WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Huronia West OPP were called to a collision between a farm tractor driven by Springwater resident Teunis Ploeg, 84, and a motorcycle driven by David Ball, 64, of Essa Township on July 10. The bike and tractor collided on Highway 26 near Horseshoe Valley Road shortly before 1:30 p.m. Ball was thrown from his motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene. As a result of the police investigation, Ploeg has been charged with Careless Driving Causing Death and could face provincial fines up to $50,000 and/or up to two years in prison. Ploeg is scheduled to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Wasaga Beach on March 2, 2021. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Huronia West OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is an anonymous tip line; contributors don’t testify and could receive a cash reward up to $2,000. As a result of the police investigation, Ploeg has been charged with Careless Driving Causing Death and could face provincial fines up to $50,000 and/or up to two years in prison. Ploeg is scheduled to appear in Provincial Offences Court in Wasaga Beach on March 2, 2021. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
(ANNews) – Alexis Nakota Sioux Chief Tony Alexis is criticizing the vaccine roll out in Alberta. In November 2020, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released preliminary guidance on the key populations for early COVID-19 vaccinations, “for the efficient, effective, and equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine(s).” The NACI guidance came because of the limited supply of the vaccines which necessitates that there be “prioritization of immunization in some populations earlier than others.” The key populations in Stage 1 of the national vaccine rollout, which were identified by the NACI, are as follows: Residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors. Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available. Health care workers (including all those who work in health care settings and personal support workers whose work involves direct contact with patients). And adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences. On January 19, Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Tony Alexis, condemned the Alberta Government for its handling and distribution of its COVID vaccines. "Provinces across Canada are following the NACI guidance and vaccinating Indigenous communities early, with other populations like the elderly identified as vulnerable,” said Chief Alexis. “Meanwhile in Alberta under Minister [of Health] Shandro’s watch, First Nation communities are seeing case numbers rapidly rise, while the rest of the Alberta COVID numbers decline.” Alarmingly, First Nations in Alberta have experienced the most on-reserve COVID cases in the entire country. At the time of writing, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) lists Alberta as having 4,086 confirmed cases within First Nations. A few days ago, it was also reported that Maskwacis has had a total of 1,573 cases – nearly 10 percent of its entire population. Chief Tony Alexis continued by saying, “after weeks of discussions and ‘consultation’ with Chiefs across Alberta – the government of Alberta deceived us and made special arrangements to distribute vaccines early to only one First Nation community. There was no direct communication for this action beforehand.” “This behaviour belittles First Nations people and is a tactic that has been historically used by the government to divide Indigenous people in an attempt to pit us against one another.” “Please know, my outrage is not directed to the community receiving the vaccine early, it is directed to Minister Shandro and the UCP government,” Chief Alexis emphasized. “I am tired of being consulted and urged to work together when it truly does not matter. The UCP government continues to leave us in the dark on issues that directly and disproportionately affect Indigenous people.” The Chief ended his statement by urging Minister Shandro that 10,000 doses would not be enough and that they need to comply with the NACI’s guidance. Then just yesterday, Jason Kenney announced that the provincial government’s plan to vaccinate First Nations and Métis individuals aged 65 and older, which was expected to begin in February, has been put on hold until further notice. “We have quite simply run out of supply,” Kenney said at a press conference. Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Alberta Native News. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
La proposition du conseiller de l’opposition David De Cotis de rebaptiser l’aréna Saint-François du nom de Jacques St-Jean a rallié les élus du parti au pouvoir, des deux oppositions et des élus indépendants lors de la séance du conseil municipal de janvier. Ainsi, il a été décidé à l’unanimité d’en saisir le comité chargé d’analyser les demandes de dénomination toponymique. «C’est un honneur en tant que représentant des citoyens de Saint-François d’appuyer cette proposition», a déclaré le conseiller et membre du Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers, Éric Morasse. Son collègue Yannick Langlois, qui préside aux destinées du Comité de toponymie, a pour sa part qualifié Jacques St-Jean de «bâtisseur» et de «personnalité très importante dans l’histoire du hockey et du sport de Laval», précisant que «le comité analysera le dossier» à la lumière de la Politique de dénomination toponymique. Celle-ci, adoptée au printemps 2018, vise à mettre en valeur le patrimoine et la culture locale par l’attribution de noms évocateurs à des lieux et espaces publics. Aux yeux de M. De Cotis, le proposeur, il s’agirait d’un «honneur bien mérité» pour celui qui s’est dévoué pendant plus d’un demi-siècle auprès de la population lavalloise. Conseiller municipal de Saint-François pendant 24 ans, soit jusqu’à ce qu’il quitte la vie politique en 2017, Jacques St-Jean avait été régisseur des sports pour l’ancienne ville de Chomedey avant la grande fusion de 1965. Son nom est indissociable du hockey, lui qui a notamment dirigé dans les années 1970 le National de Laval à la belle époque de Mike Bossy. En 1975, il fonda sa propre école de hockey qui, pendant plus de 40 ans, a accueilli des milliers de jeunes Lavallois. Aujourd’hui âgé de 85 ans, M. St-Jean, qui fut intronisé au Temple de la renommée du hockey québécois en 1996, a fait carrière dans l’enseignement, plus précisément au sein de la défunte Commission scolaire de Chomedey où il a œuvré à titre de conseiller pédagogique en éducation physique. Si cette proposition devait être entérinée par le Comité de toponymie, l’aréna Saint-François deviendrait le 4e amphithéâtre à être rebaptisé sous l’administration Demers. En 2014, l’aréna Laval-Ouest est devenu l’aréna Hartland-Monahan en l’honneur de celui qui fut le premier Lavallois repêché par la Ligue nationale de hockey. Les défunts Golden Seals de la Californie en avait fait leur choix en 1971. Deux ans plus tard, ce fut au tour de l’aréna Samson de changer de nom pour celui de l’ex-grande vedette du Lightning de Tampa Bay, le Lavallois Martin Saint-Louis. Enfin, en 2019, l’aréna Chomedey était renommé l’aréna Pierre-Creamer en l’honneur de cet entraîneur lavallois qui a notamment eu le privilège de diriger Mario Lemieux à la barre des Penguins de Pittsburgh à la fin des années 1980. À lire également: Jacques St-Jean reçoit le Prix Artisan 2020 Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions are being rolled back to the more restrictive red phase as of midnight Tuesday night, and there has been another death in the province. The individual, an 89-year-old resident of Parkland Saint John, is the 13th COVID-19 patient to die since the pandemic began last winter. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, made the announcement at a live-streamed briefing Tuesday afternoon, saying the measures are needed to stave off the "avalanche of cases we are seeing across our borders." Premier Blaine Higgs also addressed the briefing, warning that the province will go to "full lockdown," including closing schools, if cases continue to rise. "We have never been in a situation like this since pandemic began," Higgs said. "I cannot stress enough that this is a critical moment. ... Stay home as much as you possibly can and avoid interacting with people outside your household bubble." Under the red phase, gyms, hairdressers and entertainment centres must close and everyone must stick to a single-household bubble. Dining must be takeout, drive-thru or delivery only, and elective surgeries and non-urgent medical procedures are postponed. New red phase rules for schools have been introduced, including: Students and staff must stay home if they have even one symptom of COVID-19. School staff will be screened for COVID-19 when they report to work each day. If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed at a school in the red level, the school will be closed for at least three days to allow for contact tracing. The school would also become a testing site for school staff. 31 new cases reported, affecting six of seven zones Dr. Jennifer Russell,the chief medical officer of health, announced 31 new cases in the province on Tuesday. The cases break down as follows: Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases: two people 40 to 49 an individual 50 to 59 an individual 60 to 69 Saint John region, Zone 2, three cases: two people 19 or under an individual 40 to 49 Fredericton region, Zone 3, one case: an individual 19 or under Edmundston region, Zone 4, 21 cases: an individual 19 or under an individual 20 to 29 two people 30 to 39 three people 40 to 49 seven people 50 to 59 five people 60 to 69 an individual 70 to 79 an individual 80 to 89 Campbellton region, Zone 5, one case: an individual 50 to 59 Bathurst region, Zone 6, one case: an individual 20 to 29 There are now 316 active cases in the province, and 1,953 New Brunswickers are self-isolating. The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick so far in the pandemic is 1,004 and 674 have recovered. There have been 13 deaths, and one patient is hospitalized. As of Tuesday, 176,034 tests have been conducted, including 1,839 since Monday's report. Warnings about deadly, underestimated threats The daily case count numbers are a visible reminder of the threat of COVID-19 that is "all around us," Premier Blaine Higgs said Tuesday. But unseen threats also lurk, with potentially fatal consequences, he said. Higgs cautioned against "underestimating your ability to infect others" and said that even with the mildest symptoms — or no symptoms at all — you could be a carrier and a transmitter of the disease. He cited the case of an asymptomatic person who came home to isolate with their parents in New Brunswick. That individual unknowingly infected them with COVID-19, Higgs said, "and one of their parents died." The growing threat of the much more contagious U.K. and other variants of the virus should also be on everyone's radar, Higgs said. "We do not yet know if new strains of COVID-19 are in New Brunswick," he said, "but they pose an additional, real threat." Frustrating wait for answers on vaccines Premier Blaine Higgs has questions about the "reliability" of vaccine supply in the wake of Pfizer's delivery wobble, but he said he's not getting answers. In the wake of news from Ottawa on Tuesday that Canada will not get any shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week and will see reduced shipments for several weeks after that, Higgs said plans to have the province's health-care workers and care home residents vaccinated by the end of March are still on track. But he wants further assurances — and he's not getting them, he said. "We need consistency, we need to know what the [dosage delivery] numbers are," he said at Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing. "We'll work with the numbers we have, but we need to have assurance that the numbers are correct. This (Pfizer delivery) issue this week gives us some concern in that regard." The status of approvals for some of the five other vaccines Canada has agreed to purchase is also a troubling question mark, Higgs said. "Only two vaccines have been approved by Health Canada and they were approved relatively quickly," he said. "What is the status of at least two others that are in front of Health Canada for approval? What is the timeline? We can't seem to get any answers on that … not only here but across Canada." Health Canada is currently reviewing AstroZeneca's vaccine, which has been approved in the U.K., and a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical arm, Janssen. 3 more schools record cases of COVID-19 École Régionale Saint-Basile in Saint-Basile and Élémentaire Sacré-Coeur in Grand Falls both announced positive cases and said they would close because of them. Both schools are in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, which is in the red phase. Meanwhile in the Anglophone South School District, a Saint John school has announced a positive case. In an email to CBC News district spokesperson Jessica Hanlon confirmed a case at Princess Elizabeth School. "Any staff or student who might have been identified by Public Health as a close contact would have been contacted and informed to self-isolate," said Hanlon. Nine schools in the province have had COVID-19 cases within the past week. In Anglophone South School District, cases have been recorded at Quispamsis Middle School, Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield, Millidgeville North School in Saint John, and Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis, where there are two cases. Two schools in the Anglophone East School District, Riverview East School and Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, have also announced positive cases. New public exposure warnings issued Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on the following flights: Jan. 3 – Air Canada Flight 8910 from Toronto to Moncton, arrived at 11:23 a.m. Public Health has also issued the following potential COVID-19 exposure warnings: Moncton region: Goodlife Fitness Centre, 175 Ivan Rand Dr. E., on Jan. 13 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Moncton North After Hours Medical Clinic, 1633 Mountain Rd., on Jan. 14 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Edmundston region: Jean Coutu Kim Levesque-Cote Pharmacy, 276 Broadway Blvd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Parts for Trucks,21 Powers Rd., Grand Falls, on Jan. 11, 12 and 14 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
LANSING, Mich. — Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county. Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanour counts of wilful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors. “Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors. The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defence in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the former Republican governor. Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism. The city, under Snyder-appointed emergency managers, used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water was blamed by some experts for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which killed at least 12 people in the area and sickened dozens more. ___ White reported from Detroit. Ed White And David Eggert, The Associated Press
MADRID — Atlético Madrid appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday to suspend Kieran Trippier’s ban for breaching betting rules. Atlético filed its appeal to CAS a day after FIFA rejected the Spanish club’s attempt to keep the ban imposed on the defender by the English Football Association from being applied worldwide. The England international was punished by the FA for passing information on his 2019 transfer from Tottenham to Atletico to be used by friends to bet on. Spanish league leader Atlético succeeded two weeks ago in getting FIFA to pause Trippier’s 10-week ban that was imposed in December and runs through Feb. 28. As it stands, Trippier would miss nine more games, including the Champions League fixture against Chelsea in the round of 16 on Feb. 23. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Tiny Township residents can expect a 1% blended tax rate increase for this year. The decision was forwarded to the next meeting after hours of deliberation at Monday's budget meeting. Where a majority easily agreed on the option, one council member expressed some concerns. A blended tax rate is achieved after incorporating the county and education tax rates. "I’m not comfortable with 1%," said Coun. Tony Mintoff, adding he also wasn't comfortable sacrificing important projects to find the $400,000 to keep the township's tax rate increase at zero per cent. "Based on that, I will reluctantly agree to a 1% blended rate increase." Council approved $70,000 in salary for a full-time human resource person. Staff pointed out that there may yet be savings in this line item once recommendations from the North Simcoe services operations review comes forward in March. Further, even if the township hires an independent HR staff member, the $70,000 annual salary will not be realized in full for this year. Then council found $30,000 in savings by directing staff to take out the extra ask for arena use from the Town of Penetanguishene. "It’s my understanding the recreation master plan had created the recommendation that fulsome discussion be held with all three municipalities that provide arena facilities to us," said Mintoff. "Given the fact that hasn’t happened yet, my recommendation would be to remove the $30,000 that was asked by Penetang, subject to the discussions to take place in 2021." Agreeing with staff, council decided to delay the purchase of a vehicle for the parks department, instead moving the $70,000 to reserve funds. At the end of the day, staff was sent back to find efficiencies in departments or seek out projects that could be delayed to make up for the $8,500 in funding gap that still remains if the tax rate is to be set at 1%. Other budget approvals include a 6% increase in funds to be moved to the municipal infrastructure reserves. As well, council approved a 1% cost of living increase for staff wages, despite Mintoff's suggestion to the contrary so the township could show solidarity with residents who had suffered through the pandemic. "This has been a very difficult year financially for a lot of our residents," he said. "The majority that live in the private sector world and those who live on retirement income. I’m pleased we were able to maintain full employment for our staff, so I think it would be inappropriate and insensitive of us to consider any kind of increase in wages. My recommendation would be to remove this salary increase from the budget." Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma disagreed with his peer. "I can 100% justify the cost," he said. "When you look at municipal employees as a whole, there’s very little you can do in terms of incentives. There are no bonuses and there’s no additional time off you can get. I know there’s been a CPP increase this year. If we’re going to take a look at our retirees being affected, we have to back it up with quantitative evidence as well. "If a statement needs to be made in terms of leadership, then I’d be in favour of council taking no increase," added Walma. "The savings can be donated to a local charity. Or the council could take the 1% increase and donate it back to the municipality into the bursary program." Other council members agreed with his suggestion. And so did Mintoff. "I have no issue with council taking zero per cent increase," he said. "Speaking about council’s initiative to raise our rate of pay for staff from 50th percentile to the 55th percentile, how much did that bumping up of salaries cost? "I believe it was several hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t want my comments to be misconstrued that we don’t value our staff, but I believe we pay them above a comparative group. I don’t want staff watching to think they don’t deserve fair recognition and compensation for what they do." Staff will now bring back a third and possibly final draft of the 2021 budget at a meeting next month. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Codiac Regional RCMP say the force will take some kind of action regarding anti-mask protesters in Moncton who violate the province's emergency measures order. Supt. Tom Critchlow, the commanding officer of Codiac RCMP, told Moncton councillors Monday police would act this week. He didn't offer specifics. "This group obviously wants some type of showdown," Critchlow said. "There's methods in how we deal with that. Rest assured, I will deal with that. We will deal with [it]. At this point, because of the current state that the province is morphing into, we will take action." His comments followed questions last week and by councillors Monday about what the force is doing regarding the protesters who appear to flout rules meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. A board member of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority, which oversees the force that polices Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, last week questioned why tickets weren't handed out to those defying the rules. RCMP officers observed the protests held on weekends outside Moncton city hall. Under the orange recovery phase, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and masks are required outside when physical distancing can't be maintained. Critchlow told the police authority that the force is taking a "measured" approach, observing the protesters and trying to educate them about the rules. His comments Monday suggested a change in approach. Moncton deputy mayor Shawn Crossman said he understands people have a right to protest, but said he's anxious to see COVID-19 rules enforced. "It's really frustrating," Crossman said of those violating rules. Coun. Paulette Thériault also said she's not impressed by the protests. She said more than two million deaths worldwide have been linked to COVID-19. "To say that we shouldn't be concerned is beyond my comprehension," Thériault said. "I don't think we can ever educate these people because I don't think they really want to hear what the realities are out there." "But if we can find solutions so that at least we can protect our citizens, I think this is extremely important."
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years. When word leaked this week that Joe Biden would pull the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline project the first day he's sworn in as president, the only person who seemed shocked was Premier Jason Kenney. "We hope president-elect Biden will show respect for Canada and will sit down and at the very least talk to us," said Kenney during an online news conference where he lectured, hectored, and pleaded with the Biden administration. Politically speaking, Kenney was at times on his knees begging, on his toes dancing, shaking his fist, shaking his head, and bending over backwards to justify sinking $1.5 billion into the troubled project in 2020 and promising another $6 billion in loan guarantees in 2021. It was like watching a tap dancer trying to juggle as he set his hair on fire. Kenney, of course, should have seen this coming since March last year when he announced the "wise investment." It was no investment but a gamble on a troubled project. He called it a "bold move." That should have been the first red flag. Whenever politicians describe something they're doing as "bold" they mean controversial or contentious or risky. Kenney, it turns out, meant all three. Another red flag was Kenney acknowledging the project "never would have moved forward" without $7.5 billion in support from the Alberta public. When government's jump in where private corporations fear to tread, plan for a rough landing. And, of course, there was this red flag big enough to cover the pipeline's proposed 2,000-kilometre route from Alberta to Nebraska: "I've been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tar sands that we don't need, that in fact is a very, very high pollutant." That was Biden on the campaign trail promising to take action against climate change. Hot button issue Just as Keystone has become a symbol of economic salvation for Alberta, it has also become a symbol of all the evils of global warming. Both are simplistic tropes. Building Keystone won't solve Alberta's systemic economic problems. Killing it won't end global warming. But, boy, it's been a lightning rod for more than a decade. Keystone was twice rejected under the presidency of Barack Obama and even though it received approval under Donald Trump, Biden promised to scrap the project should he become president. He'll be sworn in on Wednesday. Kenney says cancelling the Keystone expansion project "would be, in our view, an economic and strategic error that would set back Canada-U.S. relations with the United States' most important trading partner and strategic ally: Canada." WATCH | Kenney's message for Joe Biden Kenney is falling into the same political conceit that has beguiled Alberta premiers for decades: the belief that they or Alberta or even Canada really matters on the U.S. stage when partisan politics is involved. Yes, we are major trading partners but, to paraphrase Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's father, we are a mouse sleeping next to an elephant. And the elephant isn't taking our calls. Almost 20 year ago Ralph Klein travelled to Washington in a futile attempt to open up the closed U.S. border to Alberta beef during the mad cow scare. Others including Alison Redford and Jim Prentice tried to educate U.S. politicians and business leaders about the oil sands and its strategic importance in North America, as if highly placed Americans had never heard of Alberta. They have, but they'll only act in Alberta's interests if it's in their interests. Kenney seems to be under the assumption that if he can just get Biden, or someone close to him, on the phone, he could convince the new president to overturn an election promise to shut down Keystone. But Biden made an election promise — just like Kenney did in 2019 to scrap Alberta's carbon tax. Perhaps Biden should simply send Kenney a four-word email the premier would understand: "promise made, promise kept." Kenney asked Biden to "show respect for Canada" and sit down to talk. But where was Kenney's respect last November when he suggested Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was "brain-dead" because her state waged a legal fight last summer against Enbridge's Line 5? Whitmer isn't just any U.S. governor. She was a national co-chair of Biden's presidential campaign. Five days after Kenney's slur, Whitmer took legal action to shut down the pipeline completely this year. Maybe American politicians do listen to Kenney, after all. For Kenney, the impending death of the Keystone project isn't just an end to thousands of construction jobs or another hit to Alberta's beleaguered economy, it's a political humiliation and a harbinger of things to come as the world moves away from fossil fuel. Kenney campaigned in the 2019 Alberta election on a promise of jobs, economy and pipelines. Thanks in large part to the pandemic, Alberta now has some of the highest jobless rates in the country, the depressed price of oil has undercut the economy, and, what must be the most galling of all for a staunch conservative like Kenney, the only pipeline to tidewater under construction is the Liberal-government-owned Alberta-to-West-Coast Trans Mountain pipeline project. There are two questions looming: can Canada convince Biden at the last minute to change his mind on Keystone? If not, how long before Kenney hits his default button and lays the blame at Trudeau's feet?
Brock University is joining the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business as a member. The council will provide Brock with a conduit to more than 1,000 businesses operated by Indigenous peoples and access to diverse programming, tools and training. Acting vice-provost of Indigenous engagement Robyn Bourgeois said joining an organization meant to support Indigenous businesses illustrates how everyone plays a role in the university’s decolonization and Indigenization efforts. “It’s such a great example of how we can operationalize what we mean by that pillar of fostering a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization and showing our support for Indigenous peoples,” she said. Chuck Maclean first suggested that the university join the council. Maclean, who helps units across the university with purchasing, said he learned about it at a conference and realized the school could benefit from joining. “If Indigenous businesses can give us like services and a good value, why not be supportive of them when it’s appropriate?” he said. “It’s a great collaboration. We’ll start from a foundation and build up, introducing these businesses to the university and the value of their work.” While 2021 marks Brock’s first full year as a CCAB member, it has a connection going much further back. One of the CCAB’s founding members was Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, who died in 2006. She was an important figure in Brock’s history who served two terms on the board of trustees and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2002. The Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Scholarship at Brock has helped opened the doors to post-secondary education for more than two dozen Indigenous students. Michele-Elise Burnett, a trustee and co-chair of Brock’s Aboriginal education council, said her mother would be proud of Maclean’s vision. “My mother always believed Brock University would lead by example and become Canada’s Indigenous school of excellence, raising the bar for all universities to emulate.” Bourgeois hopes Maclean’s example will help lead to others thinking about what role they can play in Indigenizing the university. “Quite often, when we think about Indigenizing, we think in siloed terms,” she said. “In reality, that commitment to Indigenization and decolonization should be infused throughout the university, and that means all levels and areas could be involved.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
A tabloid's publication of a deeply personal letter written by Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex, to her father was a "plain breach" of privacy, her lawyers told a court on Tuesday and said the judge should rule in her favour without need for a trial. Meghan, 39, the wife of Queen Elizabeth's grandson Prince Harry, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers after its Mail on Sunday paper printed extracts of a handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018. At the start of two days of remote hearings, Meghan's lawyer, Justin Rushbrooke, asked a London High Court judge to issue a summary judgment without a potentially embarrassing trial.
Reports that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion are reverberating in Saskatchewan.
This column is an opinion from Max Fawcett, a freelance writer and the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine. Death and taxes may be the only certainties in life, but over the last few years conservatives in Canada have done their best to add misrepresenting the federal carbon tax to that list. Their latest attempt to confuse Canadians came in the form of a Jan. 5 story in Blacklock's Reporter, an Ottawa-based subscription news service, which suggested that "Canadians paid millions more in #CarbonTax than they received in rebates." The source for that claim was the first annual report produced on the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act by Environment and Climate Change Canada, one that (among other things) described the total revenues raised by the tax and the ways in which it was paid back to Canadians. The report contained a chart depicting the balance of proceeds and payments. Blacklock'sadded a helpful red box around the rebates to households to emphasize that those figures were less than the total amount Canadians paid. That image was immediately blasted out by Conservative pundits and members of parliament on Twitter, who seized on the story as another example of the federal government's apparent dishonesty around the tax. "This week, the Trudeau government released its annual report on the carbon tax, which clearly shows the federal government collected far more in carbon taxes last year than it actually rebated to households in those provinces," Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Aaron Wudrick wrote in the Toronto Sun. "It's not a small sum: of the $2.6 billion taken from Canadians' pockets, just under $2 billion was rebated," Wudrick added. Chicanery at work Some Conservative MPs went even further than that. Jeremy Patzer, the 34-year-old member for Cypress-Grasslands in Saskatchewan, tweeted his take at Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal minister of environment. "It's right there in print," he wrote. "You can't lie your way out of this one. Where did the rest of the money go?" Funny he should ask, because the answer to that question was contained in the very same chart that Conservatives were treating like a smoking gun — the part that had been selectively cropped out. The chart showed hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to small and medium-sized enterprises as well municipalities, universities and colleges, schools and hospitals. The selective cropping also excluded a line indicating that any difference between proceeds and payments would be added to the next year's Climate Action Incentive payments. That wasn't the only bit of chicanery at work here, either. Equally dishonest was the implication that the federal government had promised that the rebates would be larger than the total tax paid by all Canadians. That was never the case: instead, we were told that the vast majority of households would get more back in rebates than they paid in carbon taxes. On this matter, the Parliamentary Budget Office has been very clear: the vast majority of Canadian households will receive more in rebates than they pay in carbon taxes, and that includes indirect impacts on things like food costs. The PBO has been equally clear about the fact that the households who will benefit the most from the carbon tax and rebate are the ones in the lowest income quartile. Conservatives will continue to pretend that the burden of the carbon tax falls most heavily on working class Canadians, but the facts simply don't bear this out. But no matter: for an already confused public, the cropped chart and accompanying conservative outrage will almost certainly overwhelm any attempts to rationally explain the policy. And while said Conservatives are certainly to blame for this — Philip Lawrence, the CPC shadow minister for national revenue, even sent out a press release trading in the latest deceit — the federal government deserves its share of the blame as well. That's because while the policies that underpin its climate plan are well designed, they've done a far worse job of communicating with Canadians about them. In fairness, even climate policy wonks can struggle at times to explain the nature of the federal backstop, especially how it applies to large industrial emitters. But when it comes to helping Canadians understand what they pay and whether they're coming out ahead financially, the federal government has done a predictably lousy job. Confusion reigns According to a September 2020 Leger poll that was conducted for Clean Prosperity, fewer than one-in-three Canadians living in the 905 region knew that carbon tax revenues were rebated to households. That's partially a function of the way it's distributed, which is in the form of a tax credit called the "Climate Action Incentive rebate." That name might have pleased the public servant who came up with it, but it invites confusion in a public that is accustomed to hearing it described in very different language. And because millions of Canadians don't actually do their own taxes, its very existence may have escaped their notice — especially if their tax preparer wasn't particularly anxious to tell them about it. The federal government has signaled its intention to move to quarterly deposits rather than annual tax credits by 2022, but this could be too little, too late. Even then, they'd be repeating a lesser mistake that Alberta's NDP made in their own rebate program, where the funds were deposited automatically in people's bank accounts — and therefore often overlooked. If the federal government wants to fix this error, they'll need to take a page out of their opponent's playbook. In Ontario, Doug Ford forced gas stations to put stickers purporting to show the cost of the carbon tax on their pumps. And while the stickers were poorly made and politically crass (and eventually ruled unconstitutional), they still effectively communicated his government's side of the story in simple and straight-forward terms. That's why, rather than allowing people to claim a tax credit or depositing money into their bank accounts, the federal government should send Canadians actual, physical cheques — and make it clear who's sending it to them. Would they be accused by the opposition of bribing people with their own money? Probably. But that's a cost they should be willing to pay, especially when the price of failure here is so high. In an environment where misinformation thrives, and where one side has repeatedly shown its willingness to spread it about the carbon tax, the Trudeau Liberals may have to fight fire with something other than wood. This isn't just a political consideration, either. As Canada tries to repair its balance sheet and grow the economy in the wake of COVID-19, it will need all the investment it can get. And according to Michael Berends, a managing director with ClearBlue Markets, a firm that helps companies understand and manage their carbon costs, the continued uncertainty around carbon pricing's future in Canada is getting in the way of that investment. "If you look at the cap and trade program that Ontario had in place in 2017, which was removed by the conservative government, it had over $2 billion in proceeds from auction — money that was going to be rolled out to clean initiatives, including a significant portion to large emitters," Berends told me. Certainty more important than price For those large emitters, he adds, policy certainty might be more important than price. "I'm not here to say that all emitters are happy with the $170 per tonne price, but they first want to know if it's really going to be there or not." And that lack of certainty — in Ontario, for example, large emitters have had to learn about and understand three different programs in five years — could drive capital into more stable markets. "For emitters that have plants in other locations outside of Ontario or the rest of Canada, if there's more certainty in those places, then the money might be moving there instead — because you know what you're facing," says Berends. That's something that all Canadian politicians should be eager to avoid. But that may require one of two things to happen: either Conservatives stop misrepresenting the nature and impact of carbon pricing, or Liberals start fighting for it more effectively. For both sides of the political spectrum, that is almost certainly an unpleasant idea. But losing out on billions of dollars in potential investment in low-carbon projects should be even less attractive. "The acceptance of carbon pricing is here now in Canada, at least on the emitter side," Berends says. "Now it's up to the politicians to deliver that certainty and give a clear path forward." This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please readour FAQ.
Albertans logged hundreds of rat reports in 2020, double a typical year, but it's not necessarily because more pests are scurrying around the province. Norway rats are considered to be extremely destructive — they can carry disease and eat through valuable crops. For more than 70 years the province has been determined to stop these pests from calling Alberta home, concentrating efforts along the Saskatchewan border, banning the animals as pets, and investigating any hint of a rat inside the province's borders. Out of 481 rat reports, just 17 turned out to be the real deal last year. Karen Wickerson, specialist with Alberta's Rat Control Program, said the province set up an email in 2020 which helps turn around a case faster than the 310-RATS number. The new reporting method could have helped bolster reporting numbers last year. "When they're out in the environment outside, they have their phones with them and so they can easily take out their phone and email us in a photo, and then we can respond very quickly and tell them which species it is," Wickerson said. "If it is a confirmed rat then we can contact the appropriate people and have them go out and investigate." Wickerson said while Albertans are diligent about reporting rats they usually get it wrong. "What I've noticed about Albertans is they feel a really strong responsibility to report a rat sighting because they know that we are rat-free, which is great," Wickerson said. "Because we don't have a resident population of rats in Alberta, they don't know what a rat looks like." Muskrats more common About half of the sightings in 2020 turned out to be muskrats. But Wickerson doesn't mind. "I'd rather have 100 muskrat emails and, you know, not miss out on a rat sighting or a confirmed rat than people think, 'oh, it might be a muskrat, I'm not going to send an email,'" she said. She added there may be an educational campaign coming in the spring to help Albertans better identify what rats look like. For her, the difference between a waddling muskrat, and a scurrying rat is night and day — but she has daily practice identifying the critters that land in her inbox. It's unclear if the pandemic played a role in last year's rat sightings. Dr. Kaylee Byers is the Regional Deputy Director with the B.C. Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. She's also a researcher with the Vancouver rat program. Byers said throughout the pandemic rats made headlines. The pests were seen in the daylight, reportedly on the move scouring the streets for scraps of food as more humans retreated indoors. "We would certainly expect to see some changes in rat behaviours in relation to major changes in the environment," Byers said. "What exactly those have looked like? All of those reports have been largely anecdotal." Rat research still in its infancy Byers said in many areas there aren't baseline studies or statistics to help better understand what kinds of effects the pandemic has had on rat populations. Rats are notoriously hard to research, as studying wild ones means catching them, sometimes more than once to monitor behaviour. "Wouldn't it have been nice if we were set up to study this in advance?" Byers said. "The way we answer these kinds of questions is through having systems of reporting so we can say whether or not rat sightings have gone up or down." Alberta's Saskatchewan border is patrolled several times a year to check rats aren't crossing over into the province. Rats can't live in mountainous areas, which is good as it keeps British Columbia rats at bay. But, Wickerson said the rodents are crafty hitchhikers. Out of the 26 rats found in 2020, many rode into Alberta on transport trucks or even personal vehicles, which is something Wickerson hopes to work on. There's also been a trend of rats ending up at recycling centres across the province. Wickerson said in Calgary, a family drove from Vancouver Island back to Calgary, making a stop in Kelowna before parking their SUV inside their garage at home. The next morning the homeowner found a rat dead in the garage, floating in a pail of water. Rats like to hitchhike "Check your vehicle when you come back from B.C. so that it doesn't increase our risk of rats entering into the province," Wickerson said, adding many Albertans own property in the neighbouring province. Wickerson hopes to collect more data on rats found in Alberta, mapping out where they are found, recording their specific species, all to see if she can tease out a pattern. "Location, urban-rural, the type of rat and then where it was reported, I'll put in the GPS location, alive or dead, how many, that sort of thing," Wickerson said. "I would like someone to come along, like a grad student, to do a study."
Beijing-based ByteDance recently launched its own third-party payment service for Douyin, the Chinese version of its hit short video app TikTok, as it presses to expand into the e-commerce business in China. "The set-up of Douyin Pay is to supplement the existing major payment options, and to ultimately enhance user experience on Douyin," Douyin said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday. Users of Douyin, which accumulated 600 million daily active users, previously could use Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent Holdings' WeChat Pay, the country's two ubiquitous third-party mobile payment channels, to buy virtual gifts for livestreamers or items from shops on the platform.