Global News Washington bureau chief Jackson Proskow provides an update on the Senate trial following Trump’s impeachment vote ahead of inauguration day.
Global News Washington bureau chief Jackson Proskow provides an update on the Senate trial following Trump’s impeachment vote ahead of inauguration day.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "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., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Jasper Municipal Council directed administration to implement a paid parking pilot project in the 2021 budget year during its Jan. 19 regular meeting. Administration will also present project and public engagement plans before implementing paid parking. Chief administrative officer (CAO) Bill Given said this will allow administration to consider how paid parking will impact the 2021 budget and assist in the preparation of the budget too. “The concept of a pilot project… would give administration and council an opportunity to work with the community, including affected businesses, residents and other stakeholders on the best way to move forward,” Given said. “Administration is aware of concerns about overflow into residential areas, impact on… closely neighbouring businesses and the impact on our reserves, along with council’s priority on establishing fiscal equity and ensuring visitors are (paying) their fair share of the load of the cost of services in the municipality.” “It’s important to emphasize that the point of bringing together a pilot project is so we can adjust as we go on,” added Coun. Paul Butler. Bernie Kreiner, a “non-resident,” sent a letter to council indicating his strong support for paid parking in the commercial areas of the Municipality of Jasper. He acknowledged moving in this direction will require some courage because of “the likelihood of parking shifting to nearby residential streets” and “some business concern that this might reduce visitors.” “However, as one such customer, I will put a coin in a parking meter and still stop to get a cinnamon bun at the Bearpaw before or after enjoying a day in Jasper’s Nature,” Kreiner wrote to council. “Be bold, and do the right thing for the long term (sic) wellness of your community.” Asbestos removal Council approved a $20,000 capital budget project for asbestos removal in the Multipurpose Hall chair storage room. The Multipurpose Hall renovation capital project was under budget by $15,500, which is available in restricted reserves, and will be applied to the project. Yvonne McNabb, director of culture and recreation, told council the asbestos was detected in November. When it was tested, administration was told it would take a week or two to get approval to remove the asbestos. In addition to getting approval, McNabb said there’s the removal process itself and then replacing the gyprock. “There’s quite a few steps,” she said. “That’s why I thought it was best to get this project going in the event we open our facilities.” Coal development policy Coun. Jenna McGrath urged a letter be sent from council about the province’s decision to rescind a coal development policy, originally published in 1976, to West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, Premier Jason Kenney and Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon. McGrath said the letter needs to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment and the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. “I believe it’s important for our water supply and the future generations of Albertans to stand up today,” she said. “Go back to the drawing board and encourage reinstating the coal policy.” Effective June 1, 2020, the rescission stated, “Former category 1 lands will continue to be protected from coal leasing, exploration and development of public lands but will not infringe on private lands or freehold mineral rights. “This will support critical watersheds, biodiversity… as well as recreation and tourism activities along the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Leasing outside of these areas will be subject to the same land use planning and management rules that apply to all other resources and industrial uses.” Councillors Scott Wilson, Butler and Bert Journeault said such a letter is not in the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Jasper. Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey noted she would like for council to return to this matter after she did her own research. Coun. Rico Damota added a formal discussion is needed before a letter comes from council. Mayor Richard Ireland wants to check out the facts first. The matter was deferred to the Feb. 2 regular council meeting. Skating surfaces McGrath suggested skating surfaces in town would be a great idea. The consensus was to keep it simple at first. Wilson said he’s talked with members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade who have looked into it. “It might be prudent to chat with them as well,” he said. “Let’s just start with a small project, a place where most kids can walk to,” Journeault added. “Let’s keep it simple and let it grow. This is a good year to (do it).” Ireland urged a “high key but low cost” approach. Council directed administration to return to a committee of the whole meeting with a report about options for a low cost, high profile, easily-accessible outdoor skating options that can be implemented this winter season. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
A fourth COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Windsor Regional Hospital Tuesday evening. The hospital's 6N unit is the latest area of the organization experiencing an outbreak, with four positive patients and no positive staff. This news comes after the hospital announced three outbreaks in the last two weeks. "We expect to experience these situations as COVID-19 continues to spread in our community," said Karen Riddell, WRH Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Operating Officer, in a news release. "We continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that we have the correct infection prevention and control guidelines and precautions in place to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus." In a news release Tuesday, the hospital provided an update on each of the other three outbreaks: 4M at the Ouellette Campus has 10 positive patients and five positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 6. 6E at the Ouellette Campus has 10 positive patients and six positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 8. 4N at the Met Campus has one positive patient and 11 positive staff. Declared in outbreak Jan. 14. The hospital said that admissions to the units continue, but it keeps COVID-19 patients cohorted. Transfers into units experiencing an outbreak are required to be approved by the hospital's Infection Prevention and Control department, the hospital said, adding that testing will continue. Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare is also experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared on Tuesday. The hospital said in a news release Sunday that two staff and three patients tested positive on the 3N unit of the Dr. Y. Emara Centre for Healthy Aging and Mobility.
A man who police say stole a Victoria harbour ferry has been arrested after cops and the coast guard had to chase the wannabe pirate through city waterways Tuesday morning. According to a statement from the Victoria Police Department, officers were called to the waters off the 400-block of Swift Street at approximately 3 a.m. after a boat was reported stolen and heading up the Gorge Waterway. When officers arrived on the scene, the alleged thief changed direction toward the inner harbour and appeared to be trying to flee the area. With the assistance of a nearby harbour ferryemployee, officers boarded a separate boat, took off after the stolen vessel and were able to get close enough to speak with the suspect and convince him to surrender. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape St. James brought additional VicPD officers to the scene to help. Police say the stolen ferry and suspect were then towed to a dock in the 900-block of Wharf Street where the man was arrested. The short-lived ride resulted in recommended charges of theft over $5,000.
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
North Simcoe's environmental association seems to be under the microscope in another municipality. This time, it's Tiny Township, which is also the residence of the Severn Sound Environmental Association's (SSEA) board chair Steffen Walma. The matter came up at a recent budget meeting when Coun. Tony Mintoff questioned the increase in municipal contributions toward the SSEA. "I’d like to get a specific cost for the SSEA," he said. "I noticed the actual in 2019 was $93,000 and for 2020 it was $176,000. I would like to know which services are mandated and the cost for those services and any other services they provide and their costs and benefits for the residents." The issue also came up recently at Tay Township's council meeting. Budget documents shared with council show that the township budgeted $93,672 for the SSEA costs in 2019 and paid a total of $119,136, which includes costs for Sustainable Severn Sound (SSS) and an invasive species coordinator. For 2020, the township budgeted $176,911 for SSEA costs and paid $181,600, which includes the SSS cost. For 2021, Tiny is being asked for $228,805, which breaks down to a $11,155 for the SSS portion, $187,630 for the SSEA core services and $30,020 for municipal drinking water source protection. Walma, who is also Tiny's deputy mayor, ventured to sum up the reasons for why the costs are the way they are. "In 2019 to 2020, we made a board decision to stop Band-Aiding our way through operations," he said, adding there was a leadership change and SSEA relocated its office to Tay Township. "In 2019, we presented a 65% increase to our municipalities. That included a change in staffing and office and upgrading of our networks." As part of its water quality sampling mandate, staff needs to visit various locations in North Simcoe, said Walma. "We’ve been borrowing vehicles from municipalities and never owned our vehicles," he said. "(From a) liability standpoint, municipalities were no longer willing to loan us vehicles, so we ended up having to purchase our own. "We had been testing wells in the municipality, so we had the responsibility to decommission those wells at the end of their life. We started budgeting a reserve we’ve never had in the past. We also found some liabilities in our existing staffing policies. We modernized our existing budget for the 65 percent." This year, the increase is five percent, according to Walma. "That was listed in the five-year plan," he noted. "We do expect to see some savings on 2020, but those savings won’t be realized by our partners this year because we don’t know what they are yet." As for the services, Walma said, every municipality pays a board-approved service level, there’s no a-la carte. Members, however, have the choice to opt out of core services on a two-year notice period. "(Core services) include cold-water stream sampling, fish habitat mapping, inland lake-water quality sampling, and invasive species programs," he said, adding he can bring to council a more comprehensive list. "The SSS portion of things, they have been rolled in together, is optional. This is a service municipalities choose to participate in." Where contracting the SSEA itself is not mandatory, "the only legislated piece is the source-water protection modelling that’s been put in place by the province," said Walma. "In short, at least until council opts out of the program, we’re obligated to the pay $187,000, not the $11,155 for the SSS." Mintoff said he would bring forward a notice of motion at a future meeting so council could take a closer look at it. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the federal government to ban non-essential flights to Canada over fears that travellers will bring new variants of COVID-19 back to the province. The call comes one day after a fifth case of the COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom was found in Quebec, public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda told reporters Tuesday. The other four cases of the variant, which scientists believe is more contagious, were found in December and were all within a single family. Legault said he is open to discussing what's defined as essential but it's clear that flights to all-inclusive resorts in sun destinations are not essential. "I feel like Quebecers are angry, I'm angry, to see that we're making an effort, and there are people who travel internationally for fun and who return here with the virus and clog our hospitals," he said. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to cancel any plans they have for international trips in the near future. Trudeau warned the federal government could at any time, and without warning, enforce new restrictions on travellers returning to Canada. However, when asked if he would ban flights, Trudeau told reporters that the Constitution guarantees Canadians the right to travel and to return to the country. Legault said he doesn't understand Trudeau's response. "How come we were able to do it last spring?" he asked. In the meantime, Legault said he wants the federal government to do more to ensure that people returning from other countries quarantine for 14 days. "Robocalls are not sufficient" to ensure that people are following the rules, he said. Legault said he's asked Quebec's public security minister to look into what action the province could take at airports if the federal government doesn't act. It wouldn't be the first time that authorities in Quebec sent officials to an airport over concerns of federal inaction. In March, Montreal public health officials and city police were sent to Montreal-Trudeau International Airport to encourage arriving travellers to self-isolate. Earlier Tuesday, Quebec revised its COVID-19 vaccination schedule as a result of the expected slowdown in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. The federal government said Canada won't get any doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week. The provincial Health Department said it would lower its target of administering 250,000 doses by Feb. 8, to 225,000 doses, adding it expects to have received 1,203,100 doses of approved vaccine by March 29. Quebec Health Minister Chrstian Dube said the changes to Quebec's vaccine schedule are relatively minor and he hopes that higher shipments in coming weeks will make up for the slowdown. The Health Department said it conducted 10,514 inoculations on Monday and has now given 164,053 people the first dose of vaccine. Legault said Quebec has now vaccinated more than 80 per cent of long-term care residents and plans to begin vaccinating people living in private seniors residences next week. More than 100,000 health care workers have also received the first dose of vaccine, Dube said. Quebec reported 1,386 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday — the lowest number of new cases in a single day since early December — and 55 additional deaths linked to the virus, including 16 deaths within the preceding 24 hours. Legault described the number of new cases as an "encouraging sign" and said it suggests that the province's restrictions, including an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, are working. But the premier said the number of hospitalizations will have to come down before he considers lifting restrictions. Earlier in the day, the Health Department said the number of hospitalizations rose by nine from the day before to 1,500, while the number of people in intensive care declined by five from the previous day, to 212. Quebec has reported 245,734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,142 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The British Columbia government must do a better job of protecting its computer systems from cybersecurity threats, says auditor general Michael Pickup. An audit of five government ministries found only Education and the information branch of Citizens' Services provided strong protections against potential threats, he said Tuesday. The audit concluded the ministries of Finance, Health and Natural Resources as well as much of Citizens' Services did not have adequate cybersecurity practices to manage its information technology systems, Pickup told a news conference. The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally. Pickup said organizations with poorly managed security practices are vulnerable to attacks. "These weaknesses could hinder the ability of the ministries to develop and implement appropriate safeguards to protect their IT assets from cybersecurity threats," he said. The audit found security standards at the ministries lacked specific definitions of roles and responsibilities, said Pickup. It also found inappropriately maintained inventories, including unauthorized devices on networks and records that were missing important data, he said. "The established policies and standards, they lack specific guidelines to identify and manage IT assets for the purpose of managing cybersecurity risks," Pickup said. The audit makes seven recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the government. Pickup said he expects the audit's findings to be discussed by members of the legislature who sit on committees overseeing information technology services. "These reports are tools for the folks in the legislature to then look to government and hold them accountable on why are these things happening to start with and how does government improve," he said. Pickup said his office is also planning a future review of the government's computer systems during the COVID-19 pandemic because many government employees are working from home. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
VANCOUVER — Dozens of peer support workers on the front lines of Vancouver's overdose crisis are about to be unionized in a move their union says formally recognizes the role they play in saving lives.The workers voted 100 per cent in favour of joining CUPE Local 1004 last March and the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia shared the ballot results this week, the union said. Certification was delayed by several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a challenge to certification filed by the employer, PHS Community Services Society, the union said. “This is about respect and recognition,” Don Cumberland, who has worked at the Washington Needle Depot on East Hastings Street for almost 20 years, said in a statement. “I hope this means that the people doing the hard work on the ground saving lives every day will finally get the credit they deserve.”More than 6,500 people have died from overdoses since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said last month.Andrew Ledger, president of CUPE Local 1004, said that as the number of deaths has climbed due to a poisoned drug supply, peer workers have played a central role in improving access to treatment and it's important that their work be recognized."Oftentimes, the best people to be able to break down barriers to access are members of the community themselves," Ledger said."Peers have become a central figure in many, many health-care delivery settings like injection sites and other community care settings."The labour relations board is expected to issue its official certification this week, affecting about 40 workers, including those at Insite, the Washington Needle Depot and overdose prevention sites in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Micheal Vonn, CEO of PHS Community Services Society, said the organization is in collective bargaining, which limits what it can say. "We're excited about the evolution and we're determined to make this a good experience for the peers," she said. Peer workers at overdose prevention sites, needle depots and other harm reduction services are employees with experiences similar to those they serve.Some of their positions were developed as a "vocational therapeutic program" and the society initially challenged the certification on the basis that their work didn't satisfy traditional employment definitions.The workers may range from volunteers and occasional stipend workers to those working more stable and regular hours. The unionization drive initially sparked some concern that it might mean the end of informal work opportunities that can be an important bridge toward permanent employment for workers who may not yet be capable of holding down a regular job. Ledger said that concern was answered by only including the more permanent and stable work positions in the union drive. Some peer workers have worked for decades without benefits like paid vacation or the ability to collectively negotiate higher wages, he said.Before joining the union's leadership, Ledger worked alongside peer workers as a mental health worker for PHS on the Downtown Eastside in 2009. "I'm very grateful to see those workers are now being acknowledged and will receive the same benefits I did," he said.Unionizing means the workers will have access to benefits, their seniority will be established and other rights their co-workers already receive will be recognized, he said. "Those are really important for all workers and I think it's long overdue that these long-serving peer employees receive the same benefits."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — In one of his final acts as majority leader, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is pressuring Democrats to keep the filibuster — the procedural tool that liberals and progressives are eager to to do away with so President-elect Joe Biden's legislative priorities can be approved more easily over GOP opposition. McConnell has told Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer that retaining the legislative filibuster is important and should be part of their negotiations for a power-sharing agreement in the narrowly divided Senate. Schumer and McConnell met Tuesday to begin hammering out the details of organizing the chamber, which will be split 50-50, with Democrats holding the majority once three new senators are sworn in Wednesday and Kamala Harris is inaugurated as the vice-president. “Leader McConnell expressed his long-held view that the crucial, longstanding and bipartisan Senate rules concerning the legislative filibuster remain intact, specifically during the power share for the next two years,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said. Andres said discussions on “all aspects” of the arrangement will continue. Normally, a divided chamber would produce a resolution to equally share committee seats and other resources. But McConnell is driving a harder bargain by inserting his demand that Schumer keep the filibuster procedure in place. Schumer’s office did not respond immediately for comment. The Democratic leader faces pressure from the progressive flank to end the filibuster, but he has not committed to doing so. The group Fix Our Senate criticized McConnell for trying to prevent procedural changes. The group said in a statement that McConnell wants to keep the filibuster because he knows it is “the best weapon he has” to prevent Democrats from delivering on Biden's priorities. "Senate Democrats must swat away this absurd attempt to undermine their majority and kneecap the Biden agenda before it even has a chance to get started,” the group said in a statement. The modern filibuster rules essentially require a super-majority threshold, now at 60 votes, to cut off debate in the Senate and bring legislative bills or other measures to a vote. The practice was changed as a way to wind down long-running speeches and debates, notably during the start of World War I, but quickly became a tool employed by minority factions to halt legislation that had majority support. McConnell gutted the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017, a breathtaking move that enabled the Senate to easily confirm the first of three justices that President Donald Trump nominated to the high court with simple majority votes. It's unclear the Democrats would even have support from their ranks to undo the legislative filibuster, which would require a vote in the Senate. But McConnell is not willing to take any chances and is forcing Schumer into a negotiation that could delay organizing the Senate. The Republican leader has also been talking privately with Republican senators about the importance to resolving the issue now, as part of the power-sharing talks with Democrats. McConnell sent an email Monday to senators outlining his concerns, as first reported by National Review. Without agreement on this and other matters, the Democrats' ability to control committees and other aspects of Senate business may also be delayed as talks between McConnell and Schumer drag on. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
Renfrew -- The memorial tree in Low Square is not slated to be cut down, although a story saying the opposite is circulating. “I’ve had several questions from people, and phone calls, in regard to the very big tree in Low Square, which is decorated with the RVH (Renfrew Victoria Hospital) Memory Lights at the moment,” Councillor Sandi Heins said at the January 12 council meeting, held via Zoom. “They have heard rumours that that tree, in regards to some plans that are coming forth for Low Square, is going to be cut down. “I’d like to hear it, and be able to assure people, that that isn’t going to happen.” The memorial tree was planted by the Cadet family who lost their firefighter son, she reminded council. There should be a lot of discussion before that should happen. “When we planted that tree, it was maybe five feet high, and it’s grown into quite a lovely tree and is very momentous to the space and we certainly get a lot of comments on it, how beautiful it is,” Coun. Heins said. “It’s really important to reassure the public that when things are underway in regards to planning of new, maybe a new layout of Low Square…things like the tree and anything that’s very momentous to them, deserves a lot of discussion before it is taken down,” Coun. Heins said. Reeve Peter Emon, who has attended all economic and administration meetings, said the tree has never been discussed. Councillor Mike Coulas said this discussion never occurred at Development and Works Committee. There has been discussion about the refurbishing of Low Square and making it user-friendly or updating it, but nothing was ever said of the tree, he added. “If that comes to be, I’m most assured there will be a ton of discussion about it, I’m sure,” he said. Coun. Heins said it just takes one person who is on municipal staff to say something, or to assume that, and say it in the wrong place, and then people assume that that’s exactly what’s happening. Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
BERLIN — Teenager Florian Wirtz scored for Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-1 win which dealt Borussia Dortmund its latest Bundesliga setback on Tuesday. Dortmund, which was held 1-1 at home by lowly Mainz on Saturday, slumped to its second defeat in six games under new coach Edin Terzic. Dortmund could fall 10 points behind Bayern Munich at the top on Wednesday when Bayern visits struggling Augsburg. Leverkusen moved second after bouncing back from its 1-0 loss at Union Berlin. Leipzig, which is just behind Leverkusen on goal difference, hosts Union on Wednesday. It was a lacklustre display from Dortmund, which only threatened briefly in the second half and was fortunate not to concede more with Moussa Diaby missing several good chances after he opened the scoring. The unhurried Nadiem Amiri played a cross-field pass that Diaby controlled with his first touch and swept past Dortmund ’keeper Roman Bürki with his next in the 14th minute. Diaby continued to cause problems after the break before Dortmund’s first real chance in the 54th. Marco Reus almost set up Erling Haaland but the 17-year-old Wirtz managed to clear. Thomas Meunier missed another good chance for the visitors before Julian Brandt equalized against his former team in the 67th when Raphaël Guerreiro laid the ball off for him to fire inside the far corner. Brandt almost scored again a minute later, but Edmond Tapsoba cleared off the line. Dortmund paid the price in the 80th when Wirtz scored after Meunier lost the ball. It fell to Patrik Schick and he combined with Diaby, who crossed for the unmarked Wirtz to unleash an unstoppable shot past Bürki for his fourth Bundesliga goal. HERTHA HUMBLED Goals from Sebastian Rudy and two from Andrej Kramaric gave Hoffenheim a 3-0 win at Hertha Berlin that will increase the pressure on coach Bruno Labbadia. Hertha had hopes this season of challenging for European qualification but it has dropped to 14th in the 18-team division with only one win in its last seven games. Wolfsburg moved fifth with a 2-0 win at Mainz, and Borussia Mönchengladbach rode its luck to beat Werder Bremen 1-0. Nico Elvedi’s header was enough for Gladbach. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he won't grant a curfew exemption for Montreal's homeless population, telling reporters Tuesday he has confidence that police will use their good judgment in dealing with cases. Legault told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing in Montreal that altering the government's decree to exclude the homeless from the provincial curfew would be used as a loophole by others to flout the measure. Montreal's mayor had made the formal request just an hour earlier, calling on Quebec to relax the COVID-19 measure on the city's most vulnerable population. "What I'm say is right now, the police are doing a very good job. They use their judgment," Legault said. "If we change the rules and say that you can't give a ticket to someone who is saying they're homeless, you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Mayor Valerie Plante's appeal followed the weekend death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a shelter he frequented. Andre often spent time at a day centre for the homeless called The Open Door, which was forced to close its overnight service last month following a COVID-19 outbreak. He visited the centre Saturday evening and was found dead Sunday morning, not far from the shelter, which had to send him out at 9:30 p.m. The coroner is investigating Andre's death. Plante said there's evidence the curfew is causing problems for the homeless and those who work with them. "What we've been seeing in the past week is that it created a lot of stress — not only for the homeless population itself but also the workers," Plante told reporters outside Montreal City Hall. "The curfew just adds to that and creates a sense of insecurity for a lot of users and we don't want that.... I want people to feel safe in the streets." Plante says the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — which began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to last at least until Feb. 8 — is creating an untenable situation for the city's most vulnerable. Legault said police aren't there to ticket homeless people, but direct them to homeless shelters. Plante agreed Montreal police have shown compassion, noting they had helped at least 400 homeless people find shelter. The mayor says on most nights the city's overnight shelters are at least 95 per cent full. While she wants the rules relaxed to relieve the pressure, she doesn't want people sleeping on the street. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them," she said. Plante said a 100-bed facility is set to open in the coming days. Legault said the province has added 800 beds and it stands ready to add more as needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — In a last-minute slap at President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court struck down one of his administration’s most momentous climate rollbacks on Tuesday, saying officials acted illegally in issuing a new rule that eased federal regulation of air pollution from power plants. The Trump administration rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled, adding that the Environmental Protection Agency "fundamentally has misconceived the law.” The decision is likely to give the incoming Biden administration a freer hand to regulate emissions from power plants, one of the major sources of climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions. EPA spokeswoman Molly Block called the agency’s handling of the rule change “well-supported." The court decision "risks injecting more uncertainty at a time when the nation needs regulatory stability,” she said. Environmental groups celebrated the ruling by a three-member panel of the Court of Appeals. “Today’s decision is the perfect Inauguration Day present for America,'' said Ben Levitan, a lawyer for the Environmental Defence Fund, one of the groups that had challenged the Trump rule in court. The ruling “confirms that the Trump administration’s dubious attempt to get rid of common-sense limits on climate pollution from power plants was illegal,'' Levitan said. "Now we can turn to the critically important work of protecting Americans from climate change and creating new clean energy jobs.” A coalition of environmental groups, some state governments and others had challenged the Trump administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule for the power sector. The rule, which was made final in 2019, replaced the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature program to address climate change. The court decision came on the last full day in office for the Trump administration. Under Trump, the EPA rolled back dozens of public health and environmental protections as the administration sought to cut regulation overall, calling much of it unnecessary and a burden to business. Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to bring back the struggling coal industry, repealed the Obama administration’s plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants that power the nation's electric grid. The Clean Power Plan, one of President Barack Obama’s legacy efforts to slow climate change, was blocked in court before its 2017 repeal. The Trump administration substituted the Affordable Clean Energy plan, which left most of the decision-making on regulating power plant emissions to states. Opponents said the rule imposed no meaningful limits on carbon pollution and would have increased pollution at nearly 20% of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Market forces have continued the U.S. coal industry’s yearslong decline, however, despite those and other moves by Trump on the industry’s behalf. Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s “global warming solutions” campaign, said Trump's “Dirty Power Plan” was "clearly a disastrous and misconceived regulation from the start. As the Trump administration leaves office, we hope this ruling will be reflective of a much brighter future'' for renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy panel, denounced “activist judges” on the appeals court who "seem intent on clearing the decks for the incoming Biden administration to issue punishing new climate regulations'' that he said will shut down power plants and raise energy costs. But Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, called the ruling a timely rejection of Trump's effort to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. “It looks like we’re kicking off a new era of clean energy progress a day early,” Castor said. "It’s almost poetic to see our courts vacate this short-sighted and harmful policy on Trump’s last full day in office.'' —- Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City. Matthew Daly And Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
Canadian Geographic and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) have joined forces on a first of its kind podcast that hopes to breathe life into the endangered Michif language through a lens that is authentically Métis. Hosted by Métis artist, mentor and author Leah Dorion, the first 10 episodes of ‘Paykiiwikay’ give listeners an intimate glimpse of the cultural driving force behind Métis communities in Saskatchewan. “Paykiiwikay is the Métis word for ‘come and visit.’ And that’s what it is. Coming to the table and visiting, even though it was virtually recorded,” Dorion said. Dorion traces her roots back to Cumberland House and has lived in Prince Albert most of her life. She said hosting the podcast is helping her learn the Michif language and connect with her own heritage. “I’ve made such a commitment to start to practice some of the phrases. It is on the endangered languages list. So I’ve been promoting it and talking with people about the language, picking up some of the vocab and working on it myself,” Dorion said. The podcast features Métis music, history and cuisine. It touches on difficult topics such as racism, historical injustice and assimilation all while showcasing the Michif language. Dorion said the series will help the community “really understand the role of the Métis people in founding Saskatchewan and are still contributing to Saskatchewan in a good way.” MN-S Minister of Language, Culture and Heritage, Sherry McLennan said that ‘Paykiiwikay’, will address the very real need to preserve heritage, tradition and Métis identity. “Everything Métis people do is tied to our value systems, beliefs, and respect,” McLennan said. “This podcast series will help teach others about the rich Métis history that is an integral part of the makeup of this province.” The series is produced by veteran broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent David McGuffin. “I am proud of my Métis roots, which date back to the fur trade. Like too many Canadians, my understanding of the story of the Métis people faded out at the Battle of Batoche and the defeat of Louis Riel,” McGuffin said. “Working on ‘Paykiiwikay’ has been one of the highlights of my broadcast career.” The first episode features Michif language, history and cultural educator Russell Fayant. Talking about Michif, Dorion quotes Fayant who says ‘I believe it is the language of reconciliation because it incorporates diverse worldviews of settler society as well as the Indigenous community in equal parts.’ Future guests include Métis musician and actress Andrea Menard, and Elder Norman Fleury. Dorion said the partnership between Canadian Geographic and MN-S is an act of coming together in itself. “I’ve never seen a partnership like this. It’s a cool model that shows reconciliation and partnership can work... It can promote culture and allow the community members a voice, an authentic voice,” Dorion said. “I think there’s a lot to be learned and lots of opportunity to really get our minds wrapped around reconciliation and what it can look like.” Canadian Geographic publisher Gilles Gagnier said the podcasts are bringing important stories about Métis history, language and culture to the forefront and expressed gratitude for being invited to participate. “Canadian Geographic is proud to be a partner of MN-S, and honoured to have been chosen to collaborate on this exciting project,” Gagnier said. Dorion said podcasting is “a first” for her and the platform has opened her eyes to new ways of engaging with an audience, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’ve always been invited to tell Métis stories, and I use whatever medium I can but this is a first for me” Dorion said. “We did what we did, in a good way, and we managed to get some great interviews with all the technology that we have today at our fingertips” For the first episodes the team focused on bringing in diverse voices from Métis communities around Saskatchewan and especially those of Elders. “The priority was to get some of the older generation… to get their voices in there,” Dorion said. She said interest in the series has been good and the audience is growing by the day. “Listeners are already tuning in from around the province. We’ve had people listening and tuning in all over the province. So, it’s nice the northern communities are getting to be aware of it — central and southern communities, too. Wherever there’s Métis people,” Dorion said. “The general public is also encouraged to listen. It’s like having tea and listening to Métis people who carry specific cultural knowledge and just having a visit with them. You get insight into what they do, why they do what they do, and the different cultural gifts that they have, and talents ” Episodes can be streamed on Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify or SoundCloud and are uploaded weekly to Canadian Geographic's website. “Every week a new guest will pop up. So people can follow us for the 10 weeks and listen to every episode each week. That’s the challenge,” Dorion said. Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
A year ago, Dr. Lawrence Loh could not have predicted how 2020 would play out. At the time, Loh was serving as associate medical officer of health for the Region of Peel under Dr. Jessica Hopkins. She was responsible for environmental health programs, immunization records and working with chronic disease and injury prevention. That mandate evolved rapidly. In March, just as the pandemic’s first wave formed, Hopkins departed the Region to take up a role as a deputy chief with Public Health Ontario, leaving Loh with big shoes to fill as a global crisis landed at his feet. By July, he dropped the ‘interim’ label from his title and was officially named Peel’s medical officer of health. Any new job is a challenge; Loh’s baptism by fire was heated further by the learning curve faced by all public health units. In particular, the rapidly evolving spread of COVID-19 meant experts, the media and public heard about new developments almost simultaneously. Loh found himself in front of the cameras at least twice per week at press conferences, presenting councillors and the public with updates and advocating to the Province for policy considerations such as paid sick days. Infectious diseases themselves are not new to public health officials, but COVID-19, and the novel coronavirus that causes it, has constantly confused even seasoned epidemiologists. The approval by Health Canada of two vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) means the path toward immunity has been opened. After a year of unfamiliar territory, Loh and his team at Peel Public Health find themselves on slightly more familiar ground. The logistics involved in vaccine distribution on its current scale are new to public health units, but the basics are not. Every year, local health professionals oversee flu vaccine campaigns. Loh himself has experience at the federal level as a medical specialist in vaccine safety between 2012 and 2013. “Immunization is bread and butter public health,” Loh told councillors at the Region Thursday, saying lessons had been learned in the past. “This is something that we’ve done year in and year out.” The pandemic complicates matters, meaning Peel Public Health is balancing its roles in contact tracing, communication, outbreak management and testing with the plans to vaccinate. The task may be simpler than managing a pandemic blind, but it remains no small feat. The goalposts of vaccine rollout have been set by the federal government, the order and eligibility decided at the provincial level and, in Ontario, local public health units are in charge of making it happen. In Peel Region, long-term care has been identified by the Province as a particular priority, with a deadline of January 21 to inoculate the most vulnerable. Ashleigh Hawkins, a spokesperson for Peel Public Health, confirmed “all consenting residents” at 28 long-term care and 15 at-risk retirement homes in the region have received their first dose of vaccine. In its first phase, Peel is concentrating on a few select groups. Long-term care residents and staff, frontline healthcare workers, including paramedics, and adult recipients of chronic home health care are among the first to receive their vaccines in Peel. Around March, when the supply of vaccines is expected to pick up, the second phase will begin. It will offer access to seniors who live in the community, teachers and some essential frontline workers, including those who work in food processing, many of whom live and work in Peel. The third and final stage of the rollout will inoculate anyone who wants to be vaccinated. It is voluntary. Peel Region is completing a rollout plan to submit to the Province by Wednesday. Janice Baker, the Region’s CAO, told councillors the task will require around 700 people to deliver the full vaccine rollout. “Council [must] understand the enormity of the task,” she said, saying active recruitment was ongoing and that Peel, “really will be mobilizing an army to get this done”. A key to the vaccine rollout in Peel will be community clinics. The first will open at the Region’s large Service building at 7120 Hurontario Street (Mississauga) and its headquarters at 10 Peel Centre Drive (Brampton) with more to follow between February and April as public health scales up. Brampton and Mississauga are weighing which facilities they can offer for vaccination efforts to expand access and get needles in arms as quickly as possible. “It is anticipated that these sites will be able to vaccinate thousands of people per day, as supplies allow, over as many hours as possible,” a Region of Peel press release explains. “Additional community clinics will be set up once vaccine becomes readily available.” It is unclear how recent delays to the Pfizer vaccine delivery in Canada could affect Peel’s plan. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, with the support of her Brampton and Caledon counterparts, has been pushing for the Province to greenlight a mass vaccination centre in Peel. The first such space opened in Toronto Monday to pilot the approach before it is rolled out across Ontario. “We know that Toronto is getting a vaccination centre with their 230 cases per 100,000, so it is only fair that our region, with 261 cases per 100,000, also has a mass vaccination centre,” she said at a press conference last Wednesday. “Mississauga and all of Peel Region has suffered greatly from this pandemic and I am doing everything I can to make sure we move past this COVID nightmare as soon as possible.” A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health acknowledged a request for comment Monday, but did not respond in time for publication. One unique discrepancy in Peel Region is among firefighters. In Mississauga, they’re a frontline group, but in Brampton firefighters will have to wait longer. Brampton Regional Councillor Rowena Santos pointed out the difference at regional council last week, saying she had “some concerns”. A Christmas COVID-19 outbreak within the Mississauga Fire and Emergency Service, which led 90 firefighters to isolate, means staff have been bumped into the first phase. Mississauga has been sending 20 to 25 firefighters per day to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for roughly the last week, according to Shari Lichterman, commissioner community services. “There was a concern — a public safety concern — that was identified by the prioritization team and so that is why Mississauga Fire was prioritized… recognizing, of course, that if they didn’t have that outbreak, they would be probably waiting the same way the rest of the fire services in the region are,” Loh explained. Peel Public Health will also demonstrate the lessons it learned testing residents for close to a year by planning drive-thru and mobile vaccination clinics as well. “Our team is working day and night,” Baker added. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
ATLANTA — Paul McDonough has returned to Atlanta United as vice-president of soccer operations. The MLS team announced the rehiring of McDonough on Tuesday after he spent two years as Inter Miami's sporting director. McDonough returns to the role he held in Atlanta from 2016-18, becoming a key player in the club's dynamic entry into MLS. United set numerous attendance records and captured the MLS Cup championship in just its second season in 2018. McDonough left after the championship to lead Inter Miami's entry into MLS as an expansion team this past year. The club went 7-13-3 and made the MLS playoffs in its pandemic-affected debut season. Atlanta United, meanwhile, fell on hard times in 2020. The club fired coach Frank de Boer and missed the playoffs for the first time. “Paul was a key part of our team as we built Atlanta United and we’re delighted to have him back in the organization,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a statement. “Paul brings a vast knowledge of the game, but more importantly he is a great cultural fit who complements our front office." McDonough will report to technical director Carlos Bocanegra and take a leading role in managing the salary cap. McDonough previously worked with Orlando City, helping the club transition to its inaugural season in MLS. He began his career in college coaching, serving as an assistant at Wake Forest, South Carolina and UConn. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press