Democrats opened former U.S. president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial with some of the worst scenes captured of the Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6. While Trump’s conviction is unlikely, it could still serve to further divide Republicans.
Democrats opened former U.S. president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial with some of the worst scenes captured of the Capitol Hill riots on Jan. 6. While Trump’s conviction is unlikely, it could still serve to further divide Republicans.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Going outside could be just what the doctor ordered. British Columbia has launched a new program that has doctors prescribing the great outdoors to help people with mental health issues or chronic illnesses. Robin Gill explains the science behind it.
OTTAWA — Crown prosecutors are asking that a Manitoba man be sentenced to six years minus time served after he pleaded guilty to eight charges related to an incident at Rideau Hall.Corey Hurren, 46, rammed through a gate at Rideau Hall and headed on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s home at Rideau Cottage while heavily armed on July 2.Police were able to talk Hurren, a Canadian Ranger and sausage-maker, down and arrested him peacefully after about 90 minutes.Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told an Ottawa courtroom today that Hurren's actions posed a serious threat to public safety and set up a potentially dangerous situation.Defence lawyer Michael Davies is seeking a sentence of three years, less time served, and acknowledged Hurren's bad choices before noting his client gave himself up peacefully.Davies said Hurren was a hardworking member of society before the COVID-19 pandemic caused him to face financial difficulties and depression. Justice Robert Wadden is expected to deliver his sentence on March 10.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
"Schitt's Creek'' is continuing its winning streak at the ACTRA Awards in Toronto. The Emmy-sweeping comedy took the Members' Choice Series Ensemble Award for a third year running at an awards show put on by the largest chapter of Canada's performers' union. Tamara Podemski won the prize for outstanding performance by a female for her turn on the CBC drama series "Coroner." Jesse LaVercombe earned a trophy for outstanding performance by a male for his role in the horror film "Violation." Being recognized for their vocal work are Bahia Watson in "Total DramaRama" and Cory Doran in "Doomsday Brothers." Multi-disciplinary artist Jani Lauzon won this year's Award of Excellence, which was presented by her daughter, Tara Sky, at Sunday's online ceremony. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) Wishful thinking and poor forecasting have led NB Power to consistently miss profit and debt reduction targets in recent years with major new expenditures on the horizon, according to an unflattering assessment of the utility's financial management by New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson. "It is ultimately management's decision to reduce debt," said Adair-MacPherson, in a 65-page review of the utility she presented to MLAs on Tuesday. NB Power ended the 2020 fiscal year with $4.9 billion in net debt, about $700 million higher than targets set for it by the Legislature in 2013. That's a concern, according to the auditor general, because the province guarantees what NB Power owes and significant new spending requirements are approaching. "It's the largest contingent risk to the province," she told MLAs, about NB Power's liabilities. Debt reduction, her report said, is "not a top priority" of utility management, who she said failed to meet financial targets "year after year" by engaging in "optimistic" and "inaccurate forecasting" of utility expenses. The report notes how in 2016 the utility projected $549 million in profits for itself over the following four years in its planning but managed to achieve actual profits over the period of just $54 million, less than 10 per cent of what it had suggested. Damaging storms, spotty performance by the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, low hydro production during dry summers and other problems have all taken turns upsetting the utility's financial plans, but Adair-MacPherson said those risks need to be better accounted for in corporate planning. An ice storm that hit the Acadian Peninsula in 2017 downed dozens of power lines and cost NB Power a record-setting $30 million in cleanup expenses. She also expressed concern about whether the utility will be able to significantly improve its finances before 2027, when up to $4 billion in major expenditures will be needed for a rebuild of the Mactaquac Dam and other projects. "NB Power does not have a definitive plan to do this," she wrote about the need for significant short term debt reduction. Although NB Power charges some of the lowest rates for electricity in Atlantic Canada, Adair-MacPherson questioned whether that makes business sense given its financial position. "While maintaining a consistently low annual rate may be advantageous to NB Power consumers, it is likely contributing to its failure to meet the debt to equity target and ever-increasing debt level," she said. Adair-MacPherson's report comes as NB Power is coping with yet another major unbudgeted cost, the unexpected breakdown of the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station last month. The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station appeared to have its reliability issues resolved in the last two years, until the utility had a surprise problem with its turbines in January. Turbine problems forced a shutdown of the plant in mid January and more than a month later it remains offline at an approximate cost to the utility of $1 million per day. In its response to the report, NB Power defended its forecasting practices and expressed confidence it will get its debt level down to the required 80 per cent level by 2027. However, it also promised to do better budgeting for trouble. "NB Power agrees to evaluate additional means to quantify the impact of significant future cost uncertainties outside management's control and to include this information in its planning process," said the utility's response.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 today. Officials say all of the new infections involve people in the eastern health region, where an outbreak has been spreading through the metro St. John’s area. Authorities say 50 people have recovered from the virus since Monday, leaving 372 active reported cases of COVID-19 across the province. Newfoundland and Labrador's active infection rate is now 71 cases per 100,000 people. Five people are in hospital because of the disease, and officials say two of those people are in intensive care. Public health says the outbreak in the St. John's region was traced to the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the province has been in lockdown since Feb. 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s choice to lead U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations on Tuesday. Linda Thomas-Greenfield's confirmation reflected the Biden administration’s determination to reengage with the world body and former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy that often left the U.S. isolated internationally. Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position. Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African American, and the second African American woman, to hold the job. Her confirmation was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations, who had lamented the Trump administration's unilateral approach to international affairs. “This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health and global human rights. "We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.” “We can count on Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to work with international partners to confront our collective challenges head on, and play an active role in ensuring the U.N. evolves with the demands of our era as an essential forum for collective problem-solving and catalyst for global progress,” said Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, a private group that supports the world body’s endeavours. “Hers is the leadership America needs at the UN at this critical moment for the U.S. and world." Republicans who opposed her said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies. In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law. She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and that “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbours and they are a threat across the globe.” Thomas-Greenfield spoke of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she made clear there would be a change under Biden to reengage internationally and promote American values. She stressed that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” And she said that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.” At her hearing, she recalled attending a segregated high school and then Louisiana State University “as a consequence of a lawsuit.” She said she was “not the norm” among the Ivy League graduates who also joined the Foreign Service in 1982. “And yet, I had an extraordinary 35-year career that culminated as the assistant secretary of state of African affairs,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To me, that represents the progress, and promise, of America.” Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
A pre-trial conference will be held next month for a man charged in connection with a downtown stabbing death last summer. Last week, lawyers for the Crown and defence set March 8 for a pre-trial conference that will determine the length of a forthcoming preliminary inquiry in the case of Jason Holm. Holm, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 39-year-old Paul Samuel Whitten, who was stabbed to death on Aug. 1, 2020. Police said they were called to a home on Clarke Street in the West End, where Whitten was found with serious injuries. He later died and Holm was arrested a short time later. The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.’s arm’s-length police watchdog, is looking into the circumstances that led to Whitten’s death because Mounties had been looking for Holm before Whitten was killed. “On July 31, Kamloops RCMP received a call from a woman who was concerned about the mental health of a male relative,” the IIO said in a news release issued last summer. “Officers visited the man’s home, but reported being unable to locate him.” A preliminary inquiry lasting at least a week is expected, as it will also address issues with some of the witnesses raised by the defence, Crown prosecutor Tim Livingston told court. Holm had been expected to attend court via video conference last week to elect a mode of trial, but he refused to leave his cell. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
It's 91 per cent bigger than before.
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) Foreign diplomats, unaccompanied minors, truckers and patients getting treatment abroad are among the limited number of travellers who are exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine requirements when arriving in Canada by air. The federal rule that requires such travellers to stay at an approved hotel for up to 72 hours while awaiting the results of their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for COVID-19 went into effect Monday. Quarantine hotel reservations must be made prior to a traveller's arrival in Canada and can only be made by calling a dedicated government phone line. Reservations must be made at the traveller's expense. Diplomats, consular couriers and their families will not be required to book the hotel stay or take a post-arrival PCR test, and will be able to complete the entirety of their 14-day quarantine elsewhere. Canada added the exception to the rule because it is bound by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The 1964 international law states that diplomats "shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention." Australia is also exempting foreign diplomats from similar quarantine requirements. "Foreign diplomats need to quarantine for 14 days on return to Australia. They can quarantine at their mission or usual place of residence," Australia's Department of Health website says. "Australia has legal obligations under the Vienna Convention to ensure diplomats' freedom of movement and travel, and protection from detention." Good policy or vulnerability gap? Anna Banerji, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the diplomatic exemption isn't a smart approach to a pandemic. "This is a vulnerability gap," Banerji said. "When we start making these exceptions — just like the politicians going down south during the holiday season thinking that they don't need to have the same rules as everyone else — that can lead to infection spreading." Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said foreign diplomats should have a post-arrival COVID-19 test and face the same restrictions as everyone else. Charles Burton, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a former Canadian diplomat based in Beijing, said it would be appropriate for the federal government to send out a diplomatic note to all embassies and consulates in Canada asking that their diplomats voluntarily comply with the hotel quarantine rule and produce a post-arrival test. "Countries that are responsible in their international behaviour will insist that their diplomats comply with these regulations, the same as any non-diplomat or Canadian would have to comply if they crossed over into Canada from a foreign country," Burton said. Sarah Goldfeder is a principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group who recently served as special assistant to two U.S. ambassadors to Canada. She said making exceptions for diplomats is good policy, since it's in line with the requirements of other countries. "It goes back to this kind of back-and-forth reciprocity of what do you, and who do you want to be in charge of your diplomats when your diplomats travel to their postings," Goldfeder said. "I don't think that there's any increased risk by any of their behaviours. In general, they're coming from their country of origin to this country. They're not travelling to multiple locations in between." Sarah Goldfeder is a principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, who recently served as special assistant to two U.S. ambassadors to Canada. Canadian diplomats abroad are fully subject to Canadian public health measures when they return, including PCR testing and federally-mandated quarantine rules, said Global Affairs Canada. The requirement to quarantine in a hotel and take a PCR test upon arrival also does not apply to unaccompanied dependent children and unaccompanied minors. A quarantine officer can release a person in "exigent" or extraordinary circumstances from the requirement; the government has not spelled out what sorts of circumstances would qualify. In such cases, an individual is still required to follow instructions from the quarantine officer. The hotel quarantine measure — which the government hopes will enable better detection and tracking of a number of more infectious coronavirus variants — has drawn criticism. Travellers have reported struggling to get through to a booking official on the government phone line. Others are worried about the cost of a hotel room. On Friday, the federal government released a list of approved hotels in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. The list now contains 18 hotels between the four cities.
(Bonnie Allen/CBC - image credit) The government of Saskatchewan says it will put up $15 million to fund VIDO-InterVac's pandemic research if the federal government commits to contributing funding. The province made the announcement on Tuesday. It said VIDO-InterVac — the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre — at the University of Saskatchewan is doing world-class research and is now working to secure funding for a Level 4 containment laboratory. Being a Level 4 facility would allow researchers to work with some of the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. The province said the only other Level 4 facility in Canada is the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. "Canada should be one of those vaccine producing nations and Canada should be a world leader in not only research, but also the development and production of new vaccines," Premier Scott Moe said at a news conference Tuesday. "And that should happen right here in Saskatchewan." Moe said production of various vaccines could begin at the new facility in 2022, with the ability to produce up to 40 million a year. The funding is contingent on the federal government committing funds to the facility, the province said. VIDO has already received a commitment of $250,000 from the City of Saskatoon and "significant contributions" from several private donors, the province said. VIDO is requesting $45 million in federal government support and ongoing operating funding for this project. A spokesperson for federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne said he is aware of the proposal and following VIDO-InterVac's progress closely. "We are proud that the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization–International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) was one of the first projects supported by our government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the federal government has already given contributions of $46 million to help strengthen VIDO-InterVac's research and construction of a pilot-scale manufacturing facility. It said it welcomed the support from the province. VIDO-InterVac director Dr. Volker Gerdts said the research will help people, but also livestock. "This facility will focus both on human diseases as well as animal diseases, and thus have a huge impact on our lives and that of our animals. It will help us to prepare and be better prepared for future emerging diseases," Gerdts said Tuesday.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers plans to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss supply chain issues, including semiconductor chips, three people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. One of the sources said the lawmakers, from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, are expected to learn more about an executive order the Biden administration has been discussing on supply chain issues. The White House declined to comment.
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general says NB Power needs to make reducing its $4.9-billion debt a priority, adding that credit rating agencies are taking notice of the utility's liabilities. Kim Adair-MacPherson tabled two volumes of her annual report Tuesday as she appeared before the legislature's public accounts committee. She said NB Power has the highest debt-to-equity ratio of all government-owned utilities in Canada. "NB Power was financed 94 per cent by debt in 2020," she said. Adair-MacPherson said she has "serious concern" about the utility's repeated failure to meet debt-reduction and income targets. "NB Power has planned major capital projects estimated to cost at least $4 billion, so potentially NB Power's debt could double in the coming years," she told the committee. Those projects include $2.7 billion to $3.7 billion to extend the life of the Mactaquac Dam, $84 million for the Belledune generating station and $93 million for the Coleson Cove generating station. Adair-MacPherson told a virtual news conference later in the day that credit rating agencies are taking notice of the utility's high debt load. "The rating agencies state NB Power as the province's largest contingent risk. Sustainability of NB Power will be a concern whether it's the ratepayer or the taxpayer who ends up footing the bill," she said. Adair-MacPherson said NB Power has reduced debt by an average of $20 million per year since renovations to the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant were completed in 2013. However, she said, the utility would have to reduce debt by $65 million per year to meet its 2027 target. Reducing debt to that extent is possible if management at the utility makes it a priority, she added. Responding to the auditor general Tuesday, NB Power said it takes very seriously its responsibility to operate its facilities "in a safe, reliable and economically sustainable manner." "NB Power remains committed to meeting its mandated debt-to-equity target by 2027," the utility wrote. The utility added that significant portions of its costs remain outside its control, such as fuel prices, electricity market prices and weather. Adair-MacPherson told the committee that NB Power's revenue over the last four years was $195 million less than what the province had expected it to be, adding that inaccurate forecasting by the utility has helped prevent it from reducing debt more quickly. Interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said Tuesday that when he was finance minister, NB Power's income forecast was never on target. "There needs to be more focus on financial management and management around the debt," Melanson said. People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said someone needs to be held accountable for NB Power failing to meet its financial targets. Also in her report, the auditor general was critical of the provincial government for failing to address the demand for nursing homes. "In my view, the province is failing to address the nursing home capacity demand. The province is not ready for the increase in seniors requiring placement in a residential facility," she said. Adair-MacPherson said although some capacity has been added, there remains a long wait-list for nursing home placements, which she said is causing pressure on hospitals and increasing costs. "The senior population of New Brunswick aged 75 and older is expected to double over the next 20 years," she said in her report. "Failing to implement nursing home plans and obtain needed services for seniors will result in a crisis." She also took aim at the Health Department's electronic medical records system, which she said has been expensive and adopted by fewer than half the province's doctors. Adair-MacPherson said the government took a hands-off approach to the program's funding and implementation and did not exercise adequate oversight. As a result, she said, the province did not get the intended benefit after spending more than $26 million on the project. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia's 29th premier Tuesday along with a cabinet that included two former leadership rivals.Rankin tapped ex-Liberal party leadership contenders Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey for high-profile jobs, with Kousoulis getting the crucial finance portfolio and Delorey assuming duties as minister of justice and attorney general.Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc swore in the 17-member cabinet at the Halifax Convention Centre during a ceremony that was scaled back due to COVID-19 protocols."We are writing a new chapter for sure, but it is one that reflects and respects our past," Rankin said in an address after swearing his oath of office. "Governments that have come before ours ... have provided us with strong foundations to support our agenda."The 37-year-old Rankin was chosen as Liberal party leader earlier this month at a virtual convention in Halifax. He captured his party's top job by billing himself as an agent of generational change and has vowed to be a collaborative premier who will place an emphasis on the environment.He takes office with a shortened window to establish himself — a provincial election must be called by the spring of 2022. Rankin, however, said he is immediately focused on governing and dealing with important issues such as jobs, the economy and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.He told reporters there is no shortage of challenges."I'm really impressed with the team that I have and I'm putting them in the right place to help me deliver on the commitments I made during the leadership campaign, Rankin said. "Issues of climate change, inequality and building back a strong economy that's more inclusive."Kousoulis will have the tough task of balancing fiscal discipline with the need to bolster an economy damaged by the pandemic. Nova Scotia went from a projected surplus of $55 million to a deficit of $779 million over the past fiscal year — a figure former premier Stephen McNeil recently said would be closer to $500 million by this spring's budget."The work will be to ensure that we're supporting Nova Scotians and getting ourselves back on a solid financial footing," Kousoulis said. He said that while the upcoming budget is already largely prepared, there could be a chance to tinker by adding some of Rankin's priorities.Signalling change, Rankin created a new department — Infrastructure and Housing — that will be headed by former business minister Geoff MacLellan, who has said he won't be running in the next election.He also created two offices: Mental Health and Addictions under new Health Minister Zach Churchill, who shifts from education; and the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, which will become the responsibility of Tony Ince, who remains as minister of African Nova Scotian affairs.Kelly Regan was sworn in as deputy premier and retains her position as minister of community services while taking on responsibility for the province's seniors.Cabinet newcomer Keith Irving was appointed minister of the newly renamed Department of Environment and Climate Change. Other first-time cabinet ministers include Ben Jessome as minister of the public service commission, and Brendan Maguire, who takes over municipal affairs. Irving, a former architect who lived for 26 years in Iqaluit, said he's ready to deal with what has been a long-time interest. "While living in the Arctic in the early '90s, I saw the effects of climate change," he said. "It was very real there and it is now very real for all of Canada and Nova Scotia."Chuck Porter returns to cabinet in a new role as minister of lands and forestry, while Derek Mombourquette is the new minister of education. The Immigration Department will be getting a new title as well, becoming the Office of Immigration and Population Growth, overseen by Lena Metlege Diab, who will remain as minister of labour and minister of Acadian affairs. Lloyd Hines remains as minister of transportation, while others retaining their old jobs include Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell, Service Nova Scotia Minister Patricia Arab and Culture and Heritage Minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. Rankin replaces McNeil, who announced his retirement last August after 17 years in politics. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
FERGUS – The Township of Centre Wellington is seeking public input on design concepts for St. David Street in downtown Fergus. Colin Baker, managing director of infrastructure, said at a Monday meeting that a stretch of St. David Street, from St. Andrew Street to Edinburgh Avenue, is scheduled for a full reconstruction in 2023. He explained the town will be leveraging the province’s connecting links funding, which can cover up to 90 per cent of costs to repair a municipal road that connects two ends of a highway, in this case Highway 6. Beyond that, Baker said the township is taking that opportunity to look at how the road is designed to better meet the needs of the public and complete streets policy from the township’s transportation master plan. This could include widening sidewalks, streetscape visual improvements, reduction in parking spaces, bike lanes or any combination of these. “What we’re really looking at is what the future vision for this road is,” Baker said at the meeting. Council was presented four options for information purposes ahead of the public engagement period. The first option is to match the existing design which would maintain 14 highly used on-street parking spots, maintain the same traffic flow but not improve active transportation or the visual appeal. The second option would increase the sidewalk width which would provide a better visual look with new trees and lighting and increase vehicle width but all parking spots would be removed. Option three would keep on-street parking between St. Andrew and St. Patrick and then widen the sidewalk north of these streets bringing the benefits of both. Option four suggests separated cycling lanes from St. Andrew to Hill Street and an unseparated bike lane for the rest of the stretch. This would mean a reduction to four parking spaces and vehicle lane width. Adam Gilmore, manager of engineering, said option four is in-line with their complete streets policy and cycling lanes are justified given the average daily traffic volumes. Gilmore said, as noted in other municipalities, narrower lanes can have a traffic calming effect. Baker explained the next steps are to get these concepts out for public input through advisory committees, a landing page on connectCW, advertising and meetings with the Ministry of Transportation. They will then take the feedback and come to council with a recommendation at a later date. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on Tuesday and agreed to coordinate on efforts to get web giants to pay for news, according to a statement from Ottawa. The two leaders "agreed to continue coordinating efforts to address online harm and ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media," a statement detailing the issues discussed in their telephone call said.
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Le bilan lavallois pointe désormais à 739 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela représente une baisse de 39 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. On décompte toutefois 66 nouveaux cas confirmés en date du 23 février. Ils s'ajoutent au total lavallois et portent celui à 24 212 cas confirmés depuis le début de la pandémie. Le nombre de décès augmente à 866 (+2). Parmi les personnes porteuses du virus, 34 sont hospitalisées, dont 13 aux soins intensifs. Le CISSS de Laval confirme que 15 employés de son réseau sont présentement absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Il y a maintenant trois secteurs de l'île Jésus qui comptent moins de 100 cas actifs sur leur territoire respectif. Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac (-10) rejoint Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (-7) et Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose (-3). Les trois secteurs ont respectivement 95, 86 et 96 cas actifs. Ce dernier présente d'ailleurs le plus bas taux d'infection du territoire avec 127 cas actifs par 100 000 habitants. Ce sont toutefois les secteurs Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides (-15) et Chomedey (-11) qui présentent les baisses les plus importantes du jour. De son côté, Vimont/Auteuil est le seul en augmentation avec sept nouvelles personnes porteuses du virus, ce qui porte son total à 120 cas actifs. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 48 cas jusqu’ici, dont 5 actifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval