You can turn anything into a workout, just grab a shovel. Winter clothes are recommended.
You can turn anything into a workout, just grab a shovel. Winter clothes are recommended.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Four Cape Breton women will be going to trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court after allegedly claiming $3.6 million in fraudulent federal tax credits under 10 different companies. The Canada Revenue Agency says Lydia Saker and her daughters Nadia Saker, Angela MacDonald and Georgette Young filed false HST claims on $56 million in sales for things like cookbooks, children's clothing and frozen dinners. The sales allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2015 through 10 companies including the former Spaghetti Benders restaurant on Boularderie Island and companies called Housewives in Heels, Artisan Hair Loss Therapy, Maddie and Bella's Children Clothing, Latatia Advertising, Kishk, and New and Chic. The women, who were charged in 2018, claimed federal tax rebates for up to $3.6 million. They received $276,000, according to court records, and were denied the rest after federal auditors became suspicious. After a three-day preliminary inquiry in Sydney provincial court this week, Judge Ann Marie MacInnes ruled there is enough evidence to go to trial on all 30 charges. The women are expected back in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Sydney on March 22 to get a trial date. They have previously pleaded not guilty and elected trial by judge and jury. MORE TOP STORIES
THORSBY, Alta. — The Transportation Safety Board says a plane that crashed last year southwest of Edmonton, killing the two people on board, had collided with a power line. The Harmon Rocket two-seat sport plane took off Sept. 26 from Rocky Mountain House and went down near Thorsby before catching on fire. RCMP said at the time that the pilot, a 59-year-man, and a passenger, a 48-year-old woman, both from Rocky Mountain House, were killed. The board says the pilot was a well-known air-show performer and was cleared to perform aerobatic manoeuvres at any altitude. There was no public air show that day, though, and the purpose of the trip was to gather with friends for an afternoon of go-karting next to an airfield. The board says the pilot was unfamiliar with the area and, while doing a second circuit of the field, went from flying low over the racetrack into a climb and struck an unmarked power line. The board's report, released Wednesday, says low-level flight is very risky because not all hazards, such as power lines, can be seen in time to avoid a collision. The Harmon Rocket is an aircraft regularly seen at air shows across North America. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 The Canadian Press
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
VANCOUVER — Studies from Israel and the United Kingdom showed that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine significantly reduced COVID-19 infections, helping to guide British Columbia's decision to delay the second dose of vaccines by four months.B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said the plan is based on research in the two countries as well as evidence collected by the BC Centre for Disease Control and in Quebec.A study published by the University of Cambridge in the U.K., which has not yet been peer-reviewed, suggests that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can reduce the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 infections by 75 per cent.In Israel, researchers studied the effects of a single dose of the same vaccine and published their findings in The Lancet medical journal, concluding that it was 85 per cent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 infections.Also in The Lancet, a U.K. study found that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 81 per cent effective when its second dose is given three months after the first, compared with 55 per cent efficacy after six weeks.Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, says the province has enough evidence to back the four-month interval, though he believes it is the first in the world to delay the second dose for that long.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Parents accessing child-care services are now eligible to receive a one-time $561 per child under the new working parents benefit, unveiled by Alberta Children’s Services last week. The benefit is meant to help parents cover the costs of childcare, including licenced and unlicenced daycares, day homes and pre-schools, used between April and December 2020. “I think there will be quite a few (local families) who will benefit from this program,” said Alysha Martin, Beaverlodge Daycare executive director. Martin said Beaverlodge Daycare currently has 55 to 60 children enrolled but is uncertain as to how many families will benefit from the program, because it depends on their income. The $561 may be a small help, but better than nothing, she said. Families with annual household incomes of $100,000 or less and have receipts for three months of childcare between last April 1 and Dec. 31 will be eligible, according to the Alberta government. If local families have thrown out their receipts, they may still be able to benefit. “They can always get a receipt from us upon request,” Martin said. Families can apply for the benefit with a MyAlberta Digital ID at alberta.ca/Working- ParentsBenefit now, with applications closing March 31, according to Alberta Children’s Services. Families of up to 192,000 children across the province may be able to benefit from the program, according to the Alberta government. According to Alberta Children’s Services, the benefit has a $108 million budget and is an expansion on the critical worker benefit, which provides $1,200 payments to front-line and essential workers. As of Feb. 12, 2,739 daycare programs across the province remain open while 102 are closed. Childcare operators across the province have also received more than $100 million in relief to go toward meeting health, cleaning and safety guidelines, according to the Alberta government. Martin said Beaverlodge Daycare has received some financial support via grants during the pandemic. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
OTTAWA — WE Charity co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger are declining requests to testify before two House of Commons committees. In a statement, the charity notes that New Democrat MP Charlie Angus has requested that the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency investigate WE's operations. The charity says it would welcome and would co-operate with such investigations but it shouldn't be subject to an investigation by a partisan parliamentary committee at the same time. Two Commons committees had invited the Kielburger brothers to testify. Angus requested the RCMP and CRA investigations last week after a former donor, Reed Cowan, alleged that the plaque on a school he had funded in Kenya had been replaced with a plaque in the name of another donor — which WE said was an unfortunate mistake but which Angus said was proof of a "pattern of duplicitous relations with donors." Cowan made the allegations during testimony to the Commons ethics committee, which is continuing to scrutinize a now-cancelled federal contract to have WE manage a student services grant program despite the charity's close ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The global technology services company Infosys plans to create 500 jobs in Calgary over the next three years as it ramps up its Canadian workforce. Infosys president Ravi Kumar made the pledge at a virtual news conference on Wednesday with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "Calgary is a natural next step as part of our Canadian expansion and represents a significant and promising market for Infosys," Kumar said. "The city is home to a thriving pool of talent that the economic downturn of COVID-19 has impacted. We will tap into this talent and offer critical skills and opportunities that will build on the city's economic strengths." The company, which started in India and now has operations in 46 countries, provides digital services and consulting for clients in many industries, such as natural resources, energy, media, retail and communications. Infosys's head of global government and public affairs, Anurag Varma, who spoke from the company's office in Silicon Valley, said because he was born in Calgary and educated in Alberta he's confident that the expansion is a smart move. "It only gives me more pride that our global company is coming to a neighbourhood that I know very well, and I believe that this is going to be a match made in heaven," he said. Officials said the Calgary office will be in the core, but a location was not specified. The Calgary office currently has fewer than 10 employees, but the company has hired about 2,000 people in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver over the past two years. Officials say the plan is to double the Canadian workforce to 4,000 employees by 2023. Mary Moran, president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, says the Infosys expansion could be a game-changer for the city. "We are embracing digital transformation in Calgary and Infosys can support companies on their digital journey as they address global challenges like cleaner energy, safe and secure food supplies, safer and more efficient transportation and logistics and better health solutions," she said. Infosys says it will hire tech grads from 14 educational institutions in Canada, including the University of Calgary, SAIT and the University of Alberta.
Police in St. John's are investigating an incident between a landlord and his tenants that ended with a front-end loader tearing out the side of a house. Robert Regular says he didn't mean to strike his own house, but his tenants, Cory Monk and Joella Dyke, said his actions were reckless and put them and their animals in danger. "He physically pushed our car out of the way with a backhoe and then drove the backhoe into the house," Dyke said. "I don't want to leave here. I've been afraid to leave the property for months because I don't know. I was fearful something like this would happen when we weren't here." Tensions have been simmering between both sides for several months over a disagreement about legal occupancy, and made worse by a dispute resolution system bogged down in pandemic delays. Regular served them an eviction notice for late rent in October, but the tenants say they paid the overdue rent before the eviction date. Under provincial legislation, that would make the eviction notice irrelevant. Regular says they haven't paid the full amount and wants them out of the house. It came to a head Wednesday morning when Regular showed up with a front-end loader and a driver prepared to clear snow from the side of the house. He told CBC News he wanted to get scaffolding set up to do repairs on the leaking roof. Monk said he was worried Regular intended to damage the house to get them to leave, and refused to move his car from the side of the house. Screenshots from a video taken by Monk show his landlord, Robert Regular, in the driver's seat of a loader and pushing Monk's car with the bucket.(Submitted by Cory Monk) Video of the incident shows Regular manning the controls of the loader while another man — who Monk said was the original driver — stood on the side of the machine. Regular pushes forward with the bucket and moves the car backwards, despite Monk being on the hood of the car. The video does not clearly show how the loader ends up striking the house. Regular said he accidentally snagged the corner of the house while backing away from the car. The police were called during the incident, but Regular had left by the time officers arrived. Monk said he tried to stop him from leaving, and Regular said his windshield was smashed in the process. WATCH | Ryan Cooke reports on Cory Monk and Joella Dyke and their dispute with their landlord: Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. James Cadigan said no arrests have been made, but statements are being taken from everyone involved and the scene has been photographed. The tenants want to see their landlord charged with recklessly endangering their safety. Regular wants Monk charged with mischief for damaging his vehicle. Pandemic delays cause boiling tensions The disagreement at the centre of the issue — whether the eviction order is enforceable — should have been settled long ago. Disputes between tenants and landlords are settled by the residential tenancy board. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, however, hearings have either been rescheduled or happened via teleconference. Landlords and tenants have reported lengthy delays in the process. The dispute at the centre of the Allandale Road incident began in November, and there still has not been a hearing, despite both sides voicing concern for damage to the property. "We've been stuck between a rock and a hard place for a very long time, and because of COVID everything is slowed down with the tenancy board, with the city, with everything," Dyke said. "That's completely understandable. But because it slowed down, our landlord decided to take the law into his own hands this morning." A tarp was thrown over a window smashed by a backhoe at this home on Allandale Road. The tenants say their landlord smashed it out after pushing their car aside with the plow.(Ryan Cooke/CBC) Regular denies that was his intention, saying he wants to preserve the old farmhouse and renovate it — albeit for new tenants. Dyke and Monk said they've been trying to leave, but are having a hard time finding a place that will take them and their six pets, several of which were inherited when Monk's mother died suddenly. "We've been looking for another place for years, but no landlord will look at us," Dyke said. The couple says they are looking into hiring a lawyer to explore their options against Regular. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
SAN DIEGO — Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offences against five women in Southern California, including one who was homeless when he attacked her in 2018. The 37-year-old son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow appeared via videoconference at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, a city north of San Diego. He declined to comment before his sentence, saying his lawyers had advised him not to speak. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described with “two words and that is sexual predator." He said he selected women who were vulnerable because of their age or their living situation with the idea that “hopefully he would get away with it in his mind." Winslow was once the highest-paid tight end in the league, earning more than $40 million over his 10 seasons before he left in 2013. The 14-year-sentence was the maximum allowed under a plea deal. He was convicted of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. The forcible rape involved a woman who was homeless in his home town of Encinitas, a beach community north of San Diego. She was among four of the women who gave statements Wednesday, including one victim who had the prosecutor read hers. All described suffering years after their attacks from fear and emotional trauma. The woman who was homeless called into the hearing via video conference from the San Diego County District Attorney's office, where she was watching the proceedings with another victim. She said since she was raped she has had trouble raising her head and walking, and she feels afraid constantly, checking under beds and in closets, and cannot be alone. “It's affecting my life every day and every night," she said. “I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life." Winslow's attorney Marc Carlos said Winslow suffered from head trauma from the many blows to his head playing football, which can only explain why he “went off the rails" going from a star athlete to a convicted sexual predator. He said his client has accepted responsibility and intends to get help. Winslow was convicted of forcible rape and two misdemeanours — indecent exposure and a lewd act in public — after a trial in June 2019. But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged 2018 rape of a 54-year-old hitchhiker, and the 2003 rape of an unconscious 17-year-old high school senior who went to a party with him when he was 19. Before he was retried on those charges, he pleaded guilty to raping the teen and sexual battery of the hitchhiker. Those pleas spared him the possibility of life in prison. The father of two, whose wife filed for divorce after he was convicted, had faced up to 18 years in prison for all the charges. But both sides agreed to reduce the sexual battery charge to assault with intent to commit rape last month. That reduced the maximum sentence to 14 years. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Department of Defence inspector general released a scathing report Wednesday on the conduct of Ronny Jackson, now a congressman from Texas, when he worked as a top White House physician. The internal investigation concluded that Jackson made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy on drinking alcohol on a presidential trip and took prescription-strength sleeping medication that prompted worries from his colleagues about his ability to provide proper medical care. The years-long investigation into Jackson, who was elected to the House in November, examined allegations into his conduct during his time serving the administrations of both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Jackson, who gained notoriety for his over-the-top pronouncements about Trump’s health, denied the allegations, and declared that he was the victim of a “political hit job” because of his close ties to the former Republican president. After interviewing 78 witnesses and reviewing a host of White House documents, investigators concluded that Jackson, who achieved the rank of rear admiral, failed to treat his subordinates with dignity and respect. They also highlighted incidents of inappropriate behaviour on at least two international presidential trips. The report also said the investigation into Jackson “was limited in scope and unproductive” as Trump’s White House counsel insisted on being present at all interviews, which had a “potential chilling effect” on the probe. The Pentagon report, in part, focused on Obama’s 2014 trip to the Philippines. Before the trip, witnesses said, Jackson told a male colleague that he thought a female medical professional they were working with was attractive and, using colorful language, indicated that he would “like to see more of her tattoos.” While in Manila, witnesses said, a “visibly intoxicated” Jackson came back to the hotel where the medical team was staying and began yelling and pounding on the female subordinate’s hotel room door between 1 and 2 a.m. Witnesses said he created so much noise they worried it would wake Obama. “He had kind of bloodshot eyes,” the woman told investigators. “You could smell the alcohol on his breath, and he leaned into my room and he said, ‘I need you.’ I felt really uncomfortable.” The Department of Defence investigation, which was first reported by CNN, also found that Jackson violated the medical unit’s alcohol policy on a trip to Argentina. And witnesses said Jackson took sleep medication on long overseas travel, which left subordinates worried that it could have left him incapacitated and unable to work. Rumours about his conduct began in 2018, when Trump nominated Jackson to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. After allegations emerged that Jackson had created a hostile work environment and improperly distributed prescription drugs, the White House withdrew the nomination. Jackson then used claims that he was unfairly targeted — and then benefitted from Trump’s endorsement — to fuel a victory in a crowded GOP primary race to represent a district in northeastern Texas. He then easily won the seat in November. Jackson denied all of the allegations about his conduct and said Wednesday in a statement that “My entire professional life has been defined by duty and service.” “I have not and will not ever conduct myself in a way that undermines the sincerity with which I take my oath to my country or my constituents,” Jackson said. Jackson was well liked by most members of the Obama and Trump staffs and grew close to both presidents. He drew national attention and became the subject of late night comedians’ jokes in early 2018 when he declared that Trump “has incredibly good genes, and it’s just the way God made him.” “I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years he might live to be 200 years old,” Jackson said then. Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
After Mateo Perusse-Shortte, experienced racism while playing his sport, he and his mom decided to plan a hockey diversity group in Quebec.
The Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) in Fort Liard has released its shortlist of nominees for its chief and council election set to take place on April 26. The First Nation posted the final list on Facebook on Tuesday night after nominations closed. There are a total of three eligible candidates running for the chief position, including current chief Eugene Hope. There are six council positions available, with 13 candidates running for a spot. Two candidates – previous ADKFN chief Floyd Bertrand, who was running for the position again, as well as Marlene Timbre, who was running for councillor – were both deemed ineligible according to the chief electoral officer's notice. The election has been postponed twice due to the pandemic. Federally introduced legislation allowed six-month extensions for First Nations elections to ensure leadership stability during the crisis. The election was further delayed by a cluster of COVID-19 cases that saw Fort Liard shut down all non-essential businesses in January, including ADKFN’s office. In order to provide time for those interested in running to pick up nomination forms, pay off outstanding dues, and ask questions at the First Nation office, the election date was duly changed from April 14 to April 26. Appeals regarding nominations must be made no later than March 9. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
MONTREAL — A well-known Quebec lawyer says she's mounting a legal challenge to provincial laws that don't grant common-law spouses the same rights as married couples in the event of a breakup. Anne-France Goldwater said today Quebec family law treats unmarried women as having less value than their married counterparts because they aren't entitled to the same alimony and property rights. Goldwater previously argued the issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in 2013 that Quebec's family law regime was constitutional and did not have to be changed, even though the court found there was discrimination against common-law couples. The case, known as "Eric and Lola," involved a woman and her former lover, a prominent Quebec businessman who contended he should not have to pay alimony because they were never legally married. Goldwater, who represented "Lola" in the case, has filed a new motion in Quebec Superior Court contesting the constitutionality of all the articles relating to family law in Quebec's Civil Code as well as the section of the provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that deals with rights and obligations of married and civil union spouses. The case she's arguing concerns a common-law couple called "Nathalie" and "Pierre," who were together 30 years and have four children. Goldwater told reporters today the years that have passed since the Supreme Court of Canada decision have reinforced the need for the law to change. She notes in her court submission that successive provincial governments have promised to reform the province's family law without ever doing so. "Quebec family law perceives non-married women and their children as having less value than married families and it's even worse for women who are common law without children," Goldwater said. "Why are Quebec women not equal under Quebec law?" she said. The 2013 Supreme Court decision noted that while there was discrimination toward common-law couples, it could be allowed under a section of the Canadian charter which allows for the limitation of rights in certain circumstances. Goldwater says she believes the current situation represents a form of "systemic sexism" that has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which she says has had a disproportionate impact on women. "Why do we have to have a pandemic to convince the leaders that women are economically disadvantaged?" she said. Under Quebec's current law, common-law spouses aren't entitled to alimony, division of the family patrimony or the right to occupy the home after the split. While any children stemming from the relationship have a right to support, the fact that the parent doesn't get alimony or a share of the wealth will result in a lower standard of living for the children, Goldwater says. She argues this creates "two sets of rules" for children: one for those whose parents married, and another for children whose parents were common-law spouses. Like others before it, Premier Francois Legault's government has promised to reform the province's family law, which has not been overhauled since 1980. Goldwater says the change could be made with the "stroke of the pen," namely by adding de facto spouses to the definition of couple and family, as was done for same-sex spouses when they were granted the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples in Quebec. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press
Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Yet in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems. The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures around the country as well as the conservative groups supporting them and found only a few times it’s been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports. In South Carolina, for example, Rep. Ashley Trantham said she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. Otherwise, she said during a recent hearing, “the next generation of female athletes in South Carolina may not have a chance to excel." In Tennessee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton conceded there may not actually be transgender students now participating in middle and high school sports; he said a bill was necessary so the state could be “proactive.” Some lawmakers didn't respond to AP's queries. Others in places like Mississippi and Montana largely brushed aside the question or pointed to a pair of runners in Connecticut. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit. Supporters of transgender rights say the Connecticut case gets so much attention from conservatives because it’s the only example of its kind. “It’s their Exhibit A, and there’s no Exhibit B -- absolutely none,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a prominent trans-rights attorney. The multiple sports bills, he says, address a threat that doesn’t exist. There’s no authoritative count of how many trans athletes have competed recently in high school or college sports. Neither the NCAA nor most state high school athletic associations collect that data; in the states that do collect it, the numbers are minimal: No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years. Transgender adults make up a small portion of the U.S. population, about 1.3 million as of 2016, according to the Williams Institute, a think-tank at the UCLA School of Law that specializes in research on LGBTQ issues. The two dozen bills making their way through state legislatures this year could be devastating for transgender teens who usually get little attention as they compete. In Utah, a 12-year-old transgender girl cried when she heard about the proposal, which would separate her from her friends. She’s far from the tallest girl on her club team, and has worked hard to improve her times but is not a dominant swimmer in her age group, her coach said. “Other than body parts I’ve been a girl my whole life,” she said. The girl and her family spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to avoid outing her publicly. Those who object to the growing visibility and rights for transgender people, though, argue new laws are needed to keep the playing field fair for cisgender girls. “When the law does not recognize differences between men and women, we’ve seen that women lose,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Connecticut lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls. One of those girls, Chelsea Mitchell, defeated Terry Miller -- the faster of the two trans sprinters -- in their final two races in February 2020 The ADF and others like it are the behind-the-scenes backers of the campaign, offering model legislation and a playbook to promote the bills most of them with common features and even titles, like the Save Women’s Sports Act. When asked for other examples of complaints about middle or high school transgender athletes, ADF and the Family Policy Alliance, cited two: One involved a Hawaii woman who coaches track and filed a complaint last year over a trans girl competing in girls’ volleyball and track. The other involved a cisgender girl in Alaska who defeated a trans sprinter in 2016, then appeared in a Family Policy Alliance video saying the trans girl’s third-place finish was unfair to runners who were further behind. Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing trans students’ sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling. Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that in several states with proposed sports bans, lawmakers also are seeking to ban certain gender affirming health care for transgender young people “This is not about sports,” he said. ”It’s a way to attack trans people.” Some states' school athletic organizations already have rules about trans participation in sports: 19 states allow full inclusion of trans athletes; 16 have no clear-cut statewide policy; seven emulate the NCAA's rule by requiring hormone therapy for trans girls; and eight effectively ban trans girls from girls’ teams, according to attorney Asaf Orr of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Texas is among those with a ban, limiting transgender athletes to teams conforming with the gender on their birth certificate. That policy came under criticism in 2017 and 2018, when trans male Mack Beggs won state titles in girls’ wrestling competitions after he was told he could not compete as a boy. While Beggs, Miller and Yearwood were the focus of news coverage and controversy, trans athletes more commonly compete without any furor -- and with broad acceptance from teammates and competitors. In New Jersey’s Sussex County, trans 14-year-old Rebekah Bruesehoff competes on her middle school field hockey team and hopes to keep playing in high school. "It’s all been positive,” she said. “The coaches have been really helpful.” While New Jersey has a trans-inclusive sports policy, Rebekah is distressed by the proposed bans elsewhere – notably measures that might require girls to verify their gender. “I know what it’s like to have my gender questioned,” Rebekah said. “It’s invasive, embarrassing. I don’t want others to go through that.” The possibility that any athlete could have to undergo tests or examinations to prove their gender was among the reasons that Truman Hamburger, a 17-year-old high school student in North Dakota, showed up at the statehouse to protest a proposed ban. “Once you open up that door on gender policing, that’s not a door you can easily shut,” he said. Sarah Huckman, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, ran track and cross country for three years at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, after coming out as trans in 7th grade. Huckman showed great talent in the sprints and hurdles, but was not dominant on a statewide level. In her senior year, she won several events in small and mid-size meets, and had 6th place and 10th place finishes in the Division II indoor state championships. The proposed bans appall her. “It’s so demeaning toward my group of people,” she said. “We’re all human beings. We do sports for the love of it.” ___ Associated Press reporters covering statehouses across the U.S. contributed to this report. David Crary And Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
BENTONIA, Miss. — With callused hands, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes plucks an old acoustic guitar at the juke joint his parents started more than 70 years ago. He checks the cafe’s inventory: jars of pickled eggs, beef jerky, pork hocks. He tends to the wood-burning stove, made from an oil-field pipe. And every morning, he eventually settles in on a stool behind the counter, waiting — hoping — that someone who wants to hear him play will drop in. Holmes, 73, is the last Bentonia bluesman, the carrier of a dying musical and oral storytelling tradition born in this Mississippi town of less than 500 people. And now, he's a Grammy-nominated artist, with a recent nod in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for Cypress Grove, a record he hopes will help preserve the Bentonia blues long after he’s gone. The world has changed around Holmes and his Blue Front Café, the country's oldest surviving juke joint. Across the South, the venues — historically owned and frequented by African Americans — have shuttered as owners pass away. Blues experts believe Holmes is the only American running a juke joint owned by his parents. It's quiet outside the Blue Front, a small building with cinder block walls off a dusty rural Mississippi road. Across the street are the railroad tracks that run through Bentonia; next door sits an old cotton gin. It's here, at the Blue Front, that Holmes will watch the March 14 ceremony and learn whether he won the Grammy. He can't go in person because of the coronavirus pandemic, and that suits him just fine. He'll be surrounded by musicians from across Mississippi who want to play with him. “I’ll be here in this hole in the wall every day, for as long as I can, so that people don’t forget,” Holmes said. “We’re trying to make sure it doesn’t die.” ___ When the Blue Front opened in 1948, it was the first African American-owned retail business in Bentonia, then a majority-Black farming community. Holmes was just a baby. His parents, Carey and Mary, were sharecroppers. Mary ran the Blue Front during the day while Holmes worked with his father in the fields. By age 9, Holmes was operating a tractor by himself. The Holmeses' business was a community gathering place. People came to have their laundry pressed, get a haircut, or pick up salt, pepper and other nonperishables. And they came for the blues. Musicians lined up outside to play the Blue Front, with guitars strapped to their backs and harmonicas in their pockets. During cotton-picking season, the Blue Front was open 24 hours a day to accommodate farmworkers, who came in for a hot plate of Mary’s famous buffalo fish. On weekends, people stayed all night drinking moonshine, dancing and playing music. The town was never home to more than 600 residents, but its location on the Illinois Central Railway drew visitors. Later, the only roadway from Memphis to Jackson passed directly through Bentonia, furthering its popularity. Historians travelling through Mississippi to document blues musicians discovered Bentonia's style. It's described as haunting and eerie; its minor tonality isn't found in the better-known blues styles of Delta and hill country. Growing up, Holmes learned from his neighbour, "the father of the Bentonia blues." Henry Stuckey, an aging World War I veteran, played to entertain Holmes and his 13 siblings on their porch. The style is passed from one musician to the next — it can't be learned using sheet music. "The old-timers I learned from couldn't read, and they couldn't read sheet music," Holmes said — he doesn't read music, either. “They didn’t know what a count was, didn’t know about minors or sharps or open or closed tuning. They was just playing. They had no idea there was a musical language to what they were doing.” Dan Auerbach, producer of Cypress Grove and a member of the band the Black Keys, said the beauty of Holmes' music is the improvisation. Holmes never plays the same song twice. Each performance is a snapshot in time. “Those songs, they're like a living organism, almost. They're changing daily," he said. “You can feel the realness and the immediacy of the music. It’s very idiosyncratic, and that’s what makes it so special. “Now, in this day and age, it’s like everything’s homogenized and we’re all on the same server. Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes lives in a world that time forgot — it hasn’t changed.” —— Today, a four-lane highway diverts traffic away from Bentonia. Businesses of Holmes' youth have shuttered; buildings are torn down. More than a quarter of residents live under the poverty line. The train passes through town daily but doesn't stop. “People my age was tired of going to the cotton fields,” Holmes said. “As soon as they got a chance, they got away from Bentonia, to Chicago, California, New York. There wasn’t nothing here." Holmes never imagined leaving. He lives on the same farm where he was raised, about a mile from the Blue Front. His presence has become Bentonia's biggest draw. Visitors come from all over the world and the music industry to see him, to hear the music, and to learn the tradition. Before the pandemic, Mississippi musicians performed at the Blue Front every other Friday, sometimes more, playing different blues styles. In 1972, Holmes started an annual blues festival, now the longest-running in Mississippi. He holds Bentonia Blues workshops. And every day that he sits behind the counter at the Blue Front, he's willing to teach anyone who walks in. Some fans are surprised he's so accessible, said Robert Connely Farr, a Mississippi native who's been visiting Holmes for years for guitar tips, all the way from Vancouver. But for those who know Holmes, it makes perfect sense. “His whole goal in life is to give that sound away, is to perpetuate or further the Bentonia sound," Farr said. “I think it’s important to Jimmy, that his place is open and that it constantly has music. He wants there to be life in that building.” Holmes has performed in Europe, South America and across the U.S. He opened for the Black Keys in the nation's capital in 2019. But he always comes back home. “I would hate if someone took time out of their day to come see me, and I wasn't here,” he said. “I appreciate it, that people want to travel from Asia and Europe because they want to know about the blues. I like to be here when they come.” Two large portraits at his juke joint pay homage to his mentors, Stuckey and Jack Owens. Owens continued to teach Holmes after Stuckey died in 1966. “It was a blessed gift they gave to us,” Holmes said. “And they were so generous with it. What they gave us changed the world.” Holmes laments that no young people in Bentonia want to learn. They say it's too complicated. People don't appreciate how the blues influenced popular music today, how every genre has roots dating back to it, Holmes said. But he keeps spare guitars around the Blue Front, just in case someone wants to play. “It will survive somehow," Holmes said one gray morning in his empty juke joint. "I learned enough that I was able to carry it on, and probably once I’m gone, somebody will be sitting around here playing, someone who picked up the things that I was doing. I have to hope. I have to hope.” ___ Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Leah Willingham, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story is part of a series on the LGBTQ+ community in the Ottawa Valley. A Friday night art club in Pembroke not only teaches macrame, watercolour painting and embroidery for LGBTQ+ youth, it has also become a supportive place to “bare wounds,” according to one of the participants. Ky Crosby, 16, has been attending Rainbow Art Club at Studio Dreamshare since January this year. “We were baring wounds ... showing each other what we have been through. We were each other’s support systems,” Crosby said of the 26 participants. Crosby, from Petawawa, admitted being scared during the first meeting but found the group to be kind and accepting. “It changed me. I love it there,” Crosby said. Cameron Montgomery, a full-time artist and owner of the gallery, has been leading the art club online since the summer of 2020. The art club was made possible through a federal grant of $20,000 in partnership with Pflag Renfrew and United Way East Ontario. “(The youth) say ‘this is the highlight of my week.’ They really get value from it. It’s become a safe space for (LGBTQ+) youth,” Montgomery said. Participants receive boxes of craft supplies sent in the mail. There’s a different project every week. Crosby identifies as a lesbian and uses the pronouns they/them. “A few months ago, I told (my parents) I was gender fluid. Some days I’d feel more masculine, other days feminine, some days I’d feel in-between.” “I didn’t know if people would understand it,” Crosby said. When asked about the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face, Crosby admitted it’s heartbreaking to see stigma. “I believe in 44 countries you could be killed (for being LGBTQ+). If anything, I just want to open people’s minds. Let them know that we are people, we feel things, we want the same things they do,” they said. Small-minded people, according to Crosby, are a “common threat": people who are not understanding and not willing to understand. “I also believe that within ourselves, we ourselves are big threats. We undermine, we doubt ourselves. We really need to let our guard down and allow other people to see in,” Crosby observed. “We all want to love, we’re scared. We all want to be happy at the end of the day,” they said. For more information, visit the following websites: http://www.pflagrenfrewcounty.ca and https://www.studiodreamshare.com Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
WASHINGTON — The White House warned that the U.S. may consider a military response to the rocket attack that hit an air base in western Iraq where American and coalition troops are housed. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base early Wednesday. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, the first since the U.S. struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week. “We are following that through right now," President Joe Biden told reporters. “Thank God, no one was killed by the rocket, but one individual, a contractor, died of a heart attack. But we’re identifying who’s responsible and we’ll make judgments” about a response. White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the “calculated” U.S. airstrikes last week could be a model for a military response. Those strikes were in response to an attack on American forces in northern Iraq earlier in February. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing,” Psaki said. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. contractor “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering” from the attack and died shortly afterward. He said there were no service members injured and all are accounted for. British and Danish troops also are among those stationed at the base. The U.S. airstrikes last week, which killed one member of the Iran-aligned militia, had stoked fears of another cycle of tit-for-tat attacks as happened more than a year ago. Those attacks included the U.S. drone strike in January 2020 that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani in Baghdad and set off months of increased troops levels in the region. Wednesday's death of the contractor heightens worries that the U.S. could be drawn into another period of escalating attacks, complicating the Biden administration's desire to open talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal. The latest attack also comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq despite concerns about security and the coronavirus pandemic. The much-anticipated trip will include stops in Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province early in the morning, U.S.-led coalition spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto said. Kirby said the rockets were fired from east of the base, and that counter-rocket defensive systems were used to defend forces at the base. Kirby said the U.S. can't attribute responsibility for the attack yet, and that the extent of the damage was still being assessed. It's the same base that Iran struck with a barrage of missiles in January of last year in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. Dozens of U.S. service members suffered concussions in that strike. The Iraqi military released a statement saying that Wednesday's attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the rockets — a truck. Video of the site shows a burning truck in a desert area. British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned the attack, saying it undermined the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group. “Coalition forces are in Iraq to fight Daesh at the invitation of the Iraqi government,” he tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “These terrorist attacks undermine the fight against Daesh and destabilize Iraq.” Denmark said coalition forces at the base were helping to bring stability and security to the country. “Despicable attacks against Ain al-Asad base in #Iraq are completely unacceptable," Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. The Danish armed forces said two Danes who were at the base at the time of the attack are unharmed. Last week's U.S. strike along the border was in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport. After that attack, the Pentagon said the strike was a “proportionate military response.” Marotto, the coalition spokesperson, said the Iraqi security forces were leading an investigation into the attack. Frequent rocket attacks in Baghdad targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy, during Donald Trump’s presidency frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes. Those attacks have increased again in recent weeks, since President Joe Biden took office, following a lull during the transition period. U.S. troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year and withdrew from several Iraqi bases to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad, Baghdad and Irbil. ___ Kullab reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report. Samya Kullab And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
The province's top court says a sentencing judge went too far in banishing a man with a past conviction for manslaughter from a southern Saskatchewan village. Nikki Sixx Serafino pleaded guilty in September 2020 to a charge of criminal harassment, following what a court document called "a campaign of harassing and intimidating conduct." That included ensuring people in the village of Abernethy knew he had killed before, the court document says. He was sentenced to one year, less 71 days for time on remand, for the harassment, to be followed by 18 months probation. The probation order included, among other things, a condition that prohibited him from being in the village of Abernethy "unless he has the prior written permission of his probation officer or designate or the court," according to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruling. Serafino appealed that term of his probation order. The appeal court agreed and struck that provision. 2012 manslaughter conviction The appeal court ruling laid out the background of the criminal harassment charge and Serafino's troubled history in British Columbia. Serafino and his partner moved from B.C. to Abernethy in May 2019. It was less expensive to live in the village, about 100 kilometres southwest of Yorkton, than to remain on the West Coast. Serafino also had a significant criminal history in B.C., including a conviction for manslaughter in 2012. Serafino was arrested in April 2010 and originally charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting of a man in Surrey, B.C. News stories at the time noted that Serafino was a fan of the rock band Motley Crue and had legally changed his name to match that of the band's bass player, Nikki Sixx. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to six years. He also had a prior conviction for criminal harassment in 2002 and convictions for uttering threats in 2007 and 2010, the appeal ruling said. 'Come out of retirement' The trouble in Abernethy began about six months after Serafino bought a house on an acreage, the court document said. It all turned on a set of propane tanks that Serafino had moved onto his property. The tanks did not comply with the village bylaws. A member of council hand-delivered a letter to that effect. "[The councillor] opened the door to the residence and placed the letter inside. Mr. Serafino viewed this as an unlawful entry of his home and let [the councillor] know of his displeasure. Things went downhill from there," according to the court document. "Over the course of the next six months, Mr. Serafino engaged in a campaign of harassing and intimidating conduct." Mr. Serafino made reference, on more than one occasion, to the fact that he'd killed someone in the past and suggested that he may have to 'come out of retirement.' - Court document Part of this campaign included letting everyone in the village know he was capable of lethal violence. "Mr. Serafino made reference, on more than one occasion, to the fact that he'd killed someone in the past and suggested that he may have to 'come out of retirement.'" In June, he was charged with criminal harassment after the targeted councillor heard an intoxicated Serafino talking loudly on a phone, saying that he was "planning on getting a gun" and that when he did so, he would not hesitate to walk into the house of "that f---tard" and "gun them down." The sentencing judge described his behaviour as "intimidating, confrontational, aggressive, threatening, frightening and at times even terrifying." The Court of Appeal ruled that the sentencing judge made the mistake of banishing Serafino without giving his lawyer the chance to argue against it. The Crown had not asked for that provision. "It was an error for the sentencing judge to impose a term of probation — banishment from the community — that was not part of the submissions by counsel and not the subject of an invitation for counsel to make further submissions."
Northern Ontario is on high alert amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the region that has hit the homeless community particularly hard. The health unit covering the Thunder Bay area returned to a lockdown this week after reporting more COVID-19 cases last month than in all of 2020. The Northwestern Health Unit, which covers the city of Kenora and other areas, says it’s closely watching the situation in Thunder Bay. It’s asking people to avoid travel to that city and to reduce contact with others for two weeks after returning home if they do. The health unit says it will hold a meeting with regional partners this week to discuss measures to prevent the virus from spreading among the homeless population. An Thunder Bay isolation centre for people exposed to or infected with COVID-19 is applying for extra funding after demand skyrocketed along with rising infections among the homeless. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press