In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in southern and central areas as case numbers continue to slowly drop. Starting Saturday, non-essential retail stores will be allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity. Since November, they have been limited to delivery or curbside pickup service. Hair salons, barber shops and some personal health services such as reflexology can restart as well. A ban on social visits inside private homes is being eased. Households will be allowed to designate two people who will be allowed to visit indoors. Up to five people can visit outdoors. "Our collective progress in reducing the spread of COVID means we can undertake these very careful, very cautious reopenings at this point," Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Thursday. The changes will last three weeks, at which time more openings could be considered, Roussin said. The changes are not being made in the northern health region, where outbreaks in isolated communities have caused a spike in case numbers in recent weeks. Health officials reported 196 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and five more deaths. More than half the new cases were northern residents. The Retail Council of Canada welcomed the news that some restrictions would be eased. "We're relieved by today's announcement that follows over two months of very severe restrictions that have left retailers limping along using curbside delivery where possible," council spokesman John Graham said. While non-essential stores can reopen, some other businesses, including gyms, bars and nail salons, must remain closed. Restaurants will continue to be limited to takeout and delivery. With the demand for intensive care unit beds still running above pre-pandemic capacity, Roussin said special care must be taken when it comes to places where people gather. "Venues that have prolonged, indoor contact — crowded places, enclosed spaces — those are where a lot of the risk (of virus transmission) lies," Roussin said. Premier Brian Pallister has left the door open to providing more supports for businesses as the closures and capacity limits continue, although did not provide specifics. Pallister said he is trusting Manitobans to follow the rules, and made special mention of household visits. "We don't have enough enforcement people to check every household," Pallister said. "We're asking you to follow the rules because that's how we'll keep each other safe." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
NASHVILLE — Country star Dolly Parton said her brother Randy Parton, who sang and performed with her, as well as at her Dollywood theme park, has died. He was 67. Parton, who turned 75 this week, said in a statement released on Thursday that her brother died of cancer. They were among 12 children in the Parton family, raised in Sevierville, Tennessee. “We are a family of faith and we believe that he is safe with God and that he is joined by members of the family that have gone on before and have welcomed him with joy and open arms,” Parton said in a statement. Randy Parton sang, played guitar and bass in his sister's band, and had hosted his own show at the Tennessee theme park since the opening in 1986. He also released music on his own. Parton said her duet with him on “Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle To You" would “always be a highlight of my own career.” His last recording was a song with Dolly and his daughter Heidi called “You Are My Christmas” that was on Parton's most recent Christmas album. “He shined on it just like he’s shining in heaven now,” Parton said. The Associated Press
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
At some point this year, the respective councils of Sundridge and Strong will need to make a strategic decision on how to go about replacing two of their firefighting vehicles. First up for replacement in 2023 at the Sundridge-Strong (Volunteer) Fire Department is the pumper, which holds about 900 gallons of water and was acquired in 2003. Then in 2026, the department's tanker which, transports about 1,600 gallons, is scheduled to be replaced. In order to have the first vehicle by 2023, Fire Chief Andrew Torrance says he needs to place an order before the end of this year. Torrance says the ordering process is long because, assuming he gets the go-ahead, a request for proposals is made and contract awarded, it takes time to put together a vehicle to the department's specifications. “So it's not a question of trying to replace a vehicle in the year you need to replace it,” says Torrance. “And if (the process) doesn't get started by the end of this year, then we're not likely to see that delivery take place for 2023.” It's the fire chief's hope he can have a proposal ready to be considered by the Sundridge-Strong Fire Department management board in the near future. That sets the stage for the board members to discuss the proposal before they take it to their respective councils for review. However, the proposal Torrance is putting together also will include a section showing how both municipalities can save money if the fire department reverses the ordering timeline and changes the holding capacity of both vehicles. As it stands now, Torrance says, the option to replace the vehicles as scheduled is the more expensive route because it involves the purchase of two full-sized vehicles; the pumper for 2023, followed by the tanker in 2026. But Torrance also plans to suggest an alternative where the department buys a tanker for 2023 that carries about 2,500 gallons of water and then a mini-pumper in 2026 that holds nearly 500 gallons. Torrance says there are no water hydrants in Sundridge or Strong. “And that's one of our main issues,” he says. “We have to make sure we bring enough water to fire-related emergencies.” Torrance says a larger tanker addresses the water capacity issue. He also says the tanker, which went into service in 2006, “would fetch more if it's replaced sooner than later because it has more value now and that would help offset the cost of the larger tanker.” As for the mini-pumper, the fire chief says the vehicle will cost less because of its smaller size, but also will improve firefighting because it's more versatile. “It's more agile and creates more accessibility to long driveways and challenging locations,” Torrance explains. The department also has a second full-sized pumper, which is its primary pumper. The unique feature with this vehicle is it can carry up to five firefighters and is also able to carry and dump water in addition to pumping it at a fire scene. Torrance says the primary pumper won't have to be replaced for many years because it was bought in 2016. The response to a typical fire emergency would see the tanker and pumpers arrive on the scene with the tanker dumping its load of water into portable tanks that sit on the pumpers. Firefighters then battle the flames by using the pumpers to draw or draft out the water from the portable tanks. The tanker, meanwhile, makes its way to the closest water source to refill its reservoir and returns to the fire site with more water for the portable tanks that is again drafted by the pumpers. The action is repeated until the fire is out. A tanker capable of carrying more water, like the 2,500-gallon vehicle that Torrance plans to propose, means fewer refilling trips and that, he says, makes for a more efficient firefighting department. Torrance also addressed the issue of why buying a mini-pumper now won't work. “If we went to a mini-pumper without changing the size of our tanker, then we carry less water and that's not improving our fleet,” he explains. Torrance says that's not to suggest there's anything wrong with the existing tanker. “It's a great truck and has served the area very well,” he says. “And it will continue to serve us well even if we don't immediately replace it.” Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
In a typical year this would be the beginning of snowmobile/poker rally season; the time of year when avid snowmobilers help community halls and recreation centres in small towns and villages across the province to raise money for the upcoming year’s operating expenses and improvements. However, with COVID continuing to run rampant, the typical fundraisers are not happening this year and organizers are trying to think ‘outside the box’ and devise safe ways to raise the funds they need. For a village of roughly 150 people, any major financial undertaking requires many volunteer hours of fundraising. The hall is an important part of any small community and Prud'homme is no different. Funerals, weddings, and Ukrainian dance are all held on the hall, which is also home to the community's library, but with no events last year the volunteers had to put their collective thinking hats on. The Village of Prud’homme regularly runs a poker rally and holds other fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to operate and maintain the Prud’homme Community Centre. One day COVID will end, but until then bills still need to be paid. The volunteers at Prud’homme have held drive-through suppers where individuals pre-pay for their meal and then just come and pick-up the cooked and packaged meal on the designated day. They also hosted a lobster fundraiser where people pre-ordered the number of lobster they wanted, and the group then brought in frozen lobster from the Maritimes for supporters to come and pick-up. Saturday January 23, 2021 the Prud’homme virtualsnowmobile rally will take place (Registration deadline is 9 pm on rally day). There is no need to own or have access to a sled. To purchase a $20 hand, first send payment via e-transfer to: email@example.com(memo: Hand). Second, pick three sets of five numbers from 1 – 500 and email your name and the three sets of numbers to: firstname.lastname@example.org . To purchase 50/50 tickets for $20 each send payments via e-transfer to: email@example.com(memo: 50-50) Anyone wishing to purchase a drive through supper of perogies and smokies for $15 per meal must pre-order by Friday January 22 and send payment via e-transfer to: firstname.lastname@example.org(memo: supper) The supper will be available for pick-up at the Prud’homme Community Centre between 4 and 6 pm on January 23, 2021. For additional information on this event contact Candice at 306-491-2371. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
CALGARY — An industry analyst says Western Canada's oil producers will likely cope better in the short term with Joe Biden's cancelling of the Keystone XL presidential permit this week than they did with the same move by ex-president Barack Obama in 2015. But Phil Skolnick, a New York-based analyst for Eight Capital, agrees with other observers that the end of the pipeline will stifle new investment and production growth in the Canadian oilpatch for years to come. Shortly after being inaugurated on Wednesday, U.S. President Biden, who was Obama's vice-president, fulfilled a campaign promise and took away the pipeline permit that former president Donald Trump returned to builder TC Energy Corp. in 2019. Skolnick says the difference between now and 2015 is that producers are looking forward to opening two other export pipelines -- Line 3 and Trans Mountain -- that together provide nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity. Richard Masson, an executive fellow and energy expert at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, agrees the two remaining pipelines will provide enough capacity to allow oil production to grow into the second half of this decade. But he says uncertainty about capacity beyond that point makes it impossible for producers to make decisions about new multibillion-dollar oilsands projects, which could take five years or more to plan and build. Canadian Energy Pipeline Association CEO Chris Bloomer, meanwhile, says excess space in the oil transport system is vital going forward to provide optionality, energy security and stable pricing for producers. Earlier Thursday, TC Energy Corp. said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. The company had previously warned that blocking the project would lead to thousands of job losses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) The Canadian Press
The Canadian government anticipates that at least 95 per cent of the Canadian population will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the third quarter of the year, between July and September.
For 17-year-old Ethan Turpin, a high school student and aspiring welder, co-op has been a pandemic saving grace. “He came home with a sense of confidence, of achievement, and things that he wouldn't be able to get anywhere else because he's not allowed to go anywhere,” said Linda Stenhouse, his grandmother. Ethan is enrolled in a co-operative education program at Waterdown District High School, completing his placement at Flamboro Technical Services, a fabrication and millwrighting company. Stenhouse said he has been invited back for another term. “He went from failing grades and ended up being an honour student,” she said. “We likened it to the fact that he was in the co-op program.” The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) says about half of its students are able to continue with co-op placements — both in person and virtual — amid a provincewide stay-at-home order announced by the Ontario government on Jan. 12. The board has been offering in-person co-op placements since Oct. 21, “after a pause to ensure that student safety was considered, and appropriate protocols were in place,” HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop said in an email to The Spectator. In cases where an in-person placement is not possible, staff will determine whether or not the student can continue virtually or present “alternate learning opportunities” in order to meet curriculum expectations. “There are some community placements that have been unable to place a student given the recent provincial state of emergency stay-at-home order,” he said. “Horse-crazy” Meghan Wahl said she found out last week she would not be going back to her placement at Halton Equine Veterinary Services, where she cleaned stalls, filled water buckets and observed procedures. “That was kind of hard because Meg had to say bye to everyone, like, then,” her mother, Nicolle Wahl, said. Meghan was given the “green light” to begin a co-op placement at the horse vet in October. “It was the vet part, the technical, hands-on seeing treatments and stuff, that was really interesting,” she said. Her mother said masking and physical distancing — where possible — were required at the vet clinic. “The fact that it was in a medical setting was the reason why both my husband and I felt comfortable with sending Meg,” she said. “That definitely made us feel reassured that she was in a safe environment.” Abbie Boyko’s son, a grade 12 student with the HWDSB, landed a part-time job at his co-op placement, the auto department at the Canadian Tire on Barton Street, before his placement ended when the province further tightened restrictions. “It's very disappointing because it's a great opportunity for students,” Boyko said. “He's just lucky that he did well in his co-op that they've hired him on.” She said co-op is valuable for high school students, particularly those who are graduating. “Not every child is going to go on to college or university, they're going to be out in the (workforce),” she said. Students in the Catholic board, which paused in-person co-ops after winter break to “do some consulting,” were offered the option to go back to in-person placements last week after feedback from co-op teachers. “They felt it was very important to continue with that provision, should the parents and the students still want it,” said Sandie Pizzuti, superintendent of education for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB). The board has added more requirements, including face shields, a revised consent form, repeated COVID-19 training and additional workplace evaluation. The board expects to have approximately 730 students in co-op this school year — about two-thirds of last year’s enrolment. Pizzuti said she understands the concerns some families may have over the decision to return to in-person placements. “But what we needed to do was listen to what our co-op teachers were telling us based on student voice and student input," she said. “And we felt that for those who really wanted to get back to their workplace — and in the case where we felt their workplace was very, very safe — that we would still provide the opportunity because we want them to have a very meaningful, relevant experience.” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that would move carbon dioxide across Wyoming in what could be by far the largest such network in North America, if it is developed. The greenhouse gas would be captured from coal-fired power plants, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured gas would instead be pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production from oil fields. In all, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management designated 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometres) of federal land for pipeline development through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the plans last Friday, days before leaving office with the rest of President Donald Trump's administration. The approval allows companies to begin submitting pipeline construction proposals. Wyoming officials including Republican Gov. Mark Gordon have promoted carbon capture as a way to boost the state's struggling coal mining industry. Utilities nationwide have been turning away from coal-fired electricity in favour of cheaper and cleaner natural gas and renewable energy. “The ability to have a CO2 delivery system, as made possible by the pipeline corridor initiative, helps make CO2 commercially viable,” Gordon said in a statement Wednesday. Whether a large system of carbon capture for oil production is technically and economically feasible remains to be seen. One of two such systems in North America, the Petra Nova facility in Texas, has been offline since global oil prices plummeted last year. The Petra Nova system moves carbon dioxide 80 miles (130 kilometres) from a power plant to an oil field in southeastern Texas. In southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, near the U.S. border, the Boundary Dam carbon dioxide system connects a power plant with an oil field 40 miles (65 kilometres) away. Energy markets drive development of carbon capture projects for oil development, said Matt Fry, state of Wyoming project manager for the pipeline initiative. “We’re just helping to incentivize and provide some sort of a bridge for folks to help them move forward. Hopefully, this and future federal incentives will help get the ball rolling, and we’ll get some projects on the ground,” Fry said. Environmental groups including the Western Watersheds Project have criticized the pipeline corridor plan, saying the pipelines would cross habitat of sage grouse — brown, chicken-sized birds that spend most of their time on the ground. Sage grouse numbers have dwindled substantially over the past century and much of their habitat in Wyoming carries development restrictions. The Associated Press
CALGARY — A Calgary man who killed his daughter and seriously injured her best friend in a drunk-driving crash is appealing his conviction and sentence. Michael Shaun Bomford was found guilty last January of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as causing the 2016 crash while impaired. He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. Bomford has filed an appeal that claims the sentence was excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances. He also suggests the trial judge erred by ruling hearsay text messages admissible at trial. Bomford is serving his sentence at the Drumheller Institution in Alberta. Court heard Bomford had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he took his 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, and her friend, Kelsey Nelson, to get police checks so that they could become junior ringette coaches. His daughter did not survive the crash, while Nelson suffered a severe brain injury and has no recollection of it. Bomford's trial heard that he lost control of his Jeep while driving 112 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. The Jeep rolled into the median and all three occupants were thrown out of the vehicle. (CTV Calgary) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. The Canadian Press
County council formalized an economic development position and collaborative procurement as its first steps toward improving operations as recommended by a service delivery review. Council discussed the review at a special meeting Jan. 13. All members agreed to include an economic development position in this year’s budget and to begin work on collaborative procurement later this year. The initiatives are just two of the 12 overarching areas addressed by consultant StrategyCorp in the review to improve collaboration, efficiency and realize more than $1 million in potential cash flow improvements. Council also agreed to work through the other recommendations slowly at its future meetings. “I know that this has been a difficult one,” Warden Liz Danielsen said. “But I think we’ve come to some agreement about how we’re going to approach this a bit at a time, in a reasonable fashion that works for everybody.” StrategyCorp recommended the County hire an economic development officer this year, with an estimated upfront cost of $200,000 annually. It also suggested starting collaborative procurement – joint purchasing of goods and services by the County and its lower-tier municipalities – with estimated savings between $372,000 and $1,193,000 annually once implemented. Coun. Brent Devolin said it made sense to move on procurement early. “That’s some of the savings that fund and helps some of the things that will come in subsequent years,” Devolin said. “It’s a real area of need for the County,” CAO Mike Rutter said. “No one (on staff) has that expertise. They’re not a purchasing expert. That would be really helpful for us.” But these only represent two of the six initiatives StrategyCorp suggested to start in 2021. The others were communications, waste management, roads and co-ordination. Council directed staff to bring back more information about implementing those and other recommendations at a future meeting. Danielsen said ongoing discussions will be needed, adding better communication is important. “We’re not good at communicating with each other,” she said. “We have discussions at the County council and quite often the information just stays here. It doesn’t go back to the lower-tiers.” However, Devolin said live-streamed meetings make it easier for lower-tier councillors to access. Although the County may yet move on other initiatives, deputy warden Patrick Kennedy cautioned to not overload staff. “I’m just so worried about our staff, about burning them out,” Kennedy said. “If it takes an extra year, I don’t care.” “We definitely need to agree on an approach and what those, maybe one or two low-hanging fruit pieces are,” he said. “That aren’t going to create a massive workload for any specific individual.” Kennedy praised council for getting through the meeting. “I’m just so proud of this group,” Kennedy said. “We’ve made some pretty big decisions and I’m just so thrilled to be part of it.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says critics of the provincewide curfew who say homeless people should be exempted are trying to divide Quebecers. The premier was responding to calls from all three opposition parties, the mayor of Montreal and the federal Indigenous Services Minister, who said the homeless shouldn't be included in the health order requiring people stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Their calls followed the death of a homeless man who was found frozen in a portable toilet Sunday morning. Legault told reporters Thursday he was saddened by the death of Raphael Andre. But, he added, Montreal police know the city's homeless population "very well" and won't give fines to that community "for fun." "I've asked the opposition and many people to give me one example of a police officer who took a bad decision and they cannot answer that, so it's working well," he said, regarding the curfew. The premier said everyone wants to help the homeless, adding that those who had criticized his government are trying to sow division in society. "I find it very unfortunate to see certain people try to divide us, trying to say that there are good guys and bad guys, that there are some who care for the homeless and some that don’t care. We all want to help the homeless, it’s complex and it’s not the time to divide us, it’s the time to work together,” he said. Legault has said the province has sufficient overnight shelter beds to accommodate the homeless during the curfew, which is scheduled to be in effect until at least Feb. 9. Quebec, however, recently announced it was adding 262 shelter beds in the Montreal area — including 150 beds in a soccer stadium for homeless people with COVID-19 who don't need to be hospitalized. The curfew is working, Legault said, citing the fact that the province's infection rate has been lower over the past ten days compared with the beginning of January, before the curfew. Legault didn't rule out extending the curfew, particularly in the Montreal area. Meanwhile, Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters nearly 100 per cent of long-term care residents in Quebec have received a first dose of vaccine. Quebec, however, is sticking to its plan to delay administering second doses up to 90 days from the first dose, he added. Public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said he's aware of reports from Israel suggesting one dose provides significantly less protection than the two doses required by vaccine manufacturers. He said he's waiting to read scientific papers on the efficacy of a single dose before the province changes course. Legault repeated his call for the federal government to ban non-essential flights to Canada. If Ottawa refuses, the premier said he'd like to see travellers forced to quarantine for two weeks in hotels — at their own expense — where they can be monitored by police. Legault said he's particularly worried that people travelling to resorts in warm destinations could catch the highly contagious COVID-19 variants and bring them back to the province. Quebec reported 1,624 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 66 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 22 that occurred in the past 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by 14, to 1,453, and the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 216. Quebec has reported a total of 248,860 cases of COVID-19 and 9,273 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
The Tahltan Nation and the owners of the Silvertip mine in northern British Columbia, 90 kilometres southwest of Watson Lake, Yukon, have signed an impact and benefit agreement. The Tahltan Central Government says in a release it wants to implement the deal with Coeur Mining immediately. "We have a shared vision of empowering Tahltan workers, entrepreneurs and companies while working together to mitigate the mine's impacts to our Tahltan territory, culture and values," said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan central government. The silver-lead-zinc mine suspended operations almost a year ago because of low lead and zinc prices. At the time, the company said mining would not likely resume until late this year. Terry Smith, senior vice president and chief development officer for Chicago-based Coeur Mining, said the agreement will help with the process of re-starting operations. "[It] lays the foundation for a strong partnership and shared benefits between Coeur Silvertip and the Tahltan Nation by aligning our interests across several key measures of success at Silvertip, including environmental protection, employment and economic opportunities.for surrounding First Nations communities," said Smith. When operations were suspended last year, the mine had more than 160 employees. In its most recent quarterly report, Coeur Silvertip stated it's been drilling on the site to determine the size of the silver-lead-zinc deposit. It's also looking at ways it can expand the capacity of the mill at the site. The mine site is in the traditional territories of both the Tahltan Nation and the Kaska Dena Council which represents a number of Kaska First Nations in Yukon and northern B.C.. The company already has an agreement with the Kaska nations.
Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely spoke to City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, invited, she said, to explain how the force uses their capital and operating budget. Specifically, McNeely said she was asked to talk about “how the police budget has been constructed to deal with the concerns raised by BIPOC and Black Lives Matter, and how these elements are related to other priorities within the police budget.” “I’ve received probably 100, if not more, emails wondering about the City being able to ‘defund the police,’ using that term that comes largely from the States,” Councillor Robert Kiley noted during the meeting. There are, in fact, 15 Canadian regions registered at Defund.ca, including Katarokwi / Kingston. The co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and a leading advocate of the defund movement, is Canadian writer and activist Sandy Hudson. For Kiley and his colleague Jim Neill, their concern was an apparent misconception by some constituents that they, as councillors, could control the police budget. “My understanding is that actually isn’t something Council can do,” Kiley said. McNeely explained that under the Provincial Police Services Act, the Kingston Police department must submit capital and operating budgets to Council. “We submit that to our board, our board then submits that to yourselves,” she said. McNeely explained that Council is not bound to accept the budget, but does not have the authority to disapprove certain items, line by line. “If the [Police] board is not satisfied that the budget established for it by the Council is sufficient… the board may request that the Commission determine the question, and the Commission, after holding a hearing, will do so,” she explained. “I want to thank you because we haven’t had an appeal for your budget in over a decade, so clearly you’ve been working closely with our treasurer,” said Councillor Neill. McNeely said that, as a percentage of the gross municipal budget over the past 12 years, Kingston Police budget has declined from 11.49 per cent in 2008 to 10.87 per cent in 2020. In contrast, members of the local Defund organization, Defund YGK, argue that it dwarfs funding of municipal social services. “The published budget for Housing and Social Services for 2020 is $17.25M. This is just 4.3 per cent of the city budget,” they wrote in a December Medium article. “The trend over the last five years is only making matters worse; the budget for Housing and Social Services has steadily decreased while the Police Services budget has increased by 15 per cent,” they said. The Black Lives Matter movement gained widespread momentum in Canada and the United States this summer after a Black Minneapolis man, George Floyd, was killed by police officers in broad daylight. Floyd had allegedly used a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes from a convenience store. His death was captured in a disturbing, widely circulated video, rallying people from cities across North America to decry police brutality, disproportionate use of force against people of colour, and systemic racism. The subsequent “defund” movement has accelerated calls from people at all levels of society to reallocate government spending from police budgets to other social services, in order to reduce the criminalization of marginalized peoples. In Canada, and Kingston, activists for the defund movement have pointed to examples of Black and Indigenous people facing violence or even dying during wellness checks or mental health calls where police are the first responders. “The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has, for years, been part of the larger discussions at the provincial level about how we, as a society, can adequately fund social and healthcare services, many of which have had their budgets cut or been underfunded by government,” McNeely said. “The fact is that police do not want to be the primary responders when it comes to addictions, mental health, or homelessness calls. Policing is the only service that operates 365 days a year, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Other social service agencies are not there 24/7 when these calls come in,” she continued. “The reality is that there has to be a solution developed for a better alternative based on evidence, research, and partnerships. We are committed to working with government and community partners to build such a response.” She described protocols and operations that Kingston Police have developed to respond to mental health and addictions crises, such as the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, and the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST model), which partners police with addictions and mental health workers. She said that in 2019, working in collaboration with the City’s CFO and Treasurer, Desirée Kennedy, Kingston Police put a strategy in place to reduce the annual 2021 capital budget requested by just under $1 million so that the City could invest additional money into affordable housing. “As a result, some of our capital projects were deferred to the following year,” she said Internally, McNeely noted that officers undergo cultural awareness training, including education on perspectives of the Indigenous community and the impact of residential school. She also explained how the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategies at Kingston Police are evolving and expanding, with plans to improve recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce. She added that officers are required to “respect the rights and freedoms of the community. Members practice bias-free policing, and we are committed to do our part to address systemic racism.” As a baseline, McNeely said that all leaders need to acknowledge and presume the existence of systemic racism. “Leaders of every organization have to assume that there is systemic racism within their organization because our systems and institutions are often based on ideas that may not be objective and therefore differentially impact our diverse community,” McNeely said. “This is not limited to the justice sector, but to all sectors, including health, education, media, and government, to name but a few.” City Council is set to review City budgets, City-funded agency budget submissions and municipal utility budgets next week. A presentation by Kingston Police Services Board is on the agenda. Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s (WDGPH) roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine will be seeing impacts with pause in production lines at Pfizer’s facility. WDGPH announced on Monday (Jan. 18) that they would be making changes to their vaccine program in response to the recent announcement from Pfizer that some production lines at their facility in Belgium are working to increase their overall capacity. Public Health, in a press release, said that the pausing in production will be felt in Ontario and affect deliveries to Guelph for a short period. WDG Public Health will be continuing to move forward with the vaccine supply that they have on hand, but will be making changes to the vaccination clinic; with rescheduling of appointments unavoidable. Those who will be affected by the pause will be contacted directly. Residents, staff, and essential caregivers in long term care and retirement homes will continue to be prioritized for vaccinations. Individuals who have already received the vaccine will be able to get their second does, although for some it will be delayed. Public Health said that the delay in the second dose will not affect individuals developing immunity to the second dose. “Everyone wants to see vaccines arrive as quickly as possible to the region,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin- Guelph Public Health. “This delay is only temporary and will allow the manufacturer the ability to provide increased vaccine to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in the coming weeks. As an agency, our commitment remains, vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible according to the provincial schedule.” For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine visit www.wdgpublichealth.ca/vaccine. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
Retirement home residents in Simcoe Muskoka will begin receiving the Pfizer-BoNTech vac-cine after the provincial government determined the vaccine can be safely transported to Long Term Care and retirement homes in the Region. The immunization program began on Monday, January 11, in Barrie, at Victoria Village Manor. Resident Pat Sinclair, a former nurse, became the region’s first long-term resident to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. “I’m thrilled to be able to do this. I’m hoping it gives me and my family that feeling of we’re okay, we’re going to be okay. We’ll get through this,” said Ms. Sinclair.“ COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on both the residents and em-ployees in long-term care and being able to offer the protection this vaccine provides to those who are the most vulnerable is a critical milestone,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. (SMDHU) “We are hoping everyone who opts for the vaccine within our LTC and RH communities to have received it over the next two weeks.” The pilot immuniza-tion program began with 111 residents from Victoria Village Manor and 67 residents at Oak Terrace Long-Term Care Home in Orillia receiving the vaccine. Supply of the vaccine remains limited and at this time is being offered by appointment only to pri-ority groups identified by the provincial government, including residents, staff and essentialcare-givers from congregate living settings as well as prioritized hospital workers. Staff at all four Simcoe County long term care homes, including Simcoe Village and Manor in Beeton, have already starting receiving the vaccine after attending inoculation sites in Barrie. Of the 1.000 care givers who work at the facilities, about half had already received the vaccine as of Friday, January 15. A spokesperson for the County of Simcoe confirmed residents at Simcoe Manor started receiving the vaccine on January 16. Vaccinations are not mandatory for residents, however they are given information to help them make an informed decision. Some residents are considered at risk when it comes to receiving the vaccination due to other health related issues.As additional vaccines are approved by Health Canada, and as part of Ontario’s three phase immunization plan, vaccine dis-tribution will be expanded to other priority groups and then to the general public Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
Premier François Legault says if the federal government doesn't want to ban non-essential flights then it should force those returning home from vacation to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, for two weeks. At a news conference Thursday, Legault said cracking down on travel abroad will help reduce the possibility of bringing new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus back to the province from resorts where people congregate from all over the world. The current system of checking up on people with automated calls simply isn't enough, he said, raising concern March break will lead to another surge in cases. "Right now, the quarantine for these people is not a big enough guarantee for the protection of Quebecers," the premier said. Legault said hotel quarantining worked in New Zealand and could be effective here. He said there is plenty of room in hotels, and that the RCMP or Quebec provincial police could help enforce the quarantine. The daily number of infections has been on the decline in Quebec for the past 10 days, though Legault said it's too early to lift restrictions, given that hospitalizations remain high, at just under 1,500. Legault is scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later Thursday. Earlier this week, Trudeau urged Canadians travelling for pleasure to cancel their plans but said there are limits to what Ottawa can do to stop them, given constitutional guarantees on the freedom of movement. "Our measures have been very strong, but we're always open to strengthening them as necessary," Trudeau said, when asked if the government would consider a ban on international travel. "We're always looking at various measures as they are effective elsewhere in the world."
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has restored an online portal through which the public can submit freedom of information requests, almost three years after the site was shut down because of a security breach. The new site was launched Thursday and allows people to track the progress of requests, pay fees and receive responses. The site was shut down in March 2018 after a 19-year-old downloaded documents from the site to his home computer. About 7,000 documents were accessed over two days, affecting 700 people. The young man wasn't charged because he told officers he had used a widely available software to search for documents about a teachers' labour dispute, and it became clear to authorities that the basic firewalls weren't in place. The province says it has updated and improved security features on the site to prevent further breaches. Paula Arab, Nova Scotia's Internal Services minister, said the province has a five-year contract worth $760,000 with two companies to operate the site. Arab said it took time to set up the portal because the project was split into several parts. One portion involved receiving requests while another involved disclosing documents. Added security measures also required time, she said. "We wanted to do as many security tests as we could and to come up with the right solutions, and we took seriously two reports given to us following the (security) breach," Arab said. The new access to information application site can be found at iaprequest.novascotia.ca. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
“If I ever got a chance to speak to the Biden administration, I would plead my case,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, president of Natural Law Energy (NLE). That “case” would be the value in continuing the United States’ portion of the 1,897-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline which travels from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Montana and South Dakota, ending in Steele City, Nebraska. Yesterday, in his first day in office, new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor Donald Trump’s Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. NLE, a group of three Alberta and two Saskatchewan First Nations, has been working towards a $1 billion investment in the TC Energy-owned Keystone XL pipeline. “It's a disappointment, right? It really is because it's going to affect many First Nations, even the tribes in the United States. It's going to affect them because TC Energy was almost close to actually signing up joint venture partnerships with those in the United States side,” said Francis. He says chairmen of the Nebraska tribes have told him that Biden wants to create jobs and this pipeline meets that goal. First Nations involvement was recognized by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a scathing address late Wednesday afternoon that condemned the new U.S. administration for rescinding the permit and not respecting its closest ally and trading partner. “Let me also point out that TC Energy has made tremendous progress in bringing on board First Nations on both sides of the border as potential equity partners,” said Kenney. However, not all U.S. tribes support the pipeline. The Native Organizers Alliance applauded Biden for his decision. “Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all,” said NOA executive director Judith Le Blanc. Earlier Wednesday, in anticipation of President Biden’s decision, Calgary-based TC Energy shutdown its operation. Kenney said that shutdown had cost 2,000 people their jobs. Francis admits Biden’s actions were not unexpected. In fact, the too-close-to-call November U.S. election had dampened some of the activity undertaken by NLE. Late last year, NLE hired consultants Price Waterhouse Canada to round up investors for the $1 billion investment. Investors were found but nothing was finalized. “(Price Waterhouse has) done their job on that. But really it was, of course, the election. That's what they were waiting for also,” said Francis. Also of note were preliminary talks with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. The Crown corporation created by the Alberta United Conservative Party government offers loan guarantees from $25 million to $250 million for Indigenous-led natural resource projects. “Say the project and partnership was at the point they were ready to paper the deal, we would not be in a position to offer a guarantee at this time, because there is a huge risk in respect to the way the American election may go. We don’t want to put Alberta taxpayer dollars at risk,” AIOC CEO Alicia Dubois told Windspeaker.com last October. Trump’s approval of Keystone XL came after outgoing President Barack Obama nixed the project. Biden had promised to cancel the project should he win. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer money in the Keystone XL pipeline. The Biden administration is saying no to the project now, says Francis, but he is a “glass is half-full” person. He believes Biden’s decision is political as the new president is “getting away from everything Trump has put his stamp on.” “I'm not going to give up on it because, really, Keystone XL is going to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly pipeline that is. We just have to go back to the drawing table and really re-evaluate what have we got to do to make it even more environmentally friendly?” said Francis. He believes that part of that discussion with the Biden administration has to include the science around the pipeline that makes it environmentally safe and the ongoing need for oil. Francis is hopeful there is a future for Keystone because “it really is such a big project that it could mean, in every community that we have signed up, it'll make an economic difference.” In the meantime, Francis says NLE remains involved with TC Energy. “Whenever there is something, a project that is available, if they are going to approach us to see if we have interest and, of course, we're going to show interest, because any economic development or project that we can actually put our hand on to make it more green, more environmentally friendly, we want to be there to back it up,” he said. While Keystone XL pipeline is a set back for Nekaneet First Nation, it is not the only project driving the economics for that Treaty 4 Nation. “I’m always involved with the province (of Saskatchewan). I’m always talking to them in every which way,” he said. Francis said he has received band member approval to develop a section of land along a 1.5 km-stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. He says investors are committed to a gas station in that area and there are talks about a possible Tim Hortons franchise. However, since COVID-19 hit, development has stalled. NLE members also include Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and three Alberta First Nations: Ermineskin Cree, Montana, and Louis Bull Tribe. Each member was to share equally in the benefits from the Keystone XL pipeline project. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com