Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have advice for couples planning weddings this summer amid the on-going pandemic.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have advice for couples planning weddings this summer amid the on-going pandemic.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday: SPAIN Two days after former president Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested in an investigation into alleged irregularities during his administration, Barcelona tries to reverse a 2-0 first-leg loss to Sevilla in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey. The teams met in the Spanish league on Saturday, with Barcelona winning 2-0 in Seville. Wednesday's match will be at the Camp Nou Stadium. The Copa del Rey is the tournament in which Barcelona is the closest to ending its title drought. It lost 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League and is five points off the lead in the Spanish league. Sevilla, sitting fourth in the Spanish league, was coming off a nine-game winning streak in all competitions but has won only one of its last three games. ENGLAND Injury-hit Leicester is looking to ward off another late-season collapse as Brendan Rodgers' team heads to Burnley in the Premier League. Leicester is third and five points clear of fifth-place Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification but has seen key players like James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, James Justin and Jonny Evans get injured in recent weeks. Injuries contributed to a loss of form late last season as Leicester dropped out of the top four in the final days. Second-place Manchester United, which is a point ahead of Leicester, visits Crystal Palace and last-place Sheffield United is 15 points from safety ahead of a home match against Aston Villa. ITALY AC Milan will be without key forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic as it attempts to close the gap to league leader Inter Milan. Second-place Milan will be looking to win at home against Udinese to move to within one point of its city rival, with Inter playing at Parma the following day. Atalanta should keep hold of fourth place as it hosts bottom club Crotone but Roma and Napoli will want to take advantage of any slip up and they visit Fiorentina and Sassuolo, respectively. At the other end of the table, Cagliari could move out of the relegation zone with a victory over Bologna. Benevento and Genoa are also far from safe and they host Hellas Verona and Sampdoria, respectively. FRANCE After dropping points with draws last weekend, Lille and Lyon need wins to pressure Paris Saint-Germain and hold off Monaco. Lille remains in first place but only leads second-place PSG by two points, while fourth-place Monaco has moved to just one behind third-place Lyon in a fascinating title race much closer than most observers had anticipated. Defending champion PSG is away at Bordeaux, and Monaco is in Alsace to play Strasbourg, while Lille hosts seventh-place Marseille, and Lyon welcomes a visiting Rennes side in the ninth spot after three straight league losses. GERMANY Leipzig hosts Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals of the German Cup with the daunting task of beating a Wolfsburg defence which hasn't conceded a goal in eight league and cup games. The two teams are also battling in the league, where Leipzig is second and Wolfsburg third. Leipzig is on its own run of good form, with six wins from its last seven games, the only blip being a 2-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League. Leipzig left-back Angelino is set to miss the game for fitness reasons. Fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen is by far the lowest-level team left in the cup as it hosts second-division Holstein Kiel. Both teams pulled off surprise wins earlier in the competition as Essen eliminated Bayer Leverkusen and Kiel knocked out reigning champion Bayern Munich. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
It’s hard to say what is the more impressive feat — remotely landing a spacecraft on Mars, or a kid from Norfolk County landing a job at NASA. Christopher Heirwegh’s unlikely trajectory took him from a Simcoe Composite School physics class to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where an instrument he helped design is scanning the surface of Mars for signs of ancient life. “It’s been a very exciting past couple of weeks, starting with the anticipation leading up to the landing, followed by the joy of knowing it made it successfully,” said Heirwegh, 39, a few days after watching the Mars rover Perseverance complete its 300 million-mile journey to the Red Planet on Feb. 18. As Perseverance floated down to the surface, Heirwegh was on the edge of his seat at his home in Pasadena, Calif. His wife, Meagan, and their six-year-old daughter, Harper, were by his side, with the rest of Heirwegh’s JPL team sharing in the suspense on a video call. “It hit me right at that moment before landing, around the parachute phase, that things are going to come in fast, and oh boy, if this doesn’t make it, where do we go from here?” Heirwegh said. “There was certainly some tension.” Perseverance’s thrusters soon kicked in to start its powered descent, and a sky crane took over to gently place the rover on Mars. While mission control filled with the cheers of relieved scientists, the Heirweghs tucked into celebratory shawarma and cake. Now that Perseverance is trundling around the Jezero crater, Heirwegh’s work has just begun. The physicist is keeping a close eye on PIXL, a high-tech X-ray machine that has been his sole professional focus since joining NASA in 2016. PIXL — the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry — is one of two instruments mounted on the lander’s robotic arm that will help answer the mission’s central question — has there been life on Mars? About the size of a lunch box, PIXL’s job is to scan Martian rocks for trace elements that could point to the presence of ancient life, while taking what Heirwegh describes as “super close-up pictures of rock and soil textures” that could reveal microbial evidence smaller than a grain of salt. PIXL has an X-ray tube at its heart, similar to what dentists use when photographing teeth. The scanner shoots pinpoint-sized X-ray beams into the rock, a process not unlike how artwork investigators chemically analyze paintings to detect forgeries. “We’re looking at things that tell us what the rock is made of, where the rock might have come from, if it was exposed to water, and also if it might have potentially harboured very primitive forms of life at one time,” Heirwegh explained. PIXL is best at finding evidence of inorganic material — heavier elements like calcium, lead and strontium — while another instrument on the rover, called SHERLOC, looks for “the building blocks of life,” lighter organic molecules like carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Together, they search for “biosignatures” suggestive of fossilized bacteria that may have called a Martian ocean home billions of years ago. “Our two instruments can each produce two-dimensional elemental maps,” Heirwegh said, likening each pinpoint of data collected to the pixels on a television that combine to form a clear picture. “We’re hoping we can eventually overlay the two maps so we can really get a good idea of what the rock is all about.” Reaching for the stars The grandson of tobacco farmers who immigrated to Norfolk County from Belgium, Heirwegh grew up enthralled by the stars in the night sky and the vastness of space. He never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — “mostly just the Rodenberry years,” he clarified — and pored over images of the solar system captured by the Voyager probes. “I found that pretty fascinating, and that kind of led me to what I do now,” he said. Mike and Laurie Heirwegh have followed their son’s career with pride. “Some of the stuff is way above what we understand. Christopher always keeps it as simple as possible for us,” Mike said with a laugh. Mike, a retired pharmacist and business owner, said his “studious” and “reserved” son excelled in a science-heavy course load at Simcoe Composite School. “Whitney, our daughter, said he had this microscope he got at Christmas and would project images up in his room and explain what was on the slides to her and her sister Danielle,” added Laurie, who owns a gift shop in Simcoe. Four years studying undergraduate science at McMaster University in Hamilton led to a master’s in medical physics at Mac, where Heirwegh first tried his hand at X-ray technology. He further studied X-ray fluorescence and radiation science while doing his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in applied physics at the University of Guelph, which involved analyzing data collected by the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers. That piqued NASA’s interest, creating a rare opportunity for a Canadian to join the Jet Propulsion Lab. “There were not too many people who were doing that,” Mike Heirwegh said. “To get a job like he’s doing in NASA, you have to be uniquely different than any American.” The family left their house in Guelph to make a new life in America, with Meagan Heirwegh, herself an accomplished academic, putting her career on hold so her husband could follow his dream. “She was extremely supportive of taking this step,” Heirwegh said. “That’s been a really key part of it, and something that helped me to have the courage to make such a drastic move.” While navigating the immigration process, Heirwegh got to work calibrating PIXL years ahead of its launch on Perseverance. Past Mars rovers have used X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, but PIXL is the first with an X-ray tube, a technological milestone Heirwegh finds “quite rewarding.” In the months ahead, Heirwegh and his fellow scientists will analyze the trove of scientific data Perseverance will transmit across space to the Jet Propulsion Lab, while making sure their high-tech scanner stays properly calibrated. To keep himself calibrated in what can be a high-pressure job, Heirwegh exercises every morning, and he and Meagan solve a Mensa puzzle together over breakfast. “It’s a nice way to jump-start the physical and mental gears,” he said. Heirwegh could not have known what the future held when he decided to leave Canada and boldly go to NASA to reach for the stars. But his parents say their son was destined to work on the Mars project. “I think the term ‘perseverance’ is very much like Christopher,” Mike said. “He persevered to get to where he is.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says all people over 80 will get their second dose based on existing appointments, but after that the interval between doses will be extended. She says having everyone over 16 partially vaccinated by July would bring "the finish line" into much sharper focus. Morrison reported four new cases of COVID-19 in the province today involving three men and one woman, all in their 20s. There are now 22 active cases on the Island, and there have been a total of 136 cases since the onset of the pandemic. Morrison said test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the more transmissible variant first identified in the United Kingdom. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Work has started on the Swan Hills Fireguard project. Lead by the Town of Swan Hills, this project is being completed through a partnership between the Town, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Blue Ridge Lumber. During the week of Feb. 22, Blue Ridge began clearing trees alongside the fire road on the east side of Swan Hills to make way for the 50 – 100 meter wide fireguard. The proposed fireguard will follow the fire road to reduce the amount of established forest that will need to be cleared, widening the existing cleared area around the road instead of levelling a new path through the forested areas surrounding the town. Altogether, roughly 41 hectares will be cleared for this project. Blue Ridge will harvest the saleable timber within the fireguard's planned path as the first step to clearing this area. Once Blue Ridge has made enough progress in their operations to allow for it, a mulching company will be contracted to mulch the remaining material. The removal of the standing timber, deadfall, and standing deadfall is part of a vegetation management strategy to eliminate or at least reduce potential fuel for wildfires. While this strategy will not stop a wildfire on its own, it would slow the wildfire’s advance to give firefighters more time to attempt to get it under control. The fireguard will also give firefighters space to set up their operations. While the sight and sounds of logging operations so close to Swan Hills may be disturbing to some town residents, it is important to remember that this is a planned operation to decrease the town's wildfire risk. Once the fireguard has been completed, the Town of Swan Hills will be engaging in maintenance and upkeep operations regarding the fireguard and FireSmarting activities around the town going forward. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Two recent graduates of the Civil Engineering Technology program at St. Lawrence College have launched a bursary to support upper year Civil Engineering students. Braedan Rogers and David Logan, 2020 graduates of the program, wanted to give something back to future students in the Civil Engineering Technology program. Last year was the inaugural year for the bursary, and the duo hope to increase the amount available to the recipients through donations. “We found most, if not all, of our classmates never applied for any funding as the prevailing thoughts on most bursaries was they were so competitive, what was the point," Logan said. "Our classmates worked in industry during summer breaks, and really struggled hard to get decent grades as it is very challenging subject material." The list of bursaries available at St. Lawrence College is quite lengthy, but the duo say most rely on grades, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering, which students with jobs find difficult to fit into their days. The Solid Ground Award is awarded to returning students who are enrolled full-time in the Civil Engineering Technology program, are passionate about their field, and interested in pursuing a career in Civil Engineering. When asked how they fund the bursary, Logan said they decided to run it through SLC Alumni. “It keeps everything really easy and allows for donors to get charitable tax receipts,” he said. “When talking with the coordinators, we expressed how the main goal of this was to support a Civil student who was passionate about future work in the Engineering field,” Logan continued. “As such, we really only had one criteria: the student had to be a second or third year civil engineering student in good standing. This allows the most amount of students to apply. With help from the Civil faculty, one student is selected.” Last year the Solid Ground Award provided $500 to the recipient. The duo say their ultimate goal is to provide a full year’s tuition. “Breadan and I have committed to fund this for a minimum of three years. We each donate $250 a year, with my share coming through my business ‘Wise Cracks Kingston’,” Logan shared. “We feel this is worthwhile and important. There are many roles in the civil [engineering] world that need new bright talented workers,” he said. “Kingston, and eastern Ontario, have many companies that need people with the skills learned through the Civil Engineering program at SLC. The hope is that each year we can grow the amount of donors, and in doing so help the donors get the skilled workers they need!" “We hope to make this a sustainable award that can be counted on for years,” Logan added. Those interested in donating to this bursary are asked to contact SLC Alumni. Mention the Solid Ground Award to ensure your donation goes directly to support the Civil Engineering bursary. Students can apply for the bursary through the SLC website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
A young woman from Labrador City was recently chosen to participate in Daughters of the Vote, a nationwide initiative with the goal of electing more women to political office. The March 5-8 initiative, will see 338 young women and gender-diverse youth from across the country, one from each federal riding, take part in a four-day program that will include speakers from all levels of government, parliamentary committee simulations, and a virtual House of Commons session on International Women’s Day (March 8). Jenna Andrews, who will represent the riding of Labrador, said there were a number of things that drew her to the program, not the least of was the chance to represent the region. “I’m so proud to be from Labrador, everything about it,” she told SaltWire Network. “The land, the people, the sense of community care. I just really wanted to represent that at this conference.” Andrews said she has always been interested in politics and is in her last year of a bachelor of social work program, which has given her an opportunity to “really dig into learning more about social justice and inequities that are so deeply imbedded in our society across all levels, local, provincial, national. “That really heightened my interest, and Daughters of the Vote seemed like a good place for me to dive into that more and learn about the intersection of social policy, inequity and politics.” Daughters of the Vote is an initiative of Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization started in 2001 and which has been advocating for the equal representation of women in Canada’s Parliament, in provincial and territorial legislatures, and on municipal and band councils. Equal Voice executive director Eleanor Fast said the goal is to expose more young women and gender-diverse youth to politics and hopefully inspire them to learn more about political systems and how they can participate. “Right now in Canada, there are less than 100 women in Parliament. It’s 2021 and less than a third of our parliamentarians are women,” Fast said. “With Daughters of the Vote, we have every single riding in Canada represented by a woman, and we think that’s a really powerful statement.” Fast said it’s a great opportunity for the participants to meet other women interested in politics from across the country and share different opinions on policy issues. Many past participants have kept in touch, she said, helping create nationwide networks of politically active young women. This is the third iteration of Daughters of the Vote, which began in 2017 on the 100th anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in Canada. It ran again in 2019, and this year will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrews said there are issues in Labrador she wants to bring forward at the sessions, including access to mental-health treatment, resources for aging and digital equity. Andrews said she is disappointed she won’t get to meet the other delegates face to face and be in the House of Commons, but the situation will be relevant to digital equity, one of the topics she wants to discuss, “As we move into this reality with COVID and our inability to gather in person, how do we ensure that there is equitable access to the digital spaces and the technology we need to get on to those digital spaces?” she said. “It’s an issue in Labrador and across the country that I hope to bring forward.” Her main hope is to learn from the other delegates and their experiences, and bring that knowledge back to Labrador. The sessions will be live-streamed. More information is available online at https://www.equalvoice.ca/dov. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
SALEM, Mass. — A second panel from American artist Jacob Lawrence's sweeping series “Struggle: From the History of the American People" that has been hidden from public view for decades has been located, the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts announced Tuesday. Officially entitled “Immigrants admitted from all countries: 1820 to 1840 — 115,773,” the painting known as panel 28 had not been seen in public since 1960 and was known only through a black-and-white reproduction. “We are thrilled to share news of this important discovery, especially at a time when Americans are actively engaged with democracy,” Lydia Gordon, the museum's associate curator said in a statement. The Salem-based Peabody Essex Museum organized the exhibit. The painting will now join nearly 30 of the Black artist’s other works painted in the 1950s for the last two stops of a national tour in Seattle and Washington, D.C., museum officials said. The 30-piece series remains incomplete, as the whereabouts of three panels remain a mystery, the museum said. The 12-inch-by-16-inch (30.5-centimetre-by-40.5-centimetre) panel was found in a New York City apartment, like another painting in the series, panel 16, that was rediscovered in a different home in October. The owner, who wants to remain anonymous, inherited the panel 28 from family, who — like the figures depicted — were immigrants. The egg tempera on hardboard piece in vivid reds and yellows depicts two women in shawls clutching babies, one of them nursing, as well as a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and holding a flower pot containing a single red rose, America's national flower. The subjects have oversized hands, symbolizing what it meant to arrive only with what could be carried, the museum said. It was inspired by a table of immigration statistics published in Richard B. Morris’s Encyclopedia of American History. “Lawrence created this body of work during the modern civil rights era to interpret pivotal moments in the American Revolution and early decades of the republic as ongoing struggles," Gordon said. The panel has undergone some restoration work and will join the exhibit, “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” starting Friday at the Seattle Art Museum through May 23, and at then at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. from June 26 until Sept. 19. It is the first time in more than 60 years the pieces are being shown together. Museum officials hope that the discovery of panels 28 and 16 — which depicts Shays’ Rebellion, the 1786–87 tax revolt in western Massachusetts, leads to the discovery of the three panels that remain missing. The Associated Press
Regina–SaskEnergy is warning of a potential telemarketing scam targeting its residential customers. The warning comes a week after its sister Crown corporation, put out a warning of a scam targeting its customers. SaskEnergy said in a release on March 2 it has received reports that individuals claiming to be associated with either SaskEnergy, or the federal government, are contacting customers regarding their eligibility for various rebates, including: carbon tax, furnace replacement and equipment maintenance. These callers are not associated with SaskEnergy, and are not offering rebates on behalf of SaskEnergy, the Crown corporation emphasized. SaskEnergy rebates are not offered through solicitation or door-to-door sales. All SaskEnergy rebates are offered through participating SaskEnergy Network Members only. For more information about SaskEnergy current rebates and programs, and a list of qualified Network Member companies, visit www.saskenergy.com. Anyone who has received calls of this nature should make a report to the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) of the Government of Saskatchewan at 1-306-787-5645 or 1-877-880-5550 (menu option #1), SaskEnergy said, adding, “If you have provided personal financial information, including bank account or credit card information over the phone, you should report the matter to local police, as well as immediately contact your financial institution.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Corinne Tougas, Vincent Marcoux, Vincent Lafleur et Mélisande Leblanc forment un joyeux quatuor à l’œuvre derrière Le Jardin des Funambules. Ils se sont lancés dans un projet de serres froides ! L’autonomie alimentaire et la santé environnementale, des enjeux clés aujourd’hui, reposent notamment sur une agriculture locale et bio pour une alimentation saine et durable. Et ce, quatre saisons par année ! Rencontre avec Vincent Marcoux. Ces quatre anciens urbains formés en agriculture biologique ont acquis leur terre en 2016, et ont commencé leur production l’année suivante. « On trouvait ça un peu désolant d’avoir des serres vides l’hiver. On a donc plongé dans les cultures hivernales, raconte Vincent. Il existe plusieurs façons de faire. D’abord, les serres doivent pouvoir supporter la charge de la neige. Nous en exploitons cinq, certaines très peu chauffées, entre 1 et 5 degrés, et d’autres pas du tout. Dès qu’il y a une percée de soleil, rapidement, l’effet de serre se fait sentir ! Plus besoin de chauffage, il faut même ventiler. Ce n’est pas tant la température que le manque de lumière qui agit sur les cultures. » Une oasis dans le désert Des légumes verts, sains et frais au cœur de l’hiver, ça ressemble à un rêve qui devient réalité ! « Au Québec, pour l’instant, peu prennent les devants. Mais plus au sud comme dans le Maine et le Vermont ayant des climats similaires aux nôtres, plusieurs maraîchers l’expérimentent depuis longtemps et obtiennent d’excellents résultats, se réjouit M. Marcoux. On y va par essais et ajustements en utilisant le minimum de ressources et de technologies, le tout en phase avec notre objectif d’équilibre ! De plus, tirer des revenus l’hiver réduit notre charge de travail durant l’été. Trouver la bonne combinaison entre le travail, la famille et la vie personnelle était au cœur de nos réflexions initiales. Vivre décemment de ce métier en harmonie avec nos valeurs, c’est possible ! » Mesclun, laitue, roquette, oignons verts, céleri, chou kale, épinards, etc. qui ne viennent pas du bout du monde, voilà une véritable révolution alimentaire nordique ! Et ce, grâce à des défricheurs passionnés. « Dès le début de notre entreprise, on tenait à notre mission éducative. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de nourrir les gens, mais également d’aider ceux qui voudraient emboiter le pas ! Une agriculture en santé au Québec, voilà un projet qui aide à traverser des périodes comme celle que nous vivons », conclut-il. Suivez-les de près ! Leur site regorge d’infos et d’espoir en quelque sorte. Et c’est bientôt le moment de s’inscrire pour les paniers estivaux. lejardindesfunambules.com facebook.com/Lejardindesfunambules Mireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
Most coastal residents are suitably enthralled with charismatic or charming marine animals such as killer whales, the iconic Pacific salmon or furry sea otters. But what of the lowly sea cucumber? It’s likely most people don’t give much thought to the fairly ubiquitous and possibly misunderstood invertebrate, said scientist Emaline Montgomery. She along with other researchers on the West Coast of Canada are exploring how some unsung heroes of the seabed may be the ticket to a more sustainable form of aquaculture. Apostichopus californicus, or the giant red sea cucumber, is a slightly alarming, spiky, squishy creature that can grow 50 centimetres long and sustains itself by eating detritus off the ocean floor and using its butt to breathe. But it’s the sea cucumber’s ability to remove excess organic matter from surrounding water and sediment that makes it interesting for aquaculture, said Montgomery, a research associate and instructor at North Island College (NIC). Montgomery’s research focus is on the co-cultivation of various species together to improve the sustainability and profitability of aquaculture. Known popularly as regenerative ocean farming, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) uses extractive species like sea cucumbers or seaweed to filter or absorb the uneaten feed or waste from fish farms or shellfish operations. The aim of regenerative aquaculture is to mimic the natural food web to both improve marine ecosystem health and increase the number of products that can be grown at one site. The giant red sea cucumber is an attractive candidate for co-cultivation because it hoovers up deposits off the sea floor, and it can fetch a good price in international markets, said Montgomery. “I think of them as nature’s recyclers,” she said, adding sea cucumbers don’t need to be fed, as they extract what they need from their surroundings with a set of specialized tentacles. “It’s why sea cucumbers are so valuable,” she added. “They're able to consume the waste products, either excess food or feces that are being produced by shellfish or fin fish, and they're able to take that organic material, assimilate it, use it for their own nutritional benefits.” And what the sea cucumber spits out the other side of its digestive system has less impact on the marine environment, Montgomery said. Plus, sea cucumbers have long been a highly valued food item with sought-after health benefits in Asian markets, she said. Montgomery is working with shellfish growers to find cheap, easy-to-use containment systems to raise shellfish and sea cucumbers together to increase growers’ incomes. But this spring, she is also slated to begin research with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to examine the commercial feasibility of raising sea cucumbers in conjunction with salmon farms. “One of the questions that we're going to be looking at is whether there are any risks to the salmon or the cucumbers from each other,” Montgomery said. There’s a solid history of theoretical research done in Canada exploring the idea of using sea cucumbers alongside fish farms, said Montgomery. When grown solely on the sable fish waste sediment, juvenile sea cucumbers showed good growth and survival rates and reduced the organic carbon and nitrogen content in byproduct materials by 60 per cent. “But nothing's been done at a large enough scale to determine if this is feasible to integrate with our current industries or not,” Montgomery said. “That's one of our goals, over the next year.” The scientist said she first became entranced with studying sea cucumbers in university. “What I discovered is this organism that looks like a blob, and might be written off by a lot of people, actually has a lot of complexity,” Montgomery said. Besides their interesting qualities, sea cucumbers have a lot to offer ecologically, she said. “But there is also a king of missing opportunity in Canada to grow these species where there are really good markets,” Montgomery said, adding both the economy and the environment stand to benefit. “Some of the (aquaculture) practices we already have in place are experiencing a lot of criticism,” she added. “If we can continue to improve that, I think it’s good for all Canadians.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628. The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121. The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public. Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus. The new data is based on 30,737 tests. There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The federal government is giving almost $11,000 to each of the Yellowknife, Hay River, and Fort Smith Royal Canadian Legions. The combined $32,500 will go toward supplementing operational costs to help the facilities continue to provide support for veterans. The money comes from a federal fund that seeks to protect jobs and create emergency support to help businesses survive during the pandemic. “Royal Canadian Legion branches have supported veterans, their families, and their communities for generations,” N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod is quoted as saying. “Our government is helping branches continue to provide their important services here in the N.W.T. and across the country.” Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
A years-old privacy breach at Central Health has had a particular impact on pregnant women and new parents, says a St. John's lawyer who is filed a class-action lawsuit. Bob Buckingham says a disproportionate number of calls to his office regarding the breach are from people who say medical records relating to their pregnancies were inappropriately accessed between 2018 and 2020. He filed a class-action lawsuit in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in February, seeking to represent about 240 people affected by that string of privacy breaches, and an additional 20 who were notified more recently that their medical records were also inappropriately accessed. "We do know, which is very disconcerting about this particular circumstance, is that there seems to be a particular interest in people's obstetric files," Buckingham said. "People are finding this very hard to comprehend." Buckingham says he hopes to unearth more information about what happened over the course of the lawsuit's discovery phase, but is basing his understanding of which groups were targeted on the types of people who are calling his office. "We've had people say people say, 'I can't understand why this individual had an interest in my child or children,' that's the one we're getting the most of," he said. "People are creeped out by what has happened here, why someone had that particular interest." Buckingham represents two women who've filed suit against Central Health, and is seeking to have that lawsuit certified as a class action. The multi-year privacy breach was disclosed to the public in July. At the time, Central Health CEO Andrée Robichaud said an employee was effectively "snooping" in patient files. Buckingham's lawsuit seeks cash payments for the plaintiffs for the damages they experienced; It alleges Central Health was negligent in securing the medical records of patients. The process will take some time: It first has to be certified as a class action before the core legal arguments in the case can begin. Central Health said in a statement that it has received the lawsuit, but would not comment further during the court process. Buckingham says he has not yet received the health authority's formal statement of defence. In a previous statement, before the lawsuit was filed, a spokesperson for Central Health said the body had taken steps to tighten its security protocols since the multi-year privacy breach was discovered in 2020. "Central Health places great emphasis on maintaining privacy and confidentiality of patient information through its privacy awareness and education framework," spokesperson Gayle St. Croix wrote in January. "All new and current employees complete mandatory privacy training, annually." Buckingham claims in a lawsuit that Central Health's failure to protect medical information amounted to negligence. The employee who was responsible for that privacy breach no longer works at Central Health, according to the authority. Buckingham's statement of claim says the plaintiffs in the lawsuit felt "distress, humiliation, anger, upset, mental anguish" and "shock" when they learned that their medical records had been accessed. "It's a breach of personal, confidential information that goes to your biological core, it goes right to your identity," the lawyer added in an interview. He said he also hopes his lawsuit will make Central Health take further steps to strengthen their patient privacy protections. "We have to protect that in our society." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Another GTA region has begun inoculating seniors 80 years of age and older. Shallima Maharaj has the story.
A major spending scandal at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) has led to some difficult questions of its board of directors, which includes Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine and Area P Director Mel Rothenburger. In a major investigative series, Kamloops This Week (KTW) reporter Jessica Wallace detailed how the regional district’s former chief administrative officer put to use his tax-payer funded credit card. Over a five year period, Sukh Gill spent over $500,000 on the card. This included $174,000 on coffee shops and restaurants, with Gill charging money on the card an average of once every two days. Former staff and outgoing directors were treated to dinners and pricey parting gifts. A number of gift cards were also purchased and working meals at high-end restaurants were numerous. On Monday, March 1, current board chair Ken Gillis announced the TNRD will commission an investigation into the spending scandal, though the timeline and scope have yet to be determined. “On behalf of myself and the entire Board of Directors, I am here to say that we take full ownership and accountability for the lack of financial oversight on this matter,” said a media statement from Gillis. None of the spending was against policy, and the TNRD has stated publicly that the spending was not the reason for Gill’s departure in February of 2020. The regional district has not explained why he left and called his departure a retirement; it has been reported that he received a $500,000-plus severance and payout upon his departure. The spending scandal has drawn widespread condemnation, with Kris Sims, director of the British Columbia Chapter of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, calling it one of the worst examples of government misspending she has seen. “This is one of the worst examples I’ve seen when it comes to expense accounts,” said Sims. Sims said it isn’t just the “big eye-popping” spends, such as an $8,000 spent at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, B.C., but rather the “constant drip” of spending. “Like every other day, more or less, this person was eating and drinking and not paying for it themselves,” said Sims. Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is one of 11 member municipalities of the TNRD. Raine, who is one of 26 directors for the TNRD, has served on the board since 2010, and currently chairs the organization’s auditing committee, a position he held in 2013 and 2015 to 2017. The audit committee’s role is to approve of the hiring of an audit firm, meet with the auditor to review the plan for audits and then receive the end product. Like other TNRD staff and directors, Raine is mentioned in the reported spending. Raine appears on four line items over the five year period related to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference in Halifax, N.S. in 2018. Raine declined comment for the story, instead directing Sun Peaks Independent News to speak with current TNRD board chair Gillis. Gillis said that while some of the spending highlighted in the KTW investigation was lavish, in other cases, it was justified, and that one must also keep in mind that Gill also often paid for required big-ticket items, such as hotel rooms for directors or working lunch meals for directors, on his credit card. “In mea culpa mode, we obviously should have had some means in place to have the CAO’s expenses reviewed, [which] we do have now,” said Gillis. Gillis added the board was not fully aware of the scale of spending that was taking place as CAO spending was not presented in one clear place for directors to see. Asked if some of the meals that he joined Gill and others at raised a red flag, Gillis said that they did, but they never translated into policy. “I thought [that] this is a bit extreme,” said Gillis, “And I mentioned it to Mr. Gill on one occasion, but he didn’t seem to be particularly concerned about it. You think well, I guess that this is the way things are done? “There were red flags raised on certain issues at certain times, but for some reason, [they] didn’t really seem to go anywhere.” In 2018, Gillis attended a dinner at Whistler’s high end Bearfoot Bistro during the Union of Municipalities Convention. The meal cost taxpayers $8,000 and has a flashpoint for outrage around the CAO spending. Gillis said that while wine may have flowed a bit too freely, the evening was a strong networking opportunity that brought together staff with local and provincial politicians. “It was a wonderful networking opportunity,” he said. “It gave us a great chance to become more familiar with the municipal councillors [and the] issues that they were dealing with at any given time.” Gillis added that while board members were discouraged from “badgering the MLA” with specific issues, they were able to make connections and get the ball rolling on important matters. Gillis said the organization has put in a number of measures to curb spending in recent months. This includes changing the TNRD’s hospitality policy to limit drinks to two (beer or wine) at events. The regional district has also created policies where the chair or vice-chair has to sign off on CAO expenses and staff are not allowed to expense alcohol. “We have made a requirement that all Visa receipts submitted must be accompanied and backed up by the invoice,” he said. “So in other words, you can’t just submit the little tab that comes off the machine at a restaurant, you have to have the restaurant bill attached to that.” Mel Rothenberger, director for Area P, which covers Sun Peaks, said that he would like to see the rules go even further. He noted that he pushed for a cash bar this summer when the board voted for the two-drink limit at events. Rothenburger was elected in 2014 and is tied to numerous meals out with Gill, including a $523 meal at the Boathouse Restaurant in downtown Vancouver in 2015. Rothenburger was also part of a 13-member party from the regional district who stayed at the Pan Pacific between three and five nights at $399 a night during a conference. The total cost of the accommodation for the party was $6,094.66. Asked about his presence at the dinners, Rothenburger said that he kept his orders to a reasonable amount. “I’ve always tried to be careful about my spending and my expenses tend to certainly be on the lower half of the list of the totals over the years,” he said. “Two years ago, for example, I made a motion which was successful that the cost for spouses not be paid, that we clarify that spouses are not eligible to be paid when they accompany directors to various events. That was approved that it was actually reinforced last year.” Rothenburger said that he would like the TNRD to take an “open book approach” to CAO and director spending in the future. “I think if we could produce a report with details of that spending, at least quarterly, maybe even monthly, if that’s possible, that would go a great distance towards restoring public confidence and also giving us a means to pay careful attention to that spending,” he said. Moving forward, Sims of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation said things will need to be different. She said that the incident highlights the need for a strong office of the Auditor General for local government, where staff can report misspending. “We don’t have a strong, effective municipal Auditor General,” she said. “And we don’t have a team of watchdogs keeping an eye on these books. Whistleblowers have next to nowhere to call, and when they get a sense that something is going wrong in their workplace, they’re scared for their jobs.” Overall, Sims said she hopes that the event does not turn people off local government. She added local government is among the most personal forms of government and while scandals like this can result in disillusionment, it is important for citizens to demand for change and better safeguards. Since the publication of the KTW report, one board member—-Area E Director Sally Watson—has gone on record saying that the board of directors was complicit in the CAO spending over the years. Sims added it’s important for all board members to speak up on the issue. “They owe it to the people to give an explanation,” she said. “And maybe they do have an explanation. Who knows? Maybe they honestly didn’t know. Maybe they were somehow being kept in the dark. If that’s true, just say so.” Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
TORONTO — Some of the Toronto van attack victims and their families are nervously waiting to learn the fate of the man whose deadly rampage three years ago changed their lives forever.On Wednesday morning, live on YouTube, Justice Anne Molloy will deliver her verdict in the case of Alek Minassian, who deliberately drove a rented van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk on April 23, 2018, killing 10 pedestrians and injured 16 others."I've been anxious for months, much more so than I thought I'd be," said Catherine Riddell, 70, who was out for a walk when Minassian's van hit her from behind.Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack, but pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., argued at trial that he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions due to autism spectrum disorder. The trial will turn on Minassian's mindset at the time."He's a mass killer who has autism, that's it," said Riddell, who suffered a fractured spine and broken ribs, scapula and pelvis in the attack. She also suffered a minor brain injury and internal bleeding."I'm really nervous," said Robert Forsyth, whose aunt, Betty Forsyth, 94, was killed by Minassian when she was out for a walk on an unusually warm and sunny April day. "He's got to be guilty, right?"Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie Victoria D'Amico, Munir Najjar, Dorothy Marie Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha died in the attack.The seven-week trial that started in November focused on the inner workings of Minassian's mind. The prosecution opened with a painstakingly detailed examination of how all 26 people were killed or hurt.The trial heard that after weeks of planning, Minassian sat in the driver's seat of his rental van at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in the north end of the city around 1:30 p.m.When the light turned green, he floored it, hopped the curb and hit a group of pedestrians, killing two. He drove for about two kilometres on and off the sidewalk as he killed and maimed unsuspecting pedestrians along the way. Minassian only stopped when one of his victims spilled their drink on his windshield and he worried he'd crash. On a side street he hopped out of the van and tried to get killed by police, "suicide by cop" being part of his plan. Minassian tried to fool an approaching police officer by pulling his wallet, pretending it was a gun, but it didn't work."I'm a murdering piece of shit," Minassian told the booking officer shortly thereafter.Several hours later Minassian told a detective he committed the attack as retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn't have sex with him. Later, he told various assessors that the so-called "incel" motive was a ruse, designed to increase his notoriety. He was still a lonely virgin, however, that part was true.He went on to tell different doctors different reasons for his attack. He said he had "extreme anxiety" over a new job he was about to start. He also wanted to "set a world record" for kills in order to be atop an online leaderboard of mass killers.If he accomplished that, then he wouldn't be viewed as a failure, he told a forensic psychiatrist. Minassian also told them he had a strong desire to commit a mass killing and was infatuated with an American mass murderer.The central question at trial was whether Minassian knew what he did was morally wrong. The legal test in this case focuses on whether he had the capacity at the time to make a rational choice.The defence's star witness, American-based forensic psychiatrist Dr. Alexander Westphal, testified that Minassian's autism left him without the ability to develop empathy.Minassian's lawyer, Boris Bytensky, said that lack of empathy left him incapable of rational choice, and, ultimately, to know what he did was morally wrong. The prosecution argued Minassian knew what he did was wrong, in part because he told many of his assessors he knew killing 10 people that day was morally wrong.Minassian had a decade-long fixation on mass school shootings, the Crown pointed out. That fixation morphed into fantasies of committing a mass shooting at his own high school, where he was picked on.But he never followed through, in part, because he did not know how to get a gun. "There's no evidence he ever lost the fact of the wrongness of his actions," said Crown attorney Joe Callaghan.The prosecution's key witness, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Percy Wright, said Minassian had some empathy and knew what he did was wrong, thereby did not qualify for the test that he was not criminally responsible for his actions.Renowned forensic psychiatrist, Dr. John Bradford, who has evaluated some of the country's most notorious killers, said Minassian did not meet the test to be found not criminally responsible.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions to punish Russia for what it described as Moscow's attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent last year, in President Joe Biden's most direct challenge yet to the Kremlin. The sanctions against seven senior Russian officials, among them the head of its FSB security service, and on 14 entities marked a sharp departure from former President Donald Trump's reluctance to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.