front line and support workers,” including health-care and long-term-care staff. The program ended in mid-August. As of Jan. 14, there were approximately 330 staff supporting students learning in-person at public schools in Hamilton. On Jan. 15, the Catholic board told The Spectator that approximately 360 educators were working in schools. Chair Pat Daly said the Catholic board, through the Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), has advocated for “additional funding and support” since March, but pandemic pay isn’t something that has been requested. Susan Lucek, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 527, which mainly represents educational assistants, said the HWDSB’s request is “a step in the right direction.” “We are happy that somebody is finally listening,” she said. But, Lucek said, pandemic pay isn’t enough to address members’ health and safety concerns. “Schools should be closed for everybody at this time,” Lucek said. “Everybody should be remote, even though it’s not ideal for parents, students or educators.” In an email to The Spectator, Daryl Jerome, president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), said the letter penned by Danko “was certainly welcomed.” “However, I would have hoped for more of an emphasis on just how unsafe our membership is when delivering curriculum to students who cannot social distance or wear masks and some who require hands-on supports,” he said, adding that approximately 80 members are currently working in schools. Not included in the request are principals, vice-principals, administrators and custodial staff. “They typically are a step removed, they’re not working directly with the students,” Danko told The Spectator. Danko said “it seemed that a focused request would likely be more successful.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator