Wallace Ford is a professor of Public Administration at Medgar Evers College in New York. He says the police response in Washington DC highlights the disparity between the way Black and White people in the US are treated by law enforcement.
Wallace Ford is a professor of Public Administration at Medgar Evers College in New York. He says the police response in Washington DC highlights the disparity between the way Black and White people in the US are treated by law enforcement.
CALGARY — Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine made by a Canadian company.Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. The group of healthy volunteers aged 18 to 65 have been divided into four groups of 15. Three of the groups will get three different dose levels, while a fourth group gets a placebo.Pending regulatory approval, the company's CEO Brad Sorenson says a larger Phase 2 trial may start in May with seniors, younger subjects and pregnant people.Providence uses messenger RNA technology for a product it calls PTX-COVID19-B.Sorenson says if successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year. “We are thrilled to begin human clinical trials of PTX-COVID19-B. Having a made-in-Canada solution to address the global COVID-19 pandemic will augment the reliability of vaccine supply for Canadians, contribute to the global vaccine supply and position a Canadian company on the global stage as a contributor to the solution,” Sorenson said Tuesday in a release.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Ani Di Franco, "Revolutionary Love” (Righteous Babe Records) Pioneering folkie activist Ani Di Franco is a standout instrumentalist whose guitar could kill fascists. Alas, on “Revolutionary Love,” her six-string doesn’t play a major role — or many notes. Not that Di Franco has gone mellow. With characteristic passion on her first studio album since 2017, she makes the personal universal, and the political personal. Her title cut is a seven-minute pledge to propel social movements with love and forgiveness, the message underscored by a slow-burn soul groove. Elsewhere Di Franco quotes Michelle Obama, skewers an ex-president and calls for resilience in the wake of depressing news headlines. Such topics are mixed with couplets about personal pain and bliss, sometimes within the same song. The best of “Revolutionary Love” is very good. Di Franco's acoustic guitar is most prominent on “Metropolis,” and it's beautiful — a love ballad with shimmering reeds that evoke her description of “fog lifting off the bay.” The equally compelling “Chloroform” laments domestic dysfunction as a string quartet creates dissonance of its own. Elsewhere Di Franco blends elements of folk, jazz and R&B, and makes music suitable for a rally. She's at her most politically vociferous on “Do or Die,” singing about “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to a Latin beat. Di Francophiles will find it positively patriotic. Steven Wine, The Associated Press
WHISTLER, B.C. — A cougar has attacked and severely mauled a man in British Columbia.A statement from the Environment Ministry, which oversees the Conservation Officer Service, says the 69-year-old victim is recovering in hospital from serious injuries to his face and hand.The attack occurred Monday near the man's property in the Soo Valley, about 150 kilometres north of Vancouver, between Whistler and Pemberton.The ministry says Whistler RCMP officers were first on the scene and shot and killed a cougar prowling nearby.Conservation officers with a specialized team that investigates predator attacks also responded.The ministry says those officers don't believe there is any ongoing risk to the public and further details could be released soon.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — People arrested during three nights of rioting sparked by the Netherlands' new coronavirus curfew will face swift prosecution, the Dutch justice minister said Tuesday as the nation faced its worst civil unrest in years. Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said rioters would be quickly brought before the courts by public prosecutors and will face possible prison terms if convicted. “They won't get away with it,” he told reporters in The Hague. The rioting, initially triggered by anger over the country's tough coronavirus lockdown, has been increasingly fueled by calls for rioting swirling on social media. The violence has stretched the police and led at times to the deployment of military police. Grapperhaus spoke after a third night of rioting hit towns and cities in the Netherlands, with the most serious clashes and looting of stores in the port city of Rotterdam and the southern cathedral city of Den Bosch. “If you rob people who are struggling, with the help of the government, to keep their head above water, it's totally scandalous,” Grapperhaus told reporters. He stressed that the 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew is a necessary measure in the fight against the coronavirus. Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb posted a video message on Twitter, asking rioters: “Does it feel good to wake up with a bag full of stolen stuff next to you?” He also appealed to parents of the young rioters, asking: “Did you miss your son yesterday? Did you ask yourself where he was?” The municipality in Den Bosch designated large parts of the city as risk areas for Tuesday night, fearing a repeat of the violence. Residents in Den Bosch took to the streets Tuesday to help with the cleanup as the city’s mayor said he would investigate authorities’ response to the rioting. A total of 184 people were arrested in Monday night's unrest and police ticketed more than 1,700 for breaching the curfew, a fine of 95 euros ($115). Officers around the country also detained dozens suspected of inciting rioting through social media. Police said rioters threw stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers. “This criminal violence must stop,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted. “The riots have nothing to do with protesting or struggling for freedom,” he added. “We must win the battle against the virus together, because that's the only way of getting back our freedom.” The unrest began Saturday night — the first night of the curfew — when youths in the fishing village of Urk torched a coronavirus testing centre. It escalated significantly with violence in the southern city of Eindhoven and the capital, Amsterdam. Gerrit van der Burg, the most senior Dutch public prosecutor, said authorities are “committed to tracking down and prosecuting people who committed crimes. Count on it that they will be dealt with harshly.” The rate of new infections in Netherlands has been decreasing in recent weeks, but the government is keeping up the tough lockdown, citing the slow pace of the decline and fears of new, more transmissible virus variants. The country has registered more than 13,650 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Mike Corder, The Associated Press
That "smile" is totally contagious. How cute is this dog?!
Plusieurs pays ont pris l’engagement de réduire leurs émissions de gaz à effet de serre à zéro d’ici le milieu du siècle. Mais de nouvelles recherches montrent que ce n’est pas suffisant.
Uplifting music, engaging speakers and eye-catching posters. This year's African Heritage Month celebration was launched online today. Premier Stephen McNeil, Lt.-Gov. Arthur J. LeBlanc, and African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince spoke at the event. "I encourage all Nova Scotians to listen, learn, share and act as we celebrate African Nova Scotian heritage month," said McNeil, officiating the launch of the event. The provincial theme, Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act, calls on all Nova Scotians to make a better society by recognizing the long-standing history and legacy of African Nova Scotians, and by acknowledging racialized issues and adversity for people of African descent. Led by Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, mayors from 18 municipalities in the province acknowledged the launching of the heritage month during the virutal event, marking the first joint municipal proclamation. The kickoff event also featured local musicians: Zamani Benard-Millar and Amariah Bernard Washington. The artists performed O' Canada in the beginning and later a song named Outside, together with Nzingha Bernard-Millar. Ince unveiled the poster at Government House, together with LeBlanc and his wife Patsy. "For this year's theme and poster design, we wanted to highlight key important accomplishments, successes and milestones by African Nova Scotians. We also felt it was important to incorporate elements of the Black Lives Matter social movement which has been a significant influence in advocating for racial justice and diversity," said Russell Grosse, the executive director of the Black Cultural Centre and organizational lead of the African Heritage Month Information Network. Over 70 per cent of African Nova Scotians have roots in the province going back three generations or more, and 2.4 per cent of Nova Scotians identify as African Nova Scotian. Some the highlights of this year's events include an online sing-along, a skating party in Guysborough, and a panel discussion on fitting African-centred perspectives into social work practice. Details of the events throughout the month can be found here. Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says even one case of COVID-19 coming in from abroad is a case too many. He says new restrictions on travel are coming and he is urging Canadians to cancel all travel plans they may have. He says that includes travel abroad and travel to other provinces. He says while the number of new cases linked to travel remains low, the government won't hesitate to impose stricter measures at the border. He says the bad choices of a few won't be allowed to put others in danger. The Liberal government has been hinting that tougher border controls are coming and Trudeau says they are working on what can be done without interrupting trade flows. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — When D Smoke was teaching high schoolers in Southern California, the rapper still pursued his dreams of breaking through as a hip-hop artist while leaning on the encouraging phrase: “There’s no expiration on realness.” D Smoke maintained that mindset as a motivator before he made a splash on Netflix’s music reality TV series “Rhythm + Flow” in 2019. He won the competition, impressing judges Cardi B, T.I. and Chance the Rapper with his ability as a multi-instrumentalist and bilingual rapper who could easily switch from English to Spanish in his rhymes. Last year, D Smoke rode the momentum from the show's success, performing alongside boxer Deontay Wilder before a heavyweight championship bout and releasing his debut album “Black Habits,” which this year earned him a Grammy nomination for best rap album. He’s also up for best new artist against Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Ingrid Andress, Phoebe Bridgers, Chika, Noah Cyrus and Kaytranada. It’s been a long road toward Grammy recognition for D Smoke, but the 35-year-old had other milestones along the way. He’s a UCLA graduate who taught Spanish and musical theory at Inglewood High School. He's also penned songs for The Pussycat Dolls, Ginuwine, Joe and Jaheim, some of which he co-wrote with his brother, R&B singer SiR, who is signed to Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, D Smoke talked about the pressure of finding success outside “Rhythm + Flow,” how being a teacher matured his lyrics and his thoughts on why Grammy voters nominated him and other 35-and-up rappers in the best rap album category. _______ AP: You were in your 30s with a decade of teaching under your belt, so did you ever think you were past your prime to pursue a music career? D Smoke: I always tell people that there’s no expiration on realness. People need incredible art. Anytime you spend pursuing whatever level of success and see yourself achieving, it’s time to get better. Always getting better. It didn’t matter if I got a (Grammy nom) when I was 40. It’s just going to be that season. _______ AP: What compelled you to learn Spanish? D Smoke: I went to a middle school that was predominantly Latino and all my friends spoke it. That’s when I told myself that I must be fluent in this. You’re not going to switch languages and I’m left out. I took Spanish one, two and three at Inglewood High. While everybody was doing it to get a grade, I was already like, “I’m learning this.” Then finally, when I went to UCLA, I just kept going. _______ AP: Was rapping in English and Spanish in front of Cardi B — who is also bilingual —- your strategy to win “Rhythm + Flow”? D Smoke: Everything I did on the show was strategic. That’s how you approach a fight with strategy because just being tough or trying to outdo somebody will get you hurt. I’m using a fight metaphor. I knew there were lyricists on the show. I knew they could rap their (explicit) off. But the goal was to distinguish myself. I knew that was going to be memorable. By going into the later rounds, they would be like, “There he goes. That’s the dude who can speak Spanish.” They were going to remember me from that one performance. I knew they were going to remember that until the end. _______ AP: What was the strategy to ride the momentum after the show? D Smoke: We knew that we had a limited window of converting all of these Netflix fans into music fans and people who respect the craft and follow the journey outside of Netflix, because it’s far longer before than what people realize. There was pressure to show that. If you look at the trajectory of artists who come off shows, their biggest success is the show. ...That was our goal to go ahead and transition from the Netflix star that people viewed me as to an artist. _______ AP: In the best rap album category, each Grammy nominee is 35-years-old and up (Nas is the oldest at 47). What are voters trying to say? D Smoke: It opens a conversation of what our culture needs and wants. I think all the things that happened in the past year are really sobering. I think people are requiring, at this moment more than ever, music that speaks to them at a deeper level. _______ AP: Can you elaborate a little more? D Smoke: We need mature voices in rap. We need them to be at the forefront. Of course, we’re going to listen to the kids, because we need to hear them out so they feel understood. But everybody stops to listen to a voice of reason, the voice of experience and wisdom. ...I’m experienced but I’m speaking from a place of when I was 17, acting up and wild. I’m still wild, but I’m smart enough to go about my business a certain way. _______ AP: Did being a high school teacher help the maturity in your music? D Smoke: Absolutely. I was a teacher who got to know my students. You can’t really reach nobody if you’re not concerned about who they are. It’s an exchange. I would ask, “What are you listen to? Put me up on what’s going on.” Some of it I hate, but some I would be surprised and say, “That’s dope.” In that exchange, you learn how music effects people. _______ AP: Is your music influenced by other West Coast rappers like Tupac, Kendrick Lamar and Nipsey Hussle? D Smoke: I for sure borrow from them more than any other West Coast artist. Of course, I must mention Snoop (Dogg). I look up to him so much, because he’s an elder in the game and still as relevant as ever. That’s beautiful. That’s another example of these experienced voices still being present in the culture. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Canadian author Souvankham Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife" is among this year's fiction finalists for the U.S.-based National Book Critics Circle prizes. The critics circle announced five nominees in each of six competitive categories Sunday, and seven finalists for an award for best first book. This year's nominees are the first under new leadership at the NBCC after many of its board members departed in 2020 amid a dispute over how to respond to the summer's Black Lives Matters protests. Among those stepping down was NBCC president Laurie Hertzel, senior books editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She was replaced by David Varno, Publishers Weekly's fiction reviews editor. In the NBCC's fiction award category, Martin Amis was nominated for his autobiographical novel “Inside Story” and Randall Kenan, who died in 2020, for the story collection “If I Had Two Wings.” The other finalists were Maggie O’Farrell's “Hamnet,” Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife,” which won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Bryan Washington's “Memorial.” The Feminist Press, whose founder Florence Howe died last year, will receive a lifetime achievement award and has a nominee for criticism: Cristina Rivera Garza's, “Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country.” New Republic critic Jo Livingston received a citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Winners will be announced March 25. Isabel Wilkerson's “Caste,” her widely read exploration of American racism; was a nonfiction finalist. The others were Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America: St, Louis and the Violent History of the United States,” James Shapiro's “Shakespeare in a Divided America,” Sarah Smarsh's “She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs” and Tom Zoellner's “Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire.” Biography nominees included “The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X," co-written by Tamara Payne and her father, the late journalist Les Payne, and winner last fall of the National Book Award. The other finalists were Amy Stanley's “Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World,” Zachary D. Carter's “The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes," Heather Clark's “Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath” and Maggie Doherty's “The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s.” In poetry, the nominees were Victoria Chang's “Obit,” Francine J. Harris' “Here Is The Sweet Hand,” Amaud Jamaul Johnson's “Imperial Liquor,” Chris Nealon's “The Shore” and Danez Smith's “Homie.” The autobiography finalists were Cathy Park Hong's “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,” Shayla Lawson's “This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope,” Riva Lehrer's “Golem Girl,” Wayétu Moore's “The Dragons, The Giant, The Women” and Alia Volz's “Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco.” Beside's Garza's “Grieving,” criticism nominees were Vivian Gornick's “Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader,” Nicole Fleetwood's “Marking Time." Namwali Serpell's “Stranger Faces” and Wendy A. Woloson's “Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America.” Three of last year's most talked about first novels, Raven Leilani's “Lustre,” Megha Majumdar's “A Burning” and Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain," are nominees for the John Leonard Prize for best first book, fiction or nonfiction. The other finalists are Kerri Arsenault's “Mill Town,” Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's “The Undocumented Americans,” Brandon Taylor's “Real Life” and “C Pam Zhang's ”How Much of These Hills Is Gold." The Leonard award is named for the late literary critic, who helped found the NBCC in 1974. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that travellers flying from city to city within Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test. In fact, the requirement is for air travellers coming from international destinations.
While two-thirds of Canadians believe the new U.S. president's cancellation of a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion is bad for Alberta, most outside that province and Saskatchewan believe it's time to accept the decision and move on, a new poll suggests. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has called President Joe Biden's decision to effectively kill the $8 billion US project an insult from the United States to its biggest trading partner and wants Ottawa to slap sanctions against the U.S. However, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Angus Reid Institute, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must balance support for Alberta's economy against national public sentiment that is deeply divided along regional lines. The institute says its latest polling data found that 65 per cent of Canadians say Biden's decision is a "bad thing" for Alberta. At the same time, the majority of respondents in B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada feel it is time to accept the decision and focus instead on other issues affecting the Canada-U.S. relationship. "Despite majorities in each province recognizing the negative consequences the cancellation has for Alberta, and to a lesser extent, Canada as whole, the will to push back and try to reverse this decision is more milquetoast," said the institute's report. The poll found that three out of five Canadians are inclined to accept the pipeline's cancellation. In Quebec, 74 per cent of respondents are of that view. However, on the Prairies, a strong majority — 72 per cent in Alberta, and 67 per cent in Saskatchewan — would like to see the Biden White House undo the cancellation. People in Manitoba are split on the issue. Institute president Shachi Kurl says people in the rest of Canada feel there are other, more pressing issues. "And it's important to note this is not the issue that Canadians want to put first and foremost in terms of how they frame the next four years of Canada-U.S. relations," she said. The polling data also suggests that the Keystone XL issue is viewed through a different lens depending on where in the country respondents are from. Among Albertans, the poll found that 73 per cent see it more as an issue of jobs and the economy, while 27 per cent believe it should be seen as an issue related to climate change and the environment. In Quebec, 63 per cent view the issue more through the lens of the environment and climate change, versus 37 per cent that see it as a jobs and economy issue, the poll suggests. Political party allegiances also seemed to affect how respondents view the issue. "Given the strong support the federal Conservatives have in Alberta and Saskatchewan, it is unsurprising that four in five past Conservative voters would apply pressure to reauthorize Keystone XL. Roughly the same proportion of Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois supporters say the opposite," the report said. The view that the cancellation of Keystone XL will hurt Alberta's economy is highest among past Conservative Party of Canada voters, at 87 per cent, a concentration of whom are from Alberta, the poll suggests. By contrast, among past NDP voters, 52 per cent are of that view. The 1,897-kilometre pipeline, first proposed in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of oilsands crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, where it would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Emergency Keystone XL debate in Commons The House of Commons held an emergency debate Monday night regarding the scuttling of the pipeline project. Seamus O'Regan, Canada's natural resources minister, argued that while the loss of Keystone XL is a disappointment, the new U.S. administration represents an opportunity to work together with a government aligned with Canada's priorities on clean energy. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole accused the government of not doing enough to advocate for the project that was creating thousands of good-paying jobs. "Canada has been dealt a serious blow…. These are Canadians, thousands of them, being totally forgotten and left behind by this government," he said. The Angus Reid Institute conducted its online survey from Jan. 20 to 24 among a representative randomized sample of 1,559 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. The institute says that for comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is larger for subsamples by province in the methodology statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians today that vaccine shots will continue to arrive even as the European Union threatens protectionist measures to limit the export of doses abroad. The EU is poised to impose export controls on vaccines leaving the 27-member bloc to ensure supply on the continent. The proposal would require companies to seek approval before shipping vaccines to countries like Canada. "Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good but it also means business," Ursula von der Leyen, the German president of the European Commission, said in a video statement late Monday. Trudeau was asked this morning for his reaction to the prospect of the EU limiting the number of shots shipped from the Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium. "That will be very disturbing, of course," Trudeau said in French. "We are communicating with our partners in Europe to make sure the contracts signed by Canada are respected." Trudeau said he received assurances this morning from Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, that that company will meet its promised delivery timelines — 230,400 doses are slated to arrive next week. That doesn't really mean much, since the company produces its shots in Switzerland and the U.S. states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire — places that would be beyond EU export controls. Trudeau cites 'close working relationship' with EU partners The Pfizer product has been the workhorse of the global vaccination effort so far; the company has shipped many more vaccine doses than Moderna, and more often. But deliveries to Canada will grind to a halt this week as a temporary shutdown at Pfizer's plant in Belgium disrupts its shipments. "We have from the very beginning worked extremely closely with European partners on vaccines," Trudeau said. "The close working relationship gives me assurance that the contracts we've signed and the supply chains we've established with European manufacturers are in good shape. We will continue, however, to work very, very closely and monitor and ensure Canada gets all the doses we've contractually signed for." Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole mocked Trudeau's optimism during an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday night. "He thinks we're in good shape while COVID cases are setting record numbers in a week that Canada is receiving zero vaccines," said O'Toole. "If this is what the prime minister considers good shape, Mr. Speaker, what does he consider terrible shape?" WATCH: Trudeau says vaccine shots will continue to arrive: Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said earlier in the day that she doesn't think a protectionist push by the EU or others will help the global fight against the pandemic. "They are slowing down the global response to the pandemic," she said in French. "This virus doesn't recognize borders." Ford suggests Canada turn to U.S. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said she has been in contact with her European counterpart and she's hoping any export limitations will leave Canada untouched. "We will continue to work with the EU, just as we have done throughout this pandemic, to ensure our critical medical supply chains remain open," she said. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it's time to consider other options as the European market becomes increasingly uncertain. "The other alternative is to ask our friends south of the border. We'd love to get some vaccines out of Pfizer in Kalamazoo," Ford said, referring to the company's plant in Michigan, which is just 220 kilometres from the Windsor-Detroit border crossing. The province's health minister, Christine Elliott, said a EU blockade would put the country in a "very difficult position." "If we don't get it through Belgium, we're going to be pressing Pfizer and asking the U.S. for access to their Kalamazoo factory. It's absolutely vital that we get our population vaccinated and in short order," she said. While the delivery schedules may fluctuate, the government insists its medium-term targets are more certain. Trudeau said again today that Canada is expecting four million doses from Pfizer and another two million doses from Moderna by the end of the first quarter — enough to vaccinate some three million Canadians with these two-dose products. Trudeau said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has assured him personally that the pharmaceutical company will resume sending vaccine shots to Canada next month. But that promise, made in a phone call last Friday, came before the EU floated the idea of export controls on shipments to countries beyond the bloc. EU leaders facing criticism over slow rollout The EU — which approved the Pfizer and Moderna products later than Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom — has been criticized for the slow vaccine rollout in many member countries. The EU's medicines agency is expected to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine as early as this week but the company already has said it will deliver fewer doses than originally planned to the EU. The EU signed a deal in August for 300 million doses, with an option for 100 million more. The EU had hoped that, as soon as approval was given, delivery would start straight away, but AstraZeneca has said "reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain" will result in fewer doses than expected. EU political leaders say they are concerned the companies are cutting supplies intended for EU countries in order to sell doses to other nations at higher prices. AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company headquartered in Cambridge, England, has delivered millions of shots to the U.K., which left the EU last year. Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety, said the body wants to put in place a "export transparency mechanism" in the coming days — a regime that would force companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca to inform the body of vaccine shipments abroad. The commissioner said the EU has helped to finance the rapid development and production of vaccines — the body has spent roughly $4.1 billion on such efforts — and it wants what it ordered. "In the future, all companies producing vaccines against COVID-19 in the EU will have to provide early notification whenever they want to export vaccines to third countries," Kyriakides said at a press conference in Brussels Monday. "The European Union will take any action required to protect its citizens and rights," she said. Opposition pushes for contract details During Tuesday's emergency debate, the Conservative and NDP health critics — Michelle Rempel Garner and Don Davies — both called on Anand to release more details from the contracts Canada has signed with vaccine makers. "To this day [Minister Anand] has not released one word of one contract of the seven contracts this country has signed with vaccine manufacturers, unlike other countries," said Davies. "In the interests of transparency, will this minister release to Canadians portions of the contracts that at least tell Canadians how many doses we're going to receive, by when and from who, or does she not trust Canadians, who are paying for these doses of vaccine?" Rempel Garner said she specifically wanted to know what recourse Canada has if companies fail to deliver on time. She noted that some countries, including Italy, are considering suing vaccine makers for late deliveries. Anand countered that the government has been forthcoming about delivery schedules by informing provinces and territories through regular weekly updates as soon as deliveries are finalized. She said it's a better strategy to negotiate with companies, rather than take legal action against them.
If supplies of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines to Manitoba don’t resume, appointments at the Brandon vaccination supersite may need to be postponed. That’s according to Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province’s vaccination task force, who joined Dr. Brent Roussin for the daily COVID-19 update on Monday. "As you already know, last week, we were informed about a third reduction in our Pfizer vaccine shipments. Manitoba has been responsible in managing our vaccine supply, but we continue to see the effects of the supply reductions," said Reimer. The planned Feb. 1 supply dropped from 5,850 to 2,340 doses. "We had to stop making appointments for the supersites, both in Winnipeg and in Brandon. So far, we’ve been able to weather the supply disruptions better than most other jurisdictions based on the strategic approach that Manitoba has taken. However, we’re now in a position where we’re still concerned about ongoing supply and may have to postpone some of our appointments if the supplies don’t resume. Reimer said the province will receive an update from the federal government — which is responsible for vaccine deployment to provinces and territories — on Friday. The postponement decision will depend on what the province receives from the federal government on Feb. 8. "We will update Manitobans as soon as possible, most likely on Friday, to let them know if we are expecting that shipment to come in and what the implications are for people who have appointments coming up beginning next week," said Reimer. "We are going to be contacting everybody who has an appointment coming up to let them know about this unknown, as well. So, for now, we’re asking people to plan to keep their appointments for next week and the week after, but to keep your eye on the bulletins and on the website." As for the Northern health region, which has seen half of Manitoba’s new case counts, vaccines are headed up. Reimer said the phone line opened Monday morning to book appointments for the supersite in Thompson. Immunizers will begin putting needles in arms beginning Feb. 1. "This is a slight adjustment from our original plan because instead of using Pfizer, we’re using Moderna temporarily in Thompson," said Reimer. "Also building on feedback from the Northern health region, we will be scheduling appointments for eligible workers in The Pas and Flin Flon for the week of Feb. 8." Vaccination teams are on track to complete first doses at personal care homes by the end of this week — a week ahead of schedule — with enough doses to deliver a second round beginning the following week. The province also plans to release a priority list of all Manitobans Wednesday, with a tentative schedule for the entire vaccine rollout, which will depend on vaccine supply. "The dates that will be attached to that list will have to remain quite fluid because we still don’t know exactly when to expect the Pfizer numbers to change. But we will come up with at least the sequence for Manitobans," said Reimer. Reimer said, so far, there is a 70 to 80 per cent uptake in eligible health-care workers. She said there are various reasons some are taking the vaccine, including having health conditions, such as autoimmune conditions. That made them ineligible until the enhanced process was put in place. "Some people may have other health conditions or allergies that made them concerned and want to seek some opinion from their health-care provider before booking an appointment. Those folks may be in the process right now of discussing with their health-care provider whether or not the vaccine is the right decision," said Reimer. "We’ve also heard of health-care providers who wanted to let other people go first. They felt that their exposure or their own health status was such that they didn’t want to take up an appointment, when there’s other people who might be at higher risk because of their own health, their age." Reimer added 70 to 80 per cent is a high uptake rate for an immunization campaign. In personal care homes so far, the uptake is more than 90 per cent. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
LOS ANGELES — Jane Fonda cemented herself into Hollywood allure as a chameleonlike actor and social activist, and now the Golden Globes will honour her illustrious career with its highest honour. Fonda will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 78th annual awards ceremony on Feb. 28, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Tuesday. A member of one of America's most distinguished acting families, Fonda has captivated and inspired fans along with critics in such films as “Klute” and “Coming Home.” Fonda, the daughter of Oscar winner Henry Fonda and sister of Peter Fonda, made an impact off-screen by creating organizations to support women’s equality and prevent teen pregnancy and improve adolescent health. She released a workout video in 1982 and was active on behalf of liberal political causes. In a statement, HFPA President Ali Sar applauded the Golden Globe winner’s decorated career and her “unrelenting activism.” “Her undeniable talent has gained her the highest level of recognition,” Sar said of Fonda. “While her professional life has taken many turns, her unwavering commitment to evoking change has remained.” The DeMille Award is given annually to an “individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.” Past recipients include Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and Lucille Ball. Nominations for the upcoming Globes show are scheduled to be announced Feb. 3. Fonda, 83, has been nominated for five Academy Awards and won two for the thriller “Klute” and the compassionate anti-war drama “Coming Home.” She had other prominent films including “The China Syndrome,” “The Electric Horseman” with Robert Redford, and “9 to 5” with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. She stars in the Netflix television series “Grace & Frankie.” Fonda gained notoriety in the the 1970s when she travelled to North Vietnam during the height of the anti-Vietnam War protests and posed for photos next to an anti-aircraft gun. She fell under hefty criticism for her decision — one she repeatedly apologized for — to pose in the photo that gave her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” In 2014, Fonda was given a lifetime achievement award by the American Film Institute. She launched IndieCollect’s Jane Fonda Fund for Women Directors, an organization aimed to support the restoration of films helmed by women from around the world. Fonda was arrested at the U.S. Capitol while peacefully protesting climate change in 2019, an action dubbed Fire Drill Fridays. For her 80th birthday, Fonda raised $1 million for each her nonprofits, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and the Women’s Media Center. She also serves on the board of directors and made $1 million donation to Donor Direct Action, an organization that supports front-line women’s organizations to promote women’s equality. Fonda’s book, “What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action,” released last year, details her personal journey with Fire Drill Fridays. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
Whether it's a slight cough or a scratchy, sore throat, some may be tempted to dismiss mild symptoms as "just the flu" amid a serious global pandemic. But experts say a drastic drop in the circulation of the influenza virus this season means signs of flu are more likely to be COVID-19 than another respiratory virus. A FluWatch report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released last week shows laboratory-confirmed incidents of flu are exceptionally rare this season, despite "elevated testing" for it during the pandemic. Experts say a confluence of factors are playing a role in the abnormally light flu season, including public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 and the reduction of international travel. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert in Mississauga, Ont., says the low prevalence of flu underscores the need to get tested for COVID if people develop symptoms. "You can't tell by looking if somebody has influenza or COVID," he said. "And right now, depending on where they live, if someone has acute viral symptoms, the chances of it being COVID over other things is much higher." PHAC's report shows there have been 51 influenza detections in Canada to date this flu season — significantly lower than the nearly 15,000 cases averaged by this point in the past six seasons — and there were zero lab-detected cases (from 13,000 tests) over the first week of 2021. Chakrabarti expects there to be more cases of influenza than what PHAC's data shows, since not everyone with flu-like symptoms is tested for that virus. But in the segment of the population that is getting tested — typically older adults seeking medical care — influenza isn't coming up. People admitted to hospital with symptoms are given respiratory multiplex tests that can detect multiple viruses at once, Chakrabarti said. "And we've picked up very little in the way of other viruses. So if you're seeing a reduction in those cases, it suggests that the overall amount of flu in the community has dropped." While experts assumed public health measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing would also lessen flu prevalence, the level of drop-off has been surprising, says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist with McMaster University. He believes travel restrictions have likely played a significant role. Whereas COVID-19 can continue to spread easily because the virus is already entrenched here, Chagla says influenza is usually brought in each winter from tropical climates. A population confined largely indoors due to cold weather helps it spread. "Border restrictions, quarantine rules, that probably limits the amount of influenza coming in in the first place," Chagla said. "And the odd case that does come in, it's harder to spread because people aren't congregating." Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist with the University of Ottawa, agrees that a reduction in international travel likely explains the light flu season more than just the implementation of public health measures. He says places in South America are also seeing dips in flu numbers even though mask-wearing hasn't been as widespread there. A level of immunity to influenza may also be contributing to the stifling of the virus, he added. "More people got a flu vaccine this year," Deonandan said. "That can't be underestimated." Chagla says other respiratory viruses also seem to have decreased this season. While there was an uptick in the common cold rhinovirus in the fall — usually correlated with children going back to school — PHAC data shows it's been dropping since. Hand-washing and sanitizing high-touch areas may be playing a role in controlling viruses that are more transmissible on surfaces, experts say. Chagla says cold or flu-like symptoms should raise a red flag for anyone right now, and he worries about people mistaking COVID signs for another virus. "In years past you could say: 'this is just a cold,' doctors would say: 'don't even come in,'" Chagla said. "And now we have to switch the mentality to say: 'actually, no, go get tested.'" Chakrabarti warns the "just the flu" mentality also diminishes the significance of influenza, which can lead to serious disease in vulnerable people too. So there's need for caution, even if symptoms are from the flu virus. "A lot of people say 'it's the flu, who cares? I get it all the time,'" he said. "This is going to sound familiar, but the reason it matters is because you can spread it to somebody else." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
When the COVID-19 pandemic first turned video calls into the prevailing platform for social interaction, there was a voyeuristic thrill to peering inside people's homes in all of their poorly lit, pixelated and bare-walled non-glory. But in the months since Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video chats became a facet of daily life, new standards have been set for virtual presentation, prompting people to consider how to best frame themselves on a computer screen. The Canadian Press asked experts for tips on how people can take their video calls to the next level by upgrading their production skills, digital manners and background décor. If you wouldn't do it in person, don't do it on camera While the shift from the boardroom to the Zoom room has given rise to a new digital etiquette, many of the rules of in-person decorum still apply, says Carolyn Levy, president of technology for human resources consultancy Randstad Canada. For example, she said most professionals wouldn't check their emails, get some work done or talk to a colleague in the middle of an office presentation, but such attention slips have become all too common online. "The rule of thumb is (if you wouldn't do it) when you were in person, don't do it if you're virtual." Eye contact is crucial to virtual communication, Levy said, so participants should look directly into the camera when talking, and turn their gaze to the speaker's window to show they're listening. Levy said hosts can help prevent digital faux pas by establishing expectations in their meeting invites, such as whether cameras should be on and when to use the mute button. She also urged attendees to check their setups before they click to join a meeting to avoid technology-related mishaps. Lights, camera, Zoom Cinematographer and photographer Gary Gould says all it takes is a few simple steps to put yourself in the best possible light on your next video call. The Ryerson University professor said one way to show your best angles is to put your laptop on a stack of books so the camera is at eye level. Gould suggested people position themselves as if they were posing for a "passport photo" — your face should take up most of the frame, but leave some space around your head and shoulders so it doesn't seem claustrophobic. Placing yourself close to the camera has the added benefit of ensuring that your laptop's microphone can pick up the sound of your voice when speaking at full volume, said Gould. While a little sunshine never hurts, Gould warned that having a window in the back of your shot will likely obscure your face in shadows. He said the issue can often be fixed by turning the camera 180 degrees. He also recommended arranging your desk lamps so the light is shining toward your face, noting that warm-coloured bulbs such as LEDs tend to be the most flattering. Learn from the pros: YouTubers and video-game streamers Kris Alexander, an assistant professor at Ryerson University's media school, warns his students that it takes more than an impressive resume to win a position. In the Zoom marketplace, Alexander says, "your camera feed is a job interview." For tips on professional virtual presentation, Alexander encourages people to turn to those who have built lucrative livelihoods based on at-home digital production — the stars of YouTube and the video-game streaming platform Twitch. "Currently, we are all in competition with Twitch streamers and YouTubers, whether we want to believe it or not," said Alexander, a video games researcher and Twitch streamer. Thankfully, these video gurus have uploaded their secrets in tutorials on lighting, sound, colour correction and graphics, often using tools that can be found in your own home, said Alexander. "The beautiful thing about it is it starts with you," he said. "It starts with what technology you have available to you." You should be the focal point of your video call Toronto interior designer Nike Onile says the background for your video calls can serve as a palette to show off your esthetic tastes, but the centrepiece of every Zoom room should be the same. "You want you to be the focal point," said Onile, founder of the spatial design studio Ode. "The backdrop should be subtle enough that you still remain the thing that people are looking at." You don't want to compete for your audience's attention by overwhelming the frame with cluttered walls, contrasting loud colours or busy patterns, said Onile. She suggested adding a large piece of art, curtains or a plant to liven up a plain background and create dimension. Décor with uniform, repetitive patterns, such as a bookcase, is also visually engaging without risking distraction, she said. Onile said video call users should also consider how their outfit fits into the frame. Wearing black against a dark backdrop can make you seem like a floating head, she said, while clothes that contrast with the colour of the wall can help you pop onscreen. There's nothing like a personal touch Jessie Bahrey of Port Moody, B.C., and her partner, D.C. politico Claude Taylor, have established themselves as the reigning connoisseurs of video-call backdrops as the minds behind Room Rater, a Twitter account that has racked up more than 350,000 followers by scoring the setups of at-home news segments on a scale out of 10. Bahrey said Zoom rooms with a personal touch tend to earn higher points than those with professional-grade production. She said media figures can show a more relatable side of themselves with details such as sports jerseys, political messages, meaningful quotations, family heirlooms and children's artwork. Some even shake up their set dressing with hidden symbols, she said. Bahrey said simple knick-knacks can serve as conversation starters that help people feel more connected on video calls, even when they can't be in the same room. "I think working from home is going to be the new norm," said Bahrey, who works at a greenhouse. "So people better get their rooms ready." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. The Canadian Press
Sharon Bala knows the power of recognizing yourself in a story, and the pain of seeing your identity smeared across the page. The Sri Lankan-Canadian author says misrepresentations in fiction can feel like a form of literary violence, warping the way some readers see the real-life harms against people who aren't like them. "When we see ourselves misrepresented on the page, it just feels like the writer has taken their pen and shoved it into our eyes," said Bala, who won awards acclaim for her 2018 debut novel "The Boat People." "We can't pretend that we live in some rarefied bubble as writers where we are separate from the world." From using sexual violence against women as a plot point in a male hero's arc, to killing off an Indigenous character for dramatic tension, Bala said storytelling tropes often serve as a mirror of the systemic indifference toward the suffering of marginalized groups. But as society reckons with these injustices, the St. John's, N.L.-based novelist said a long-simmering conversation among authors about how to responsibly write about identities other than their own, whether that be a character of a different race, gender, sexuality, ability or class. In the past, she said, the public discourse about literary representation has been dominated by a privileged few stoking fears over perceived threats to authors' purported "right" to pluck inspiration from other communities as they please, said Bala. Examples include the 2017 CanLit controversy over an online campaign to fund a writing prize for cultural appropriation, or the tastemakers who rose to American author Jeanine Cummins' defence after the January release of her much-hyped book, "American Dirt," drew criticism from Latino writers and activists for trading in stereotypes about Mexicans. But Bala, who hosted an online workshop on literary representation earlier this month, says the strong turnout shows that writers know they can no longer afford to weaponize "the other" as a cudgel in someone else's narrative. Rather, she said, creators are grappling with questions that in some ways cut to the core of the mission of fiction: How do you write about who you don't know, and should you? "None of us are perfect. We're all going to make mistakes," said Bala. "But I think that if we ... have tried and still made the mistake, there's actually a lot of empathy for that within the writing community." Bala said she only writes about communities she has ties to, and people she'll have to answer to for any distortions. She's also a proponent of bringing in "sensitivity readers" — cultural experts who review manuscripts for inaccuracies — early in the writing process to catch misconceptions before they become embedded in the narrative. Emma Donoghue, the London, Ont.-based author behind "Room," said she's also enlisted the help of cultural consultants as part of her process. But ultimately, Donoghue said she and other white writers have a responsibility to assess their own abilities and motives before depicting different demographics. "I think it's a richer cultural landscape," she said. "If that means that the writers who used to sort of costlessly write about anything have to be a bit more careful, then that just comes with the territory." Acclaimed author Thomas King, who is of Greek and Cherokee descent, said he tries not to stray too far from his realm of experience in writing his protagonists. Characters of diverse backgrounds often populate his narratives, but King said he wouldn't write from another community's point of view because he wouldn't feel comfortable "taking on that skin." King said some of the most persistent pop culture narratives play into cliches and stereotypes to reinforce the audience's pre-existing biases. "While they're not authentic, to the public mind, they appear to be," he said. "Certainly, for Native people that happened with non-Native writers writing about Native characters." Novelist Andre Alexis holds that being too beholden to the burden of accurate representation can restrict the imaginative possibilities of literature. The Trinidad-born, Ottawa-raised writer said problems can arise when playing pretend with someone else's reality, and writers should have to answer for their misrepresentations. However, Alexis maintains that imagining "the other" serves a vital function not only in the arts, but for society at large. "It's important for the Americans to imagine what it's like to be a member of one of the countries they've attacked and ruined," said Alexis, who won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for "Fifteen Dogs." "That imagining of the others who you have made to suffer is a tremendously significant moral step." Sanchari Sur, a genderqueer writer who uses the pronouns "she" and "they" interchangeably, said growing up they never saw queer characters, particularly South Asian ones, represented in fiction. "When you don't see yourself represented, or when you see yourself represented as a stereotype or negatively, that does impact you," said Sur, who is earning a PhD in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Still, Sur said there needs to be space for writers to make mistakes and engage with critical feedback. Sur confronted this issue during a writers' retreat when they received a negative response to a piece they wrote that centred on a transgender woman's experience of familial emotional trauma. Sur, who was wrestling with their own gender identity at the time, said some trans participants at the retreat took issue with a non-trans author writing about the trans body in relation to trauma. Sur said the critiques caught them off guard, and it took months to work up the wherewithal to return to fiction. In the time since, Sur has come to see that there were technical problems with the story that contributed to the blowback, and feels they're a better writer because of the incident. "If you're being called out for something that is inherently wrong or dehumanizing in some way, then you have to acknowledge that and you have to learn from it." Kim Davids Mandar, an emerging writer in Guelph, Ont., said the complexities of literary representation have personal resonance for her as the daughter of immigrants who fled post-apartheid South Africa to provide a better life for their mixed-race family in Canada. When a publisher approached her about conducting a series of interviews for a collection, Davids Mandar said she jumped at the chance to ask some of Canada's finest literary minds about how they work through questions of difference, identity and appropriation. The editor of "(In)Appropriate," which was released earlier this month, said she didn't reach any tidy conclusions during her conversations with the book's contributors, including Sur, Eden Robinson, Michael Crummey and Ian Williams. One theme that emerged was the role that publishers and booksellers play in amplifying certain voices at the expense of others, she said. A 2018 survey by the Association of Canadian Publishers on diversity found 82 per cent of the 279 respondents who worked in the industry identified as white. "I think we can't pretend that we don't live within this context, and that it doesn't actually impact the books industry," said Davids Mandar. Overall, Davids Mandar said she walked away from the book with a renewed sense of urgency for Canada's literary community to engage in these shifting, sometimes messy conversations. "It really reflects where we're at, each of us as individuals, but also as a community, in truthfully embracing the fact that we need unity, but we also need diversity and we have to have them together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press