WASHINGTON — It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause. Members of the ex-presidents club pose together for pictures. They smile and pat each other on the back while milling around historic events, or sit somberly side by side at VIP funerals. They take on special projects together. They rarely criticize one another and tend to offer even fewer harsh words about their White House successors. Like so many other presidential traditions, however, this is one Trump seems likely to flout. Now that he's left office, it's hard to see him embracing the stately, exclusive club of living former presidents. “He kind of laughed at the very notion that he would be accepted in the presidents club,” said Kate Andersen Brower, who interviewed Trump in 2019 for her book “Team of Five: The Presidents’ Club in the Age of Trump." “He was like, ‘I don’t think I’ll be accepted.'” It's equally clear that the club's other members don't much want him — at least for now. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recorded a three-minute video from Arlington National Cemetery after President Joe Biden's inauguration this week, praising peaceful presidential succession as a core of American democracy. The segment included no mention of Trump by name, but stood as a stark rebuke of his behaviour since losing November's election. “I think the fact that the three of us are standing here, talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said. Obama called inaugurations “a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity, and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us." Trump spent months making baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him through fraud and eventually helped incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He left the White House without attending Biden’s swearing-in, the first president to skip his successor's inauguration in 152 years. Obama, Bush and Clinton recorded their video after accompanying Biden to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider following the inauguration. They also taped a video urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Only 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has limited his public events because of the pandemic, and Trump, who had already flown to post-presidential life in Florida, weren't there. Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Trump isn't a good fit for the ex-presidents club "because he’s temperamentally different.” “People within the club historically have been respected by ensuing presidents. Even Richard Nixon was respected by Bill Clinton and by Ronald Reagan and so on, for his foreign policy," Engel said. "I’m not sure I see a whole lot of people calling up Trump for his strategic advice.” Former presidents are occasionally called upon for big tasks. George H.W. Bush and Clinton teamed up in 2005 to launch a campaign urging Americans to help the victims of the devastating Southeast Asia tsunami. When Hurricane Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast, Bush, father of the then-current president George W. Bush, called on Clinton to boost Katrina fundraising relief efforts. When the elder Bush died in 2018, Clinton wrote, “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life," high praise considering this was the man he ousted from the White House after a bruising 1992 campaign — making Bush the only one-term president of the last three decades except for Trump. Obama tapped Clinton and the younger President Bush to boost fundraising efforts for Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake. George W. Bush also became good friends with former first lady Michelle Obama, and cameras caught him slipping a cough drop to her as they sat together at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s funeral. Usually presidents extend the same respect to their predecessors while still in office, regardless of party. In 1971, three years before he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon went to Texas to participate in the dedication of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidential library. When Nixon’s library was completed in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush attended with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Trump's break with tradition began even before his presidency did. After his election win in November 2016, Obama hosted Trump at the White House promising to “do everything we can to help you succeed.” Trump responded, “I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future” — but that never happened. Instead, Trump falsely accused Obama of having wiretapped him and spent four years savaging his predecessor's record. Current and former presidents sometimes loathed each other, and criticizing their successors isn’t unheard of. Carter criticized the policies of the Republican administrations that followed his, Obama chided Trump while campaigning for Biden and also criticized George W. Bush’s policies — though Obama was usually careful not to name his predecessor. Theodore Roosevelt tried to unseat his successor, fellow Republican William Howard Taft, by founding his own “Bull Moose” party and running for president again against him. Still, presidential reverence for former presidents dates back even further. The nation’s second president, John Adams, was concerned enough about tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor that he retained George Washington’s Cabinet appointments. Trump may have time to build his relationship with his predecessors. He told Brower that he “could see himself becoming friendly with Bill Clinton again," noting that the pair used to golf together. But the odds of becoming the traditional president in retirement that he never was while in office remain long. “I think Trump has taken it too far," Brower said. "I don’t think that these former presidents will welcome him at any point.” Will Weissert And Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 37,742 new vaccinations administered for a total of 776,606 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,049.131 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 920,775 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 84.34 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 2,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,575 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.836 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 45.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 14,417 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,627 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.447 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 11,168 new vaccinations administered for a total of 264,985 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.04 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,954 new vaccinations administered for a total of 25,838 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.764 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 46.43 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,494 new vaccinations administered for a total of 31,275 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.523 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 1,279 new vaccinations administered for a total of 97,785 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.214 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.55 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 5,665 new vaccinations administered for a total of 110,566 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.546 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 570 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,730 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 89.382 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 447 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,822 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 98.693 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 63.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
LAKEFIELD — Opponents protested Thursday outside of a historic house in Lakefield that is scheduled to be demolished. The house at 44 Bridge St. was built in about 1860, according to Tom McAllister. “There’s only two stone buildings in the village of Lakefield and this is the largest one. It was built by the owner of the original grist mill on the west side of the Otonabee (River), so this is a historical building that goes right back to the founding of the village,” McAllister said. “The guy that bought it from him five years later went on to be a city councillor for about 10 years and then, at that point, the village reeve. One guy that owned it was a history teacher at Lakefield College School … another guy was a dentist. It’s been part of the fabric of the community for 160 years.” The current owner of the home is Habitat for Humanity, he said. “They bought it for $750,000 in 2018 and they put it on the market because they had this opportunity for a 41-unit building on Leahy’s Lane down in Peterborough,” McAllister said. “Where it stands right now, is they had received a conditional offer that expires today.” He said he’s unsure whether the prospective buyer has waived conditions and made the offer firm, or if Habitat for Humanity will remain the owner. “Right now, it’s in flux. We would welcome the opportunity to have a chance to sit down and speak with whoever the owner is, whether it’s still Habitat or whether or not there’s a new owner, to see if there is some way of preceding so that this irreplaceable piece of Lakefield’s history is not lost,” McAllister said. The building should have been included on Selwyn Township’s heritage registry, which would provide some protection with 60 days of notice required before demolition, he said. “But, unfortunately, for whatever reasons, it was not added to the registry and so the view of the building office was that when the application for demolition came through, because it’s not on any protected list, sure we’ll issue a demolition permit,” McAllister said. The municipal heritage committee has citizen members and two township representatives, including the township’s building and planning manager Robert Lamarre, he said. “When you wear two hats, one as the chief building officer of the township, and one as the staff member on the municipal heritage committee, when you’re sitting in that meeting, which of the two hats are you wearing? Because those hats are hugely in conflict,” McAllister said. Another member of the committee put the property forward as a potential addition to the registry in October, he said. “Rob was sitting in the meeting and didn’t bother mentioning to him that a demolition permit had been issued two months before,” McAllister said. “If we’d known in October, imagine what the community could have done in terms of trying to get organized and have conversations with the current owner and so forth if we had just known. There was no for sale sign put on the property so the community didn’t know it was in play.” McAllister said he’s not trying to blackball anyone. “It’s just that the people that had the information didn’t share it either by oversight, but quite frankly, more likely by design,” he said. “Ostensibly Habitat for Humanity were either told explicitly or implicitly that the site was viewed as having no historical significance and we want to make it really clear to either Habitat if they continue to own it ,or if there’s a new purchaser, that the community feels very strongly to the contrary.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Two Onion Lake, Sask., residents were arrested after an Alberta RCMP officer was injured following a police pursuit. Police arrested Michael Patrick Hill, 23, and a 21-year-old woman, whom they didn’t identify. Both were wanted on outstanding warrants. The incident started in Vermillion, about 60 kilometres west of Lloydminster, after a suspect allegedly pointed a gun at a person at about 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2021. RCMP say the suspects involved fled Vermillion in a black SUV, which police located about an hour later near Edmonton. According to police, at about 3:30 p.m., two RCMP cruisers spotted the vehicle driving south in the northbound lane on Highway 21 south of Fort Saskatchewan near Township Road 542. An RCMP vehicle pursuing the black SUV went in the ditch and rolled near Range Road 540. A second RCMP vehicle was able to stop the SUV near Township Road 534. One RCMP officer was taken to hospital, treated for minor injuries and released. Strathcona County RCMP and Fort Saskatchewan RCMP assisted Vermillion RCMP in the pursuit. Hill was charged with assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a vehicle, flight from a peace officer, pointing a firearm, operation of a motor vehicle while prohibited, possession of stolen property under $5,000, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and failing to comply with conditions. Hill was remanded in custody and is scheduled to appear in Sherwood Park Provincial Court on Jan. 27. The woman was charged with theft of a vehicle. She was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in Sherwood Park Provincial Court on March 17. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News - Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
VANCOUVER — The Metis Nation of B.C. says its board of directors has voted to suspended its elected president, alleging there has been a breach of its policies and procedures. Its board of directors say in a statement that Clara Morin Dal Col, who was re-elected to the role in September, was suspended with pay on Monday. In a statement on its website, the board also alleges there was a contravention of the president's oath of office. The board says it made the decision after being left "with no other option," but it offered no further explanation of what led to the suspension. Dal Col had no immediate comment when reached by phone, saying she'll be releasing a statement later. Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis. The Metis National Council and Manitoba Metis Federation criticized the decision to suspend Dal Col, calling it a "shocking coup" in a statement. David Chartrand, the Manitoba federation president and national council spokesman, says in the statement that the organizations do not recognize Smith as B.C.'s new president. "This is a black eye for democracy," national council president Clement Chartier added in the statement. Daniel Fontaine, the CEO of the Metis Nation of B.C., was not available for comment on Friday, but the organization responded to the Metis National Council in an open letter signed by Smith on behalf of the board of directors. The letter posted to its website questions the accuracy of the national council's statement. "By suggesting that actions clearly written in our constitution, approved by our citizens, are inherently undemocratic, 'unwarranted, and without merit' are baffling," the letter says. It says it expects Smith to be given the same privileges and powers afforded to Dal Col until any appeal process is complete. In its statement announcing the suspension, the Metis Nation of B.C. says anyone who has been suspended can appeal the decision to its senate, and its decisions are final and binding. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Nick Wells, The Canadian Press
The new president of the United States described his inauguration on Wednesday as a moment to move forward. But moving forward properly requires a reckoning with the past. In Joe Biden's case, that reckoning came for the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's fate seemed to be sealed years ago, but it haunts us still. And now, with strident words from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney about a trade war, it could haunt Canadian politics indefinitely. Or, Canadian leaders could decide that it's time for them to move forward, too. The executive order that rescinded Keystone XL's permit on Wednesday states that "the United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway." If that sounds familiar, it's because President Barack Obama said almost the same thing when he blocked Keystone in November 2015. "America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change," Obama said. "And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership." John Kerry — secretary of state in 2015 and now Biden's climate envoy — put an even finer point on the significance of Keystone in his own statement at the time. "The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves," he said. A pipeline that became a referendum In his remarks, Obama argued that the practical value of the pipeline had been wildly overstated — by both sides. Keystone XL, he said, would be neither "a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others." But the economic arguments in favour of the pipeline could not overcome the profound symbolic value assigned to it by environmental groups and climate-focused voters. On its own, Keystone wouldn't spell the difference between a green future and a "climate disaster." But the pipeline became a referendum on the U.S. government's commitment to combating climate change — a tangible thing on which American activists could focus their energies. Trump, who actively sought to undermine attempts to fight climate change, revived the project. But the political frame that was placed around Keystone XL in 2015 never went away, while legal challenges to the project continued. By the fall of 2019, most of the major Democratic candidates for the presidency had pledged to rescind Trump's order on their first day in office. Last May, Biden insisted that he would kill the pipeline. After Biden's victory in the presidential election, the Eurasia Group said that rescinding the permit was a "table stake" for the Democratic president and that backing away would risk "raising the ire of activists, their committed followers, and — importantly — the left wing of the Democratic party in Congress." "Rescinding KXL would be one area the Biden administration could act [on] and deliver a win to a key political constituency with no congressional interference," the global consulting firm said. Bill McKibben, one of the activists who led the campaign against Keystone, wrote in the New Yorker on Thursday that he was grateful for Biden's decision and never doubted that the new president would follow through. "Even today," he wrote, "Keystone is far too closely identified with climate carelessness for a Democratic president to be able to waver." So the second death of Keystone shouldn't have surprised anyone. It might have seemed rude of Biden to not wait a day or two to allow Canadian officials to make a fuller presentation on the pipeline's behalf, but that only would have delayed the inevitable. The lingering costs of climate inaction Perhaps Biden thought he was doing his neighbours a favour by ripping the Band-Aid off quickly. What might have happened to Keystone XL had Canada and the United States taken more aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the years leading up to Obama's decision? It's an intriguing hypothetical. Keystone may have paid the price ultimately for decades of global inaction on climate change. In the here and now, any debate about Keystone will have to consider whether its additional capacity is even needed at this point. In the meantime, Premier Kenney wants Justin Trudeau's government to impose trade sanctions on the United States if Biden refuses to revisit his decision. Stephen Harper could be ungracious in his defence of Keystone — he famously said that approving it was a "no brainer" — but his government doesn't seem to have ever publicly threatened to impose sanctions if Obama rejected it. Nor does it appear anyone called for sanctions when Obama officially killed the project shortly after the Trudeau government came to office. Sanctions out of spite? This idea of reprisals seems to have originated recently with Jack Mintz, a Canadian economist, who also conceded that imposing tariffs could be akin to "cutting off our own nose to spite our face." Notably, Erin O'Toole's federal Conservatives have not joined the premier in calling for sanctions. Kenney — whose government is polling poorly and whose party is being out-fundraised by the opposition — is spoiling for a fight. He has seized on the fact that federal officials did not respond to Biden's decision in particularly strong terms — and the Liberals may not have struck the right tone for those listening in the Prairies. WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Ottawa 'folded' on Keystone XL But before launching a trade war against this country's closest ally and its new leader, one should consider the potential results and opportunity costs. Would a trade war convince President Biden to brave the wrath of his supporters and reverse a campaign promise? Or would a renewed fight over Keystone XL simply consume political and diplomatic capital that could be put toward other things? Kenney has said sanctions might discourage the Biden administration from intervening against two other contested pipelines that originate in Alberta — Line 5 and Line 3. Writing in the New Yorker, McKibben did identify Line 3 as a target. But there's also a decent chance that sanctions would only inflame existing tensions around those projects. Threats and futility In May, 2015 — nearly six years ago — former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson wrote that it was time for the Canada-U.S. relationship to move on from Keystone XL. Robertson argued that there were too many other important things to talk about. Six years later, that list of important things includes fostering collaboration on clean energy, fending off 'Buy American' policies and combating China's aggression. Still, Kenney warned that if the Trudeau government does not do more to defend Keystone, "that will only force us to go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation." But if the battle for Keystone was effectively lost more than five years ago, should the federal government's willingness to keep fighting it have any bearing on Alberta's relationship with the rest of the country? The death of Keystone XL will have a real impact on those Albertans whose jobs depended on it. There are real anxieties and questions that need to be addressed, not least by the federal government. But the question now is whether fighting over Keystone will do anything to address those concerns — or whether it's time to put that political energy toward other purposes.
Block Heater is back, but this time, the music is coming to your home. The sixth annual concert, hosted by the Calgary Folk Music Festival, will now offer a virtual experience that includes 23 artists. Kerry Clarke, the festival's artistic director, told the The Homestretch about some of the changes and what viewers have to look forward to. "It'll look like an awesome festival that's online instead of live that people can enjoy from the comfort of their homes or their backyard firepits with artists from our own backyard and around the world," Clarke said. New this year is a special Irish program that will feature four different artists. "We have a partnership with Culture Ireland, and so they're helping support the artists. They are helping get the word out," she said. Some of the performances will be live so that the audience can interact with the performers virtually. "It's really nice to have the audience interaction for the artist and to be able to see the audience watching them," Clarke said. "Most of the local artists are going to be on the free stream, which is on YouTube and Facebook, and those are all going to be live either from Festival Hall or from their homes." Despite having to change how they operate this year, Clarke said they're happy to continue the festival in a new way. "We like to keep the music alive in whatever way we can. We love to keep artists employed and we want to keep artists and audiences connected," she said. "It's an important festival to us now, so we don't want to let it go fallow." Clarke said this year will be affordable too. Half of the festival is free on one stage, and the other is a pay-what-you-can method. "If someone wants to pay a dollar and someone else wants to pay $70, then that's fine with us," she said. You can check out the festival online from Feb. 16 to 20. Visit their website for more details, the schedule and information about the tickets. The Block Heater lineup: Valerie June Damien Jurado Matt Holubowski Vancouver's Parkland Music Project Lisa Hannigan, who will be part of a special Irish program Paul Noonan Saint Sister Lisa O'Neill Lorrie Matheson The Lovebullies Robert Adam Nite Twin Tarik Robinson Tendavillage 100 mile house Lucette Ariane Mahrÿke Lemire Ryland Moranz ANACHNID Cris Derksen Dr. Henry Band Kelly Bado María Mezcal With files from The Homestretch.
Clover Leaf Seafoods Corp. is recalling its two of its Clover Leaf brand boneless sardine fillets products due to the potential presence of dangerous bacteria. The recalled products — Sardines Boneless Fillets: Garlic & Chive in Oil and Sardines Boneless Fillets: Smoked Jalapeño in Oil — may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says. The garlic and chive flavoured sardines come in a 106-gram container with the UPC code 0 61362 46008 6. The smoked jalapeño product is in a 106-gram package with the UPC code 0 61362 46009 3. The sardines were sold in New Brunswick, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, and "possibly national," it says. If you have these recalled products in your home, they should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Consumers are warned not to eat the product There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. However, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says not to eat them. Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. The agency says symptoms in adults can include: Facial paralysis or loss of facial expression. Unreactive or fixed pupils. Difficulty swallowing. Drooping eyelids. Blurred or double vision. Difficulty speaking, including slurred speech, and a change in sound of voice, including hoarseness. Symptoms of foodborne botulism in children can include difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, generalized weakness and paralysis. Botulism does not cause a fever, but in severe cases of illness, people may die, the agency says.
Excessive screen-time was once the common enemy in the Milne-Karn, Parenteau and Blum-Payne households. But the COVID-19 pandemic and related stay-at-home orders have given each family pause when considering each of their children’s relationships with computers. Students are now learning how to use video-conferencing platforms, including Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams to participate in lessons and discussions online. Homework is being posted in virtual-classroom portals, such as Edsby and Seesaw. Even after-school playdates have moved into a virtual sphere, as kids connect online to play Roblox, Among Us and other games. Krystal Payne says her daughter’s online activities have been taking up much of the family’s internet bandwidth, but as maddening as it may be, she has learned to be forgiving about it. “It just feels so wild right now. It really doesn’t feel like these are OK or stable times, and it’s really hard to know how to parent,” Payne says, adding that virtual interaction is the only way the remote learner can socialize with kids her own age right now. The increase in screen time and decrease in outside activity is having an impact on fitness levels for kids, teenagers and adults. During the first lockdown last spring, ParticipACTION, a Canadian non-profit that promotes healthy living, surveyed nearly 1,500 parents about physical activity levels during the initial COVID-19 wave. The study found five per cent of children and only 0.8 per cent of teenagers were meeting national guidelines for physical activity (an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day), sleep and sedentary time. Pre-pandemic, 15 per cent of students combined were meeting the recommended thresholds. In order to improve those figures, the organization recommends parents be active role models, set limits on screen use and encourage outdoor time. The wind chill complicates matters in Winnipeg, but the three families are layering up to take advantage of the frozen Assiniboine River. Skating and fishing are on the Parenteau winter activity list. Mother Anna Parenteau says she can tell her youngest misses hockey. Carter Parenteau, 9, is one of thousands of Winnipeg kids forced to sit out the season instead of playing in leagues. He is, however, getting a thrill out of cheering on NHL defenceman Zach Whitecloud of the Vegas Golden Knights, who is from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and one of his icons. Emby Blum-Payne, 8, and her dad, Andy Blum recently did some father-daughter bonding in their front yard by building a quinzhee. The Milne-Karn family plans to cross-country ski their way through the winter. “We all feel like we’re in a holding pattern now,” says mother Luanne Karn about halfway through the academic year. Amid constant pandemic pivots, the families are finding normalcy in Winnipeg winter and their kids’ academic progress. Carter’s new-found love for reading and declaration that the Harry Potter books are better than the movies based on the series have excited his parents. The Isaac Brock School fourth-grader is determined to finish Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban so he can watch the next movie, his mother says. Grade 3 student Anna Milne-Karn is also reading the fantastical series with her mothers. The Ecole Laura Secord student is proud to share that she has progressed from reading at a Grade 2 level to a Grade 4 level this year. Emby Blum-Payne, who hopes to return to Ecole Sacre-Coeur for the fourth grade next year, just finished adventure novel My Side of the Mountain. “I’m really impressed by her ability to comprehend and think critically about the novels that we’ve been reading,” Emby’s mother says. Early assessment data from school divisions in Manitoba suggest COVID-19 learning disruptions have affected literacy levels most significantly among third-grade and younger students, given many of them are not yet independent readers. As evidenced by their lengthy reading lists, learning loss isn’t much of a concern for these three Winnipeg families. They remain more focused on how to regulate screen time. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
RIMOUSKI, Que. — Mathias Laferriere had two goals and an assist, and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada beat the Rimouski Oceanic 5-2 on Friday in their first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action since late November. Yaroslav Likhachev, Benjamin Corbeil and Mikael Denis also scored to help undefeated Blainville-Boisbriand (9-0-0) extend their win streak to nine games. Alexander Gaudio and Zachary Bolduc supplied the offence for the Oceanic (4-11-2), who have lost six games in a row. Olivier Adam made 23 saves for the Armada while Raphael Audet stopped 32-of-37 shots for Rimouski. The QMJHL was the only one of three leagues in the Canadian Hockey League to have started a 2020-21 season, but play was suspended Dec. 1 due to COVID-19 concerns. The league has returned with its 12 Quebec teams playing in four "bubble" markets, while the QMJHL's six teams in Atlantic Canada are still on hiatus until further notice due to provincial health protocols. --- CATARACTES 5 HUSKIES 1 SHAWINIGAN, Que. — Xavier Bourgault potted a hat trick, with Olivier Nadeau assisting on all three goals, and the Cataractes (7-3-1) topped the Huskies (7-7-3) for their fourth win in a row. --- SAGUENEENS 3 PHOENIX 2 (SO) CHICOUTIMI Que. — Dawson Mercer scored in regulation and the shootout winner as the Sagueneens (6-2-4) dealt a sixth straight loss to winless Sherbrooke (0-6-0), which has played the fewest amount of games among the 18-teams. --- FOREURS 3 VOLTIGEURS 1 DRUMMONDVILLE, Que. — Jacob Gaucher had a goal and an assist to extend Val-d'Or's (11-1-4) point streak to 12 games at 10-0-2 with a victory over the Voltigeurs (5-6-1). --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
WHITEHORSE — A cabinet minister says a couple from outside Yukon travelled to a remote community in the territory this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine.Community Services Minister John Streiker says he's outraged the man and woman allegedly chartered a flight to Beaver Creek, the most westerly community in Canada near the border with Alaska, to get the shots.Streiker says he heard Thursday night that the Canadian couple arrived in Yukon on Tuesday and declared they would follow the territory's mandatory two-week self-isolation protocol, but instead travelled to Beaver Creek.He says the two people have been charged under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act for failure to self-isolate and failure to behave in a manner consistent with their declaration upon arrival. Streiker says the couple allegedly presented themselves as visiting workers, misleading staff at the mobile vaccination clinic in Beaver Creek. He says territorial enforcement officers received a call about the couple, who were later intercepted at the Whitehorse airport trying to leave Yukon.The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail.The RCMP have been notified, he said in an interview on Friday.Streiker hadn't confirmed where the couple are from, but he said they didn't show Yukon health cards at the vaccination clinic.Yukon has two vaccination teams that are visiting communities throughout the territory with priority going to residents and staff of group-living settings, health-care workers, people over 80 who aren't living in long-term care, and Yukoners living in rural, remote and First Nation communities.Beaver Creek was chosen as a priority community to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine because it's a remote border community, he said.Yukon's chief medical officer of health has indicated he believes the risk to the community as a result of the couple's visit is low, Streiker added. Streiker said there may be more scrutiny at vaccine clinics when people show up from outside Yukon, but officials are still working through options to prevent such a situation from happening again. "I find it frustrating because what that does is it makes more barriers," he said. "We've been trying to remove all barriers to get the vaccine for our citizens and so if there's another sort of layer of check, I just don't want it to make it harder for Yukoners to get their vaccines."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Hong Kong's government locked down an area of Kowloon peninsula on Saturday after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, saying 10,000 residents must stay home until they have been tested and the results largely determined. The government said there are 70 buildings in the restricted area, which is close to the International Commerce Centre (ICC), and it aims to finish the process within about 48 hours, so that people can start to return to work on Monday. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said 50 makeshift testing points had been set up and 3,000 civil servants were assisting.
It’s been used for a tent city twice, a community garden, a street market and informal overdose prevention site, and for an emergency medical unit during the early days of Vancouver’s overdose crisis. Now construction of badly-needed social housing for the Downtown Eastside, promised in 2016, is set to start at 58 W. Hastings St. The lot has a long history of housing protests. It was a tent city during the 2010 Olympics and again in 2016 as housing prices and rents spiked and homelessness numbers rose. The 2016 tent city lasted from July to November. In August 2016, then-mayor Gregor Robertson met with community members and agreed to bring a rezoning proposal for the site to city council, promising 100-per-cent social housing on the lot. Karen Ward, one of the community activists who met with Robertson, now works for the city as a drug policy advisor. Fundraising for the project and getting the province and federal government on board took a long time, Ward said, but she’s happy to see the project finally break ground. “We definitely need a new way to do this because the supportive housing thing is just not working great,” Ward said, referring to increasing death rates in many supportive housing buildings and friction between tenants and housing providers over visitor restrictions. After Robertson signed the agreement with Downtown Eastside community members, the Chinatown Foundation signed on to develop a 10-storey building with 230 housing units and a health-care centre run by Vancouver Coastal Health. The Chinatown Foundation also fundraised $30 million for the building, and the provincial and federal governments will fund the rest of the $115-million project. Robertson originally promised that all the housing units in the building would be rented at rates affordable to people on welfare or pensions. The current plan is to rent 117 of the apartments at the income assistance shelter rate of $375 a month, while the other 113 are to be rented at rates considered affordable for people making no more than $55,500 for a one-bedroom and no more than $67,500 for a two-bedroom unit. Some activists have protested the plan in the past because not all the units will be rented at the welfare shelter rate. But Ward defended the project, saying the non-shelter rate units will provide housing for people with low incomes who still can’t afford to rent in the private market. “People will qualify for this housing if they make minimum wage, or [work] part-time,” Ward said. Construction will displace the Downtown Eastside Street Market, which has been located at the site for a year, and an informal outdoor overdose prevention site that operates beside the market. Vendors were initially told they had to be out by the end of January, but that deadline has been extended to Feb. 28 while the city looks for an alternate spot for the market. Sarah Blyth, a founder of the Overdose Prevention Society, said she was relieved to hear the deadline had been extended because the market provides a vital source of extra income for people who live in the neighbourhood. “Obviously, we don’t want to fight housing,” Blyth said. “But there should be an alternate location if you’re going to ask people to leave.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
If any silver lining can be found in turning nine years old at a time when birthday parties are illegal, it’s in the Milne-Karn family’s fridge — an abundance of leftovers from a four-storey Funfetti cake. Heather Milne and Luanne Karn surprised their daughter with a gigantic gateau decorated in pink, purple and orange fondant flowers Tuesday to celebrate the special occasion sans friends and group party games. Since the first COVID-19 lockdown, Anna Milne-Karn has expressed concern about the pandemic interfering with the celebration. “This is going to screw up my birthday party,” she told her mothers about 10 months ago. Since then, Anna has attended Zoom and park celebrations for her friends’ birthdays, and accepted the postponement of her party until summer. The plan is to meet friends at Kildonan Park and have a pool party there, she says, adding that despite the change in plans, she still welcomed her birthday this year — “because I get cake!” Sharing treats at school, however, isn’t currently permitted. Public-health directives also ban indoor singing, silencing schoolchildren who would typically belt out Happy Birthday to honour a classmate. In music class, Anna has been working on percussion with Boomwhackers — colour-coded hollow plastic tubes that produce different tones — and learning Do, Re, Mi and the rest of the tonal scale by humming the sounds aloud with her peers. “I am amazed at what teachers do to find a compromise,” Karn says. When given the choice to learn remotely or have Anna return to school after the holidays, the Milne-Karns stuck to their regular routine. The constant change in her class, which has expanded to two rooms and collapsed again as other families have opted in and out of remote learning, has been confusing for Anna, Milne says. She adds that it’s difficult for the third-grader to understand why some of her friends are in school and others are not. A total of 3,433 students between kindergarten and Grade 6, approximately 21 per cent of the K-6 student population in the Winnipeg School Division, enrolled in the two-week distance-learning option to start the new year. It was mandated for the province’s Grade 7-12 students. The Ecole Laura Secord family made the decision after taking into account daily COVID-19 case counts had started to drop, Anna’s ability to socialize at school, and Milne’s hectic work as a university professor preparing and delivering remote lessons. “It’s hard to work when there’s a kid in the house. The energy changes,” Milne says. Even though Anna enjoyed playing Harry Potter-themed Clue with her mothers and going on walks with their new puppy throughout the break, she welcomed the return. She is a big fan of her teacher, her teacher’s five stuffed sloth toys and art class, in which she is currently tracing, drawing and painting landscapes. In other subjects, all of which are taught in French, she is studying fractions, changing seasons and world geography. Anna has also been setting goals for herself as part of the school’s home-reading program. Her mothers share in their belief that Anna wouldn’t be thriving as much in French immersion this year were she doing it remotely. Neither Karn nor Milne speaks French. A self-declared perfectionist, Milne says she felt like she was “failing as a parent” because she couldn’t help Anna at all with her French schoolwork. One of the things the mothers miss most about pre-pandemic schooling days is the ability to visit the school and meet Anna’s teacher in person. In autumn, a video-call replaced the typical introductory conversation that happens on meet-the-teacher night at Laura Secord. “There’s something about seeing other kids and seeing other families and being in the building,” Karn says. “You get a better handle of what’s going on.” Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Some of the country's most remote communities are getting access to the Moderna vaccine. Limited resources for these areas means it's critical to get people vaccinated fast. Challenges on the ground though are not just logistical — there's also the matter of convincing people vaccines are safe.
Westport is closing its arena for the rest of the season, effective immediately. The Westport Community Arena didn't open this winter season until October. It closed again on Dec. 7 when the village declared a state of emergency in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the community. "The arena never had the opportunity to re-open, as the province's lockdown orders then came into effect," said Anne-Marie Koiner, village treasurer. At the same time, demand for ice rentals is dropping off as leagues assess what remains of the season. "We just got confirmation from Leeds Minor Hockey, that they're cancelling the rest of the season," Peter Evans, manager of public works, told council. The cancellations represent a drastic drop in demand, and closing the arena now and decommissioning the ice could save the village about $25,000 this season compared to a normal season. The village usually sees a financial loss of $80,000 between September and March, according to Koiner, but as Mayor Robin Jones points out, the arena's value goes beyond the dollar figure. "The arena is such an important part of the village. So yes, we normally don't break even on the finances - but there is nothing 'lost' about our arena," said Jones. The Westport Community Arena is the recreational hub not just for the village of Westport, but for the surrounding area, providing a range of services and recreation for the larger community. The early shutdown and ice decommissioning mean the village will be out $55,000, this season because even while the facility is shuttered it has to be maintained and heated through the balance of the season. The decision to close the arena at this time was not an easy one, and its impact is going to be felt. "Businesses rely on the moms and dads who bring their hockey player children to the arena for tournaments and slip away to shop. In particular, our grocery store owner will confirm the importance of the arena during the slower months of January-March," said Jones. This year has been anything but normal and with lockdown expected to last until mid-February at best, and numerous restrictions expected to continue indefinitely, keeping the arena open for the balance of the season doesn’t make sense in light of the pandemic, officials said. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
TORONTO — A former senior employee with the Ontario government has repaid more than $11 million in COVID-19 benefits the province alleges he took fraudulently, his lawyer said Friday. The unproven civil claim named Sanjay Madan, who had a senior IT role and helped develop the computer application for applying and approving the benefit for families with children. In a brief statement, Madan's lawyer Christopher Du Vernet confirmed his client had made the repayment. "In fact, the province has recovered in excess of the funds it presently alleges Mr. Madan took from the Families Support Program," Du Vernet said. "However, it is also seeking its legal costs, interest and punitive damages, so the action continues." In its untested lawsuit filed last fall, the province alleged Madan, his wife and two adult children who all worked for the Ontario government in information technology defrauded the province of at least $11 million. The civil claim, which also sought $2 million in punitive damages, accused them and others of illegally issuing and banking cheques under the program that aimed to defray the cost of children learning at home. "The Madan family exploited their positions of employment with Ontario and unique access to the (program) and payment processing system," the government alleged in the claim. "The plaintiff was uniquely vulnerable to Sanjay, particularly with respect to the integrity of the...application." Late Friday, the Ministry of the Attorney General said funds had "now been seized" pursuant to a judicial order and were being held by the court pending litigation of the province’s claims. "The government takes these allegations seriously," ministry spokesman Brian Gray said. "(It) has retained KPMG to conduct a thorough investigation, and that investigation is ongoing." Du Vernet said his client "deeply regrets" his actions and was awaiting results of medical opinions on his condition. According to the lawsuit, Madan and his family opened more than 400 accounts at the Bank of Montreal between April and May. They then deposited around 10,000 cheques made out to fictitious applicants with thousands of non-existent children under the support program. Most deposits were made over a four-week period starting on May 25, coinciding with a rule change that allowed more than five payments to be made to an applicant. The government alleges Madan either sparked the rule change or knew about it and took advantage. In other court filings, Madan is said to have told the government that he could explain "all of this" and that he has "helped many families." The government had served notice it intended to seize any money the family allegedly obtained fraudulently and obtained a court order to have their bank accounts turned over to the court pending the outcome of the lawsuit. The government also obtained a court order freezing the family's assets, which included a list of properties in Toronto. The government said it will be in court next week to extend the freeze. Madan was fired in November. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden made his first calls to foreign leaders as America's commander in chief on Friday, dialing up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a strained moment for the U.S. relationship with its North American neighbours. Biden's call to Trudeau came after the Canadian prime minister this week publicly expressed disappointment over Biden’s decision — one of his first acts as president — to issue an executive order halting construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The long disputed project was projected to carry some 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. In their private conversation, Biden told Trudeau that by issuing the order he was following through on a campaign pledge to stop construction of the pipeline, a senior Canadian government official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation between the nations' leaders. Biden also spoke with López Obrador on Friday, days after the Mexican president accused the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration of fabricating drug trafficking charges against the country’s former defence secretary. While Mexico continues to pledge to block mass movements of Central American migrants toward the U.S. border, there has been no shortage of potential flashpoints between the two countries. Mexico demanded the return of former defence secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos after he was arrested in Los Angeles in October, threatening to restrict U.S. agents in Mexico if he wasn’t returned. U.S. prosecutors agreed to drop charges and return Cienfuegos to Mexico. But Mexico passed a law restricting foreign agents and removing their immunity anyway, and went on to publish the U.S. case file against Cienfuegos, whom Mexican prosecutors quickly cleared of any charges. López Obrador said in a statement that the conversation with Biden was “friendly and respectful." The two discussed immigration and COVID-19, among other issues. Trudeau told reporters before the call on Friday that he wouldn’t allow his differences with Biden over the project to become a source of tension in the U.S.-Canada relationship. “It’s not always going to be perfect alignment with the United States,” Trudeau said. “That’s the case with any given president, but we’re in a situation where we are much more aligned on values and focus. I am very much looking forward to working with President Biden.” Biden signed the executive order to halt construction of the pipeline just hours after he was sworn in. “Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” Biden’s executive order said. Critics say the growing operations increase greenhouse gas emissions and threaten Alberta’s rivers and forests. On the U.S. side, environmentalists expressed concerns about the pipeline— which would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground deposits of fresh water — being too risky. But proponents of the project say it would create thousands of jobs on both sides of the border. The project was proposed in 2008, and the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and was a strong supporter. Construction already started. Biden and Trudeau also discussed the prospects of Canada being supplied with the COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, according to a second senior Canadian government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation. Canada has been getting all its Pfizer doses from a Pfizer facility in Puurs, Belgium, but Pfizer has informed Canada it won’t get any doses next week and will get 50% less than expected over the next three weeks. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has publicly asked Biden to share a million doses made at Pfizer’s Michigan facility. The U.S. federal government has an agreement with Pfizer in which the first 100 million doses of the vaccine produced in the U.S. will be owned by the U.S. government and will be distributed in the U.S. Anita Anand, the Canadian federal procurement minister, has said the doses that are emerging from the Michigan plant are for distribution in the United States. The two leaders also spoke broadly about trade, defence and climate issues. Trudeau also raised the cases of two Canadians imprisoned in China in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Huawei executive, who was apprehended in Canada on a U.S. extradition request, according to the prime minister's office. ___ Gillies reported from Toronto and Stevenson from Mexico City. Rob Gillies, Mark Stevenson And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
New Brunswick’s only fertility clinic, and one of only two in the Maritimes, has had to cancel dozens of appointments with hopeful parents since the onset of the red phase of pandemic restrictions. The decision is part of the clinic's operational plan, the director of Moncton's Conceptia says, but patients are struggling with the emotional letdown. “It’s already a time full of frustration, anxiety and sadness,” said Heather Bandy of Moncton, who was to start treatment this week when her appointment was cancelled. Bandy said she and her husband have struggled with infertility issues for months. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster.” Renee and Lucas Smith of Shemogue have also had their share of heartbreak. After difficulty conceiving, the couple became pregnant, but in November, Renee had a stillbirth, losing their son at 22 weeks. Now, they were ready to try again. Renee said she was scheduled to begin another round of treatment on Jan. 25, but learned new appointments were no longer being booked and many existing appointments are being cancelled. Through social media groups of parents struggling with fertility, she learned she was far from alone. Craig Ferguson, the clinic’s director, confirmed that the clinic has suspended many services and is seeing just three to five patients a day. The clinic had to create a COVID-19 operational plan and provided this to the Vitalité Health Network, he said. The clinic is operating with a goal of 25 per cent capacity while in red, he said, noting the decision was made partially because they are within a hospital building and are attempting to be “good neighbours.” He added that the clinic is small and it is also an attempt to protect its own staff. “If one of our employees got COVID, we would have to close completely,” he said. Bandy said many affected patients who regularly interact through a group on social media began contacting their MLAs as it became clear the clinic was cancelling appointments, hopeful they could advocate on their behalf and trigger a change. They were told the clinic was just following government rules. While Conceptia, a not-for-profit clinic, is housed within the Dr.-Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, is not run by Vitalité or the Department of Public Health. Both Vitalité and Public Health directed all questions about the decision to the clinic. Lucas Smith said the latest turn is heartbreaking. “It keeps us up at night. I’m sure they know how sad this is for all of us,” he said. “The thing that surprises me is the hospital is the safest place,” he said, noting the extensive protocols. “If Tim Hortons is open, surely Conceptia should be [fully] open," he said. "People can make their own coffee, but some of us can’t make our own babies.” The patients are willing to do whatever they can to keep it open, Lucas Smith said, whether that's paying more for more PPE or longer hours to space people out. To have 15 patients a day instead of five would mean 15 people actively on their way to starting a family, he said. Ferguson said the clinic understands the devastation many are feeling. They also recognize that the reduction in services not only impacts New Brunswickers but others in the region, including patients from Prince Edward Island, who have been even further restricted from services over the last month as the island has no clinic of its own. When asked to respond to questions from couples and women who note that clinics in hotspots across the country have continued to serve at a higher capacity even in areas of near lockdowns, he said the clinic was small, however they aren’t ruling out a shift. “We do assess capacity every week and adapt,” he said. “Every possibility is on the table.” Bandy said the decision is disappointing, but she is holding onto hope that change is on their radar. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
A morning sun dog gave way to a blustery -20 C afternoon, but Emby Blum-Payne was still keen to show off tricks and twirls on her ice skates. Krystal Payne helped her eight-year-old daughter suit up at the edge of their front yard skating rink in Elmwood, one of several features of the family’s homemade winter wonderland, which includes a snow fort that doubles as a miniature tobogganing hill. Sporting hot pink-and-white skates, Emby effortlessly glided around the glossy surface to burn off some energy after a virtual school day. Payne and her partner, Andy Blum, share in their daily goal to get Emby to participate in at least 30 minutes of exercise — an idea a child psychologist prescribed when the parents voiced concerns about their daughter’s remote-learning frustrations. They have been encouraging Emby to walk the dogs, skate in the yard, and watch and follow along with kid workout videos to meet that target. “On the days when we fail to facilitate that, there’s definitely a lot more frustration and trouble sleeping,” Payne says. As the school year nears the halfway mark, the parents have learned how to navigate Emby’s emotions amid constant uncertainty in education and life, in general. Their third-grader was assigned a new online classroom teacher — the third one she’s had since the first day of remote learning in September — earlier this month. The only progress report Emby has received in 2020-21 to date was more blank than usual; instead of numbers, there were “incomplete” notices next to every subject, alongside comments about strengths and next steps. “There have been continued disruptions in terms of her losing work and losing access (to different apps) and sort of starting from scratch again. It’s super-frustrating,” Payne says. For instance, with every change there has been a reset of Emby’s progress on Raz-Kids, a program that gamifies learning by giving users points when they finish reading levelled books and answer related comprehension questions. Despite the hurdles, Payne says transitions have become easier over time and remote learning feels a lot different than it did last March. Emby attends two 40-minute video-call classes, which start and end with a French song to encourage students to sing and dance, during the school day. In between sessions, she works on independent assignments and completes home-school book studies with her mom. The family is searching for a math tutor to supplement the setup. Given Emby hasn’t been able to hang out with friends in months, she’s been connecting with them online, often playing group games on one device and messaging on another. Payne says she’s had to re-evaluate her hesitations about screen time because it’s the only way Emby can socialize. In the Blum-Paynes’ basement suite, Emby’s grandfather Edward Payne has also been spending much of his time staring at a screen. The provincial COVID-19 briefings are part of his daily routine. He hasn’t visited the library, gone for a haircut or left the house much since the pandemic was declared. Being immunocompromised, he is taking every precaution — as is the rest of the family, which is why Emby is learning at home. “That’s just the way it is right now,” says the man of few words, in contrast to his chatty granddaughter. Like Emby, he has been reading lots of books this year. His preferred genre is mystery, while his granddaughter favours graphic novels. Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press