Global News Washington bureau chief Jackson Proskow gives an update on the latest developments surrounding security preparation for President-elect Joe Biden’s transition.
Global News Washington bureau chief Jackson Proskow gives an update on the latest developments surrounding security preparation for President-elect Joe Biden’s transition.
President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
(Submitted by Gerald McKenzie - image credit) First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021. According to Indigenous Services Canada, during the first seven weeks of 2021, there were 2,779 new cases in reserves in Saskatchewan — more than in any other province. By comparison, in that same time period, there were 2,290 cases on reserves in Manitoba and 2,389 in Alberta. In a Wednesday news release, Indigenous Services said it is "closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country." However, there is some good news — active case counts are declining, and there has not yet been a confirmed case of any of the new coronavirus variants of concern on reserve. Vaccine deliveries are also ramping up, and as of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. In Saskatchewan, as of Feb. 14, the federal department estimates that vaccine uptake in First Nations communities was at or above 75 per cent. Indigenous Services also said it is working to support the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults living in urban areas. "ISC is working closely with [the] National Association of Friendship Centres, as well as provinces and territories, First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners, and other urban community service organizations to support planning efforts," the department said in its news release this week. "This includes working to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake and ensuring the vaccine is available in culturally safe and accessible locations." According to the department, vaccine clinics for Indigenous adults are currently being planned for Saskatoon and Regina.
(Government of P.E.I. - image credit) Prince Edward Island is reintroducing some public health restrictions — including no indoor dining at restaurants —after six new cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday. The restrictions will begin Sunday and be in effect until at least March 14, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said in a COVID-19 briefing Saturday. P.E.I. has had 12 cases in the past four days, and a handful of potential exposure sites have been identified. "This outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better," Morrison said. Other "circuit-breaker" measures announced Saturday include: Takeout only at restaurants. Personal gatherings limited to household members plus 10 "consistent" people. Organized gathering limit of 50 for activities including concerts, worship services, and movie theatres Weddings and funerals limited to 50 individuals plus officiants. Not eligible for multiple gatherings. No funeral or wedding receptions. No sports games or tournaments, though practices are permitted. Gyms, museums, libraries and retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity. No changes to current measures for long-term care facilities. Unlicensed and licensed child-care centres can operate at 100 per cent capacity, with physical distancing. The Chief Public Health Office has asked all people aged 14-29 in the Summerside area to get tested this weekend even if they are not experiencing symptoms. People with symptoms are asked to get tested at clinics in Slemon Park or on Park Street in Charlottetown. By 3 p.m. Saturday, Morrison said close to 1,000 tests were done at the temporary clinic at Three Oaks High School. The clinic is open until 8 p.m., and will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone in the Summerside area aged 14-29. Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside was identified Saturday as a possible exposure site. The new cases, five men and one woman, are all in their 20s. Five are close contacts of previous cases. Four new exposure sites were also identified on Saturday — Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside, Pita Pit locations in Summerside and Charlottetown, and Burger King in the Summerside Walmart. Premier Dennis King said the province does not know if the new cases are variants, but the assumption is they are. He said it's not the news he wanted to deliver, but said circuit breakers have proven effective in the past. "I think it's discouraging from the perspective for all Islanders simply because we've done very, very well to date and we can see the finish line, but we do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID that it won't really let us firmly out of its grip." P.E.I. has had 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began almost a year ago. Thirteen remain active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. The Atlantic bubble remains suspended, as well. Here is a list of possible public exposure sites on PEI. Public health officials are urging anyone who was at these locations on these dates and at these times to immediately self-isolate and get tested. Pita Pit, Summerside: Feb 19, 11 a.m.-9 pm.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb 22, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 24, 2-4 p.m.; Feb 26, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Callbeck's Home Hardware, Summerside: Feb. 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (all dates) Burger King, Granville Street, Summerside: Feb 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 17, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb 18, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb. 20, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 22, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 25, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Dominos Pizza, Summerside: Feb 17, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb. 18, 4-11 p.m.; Feb. 19, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Feb 20: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Feb. 21, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 22, 4-11 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Shoppers Drug Mart, Summerside: Feb 21, 10-11 a.m. Dollarama, Summerside: Feb 20, 3-4 p.m. Superstore, Montague: Feb 24, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Feb 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tailgate Bar & Grill, Montague: Feb 25, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Iron Haven Gym, Summerside: Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m.; Feb 23, 6-8 p.m. Toys R Us, Charlottetown: Feb 23, 10 a.m.-12 noon Taste of India, Charlottetown: Feb 20, 4-10 p.m.; Feb. 21, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 22, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Breakfast Spot, Summerside: Feb 20, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. New Brunswick reported two new cases on Saturday as the active total, 41, continues to drop. New Brunswickers can now travel and visit people in different regions after a series of changes to the orange phase took effect. Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as tighter restrictions came into force to stem a recent increase in case numbers. The province has 39 active cases. Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases, as well as another death. It has 217 active cases. More from CBC News
A Lloydminster man and a Saskatoon woman arrested by RCMP for having a stolen vehicle were allegedly in possession of weapons for a dangerous purpose. Shaylean Dillon, 23, of Saskatoon, and Leyen Meesto, 37, of Lloydminster, Sask., were arrested Feb. 23 after Lloydminster RCMP got a call at about 6 p.m. about a stolen vehicle. Police kept an eye out for the vehicle and soon spotted it at a business on 18 Street in Lloydminster. RCMP towed the vehicle for a forensic examination but wouldn’t say what prompted them to do so. Dillon has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, resisting/obstructing a peace officer and driving while prohibited. Meesto was charged with possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, failing to comply with a probation order and two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a release order. Meesto was remanded into custody and appears in Lloydminster, Alta., Provincial Court on March 2. Dillon was released and appears in Lloydminster Sask., Provincial Court on March 23. The charges against Dillon and Meesto haven’t been proven in court. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The federal auditor general says in a report that the Liberal government won't meet its goal to lift all boil-water advisories for several years. Dawn Martin-Hill, chair of Indigenous studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, says there needed to be more work with Indigenous communities to build a strategic plan to ensure access to reliable, safe drinking water.
Tay council isn't giving up on its hope for a Port McNicoll transit stop with plans to bring it back to the county during public consultations around its transportation master plan. That was the conclusion drawn at the end of a recent council session during which county representatives talked about the new LINX Transit route that will be launched in this summer. The discussion centred around the two stops studied for Port McNicoll. Dennis Childs, Simcoe County manager of transit, said the Triple Bay Road and Talbot Street stops looked at during the study would add up to 18 minutes to the Midland-Orillia route's run time. "When we look at the stop into Port McNicoll, the bus is going to go down one area stop and go out the other area," he said, in response to a question by Coun. Paul Raymond. "When you look at all the stops we've put in place, other than the end of the line, there's always one stop on the other side of the road and one on the opposite side. The reason is for efficiencies. "When you look at Port McNicoll, if we were to go down and put a bus loop, it's not going to save us any amount at all," added Childs. "The reason we had two stops on either side of Port McNicoll is for efficiencies. Anytime you're pulling into a bus loop, you're always going to need to add additional time." Raymond said, he, and other councillors, want the decision reconsidered. "I understand being a lower-tier municipality we don’t have a say," he said. "I tried to find out from the studies what the ridership estimates were per hour, per location. I could not find anything through the county’s site. Is that information available for Tay Township?" David Parks, director planning, development and transit with the County of Simcoe, said he did not have the information on hand but could share it with council later. "I know you know that the needs of the community in Port McNicoll are very important. When you do a study, do you look at the needs of a community and what they have in the community?" said Coun. Mary Warnock. "Is that part of your plan or is it just the logistics and costs?" Parks said the county looks at establishing a regional system. "Our study was limited, but our direction was from county council," he said. "That’s why we’re doing the (transportation) master plan to see if there’s more we can do. We didn’t get to that scale because it wasn’t our mandate, but I encourage you to bring that up." Raymond said he would make it a point to do so because he did not believe the micro-transit options were the answer. "(Accessibility) requirements prevent micro transit systems," he said. "So short of doing taxis, do you have any suggestion on how we could get around that economically?" Childs said there has been a huge push over the last few years for on-demand transit. "That really is the direction rural communities are going to have to go, because the ridership numbers are not high," he said. "It's an easier system to use and the vehicles you can use are smaller vehicles and compliant with current (accessibility) legislation. A lot of these new technologies use apps and make it much more user friendly." During the presentation, Childs noted that the transit link, known as Route 6, will see a soft launch in this summer with the first month being free. The delay was caused due to bus orders being delayed during the pandemic. The route has two stops in Midland and Victoria Harbour, one stop each in Waubaushene, Coldwater and Warminster and two stops in Orillia. The stops in Midland will be at No Frills and Georgian College. In Victoria Harbour, the bus will stop at Richard and Albert Streets and Oakwood Community Centre. On its way through Waubaushene, Route 6 will stop at Sturgeon Bay Road at Pine Street. In Coldwater, passengers can access the service at Coldwater Road and Michael Anne Drive. No specific stop destination was provided for Warminster, however, in Orillia, the bus will stop at Lakehead University and West Ridge Boulevard at Monarch Drive. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday his "initial assessment" was that Iran was responsible for an explosion on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. The ship, a vehicle-carrier named MV Helios Ray, suffered an explosion between Thursday and Friday morning. A U.S. defence official in Washington said the blast left holes above the waterline in both sides of the hull.
TORONTO — There's a new multi-millionaire in Ontario. The province's Lottery and Gaming Corporation says a ticket purchased in Sudbury, Ont., is the sole winner of the $70-million Lotto Max jackpot. The Friday draw marked the sixth time that the maximum jackpot has been won in Canada and the fourth time in the province since the cap was increased in May 2019. Maxmillions tickets worth $1 million each were also sold in the Ontario communities of Simcoe County, Mississauga, North York and Woodbridge. A Maxmillions ticket worth $500,000 was sold in Ajax, Ont. The next Lotto Max jackpot is estimated at $24 million, with a draw set for Tuesday night. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Simon-March Charron/Radio-Canada - image credit) The City of Montreal is extending its offer of free weekend parking downtown until the end of March. Drivers heading into the Ville-Marie borough can park their vehicles for free, between 6 p.m. Friday and the end of the weekend. The measure was first announced last fall, in an attempt to boost business during the holiday season, with merchants struggling to stay afloat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID-19 vaccination campaign set to begin in Montreal on Monday, the city says it wants to give businesses another boost heading into the spring. "The vaccination campaign allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Mayor Valérie Plante said in a statement. "We're going to get through this crisis, and downtown will regain its place as the economic and cultural heart of the metropolis." In collaboration with the provincial government, the city unveiled a $60-million plan last December to jumpstart the downtown core.
(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit) New Brunswickers can now travel and visit people in different regions after a series of changes to the orange phase took effect at midnight. The province reported two new cases on Saturday as the active total continues to drop. The new cases are people in their 70s in the Edmundston region (Zone 4). There are 41 total active cases across New Brunswick, with two additional recoveries announced Saturday. One person is hospitalized and in intensive care related to the virus. Residents can now go between orange zones for non-essential trips and include people from other regions as part of their steady 10 contacts. Hospital visits are also permitted as of Saturday with public health measures in place. The change follows several instances of family members unable to see ill or dying relatives. In one situation, an 80-year-old was kicked out of the hospital for holding her husband's hand. Under the revised orange rules, compassionate travel exemptions to attend a funeral will be offered to people living outside New Brunswick. People will need approval from Public Health and must adhere to guidelines that include a five-day self-isolation and negative test upon arrival. The province announced the looser restrictions at a news conference on Friday. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province chief medical officer of health, said a return to the less-restrictive yellow phase could be just over a week away if the decline in cases continues. She said rules will be modified due to the presence of COVID variants. "The fewer contacts each person has, the better," Russell said. "This is so very important." Public Health has updated and loosened some of the orange phase rules as of Friday. People will be asked to limit their contacts to a steady 15 under the yellow phase, which can include those living in other health zones. New Brunswick reported 1,430 total cases of COVID-19 in Saturday's update. There have been 1,362 recoveries and 26 deaths. Public Health has conducted 228,219 tests, including 827 on Friday. More vaccine arrives New Brunswick has a larger supply of COVID-19 vaccine after additional shipments arrived this week. The province received more than 11,000 doses, according to the latest numbers from the federal government. Those shipments boost the total number of doses to 46,775, including 36,075 of Pfizer-BioNTech and 10,700 of Moderna. Another 9,360 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive next week. Play to resume for N.B. teams in QMJHL The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has announced plans to resume the season for New Brunswick teams after the pandemic put their games on pause. The province's three teams will be allowed to compete against each other starting the week of March 8. A new schedule is expected to be released next week, and fans will be allowed at arenas. The league said the decision follows meetings with Public Health and government and that the situation will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe says Matthews won't play due to a wrist injury that he's been dealing with for much of the year. Matthews has 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in 20 games for the Leafs this season. Toronto (15-4-2) will get some other key pieces back in the lineup — forward Joe Thornton returns from a lower-body injury, defenceman Jake Muzzin slots back in after missing two games with a facial fracture and goalie Jack Campbell is available after dealing with a leg injury. The Leafs currently sit atop the all-Canadian North Division, but the Oilers (14-8-0) are just four points back. Saturday's game kicks off a three-game series between Edmonton and Toronto. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — The federal government has approved Alaska's plan to give the state's fishing industry almost $50 million in pandemic relief. The decision came after two major revisions to the plan and more than 200 public comments from every industry sector, CoastAlaska reported Friday. “It really was a balance between getting the funds out quickly and developing a spending plan with the input of affected fishery participants,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Rachel Baker. The final details of the plan were published on Thursday. Commercial applicants will be required to provide evidence that the coronavirus pandemic caused them to lose at least 35% of revenue in 2020. Applications will be accepted from March until May and payments could begin as early as June, CoastAlaska reported. Baker said the final plan excludes commercial permit holders who fish in Alaska but live in other states that received coronavirus relief. “Non-Alaska resident commercial harvesters who fish up here but live in a state that received a CARES Act allocation must apply to their state of residence,” Baker said. “They’re not eligible to apply to the state of Alaska for a funds.” Non-resident charter guides are eligible if they have an Alaska business license, CoastAlaska reported. The money will come from the first federal coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in 2020. More than $17 million will be earmarked for commercial fishermen. Roughly $13 million will go to sport and charter guides and about $500,000 will go to the state's aquaculture businesses. About $2 million will go to rural households that had pandemic-induced problems accessing subsistence fisheries, with extra funds also available for households below the federal poverty line. The Associated Press
Thousands of flag-waving marchers demonstrated Saturday in Tunisia's capital in a show of support for the majority party in parliament. The demonstration follows political tensions between Tunisia's president and its prime minister, Hichem Mechichi. Mechichi has sought to reshuffle his Cabinet but has seen some of his proposed ministerial appointments blocked by President Kais Saied. Marchers in Tunis chanted “The people want national unity.” The demonstration was called by the Islamist Ennahdha party that holds the largest block of seats in Tunisia's parliament. Tunis,Tunisia, The Associated Press
(Furrukh Ikram via YouTube - image credit) Peel Regional Police say a man has been arrested after allegedly stealing a tow truck and fleeing from officers on Friday. A video of the arrest surfaced online and shows the moments leading up to it. A spokesperson for Peel police told CBC Toronto that they received a call around 11:15 a.m. on Friday about several men fighting. At some point, a tow truck was stolen, they said. Police located the tow truck in a nearby residential neighbourhood. A video of the incident posted on YouTube by the user Furrukh Ikram shows the tow truck reversing out of a residential driveway in what appears to be a Brampton neighbourhood before a police cruiser catches up and rams into the side of the truck. Several other cruisers then arrive to box in the vehicle on each side. Police officers exit their cruisers and begin pounding on the driver's side of the truck yelling, "Get out!" while the the vehicle appears to continue attempting to flee. WARNING | The following video contains graphic images and audio It is unclear whether police used Tasers in their efforts to stop the driver, but crackling can be heard in the video. After a couple of minutes, police can be seen forcibly removing the man from the truck and placing him under arrest. Police say the man was taken into custody and transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has invoked their mandate following the incident, police said. The SIU is an independent agency that investigates incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death as well as allegations of sexual assault. Police say a 35-year-old man has been charged with theft under $5000, theft of a motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
(CBC - image credit) Some restaurant owners in Griffintown, who are already struggling to stay afloat during the lockdown, are now on the hook for damages and missing items after a series of reported break-ins earlier this month. Robert Goldberg, co-owner of Mauvais Garçons, said his restaurant was broken into on Feb. 11. According to Goldberg, the suspect threw a large rock through the window of the restaurant on William Street mere minutes after the restaurant had closed up shop for the night around midnight. "I don't know if they were watching us or what," Goldberg told CBC. He said the suspect appears to have come from a side alley and entered the restaurant through the broken window. The contents of the cash register, as well as a tablet, were stolen and the suspect fled through the back, Goldberg said. This is the first time Mauvais Garçons has been broken into since it opened four years ago, but Goldberg wasn't completely shocked by the incident. Staff at Mauvais Garçons have decided to keep the rock used in the break-in as a token of the restaurant's resilience. He said several restaurants in the area, including one right next to his, had been broken into over the past two months. "We were almost kind of expecting it, so we started leaving the lights on to try and scare them away," he said. At least five restaurant owners in and around Griffintown told CBC News they were broken into this past month. "It's terrible timing. You know it's already really tough for restaurants right now just to survive," said Goldberg. "We're like scratching for every dollar we're trying to earn and then we just lose it in repairs or whatever was stolen." Goldberg estimates the restaurant will have to pay somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000 out of pocket for the repairs. The owners are also fitting the building with bars on the windows to prevent this from happening again. In an effort to stay positive, Goldberg and his staff have kept the rock used in the break-in as a token of the restaurant's resilience. "His name is Dwayne Johnson. We named him. He's a member of the family now even though he did us wrong," said Goldberg. Antonio Diaz, manager of Bird Bar, believes the break-ins might be happening because the streets are empty during curfew hours. Bird Bar, a restaurant on Notre-Dame Street, dealt with a similar incident earlier this month. According to manager Antonio Diaz, someone broke in on Valentine's Day. The person reportedly broke the glass, stepped into the restaurant and ran off with wine, liquor bottles, tablets and some of the employees' T4 slips. "It's not like we're making any money. Right now, anything that we have to put into the restaurant comes out of the owner's pockets," said Diaz. "If we're breaking even, we're lucky." Diaz estimates the damages at that restaurant to be upwards of $3,000. "It's been bad news after bad news after bad news, so we're kind of wondering when this is all going to end," he said. Both Diaz and Goldberg believe the province's curfew, which was put in place to help curb the pandemic, might be a contributing factor. "I think the curfew is a big part of it because the streets are empty," said Goldberg. He would like to see more police surveillance in the area and is calling on fellow restaurateurs to be vigilant in the coming weeks. Montreal police would not comment on the break-ins but, in a statement, said the SPVM has several officers patrolling the area during curfew hours.
BRUSSELS — The European Union has summoned its ambassador to Cuba to return to Brussels to explain himself after he reportedly signed an appeal asking U.S. President Joe Biden to lift sanctions against Cuba and begin normalizing ties with the country. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday that the ambassador, Alberto Navarro, was asked "to come to Brussels to provide explanations." He was also instructed "to provide a note detailing the matter,” said the spokesman, Peter Stano. Stano did not answer a question on whether Navarro will be fired. The ambassador's summons to Brussels was first reported by Politico. Politico reported that 16 European Parliament lawmakers wrote to Borrell asking him to remove Navarro as ambassador, arguing that the diplomat was "not worthy of the high functions he holds." The lawmakers' complaints included the ambassador signing the open letter to Biden that asked for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. The Associated Press
Schools in the occupied West Bank will shut down for 12 days in an effort to stop a sharp rise in coronavirus variant infections, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Saturday. Intensive care units for COVID-19 patients have reached 95% occupancy in the West Bank and schools have been identified as a major cause for the fast spread of infections, the Ministry of Health said. The World Bank said in a report this week that the Palestinian territories have one of the lowest testing rates in the Middle East and North Africa and that the positivity rate in the West Bank is over 21%, and in Gaza 29%, indicating an uncontrolled spread of the pandemic.
(Charles Contant/Radio-Canada - image credit) Stéphane Duchesne likes to tell the story of one particular client at his Magasin Général de Castelnau, in Montreal's Villeray Borough. The client, whose elderly father would come over for dinner, liked to indulge in a few cold ones with his meal. The son, not wanting his father to drink and then drive home, would pop into Duchesne's shop and load up on zero-alcohol beers, which contain less than 0.5 per cent alcohol. "[The father] thinks he's drinking real beer. So he can drive back to Laval, no sweat, and the son can sleep soundly," recalled Duchesne. Today's microbrew near-beer scene is far from what it used to be as recently as five or six years ago. There were only a few options, likely produced by a major brewery, and they often tasted like insipid, uninspired attempts at beer. That's not the case today. Duchesne has roughly 15 different types of zero-alcohol beer in the antique, wood-lined fridges in his shop. Quebec microbreweries are pumping out a wide range of zero-alcohol beers, ranging from stouts to IPAs to blondes. "Before it was a sugary beer, they weren't able to put the hops in it. Today a [non-alcoholic] beer without hops is almost impossible," said Duchesne. Now, he says his non-alcoholic microbrews are among his best sellers. "What's interesting nowadays is that you can purchase a non-alcoholic beer that has all the flavour and details of a craft beer and made only with four ingredients," said Sébastien Paradis, vice president of the Association des microbrasseries du Québec. "In the craft world, we pride ourselves on making beer with four ingredients, which are malt, yeast, the hops and water." The segment is gaining in popularity. More and more people are reaching for the zero beers when looking for a refreshment, thanks in part to how the microbreweries have embraced the challenge. "I've been talking to people who have drunk non-alcoholic beers for 15 or 20 years that said it was a boring thing to do. You'd almost hide your non-alcoholic beer," said Paradis. "Nowadays, it's actually pleasant to drink a non-alcoholic beer because the craft segment got interested in the category and started making beers that taste like cereals and like hops." Trend driven by consumers Like many consumer products, the craft breweries segment got interested because of consumer interest. The COVID-19 pandemic drove people toward adopting a healthy lifestyle, according to Max Coubes, a bartender and zero-alcohol drink connoisseur. He said it got people thinking more about their own wellness, and that's being reflected in more zero-alcohol beers on store shelves. "Because it's been so long, I think that people have been thinking more about taking care of themselves and what they consume," said Coubes, who believes the microbreweries are adapting to a booming market. "People just just found themselves alone at home or with their family, which drove them to reconsider their own consumption in general." WATCH | Zero-alcohol beer is beer without the buzz: The perception around zero-alcohol beers is changing too with their artsy labels and funky names such as Montreal's Sober Carpenter, Drummondville's Le BockAle and Quebec City's Bluffeuse. "If I make the parallel to 10 years ago, you'd see someone drinking a non-alcoholic beer. It often resonated with someone who had a history of alcohol problems, who could not drink alcohol," said Paradis. "Now we're seeing a consumer who is drinking alcohol, but instead of drinking alcohol five, six days a week, they're saying, 'well, I'm going to try to cut down to only three or four days a week, and on those other three or four days, I'd still like to enjoy a beer or something good'." Paradis says his association hasn't kept track of how the zero-alcohol beers have grown on the market but, based on the number of products available, he believes it's grown tenfold over the last four or five years. And while the zero-alcohol segment might not occupy a huge portion of the national market, it is growing. Sales hop up 50% Luke Chapman, of Beer Canada, a trade association representing 45 brewing companies, said sales of the zero-alcohol beer grew by 50 per cent in 2020 over the previous year. However, Chapman said they still only occupy 1.7 per cent of total beer sales in Canada. He calls it an underdeveloped segment of the market. Non-alcoholic beer sales have been gathering steam as people look to stay healthy while still enjoying a cold one (or several) at the end of a long day. "It has been identified by both big and small brewers as a potential area of growth, and particularly for those Canadians that are interested in leading a more kind of health conscious lifestyle," said Chapman. "It's not only about the alcohol, but a lot of these non-alcoholic beer products also are quite low in calories when you compare them to other products." The zero-alcohol beers do have one other advantage. Because they do not contain alcohol they are not subject to the SAQ's monopoly, and micro-breweries are allowed to ship their products by mail across Quebec and Canada. "It's definitely a good opportunity for Quebec brewers to show what they can do for the rest of the province, the country and North America," said Paradis.
Pembroke – Once again local MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) has found herself in the middle of a very public controversy after a video emerged in which she accused the Liberal government of becoming “radicals” who want “all illicit drugs to be legal” and “to normalize sexual activity with children.” These and other statements made by the longtime Conservative MP are contained in a video that recorded a virtual meeting between the MP and a group of young Conservatives at Queen’s University in Kingston earlier this month. The video remained relatively obscure until Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell, (Pickering-Uxbridge) posted it on both her Twitter and Facebook Social Media accounts. When she posted the video she accused Mrs. Gallant of spreading “disgusting and dangerous lies” and goes on to state her fearmongering is “a threat to our democracy.” Although Mrs. Gallant went on to make a number of questionable and unsubstantiated statements including that Marxists have taken over university administrations across the country in an effort to stifle free speech and to push a socialist agenda, Ms. O’Connell accuses the MP of promoting anti-Semitic rhetoric. On her YouTube page, she labels the video as “Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant spews anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” and her Twitter posting goes one step further and infers that other Conservative MPs share Mrs. Gallants beliefs when she wrote “Gallant is yet another CPC MP (to a growing list of them) who repeats anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” Although several of Mrs. Gallant’s statements can be considered outlandish and offensive, she does not make any direct reference to anti-Semitism. Ms. O’Connell also compared her to supporters of former President Donald Trump and said the MP is promoting “deranged conspiracy theories.” Within the video she accuses Liberals of lacking any common sense, stating they have become “a bunch of radicals” and because of this “they want all illicit drugs to be legal. They want anything goes in every aspect of life. They want to normalize sexual activity with children.” Last Friday Mrs. Gallant provided a very brief statement in which she said “comments on the Liberals choosing to lower the age of consent were taken out of context.” She did not address any of her other comments and said she “will not be commenting further on this matter.” In the video, she goes on to complain “the liberal media have been bought and paid for” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and are now backing Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault — whom she dubs the “censor in chief” — in his plans to make Google and Facebook pay for news content they disseminate on their platforms. She also accused the prime minister of purposely driving a wedge between Google and Facebook and the Canadian government in order for the tech giants to follow the recent Australia example and remove all news contents from their platforms in Canada. “Why do you think Trudeau would want Canadians to be unable to search or share news right as he’s planning a snap election?” she asks. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who has been attempting to put a more moderate face on his party, said the Liberals are trying to distract from their failure to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. “Canadians have other priorities and so do I,” he said in a brief statement late Friday. Similar to Mrs. Gallant, Mr. O’Toole has not made any other comments despite the video being seen by thousands of Canadians and commented on by all major news outlets and several Social Media platforms. Familiar Pattern Mr. O’Toole joins a long line of party leaders who have either disciplined or did their best to distance themselves from Mrs. Gallant in order to isolate her and not have her actions become the namesake of the federal party. What has become a familiar pattern since she was first elected as a member of the former Canadian Alliance in 2000, her controversial statements have caused embarrassment for both her party and her former leaders. In 2002, she made anti-gay remarks to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, when during a heated exchange, she kept interrupting "Ask your boyfriend" or "How's your boyfriend?" Although she at first refused to apologize for her statements, behind the scenes, Stockwell Day, leader of the Canadian Alliance at the time, had Mrs. Gallant apologize on the floor of the House of Commons. During the 2004 election, a controversy erupted when she compared abortion to the beheading of Iraq War hostage Nick Berg. Stephen Harper had just been elected leader of the newly-formed Conservative Party and his office announced she was suffering from laryngitis, and she did not appear at some scheduled debates and was not allowed to make any statements to both local and national news outlets. In 2005 she suggested Christians were being persecuted by the Liberal Party in a flyer she sent to her constituents. Confronted with the news, Mr. Harper said "I'll let Cheryl Gallant explain those remarks herself; I haven't seen them." In February 2011, during Defence Committee hearings in St. John's before an audience which included the family and co-workers of mariners lost at sea in recent accidents on the Atlantic, Mrs. Gallant remarked, "In Ontario we have inland seas, the Great Lakes, and it would never occur to any of us, even up in the Ottawa River, to count on the Coast Guard to come and help us." Her comparison of recreational boaters in sheltered inland waters to mariners on the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles from land drew outrage from many who had lost family at sea. Once again Mr. Harper attempted to distance himself and the party from her and suggested reporters contact her directly for any further remarks. She initially refused to apologize saying her remarks were misinterpreted, but a few days later she said she was sorry and did not mean to minimize ocean dangers. There were other incidents including a 2016 scandal when she used the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo as a means to generate money for her campaign through an Easter ham lottery. Cpl. Cirillo was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Oct. 22, 2014. In 2017, newly-elected leader Andrew Scheer called for a “whipped vote” in support of Canada’s commitment to the Paris Accord. However, when the roll was taken, Mrs. Gallant defied the Leader’s Office and voted against the Accord. She was the only MP from all parties who voted against it, thereby denying unanimous consent and caused great embarrassment to Mr. Scheer. Neither the Conservative Party, its members or the local riding association have made any public statements on the recent controversy and calls to the MP’s office were not retu Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
MILAN — The fedora Humphrey Bogart wore in “Casablanca” may have secured Borsalino’s place in fashion and cinematic history, but it will be something like the cow-print bucket hat that will help ensure its future. The storied Italian hatmaker still makes its felt hats by hand in a Piedmont region factory, using the same artisanal techniques from when the company was founded in 1857 and some of founder Giuseppe Borsalino’s original machinery. It is updating its offerings for next fall and winter, with a focus on customization and youth-trends. The new collection displayed during Milan Fashion Week takes inspiration from the Arts & Crafts design movement in mid-19th century Britain. Hat pins with leaf and floral motifs allow women to uniquely shape the hats, to take up an oversized brim, say, or to create an elegant fold in the crown. A leopard fedora can be paired with a long chain, to wear over the shoulder when going in and out of shops, while a clochard has an optional leather corset. “You cannot change a hat so much,’’ Giacomo Santucci, Borsalino’s creative curator, said. “You can change the attitude of the hat.” Unisex styles, including baseball caps, berets and bucket hats, come in updated new materials - including a spotted cow print, black patent leather and rainproof nylon. Such genderless looks are becoming an increasingly important part of the collection, Santucci said. “The hat is no longer a tool to cover yourself, but to discover yourself,’’ he told The Associated Press. The company, which relaunched three years ago, was in the process of scaling up production from 150,000 hats a year to a goal of half a million when the pandemic hit. “To be honest, it is such a small company, in a way it is very simple to react,’’ said Santucci, who is also the current president of the Italian Chamber of Buyers. “The smaller you are, the more reactive and prompt." Beyond new styles, that means getting people talking. Santucci, who was Gucci CEO during the Tom Ford era, created a new film for this season, featuring Milanese women who chose hats to match their styles, striding through the centre of the city. Last season’s film featured dancers from Alessandria, site of the original Borsalino factory, dancing through the factory floor. "My strong belief is that fashion is becoming more and more a discussion,'' Santucci said. New social media platforms like Clubhouse are giving people the chance to create a limited and select group to discuss relevant topics, which Santucci said has been key during the isolation imposed by the pandemic. He also has pursued collaborations with ready-to-wear brands, including Borsalino X Valentino. “Brands are changing. It is getting closer to entertainment, to give people the chance to engage with the brand, to understand it better. Not only to understand what was done in the past, but to really interact and to have the chance to be part of the same community,’’ Santucci said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press