France has one of western Europe's highest rates of distrust in modern-day vaccines. On Unreported Europe we take a look at why, what anti-vaxxers have to say and what can bring sceptics rounds.
France has one of western Europe's highest rates of distrust in modern-day vaccines. On Unreported Europe we take a look at why, what anti-vaxxers have to say and what can bring sceptics rounds.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
It’s hard to say what is the more impressive feat — remotely landing a spacecraft on Mars, or a kid from Norfolk County landing a job at NASA. Christopher Heirwegh’s unlikely trajectory took him from a Simcoe Composite School physics class to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where an instrument he helped design is scanning the surface of Mars for signs of ancient life. “It’s been a very exciting past couple of weeks, starting with the anticipation leading up to the landing, followed by the joy of knowing it made it successfully,” said Heirwegh, 39, a few days after watching the Mars rover Perseverance complete its 300 million-mile journey to the Red Planet on Feb. 18. As Perseverance floated down to the surface, Heirwegh was on the edge of his seat at his home in Pasadena, Calif. His wife, Meagan, and their six-year-old daughter, Harper, were by his side, with the rest of Heirwegh’s JPL team sharing in the suspense on a video call. “It hit me right at that moment before landing, around the parachute phase, that things are going to come in fast, and oh boy, if this doesn’t make it, where do we go from here?” Heirwegh said. “There was certainly some tension.” Perseverance’s thrusters soon kicked in to start its powered descent, and a sky crane took over to gently place the rover on Mars. While mission control filled with the cheers of relieved scientists, the Heirweghs tucked into celebratory shawarma and cake. Now that Perseverance is trundling around the Jezero crater, Heirwegh’s work has just begun. The physicist is keeping a close eye on PIXL, a high-tech X-ray machine that has been his sole professional focus since joining NASA in 2016. PIXL — the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry — is one of two instruments mounted on the lander’s robotic arm that will help answer the mission’s central question — has there been life on Mars? About the size of a lunch box, PIXL’s job is to scan Martian rocks for trace elements that could point to the presence of ancient life, while taking what Heirwegh describes as “super close-up pictures of rock and soil textures” that could reveal microbial evidence smaller than a grain of salt. PIXL has an X-ray tube at its heart, similar to what dentists use when photographing teeth. The scanner shoots pinpoint-sized X-ray beams into the rock, a process not unlike how artwork investigators chemically analyze paintings to detect forgeries. “We’re looking at things that tell us what the rock is made of, where the rock might have come from, if it was exposed to water, and also if it might have potentially harboured very primitive forms of life at one time,” Heirwegh explained. PIXL is best at finding evidence of inorganic material — heavier elements like calcium, lead and strontium — while another instrument on the rover, called SHERLOC, looks for “the building blocks of life,” lighter organic molecules like carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Together, they search for “biosignatures” suggestive of fossilized bacteria that may have called a Martian ocean home billions of years ago. “Our two instruments can each produce two-dimensional elemental maps,” Heirwegh said, likening each pinpoint of data collected to the pixels on a television that combine to form a clear picture. “We’re hoping we can eventually overlay the two maps so we can really get a good idea of what the rock is all about.” Reaching for the stars The grandson of tobacco farmers who immigrated to Norfolk County from Belgium, Heirwegh grew up enthralled by the stars in the night sky and the vastness of space. He never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — “mostly just the Rodenberry years,” he clarified — and pored over images of the solar system captured by the Voyager probes. “I found that pretty fascinating, and that kind of led me to what I do now,” he said. Mike and Laurie Heirwegh have followed their son’s career with pride. “Some of the stuff is way above what we understand. Christopher always keeps it as simple as possible for us,” Mike said with a laugh. Mike, a retired pharmacist and business owner, said his “studious” and “reserved” son excelled in a science-heavy course load at Simcoe Composite School. “Whitney, our daughter, said he had this microscope he got at Christmas and would project images up in his room and explain what was on the slides to her and her sister Danielle,” added Laurie, who owns a gift shop in Simcoe. Four years studying undergraduate science at McMaster University in Hamilton led to a master’s in medical physics at Mac, where Heirwegh first tried his hand at X-ray technology. He further studied X-ray fluorescence and radiation science while doing his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in applied physics at the University of Guelph, which involved analyzing data collected by the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers. That piqued NASA’s interest, creating a rare opportunity for a Canadian to join the Jet Propulsion Lab. “There were not too many people who were doing that,” Mike Heirwegh said. “To get a job like he’s doing in NASA, you have to be uniquely different than any American.” The family left their house in Guelph to make a new life in America, with Meagan Heirwegh, herself an accomplished academic, putting her career on hold so her husband could follow his dream. “She was extremely supportive of taking this step,” Heirwegh said. “That’s been a really key part of it, and something that helped me to have the courage to make such a drastic move.” While navigating the immigration process, Heirwegh got to work calibrating PIXL years ahead of its launch on Perseverance. Past Mars rovers have used X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, but PIXL is the first with an X-ray tube, a technological milestone Heirwegh finds “quite rewarding.” In the months ahead, Heirwegh and his fellow scientists will analyze the trove of scientific data Perseverance will transmit across space to the Jet Propulsion Lab, while making sure their high-tech scanner stays properly calibrated. To keep himself calibrated in what can be a high-pressure job, Heirwegh exercises every morning, and he and Meagan solve a Mensa puzzle together over breakfast. “It’s a nice way to jump-start the physical and mental gears,” he said. Heirwegh could not have known what the future held when he decided to leave Canada and boldly go to NASA to reach for the stars. But his parents say their son was destined to work on the Mars project. “I think the term ‘perseverance’ is very much like Christopher,” Mike said. “He persevered to get to where he is.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
KYIV, Ukraine — A court in Belarus on Tuesday handed a half-year prison sentence to a journalist on charges of revealing personal data in her report on the death of a protester, part of authorities’ crackdown on demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Katsiaryna Barysevich of the independent Tut.by online news portal has been in custody since November, following the publication of an article in which she cited medical documents indicating that protester Raman Bandarenka died of severe injuries and wasn’t drunk — contrary to official claims. Bandarenka died in a hospital on Nov. 12 of brain and other injuries. The opposition alleged that he was brutally beaten by police who dispersed a protest in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Bandarenka’s death caused public outrage and fueled more demonstrations. On Tuesday, the Moskovsky District Court in Minsk sentenced Barysevich to six months in prison and a fine equivalent to $1,100. It also handed a two-year suspended sentence to Artsyom Sarokin, a doctor who treated Bandarenka and shared his medical records with Barysevich, and fined him the equivalent of $550. Belarus has been shaken by protests ever since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office by a landslide. The opposition and some poll workers have said the election was rigged. Lukashenko’s government has unleashed a sweeping crackdown on post-election protests, the biggest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Human rights activists say more than 30,000 people have been detained since the demonstrations began, with thousands beaten. The United States and the European Union have responded to the election and the crackdown by introducing sanctions against Belarusian officials. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in the vote who was forced to leave the country under pressure from authorities, said that Tuesday’s sentence demonstrated that “the truth has become a crime for the regime.” “Lukashenko's resignation and new elections are needed to end the horrible political and legal crisis,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “We are confident that after he steps down all those who were convicted on political grounds will be rehabilitated.” The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — The European Union on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four senior Russian officials over the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile political foe. The 27-nation bloc imposed bans on travel and froze the assets in Europe of Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the prosecuto general, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service. EU headquarters said the four were listed “over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.” Navalny, 44, an anti-corruption investigator, was arrested in Moscow in January upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation. In February, a court sentenced Navalny to two years and eight months in prison for violating the terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated. The European Court of Human Rights has also ruled that it’s unlawful. Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment have fueled a huge wave of protests across Russia. Authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown, detaining about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days. The sanctions were the first used by the EU under a new system for imposing restrictions on people and organizations deemed responsible for human rights abuses. The Associated Press
The Caldwell First Nation has set up an online system to help manage the many consultation requests it gets every week. Companies and organizations are required to consult with First Nations when they're planning projects on their territory — anything from power lines to building bridges. Nikki van Oirschot, director of operations with the Caldwell First Nation, said the duty to consult is an important part of being a self-determining First Nation. "Especially now that we have reserve status and we're going to be planting our roots back down in our home, it's even more important for us to ensure that what's happening that can affect our area is a priority, and not sort of something happening in the background without our input," she said. The online portal will help the First Nation more easily determine which projects need the most attention, such as activities that could affect water and traditional food sources, she said. The system requires organizations that are making proposals to answer questions, some of them regarding their awareness of the Caldwell First Nation and its history. "It takes them through this process to make sure we're being engaged in the ways that we want to be engaged, and not in the ways they choose to engage," she said. More from CBC Windsor
A coalition of Indigenous and environmental organizations is calling on the Canadian and Ontario governments to impose an “immediate moratorium” on all mineral exploration or impact assessment work related to the Ring of Fire region. A dozen organizations, including the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and the Omushkegowuk Women's Water Council (OWWC), have penned an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and provincial leaders asking for the pause. Ontario’s Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines believes the Ring of Fire region in the province’s north has valuable deposits of several minerals, including chromite, which can be used to make stainless steel. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has labelled it a “multibillion-dollar opportunity.” Yet there have been persistent questions over its true potential and concerns over the risk that a rush into a mining boom will end up trampling Indigenous rights and damaging the sensitive local environment. Ancient peatlands, or muskeg, in the region cover over 325,000 square kilometres, representing roughly 26 gigatons of carbon. Environment and Climate Change Canada has said the wetlands in the region “include extensive, globally significant peatlands.” The department has acknowledged that activities linked to construction “could have negative effects on wetlands.” “The muskeg itself currently is a carbon sink,” explained Kerrie Blaise, northern services legal counsel with CELA, in an interview Monday. “But once it’s disturbed, its storage capabilities are removed and so then it becomes a carbon emitter. So it’s a very sensitive type of ecosystem.” The groups also said assessments of mining activity should not proceed until “access to clean water, housing, and health services have been secured for all upstream and downstream communities from the proposed Ring of Fire.” “Mining interests cannot continue to be prioritized over the health, lands, and natural laws of Indigenous communities,” reads the letter, dated Feb. 24. “Living up to the promise of reconciliation means action is required now to prevent further violations of Indigenous rights.” Wilkinson has received the letter and is currently reviewing the request, press secretary Moira Kelly told Canada’s National Observer on Monday. Two federal impact assessments on access roads to Ring of Fire mining sites are currently ongoing: one on a 107-kilometre all-season supply road linking with Webequie First Nation and another on a 190- to 230-kilometre multi-use road connecting with Marten Falls. Canada’s federal Impact Assessment Act does not explicitly allow Wilkinson to declare a "moratorium" on assessments, and it offers a relatively narrow range of options for assessments to be ended. Essentially, either the proponent has to tell the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada or the minister in writing that the project won’t be carried out or otherwise fail to provide information within certain time limits. Last year, however, Wilkinson also ordered a regional assessment in the Ring of Fire area, based on the potential for mining development to “cause adverse effects within federal jurisdiction,” as he put it in letters to the requesters — including those that contribute to climate change, or impact fish and fish habitat, migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Convention Act and wildlife under the Species at Risk Act. That regional assessment is still in the planning stages. The assessment agency also said in January it would continue to accept public input on how it should go about planning the assessment. Blaise said Wilkinson should take the opportunity and put the brakes on all activity. “Hypothetically, the federal government could say, ‘Great, we’re going to pause the (regional) impact assessment. We’re going to make sure communities know that this is going on — we’re going to make sure communities have awareness — we’re going to make sure communities have information in front of them,” she said. In addition to OWWC and CELA, the letter was written by East Coast Environmental Law, Friends of the Attawapiskat River, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, MiningWatch Canada, Northwatch, Ontarians for a Just Accountable Mineral Strategy, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, West Coast Environmental Law, Wildlands League and World Wildlife Fund Canada. Blaise said the letter was meant to amplify another call made in January by the Mushkegowuk Council Chiefs, representing seven Cree First Nations including Attawapiskat, for a moratorium on development until a “proper protection plan” is implemented. The chiefs said it was “irresponsible” to continue planning for industrial development during the COVID-19 pandemic and “while we are still fighting to secure clean water for our community.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
“I came this close to being dead,” said Sean Pauley, of Riverview, a recovering addict who this week marks his fourth year of no longer using opiates. Pauley says he was prescribed Percocet, a brand name painkiller than combines oxycodone and acetaminophen, following a foot injury in his thirties. What followed, he said, was 14 years of dependency. At one point, he was taking 60 pills in a day, Pauley said, noting his addiction cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars and damaged relationships. New public opinion data suggests most Canadians see the nation's opioid use epidemic as a serious problem or crisis, but don't recognize the scope of the problem. “It’s an every class problem,” said Pauley, who now facilitates a recovery group through the Moncton chapter of LifeRing, and an every age problem. While some people associate the problem as one faced by people living on the streets, he has a house, is married, has a family and a job, Pauley said. He was in detox with a doctor, a farmer and a pilot. He said he knows of people as young as 15 who were prescribed opioids to treat injuries, and seniors who became dependent following surgery. Some move from prescription pills, to drugs acquired on the street that can take different forms, he said. Pauley said he didn’t drink or smoke pot prior to becoming addicted to opioids, but it wasn’t long before he became dependent on them. Despite everything he had, when he was on withdrawal all he thought about was the pills, he said. In New Brunswick, 74 per cent of respondents to a recent Angus Reid survey said addiction, overdose and death related to opioid use is a serious problem or crisis in Canada. When asked the same question, but as it applies only to their own province, 57 per cent of New Brunswickers thought it was a serious problem or crisis. When the question was applied to individual communities, that number dropped to 39 per cent. Debby Warren, executive director of social agency Ensemble, says it's a phenomenon where people are aware of the problem but don’t believe it’s happening right in their own backyard. But it is, Warren said. Moncton-based Ensemble serves people from Metro Moncton, Cap-Pelé, Albert Mines, Salisbury and other communities. Warren can still recall a day someone brought garbage bags of needles from the Salisbury-Petitcodiac area. They recognized a need in the Sackville area that led to the Sackville United Church installing a vending machine to supply users with clean needles and supplies. Among survey respondents, 14 per cent of New Brunswickers said they have a close friend or family member who has “become dependent or addicted to opiates,” a statistic which puts the province in a three-way tie for the highest rate in the country. Ten per cent of New Brunswick respondents said they have had a close friend or family member who has died as a result of using opiates, the second highest rate in the country. New Brunswick has the second highest rate in Canada of people who inject substances, said Warren, noting while the issue may not always be visible, it is happening. “Changing the mindset of the public is one of hardest things [about tackling the problem],” she said. The survey also showed 89 per cent of New Brunswick respondents believe there should be compulsory drug treatment programs, while 45 per cent believe we should “get tougher on people who use drugs,” ideas Warren and Pauley both believe won’t work. And New Brunswick, at 49 per cent, is one of only two provinces (the other being Saskatchewan) where a majority do not believe illegal drugs should be decriminalized. The national average is 59 per cent and in Nova Scotia, the rate is as high as 60 per cent in favour of decriminalization. Warren said the issue won’t go away by arresting people. Decriminalization helps everyone from the individual who now does not have to resort to stealing or selling their bodies to buy drugs, to the health-care system which will not be burdened with treating costly complications from non-pharmaceutical grade drug use, she said. Giving Warren some hope that tides could be shifting is that 62 per cent of New Brunswickers said they now favour supervised safe-injection sites, a figure she thought might be lower. “This is a very complex disease,” said Warren of drug addiction, but noted it's clear from this polling research that more education is needed to tackle the issue. Shifting public opinion also gives politicians the will to tackle issues, she said. The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 12 to 16 among a representative randomized sample of 5,003 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum, and a second online survey from Jan. 7 to 11, among a sample of 1,601. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of 5,003 would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, and +/- 2.5 for a sample of 1,601, 19 times out of 20. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
The P.E.I. legislature went ahead with its regularly scheduled sitting Tuesday afternoon — in spite of an effort to reach agreement among all three parties Monday to delay the sitting while the province remains under a COVID-19 lockdown. On Tuesday morning both the PCs and the Greens issued statements saying all three party leaders had agreed Monday to adjourn the house until Thursday, but that the Liberals had backed out — something interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant referred to as a false accusation in his own statement, issued just as the legislature was about to sit Tuesday. Gallant said he made it clear to the other leaders any agreement from him to adjourn the house was "contingent on [a] conversation with my colleagues." And after speaking with the rest of the five-member Liberal caucus, in his statement Gallant said "a collective decision was made that we could proceed safely with a sitting of the House — and that, like thousands of Islanders, we could do the jobs we are paid to do." Two-week lockdown On the weekend, the province announced a two-week lockdown period with restaurants closed to dine-in customers, and stores and gyms operating at reduced capacity. Schools are also in the midst of a three-day shutdown. MLAs are considered essential workers on P.E.I., and even if they weren't, they operate outside the jurisdiction of the province's chief public health office and thus are not bound by its restrictions. In his statement Gallant said "an emergency is precisely the time for government to be explaining the situation and its response to Islanders." But Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker accused the Liberal party of political grandstanding. "I am at a loss to understand how following CPHO guidelines, striving to secure the health, safety, and security of Islanders, is of less importance than political posturing and gamesmanship," Bevan-Baker said in his statement. In his statement Premier Dennis King said there had been "unanimous" agreement among the three leaders and speaker Colin Lavie that the house should adjourn until Thursday, and for the three leaders to sign a joint statement to that effect. "Both the Leader of the Opposition and I signed the letter and returned it yesterday by end of business day," King said in his statement. It was communicated late last night that the Third Party had changed their mind and would not agree to adjourn until Thursday." Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the Green Party of P.E.I., is one of three leaders who have to agree to a suspension. The clerk of the legislature, Joseph Jeffrey, said the assembly has consulted with public health since the latest lockdown began and instituted additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the Coles Building. Among those measures, the house suspended the legislative page program for two weeks. That program has Island high school students serving as couriers within the legislative assembly. As the legislature got underway Tuesday, some members were absent: among them, Green MLA Hannah Bell, who said she stayed away because she's immuno-comprised; and Environment Minister Steven Myers, the father of young twins. "I don't believe anybody should be in there today," Myers told CBC. "Based on the CPHO guidelines laid out for the 72-hour shutdown, I feel like it's the best decision for me to stay home. Having 27 people from 27 different geographic locations meet in a single spot during an outbreak is irresponsible." On Monday, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said all Islanders "should take this [lockdown] very seriously and act accordingly." Privately, some MLAs told CBC that each caucus was divided on whether MLAs should sit or suspend the legislature, and that some were worried about the optics of suspending the legislature while other essential workers like grocery store clerks and medical staff were required to keep working. Sonny Gallant is the interim leader of the Prince Edward Island Liberal Party; he is shown at the legislature on Feb. 25. MLAs have adopted new rules which would allow for a virtual or hybrid sitting, but the clerk said the house would have to break for one week to be prepared to do that. The house can also sit with a quorum of 10 members, but the Liberal and PC caucuses resisted a call to sit with fewer members one year ago, after a provincial state of emergency had first been declared. More from CBC P.E.I.
MARYHILL — The proposed gravel pit on Shantz Station Road, a controversial project proposed near Maryhill, is moving through the review phases for development. Most recently, the Region of Waterloo’s ecological and environmental advisory committee gave a green light, saying that after the company made some revisions to its plans, the project meets all policy and legislative requirements. The committee is a group of experts that advise the region on development applications, environmental assessments and other environmental matters. In turn, the Region of Waterloo is a commenting body on this project. The decision to approve the project’s applications will be made by Woolwich. Capital Paving, a Wellington County-based aggregate extraction company, applied for a licence to remove aggregate above the water table, a zone change to allow for aggregate extraction on current farmland, and an Official Plan amendment in 2019. The site is outside the areas the township currently designates for aggregate extraction in its Official Plan, and extracting there will require an amendment. To access the pit, Capital Paving may use an older driveway that runs through a wetland. The driveway was used in the early 2000s for truck access to a now-closed gravel pit. This access road will be paved and widened, and an extension built to the extraction area through a neighbouring woodlot. Though this wetland area is habitat for species at risk, the committee believes the proposed access route makes more sense than the alternative of an access route to Foerster Road. This route would be longer, more costly, run along a township road that would need to be upgraded to accommodate the increased truck traffic, and could endanger pedestrians crossing between sections of a golf course. The ecological and environmental advisory committee gave recommendations to lessen the project’s environmental impact. These include planting more trees to make up for the damage, prioritizing planting the trees in the preliminary stages of the project and implementing a formalized agreement with the neighbour to ensure trees are retained over the years, according to Ken Hough, who presented about the project at the committee’s February meeting. Also, once the pit is in its rehabilitation phase, the committee recommends the extension through the woodlot be taken out and the road through the wetland be put back to its original size. Ecological passages to allow amphibians and reptiles to move across the access road were also recommended, though this was considered unnecessary by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Hough said. Overall, the access road “was a bit contentious but ultimately probably as good as we could achieve,” Hough said at the meeting. An amendment to Woolwich’s Official Plan would allow for aggregate extraction outside the designated area. The Hopewell Creek Ratepayers Association is a community group opposed to the pit. The group cites concerns with how close the project will be to Maryhill, a possible reduction in air quality, increased truck traffic and negative impact on nearby businesses. “Shouldn’t aggregate mapping adopted by the region count for something?” says a letter last year from the group to the township and region. “Shouldn’t this mapping give citizens some certainty about where an aggregate proposal could arise?” “It is very common when an application becomes public pretty much anywhere in Ontario, there’s going to be certain degree of opposition,” says George Lourenco, the resources manager for Capital Paving. “I don’t know of a single application in the entire province that isn’t going through issues with a community or a certain number of neighbours that are nearby the operation.” “I think it’s important to understand that gravel is only located in certain locations in the province. Mother Nature didn’t bless us with gravel everywhere. So we can only go to those places where it’s located and has a good enough quality and a certain amount, or a certain size of deposit to be able to warrant going for a licence.” Lourenco also says the aggregate industry stresses that aggregate extraction needs to be close to where it will be used. The Ontario Stone Sand and Gravel Association estimates that adding one kilometre to the route of all aggregate trucks in Ontario would burn approximately 2.5 million extra litres of diesel fuel each year. Other completed reviews and discussion about the project are on the Township of Woolwich’s ongoing projects page on its website. Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email email@example.com Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
Canada's chief public officer of health Dr. Theresa Tam said on Tuesday that more “real-world data” is still needed after the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommended that the newly-approved COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca not be given to those 65 or older. However, she said "don't read their recommendations as sort-of static, they will update as needed.”
TORONTO — Public health authorities have ordered the closure of a Toronto school after several cases of a COVID-19 variant were found. Toronto's health unit says a COVID-19 outbreak in Donwood Park Public School has sickened six people in the school. Those include four cases that have screened positive for a variant. The unit says the four variant cases are likely from community exposure. It says testing is recommended for the whole school as well as families of those at the school. Health officials say the school's temporary closure is a "precautionary measure" to allow an investigation to be conducted while preventing further virus spread. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 588 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Health officials say hospitalizations rose for a third consecutive day, up by 16 today, for a total of 628. The number of people in intensive care dropped by one, to 121. The province says it administered 16,458 doses of vaccine Monday, the first day of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign for the general public. Quebec has reported a total of 288,941 COVID-19 infections and 10,407 deaths linked to the virus. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 966 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths from the virus. The new data is based on 30,737 tests. There are 284 hospitalized people in intensive care and 189 people on ventilators. The province says it administered 22,326 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
SAINT-WENCESLAS. Les Loisirs de Saint-Wenceslas invitent les amateurs de raquette et de randonnée pédestre à tester un circuit de 1,4 km. Un essai, s’il est concluant, qui mènerait, possiblement au développement de nouveaux sentiers dans la forêt située au bout de la rue Saint-Arnaud. «On est en campagne et il faut aller en ville pour marcher dans le bois», s’étonnait Éric Thériault. L’entrepreneur, avec l’aide de Mathieu Lessard, l’initiateur de la Course de la conquête du bois, va s’attaquer au problème. «Déjà, le circuit est tracé pour la course à obstacles. On a discuté au comité des loisirs de le rendre accessible cet hiver et, après autorisation de la municipalité, le site était fonctionnel après quelques jours», explique Éric Thériault qui s’assure de l’entretien avec sa motoneige. Accessible à pied ou en raquette, le circuit est pensé tant pour les débutants et les familles que pour ceux qui sont à la recherche d’une expérience plus intense. «On a la rivière Blanche et les arbres sont magnifiques, encore plus avec la neige qui tombe en ce moment, c’est féerique», ajoute Mathieu Lessard. «C’est un site avec beaucoup de potentiel pour les amateurs de plein air qui pourrait être exploité à l’année. C’est un joyau à découvrir», conclut Éric Thériault. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on senior Russian government officials and Russian entities in response to what U.S. officials said was Moscow's attempt to kill opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent. The announcement, made by senior Biden administration officials, marked a sharp turn away from former President Donald Trump's reluctance to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny fell ill on a flight in Siberia in August and was airlifted to Germany, where doctors concluded he had been poisoned with a nerve agent.
Regina–SaskEnergy is warning of a potential telemarketing scam targeting its residential customers. The warning comes a week after its sister Crown corporation, put out a warning of a scam targeting its customers. SaskEnergy said in a release on March 2 it has received reports that individuals claiming to be associated with either SaskEnergy, or the federal government, are contacting customers regarding their eligibility for various rebates, including: carbon tax, furnace replacement and equipment maintenance. These callers are not associated with SaskEnergy, and are not offering rebates on behalf of SaskEnergy, the Crown corporation emphasized. SaskEnergy rebates are not offered through solicitation or door-to-door sales. All SaskEnergy rebates are offered through participating SaskEnergy Network Members only. For more information about SaskEnergy current rebates and programs, and a list of qualified Network Member companies, visit www.saskenergy.com. Anyone who has received calls of this nature should make a report to the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) of the Government of Saskatchewan at 1-306-787-5645 or 1-877-880-5550 (menu option #1), SaskEnergy said, adding, “If you have provided personal financial information, including bank account or credit card information over the phone, you should report the matter to local police, as well as immediately contact your financial institution.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
BARRIE, Ont. — Highway 400 has reopened in both directions after bring closed for hours due to whiteout conditions and a series of collisions.Ontario Provincial Police announced the lanes had reopened around 9 p.m. Monday.Police shut down the major artery Monday afternoon from Highway 88 outside of Bradford, Ont., to Mapleview Drive in Barrie, Ont.They said at the time that snow squalls caused whiteout conditions on the highway north of Toronto, leading to limited visibility and dangerous driving conditions.Police later said more than 11 vehicles were involved in a crash.They said "numerous" people were injured but did not provide details of their condition.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Arya Peruma got into coding at the age of seven, and the 15-year-old from Mississauga is now helping educators spark that same passion in more elementary students while also boosting the efforts of girls and other youth often underrepresented in technology. Peruma is currently researching DNA microarrays to see if artificial intelligence can be used to predict someone’s risk of developing cancer, but the 10th-grader has yet to take a dedicated computer science class, which, in Ontario, is first offered in Grade 11. “By then, it’s already too late to learn,” she says. “The passion for the subject matter starts when you're really young, and in order to spark the interest, you have to be exposed to it, and the younger the better. “It’s something that is really vital and crucial to learn, not just if you want to go into the field of computer science or programming, but it’s something that will develop cognitive skills, critical thinking and so many more really integral problem-solving skills.” Coding concepts are included as early as Grade 1 in a new math curriculum the Ford government unveiled last year. “This is definitely a step in the right direction, but I think more needs to be done,” Peruma says. To help spread the word, she started the Coding for Young Minds community group in 2019. So far, some 5,000 students around the world have taken up her offer of free live tutoring sessions on various aspects of coding and programming. “It's really important to me because especially thinking back to how many barriers they were for me to access supplemental education, it made me think that if I have these barriers, what would the barriers for other students be?” she says, pointing out that online programming and coding classes can be prohibitively expensive and not particularly approachable for younger learners. Top tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google have consistently reported workforces made up overwhelmingly of white and Asian men since the companies began releasing diversity reports in 2014, a fact critics say creates a web of subtle biases that exclude minorities. Peruma will be taking her project to another level this year, creating a three-part free virtual workshop series for educators wanting to know how to engage their students in the topic. “One thing I really like to be able to do is connect everything back to real life,” she explains. “When you're talking about algorithms with younger students, we can compare it to a cooking recipe and tell them that it's a step-by-step procedure just like a cooking recipe.” Late last year, Peruma helped cut the ribbon on an in-person coding lab in Mississauga. For now, she mostly uses the space to host her virtual tutoring sessions, but once COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, the space will offer local students access to equipment including a 3D printer and tailored training to accommodate special needs. Morgan Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Ratings for the Canadian women's curling final tumbled significantly compared to the 2020 final when the same teams met for the championship. Defending champion Kerri Einarson defeated Ontario's Rachel Homan 9-7 in Calgary last Sunday night in a final that drew an average audience of 682,000 viewers, a TSN spokesman said in an email. That was down about 30 per cent from the average audience of 979,000 viewers who watched last year's final in Moose Jaw, Sask., according to Numeris data. Both finals were close matchups that were decided late in the game. Einarson made a game-winning draw in an extra end last year to win her first Scotties Tournament of Hearts title. Homan forced a 10th end this year by stealing a pair in the ninth. Her final shot was a freeze attempt that slid too far, giving Einarson a two-point victory. The event was held in a spectator-free environment at the Markin MacPhail Centre due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the 10-day competition was watched by more than 4.7 million Canadians, according to TSN. The event garnered record engagement on TSN’s digital platforms, with over two million video starts and nearly three million page views, the network said. Ratings for the opening weekend of the Hearts were down about 17 per cent from the same time period last year. Other sports have experienced similar ratings declines after pausing due to the pandemic. The Canadian men's curling championship will be the second of six events to be held in a so-called bubble setting at the Canada Olympic Park venue. The March 5-14 Tim Hortons Brier will be followed by the March 18-25 Canadian mixed doubles championship, the April 2-11 world men's playdowns, the April 14-18 Champions Cup and the April 20-25 Players' Championship. Einarson will represent Canada if the world women's curling championship is rescheduled this season. The World Curling Federation recently cancelled the March 19-28 event in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The local health authority did not provide permission due to the pandemic and concerns around the spread of new variants, the WCF said. A rescheduled world championship hasn't been ruled out for this season but the WCF has suggested the creation of an alternate event in early fall is more likely. The 2021 world championship was to be the main qualifier for the Beijing Winter Olympics. Einarson didn't get a chance to represent Canada after the 2020 worlds in Prince George, B.C., were cancelled last March due to the pandemic. If a world championship/alternate event is played next season, the Hearts champion would be "factored into Canada's efforts to qualify a four-player women's team for the Beijing Games,'' Curling Canada said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press