On Monday, December 21, 2020, Churchbridge Mayor Bill Johnston called the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council present and accounted for. He then called Julian Kaminski forward to recognize the work Julian has done as the caretaker of the hall for over the last ten years. Brittney Maddaford, CPA next gave an auditor presentation to the council and members of the public that were in attendance. Maddaford walked the council through their financial statements and what’s included in them. Councillor N. Thies made a presentation to the council about setting up two electric chargers in town for electric cars. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to move this idea to the planning committee; motion carried. Moving on, the council reviewed the agenda prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept the agenda as amended; motion carried. The council reviewed the minutes of the November 23, 2020, regular meeting as well as the December 1, 2020, special meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the minutes which was carried. Council standing committee notes were next. N. Thies attended a fire department meeting and updated the council regarding the fire department. Administrator Renea Paridaen was next to give the administrator report. The sidewalk was replaced on Vincent Ave. but it has cracks on it now; there is no warranty. Some maintenance to the heating units was done to various town facilities including the town office furnace which wasn’t working. Council members have been registered for the Municipalities of Saskatchewan meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the reports which was carried. Under old business, R. Thies made a motion to have a third reading of Bylaw 2020-014, The by-law for incurring Debt; motion carried. The World’s Biggest Bike, stationed in Churchbridge was next to be discussed. Councillor Antosh-Cusistar made a motion to have the former owner of the big blue bike remove it by June 1, 2021; motion carried. Council Procedures Bylaw 2020-015, Council Procedures Bylaw received its second reading with a motion by R. Thies; motion carried. The third reading of Bylaw 2020-015 was made by Councillor N. Thies; motion carried. Cedar Crescent East Development was discussed next. Councillors N. Thies and R. Thies declared a conflict of interest and left the meeting, Mayor Johnston had a discussion with a resident beside the development who has a few concerns, it will be looked into having a public meeting to openly discuss the development with a motion from Councillor Antosh-Cusitar; motion carried. The topic of pest control officers was next to be discussed. The town requires pest control officers with a valid Possession and Acquisition Certificate, a criminal record check and liability insurance. The council reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Membership requisition was received; tabled. The Go out and Play Challenge request was sent to the town, asking if they would participate in the challenge and rally the community. The Murals Committee has sent a request to the town and Councillor Vaughan made a motion to defer this matter to the strategic planning committee; motion carried. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to file the correspondence; motion carried. The list of accounts for approval was reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pay the accounts; motion carried. The November financial statement and bank reconciliation were reviewed next, prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept which was carried. Under new business, Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016 was discussed prior to Councillor R. Thies making the recommendation to change the bylaw; motion carried. Councillor N. Thies made the motion to have the first reading of Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016; motion carried. A by-election proposal was next discussed. On April 7, 2021, there will be a by-election. After the resignation of Ralph Soltys, there is a need for a by-election to fill the empty council chair. Councillor Antosh-Cusitar motion to accept which was carried. Christmas office closure was discussed. Councillor Antosh- Cusitar made a motion to close the town office on December 24th which was carried. Councillor N.Thies asked if there is a way a councillor can donate their remuneration back to the town. The bylaw respecting buildings (2020-017) was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made the resolution to have the first reading, which was carried. A motion was made to have the second reading, made by N. Thies; motion carried. A motion was made by N. Thies to go ahead to the third reading; carried unanimously. A Fibre Optic Cable Proposal was next to be discussed. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to have the administration help develop a Municipal Access Agreement; motion carried. The appointment of the Town of Churchbridge Administrator was next to be discussed. Council made a motion to appoint Renea Paridaen as Administrator for the Town of Churchbridge. She had not been officially appointed; motion carried. Backflow Prevention Testing was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to test the backflow as required; motion carried. Policy Manual 2021 Revisions were reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pass the revisions which was carried. The council then moved in-camera. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
If you’re slicing into a sizzling steak for dinner tonight, or getting a spoonful of lamb stew, then you have a farmer and butcher to thank. They are the silent, often underappreciated heroes of the food industry, and they are facing massive challenges amid the pandemic. “We feel that people don’t understand us,” said Craig McLaughlin, owner of a medium-sized beef farm in Renfrew County. “It would be so helpful if people understand what we are up against,” echoed Angie Hoysted, co-owner of Valley Custom Cutting, a provincial free-standing meat plant and full-service butcher shop in Smiths Falls. So what exactly are they up against? Bill Dobson, who owns an organic beef farm in Smiths Falls, said one of the biggest challenges local producers have is a lack of infrastructure for processing. “There’s not enough abattoirs (slaughterhouse for livestock),” Dobson said. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website listed a total of 115 abattoirs in the province, and 360 free-standing meat processing plants (FSMP). FSMPs do not slaughter animals. They conduct further processing activities such as the aging, boning, cutting, slicing, smoking, curing and fermenting of meat. Once the animal carcass has been brought back from the abattoirs, the challenge is that there aren’t enough butchers (or FSMPs) to cut and process the meat. “There’s just not enough people getting into that business. We have to encourage (the) government to open up spaces in community colleges and encourage people to go into that field,” Dobson said. Hoysted’s husband Dan was head butcher at an abattoir when it closed unexpectedly. The beef producers in the area – who knew him and trusted his skills – expressed their need for a reliable butcher, so Dan and Angie opened a shop in 2016. Hoysted said farmers invest two years of raising and taking care of livestock, so they’re not just “going take it to a random butcher to cut it. You don’t get a good yield, the cuts you want or your packages professionally done.” Not only do farmers book months in advance for an abattoir, they also have to schedule for butchers, typically a six-month wait. “Once the pandemic hit, spaces booked up at the abattoir. I used to be able to book slaughter space in a month or two; now it’s at least six months,” said Tyler Armstrong, a sheep farmer who owns Pinnacle Haven Farm in Renfrew. “Now I book before the lamb’s even born,” Armstrong said, adding that this issue is not unique to this area – it’s an Ontario-wide issue. McLaughlin said this poses a huge problem: “If I have cattle ready (for the abattoir), and they have no place to go, you have to maintain them. You can’t put them in a storage locker. They require daily care and (it) costs me more.” Another challenge is labour shortage. If a farmer or a butcher gets sick, there’s not a ready source of labour they can avail themselves of quickly. “You might find an able body, but they’ve never worked with livestock before, or trained in specific skills to operate specific equipment,” McLaughlin said. “If we got sick, we have to go home, and everything in our cooler will be garbage by the time we reopen,” Hoysted said about the meat products they sell. “We’re one of the youngest people owning a provincial processing plant in this part of Ontario. Everyone else is older. What’s going to happen in five to 10 years when they retire? You’re going to have a major, major issue,” Hoysted said. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to a potential exposure to COVID-19. The NHL team did not provide further details and said information regarding their schedule for Sunday will come at a later time. The Jets are scheduled to visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. Winnipeg opened the season with a 4-3 overtime loss to visiting Calgary on Thursday. The NHL started its 2020-21 season Wednesday amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in both Canada and the United States. Several teams have had their start affected by some degree by the global pandemic. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed after 17 players tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Other teams have held players out or cancelled workouts due to suspected cases. Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers was held out of practice Wednesday while in COVID-19 protocol, but played in Winnipeg's season-opener. Canucks forward J.T. Miller and defenceman Jordie Benn missed Vancouver's two games against Edmonton this week while in COVID-19 protocol. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sofia who loved books but was bothered by how the book collection in her school library was very … well … white. So the girl decided she'd try to write a new twist to the tale by penning something prosaic yet powerful — an application for a government grant, to be exact. Two thousand dollars later, 13-year-old Sofia Rathjen of Sherwood Park, Alta., is curating a collection of books by, and about, Black, Indigenous and people of colour. The new books are building diversity on the bookshelves of the Sherwood Heights junior high library and more tolerance and understanding among its students. "Students of colour — and all people of colour — can see their stories represented authentically and unapologetically and written by authors who understand those experiences," the Latino-Canadian teen told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "And non-people of colour can understand things that we go through. That way, it's not always our job to explain everything and why something is hurtful or racist." 'I just thought about how I could change that' In total, the school will get 134 books — science fiction, poetry, history, graphic novels, mythology and more — featuring authors from dozens of cultural backgrounds. Rathjen's application for Strathcona County's Community Change grant grew out of another piece of writing — a "passion project" essay about why representation matters in school libraries that she had done the year before. "The library was great, [but] I noticed that it lacked representation of people of colour and I saw the way that it affected outside of the library and outside of books," Rathjen said. "Personally, I experienced a lot of micro-aggressions, and I know people who have experienced blatant racism from people at our school. And so I just thought about how I could change that." The Grade 8 student came up with the idea to apply for the grant, then went to the teacher of her leadership class, Robin Koning, for help. Koning said he is "pleased as punch," not just at the grant being approved but at what it means for the school. "We really want to increase our Black/Indigenous/people of colour collection," he said. "Like Sofia said, we want people to realize that people from other cultures experience all kinds of discrimination, whether it's words or actions or just weird things that people say and do." The school's new "technicolour bookshelf," as Rathjen dubs it, is a powerful way to share that message. And Rathjen, said Koning, is a powerful ambassador. "For us to increase the collection of books that ... students would love to read, that's what we're about," he said. "The excitement from Sofia will make, hopefully, other students her age excited about reading." The first 39 books arrived at Rathjen's home during the at-home schooling period so, of course, she took the opportunity to read them. Books provide perspective She reviews books, too, on her Instagram account @the_technicolour_bookshelf, and happily rattled off suggestions to a CBC Radio producer who asked about titles. "OK, so Clap When You Land is by Elizabeth Acevedo. This is about two sisters who don't know that the other exists until their dad dies in a plane crash. And it's about grief and loss and also sisterhood. And it's really beautiful," she said. "And this, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, is based off of African and African-American mythology. And it's about a boy who punches a hole in the sky into a world of folklore that he thought were only stories." Rathjen said she worked hard to find books that will appeal to people of any ethnicity, whether or not they love books as much as her. Books, she said, are the way to see the perspectives of others. "There's a metaphor [about] windows and mirrors. So books are either a window into someone else's perspective and experiences, or a mirror of your own. "And so I think that's why I love reading so much. Because you get to read about so many different stories and experiences and put yourself in the shoes of other people." The end. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. Three of the new cases are in the central health zone. One was a close contact of a previously reported case. The other two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. One is a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax who lives off-campus. The case in the eastern health zone is a student at Cape Breton University in Sydney who lived off-campus and travelled outside the region. That case was reported Friday but not included in the official case tally until Saturday. All the new cases are self-isolating. There are 30 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, down two from Friday. No one is in hospital with the virus. Nova Scotia Health Authority labs conducted 2,293 Nova Scotia tests on Friday. Premier Stephen McNeil is commending students for "following health protocols," according to a release from the province. "We are seeing young people at universities taking the isolation requirement seriously and I want to thank them for protecting the health of others in their school community," he said. The province is continuing to urge students who have returned from outside of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland or P.E.I. to book a COVID-19 test on the sixth, seventh or eighth day of their quarantine, regardless if they have symptoms. Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must complete a self-assessment online or call 811. Students still must complete their 14-day isolation period even with a negative test result. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said the low numbers are encouraging but warned against complacency. "While this is good news, we must remember COVID-19 is still in our communities and we must all do our part to prevent its spread," he said in a news release. New potential exposures Late Saturday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority announced two new possible COVID-19 exposures on flights into Halifax from Toronto. Officials are asking anyone who was on the following flights in the specified seats to immediately book a test through the province's self-assessment website or contact 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms: Swoop flight 408 travelling on Jan. 8 from Toronto (5:30 p.m.) to Halifax (8:30 p.m.), passengers in rows 16-22 seats A, B, C and D. Symptoms may develop up to, and including, Jan. 22. Air Canada flight 604 travelling on Jan. 5 from Toronto (8:00 a.m.) to Halifax (11:00 a.m.), passengers in rows 22-28 in seats C, D, E and F. Symptoms may develop up to, and including, Jan. 19. All other passengers on this flight must continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Reduction in vaccine supply At a news briefing on Friday, the premier said Nova Scotia will continue to hold back second doses of COVID-19 vaccine until it is guaranteed there will be no interruption in supply. McNeil said he understands the concerns people have with the rollout, but stressed the importance of moving the vaccine throughout the province safely and effectively. He said the province had administered 7,600 doses of the vaccine as of late Thursday, which included 2,200 front-line health-care workers who have received their second dose. Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the province had received 13,000 doses of vaccine prior to Thursday. Most of that supply has been administered or has been scheduled for second doses. Pfizer had recently said it will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada. The pharmaceutical giant is pausing some production lines at a facility in Belgium in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. In an email, a spokesperson from Nova Scotia Health said it has been notified it should expect fewer Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses each week for a month. "We have solid processes in place to manage a decrease or increase in vaccine supply. We can adjust our clinics to accommodate the amount of vaccine we receive," the email said. Mandatory testing for rotational workers Mandatory testing for rotational workers came into effect Friday. Workers will now be required to get a test within two days of returning to Nova Scotia and again about a week later. If rotational workers do not get tested, they will be fined $1,000. Regardless of the test result, they must still complete their 14-day modified self-isolation. A mobile health unit was set up in Truro , N.S., on Thursday in response to an increase in the number of potential exposures in the area in the last week. A full list of exposures in the province can be found here. On Friday, Nova Scotia Health said the unit will be expanded for four more days of testing. Drop-in testing will be available on Saturday at the NSCC Truro Campus from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday through Tuesday at the convention centre in the Best Western Glengarry from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
The provincial government has begun vaccinating British Columbia's most vulnerable against COVID-19 and an advocacy group for people with Down syndrome is hoping the group it represents will be added to this priority queue. Wayne Leslie, CEO of the Burnaby-based Down Syndrome Resource Foundation (DSRF), laid out his reasons why in a letter addressed to Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry earlier this week. Down syndrome is a genetic condition that can result in physical, mental, and developmental disabilities and, as a result, people with the condition can have complex health and mental health needs. In his letter to Henry, Leslie says people over the age of 40 with Down syndrome can develop high-risk medical conditions that are comparable to someone over the age of 70 in the general population. Leslie's complete letter to the province on behalf of the DSRF can be found here. According to the foundation, the average life span of a person with Down syndrome is approximately 60 years. The average life expectancy for British Columbians, according to 2017 Statistics Canada data, is 84 for women and 79.9 for men. The province has taken a phased-in approach to its vaccination program, with the first available doses being doled out to front-line health-care workers, and staff and residents in long-term care facilities. After that, the plan is to primarily vaccinate people by age, beginning with the most elderly. The priority vaccine groups can be found here. Recommendations to province Leslie's letter makes two recommendations — that adults with Down syndrome over the age of 40 be considered high priority for vaccination, and that individuals with Down syndrome between the ages of 16 and 39 also be given priority consideration. His letter highlights that adults with Down syndrome are four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 10 times more likely to die from the virus. Leslie's statistics are based on research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in October that looked at a cohort of over eight million adults, of which just over 4,000 had Down syndrome. Twenty-seven of those with Down syndrome died of COVID-19. "One of the key reasons is that someone in their forties typically has the health issues associated with aging of the typical population in its seventies," Leslie told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, on Thursday. He said people with Down syndrome in the 16 to 39 category should be considered a priority because many individuals in that age group, due to the pandemic, are without critical programs and services such as mental health supports. People with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome, often also depend heavily on predictable routines to successfully navigate daily life — routines that have been completely upended by COVID-19. "It's very hard for me and my friends," said 27-year-old Andrew Bingham, who has Down syndrome and is an ambassador for the foundation. Bingham said while he tries to stay connected with friends by text message, COVID-19 has already cost him a job, sports, and his social life. Provincial responses Premier John Horgan, addressing reporters on a wide range of issues Thursday, said he has received "piles of mail" from individuals and groups asking to be prioritized for a vaccine. "We want to start, I think the rule of thumb, is the older you are the more at risk you are," said Horgan. In a Thursday statement to CBC, the Ministry of Health said vaccines are not available to everyone at once and because of the challenges in storing and shipping the doses, certain groups have been prioritized. "As Dr. Henry has said, everybody is important in B.C. and everyone who the vaccine is recommended for will have access to it. But we know that some people are at higher risk, and that is why they are getting immunized first," said the statement. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will provide an update next week about when the general population in B.C. will be able to receive the vaccine. Leslie is optimistic the province will respond to his letter and consider his request. Using general population figures, the foundation estimates the Down syndrome population in B.C. to be somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 people and about 2,000 of that group to be over age 16. Tap here to listen to Wayne Leslie and Andrew Bingham interviewed on CBC's The Early Edition.
IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier this week, tinting the sky pink and the snow a purple hue. The sun washed over the frozen tundra and sparkling sea ice for an hour — and was gone. Monday marked the return of the sun in the Arctic community of about 1,700 after six weeks of darkness, but an overcast sky that day meant the light couldn't get through. Pamela Gross, Cambridge Bay's mayor, said the town gathered two days later, on a clear day, to celebrate. Gross, along with elders and residents, rushed down to the shore as the darkness broke around 10 a.m. "It was joyous. It's such a special feeling to see it come back," Gross said. Elders Mary Akariuk Kaotalok and Bessie Pihoak Omilgoetok, both in their 80s, were there. As Omilgoetok saw the sun rise, she was reminded of a tradition her grandparents taught her. Each person takes a drink of water to welcome and honour the sun, then throws the water toward it to ensure it returns the following year. Gross filled some Styrofoam cups with water and, after taking a sip, tossed the rest at the orange sky behind her. "I didn’t know about that tradition before. We learned about it through her memory being sparked through watching the sun rise." Although the sun's return was a happy moment, the past year was especially difficult for the community, Gross said. She wouldn't elaborate. "Being such a small community, people really know each other, so we feel community tragedies together. There were a few that we’ve gone though this year," she said. Gross said restrictions on gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant losses in the community felt even more heavy. "It made it extra challenging to be close as a community ... and for your loves ones if they’re going through a hard time." Getting the sun back helps. "It's hard mentally to have a lack of sun, but the feeling of not having it for so long and seeing it return is so special. You can tell it uplifts everyone." The return of the sun is celebrated in communities across Nunavut. Igloolik, off northern Baffin Island, will see the sun return this weekend. But the community of about 1,600 postponed its annual return ceremony to March because of limits on gathering sizes during the pandemic. In the territory's more northern areas, the sun slips away day by day in the fall, then disappears for months at a time. Grise Fiord, the most northern community in Nunavut, loses sun from November to mid-February. But in the summer, the sun stays up 24 hours a day. Now that the sun has returned in Cambridge Bay, the community will gain 20 more minutes of light as each day passes. “The seasons are so drastic. It really gives you a sense of endurance knowing that you can get through challenging times," Gross said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader — sending a signal of continuity months before an election in which voters will decide who becomes the new chancellor. Laschet will have to build unity in the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's strongest party, after beating more conservative rival Friedrich Merz. And he will need to plunge straight into an electoral marathon that culminates with the Sept. 26 national vote. Saturday’s vote isn’t the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s Sept. 26 election, but Laschet will either run himself or have a big say in who does. He didn't address his plans at Saturday's party convention. Laschet, 59, was elected in 2017 as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, a traditionally centre-left stronghold. He governs the region in a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats, the CDU’s traditional ally, but would likely be able to work smoothly with a more liberal partner, too. Current polls point to the environmentalist Greens as a likely key to power in the election. Laschet pointed Saturday to the value of continuity and moderation, and cited the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump as an example of where polarization can lead. “Trust is what keeps us going and what has been broken in America,” he told delegates before the vote. “By polarizing, sowing discord and distrust, and systematically lying, a president has destroyed stability and trust.” “We must speak clearly but not polarize,” Laschet said. “We must be able to integrate, hold society together.” He said that the party needs “the continuity of success” and “we will only win if we remain strong in the middle of society.” Laschet said that “there are many people who, above all, find Angela Merkel good and only after that the CDU.” He added that ”we need this trust now as a party” and that “we must work for this trust.” Laschet beat Merz, a former rival of Merkel who was making his second attempt in recent years to win the CDU leadership, by 521 votes to 466. A third candidate, prominent lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting. Merz's sizeable support suggests that a strong contingent would like a sharper conservative profile after the Merkel years. Merkel has led Germany since 2005 but said over two years ago that she wouldn't seek a fifth term as chancellor. Merkel, 66, has enjoyed enduring popularity with voters as she steered Germany and Europe through a series of crises. But she repeatedly abandoned orthodox conservative policies, for example by accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and ending military conscription. Her decision in 2015 to allow in large numbers of migrants caused major tensions on the centre-right and strengthened the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Saturday's vote ends a nearly year-long limbo in Germany’s strongest party since outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who narrowly beat Merz in 2018 to succeed Merkel as CDU leader but failed to impose her authority, announced her resignation. A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. Laschet called for unity after Saturday's vote and said Merz remains “an important personality for us.” “All the questions that will face us after the pandemic need a broad consensus in our party,” he said. “And we will need this consensus for all the elections that are ahead of us, too. Everyone will be against us.” Laschet, a miner's son who served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2005, shouldn't expect much of a honeymoon in his new job. In addition to the national election, Germany is holding six state elections this year, the first two in mid-March. And at some point, he will confer with allies in Bavaria on who runs for chancellor. The CDU is part of the Union bloc along with its sister party, the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, and the two parties will decide together on the candidate. The Union currently has a healthy poll lead, helped by positive reviews of Merkel’s handling of the pandemic. CSU leader Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, is widely considered a potential candidate after gaining in political stature during the pandemic. Some also consider Health Minister Jens Spahn, who supported Laschet and was elected as one of his deputies, a possible contender. Polls have shown Soeder’s ratings outstripping those of Saturday’s CDU candidates. Laschet has garnered mixed reviews in the pandemic, particularly as a vocal advocate of loosening restrictions after last year’s first phase. “It's very good that a year-long discussion process is over,” Soeder said. “I am sure that Armin Laschet and I will find a joint, wise and united solution to all other pending questions.” Saturday’s result will now be officially endorsed in a postal ballot. That is expected to be a formality but is required by German law. Geir Moulson, The Associated Press
The family of a missing Yarmouth County man has been targeted by an online scam, according to Nova Scotia RCMP. A family member of Zachery Lefave, who was last spotted in Plymouth on New Year's Day, received an unsolicited text message on Jan. 12 saying that Lefave was still alive but would be killed if they didn't send $7,000 in gift cards. The family immediately contacted police without sending any money. After an investigation, police determined the text appeared to have came from various locations in North America and Africa, as the sender had been using a virtual private network. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce told CBC that investigators are still tracking the source of the text, but they believe it came from a country that does not have a "strong bilateral relationship" with Canada. He said that will make the investigation "very, very challenging." Police believe the sender obtained personal phone numbers from social media after family members had posted them online during the search for Lefave. "The person responsible used technology to disguise their location and then preyed on a vulnerable family who are doing everything possible to find Zach," Sgt. Terry Faulkner of the Southwest Nova Major Crime Unit said in a news release Saturday. The RCMP reminded Nova Scotians that there is a risk when sharing personal information online. The search for Lefave has been suspended but Yarmouth RCMP is continuing to ask for the public's help in finding Lefave. Lefave, who was turning 21 at the time he went missing, is white, five-foot-nine and 175 pounds with brown hair, brown facial hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a hat, plaid shirt and shorts. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Yarmouth Rural RCMP at 902-742-9106. Anonymous tips can be shared by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477. MORE TOP STORIES
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, and four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. The province added 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. --- 10:45 a.m. Ontario is reporting 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliot says 903 of the latest diagnoses are in Toronto, with 639 in neighbouring Peel region and 283 in York Region. The province says 1,632 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, with 397 in intensive care. Elliott says the province had administered 189,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of 8 p.m. on Friday. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario says a shipping delay from Pfizer BioNTech means residents who receive an initial dose of the company's COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait longer than expected to receive their second one. The government says long-term care residents and staff who have been inoculated already will wait up to an extra week before a second dose is administered. Anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine were initially supposed to get a econd dose after 21 days, but will now see that timetable extended to a maximum of 42 days. The government says it's on track to ensure all long-term care residents, essential caregivers and staff, the first priority group for the vaccine, receive their first dose by mid-February. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With coronavirus restrictions forcing bars and restaurants to seat customers outside in the dead of winter, many are scrambling to nab erratic supplies of propane that fuel space heaters they’re relying on more than ever to keep people comfortable in the cold. It's one of many new headaches — but a crucial one — that go with setting up tables and tents on sidewalks, streets and patios to comply with public health restrictions. “You’re in the middle of service and having staff run up and say, ‘We’re out of propane!’" said Melinda Maddox, manager of a whiskey tasting room in Colorado. Propane long has been a lifeline for people who live in places too remote to get natural gas piped to their homes for heat, hot water and cooking. This winter, 5-gallon (18-litre) propane tanks have proven a new necessity for urban businesses, too, especially in places like the Rocky Mountains, where the sun often takes the edge off the chill and people still enjoy gathering on patios when the heaters are roaring. The standard-size tanks, which contain pressurized liquid propane that turns to gas as it's released, are usually readily available from gas stations, grocery stores or home improvement stores. But that's not always the case lately as high demand leads to sometimes erratic supplies. “I spent one day driving an hour around town. Literally went north, south, east, west — just did a loop around Fort Collins because every gas station I went to was out. That was frustrating,” said Maddox, who manages the Reserve By Old Elk Distillery tasting room in downtown Fort Collins, about 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Denver. Nearly all states allow at least some indoor dining, but the rules nationwide are a hodgepodge of local regulations. In Fort Collins, indoor seating at bars and restaurants is limited to 25% of normal capacity, so there's a strong incentive to seat customers outside despite the complication and expense. Local propane tank shortages result not just from higher demand but household hoarding similar to the pandemic run on toilet paper and other goods. One national tank supplier reported a 38% sales increase this winter, said Tom Clark, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association. But Clark says the supply is there, it just may mean searching a bit more than normal. If there are 10 suppliers in a neighbourhood, “maybe 1 out of 10 may be out of inventory. Certainly, you can find propane exchange tanks if you look around,” Clark said. Franklin, Tennessee-based tank manufacturer Manchester Tank has been paying workers overtime and boosting production in India to meet demand, company President Nancy Chamblee said by email. So far, the surge in demand for small-tank propane hasn't affected overall U.S. propane supply, demand and prices, which are running similar to recent winters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But trying to find a steady supply of propane can cost already-stressed businesses time and money they lack in the pandemic. Gas stations are better than home improvement stores for propane tank runs because you can park closer, said Maddox, but shops that refill tanks are best because it's cheaper and not as complicated as trying to run every tank dry. “The issue there is it takes longer,” Maddox said. “You just have to build that into your day and say OK, it’s going to take 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes.” Across the street, Pour Brothers Community Tavern owners Kristy and Dave Wygmans have been refilling tanks for their 18 or so heaters and fire bowls at a supplier at the edge of town after a nearby shop stopped offering refill service. They discovered that propane tanks carry a date-of-manufacture stamp. Propane shops won't refill tanks older than 12 years unless they have been re-certified in five-year increments. “We’re learning more and more about propane," Dave Wygmans said. They also have gained insight into the market for space heaters, which more than doubled in price last fall due to surging demand, and outdoor furniture for their street-parking-turned-outdoor-patio area that can seat up to 44 people, Kristy Wygmans said. Their employees also had to quickly learn to hook up propane tanks and light heaters, needed in a place where temperatures can plunge well below zero (minus 18 Celsius) in winter. Keeping customers comfortable has taken on a new dimension outdoors, Dave Wygmans said. “Before it was just drinks and food, right? And now, we think the priority is drinks and food but maybe the customer thinks the priority is the heat. And so now we have to balance one more priority that some customers might care about," he said. "It’s almost like another service that we’re providing is outside heat,” Wygmans said. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver. Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
The Brazilian jungle state of Amazonas received more emergency supplies of oxygen and respirators on Saturday, as the military and neighboring Venezuela scrambled to alleviate an unfolding humanitarian crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Air Force also said it had evacuated 12 patients from hospitals in the state capital Manaus to the northern city of Sao Luis overnight, with hospitals at breaking point with no oxygen supplies and overflowing intensive care wards. Mass graves were dug in Manaus during the first wave of the pandemic last year.
A woman suffered serious injuries in a shooting Saturday morning, Regina police say. Officers were called to the 700 block of Athol Street at about 8:10 a.m. CST after being told a woman was shot, police said in a news release. The woman was taken to hospital by emergency responders. Police said officers were on scene Saturday morning to investigate and traffic is being diverted from the area. No further information was available. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or Regina Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Denmark on Saturday found its first case of a more contagious coronavirus variant from South Africa, and saw a rise in the number of infections with the highly transmissible B117 variant first identified in Britain, health authorities said. The Nordic country extended a lockdown for three weeks on Wednesday in a bid to curtail the spread of the new variant from Britain, which authorities expect to be the dominant one by mid-February. Denmark has become a front-runner in monitoring coronavirus mutations by running most positive tests through genome sequencing analysis.
The second batch of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine arrived in Argentina on Saturday, allowing the South American country to apply the second part of the two-dose program aimed at inoculating front-line health workers. More doses are expected to arrive in Argentina later this month and in February. Paraguay this week became the eighth country outside Russia to approve the Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute.
A number of front-line doctors across Canada have volunteered their scarce free time over the past year to help Canadians understand COVID-19. Jeff Semple checks in with some of these doctors to answer your questions, and give us a glimpse into their lives.
Quelques semaines après avoir vu les images de vacanciers passant Noël dans des « tout inclus » au soleil, le député Maxime Blanchette-Joncas ne décolère pas, a pu constater Le Mouton Noir lors d’une entrevue. Il a encore en travers de la gorge le fait que ces voyageurs, partis pour des raisons non essentielles, puissent être admissibles à la Prestation canadienne de maladie pour la relance économique (PCMRE) de 1000 $ s’ils ne peuvent se présenter à leur travail en raison de la quarantaine obligatoire. Au tout début de l’année, le gouvernement Trudeau a pourtant réagi rapidement lorsqu’il s’est rendu compte qu’une zone grise dans son programme permettait des abus de ce type : à partir du 3 janvier, plus possible de s’engouffrer dans la faille, a prévenu le premier ministre. Insuffisant pour le Bloc québécois, qui veut que la rectification soit appliquée rétroactivement à partir de la date d’entrée en vigueur de la PCMRE, le 2 octobre dernier. « C’est un non-sens, c’est une aberration, c’est encore un cafouillage total, je dirais même que c’est de la sottise, un manque de jugement flagrant », s’emporte le député de Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques, qui assure qu’il se met au diapason de la population qu’il représente en utilisant un tel vocabulaire. « C’est la première fois que je voyais une telle révolte : les gens m’ont envoyé des milliers de messages, par courriel, sur les réseaux sociaux ou par téléphone. Ils étaient outrés de la situation, à raison. » On peut effectivement vérifier cette frustration sur les réseaux sociaux, où de nombreuses personnes ont partagé leur sentiment d’injustice : alors qu’elles se sont astreintes à respecter les règles sanitaires et n’ont reçu personne dans le temps des fêtes, voilà que d’autres voient leurs mojitos remboursés par le gouvernement fédéral (donc, in fine, par les contribuables restés bien sagement à la maison) qui leur avait pourtant fortement recommandé de ne pas voyager! Si certains de ces voyageurs ont touché les 1000 $ de PCMRE, ils doivent les rembourser, dit M. Blanchette-Joncas. Cela pourrait se faire au moment du rapport d’impôt, par exemple. Surtout, il ne veut aucune exemption pour ceux ayant voyagé avant que le gouvernement ne se rende compte de sa bourde, même si ces gens n’ont rien fait d’illégal – ils ont simplement ignoré une recommandation gouvernementale. « Pourquoi ça serait plus légitime pour la personne revenue le 25 décembre plutôt que le 3 janvier d’avoir accès à la PCMRE? On ne peut pas corriger une inégalité en en créant une autre! » Peu de gens concernés Le député rimouskois ne connait pas le nombre de personnes qui pourraient avoir bénéficié de la PCMRE après un voyager « dans le sud ». On peut penser qu’il est très faible puisque d’une part, les conditions pour en bénéficier sont assez restrictives : il faut avoir été empêché de retourner au travail par une quarantaine et ne bénéficier d’aucune autre prestation – cela exclut donc les étudiants, les retraités, les chômeurs ou tous ceux qui font du télétravail. Par ailleurs, avant que les médias ne mettent cette faille en évidence, bon nombre de voyageurs l’ignoraient tout bonnement… D’après les chiffres fournis par le gouvernement du Canada, il n’y a pas eu d’explosion de nombres de demandes de PCMRE dans la semaine du 27 décembre au 2 janvier, c’est-à-dire au moment où ceux partis pour Noël sont revenus. Au contraire, c’est la période où il y a eu le moins de demandes (20 600) depuis l’entrée en vigueur du programme en octobre, alors que certaines semaines, le cap des 60 000 demandes a été franchi. Maxime Blanchette-Joncas se défend de faire un « show de boucane » à partir d’un nombre marginal de profiteurs insouciants. Pour lui, peu importe « que ce soit 2500 personnes ou 40 personnes, c’est une question de principe ». La confiance que la population porte aux institutions en dépend, ajoute-t-il. Plutôt que de devoir corriger une situation qui a choqué la population, le gouvernement Trudeau aurait pu contrôler le flux de voyageurs en forçant les compagnies aériennes à rembourser les billets d’avion annulés plus tôt en 2020, comme cela a été fait en Europe, ajoute le député. Disposant plutôt d’un crédit voyage qu’elles ont eu peur de perdre, plusieurs personnes ont décidé de l’utiliser dans le temps des fêtes. « Quand on veut prévenir une situation, il faut agir. Le gouvernement fait la sourde oreille et pense régler la situation en faisant des remaniements ministériels en vue d’élections générales », assène le député Blanchette-Joncas. À entendre son ton combatif, nul doute que lui aussi est près pour partir en campagne…Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
COVID-19. Dans une étude produite pour le Ministère de la Famille, Christine Gervais de l’Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) s’est penchée sur l’expérience de 111 enfants et adolescents d’âge scolaire de la pandémie de la COVID-19 ainsi que ses effets sur eux-mêmes et leur parent durant la période du 30 avril au 20 mai. Si la fin du confinement du printemps 2020 semble contribuer à l’amélioration du bien-être et de la santé mentale des parents et des enfants, il importe de souligner que les parents sont encore nombreux à ressentir un faible bien-être ainsi que des symptômes anxieux importants. Si les enfants démontrent une bonne connaissance des enjeux liés à la pandémie et semble s’y adapter plutôt bien, c’est sans doute grâce à l’environnement sécurisant qu’arrive à créer leurs malgré l’incertitude ambiante. «Il nous apparaît cependant important de nous préoccuper collectivement de la persistance dans le temps des stress auxquels les familles doivent s’adapter, et de la fatigue que ressentiront de nombreux parents, enfants et adolescents face à la deuxième vague de la pandémie et au retour de mesure de distanciation plus strictes, qui pourraient limiter leur capacité d’adaptation», indique Christine Gervais en précisant que la préoccupation liée à l’épuisement des ressources adaptatives de jeunes et de leur parent est encore plus importante pour les familles qui évoluent en contexte de vulnérabilité. La professeure en sciences infirmières de l’UQO note également que l’enthousiasme des jeunes à partager leur expérience témoigne du peu de tribunes dont ils disposent pour s’exprimer, de leur souhait d’être consultés et écoutés dans la prise de décision qui les concerne, particulièrement celles liées à l’école, et de la pertinence de s’intéresser à leur point de vue. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Portugal's fragile health system is under growing pressure due to a worrying rise in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting 10,947 new cases and 166 deaths on Saturday, the worst surge since the pandemic started last year. The cases, which come a day after a new lockdown was put in place, bring the total number of cases in a country of just over 10 million people to 539,416, with the death toll increasing to 8,709. The health system, which prior to the pandemic had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can accommodate a maximum of 672 COVID-19 patients in ICUs, according to Health Ministry data.