With Amanda Weldon.
With Amanda Weldon.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
When Vancouver man Jason Brawn decided to string Christmas lights on trees on the North Shore mountains, he originally thought it’d just be a bit of festive fun to spread joy over the holidays. But, after seeing the smiles on the faces of passersby checking out his latest light display, he’s decided to keep decorating trees throughout the year. Brawn selects a tree, often just over five-metres tall, with epic city views in the background and then uses a customized telescoping pole to string 90 metres of lights around it, offering a little temporary magic and amazing photo opportunities. So far, he's been choosing trees on Mount Seymour, but he’s also looking to check out the trees on Hollyburn Mountain soon. “There will be many more of these trees to come,” he said, adding that he's now naming the decorated trees Bob, after Bob Ross – an American painter. “I thought I'd do one a couple of times a year, but seeing the smiles it's brought folks, how much that's lifted my own spirits, and how much I think we all need a bit of unexpected joy these days, I've been motivated to do them more often.” His latest tree was lit up on Thursday (Jan. 14) at Brockton Point on Mount Seymour. The tree before that was illuminated on Christmas Eve. “I've chosen that spot lately for a couple reasons – I can ski to and from that spot, which makes coming down with a 25 kilogram pack much more pleasant, and there's a lot of traffic there so people can easily come by for a selfie,” said Brawn. While the photo from his last endeavour is no doubt impressive and shows Vancouver’s bright city lights and a decorated tree standing tall, it’s still not quite Brawn’s “perfect tree” for his “dream image.” “The dream tree that I want will let me get a good distance from it so that I can use a long zoom lens – so I can compress distance,” said Brawn. “What I want to do is have the city in the background with this great big tree and then have some people around it for scale.” He’ll be back on the North Shore mountains over the next week (possibly Thursday or Friday) scoping out trees when the weather permits. “I'm not 100 per cent certain where I'll put this one – I've a few spots in mind – possibly up higher on the summit ridge below first peak where it's visible from Brockton [on Mount Seymour],” he said. “I'd also like to do one over at Cypress.” For Brawn, it’s all about sharing a little happiness during the coronavirus pandemic. He hopes his glowing trees will continue to put smiles on faces. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
The role of Canada's vice-regal has been held by a wide variety of people, from British nobles to military leaders to humanitarian advocates. Here is a list of all those who have served as Canada's governor general since Confederation: — Viscount Monck: 1861-1868 Lord Lisgar: 1868-1872 Earl of Dufferin: 1872-1878 Duke of Argyll: 1878-1883 Marquess of Lansdowne: 1883-1888 Earl of Derby: 1888-1893 Earl of Aberdeen: 1893-1898 Earl of Minto: 1898-1904 Earl Grey: 1904-1911 Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught: 1911-1916 Duke of Devonshire: 1916-1921 Lord Byng: 1921-1926 Viscount Willingdon: 1926-1931 Earl of Bessborough: 1931-1935 Lord Tweedsmuir: 1935-1940 Earl of Athlone: 1940-1946 Viscount Alexander: 1946-1952 Vincent Massey: 1952-1959 Georges Vanier: 1959-1967 Roland Michener: 1967-1974 Jules Léger: 1974-1979 Edward Schreyer: 1979-1984 Jeanne Sauvé: 1984-1990 Ramon Hnatyshyn: 1990-1995 Roméo LeBlanc: 1995-1999 Adrienne Clarkson: 1999-2005 Michaëlle Jean: 2005-2010 David Johnston: 2010-2017 Julie Payette: 2017-2021 This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Health officials have called off the regular COVID-19 briefing in British Columbia as they prepare to update the province's strategy for immunization against the virus. An advisory from the premier's office Thursday said the briefing by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix was cancelled. Instead, they will join a news conference Friday with Premier John Horgan and Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization rollout. The four are expected to comment on the next steps in the immunization program that has been complicated by a hiccup in vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech. Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19, and Dix said this week that B.C. remains committed to ensuring all those who have had the first shot get a second within 35 days. Dix and Henry said in a joint statement on Thursday that 104,901 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered, of which 1,680 are second doses. B.C. reported 564 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 62,976 since the pandemic began. Along with the 4,450 active cases of the virus, the province recorded another 15 COVID-19-related deaths. The statement said community outbreaks and clusters are behind a high number of new cases. "We need to do everything we can to break the chain of transmission. Right now is the time to do that," it said. Interior Health said Thursday 215 people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region have tested positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 1. It said in a statement that many of the infections are associated with social events or gatherings in Williams Lake, B.C. Seventy-four of the cases have been identified in people living in nearby First Nations, with one Indigenous community in the Cariboo region dealing with a quarter of its population testing positive for the virus. Chief Helen Henderson, of the Canim Lake Band, said the community has been in lockdown since Jan. 5, with crowded housing contributing to the outbreak. One elder has died from the virus. She said there are 60 cases among the 234 people living in the community. Henderson said all its members have now received a vaccination and she hopes the band is turning the corner on the outbreak. — With files from CHNL. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian record producer Bob Rock is joining a chorus of musicians selling off rights to their past work, reaching a deal with a U.K. investment firm for more than 40 songs from Michael Buble and Metallica. The agreement between Rock and Hipgnosis Songs Fund, announced Thursday, will give the London-based operation Rock's full producer rights to a raft of prominent tracks. Among them is Rock's stake in Metallica's self-titled 1991 album, often called "The Black Album," which includes the metal band's hits "Enter Sandman," "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters." He's also sold his rights to Buble's album "To Be Loved" in its entirety and his work on "Call Me Irresponsible," "Crazy Love" and "Christmas." Rock, who was born in Winnipeg, is one of Canada's most prolific rock music producers, having worked with the Tragically Hip, Aerosmith, Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi. The Hipgnosis deal, which encompasses 43 songs, comes as the fund moves quickly to build its library of rights holdings. Last week, Hipgnosis picked up the publisher and songwriter rights to Shakira's entire catalogue of 145 songs, and earlier this month acquired a 50 per cent stake in Neil Young's catalogue of 1,180 songs. Rights deals have become a hot commodity in the pandemic as artists look to monetize their assets while the touring industry remains at a standstill and listening moves increasingly to streaming platforms over record sales. Each transaction can be slightly different than the next, depending on what rights the creator is selling. Rock is selling off his royalty percentage of sound recording copyrights, or "points" as they're called in music industry. That covers his share in revenues for his contribution to studio recordings, such as mixing or production. His points share could vary by each track, but would ultimately determine how much money funnels back to him — from album sales and streaming, to licensing for commercials and TV shows. Those rights are now owned by Hipgnosis. Other artists have recently sold their publishing rights, which cover anything earned for the musical work that's committed to paper. Typically that means a slice of revenues from live performances as well as licensing fees from covers recorded by other artists. Bob Dylan recently sold publishing rights to more than 600 songs to the Universal Music Publishing Group for estimates that were priced between $300 million and half a billion dollars. Stevie Nicks sold an 80 per cent stake in her music to Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. — Follow @dfriend on Twitter. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is back. In truth, the nation’s leading infectious-diseases expert never really went away. But after enduring nearly a year of darts and undermining comments from former President Donald Trump, Fauci now speaks with the authority of the White House again. He called it “liberating” Thursday to be backed by a science-friendly administration that has embraced his recommendations to battle COVID-19. “One of the new things in this administration is, If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” Fauci said in one pointed observation during a White House briefing. “Just say you don’t know the answer.” Fauci’s highly visible schedule on Thursday, the first full day of President Joe Biden’s term, underscored the new administration's confidence in the doctor but also the urgency of the moment. His day began with a 4 a.m. virtual meeting with officials of the World Health Organization, which is based in Switzerland, and stretched past a 4 p.m. appearance at the lectern in the White House briefing room. The breakneck pace showcased the urgent need to combat a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans and reached its deadliest phase just as the new president comes to office. Fauci made clear that he believed the new administration would not trade in the mixed messages that so often came from the Trump White House, where scientific fact was often obscured by the president’s political agenda. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know and what the science is ... it is something of a liberating feeling,” Fauci told reporters. White House press secretary Jen Psaki had invited Psaki to take the podium first at her daily briefing. While choosing his words carefully, Fauci acknowledged that it had been difficult at times to work for Trump, who repeatedly played down the severity of the pandemic, refused to consistently promote mask-wearing and often touted unproven scientific remedies, including a malaria drug and even injecting disinfectant. “It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact,” Fauci said. He added that he took “no pleasure” in having to contradict the president, a move that often drew Trump’s wrath. Biden, during his presidential campaign, pledged to making Fauci his chief medical adviser when he took office, and the 80-year-old scientist was immediately in motion. Fauci was up well before dawn Thursday for the virtual meeting with WHO, which Biden had rejoined the previous day after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the group out of anger over how it dealt with China in the early days of the pandemic. Fauci told the group that the United States would join its effort to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries. In the afternoon, the doctor stood alongside Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris in the White House as they unveiled a series of executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, which is killing more than 4,000 Americans a day, as well as bolstering the nation’s sluggish vaccine distribution program. Fauci had chatted amiably with reporters while awaiting the tardy new president. He acknowledged it was a long day and said that while he’d prefer to go for a run, he planned to powerwalk a few miles Thursday evening. It was all a stark contrast after being kept on a tight leash by the Trump administration. Their West Wing press shop had tightly controlled Fauci’s media appearances — and blocked most of them. The doctor went from being a constant presence in the briefing room during the first weeks of the pandemic to largely being banished as Trump grew jealous of the doctor's positive press and resentful of Fauci's willingness to contradict him. Moreover, Trump frequently undermined Fauci’s credibility, falsely insisting that the pandemic was nearly over. The president regularly referenced Fauci's early skepticism about the effectiveness of masks for ordinary Americans, a position that Fauci quickly abandoned in the face of more evidence. The president's attacks on Fauci — and his dismissiveness of the science — handicapped medical professionals trying to get Americans to take the virus seriously. “There was clear political influence on the message of the pandemic. It became political to say that the pandemic was devastating our community because it was interpreted as a judgement on Trump,” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious-diseases physician and a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine. “It actively created enemies of the public health folks in a segment of the population.” Having Fauci return to a central role, Bhadelia said, is a sign “that science was being repressed and now back.” As his handling of the pandemic became the defining issue in the 2020 campaign, Trump insisted on portraying the virus as a thing of the past. He also mercilessly attacked Fauci, retweeting messages that called for the doctor’s dismissal and reveled in “Fire Fauci!” chants at some of his rallies. Trump sidelined Fauci but dared not dismiss him, after aides convinced him of the move’s political danger. But Fauci, who has now served under seven presidents, persevered, telling friends that he would keep his head down and aim to outlast Trump and the obfuscations of his administration. “Clarity of message is the most important thing the government can be doing right now; the single biggest disservice Trump did was constantly telling people that pandemic was about to be over,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, who has known Fauci for more than 20 years. In his return to the briefing room, Fauci joked with reporters, seemingly far more relaxed than at any point last year. And as he stepped off the stage, Psaki said she'd soon have him back. ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Television personality Sid Seixeiro is leaving Sportsnet's "Tim & Sid" sports talk show to become the new co-host of "Breakfast Television" on Citytv. Seixeiro will make his final appearance as co-host on the show alongside longtime partner Tim Micallef on Feb. 26. Micallef will continue to host the show, which airs weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, with a rotating roster of co-hosts. The "Tim & Sid" show made its debut on Toronto radio station CJCL Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Dec. 12, 2011. He will make his Breakfast Television debut alongside co-host Dina Pugliese on March 10. The program was simulcast on television on The Score (now Sportsnet 360) starting in 2013, then was relaunched on Sportsnet as an afternoon television show in 2015. The show has been simulcast on The Fan since 2019 as its late afternoon drive program. “It’s been a dream to work 20 years in the sports industry, especially alongside Tim Micallef, and express my passion and love for sports on a daily basis,” Seixeiro said in a release. “I’ve always been curious to explore other areas of the business and this was a unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg cartoonist says he is honoured to play a small role in a historic moment after his comic book about U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris was included in a Canadian celebration of Joe Biden's inauguration. “Kamala in Canada” by Kaj Hasselriis was part of a swag bag given to people who attended a virtual inauguration event at the United States embassy in Ottawa. The comic follows Harris during her time living in Montreal as a teenager. Hasselriis says he was inspired when he heard how a young Harris staged a protest after her landlord banned kids in her apartment building from playing soccer in the courtyard. He says many kids may have given up, but Harris chose to take action. Hasselriis says he hopes the book shows children that they can make change happen and inspires them to get involved in politics. “It’s useful for them to know that politicians were once kids themselves,” he said. “And if you are a kid, that means you could one day grow up to become a leader.” Hasselriis decided to create the comic when Biden named Harris as his running mate. It was published just before the vice-presidential debate in October. Harris lived in Montreal for five years from the age of 12 until she graduated from Westmount High School in 1981. Hasselriis said his book also looks at the climate around the Quebec referendum in 1980 and how that may have affected the new vice-president's view of politics. “There’s no way that Kamala Harris could have lived as a teenager in Montreal without having this huge political issue hanging over her head,” he said. Hasselriis previously wrote a comic called “Politikids” which tells childhood stories about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and former Green party leader Elizabeth May. In the lead up to the 2019 Canadian federal election, he was able to deliver a copy to each of the politicians during their stops in Winnipeg. Hasselriis said he’s not sure if Harris has seen the book about her childhood in Canada yet. He sent a copy to her Senate office after it was published. Copies of the book were also purchased by the U.S. consulate in Montreal. Hasselriis said he hopes the comic will make it into the vice-president’s hands one day. But for now, he’s happy to know that it was included in the inauguration celebrations at the U.S. embassy in Canada. “What it means is that they are celebrating the election of the first woman vice-president, the first woman of colour, the first Black woman,” Hasslriis said. “It’s a historic moment. It’s a big deal.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
Area families of residents in long-term-care are raising concerns about transparency as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the sector continue to rise across the province. At a virtual town hall held by a group called Voices of LTC Thursday, family members from Hamilton and St. Catharines shared their stories and called for change. Hamilton resident Lainie Tessier spoke about her mother, a former resident of Shalom Village in Westdale, who became sick with COVID-19 and died in December. She previously told The Spectator the home didn’t wear PPE right away, despite warnings about her mother’s symptoms. Shalom Village is the city’s largest current outbreak. The outbreak at Grace Villa on east Mountain was declared over as of Jan. 19. Shalom has had 214 cases since Dec. 9 in its long-term-care and assisted-living units combined. Of those, 112 are resident cases and 97 are staff cases. The home reported Jan. 20 that there are nine active resident and 11 active staff cases. Twenty people have died with COVID-19 at Shalom, while Grace Villa had 44 deaths in less than two months. That doesn’t include people who died without COVID-19. Experts have previously warned about deaths from other outbreak-related conditions, such as not being attended to due to staffing shortages. Neither Grace Villa or Shalom Village have released those numbers, citing privacy. Tessier says it shows an absence of transparency. “They don’t want it to look as catastrophic as it is,” she said in the town hall. Public health says a total of 156 people have died with COVID-19 in long-term-care and retirement home outbreaks in Hamilton so far. Asked for the total number including those who died without COVID-19, spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov said public health does not have that information. “Each home holds this information and regulations about releasing it,” she said in an email. No new deaths were reported in Hamilton seniors’ homes Thursday. However, half of the four new outbreaks in the city were in seniors’ homes. Ridgeview Long Term Care Home in Stoney Creek and Amica Dundas are both in outbreak with one case each. Several ongoing outbreaks also saw new cases. Maxwell’s Retirement Home reported 13 new cases, for a total of 15. Macassa Lodge has 34 cases, including three new ones. That includes 20 resident and 14 staff cases. There was also a new case at Blackadar Continuing Care Centre, which now has 11 cases. The Meadows Long-Term Care Home reported a new death Jan. 20, its sixth so far. On Thursday, public health said all 27 long-term-care homes in the city have received COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, the mobile clinic was set to complete its final round to 12 retirement homes — up from the previous 10 — by the end of Jan. 21. Durlov said the mobile clinic administered about 4,594 doses of the vaccine by the end of Jan. 20, including mostly seniors’ home residents, along with “a handful” of staff and “possibly” essential caregivers. The city’s goal was to vaccinate 4,900 residents in seniors’ homes with the mobile clinic this week. Seniors’ mental health has also been a topic of concern during the pandemic, including in long-term-care homes. On Thursday, the province announced support for seniors’ mental health, including 46 mental health beds for 16 hospitals across the province. Four of the beds will go to Niagara Health System and two to Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington. No Hamilton hospitals were included. Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Niagara school boards are coming to terms with the fact students here will remain at home Monday. “We know that the optimal place for students to learn is in-person with their teacher, in their classroom,” District School Board of Niagara education director Warren Hoshizaki said Thursday. “However, we fully support the decision from the province because safety of our students and staff is always top priority. We are fully prepared to continue supporting students and families with remote learning.” On Wednesday, Ontario announced Schools in Grey Bruce, Peterborough, Haliburton and Kingston are among those in southern Ontario allowed to open their doors to students to attend class in person, starting Monday. Schools in the north welcomed children back Monday, with a few exceptions in communities that saw a sharp jump in cases over the holidays. The seven areas where elementary and secondary students can resume in-person learning on Jan. 25 are: Haliburton/Kawartha/Pine Ridge; Peterborough; Grey Bruce; Hastings/Prince Edward; Leeds/Grenville/Lanark; Renfrew; Kingston/Frontenac/Lennox & Addington. Students in all other southern Ontario public health districts, including Niagara, will remain online for now, and the government gave no specific timeline other than to say the chief medical officer of health will monitor COVID cases and determine when kids can return. Niagara Catholic District School Board education director Camillo Cipriano said, “We continue to find ways to ensure that students are actively engaged during the school day and that we meet the needs of students wherever they are in their learning. “We understand that all of this is difficult, and we are so proud of the excellent work that is happening online by our students, teachers, administrators and support staff to keep advancing learning.” Despite confidence in abilities to navigate the uncharted waters that is a global pandemic, neither of board has received any indication regarding the criteria the Education Ministry or the province’s chief medical officer of health has set for schools to reopen safely. “Creating a one-size-fits-all approach to school reopening is a challenge,” Cipriano said. “We have regular meetings with the ministry and public health and will continue to look forward to open dialogue with the ministry through the end of the school year.” He added, “We did receive requests for technology support and assistance from families when schools first reopened after the Christmas break and have supported families with their requests. We recognize that as this continues, families may experience technology issues for many reasons, and we encourage them to contact their child’s school if they do have challenges.” DSBN also acknowledged hardships of remote learning. “Any families who have questions about their child’s remote learning are strongly encouraged to contact their teacher and principal,” said Hoshizaki. “It’s important to us that this time of remote learning meets the needs of all our students, and we are here to support our students and their families.” The Niagara Falls Review reached out to Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, parliamentary assistant to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, but he has not been available for an interview. With files from the Toronto Star Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.com Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Barricades that blocked the Highway 6 bypass around Caledonia for the past three months came down this week, but traffic is not flowing just yet. Land defenders from Six Nations carted away construction debris and moved a large dirt pile off the road. But a trench dug just south of Argyle Street needs to be repaired before the bypass can reopen. Skyler Williams, spokesperson for the land defenders, told The Spectator that Ministry of Transportation inspectors were out assessing the state of the bypass. “The MTO and OPP have full access,” Williams said. “So it’s just a matter of them fixing the road.” The bypass has been blocked three times since the dispute over a planned subdivision on McKenzie Road started in mid-July, when land defenders occupied the 25-acre site — which they claim as unceded Haudenosaunee territory — and named it 1492 Land Back Lane. The most recent barricades started to go up Oct. 22, prompted by a skirmish with police hours after a Superior Court judge made permanent a pair of injunctions barring land defenders from occupying the McKenzie land or blocking roadways in Haldimand County. Williams said trenches were dug across the bypass, Argyle Street and McKenzie Road that night “to protect our camp from police violence.” On Monday, the Land Back group announced it would move off the bypass and shrink the occupied zone on Argyle Street in hopes of persuading the federal government to engage in nation-to-nation negotiations. “In August, barricades were removed in good faith because (federal ministers) Carolyn Bennett and Marc Miller said they would meet with our community, but that hasn’t happened,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to push the feds and the province to come here with a mandate to make some real changes.” Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt reacted with tempered enthusiasm to the news. “This is a step in the right direction, but we’re not breaking out the champagne at this point,” he said. “We stand behind the process we took with the developer and Six Nations in getting to the point where this particular development was to proceed. We believe there’s still a long way to go for us to get to where we feel we belong.” Reopening the bypass should relieve pressure on detour routes that have been clogged with transport trucks and plagued by collisions. But access in and out of Caledonia will still be limited. Land defenders still control roughly one kilometre of Argyle Street south of the town, from the south end of the Caledonia Baptist Church property to just north of a Hydro One transfer station the utility company took offline as a security precaution in October. Williams said his group moved the school bus that had been blocking access to the church parking lot as a gesture of good faith. Trenches ring the construction site on McKenzie Road, while the mangled rail line that runs through the community remains out of service. The barricades serve a tactical purpose, making it harder for the OPP to reach the Land Back camp. Land defenders also hoped to raise public awareness of what they consider an unjust development and put pressure on the government to act. But Hewitt said talks can’t proceed against a backdrop of blockaded roads and occupied land. “It all has to start with roads and infrastructure being opened up,” the mayor said. “So if this is the sign of those steps moving forward, then I’m encouraged, and I encourage that to continue.” The federal ministers have said they are waiting to be invited to a meeting at which Six Nations Elected Council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council can speak with one voice. Getting to that point involves overcoming a century of political division on the reserve that Williams said was created by the federal government instituting the band council system to supplant traditional leadership. “The government and the police, and the Brits before Canada, have tried really hard to divide not just our community, but every (Indigenous) community,” he said. “So for them to take advantage of that century-old divide in our community and say you need to get over the division of the last 100 years, that reconciliation has to come with some trust-building.” Hewitt said it only makes sense for Ottawa to want a lasting solution “that’s embraced by all.” “We can’t continue to have a conversation today with one faction (on Six Nations) and then find out tomorrow that that faction is no longer valid,” he said, calling it “unfortunate” that Caledonia residents and McKenzie homebuyers are stuck in the middle. “We’re looking forward to not only this road, but every road being open, and a strategy that Haldimand and Six Nations can embrace with respect to land development and opportunities that can benefit both communities,” Hewitt said. Williams cautioned that the barricades could go up again if the land defenders and their allies feel they are in danger of being forcibly removed by police while political negotiations proceed. “We know our community supports us and believes in our right to our land,” he said. “We know that if police escalate this situation again, that community will show up for us.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Alphabet Inc is shutting down Loon after concluding the business, which offers balloons as an alternative to cell towers, is not commercially viable, Google's parent company said on Thursday. Founded in 2011, Loon aimed to bring connectivity to areas of the world where building cell towers is too expensive or treacherous using balloons the length of tennis courts and solar-powered networking gear. But the wireless carriers which Loon saw as buyers questioned the technical and political viability of the idea.
BILLINGS, Mont. — The Biden administration announced Thursday a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega. It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change. The order did not ban new drilling outright. It includes an exception giving a small number of senior Interior officials — the secretary, deputy secretary, solicitor and several assistant secretaries — authority to approve actions that otherwise would be suspended. The order also applies to coal leases and permits, and blocks the approval of new mining plans. Land sales and exchanges and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency also were suspended. Under former President Donald Trump, federal agencies prioritized energy development and eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of the Republican's goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump consistently downplayed the dangers of climate change, which Biden has made a top priority. On his first day in office Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach — rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules on science, the environment and public health. The Interior Department order did not limit existing oil and gas operations under valid leases, meaning activity won't come to a sudden halt on the millions of acres of lands in the West and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico where much drilling is concentrated. Its effect could be further blunted by companies that stockpiled enough drilling permits in Trump's final months to allow them to keep pumping oil and gas for years. Erik Milito with the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore energy firms, said he was optimistic companies still will be able to get new permits approved through the senior-level officials specified in the order. But Biden’s move could be the first step in an eventual goal to ban all leases and permits to drill on federal land. Mineral leasing laws state that federal lands are for many uses, including extracting oil and gas, but the Democrat could set out to rewrite those laws, said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners. The administration's announcement drew outrage from Republicans and some industry trade groups. They said limiting access to publicly owned energy resources would mean more foreign oil imports, lost jobs and fewer tax revenues. Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said the administration was “off to a divisive and disastrous start." He added that the government is legally obliged to act on all drilling permit applications it receives and that “staff memos” can't override the law. “Impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement. National Wildlife Federation Vice-President Tracy Stone-Manning said she expected Biden to make good on his campaign promise to end leasing altogether, or at least impose a long-term moratorium on any new issuances. “The Biden administration has made a commitment to driving down carbon emissions. It makes sense starting with the land that we all own,” she said. “We have 24 million acres already under lease. That should get us through." Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production. Extracting and burning those fuels generates the equivalent of almost 550 million tons (500 metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a 2018 study. Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting Biden’s climate agenda. But there are other ways an ambitious Biden administration could make it harder for permit holders to extract oil and gas. “The ability to get your resources out, to get right of way, to get roads, to get supporting infrastructure, not all of that is signed and sealed right now,” Clearview Energy's Book said. Under President Barack Obama, the Interior Department imposed a 2016 moratorium on federal coal leases while it investigated the coal program's climate effects and whether companies were paying a fair share for coal from public lands. Trump lifted the moratorium soon after taking office. __ AP writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York. ___ Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP Matthew Brown, The Associated Press
A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars.Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province.The frustration comes as B.C. leaders have allowed gyms, restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November.Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December.Those sorts of creative rebrandings were applauded by the province's Health Ministry in a statement on Wednesday that recognized those in "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic."Bronfman says the trade group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive.""Most movie theatres don't have liquor licences, and they are on the verge of shutting their doors forever," she says."All we're asking is to be looked at as an industry, as a sector that has a very low risk of any kind of transmission of the disease."Theatres across Canada have been shuttered for a large part of the pandemic over concerns they are a spreading ground for the virus. But representatives for the industry have argued there's no data that points to cinemas as being a point of transmission.Bronfman says if concerns about airflow are part of the issue, it's unclear why health authorities would deem it safe for people to sit across from each other at a bar, but not inside a theatre with high ceilings.It's equally confusing why showing a Sunday night football game would be allowed, but not a screening of sports favourites "Rudy" or "Friday Night Lights," which are shorter and would provide less theoretical exposure to the virus."We're not getting the answers as to why we can't open," she says."There's a level of frustration and quite frankly desperation."Before they were closed, cinemas across the country had introduced various safety protocols that limited the size of crowds and kept them distanced with assigned seating.However, there were critics of the reopening of movie theatres who questioned whether proper enforcement was in place at multiplexes to prevent people from sitting in groups.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Michelle Myers’ clean energy journey began back in 2016 when she attended a summit while she was a student in university. And now her Xeni Gwet’in First Nation in British Columbia will soon be reaping the benefits of her participation. While attending a clean energy summit five years ago in Waterloo, Ont., Myers, who was studying at the University of Alberta, was told about a new program offered by the Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise. Myers was convinced to join the first cohort for ICE’s 20/20 Catalysts, a national clean energy capacity building program for Indigenous individuals across Canada. Myers and several other current and former participants of the program were featured in a presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 20 during the Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering. Program participants discussed the various ventures they are now involved with in their communities. “I was in my third year of university for a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies with a minor in Environmental Conservation,” Myers recalled of the time she discovered the Catalysts Program. While continuing her education, Myers simultaneously enrolled in the three-month program, which connects participants to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clean energy project mentors. Those in the program learn about clean energy project developments, including information on energy efficiency, solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal as well as on-grid and off-grid ventures. Myers was able to juggle her university studies with her Catalysts learning. “From there I was just immensely inspired by everybody that attended and inspired by the initiative and the directive,” Myers said. Upon graduation, Myers returned to her community and landed various contract jobs. Then, an opportunity to work on her First Nation’s clean energy plan arose. That led to her current responsibilities where she not only oversees clean energy projects in her community but has become the lands and resources manager for Xeni Gwet’in, located in central interior B.C. Her community is an off-grid remote one, which is not connected to the BC Hydro grid and is currently diesel powered. “My home right now is powered by an individual gas generator and I’m currently running off a battery that I charge with my generator at night,” Myers said. But plenty of positive changes are in store for her community. “We’re installing an underground line, extending from our microgrid in our central community to 28 homes,” Myers said. “The underground line idea comes from many years of community engagement around clean energy projects and clean energy development of our community not wanting to see power lines or power poles going right through our valley because we hold the esthetic value of our community and our territory very high.” Myers said Xeni Gwet’in has become a popular tourist destination, as well as a sought-after location for making movies. “We have a lot of opportunities for tourism,” she said. “We have a lot of people that come into our communities and want to utilize our territory for films.” And this helps explain why community members are not keen for many visible changes. “We also have a lot of ceremonial gatherings and traditional spots all the way from the central, middle of the community out to here and beyond that an overhead power line would kind of get in the way of and disturb if we went that route,” she said. George Colgate, the underground distribution line project manager for Xeni Gwet’in, explained there will soon be substantial savings for community members who currently operate their own generators for power. “Running a small generator probably works out to about $2 a kilowatt hour,” he said. “Once this is in, people are going to be paying BC Hydro rates out. That’s the idea. For Tier 2, I think that somewhere around 8-10 cents a kilowatt hour.” Another participant featured in Wednesday’s presentation was Alex Cook, the owner of a start-up business based in Iqaluit. His company has a vision of developing affordable, efficient and resilient housing for rapid deployment to remote Arctic communities. These houses will be partially built with shipping containers. “For as long as I can remember, Nunavut has struggled with a housing crisis,” Cook said. “The housing crisis has gotten so bad that right now across the territory there are people living outside in nothing more than tents and shacks.” With the contacts he made through the Catalysts Program, Cook believes he’ll be able to design Nunavut’s first accessible net zero home. The prototype will be built in his community of Baker Lake this fall. “Our people are strong,” Cook said. “We figured how to live here before. We’ll do it again.” Another program participant is Nathan Kaye, a finance student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. Kaye is also the co-chair of SevenGen, a virtual youth summit that will be held next month. “What we hope to accomplish there is to get youth to initiate renewable energy products in their communities by providing support, services and funding for those projects,” Kaye said. That summit has expanded and will feature an Indigenous youth mentorship program. Kaye is also involved in a food security initiative with Tsuut’ina Nation. “We built a community garden back in April and May,” he said. “And right now we’re working on building a geothermal greenhouse.” The Indigenous Clean Energy E-Gathering began on Monday and continues until Friday. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Alice Hoagland, a beloved figure of the gay rugby movement that her own son, Mark Bingham, helped set in motion shortly before he perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks as one of the heroes of Flight 93, has died. She was 71. Hoagland, a former flight attendant who became a safety activist while carrying on her son’s athletic legacy, died Dec. 22 in her sleep at her home in Los Gallos, California, after battling Addison's disease, according to longtime family friend Amanda Mark. International Gay Rugby — an organization that traces its roots to one team in London in 1995 and now consists of about 90 clubs in more than 20 countries on five continents — held Hoagland in such esteem that one of the prizes at its biennial Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, is called the Hoagland Cup. Scott Glaessgen, of Norwalk, Connecticut, a friend of Bingham’s who helped organize New York’s Gotham Knights rugby club, described meeting Hoagland at the first Bingham Cup in 2002 in San Francisco. “Nine months after Mark was killed, and there she is with a never-ending smile on her face, just charming and engaging and happy and proud,” Glaessgen said. “And that resilience and that strength that she just exuded was really inspirational.” Amanda Mark, of Sydney, Australia, praised Hoagland for always fighting for people — and continuing to do so after losing her son by standing up for aviation safety and LGBT rights. “Through the Bingham Cup,” Mark said, “she became the inspiration and the acceptance that a lot of LGBT folks needed when they may have been challenged with their families or friends to be true to themselves.” Bingham, 31 when he died, had played on a champion rugby team at the University of California, Berkeley. He helped organize the gay San Francisco Fog team in 2000 and quickly became its main forward. He was on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers commandeered it. He called his mother and told her he loved her. “I only got 3 minutes with him and when I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through,” Hoagland told the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2019. “As a flight attendant for 20 years, I wanted to tell him to sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself.” But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Bingham fought back, posthumously winning praise as an openly gay patriot who joined other passengers in foiling the hijackers and causing the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania instead of its intended target, believed to be the U.S. Capitol. “He grew from a shy, chubby kid into a tall rugby competitor with the ability to amass his energy to face a real enemy in the cockpit of an airplane," Hoagland told the Press-Citizen. Bingham and Hoagland's stories went on to be chronicled in film and screen, including the TV movie “Flight 93," HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and the documentary “The Rugby Player.” Hoagland became an advocate for airline security and for allowing relatives of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it played a role in the attacks. “We’re less interested in any kind of financial gain than we are in bringing the truly guilty into court and making our case known,” Hoagland told The Associated Press in 2016. The first Bingham Cup consisted of eight teams and was hosted by its namesake's home team. Today, it is billed as the world’s largest amateur rugby event, and cities bid to host it. It was last held in Amsterdam in 2018 with 74 teams competing. Hoagland was a celebrity at every tournament she attended. Players flocked to meet her and have a photo taken. She always obliged. Jeff Wilson, of International Gay Rugby, recalled in a post on the organization's Facebook page a conversation with Hoagland at the 2012 Bingham Cup in Manchester, England. His mother had recently died. “I asked how she kept on during grief — she said it was a purpose, and a calling and that I would keep going because it drove me,” he wrote. “Her compassion, heart and focus on others touched me in ways that I cannot express.” No memorial service is yet planned. Jeff McMillan, The Associated Press
"Once we became aware of these reports, we made the decision to issue our earnings announcement a brief time before the originally scheduled release time," said the U.S. computer chips firm in a statement. Earlier on Thursday, the Financial Times had cited Intel's chief financial officer as saying financially sensitive information was stolen by a hacker from its corporate website. CFO George Davis said the leak was the result of an illicit action that had not involved any unintentional disclosure by the company itself, according to the report.
NEW YORK — Nothing illustrates the political passions of a television network's audience quite like ratings for a presidential inaugural. The 6.53 million people who watched President Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on MSNBC Wednesday was a whopping 338% bigger than its audience for Donald Trump's swearing in four years ago, the Nielsen company said. On the flip side, Fox News Channel's audience of 2.74 million for Biden on Wednesday represented a nearly 77% drop from its viewership for Trump in 2017, Nielsen said. A preliminary Nielsen estimate shows Biden's inaugural viewership on the top six networks beat Trump by 4%. Nielsen said it doesn't have a complete estimate for inaugural viewing because it is still counting people who watched on other networks or outside their homes. CNN, with 10 million viewers, easily beat ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox during Biden's big moment, Nielsen said. That's 196% more than watched Trump four years ago. CNN, which has been on a hot streak in the ratings since Biden's victory, also topped all the others for its coverage of the primetime inaugural celebration. MSNBC, meanwhile, said it recorded the highest daytime ratings of the network's nearly 25-year history on Wednesday. ABC had 7.66 million viewers for the oath-taking (up 10% from 2017), NBC had 6.89 million (down 12%) and CBS had 6.07 million (down 13%), Nielsen said. David Bauder, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Julie Payette resigned as Canada's Governor General Thursday, saying that to protect the integrity of her office and for the good of the country, it was time for her to go. Clouds of controversy have hung over Payette since she took over the post in 2017 but a storm was poised to break out with the imminent release of the results of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. Payette apologized for the tensions at Rideau Hall in the last several months, but in a statement announcing her historic resignation — a first for a Governor General — she also suggested she disagreed with the characterizations of her leadership. "We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions," she said. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my viceregal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed," she continued. "Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times." She also suggested the move was made for personal reasons, citing her father's declining health. "So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation," she wrote. In a terse statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged he had received her resignation. “Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously," he said. "Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review." Trudeau had previously defended Payette, even as the Privy Council Office hired a third-party investigator to examine allegations of workplace harassment in the office of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. That came after CBC reports alleged that Payette belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit. Payette had welcomed the review at the time, saying she was deeply concerned about the allegations. Payette, a former astronaut, was named to the position in 2017. Her predecessor David Johnston had been selected by the previous Conservative government using an ad hoc committee that was later turned into an official panel on viceregal appointments. But upon forming government in 2015, Trudeau abandoned that approach and moved the selection process inside his office. Payette's appointment was controversial from the outset. Shortly after she took the job, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charged unfounded, and it has since been expunged. But as details of that incident emerged, so did revelations that she was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both incidents raised immediate questions about how thoroughly she had been vetted for the job, and accusations she wasn't the right fit for it have dogged her ever since. She did not move into the official residence of Rideau Hall when she took the job, and nearly two years in, still wasn't living there, citing privacy concerns linked to ongoing renovations. The cost of those renovations became one of several issues that dogged her, as questions were raised about whether they were necessary or being done out of preference and at too high a cost to the taxpayer. Instead, Payette based herself in her home province of Quebec, where she has also spent a great deal of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. As reports of how she was allegedly treating her staff emerged, Trudeau expressed his confidence in her abilities, dismissing the idea of replacing her. During an interview on RED FM's The Harjinder Thind Show in Vancouver in September he said she was excellent. "I think on top of the COVID crisis, nobody's looking at any constitutional crises," he said. In the event a Governor General can't carry out the job, is removed, or dies, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the office's powers as long as necessary. "A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course, ” Trudeau said. While the Governor General is a largely symbolic position, it does have some constitutional importance, particularly during a minority government such as the one Canada has now. In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper asked then-governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote he was expected to lose — a decision that was controversial at the time but in keeping with constitutional tradition. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press