(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images - image credit)
Golf legend Tiger Woods was taken to hospital Tuesday after a single-car crash in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images - image credit)
Golf legend Tiger Woods was taken to hospital Tuesday after a single-car crash in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Canadians had something to celebrate as Catherine O'Hara took home a 2021 Golden Globe award for her role in "Schitt's Creek."
The U.S. Senate will start debating President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday after Democrats backed down from an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 as part of it. The backpedaling did not end hopes of addressing the minimum wage issue in Congress. Democrats and some Republicans have voiced support for the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, for the first time since 2009, although they disagree on how much.
Italian scooter maker Piaggio said on Monday it signed a letter of intent with KTM AG, Honda Motor Co. and Yamaha Motor Co. to set up a consortium for swappable batteries for motorcycles and light electric vehicles. "The founding members of the consortium believe that the availability of a standardized swappable battery system would both promote the widespread use of light electric vehicles and contribute to a more sustainable life-cycle management of batteries used in the transport sector", Piaggio said in a statement.
A battle between lawsuits related to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash is to be heard in a Regina courtroom this week. Eleven lawsuits were filed after the crash on April 6, 2018. Sixteen people died and 13 were injured when the driver of a semi-truck blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the junior hockey team's bus near Tisdale, Sask. Lawyers for a proposed class action waiting for certification plan to ask a judge Friday to delay another lawsuit filed by five of the victims families until that's done. The possible delay has some of the families frustrated. "We want to put certain pieces of this behind us. When they get dragged out longer and longer, it just makes it harder and harder. It causes more pain," said Chris Joseph, a former NHL player from St. Albert, Alta. His 20-year-old son, Jaxon, died in the crash. The proposed class action so far includes the families of 24-year-old Dayna Brons, the team's athletic therapist from Lake, Lenore, Sask., who died in hospital after the crash, and injured goalie Jacob Wassermann, 21, from Humboldt, Sask. The suit names the Saskatchewan government, the inexperienced truck driver who caused the crash and the Calgary-based company that employed him. Vancouver lawyer John Rice said the request for a stay, or delay, is about fairness. "In situations where numerous claimants are harmed from the same event — and where the legal findings in one proceeding could impact all the others — the court needs to strike a balance between the competing interests of individual litigants to ensure that the most efficient and just process is adopted," Rice said. "In these awful circumstances, in this application, the court is being asked to exercise the 'least-worst' option, which is to press pause on the progress of one action until the application for certification is heard." Kevin Mellor of Regina, lawyer for the other lawsuit, said a delay would put his clients' claim at risk. He represents the Joseph family as well as the families of Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.; Logan Hunter, 18, of St. Albert, Alta.; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt, Sask.; and assistant coach Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask. They all died from the crash. That lawsuit, in addition to naming the Saskatchewan government, the driver and his employer, also lists the bus company as a defendant. Mellor said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the crash, but could be deported to India before their lawsuit gets to trial. "If the class action is going to delay ... they're going to miss out on material evidence because this guy will be deported," Mellor said. "We need to giddy-up and go." Co-counsel, Sharon Fox, said their clients shouldn't be punished because they were first to file a lawsuit. "We filed our claim in July 2018, three months after the crash happened," Fox said. "We have been at this for almost two years ... They're trying to hold us back, put us on the sidelines, so they can catch up. We're saying that's not fair and that's going to impact our client's ability to prove our case." Their clients also don't want to put their healing on hold any longer, she said. An affidavit from Herold's father, Russ Herold, was filed in advance of Friday's hearing. "I feel I will suffer psychological harm if my lawsuit is delayed," he says in the document. "I want to advance my lawsuit to hold responsible those that should be held responsible for my son's death." Lawyers for the Saskatchewan government recently argued in court that, because of the province's no-fault insurance, it should be struck as a defendant from the class action. A judge has not yet ruled on that application. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
A bulk of the trading in the $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange markets is expected to be on cloud technology over the next five years, according to a survey conducted by fintech firm Integral. Two-thirds of 94 heads and senior managers in currency trading at banks and buy-side institutions, surveyed between September 2020 and January 2021, expect to adopt the secure and cost effective cloud based solutions to "a significant degree" from just 26% now. Cloud technology, as against the widely used on-premise technology in foreign exchange trading, is hardly a new concept with companies increasingly using it to make data management more cost-effective, centralised and efficient.
NEW YORK — With homebound nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and amid a storm of criticism for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with top awards going to “Nomadland,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Crown” and “Schitt's Creek.” The night's top award, best picture drama, went to Chloé Zhao's elegiac road movie “Nomadland," a Western set across economic upheaval and personal grief. Zhao, the China-born filmmaker of, became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. She’s only the second woman in the history of the Globes to win, and the first since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl” in 1984. “'Nomadland at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” said Zhao, accepting the awards remotely. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you." With a cancelled red carpet and stars giving speeches from the couch, Sunday's Globes had little of their typically frothy flavour. But they went on, nevertheless, with winners in sweats and dogs in laps, in a pandemic that has sapped nearly all the glamour out of Hollywood. Facing scant traditional studio competition, streaming services dominated the Globes like never before — even if the top award went to a familiar if renamed source: Searchlight Pictures, formerly the Fox specialty label of “12 Years a Slave” and “The Shape of Water” now owned by the Walt Disney Co. Amazon's “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — one of the few nominated films shot partly during the pandemic — won best film, comedy or musical. Its star guerilla comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen, also won best actor in a comedy. Referring to Rudy Giuliani's infamous cameo, Cohen thanked “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," said Cohen. Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher). “The Queen's Gambit” won best limited series, and best actress in the category for Anya Taylor-Joy. “Schitt's Creek,” the Pop TV series that found a wider audience on Netflix, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O'Hara also took best actress in a comedy series. Chadwick Boseman, as expected, posthumously won best actor in a drama film for his final performance, in the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — a Netflix release. Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully, emotionally accepted the award. “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” said Ledward. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring.” Apple TV+ scored its first major award when a sweatshirt-clad Jason Sudeikis won best actor in a comedy series for the streamer's “Ted Lasso.” The NBC telecast began in split screen. Fey took the stage at New York's Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes' usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other. “I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy," said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.” They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said. In a production nightmare but one that's become familiar during the pandemic, the night's first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You're doing me dirty!" Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday's Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.” Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association appeared on stage to pledge change. "We recognize we have our own work to do," said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” Whether those statements — along with a diverse group of winners — did enough to remedy anything remained unclear. The moment the show ended, Time's Up sent letters to both the HFPA and NBCUniveral demanding more than lip service. “The Globes are no longer golden. It’s time to act,” wrote Tina Tchen, the group's president. COVID-19 circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside. Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari" (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She's the reason I made this film,” said Chung. “'Minari' is about a family. It's a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It's a language of the heart," said Chung. “I'm trying to learn it myself and to pass it on." John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen's “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") won one of the biggest surprise Globes, for best supporting actress in a film, while, sitting on the couch next her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and with her dog, Ziggy on her lap. Some speeches were pre-taped. The previously recorded speeches by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the wining “Soul" score went without hiccup even though presenter Tracy Morgan first announced “Sal" as the winner. Even if speeches sometimes lacked drama without Hollywood gathered in one place, representation was a common refrain. Pointedly referring to the diversity of the HFPA, presenter and previous winner Sterling K. Brown began, “Thank you. It is great to be Black at the Golden Globes,” he said. “Back.” Jane Fonda, the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree, spoke passionately about expanding the big tent of entertainment for all. “Art has always been not just in step in history but has lead the way,” said Fonda. “So let’s be leaders.” Other awards included Pixar's “Soul” for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot"; Aaron Sorkin ("Trial of the Chicago 7") for best screenplay; and, in the night's biggest surprise, Andra Day ("The United States vs. Billie Holiday") for best actress in a drama, besting Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman") and Frances McDormand ("Nomadland"). As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. The Academy Awards will be held April 25. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of attacking an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman last week, a mysterious explosion that further spiked security concerns in the region. Without offering any evidence to his claim, Netanyahu told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that “it was indeed an act by Iran, that’s clear.” “Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region,” Netanyahu said. Iran promptly dismissed the charges. The blast struck the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged roll-on, roll-off vehicle cargo ship, as it was sailing out of the Middle East on its way to Singapore on Friday. The crew was unharmed, but the vessel sustained two holes on its port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, according to American defence officials. The ship came to Dubai’s port for repairs on Sunday, days after the blast that revived security concerns in Mideast waterways amid heightened tensions with Iran. Iran has sought to pressure the U.S. to lift sanctions on Tehran as President Joe Biden's administration considers option for returning to negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Biden has said repeatedly the U.S. would return to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from in 2018 only after Iran restores its full compliance with the accord. The explosion on the Israeli-owned ship last week recalled the tense summer of 2019, when the U.S. military accused Iran of attacking several oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman with limpet mines, designed to be attached magnetically to a ship’s hull. The Gulf of Oman leads through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a vital passage for the world’s oil supplies. Tehran has denied the accusations that it was behind the limpet mine attacks. It remains unclear what caused Friday's blast on the Helios Ray. The vessel had discharged cars at various ports in the Persian Gulf before the explosion forced it to reverse course. Over the weekend, Israel’s defence minister and army chief had both indicated they held Iran responsible for what they said was an attack on the vessel. Iran responded to Netanyahu's statement saying it “strongly rejected” the claim that it was behind the attack. In a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Netanyahu was “suffering from an obsession with Iran” and described his charges as “fear-mongering." Khatibzadeh also accused Israel of taking “suspicious actions in the region” against Iran in recent months to undermine the 2015 nuclear deal, without elaborating, and vowed Iran would respond. “Israel knows very well that our response in the field of national security has always been fierce and accurate,” he said. Overnight, Syrian state media reported a series of alleged Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, saying air defence systems had intercepted most of the missiles. Israeli media reports said the alleged airstrikes were on Iranian targets in response to the ship attack. Israel has struck hundreds of Iranian targets in neighbouring Syria in recent years, and Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence there. Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah have provided military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the more than decade-long Syrian civil war. The Israeli military declined comment. Iran also has blamed Israel for a recent series of attacks, including another mysterious explosion last summer that destroyed an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at its Natanz nuclear facility and the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program two decades ago. Iran has repeatedly vowed to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s killing. “It is most important that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, with or without an agreement, this I also told to my friend Biden," Netanyahu said Monday. Iranian threats of retaliation have raised alarms in Israel since the signing of normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September. ___ Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report. Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press
China's Inner Mongolia will end all cryptocurrency mining projects and stop reviewing new projects in industries which consume large amounts of energy, such as steel, coke and methanol production, as it attempts to meet energy efficiency targets. The region was the only one of 30 mainland areas under Beijing's energy consumption and energy intensity review that failed to meet the targets in 2019, drawing criticism from the central government in September due to its poor achievement. Now China's No.2 coal mining region, a major energy consumer, aims to cap energy consumption growth at around 5 million tonnes of standard coal equivalent in 2021, according to a draft rule issued by the regional state planner.
TORONTO — Ontario's website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments will begin a "soft launch" in six public health units this week, two weeks before it becomes available across the province, The Canadian Press has learned. But the website will not be available to the general population in those regions, said a senior government source not authorized to speak publicly about the plan. Instead, public health officials will reach out to a small number of individuals who are 80 or older, as well as some eligible health-care workers, starting Monday. The source said the plan will help the province test components of the system before the full launch, determine whether any changes need to be made to the system and organize the vaccination of larger populations. The site is a "public-facing extension" of the COVaxON system the province has been using since the start of the vaccine rollout, the source said, and will also serve to keep track of inoculation data. The regions participating in the soft launch are Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington; Peterborough County-City; Hastings and Prince Edward Counties; Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark; Grey Bruce; and Lambton. The source noted the site will not be available to other regions before March 15, even those that have already begun vaccinating members of the 80-and-over age group such as York and Peel. Those regions must use "existing relationships with residents" to book the vaccinations until the online platform launches on March 15, when they're expected to switch to the provincial system. The source said the website will focus at first on appointments at mass vaccination sites, but the province will work with public health units in the coming weeks to make sure it's compatible with other facilities such as hospital sites and mobile clinics. The government has faced criticism for what some describe as the slow rollout of its vaccine booking portal, which is expected to launch the same day the head of the vaccine task force said people aged 80 and over would start getting the shots. Retired general Rick Hillier said his team was "furiously working" to test and refine the site so it would be up-and-running on time. Health Minister Christine Elliott defended the timeline, saying the government was still testing the site and wanted to ensure it won't crash when it goes live. "We don't want to rush to failure,'' she said last week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson has support in some accounting and auditing circles for the merit of her request to gain access to the financial records of the pension investment and management body Vestcor, but her office is not saying if she is prepared yet to escalate the effort into a legal fight. "The Auditor General respectfully declines to comment at this time," wrote spokesperson Jolyne Roy about whether a court application is under consideration. Adair-MacPherson appeared before the legislature's Crown corporations committee last week and gave a lengthy presentation to MLAs about her effort to gain access to the internal financial documents of Vestcor. Vestcor is the Fredericton-based organization set up to manage what is now $18 billion in New Brunswick government pension and other funds. It used to be a Crown agency, but in 2016 was reorganized as an independent body to allow it to solicit outside accounts and contends it is no longer subject to Adair-MacPherson's authority. She disputes that on several grounds, but Premier Blaine Higgs has sided with Vestcor and said his government will not pass special legislation Adair-MacPherson has requested to require the body to submit to her oversight. Vestcor president John Sinclair earned $375,000 in salary in 2019 and performance bonuses of $882,721. Adair-MacPherson told MLAs last week that if government took that position she might be forced to mount a legal challenge to assert her right to audit Vestcor. "Depending on how this plays out and what the response is to our recommendations, eventually it might have to be a decision made in the courts," she said. "If they don't agree, then the option to the auditor general is to go the legal route, which I would find very unfortunate." On Thursday, Higgs told CBC News Vestcor no longer has ties to the provincial government and the province has no more responsibility to oversee its affairs than the affairs of any outside body like a big bank. "Vestcor was set up as an independent operation not unlike other financial institutions," said Higgs. "I don't have any responsibility for TD either or the Bank of Nova Scotia." But Adair-MacPherson told MLAs that in her view Vestcor maintains strong connections to the provincial government that make it essential she be allowed to oversee its operations. She said it was created by a special act of legislature and given unique non-profit status by lawmakers. In addition, she said it was handed billions of dollars in government employee pension dollars to manage without having to compete for the business. Premier Blaine Higgs said he views Vestcor as an independent financial institution and New Brunswick has no special role to oversee its operations. Vestcor is jointly owned by the province's two largest public pension funds serving civil servants and teachers. Those funds each have provincial government representation on their boards of trustees, which adds to the connections, she believes. "There are just so many components to it that when I sit back and look at it, to me, it should be held accountable to the public," said Adair-MacPherson. "My office, I feel, should be able to have access the same as we always did in the past to do both financial audit work and performance audits." Steven Salterio, the current Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Accounting and Auditing at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said Adair-MacPherson will have difficulty winning the right to look into Vestcor's operations, but there is merit in the argument she is making. "I think the auditor general is correct in that she should have the mandate to deal with this newly privatized corporation from the point of view this is strictly a government entity," said Salterio. "This is a lot of provincial money going into an organization that is not accountable to the auditor general." Steven Salterio is the Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Accounting and Auditing at Queen's University. He said Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson's interest in looking at Vestcor has merit but is not surprised the body is resisting. According to New Brunswick's public accounts, the province paid Vestcor $327.9 million last year as its share of employee pension contributions. Adair-MacPherson has said she is interested in testing Vestcor claims that it is meeting and beating its investment targets and looking into whether incentive and bonus programs for Vestcor executives are reasonable. In 2019, the last full year it published an annual report, Vestcor posted investment returns of 11.76 percent, which placed it in the bottom quarter of Canadian pension funds for the year, according to a ranking by the Royal Bank of Canada. Still, Vestcor reported those results were $107 million higher than its "benchmark" targets, helping to boost bonuses and incentives to its employees to $5.3 million, including $882,721 to its president, John Sinclair. Sinclair's base salary is $375,000. "We would do a performance audit to determine whether [bonuses] are reasonable given the business they are in," said Adair-MacPherson. "We would audit to determine whether in fact we agree with the claims that they're making in their annual report, but right now there's no way to do that." Salterio said in hindsight the time for the auditor general to win access to Vestcor was back in 2016 while legislation that created the body was being debated and adopted. The Royal Bank of Canada said 119 major Canadian pension funds it tracked in 2019 generated average returns of 14 per cent. Vestcor's investment return of 11.76 per cent placed it somewhere in the bottom 30, although it beat its own internal benchmarks. He said performance audits can be grueling and he's not surprised Vestcor is doing whatever it can to escape that level of scrutiny. "You certainly wouldn't volunteer to give the auditor general a mandate if you were a private-sector organization," said Salterio. "But at the same time you have to have it set up so that the legislative intent is clear and as far as I can see there is no legislative intent that the auditor general have a mandate." New Brunswick's Auditor General Act grants broad powers to look at any "auditable entity," which can include "a service provider" to government or "a funding recipient." Adair-MacPherson told MLAs her office believes that is enough legal authority for her to gain access to Vestcor without an amendment to legislation, although that would be the easier route. "It might have to be a decision made in the courts, but I surely hope it doesn't come to that because that's a costly, lengthy exercise," she said.
(Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit) Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter McIsaac, who has been on sick leave since the summer of 2019, says he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and will not be returning to work. "It's a work in progress," he said Friday in an exclusive interview with CBC News. "I'm doing a lot better than I was. "I'm feeling much better. I'm in a much better place." He said he wasn't in a great place when he went on sick leave. "It was something that was happening over a period of a long time and it just hit a point where my wife stepped in and she recognized some of the stuff I was going through and it was time to take care of Peter." McIsaac's wife, Lydia, is a mental health nurse. The chief, who is 61, said it was difficult accepting the diagnosis. It was also difficult dealing with bouts of depression and having to leave policing after 35 years on something other than his own terms. 'I didn't realize I was suffering' He started in 1986 as a patrol officer in the coal-mining town of New Waterford. McIsaac said cops couldn't show any weakness back then. "I've been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder for 25 years, they tell me," he said. "I didn't realize I was suffering ... for the many years that I had been, until it hit a point that I sought the treatment and help that I needed so badly, and it was bad. "It was very disappointing for me. I was very ashamed. For me, I thought this was something that happened to someone else because I considered myself not only physically tough, but I always considered myself mentally tough." On Tuesday, staff told Cape Breton regional councillors during an in-camera session that McIsaac would not be returning to work and that the municipality would need to post the chief's position internally. McIsaac said he intended to go back to work for the longest time, but only lately his health-care providers convinced him that was not a good idea. McIsaac says he comes from an age when police officers would have been considered weak if they admitted they were negatively affected by the job. "I've investigated everything from a barking dog complaint to a double homicide and everything in between, so to think that I would be some type of superhuman individual that wouldn't be affected by this stuff is absolutely ridiculous," he said. "I realize that now." But that realization was a long time coming. In fact, he said, some of his therapy had to stop because it was too traumatic to deal with all at once. "I come from an era of policing where you just wouldn't share this stuff because it was considered weak," McIsaac said. "Matter of fact, back in my time when I was hired, you would probably be outcast from the police service, never hired, never be promoted, and you would probably have to move on to another career." The chief said the police service has much better workplace supports for PTSD than it used to and said he has been getting excellent care. "I don't know if all doctors operate like this, but I think I've got the best and they've helped me so much that they've probably saved my life." I'm hoping that by actually talking about it today that others will seek the help that they need and if they don't, I guarantee them it will get worse. - Chief Peter McIsaac The chief said he considered simply walking away from his job and not talking about his sick leave, but decided he had to speak out. "I know police officers who I've worked with my whole career are going through this and probably been impacted worse than I have. So I'm hoping that by actually talking about it today that others will seek the help that they need and if they don't, I guarantee them it will get worse." McIsaac said policing has changed drastically over the span of his 35-year career. He said New Waterford had a lot of drinking establishments when he started. "Look, you had miners who worked hard and played hard, and I think cops back then were hired more for their brawn than their intellectual ability and it had to be that way because they had to keep order." However, within three years, there was a changing of the guard as older officers retired. McIsaac says when he first started policing in New Waterford, cops had to start cracking down on drinking and driving. McIsaac said he quickly found himself as an acting sergeant and soon there was a crackdown on drinking and driving. "When I first started ... you took your life in your hands if you were going down Plummer Avenue and within about two years we led the province in the amount of impaired driving cases." He said policing has come a long way, with more specialized training in forensics and particular aspects of investigations. McIsaac became Nova Scotia's representative on the national chiefs association and developed relationships with big-city police chiefs across Canada and the U.S. Those connections brought in outside resources that helped solve the two longstanding, but unrelated, homicides of Harold (Buster) Slaunwhite and Brett MacKinnon, something that is a source of pride for McIsaac. CBRM budgeted $1 million for renovations to the former Sydney Mines town hall to modernize it and convert it into the north division police headquarters. He said he is also proud of the regional police department's efforts to have the municipality create modern divisional offices by renovating the historic Sydney Mines town hall and building a brand new office in downtown Glace Bay. He also said creating a strategic plan and implementing the trunk mobile radio system helped modernize the force. McIsaac was also faced with several challenges during his tenure as chief. One was the continuing controversy around the death of Clayton Miller, a New Waterford teen who died in 1990 after an outdoor drinking party. Supporters of the Miller family gathered outside the Sydney hotel where investigators met with the parents of Clayton Miller in 2015. His parents and their supporters have always said police were somehow involved in his death, but the cause has been ruled accidental after several reviews, including one three years ago by the province's Serious Incident Response Team and chief medical examiner. McIsaac was an officer with the New Waterford department, but was never implicated in the case. Still, he and his family have been accosted by people who believe the death has been covered up. He said it was simply a tragedy due to a deadly mix of young people, alcohol and cold temperatures. "You've got to be sympathetic to the family. Anybody who loses a child .. under any circumstances, the grief that any parent must feel, I can't even fathom it. "However ... that thing has been investigated more than any other thing that I can think of in my policing career, by several other agencies, including the RCMP and the last one was done by SIRT." Acting Chief Robert Walsh had a hand in crafting the terms of reference for a study into the police department's efficiency. That report is expected sometime in March. Not long after McIsaac went on sick leave, CBRM received a consultant's report on the municipality's long-term viability. One of the recommendations was to study the efficiency of the police service. The report said the municipality has more police officers per capita than any other similar-sized Canadian jurisdiction. The efficiency study was commissioned with the help of the acting chief, Robert Walsh, and was due last November, but CBRM staff say it is now expected to be delivered sometime in March. Walsh and CBRM officials have argued that some of the service's 200 officers are not paid for by the municipality. They are funded by the province's Boots on the Street program, Membertou, the regional centre for education and the RCMP highway patrol. Officials have also said the police service needs that many officers to cover the large regional municipality, to backfill up to 40 officers who are off sick at any given time, and to keep the crime rate low. McIsaac said he agrees on both counts. McIsaac says the force's next chief needs to focus on the staff and on the people of the communities they serve. He says they may pay a price, though. "Go and ask the union membership right now, do they think they have enough members, because they are working shorthanded just about every day. People are getting burned out. It's probably some of the reasons why some of them are not working. "And the only reason our number is what it is, is because 30-plus are there because of outside resources or money allocated from somewhere else." McIsaac said he has one piece of advice for whoever becomes the next chief. "Don't think it's about you, because it's not. The last person you should think about is yourself. You're going to pay a price for that, but it's about the people that work for you. More importantly, it's about the people that you serve and it's all about community. "I've probably paid a personal price for it myself, and my family paid a price for it, because there was lots of long hours and days, nights, evenings, weekends and vacations that we forego because of my job, but I can honestly say I gave it every ounce of my energy and ability and my knowledge and experience to try to make this place and our community and our organization better, and I have no regrets and I can walk out the door knowing I left it in good shape." MORE TOP STORIES
(Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit) Donald Trump's actions will take centre stage in a Vancouver courtroom this week as Meng Wanzhou's lawyers try to prove the former U.S. president poisoned extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive. The case should be tossed out because of alleged political interference, Meng's lawyers are expected to argue at the first of three sets of B.C. Supreme Court hearings scheduled to stretch into mid-May. A decision on the extradition request isn't expected until much later this year. The 49-year-old, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arguments related to the former president concern a statement he made to a Reuters reporter in the weeks after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018. At the time, Trump said he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary to help the U.S. reach a trade deal with China. Charter rights argument could be 'decider' The Crown — which represents the U.S. in the proceeding — contends there's no evidence Trump made good on his words and that any possible influence he could have had on the case ended along with his term in office. University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, an expert on international law, says he doubts the defence team will have much success convincing Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the U.S. Department of Justice has been swayed by political considerations. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the telecommunications giant. She is accused of fraud and conspiracy. But he does think they'll have a better shot in the coming weeks with claims Meng's rights were breached on her arrival when Canada Border Services Agency officers questioned her for three hours before RCMP executed a warrant calling for her "immediate arrest." "That three-hour period could well have constituted a violation of her Section 7 rights to security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "And so if the extradition judge is to rule that Ms. Meng should be set free, my expectation is that it's that particular element of the case that will be the decider." Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, the man who became a billionaire by turning his global communications giant into a flagship business prized by the Chinese state. Meng's legal team includes lawyers from firms across Canada. And her case is being spearheaded by Vancouver's Richard Peck, of Peck and Company. Strategy to have case thrown out Along with arguments about Trump's role, the allegations related to Meng's treatment by the CBSA are part of a multi-pronged defence strategy to have the proceedings stayed. Meng's lawyers also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case and that American prosecutors are reaching far beyond their jurisdiction by trying a Chinese citizen for a conversation that took place in Hong Kong with an executive for an English bank. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers are expected to claim her charter rights were violated during her first few hours in CBSA custody. Holmes will hear submissions about the events surrounding Meng's arrest during the second stretch of hearings, scheduled to begin in mid-March. The defence claims the CBSA conspired with the RCMP and CBSA to have border agents question Meng without a lawyer. They also seized her cellphones and later gave the passcodes to police, in contravention of policy. The defence has accused the RCMP of sending technical information from Meng's electronic devices to the Americans. A senior officer who was in touch with a legal attache for the FBI has refused to testify — and last month, Meng's lawyers announced their intention to try to force the Crown to disclose their communication with him about that decision. 'An irritant' in U.S.-China relationship In court documents filed in advance of this week's hearing, Meng's lawyers cited comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a need to tie a trade deal between the U.S and China to the resolution of Meng's situation and the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been accused of spying by the Chinese government in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for their release. The Crown doesn't make any mention of the so-called "two Michaels" in its submissions, but the defence claims the constellation of factors riding on the case has made it extremely difficult for Meng to defend herself without worrying about the impact on others. U.S. President Joe Biden called on China to release Kovrig and Spavor last week following a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, saying "human beings are not bartering chips." Byers believes Biden may decide to bring an end to efforts to extradite Meng in the coming months as he looks to improve the U.S. relationship with China. "It is in the hands of the Biden administration to end this case. And the Biden administration will be in the process now of resetting the relationship between the United States and China. That is a hugely important relationship, for economic reasons, for security reasons. "Those two superpowers need to get along. They need to get things done. And Ms. Meng's presence in Vancouver is an irritant in that relationship." To that end, reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters last December claimed Meng was in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an end to the case through a deal that would see her admit to some wrongdoing in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement. In an exclusive interview with CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any deal would have to be made free of geopolitical considerations. "We follow the law. We follow the facts. "And one of the things that we don't do is have politics or foreign policy interfere in the workings of the Justice Department."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday an unidentified cabinet minister accused of rape has "vigorously rejected" the allegation during talks with him. Several opposition lawmakers said late last week they received a letter detailing an allegation of rape by a male cabinet minister before he entered parliament. Morrison said his office also received a letter detailing the allegation.
Former Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi says he believes he was surveilled by Canadian intelligence while he lived in Montreal.
(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters - image credit) The first signs that the world is winning the battle with COVID-19 has sparked great news for the global economy as the number of people vaccinated grows and the death rate falls. Once shops and factories reopen, once people trapped working from home are finally set free to spend on restaurant meals and travel, sharing the savings they couldn't spend during lockdown, that recirculation of money is the very thing that will make economies strong. So it is fair to ask why stock markets tumbled last Thursday — the Dow and the Toronto market were down again Friday — if the economy is recovering. As Jim Reid, research strategist at Deutsche Bank told the Financial Times last week, it "proved to be nothing short of a rout in global markets, with the sell-off in sovereign bonds accelerating as investors looked forward to the prospect of a strengthening economy over the coming months." A global rout in markets, a sell-off in bonds, all due to the prospect of a strengthening economy? The explanation involves the uncertainty of where interest rates go from here if a post-COVID-19 economy gets cooking. The market not the economy But the first step in understanding the paradox is remembering that "the stock market isn't the economy," as now-U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen once said. Over the long haul, there is no question that a strong and growing economy adds to the value of the companies that operate within it. A study of 17 advanced economies by researchers at the University of Bonn showed that over the long term, total stock market values climb with gross domestic product. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen departs the White House. The stock market is not the economy, she once said. But as we clearly saw last year when the U.S. stock markets hit record highs even as GDP shrank more than it had in 70 years, that relationship is not perfectly in sync. In both Canada and the U.S., central banks have expressed confidence that the economy will grow strongly this year and next. Not only that, but to help put people back to work, both Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem and Fed Chair Jerome Powell have promised to keep interest rates low until there are clear signs the employment and business activity have recovered. So everyone seems to agree the economy will grow stronger. But while central banks try to hold rates down, there are increasing signs that the private investors in the bond market are anticipating rates will rise, making existing bonds worth less. Interest rates rising? Bonds are not generally the subject of supper table conversation in Canadian households, but the interest rates set in bond markets affect Canadians in many ways, including the rate you pay for your mortgage. According to mortgages brokers Rate Spy there are early signs that mortgage prices may be following bond yields up. The key point to understand the role of bonds in the rising economy is one of the things people often find most confusing about them: existing bonds fall in value as interest rates rise. (For more explanation of how that works and why bonds matter, this previous column serves as a primer.) As Reuters reported on Friday, "from the United States to Germany and Australia, government borrowing costs on Friday were set to end February with their biggest monthly rises in years as expectations for a post-pandemic ignition of inflation gained a life of their own." Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem says he expects any rise in inflation to be temporary, but bond traders seem to disagree. Economists are divided over whether low interest rates set by central banks and large injections of cash into the economy announced by governments will lead to inflation. Macklem has offered a pretty firm "no" but it appears that last week, the mass of global bond traders appeared to disagree with the Bank of Canada governor and voted with their money. On Friday some suggested the shift in bonds was actually due to technical factors. Confusingly, the bond market's anticipation of inflation — if that's what it is — is a vote of confidence in the future, because traders think consumers and businesses will want to buy more goods and services, driving up their prices. Speculation vs. fundamentals As to why stocks fell in response, there are a number of possible reasons, especially in a market where some fear a growing stock bubble. One is that higher bond prices increase the cost of borrowing for companies that raise money in the bond market. Another is that companies must compete with bonds in the money they pay out in dividends. Both cut into profits. But perhaps most interesting is the idea that stock markets are going through a transition from speculative casino-style investing, where people buy more because they see prices go up (and vice versa) to one based on actual return. "Markets are increasingly dominated by price action. The more price falls, the more they sell," James Athey, an investment manager with Aberdeen Standard Investments told the Wall Street Journal last week. "The problem is that not every investor is a fundamental investor." In a market where traders have been making bets on bitcoin with no earnings at all or companies that have so far failed to cover their costs, a switch to "fundamental" investing where valuations are based on what a company is likely to earn in a surging economy could lead to greater market stability in the longer term. But there may be a rough patch first. Follow Don Pittis on Twitter @don_pittis
(Robert Krbavac/CBC - image credit) David Rooney couldn't believe what he was seeing when he looked out his front window in June and saw a Bell Canada contract employee aiming a high-pressure water excavator — the same one he'd been using to dig holes in the ground — at Rooney's car, peeling the paint right off. "There was quite a wash of water, probably 10 feet high," Rooney told Go Public. "So I came up to find that he's washing my car and asked him to stop immediately." By that time though, the damage was done — $1,500 worth. After accidentally splashing mud on Rooney's 2012 Hyundai Genesis, which was parked in the driveway, the worker used a power tool called a hydrovac excavator to try to clean it off. The worker was one of hundreds Bell hired to install fibre optic lines across the country, including on Rooney's street. Rooney figured getting compensation would be simple. After all, the worker admitted it was his fault. Instead, Rooney spent the next seven months battling both Bell and the company it hired to do the work on its behalf, Super Sucker Hydro Vac Service, for the cost of the damage. In many cases, property owners have no choice but to allow telecommunications companies on to their property. Land titles often include rights of way which allow city workers and other service providers to come onto a property when doing work considered essential. Fixing the paint peeled off Rooney's car cost $1,500. But when that work leads to damage, consumers are often treated like a "hot potato" that none of the companies involved want to compensate, says John Lawford, the executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a non-profit organization that provides legal and research services on behalf of consumers. "There's a very low likelihood of getting any money back if the company or the telco resists paying you … chances are you're going to get nothing [or] face a legal battle if you want to fight it," Lawford said. Contractors 'ultimately responsible' Rooney says when his car was damaged, Bell refused to offer any compensation and pointed him to Super Sucker. That company passed him to its insurance provider, Federated Insurance. "And they said that I should not be dealing with them, but going to my own insurance company. So I called my insurance company and found that I have a $500 deductible that will come out of pocket. I didn't think that was fair," he said. It wasn't until Go Public contacted the two companies months later that Super Sucker finally compensated Rooney. WATCH | High-pressure hydrovac digs into the ground: In an email to Go Public, Super Sucker spokesperson Mark Elias says the issue should have been settled by the insurance companies. "This is not a matter that should be handled by anyone internally or by Mr. Rooney himself — that's why we pay for insurance in the first place, not only to cover any of the financial costs of an incident but to handle the whole process from start to finish," Elias wrote. Bell spokesperson Nathan Gibson says the company's contractors are "ultimately responsible" for resolving complaints when they do damage and says Bell provides oversight until there is resolution. But in Rooney's case, Gibson says the situation wasn't handled to the company's standards and that the contractor didn't meet its obligations. It says it apologizes to Rooney for his experience. "There was a serious issue with communication from our contractor and we have addressed the incident with them," Gibson wrote in an email to Go Public. 'It's happening all the time' Rooney got his money, but Grace McLeod of Brantford, Ont., is still waiting for Bell to pay up. McLeod isn't even a Bell customer — her internet provider is Rogers. But when Bell employees installed underground fibre optic lines on her condo property in September, they cut the Rogers lines, cutting off McLeod's internet service and leaving her unable to work for the day. "So I said to the three guys working next to the hydro box, 'Are you guys from Bell Canada? And they said, yes. And I said, 'Did you just cut my Rogers lines?' And they said, no," McLeod told Go Public. But a few hours later, she says a Rogers technician confirmed the lines had been cut, telling her it's happening "all the time." McLeod — who works in collections — tried to get Bell to pay for the wages she lost when she wasn't online working, but was told no since she's not a Bell customer. Grace McLeod says Bell employees cut internet lines near her condo, leaving her unable to work for the day. "Every step I took I was stonewalled, and I guess that's how they get rid of people because they stonewall you," she said. Gibson, the Bell spokesperson, says the company did all the checks required to find lines belonging to its competition, but "no cable location information was provided." "Bell cannot be responsible for such a break," Gibson wrote. "If Mrs. McLeod had been a Bell customer, we could have credited her account for the temporary loss of service, but would not offer compensation for additional claims such as lost wages." Bell says it's about halfway through a major project that involves installing fibre lines to service as many as 10 million homes in seven provinces. The company says it has a "straightforward and reliable" complaint process that "works very well even considering the extraordinary volume of our activity." 'Many barriers' to compensation Legally, Lawford says both Bell and the third-party companies it hires to do its work are potentially liable for damage. Proving lost wages is more difficult, he says. But getting compensation can be tough if the companies don't co-operate. For one, Canada's telecom mediator, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), doesn't deal with property damage or lost wage complaints, so customers are left dealing directly with the companies, going to small claims court or hiring a lawyer. The last two options can be intimidating, time consuming and expensive, says Lawford — leading many people to give up. Bell's terms of service also cap compensation for damage at $20 or an amount equal to what customer paid for the service during the time it was unavailable. But it's more than just legal responsibility, Lawford says. "Is this really a conversation we should be having about which person catches the hot potato? Shouldn't it be the consumer getting redress for something that it doesn't really matter whose fault, strictly speaking, it is legally?" he said. "We need a fix." John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre says if companies responsible for property damage don't want to co-operate, it's tough for homeowners to get compensation. The fix Go Public asked Bell how many property owners have been compensated for property damage and how much it has paid out over the last five years. It didn't answer. The CCTS says it's received 180 reports of property damage from customers over the last five years related to the installation of services by telecoms or their contractors. Lawford says he suspects many incidents go unreported. "I would suspect it's happening often because there are millions of installs and repairs going on," he said. The fix, he says, is expanding the role of the CCTS to deal with property access and damage. He points to Australia, where the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has been resolving rights of way and property damage disputes between customers and telecoms for more than a decade. "There's no real reason to not have that in Canada," he said. It has the power to make binding decisions up to about $50,000 and can direct a telecommunications carrier to compensate a landowner for reasonable costs associated with fixing any damage caused to their property. Telecommunications carriers and eligible service providers are required to be members of the TIO and fund its operation. Lawford says it shouldn't be hard to set up a system like the one in Australia, since Canadian telecoms already have to pay CCTS membership fees annually. The amount is based on the size of the company, and if you have higher complaint numbers, you pay a bit more. McLeod now has a sign on her property, denying Bell access. Rooney supports the idea of a telecom-funded system that deals with complaints like his, so does McLeod. McLeod is one of those rare cases where the telecom providers need her permission to go onto the property, and she says she'll never give it again. "I have a sign out there on my letter box," she said. "If they come back, I'll ask the police to have them removed because I truly don't want any more damage, especially if they're not going to stand behind what they do." Bell says it will honour her request. Submit your story ideas Go Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web. We tell your stories, shed light on wrongdoing and hold the powers that be accountable. If you have a story in the public interest, or if you're an insider with information, contact GoPublic@cbc.ca with your name, contact information and a brief summary. All emails are confidential until you decide to Go Public. Read more stories by Go Public.
OTTAWA — The federal government hopes to start receiving doses of AstraZeneca’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine this week as the flood of shots that flowed into Canada from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna last week partially subsides. Health Canada announced on Friday that it had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third COVID-19 shot to have received regulatory approval since the start of the pandemic. Canada has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine, with the majority to be delivered from the United States between April and September. But two million jabs have been ordered from the Serum Institute of India, and Verity Pharmaceuticals, which is facilitating the institute’s application in Canada, has said the first 500,000 would reach Canadian shores this week. A senior government official told The Canadian Press on background Sunday that the first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday, though the shipment has not been confirmed. Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, also told the CBC on Sunday that the regulator had received additional information over the weekend from Johnson and Johnson, which is seeking approval for its own vaccine. Regulators in the U.S. gave it the green light over the weekend. Sharma said Health Canada is hoping to approve Johnson & Johnson's vaccine in "the next couple of weeks," but added any decision is contingent on the information presented by the company. As it stands now, the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently only expecting delivery of about 445,000 vaccine doses this week, which is about 200,000 less than last week’s record high of 640,000 doses in a seven-day period. The confirmed doses are all coming from Pfizer-BioNTech, as the two companies settle into a rhythm following a month-long delivery lull in January and much of February due to production upgrades in Europe. The pharmaceutical giants have pledged to deliver 4 million doses by the end of March. Canada received 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine last week, but the company only delivers every three weeks. Clinical trials showed the AstraZeneca vaccine to be less effective at preventing infection than the other two, but it is still keeping people from getting very sick or dying, Sharma said Friday. Pfizer and Moderna both reported their products were 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in immunized patients compared to those who received a placebo. Efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine is believed to be around 62 per cent. It’s not entirely clear yet how provinces and territories will incorporate the AstraZeneca vaccine into their inoculation efforts, but the product offers a more flexible option since shots can be shipped and stored in refrigerators rather than freezers. AstraZeneca vaccines are to be given in two doses between four and 12 weeks apart. Sharma said there is some indication that waiting longer for a follow-up jab leads to a better response, but that data is not yet complete. There have been some concerns raised about the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent weeks, including its effectiveness against virus variants of concern and whether there is enough data to show it works on older recipients. Several European countries, including Germany and France, limited AstraZeneca's vaccine to residents under the age of 65. Sharma said there were a limited number of people over 65 involved in the clinical trials, but that data, coupled with the real-world experience in the United Kingdom, shows strong evidence seniors are protected. Canada’s vaccine program is ramping up after the lengthy slowdown in deliveries. More than 300,000 people were vaccinated in the last week, almost one-fifth of the total doses injected since the first immunizations began Dec. 14. About 700,000 people had received one dose as of Friday afternoon, and more than 500,000 are now fully vaccinated with two doses. Quebec is set to expand its vaccination effort to the general public on Monday by allowing seniors 85 or older to begin booking appointments. The age threshold has been lowered to 80 for seniors in the Montreal area. The AstraZeneca vaccine works differently than the other two already in use in Canada. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use messenger RNA technology, using RNA encoded with the piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the spike protein. The mRNA trains the body to fight off a COVID-19 infection. AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine, which takes a cold virus, modifies it so it can’t reproduce itself, and adds the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. When injected, it too provokes the body to develop infection-fighting antibodies and cells to combat the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
(Stu Mills/CBC - image credit) The two main Canadian agencies that prepare puppies for a life guiding people with visual impairments say the unrealistic times of the pandemic won't prevent them from turning out well-prepared guide dogs. Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (CGDB), based in Manotick, Ont., and Canine Campus, based in Carleton Place, Ont., prepare young labs, retrievers and the occasional shepherd to understand traffic, crowds and indoor etiquette for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's Guide Dogs program. "We want to expose them to as much as we can so they think it's just a part of normal life and so it doesn't throw them for a loop when they're guiding through it," said CGDB manager Alex Ivic. Fawn waits for instructions before leading her companion toward the front door. A subway platform jammed at rush hour or a holiday visit to a house filled with screaming children, and the alluring smells of a roasting goose are just some of the experiences a guide dog-in-training couldn't get this year. Instead, the lack of crowds and retail closures have forced trainers to dream up creative ways to prepare the dogs for real world situations. "We needed to reinvent what we did and or be clever and creative in tweaking things we already did," said Ivic. Wearing a blindfold, Ian Hadlum lets trainee "Dahlia" guide him around an obstacle placed on the sidewalk at a Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind training site. Staged apartments and empty airport used for training Ian Hadlum, a trainer with CGDB, dons a blindfold and encourages two-year-old Dahlia to lead him down a walking path obstructed by construction barriers. The black lab gently nudges him to step off the path and safely around the pylons, her tail constantly wagging. Dogs have been conquering their fear of escalators in the mostly silent Macdonald–Cartier International Airport. Shelley Adams, with Rookie, showing that guide dogs can also misread directional signs in a retail shop. Others have been attending pretend tea parties in staged apartments where the furniture is constantly moved around. At CGDB, the pandemic shut down their normal eight-person, three-week residency training program where clients move in and learn how to live with their new guide dogs. It's been replaced with a two-week program working with one client, meaning fewer teams will graduate. Dogs might need tune-ups Costs at CNIB's guide dog school have gone up, as have those at CGDB, which depends heavily on donations. "I know we say it rains cats and dogs, but it doesn't actually, so we can't just produce a dog immediately," points out Diane Bergeron with the CNIB. Her program's Australian supply of retrievers has been blocked by border closures. At the same time, restrictions on gatherings and visiting in places across the country, more people with vision loss have contacted the CNIB about how to regain their independence by connecting with a guide dog. Bergeron said COVID-19 restrictions on training may mean new guide dogs might have to come back for tune-ups in the future. Ivic said even though the dogs will have been raised in a pandemic, they will be capable of extrapolation — figuring out the new normal whenever it arrives and whatever it looks like. Yet, trainers point out that a guide dog will normally spend the first 18 to 24 months of its life in training, so there is still time to cover the curriculum.
(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit) It's impossible to know when exactly a minority Parliament will fall apart, and no amount of speculation is ever going to make that any clearer. But if you're the leader of a federal political party, it's never too early to start posturing about who will be to blame whenever that next election actually occurs. That's presumably at least part of the explanation for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh's recent declaration that he and his party won't "trigger" an election until a sufficient number of Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the pandemic has been contained. Strictly speaking, there is only one MP in the House of Commons who has the power to single-handedly trigger an election — the prime minister. On any given day, Justin Trudeau could walk over to Rideau Hall and ask the governor general, or the governor general's interim replacement, to dissolve Parliament and sign the writs for a new election. Since he currently commands the confidence of the House and it has been more than a year since the last election, the governor general or the official administrator would have no grounds to refuse such a request. As the leader of the fourth party, Singh's influence over the timing of the next election is more limited. But his party's 24 MPs can provide the swing vote whenever the Conservatives or Bloc Québécois are unwilling to support the government — as the NDP did for last fall's throne speech and when the Liberals said they would regard a Conservative motion as a matter of confidence in October. At the time of that motion, which would have established what was originally billed as an anti-corruption committee, Singh said Trudeau was "looking for an excuse" to call an election, but the NDP was not going to give him one. But how far is Singh willing to go to avoid an election? During a news conference this week, Singh said on "any confidence vote," the NDP will "vote to keep the government going." But an NDP spokesperson said on Friday the party is not promising to support government legislation, including the budget that is expected to be delivered this spring, which would certainly be considered a matter of confidence. So, however much the NDP thinks an election should be avoided — and whatever Singh says about not triggering an election — it very much remains to be seen what that will actually mean in practice. Preparing for an election Last week, Singh also challenged Trudeau to match his own commitment: "Will the prime minister commit today in this chamber that he will not call an election while we are fighting this pandemic, yes or no?" But Trudeau was not willing to offer any such guarantee. "Mr. Speaker, we know well that in a minority Parliament, the government does not have the sole power to decide when we go into an election," he said. "The opposition members have a role to play not only in providing confidence for the House, but also by being able to function appropriately to deliver the help to Canadians that Canadians so seriously need." WATCH | Singh asks Trudeau to pledge not to trigger an election during the pandemic: It's not clear why any prime minister would take the possibility of an election off the table — at least not without a firm guarantee the government's entire agenda would be passed. In a minority Parliament, everything is a negotiation, and a threat to take a dispute to the voters is always a potential point of leverage. Not that any government wants to be seen as obviously agitating for an election, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. After it was reported in January that Trudeau had told the Liberal Party's board of directors that a spring election looked likely, the Conservative Party charged that the prime minister was paying more attention to preparing for a re-election campaign than to dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, seen during a recent news conference, has been featured in television ads recently. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has said an election "should be at a time when the country is not in this acute state of crisis." But then Conservatives have also started nominating candidates and running television ads to promote O'Toole — the sorts of things a party does when it is thinking about the next election. The pandemic undoubtedly adds a degree of complexity to any election calculation. Three provinces — British Columbia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan — got through campaigns without significant problems last year. But they may have been merely lucky, and the disarray in Newfoundland and Labrador is likely cause for any federal leader to think twice about precipitating an election. Notwithstanding that concern, the battle to frame the exact moment of this Parliament's dissolution will now continue for however long it takes to get to another election. In 2011, the interests of the opposition parties aligned enough that they were willing to find Stephen Harper's government in contempt. In 1974, Pierre Trudeau's government managed to draft a budget it was willing to campaign on but fairly certain the NDP would be unable to support. Prime Minister Stephen Harper basks in confetti after winning a second minority government on Oct. 14, 2008, in Calgary. But 2008 offers perhaps the most instructive example. In that case, Harper's Conservatives wanted to go to an election. But the opposition wasn't willing to defeat them in the House and the Conservatives had passed legislation that was supposed to establish that elections would only occur on a fixed date every four years — though the law stopped short of preventing the governor general from dissolving Parliament on the advice of the prime minister. Choosing when to go So Harper went looking for an excuse to call an election. He summoned each of the leaders of the opposition parties to meetings and asked them if they were willing to support the government's agenda until the fixed election date. Quite predictably, they scoffed at the suggestion. At which point, Harper claimed there was obviously no path forward and it was time for an election. Somewhat similarly, a cynical observer might read Trudeau's allusion to Parliament "being able to function appropriately" as a hint of how he might find a reason to go to an election. Harper's decision to ignore his fixed-date legislation was briefly a point of debate in 2008. But it was quickly overtaken by the actual issues and controversies of the election, including the stock market meltdown that occurred in the middle of the campaign. A similar sequence played out in 2011. By the end of that campaign, the finding of contempt was a footnote. The lessons here seem twofold. First, if the prime minister really wants to have an election, he'll probably be able to find an excuse to have one. And, second, there is a decent chance that all of the posturing that preceded the election will rapidly be forgotten as parties and voters turn to talking about what every election is ultimately about: the future.
TORONTO — Money vanishes in the banking world and an off-Broadway illusionist delivers his own disappearing act in March’s streaming highlights. Here’s a rundown of some TV shows and movies worth a look: “BAD BANKS” An ambitious female banker is pulled into the darker side of Germany’s financial industry when she’s recruited to spy on a rival investment bank. Driven by a propulsive storyline stacked with troubled characters, manipulative antics and grand machismo, this winner of multiple German Television Academy Awards fills the void left by the season wraps of “Succession” and “Industry.” (CBC Gem, March 12) “DEREK DELGAUDIO’S IN & OF ITSELF” Magician Derek DelGaudio’s live theatre show “In & Of Itself” shook audiences with its blend of visual trickery and emotional illusions, and director Frank Oz brings the experience home with a 90-minute film that captures all the wonder. Standing before a packed audience of willing participants, DelGaudio doles out mind-boggling card tricks, engaging stories and an inexplicable connection with everyone in the room. It’s a one-of-a-kind rollercoaster of magic that could leave you in tears. Even if it doesn’t, the show is sure to create plenty of conversation in your living room. (Crave, March 1) “63 Up” Many directors have committed their lives to filmmaking, but few so much as Michael Apted, the documentarian whose groundbreaking "Up" film series was a work in sociology and journalism, as well as hugely influential on the doc genre as a whole. Starting in 1964, he traced the lives of 14 Britons as they navigated race, class and the personal traumas that shaped their identities. The ninth film in the series, “63 Up,” is the most recent update Apted made before he died in January. It arrives on Britbox next to the previous eight installations, which offer a uniquely life-spanning binge experience. (Britbox, March 9) “Generation” A circle of high schoolers navigate the foibles of growing up in the social media age in this darkly comic five-episode series that echoes the progressive, yet controversy-fuelled, bent of “Euphoria.” Starring a cast of buzzworthy newcomers, including Justice Smith, Uly Schlesinger and Haley Sanchez. (Crave/HBO, March 11, episodes weekly) “Alice in Borderland” One wrong turn and three friends suddenly find themselves trapped in the centre of a desolate Tokyo where someone is forcing them to play deadly games using smartphone apps. Based on a Japanese manga, this crafty thriller evokes the action energy of Quentin Tarantino and John Woo with a twisted edge that’ll appear to horror fans. (Netflix, Now Available) OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: “Coming 2 America” – Eddie Murphy reprises his role as an African monarch in a “Coming to America” sequel. (Amazon Prime Video, March 5) “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” – The original director of 2017’s DC Comics superhero mash-up “Justice League” reworks the film he started before leaving the project due to a death in his family. This four-hour director’s cut promises many surprises and moments originally left on the cutting room floor. (Crave/HBO, March 18) “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” – Two Marvel characters forge a new path after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” (Disney Plus, March 19, episodes weekly) “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” – A mother fed up with politics of pee-wee hockey enlists Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) to launch a new team. (Disney Plus, March 26, episodes weekly) This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press