Elana Joelle Hendler from EJH Brand shares her ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts for your loved one.
Elana Joelle Hendler from EJH Brand shares her ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts for your loved one.
President Joe Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators as the U.S. government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies. "It is great to see the priority that the new administration is giving to cyber," said Suzanne Spaulding, director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cybersecurity was demoted as a policy field under the Trump administration.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are marking the end of the first week of the provincial election campaign with a massive snowstorm. Though some candidates were out knocking on doors Thursday morning, by late afternoon it was difficult to see across the street in St. John's with all the blowing snow. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey made it back to St. John's before the storm hit after a few days of campaigning in western and central Newfoundland. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie is in Clarenville, where 60 km/h winds blew overnight Thursday. As of Thursday evening, it was unclear whether NDP Leader Alison Coffin would make it back to St. John's from campaigning in Labrador, where another storm was swirling over the north coast. The snowstorm also marks the one-year anniversary of the record-breaking blizzard, now dubbed "Snowmageddon," which dumped more than 70 centimetres on the capital city and prompted officials to enforce a state of emergency for more than a week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,622 new vaccinations administered for a total of 738,864 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,949.546 per 100,000. There were 13,260 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 920,775 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.24 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 13,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 62.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 79.09 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 5,996 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 9,827 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.07 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 11,950 new vaccinations administered for a total of 186,210 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.762 per 1,000. There were 975 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.21 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 15,899 new vaccinations administered for a total of 253,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.279 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,519 new vaccinations administered for a total of 23,884 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.345 per 1,000. There were 9,360 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 42.92 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,548 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,781 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.256 per 1,000. There were 2,925 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.7 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 1,263 new vaccinations administered for a total of 96,506 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.923 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 95.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,776 new vaccinations administered for a total of 104,901 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.442 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 133,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.6 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.59 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 570 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,160 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 75.723 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 43.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 26.29 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 830 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,375 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 87.151 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the new English variant of COVID-19 may be associated with a higher level of mortality although he said evidence showed that both vaccines being used in the country are effective against it. Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said the evidence about mortality levels was "not yet strong", and came from a "series of different bits of information", stressing there was great uncertainty around the data. He said that once people reached hospital, there was no greater risk, but there were signs that people who had the UK variant were at more risk overall.
OTTAWA — Internal reports prepared by Veterans Affairs Canada show Canadian veterans have been waiting longer and longer in recent years to access psychiatric services and other medical support at government-run clinics. The reports obtained by The Canadian Press through the access-to-information system are separate from the controversy surrounding the backlog of tens of thousands of applications from veterans for disability benefits. They also follow a previous warning from the federal auditor general about former soldiers facing long waits for badly needed mental-health services, with the reports blaming the growing delays on a soaring demand for help over the past five years. Experts say the new reports are concerning because of the importance in responding to requests for mental-health support as soon as possible to keep veterans from having to struggle on their own. “As we know with mental health, timely access is key,” said Wounded Warriors Canada executive director Scott Maxwell, whose organization provides mental-health services to veterans and first responders. “Making people wait, they might not go back, they might not follow up, they might fall through the cracks into these gaps that we know exist across the mental-health service space in Canada. And we have to make sure that we are avoiding that at all cost.” Prepared quarterly, the reports provide information on how long veterans are having to wait before getting first appointments for several medical services at 10 operational stress injury clinics set up across Canada. First established in 2002, the clinics are now located in most major cities across Canada and include teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other specialized mental-health professionals. Each clinic is designed to assess and treat the mental-health needs of veterans as well as serving military personnel and RCMP members through one-on-one therapy and group sessions. The most recent report, covering the period between April and June 2020, shows most veterans waited less than two weeks — and half only two days — before one of the clinics responded to their first phone call or other request for help. That was unchanged from the same quarter in 2018, even though the later period coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in lockdowns across the country. In fact, it was even an improvement over the year preceding the pandemic. “Contact within two days is actually a good starting point,” said Oliver Thorne, executive director of the Vancouver-based Veterans Transition Network, which works with former service members struggling with psychological trauma. Yet the report also shows most veterans had to wait months — in some cases more than seven months — for their first appointments with psychiatrists or to start work on treatment plans. The same was true for getting medical exams to apply for disability benefits. While the pandemic appears to have made it harder to get a medical exam or first appointment to start creating or implementing a treatment plan, the report shows wait times for both have been steadily growing since at least 2017. War Amps Canada executive director Brian Forbes, who is also chair of the National Council of Veterans’ Associations, said the growing delays for medical exams underscore the challenges many disabled veterans have just applying for benefits. Such exams are needed by Veterans Affairs Canada to approve a veteran’s application before they can get any type of help. “If you can't get to the doctor or the psychiatrists or the clinic, you're obviously stuck in another kind of backlog because you don't even get to first base,” said Forbes. Many veterans actually got their first appointments with psychiatrists faster during the start of the pandemic. But they had still been waiting in many cases more than two months longer than colleagues who saw psychiatrists in 2017. While the reports only extend as far as the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has created a surge in demand for assistance as veterans have seen their normal outlets and support networks dry up, Thorne said. “There's just kind of an increasing urgency behind them because of the stress that people are dealing with in their day-to-day life,” he said, adding many veterans often only come forward when they are in great need. “Looking at these numbers, what's potentially worrying is the amount of time between first contact and when the treatment plan begins. And so my followup question would be: How much other type of support is available for them in that interim time?” The reports note that the number of veterans referred to the government-run clinics even before the pandemic had nearly doubled between 2015 and 2020, which “had a negative impact on wait times.” Veterans Affairs spokesman Josh Bueckert also blamed longer treatment times for veterans than non-veterans and a shortage of mental-health workers across the country, “especially with psychiatrists and psychologists, causing occasional staff vacancies in some clinics.” “In order to address this situation, Veterans Affairs Canada has increased funding for OSI Clinic recruitment and specialized training of other types of mental health professionals,” Bueckert said. The department has also recruited local health providers to help out. Veterans are also screened when they first reach out to a clinic, Bueckert said, with the most at-risk provided faster service. Maxwell said there is a clear need for the government to dedicate more resources — including funding to train dedicated mental-health professionals — to ensure veterans have ready access to support. “Clearly, there's a desire to utilize the services based on the numbers that we're seeing in this report,” he said. “That just speaks to the need then to keep pace with demand so those veterans can get the care that they deserve, and in a positive way.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
A $129-million plan to rejuvenate the historic ByWard Market heads to Ottawa city council for approval next week, and business owners say it's about time the downtown area saw some civic love by way of upgrades. As it nears its 200th anniversary, Ottawa's original commercial district is still at the top of sightseeing lists, but many people who live and work there say it's looking run down. Even city staff referred to the market as a "district in distress" before presenting revitalization plans to Ottawa's finance committee last month. The idea is to make better use of the city's 10 hectares of the market, mostly its streets. The city plans to "reclaim" 3.2 hectares of that space for pedestrians by widening sidewalks for patios and benches, and reconfiguring roadways so whole streets can be closed for events and festivals. The aging municipal garage at the market's core would be replaced by a new "destination" building with much-needed public washrooms. William Street would be the only street permanently closed to traffic. At the "gateway" to the area, the ramp over the sombre pedestrian underpass at Sussex Drive and Rideau Street could be demolished to make the area brighter and improve cycling connections. "It's the biggest thing to happen down here since I've been around," said John Borsten, owner of the Metropolitain Brasserie, The Grand Pizzeria and for 35 years, Zak's Diner. York Street a 'wasted' boulevard The way Borsten sees it, if the city needs to redo sidewalks and install new lampposts anyway, it might as well do the job right and create wide, flexible public spaces that can be used for events such as Canada Day. "I think the future of the ByWard Market depends on it happening," he said. Borsten and partners have just bought the old building that housed the Fish Market restaurant at the prominent corner of York and William streets, a building that has borne witness to countless changes over its nearly 150 years. Someday, when the pandemic is over, the streetscape outside its doors might host a concert for 7,500 people. York Street, with its wide roadway and strip of parking spaces down the middle, is the city's top priority for the revamp. "It's a giant boulevard. It's just wasted. It's just surface parking," said Borsten. Mandy Gosewich looks out on York Street from her boutique, STUNNING! Fashion + Accessories. As a girl, she would see live chickens for sale on the street when she visited her shopkeeper grandparents in the ByWard Market. She's the fourth generation in her family to operate a business in the market and says times are changing yet again, with younger generations less dependant on cars and keener on open public spaces, especially since the pandemic. This past summer, Gosewich watched as families spent whole days in the ByWard Market when the city closed off streets for patios. "It was really wonderful to see the amount of people who were down here hanging out," she said. "It really brought back the vibe of the market that had gone away." Like Borsten, she thinks it's the market's turn for some municipal attention. "Lansdowne has been a huge focus for the city, and I think their cup has runneth over, and I think it's time to give love back to the ByWard Market," said Gosewich. The hunt for funding While city council is expected to approve the plan on Jan. 27, it doesn't yet have the money for a dozen projects pegged at $129 million. Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the cost is comparable to a couple of road renewals, and believes the city can make the case for funding. The revamp creates coveted public outdoor space, and helps local businesses and farmers recover from the pandemic. Plus the National Capital Commission already has a major stake, he points out. "It just checks so many of those boxes when you think of a federal or provincial [funding] application," said Fleury. Others with a stake in the ByWard Market have seen enough ideas come and go that they're not counting on the full plan to happen, or at least happen quickly. This time, however, the area's blend of retailers, restaurants, bars and homes appear more unified and supportive than they have in the past. That said, the perennial disagreement over parking versus pedestrian space continues. Some shops maintain that losing parking will harm sales because their customer bases extend beyond the neighbourhood, and most shoppers simply won't walk far with heavy bags. "We have been assured by the politicians that most of the parking that will be removed will be replaced, so I'm optimistic about that," said John Diener of longstanding Saslove's Meat Market. Diener, who also lives in the ByWard Market, hopes this will be the plan to finally lift up an area that looks more "tired" as each year goes by. "We're hoping that the great majority of these things actually do take place, because I think it would be great for the city and certainly great for the area."
CAMEROON, Cameroon — The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force on Friday, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate. When the treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance. Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it “a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The treaty received its 50th ratification on Oct. 24, triggering a 90-day period before its entry into force on Jan. 22. As of Thursday, Fihn told The Associated Press that 61 countries had ratified the treaty, with another ratification possible on Friday, and “from Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law” in all those countries. The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries. Fihn said the treaty is “really, really significant” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward civilians and soldiers during war and the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons and land mines. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty demonstrated support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament. “Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause,” he said in a video message. “The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.” But not for the nuclear powers. As the treaty was approaching the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, the Trump administration wrote a letter to countries that signed it saying they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The letter said the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament" and would endanger the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nonproliferation efforts. Fihn countered at the time that a ban could not undermine nonproliferation since it was "the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the treaty’s arrival was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and “hopefully will compel renewed action by nuclear-weapon states to fulfil their commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.” Fihn said in an interview that the campaign sees strong public support for the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and Spain. “We will not stop until we get everyone on board,” she said. It will also be campaigning for divestment — pressuring financial institutions to stop giving capital to between 30 and 40 companies involved in nuclear weapons and missile production including Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Félix-Antoine Joli-Coeur is the first contender to openly challenge Mayor Valérie Plante for her seat and he says he plans to bring with him a diverse range of candidates in the next municipal election, Nov. 7. "We have to find new ways to attract diversity in a short period of time," said Joli-Coeur, who has founded the Ralliement pour Montréal party. "The city council should be and has to be as diverse as possible to actually represent the diversity of Montreal." His team is still developing a plan on how to attract candidates of all genders, races and ethnicities to join, but one thing is certain, the current council cannot remain as is, with only a handful of visible minorities holding elected office, Joli-Coeur said. The call for a more diverse council is nothing new to Montreal, but that call is louder than ever before as large-scale protests have been marching through downtown streets — demanding an end to societal inequalities and systemic racism. The current party in power, Projet Montréal, has been heavily criticized for the lack of diversity among its elected representatives, but Plante said last November that she intends to bring more diversity to council. And although Ensemble Montréal already has visible minorities in office, party members like Saint-Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa have said the current situation must change. "Other parties have quite a bit of catching up to do," DeSousa has said. Looking to improve how city is managed Joli-Coeur is also promising to improve the way the city is managed. It's a city that is in dire need of improvement, he told CBC Montreal's Debra Arbec this week. "I love Montreal, but I think we are going under our potential," he said. "The city should be way more cleaner, the snow-removal operation could be swifter." He threw his hat into the ring with the intention of using his skills and expertise to change the way the municipality is run. Joli-Coeur is pushing for a stronger partnership with the provincial government to improve the city, including developing the downtown core with larger investments that will help draw people to the area. Joli-Coeur, a management consultant, has worked with cultural organizations and startup businesses. While the 42-year-old may not be well known to the public, he's no stranger to politics. He served as an advisor to former Mayor Gérald Tremblay and former Premier Pauline Marois. Candidate says he's 'outraged' by current situation Joli-Coeur said he wants to bring a new way of getting the job done to the mayor's office. "I really bring a pragmatic way of fixing things and bringing innovation and new solutions," Joli-Coeur said. "I think we bring a new option. We bring fresh air." In an interview with Radio-Canada, he said he wants to develop a "diverse coalition, a rainbow coalition, to really bring Montreal somewhere else." He had been interested in taking over as head of Mélanie Joly's former party, Vrai changement pour Montréal, but ultimately changed his mind. All the old parties are more of a liability than an asset, he said. "I am outraged by the trajectory that Montreal has taken," he said. "The streets, alleys and parks are extremely dirty."
Regina– On Jan. 18, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum lifted a state-wide mandatory mask order, with the state having brought its COVID-19 new case numbers down to a level lower than Saskatchewan’s. That state, which had among the worst COVID-19 numbers for the entire United States for the previous three months, has remarkably turned things around. On Jan. 21, Manitoba also announced a slight easing it its public health restrictions, restrictions that were much more severe than Saskatchewan. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister tweeted on that day, “Today is a day of hope and optimism. We’re announcing a few modest changes to our #COVID19MB restrictions that will allow increased personal connections and economic activity while ensuring we continue #ProtectingManitobans.” Manitoba will now allow two visitors to a household, 10 people plus the officiant at a funeral, and retail establishments to sell items beyond what was considered “essential.” These neighbouring jurisdictions were able to do so as they had both brought down their new COVID-19 cases down considerably. On North Dakota’s day of lifting its mask mandate, they say just 69 new cases, and by Jan. 21, their seven-day average of new cases was 147. On Nov. 14, 2020, North Dakota’s seven-day average peaked at 1,389.1. On Jan. 21, Manitoba’s seven-day average was 163. On Jan. 13 they had 90 new cases, and on Jan. 19, they had 111 new cases. For the past three weeks, both saw their seven-day averages less than 200, and generally around 160 to 170. Saskatchewan Saskatchewan, however, has had nearly double that over the last two weeks. From Jan. 10 to Jan. 21, Saskatchewan’s seven-day average of new cases hovered between 289.1 and 317.6. On Jan. 21, it was 286.1, with 227 new cases reported that day, and a record number of deaths for one day, at 13. Premier Scott Moe said in a Facebook post on Jan. 21, “Sadly, we are reporting that thirteen Saskatchewan residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died. I would like to extend my condolences to the friends and family of each of these individuals. “While Saskatchewan’s case numbers continue to decrease and we continue to deliver the vaccine at a high rate, reporting the highest number of deaths in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic is a somber reminder of the need to reduce the spread of this deadly virus by following all public health orders and guidelines that are in place.” At the regular COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 19 in the Legislature, both Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab were asked about what North Dakota is doing better than Saskatchewan, and if they should be removing their mask mandate. Shahab said he’s been following North Dakota, which is similar in some ways to Saskatchewan, with a fairly rural population. He noted, “They were in dire straits by the end of October, early November.” “That's the lesson; that when there's high compliance with all the public health measures, things change very quickly. And I think that's the main lesson from North Dakota, but also, we’ve seen that in Saskatchewan. We've seen that in our neighboring provinces. High compliance through public health measures, restrictions, but also the high compliance by all of us, dramatically changes the course of the pandemic. So, that's what we saw in mid-December. That's really what we want to see right now,” Shahab said. Moe said of the measures implemented south of the border a few months ago, “Apparently they have been effective. There’s obviously been mass adherence to the measures that Governor (Doug) Burgum had put in place. “I’ve talked to Governor Burgum a number of times throughout this pandemic, with respect to some of the challenges that we've seen, north and south of the border, and their numbers have come down markedly. And that is through people doing the right thing, and taking their individual responsibility very, very seriously.” He added that the last time he checked, North Dakota was in excess of 5 per cent of its population having been vaccinated. “In fact, I think it's a few months ago, we were talking about North Dakota, having the highest per capita rate of COVID infections in North America. I believe if they're now leading North America on the vaccination rates, or are very close to it. And so, they have had a very robust ambitious and aggressive vaccination program. I know in one day they had over 300 vaccination sites operating in North Dakota. So they've been very ambitious, with respect to procuring vaccines and making them available to North Dakotas, and I think that speaks to the importance of us having access to a large number of vaccines, as soon as possible, ultimately, finding our way through this COVID-19 pandemic and finding our way back to some degree of normal in our communities.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back at the search giant saying "we don't respond to threats" after Google said it would remove its services from the country.View on euronews
Ramped up domestic oil production and alternative supply routes have lessened the U.S.'s need for the hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil that would have been pumped daily through the now-cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, some industry experts say. On Wednesday, not long after being sworn in as president of the United States, Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order scuttling the 1,897-kilometre pipeline expansion as part of the administration's effort to fight climate change. The project, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska and connected with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to Gulf Coast refineries. "I really don't think that this works out to be a major, significant change to American oil supply right now," said Warren Mabee, director of Queen's University's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy. "The flow of oil out of Canada ... is now a much smaller part of any big U.S. energy strategy. They've got the capacity in the States to be able to make up for that. They're not really counting on the additional capacity, the growth that Keystone XL would bring." A 'gut punch' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was disappointed with Biden's decision, but Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called it a "gut punch" and federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole described it as "devastating." While supporters of the project north of the border say the decision represents a major loss for Canadian jobs and oil production, it likely won't have a similar negative impact on U.S. oil supply, some experts say. And that makes the prospect of changing the administration's mind even more unlikely. "A decade ago, we were integral," Mabee said. "In fact, the United States would think of Canada as part of the United States when they were looking at their energy supply. And I don't think that's the case anymore." As well, there was no guarantee that adding 800,000 barrels a day of capacity would lead to 800,000 barrels a day of additional production in the oilsands, said Mabee. With Canada already moving 500,000 barrels a day by rail to the U.S., Keystone XL may have just picked up the slack from the rail system, he said. Weaned off imports In the years since Keystone XL was first proposed, the U.S. significantly increased its oil production through the hydraulic fracturing of shale. This resulted in a 230 per cent surge in U.S. crude production, or an extra 6.9 million barrels a day, said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. Total U.S. crude imports have dropped significantly as well. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, the U.S. produced, on average, about 19.25 million barrels per day of petroleum, which included more than 12 million barrels per day of crude oil. Since the 1990s, Canada's share of total crude oil imports to the U.S. has increased, accounting for 56 per cent of the supply in 2019. However, by that time, total U.S. crude oil imports were down by about one-third compared to 2005 volumes. "So the U.S. has just really weaned its way off of global imports in a really big way during that period," Tran said. "The domestic shale revolution has completely altered the U.S. landscape and its dependency on foreign oil. "The U.S. need for Canadian oil is not to the same urgent degree as it has been in the past." David Braziel, CEO of RBN Energy, an energy markets consultancy based in Houston, Texas, said that when the Keystone XL project was first announced, back in 2005, the U.S. was certainly in need of the additional capacity that would have been produced. But as the project continued to stall, the industry found alternative supply chains. Producers began relying more on rail to transport oil supplies while other pipelines expanded incrementally to help move those additional barrels to U.S. markets, Braziel said. The U.S. is also counting on the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which heads west from Alberta to B.C. and connects with a pipeline to Washington state, and Enbridge Line 3, which also begins in Alberta and crosses Minnesota to Superior, Wis. In late July, the Trump administration approved the existing Keystone pipeline to ship 29 per cent more Canadian crude into the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast. "So, there's a lot of additional capacity that could come on to fill the gaps. If the Keystone XL was there, [we would] definitely use it, but if it's not there, then there are other ways to get to market," Braziel said. WATCH | Kenney on Biden's decision to scrap Keystone XL: Andrew Lipow, CEO of Lipow Oil Associates, a petroleum consulting firm based in Houston, Texas, said the Keystone XL pipeline certainly could have been used to increase crude oil production that ultimately would have been delivered to U.S. refineries, many of them on the Gulf Coast, displacing imports from other parts of the world. "And those other imports that the Gulf Coast relies on come from areas of the world that may be politically unstable or have other supply issues," he said. Major exporter As well, while shale production has resulted in the U.S. becoming a major exporter of crude oil, that oil is of the "light sweet variety," Lipow said. And many U.S. refineries are configured to prefer the heavy sour crude that comes from Alberta. "The Canadian crude is actually less expensive than the light sweet crude coming out of the shale producing regions [in the U.S.]," he said. Still, while the U.S. refineries would prefer Alberta crude pumped through Keystone XL, they can still use U.S. crude oil, he said. Meanwhile, U.S. motorists are unlikely to see any spike in gas prices as a result of the Keystone XL decision, Mabee said. "It's not going to leave Americans paying three times as much for their gasoline," he said. "It probably won't affect their price at all."
Local businesses in Ottawa say they welcome provincial inspections of COVID-19 prevention protocols, but think the focus should remain on big box stores. An enforcement blitz in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas has uncovered numerous violations of those protocols at big box retailers, including failing to wear masks and ignoring physical distancing guidelines. During the first wave of the blitz, inspectors found only 70 per cent of sites they visited were adhering to the public health measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Now similar inspections will be coming to the Ottawa area, focusing in on big box stores, but also other retailers, restaurants open for takeout and gas stations. Province should 'double down' on bigger stores "It is infuriating as a small business owner," said Karla Briones of the inspection results so far. Briones, who runs a number of franchises in Ottawa including Global Pet Foods and a Freshii restaurant, said she welcomes an inspection for COVID-19 violations but thinks the province should continue focusing on the biggest culprits. "Instead of going down to small business owners where we actually take care of our staff, we actually care about our customers, to double down on those big box retailers," said Briones. Mark Kaluski, chair of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Area, said his members also welcome an inspection, but the news about the crackdown comes as cold comfort to the small businesses that followed the rules and yet have been forced to close. Meanwhile big box stores have been allowed to remain open during the provincewide stay-at-home order. "You would think, given that they've been given this unchecked ability to sell as much as they want to, the very least they could do is be following the rules," Kaluski said. Blitz to focus on big box stores this weekend The province's Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said inspections have already been happening in the Ottawa area, but inspectors will be sweeping through big box stores this weekend. "I feel for them," said McNaughton about small businesses. "COVID-19 has clearly impacted so many families and small businesses here in Ontario. The sooner we get through this, the sooner we can get our numbers down, the sooner we can reopen." A spokesperson for the department said there have been 241 orders issued during COVID-19-related visits in the Ottawa area since the lockdown began.
MOSCOW — The return to Russia from Germany by opposition leader Alexei Navalny was marked by chaos and popular outrage, and it ended, almost predictably, with his arrest. The Jan. 17 flight from Berlin, where Navalny spent nearly five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning, carried him and his wife, along with a group of journalists documenting the journey. But the plane was diverted from its intended airport in Moscow to another one in the capital in what was seen as an apparent attempt to foil a welcome from crowds awaiting him. Authorities also took him into custody immediately, sparking outrage at home and abroad. Some Western countries threatened sanctions and his team called for nationwide demonstrations Saturday. Navalny had prepared his own surprise for his return: A video expose alleging that a lavish “palace” was built for President Vladimir Putin on the Black Sea through an elaborate corruption scheme. His team posted it on YouTube on Tuesday, and within 48 hours, it had gotten over 42 million views. Navalny faces years in prison from a previous conviction he claims was politically motivated, while political commentators say there are no good options for the Kremlin. The AP looks at his long standoff with authorities: WHO IS ALEXEI NAVALNY? Navalny, 44, is an anti-corruption campaigner and the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. He has outlasted many opposition figures and is undeterred by incessant attempts to stop his work. He has released scores of damning reports exposing corruption in Putin’s Russia. He has been a galvanizing figure in mass protests, including unprecedented 2011-12 demonstrations sparked by reports of widespread rigging of a parliamentary election. Navalny was convicted twice on criminal charges: embezzlement and later fraud. He received suspended sentences of five years and 3 1/2 years. He denounced the convictions as politically motivated, and the European Court of Human Rights disputed both convictions. Navalny sought to challenge Putin in the 2018 election, but was barred from running by one of his convictions. Nevertheless, he drew crowds of supporters almost everywhere he went in the country. Frequently arrested, he has served multiple stints in jail for charges relating to leading protests. In 2017, an attacker threw a green antiseptic liquid in his face, damaging his sight. He also was hospitalized in 2019 after a suspected poisoning while in jail. None of that has stopped him. In August 2020, he fell ill while on a domestic flight in Siberia, and the pilot landed quickly in Omsk, where he was hospitalized. His supporters managed to have him flown to Berlin, where he lay in a coma for over two weeks and was diagnosed as having been poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent — an allegation the Kremlin denied. After he recovered, Navalny released a recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he alleged was a member of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him. The FSB dismissed the recording as a fake, but it still shocked many at home and abroad. Navalny vowed to return to Russia and continue his work, while authorities threatened him with arrest. WHY DID NAVALNY RETURN AT ALL? Navalny said he didn’t leave Russia by choice, but rather “ended up in Germany in an intensive care box.” He said he never considered the possibility of staying abroad. “It doesn’t seem right to me that Alexei Navalny calls for a revolution from Berlin,” he explained in an interview in October, referring to himself in the third person. “If I’m doing something, I want to share the risks with people who work in my office.” Analysts say it would have been impossible for Navalny to remain relevant as an opposition leader outside Russia. “Remaining abroad, becoming a political emigre, would mean death to a public politician,” said Masha Lipman, an independent political analyst. Nikolai Petrov, a senior research fellow in Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia Program, echoed her sentiment, saying: “Active, bright people who could initiate some real actions and take part in elections ... while in the country, once abroad, end up cut off from the real connection to the people.” WHY IS NAVALNY NOW FACING PRISON? His suspended sentence from the 2014 conviction carried a probationary period that was to expire in December 2020. Authorities said Navalny was subject to regular in-person check-ins with law enforcement officers. During the final days of Navalny's probation period, Russia’s prison service put him on a wanted list, accusing him of not appearing for these checks, including when he was convalescing in Germany. Officials have petitioned the court to have him serve the full 3 1/2-year sentence. After his return, Navalny was placed in custody for 30 days, with a hearing to review his sentence scheduled for Feb. 2. Earlier this month, Russia’s Investigative Committee opened another criminal probe against him on fraud charges, alleging he embezzled donations to his Foundation for Fighting Corruption. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison. DOES NAVALNY THREATEN THE KREMLIN? Putin never calls Navalny by name, and state-run media depict him as an unimportant blogger. But he has managed to spread his reach far outside Moscow through his widely popular YouTube accounts, including the one this week that featured the allegations about the massive Black Sea estate. His infrastructure of regional offices set up nationwide in 2017 has helped him challenge the government by mobilizing voters. In 2018, Navalny launched a project called Smart Voting that is designed to promote candidates who are most likely to defeat those from the Kremlin’s dominant United Russia party. In 2019, the project helped opposition candidates win 20 of 45 seats on the Moscow city council, and regional elections last year saw United Russia lose its majority in legislatures in three cities. Navalny has promised to use the strategy during this year’s parliamentary election, which will determine who controls the State Duma in 2024. That’s when Putin’s current term expires and he is expected to seek re-election, thanks to constitutional reforms last year. Analysts believe Navalny is capable of influencing this key vote, reason enough to want him out of the picture. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Analysts say Navalny’s return was a significant blow to Putin’s image and left the Kremlin with a dilemma. Putin has mostly worked from his residence during the coronavirus outbreak, and the widespread perception that he has stayed away from the public doesn’t compare well to Navalny’s bold comeback to the country where he was poisoned and faced arrest, said Chatham House’s Petrov. “It doesn’t matter whether people support Navalny or not; they see these two images, and Putin loses,” he said. Commentators say there is no good choice for the Kremlin: Imprisoning Navalny for a long time will make him a martyr and could lead to mass protests, while letting him go threatens the parliamentary election. So far, the crackdown has only helped Navalny, “and now, even thinking loyalists are, if not on his side, certainly not on the side of poisoners and persecutors,” Alexander Baunov of the Moscow Carnegie Center wrote in a recent article. All eyes are on what happens at Saturday’s planned protests, Petrov said. In 2013, Navalny was quickly released from prison following a five-year sentence from embezzlement conviction after a large crowd gathered near the Kremlin. Putin’s government has since become much tougher on dissent, so it is unlikely that mass protests will prompt Navalny’s immediate release, Petrov said. But the Kremlin still fears that a harsh move may destabilize the situation, and the scale of the rallies could indicate how the public would react to Navalny being imprisoned for a long time. ___ Associated Press journalist Kostya Manenkov contributed. Daria Litvinova, The Associated Press
As countries such as Canada and the United States continue vaccinating millions of citizens, global health experts warn the pandemic could keep raging if lower-income nations don't get their share of much-needed doses. It's a concern that's growing even as Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden, announced on Thursday the country will rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO) — and with it, the COVAX Facility, a global initiative to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need. It's long overdue, some say. Others worry it's just the latest example of lip service after what's so far been a deeply inequitable vaccine roll-out around the world. "I would characterize the approach to global vaccine distribution as a massive failure," said Jenna Patterson, the South Africa-based director of health economics at the Health Finance Institute, a U.S. non-governmental organization. 'No doses in the pipeline' for some countries While Canada is among the nations signed on with COVAX, it's also one of the wealthy countries buying up massive shipments from a slate of vaccine producers — with millions of doses already administered between them. Meanwhile, other countries have no doses in the pipeline, with some lower-income nations waiting for international aid that could take months. That could amount to "catastrophic moral failure" on a global scale, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday. And from both an ethical and economic standpoint, the disparities could prove a lose-lose. "Everyone wants to go back to some sense of normal," said Dr. Ranu Dhillon, a global health physician who teaches at Harvard Medical School. "But that won't be possible unless we solve this globally." WATCH | WHO chief describes vaccine inequity between countries: Ignoring vaccine equity could 'prolong' pandemic On one hand, countries without COVID-19 vaccination programs could experience more infections and deaths for far longer; on the other, the possibility of vaccine-resistant variants emerging from ongoing hot zones could backfire on already-vaccinated countries as well. "Not only does this me-first approach leave the world's poorest and most vulnerable at risk; it is also self-defeating," Tedros said at the opening of the annual meeting of the WHO's executive board. "Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic." Allowing the virus to continue its spread in certain regions could impact travel and tourism, supply chains and the world economy, warned several experts who spoke to CBC News. The coronavirus doesn't respect international borders, said Dhillon, evidenced by the ongoing global spread of variants first found in countries such as Brazil and the U.K., meaning there's no way to end the pandemic by focusing solely on national response. If transmission continues largely unchecked in lower-income countries, there's a possibility that variants emerge that don't respond to current vaccines being rolled out in wealthy nations, he said. A situation like that could derail widespread vaccination efforts, travel routes and economic recoveries. "We can't control COVID unless we control it in the rest of the world," echoed Dr. Anna Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "And so that's an additional incentive to get the whole world working together to try to get all places, rich and poor, vaccinated as soon as possible." WATCH | U.S. health economics expert: one nation's health affects another Canada has administered 700,000 shots While Canada's vaccination program got off to a slow start, including an imminent pause on shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech, it remains among the countries poised to vaccinate tens of millions in the months ahead. Canada has administered close to 700,000 shots so far, providing at least one dose to roughly 1.7 per cent of the population. Israel, the world leader in doses per capita, has vaccinated more than three million people; the United Kingdom more than five million; and the U.S. and China have both inoculated more than 15 million and counting. That's a stark contrast to some of the world's poorest nations. Many African countries, in particular, are in danger of being left behind as countries in other regions strike bilateral deals, driving up prices, according to the WHO. The delay is, in part, because of the stringent cold-storage requirements for certain vaccines, which can be challenging to accommodate in remote areas. But WHO officials said they're working to ensure countries' readiness to receive shipments, and suggested clear inequities are also at play. "It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, in a statement the organization released on Thursday. Guinea is currently the only low-income country in Africa to provide its residents with COVID-19 vaccines, and to date, according to the WHO, those have only been administered to 25 people. No doses yet in many countries Patterson, who's based in South Africa and was speaking for the Health Finance Institute, said it's in the world's best interest to ensure all countries are vaccinated against this virus, on both economic and moral fronts — since the death toll in unvaccinated regions could continue skyrocketing while infection rates drop elsewhere. "And COVID has displayed this better than any other disease, how the health of one nation affects another," she said. South Africa is the hardest-hit country in Africa with more than 1.3 million cases to date. It's also now known for first discovering one of several concerning new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — one which appears to be more transmissible, and potentially capable of evading some level of immune response. Yet the country hasn't vaccinated any of its residents and is set to pay more than twice as much per dose for its batch of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India compared to purchases made by countries in the European Union, according to a Reuters report. Malawi, a low-income country in southeastern Africa, also has no vaccination campaign underway, even though the situation on the ground is a "disaster" according to Dr. Titus Divala, a physician and lecturer with the University of Malawi College of Medicine. The country is currently grappling with a surge of COVID-19 cases, far higher than its first wave, which recently claimed the lives of two cabinet ministers and prompted a national lockdown. It has more than 16,000 cases of COVID-19 and 396 deaths to date. "I think we're going to be in a situation where we do need the vaccine, but we don't have access to it for some time," Divala said. COVAX aims to bring 600 million doses to Africa Through the COVAX initiative — organized by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — international aid is meant to arrive, albeit slowly, in the shadow of vaccination programs elsewhere that are months ahead. The coalition has secured at least two billion doses of vaccines from multiple companies, with the WHO confirming on Friday that Pfizer-BioNTech, one of two companies with vaccines approved for use in Canada, will be signing on as well. The agreement is for 40 million doses of the vaccine, allowing COVAX to begin vaccinating people in poor and lower-middle income countries next month — since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is, so far, the only one with WHO emergency approval. COVAX has committed to vaccinating at least 20 per cent of the population in Africa by the end of 2021 by providing a maximum of 600 million doses. The WHO, however, warned shipments and timelines could change if vaccine candidates fail to meet regulatory approval — or if production or funding challenges arise. Alison Thompson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and researcher on ethics and public health, said countries like Canada and the U.S. who participate in COVAX need to either support other countries' vaccination efforts financially or, at some point, take a backseat so other nations can enter the crowded queue. "That's a hard sell politically," she added, "but it really does raise the question about, what are Canada's global obligations to public health?" Need to 'mass-manufacture' globally Dhillon, the physician from Havard, said this pandemic has shown the level of innovation and technology available, and now it's just a matter of scaling up to meet international need. "How do we mass-manufacture these vaccines in the quantities needed globally?" he questioned. "There is manufacturing capacity in other areas of the world. We need to remove issues with patents, we need to remove issues with intellectual property." It's all easier said than done in a charged climate where citizens are clamouring to access shots in short supply within their own borders, and Canada is no exception. But Dhillon compared the current vaccine landscape to the therapies that emerged to prevent AIDS, the often-devastating illness caused by HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. Wealthier nations accessed those first, he explained, while poorer countries were left waiting, with many of those infected in the developing world still starting therapy late. "Instead of waiting to look back in retrospect and question why we didn't do more — I think we're in that moment now," Dhillon said.
Three games into the 2021 NHL regular season, Calgary Flames fans are gleefully relishing the all-Canadian chapter of what they lovingly call the Matthew Tkachuk Friendship Tour. For at age 23, Tkachuk is a throwback to old-school hockey defined by nasty rivalries and real — not manufactured — hatred between combatants. More irritating than a sharp pebble in a hiking boot, the eldest son of NHL legend Keith Tkachuk artfully antagonizes his opponents to the point they can't think clearly. Canada's seven hockey teams are only playing one another throughout this 56-game regular season in the NHL's North Division due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I think it suits my style," says Tkachuk, who will lead the Flames into battle Sunday in Toronto. "One of my gifts is that it doesn't take much to get me up for games. "But it's going to be a lively night, every night, with all eyes on us in this country." 'I know what type of player I am' Tkachuk is already despised in Edmonton, for "turtling" on Oilers forward Zack Kassian and refusing to fight in a memorable game last January at the Scotiabank Saddledome. He's reviled in Winnipeg for knocking centre Mark Scheifele out of the 2019/2020 Stanley Cup qualifiers. And there's also the natural rivalry with his younger brother Brady in Ottawa. There's no doubt he'll offend countless others all season long. "I don't really think about how other people portray me or think of me," says Tkachuk a first-round (sixth overall) selection of the Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft. "I know what type of player I am." In the season opener against Winnipeg, Tkachuk was centre stage, scrumming with Jets sniper Patrik Laine, chirping with Jets captain Blake Wheeler and scoring a goal. On Monday night, the Canucks held Tkachuk off the scoresheet, but he still had tremendous impact. Tkachuk parked himself in front of goalie Thatcher Demko late in the second period and shoved aside Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler. After the whistle, Vancouver rearguard Tyler Myers cranked Tkachuk in the jaw, resulting in a minor penalty. Calgary centre Elias Lindholm potted the winning goal with the man advantage in a 5-2 Flames victory. It's hardly a new storyline. Tkachuk has drawn a league-leading 163 penalties since his NHL debut in 2016/17 (Tom Wilson, of the Washington Capitals, is second with 156 and Edmonton centre Connor McDavid is third with 147.) More than a pest But Tkachuk is hardly just a world-class pest. He led the Flames in scoring last season (23 goals and 61 points in 69 games) and promises to do even more in this campaign. "I look at it for myself, and I have to take not only a step but two steps, five steps, 10 steps forward this year if I want to become the player I want to be," Tkachuk says. "It's time to make a difference. "I don't just want to be known as a certain player. I want to be a player who makes a difference every single night." WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo breaks down the NHL's first week back: This season, Tkachuk, Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane make up what is arguably Calgary's first line, ahead of even Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Dominik Simon. While the Flames lack the star power of Edmonton (McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) and Toronto (Auston Matthews), they have impressive depth up front and a world-class goaltender in Jacob Markstrom. Coming off a first-round playoff exit courtesy of Dallas, the Flames are determined to establish themselves as members of the NHL elite. "It's time for people to look at us as a serious contender throughout the league," Tkachuk says. "We have to be looked at as one of those teams that is a contender each and every season and I think we have to start proving that."
Booted from the Conservative caucus on Wednesday, Derek Sloan now sits as an Independent MP in the House of Commons. Without the backing of the Conservative Party of Canada, his chances of holding on to his seat in the next election don't look good. Sloan, who finished fourth in last year's Conservative leadership contest with just under 16 per cent of ballots cast, was ousted after a majority of his (former) caucus colleagues voted to eject him for what Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole called "a pattern of destructive behaviour involving multiple incidents and disrespect towards the Conservative team for over a year." The latest controversy stemmed from news that Sloan's leadership campaign accepted a donation from Paul Fromm, a notorious white nationalist. Sloan accused O'Toole of hypocrisy, arguing that the Conservative Party also failed to red-flag Fromm's donation and party membership. Sloan's political career with the party appears to be over. And if he does seek re-election in his Eastern Ontario riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington, he'll face a big challenge. Without the backing of a national party, Independent candidates tend to have a tough time. Just 76 Canadian MPs first elected under a party banner in this country have ever sought re-election as Independents. Only 25 of them have succeeded. That's a bad track record, considering incumbents running with a party's stamp of approval have won about three-quarters of the time. Since 1974, only five MPs have successfully been re-elected as Independents after leaving (or being ejected from) their party caucuses: Gilles Bernier in 1993, John Nunziata in 1997, Chuck Cadman in 2004, BIll Casey in 2008 and, most recently, Jody Wilson-Raybould in the last election in 2019. What would Sloan need to do to follow in their footsteps? Wilson-Raybould and Philpott tried, only one succeeded Wilson-Raybould wasn't the only incumbent MP running as an Independent in 2019. Jane Philpott, who was also ejected from the Liberal caucus in the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair, attempted re-election without success. But Wilson-Raybould bucked the historical odds by winning her Vancouver Granville seat with 33 per cent of the vote, beating the Liberals' Taleeb Noormohamed by about six percentage points. Wilson-Raybould's share represented about 74 per cent of the vote she had received as a Liberal in 2015. Philpott, however, finished third in her Ontario riding of Markham–Stouffville with 21 per cent of the vote. The Liberals' Helena Jaczek won with 39 per cent. Philpott's share represented about 42 per cent of the vote she got as a Liberal in 2015, roughly even with how Independent candidates in her situation have performed in recent provincial and federal elections. Not all of those who voted for Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were former Liberal supporters. Both candidates took from other parties as well. In Vancouver Granville, the Liberals did 17 points worse in 2019 without Wilson-Raybould than they did in 2015 with her — but the NDP dropped 14 points, too. Many of the votes lost by the NDP likely went to Wilson-Raybould. In Markham–Stouffville, the Liberals did 10 points worse without Philpott than they did in 2015. The Conservatives in the riding dropped even more, sliding 12 points. This means some Liberal supporters followed Wilson-Raybould and Philpott, but most stuck with the party brand. Only Wilson-Raybould was able to attract enough support from other parties to get re-elected. That could be tough for Sloan to do. A national profile and generally sympathetic media coverage helped re-elect Wilson-Raybould, but it wasn't enough for Philpott. Sloan has neither of those things working for him. Big challenge for Sloan in his riding Elections and byelections in his Hastings–Lennox and Addington riding have been contested largely by the Liberals and the Conservatives. That makes his riding more like Markham–Stouffville than Vancouver Granville, where all three major parties traditionally have been competitive. Sloan took 41 per cent of the vote in the 2019 federal election in the riding — just enough to defeat the Liberal incumbent, Mike Bossio, who had 37 per cent. The NDP finished well back with just 13 per cent of the vote. In order to be re-elected, Sloan will need not only a big chunk of the Conservative vote but a lot of the vote that went to the Liberals and NDP in 2019 as well. Considering his politics, that's probably not going to happen. The more likely result would be Sloan siphoning off enough Conservative support to let the Liberals re-take the seat. But there's little to indicate that Sloan himself is much of a draw in Hastings–Lennox and Addington. In 2019, Sloan did about half a percentage point worse than his Conservative predecessor did in the riding in 2015. On the first ballot of the 2020 Conservative leadership, Sloan took just 36.5 per cent of party members' votes in his own riding. By comparison, O'Toole captured 67 per cent of the vote in his Ontario riding of Durham, while Peter MacKay took 86 per cent in his former riding of Central Nova. Sloan might not have the personal clout to win the seat on his own. But what if he got some help — perhaps from another former Conservative leadership candidate no longer with the party? Bernier bolted but was beaten Sloan has given no indication he is actively considering joining Maxime Bernier's People's Party. In a message to his supporters, Sloan encouraged them to put their names forward to attend the Conservative Party's next policy convention. The People's Party would seem to be a natural fit for Sloan. But being a PPC candidate wouldn't necessarily make it any easier for him to win Hastings–Lennox and Addington. Bernier wasn't able to secure his own re-election in his Quebec riding of Beauce in 2019; he took 28 per cent of the vote and finished 10 points behind the Conservatives' Richard Lehoux. Even though Bernier was a four-term MP and had a national profile due to his leadership of the People's Party and presence at the leaders debates, Bernier retained just 48 per cent of the vote share he received in 2015 in Beauce. If Sloan managed to match that percentage, he would only get around 20 per cent of the vote in his own riding — not nearly enough to be competitive. The PPC base in the riding isn't going to help much, as the party's candidate captured just 2.5 per cent of the vote in Hastings–Lennox and Addington in 2019. Sloan's options aren't very good. Whether he goes it alone or joins up with Bernier, his days as an MP are likely numbered.
Elsie Hunter had a very different snowmobile ride to the cabin from her home in Nain this past Christmas. "It was quite an adventure travelling over the hills.… I'm used to travelling on the ice and having the ice road, and it's flat, and the conditions are completely different than travelling over the hills," Hunter said in a recent interview with CBC News. The overland adventure didn't happen just to spice up Hunter's trip. Ice travel, and the ice road, are no-gos so far in Nain this winter, and Hunter said she's not the only one altering routes or forsaking them altogether, with many locals facing conditions far outside the norm. "It's a completely different year here up in Nain. It's a harder year," she said. A harder year, and a much warmer one. According to the Canadian Ice Service, all of Labrador has been averaging four degrees Celsius above normal since mid-December. "It has been a very warm winter so far, yes, and has been rightfully noted as translating into lesser and thinner sea ice," said Brad Drummond, a senior ice forecaster with the service. Those temperatures, along with storm systems that have broken up ice in its fragile forming stage, mean ice coverage is lagging about two to three weeks behind what's typical, said Drummond, although he noted that what constitutes "typical" is changing. "We can and have seen some slower starts in recent years, so in kind of a short-term history, this is becoming more normal," he said. Rex Holwell of Nain has been watching the sea ice shift for decades. "When I was young, we were on the sea ice sometimes as early as the end of November. But conditions with climate chance happening the way it is, I mean, last year I wasn't on the sea ice until late January," he said. Sensor program stalled The season's sluggish start is affecting Holwell's work with the SmartICE program in Nain, which deploys sensors — known as smart buoys — each winter to gauge conditions and provide data in order to travel safely on top of the ice. But that data isn't available yet, because the ice hasn't been thick enough to drill down and install them. Instead, Holwell, SmartICE's operations lead for Nunatsiavut, is keeping an eye on the app Siku, which catalogues satellite imagery of sea ice, for signs of when he may be able to make the necessary trip offshore. So far, what Howell sees isn't encouraging. "Looking at this imagery now, I wouldn't venture to go where I went last year. Because according to this image it's all just really very, very thin ice," Holwell told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning. Ice thickness on the northern coast of Labrador at this time of year should roughly be around 30 centimetres, according to the Canadian Ice Service. It's nowhere near that yet; Drummond estimates it at 20 centimetres at most. That's not enough to support even ice skaters, according to the Canadian Red Cross, whose guidelines state 25 centimetres of thickness is needed to withstand the weight of a snowmobile. The SmartICE program is set to expand to Makkovik and Postville this year and begin cataloguing their ice data. But Howell said from talks to those communities, they're seeing the same ice coverage, leaving it unclear when their buoys will be in place. Beyond the buoys, Holwell worries about the impact such thin coverage is having on the north coast's isolated communities. "Food insecurity is a huge factor," he said. "So the ability of not being able to travel on the sea ice to your traditional hunting and fishing grounds, that's gonna have a huge impact on those people who rely on basically our highway, to go hunting and fishing to offset the cost of living in Labrador." He said most people he knows are sticking closer to the shoreline, and urges them to use Siku for its snapshots of the sea ice until things set in. That could be a while. While Arctic ice is moving down toward Labrador, Drummond said warmer than normal temperatures are in the forecast for Labrador until at least early February, and even once the ice sets and stays in, chances are it won't be as strong. "Looking at the season so far, we're expecting at least thinner ice than typical," Drummond said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kick-start your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 22 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA — Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc concedes Julie Payette's resignation as governor general shows a need to strengthen the process for vetting vice-regal appointments. Payette resigned Thursday, about a week after the government received the damning findings of an independent investigation into allegations that she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall. LeBlanc says the report, commissioned by the Privy Council Office which he oversees, came to "compelling" and "stark" conclusions. He says the debacle of Payette's tenure shows that the vetting system for such appointments needs to be strengthened. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose the former astronaut to be Canada's 29th governor general in 2017 — after disbanding a non-partisan, arm's-length committee created by the previous Conservative government to recommend worthy nominees for vice-regal posts. At his biweekly briefing today on the COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau can expect to be pummelled with questions about his judgment and his government's failure to check with Payette's former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she faced similar allegations of harassing and bullying subordinates. --- Also this ... OTTAWA — New internal reports from Veterans Affairs Canada show Canadian veterans have been waiting longer and longer in recent years to get psychiatric services and other medical support at government-run clinics. The reports obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information requests show most veterans had to wait months for their first appointments with psychiatrists or to start work on treatment plans. The same was true for getting medical exams at what are known as operational stress injury clinics, to apply for disability benefits. The reports show COVID-19 made it harder to get a medical exam or first appointment to start creating or implementing a treatment plan, but that wait times at the clinics had been steadily growing since at least 2017. Experts say the new reports are concerning because of the importance in responding to requests for mental-health support as soon as possible to keep veterans from having to struggle on their own. Veterans Affairs is blaming a surge in requests for assistance over the past five years, and says it has increased funding to address a shortage of mental-health workers that has left some clinics understaffed. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start of Donald Trump's impeachment trial to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case. H House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot have signalled they want to move quickly to trial as President Joe Biden begins his term, saying a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on. But McConnell in a statement Thursday evening suggested a more expansive timeline that would see the House transmit the article of impeachment next week, on Jan. 28, launching the trial's first phase. After that, the Senate would give the president's defence team and House prosecutors two weeks to file briefs. Arguments in the trial would likely begin in mid-February. "Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former president Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake," especially given the unprecedented speed of the House process, McConnell said. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is reviewing the plan and will discuss it with McConnell, a spokesperson said. The two leaders are also negotiating how the new 50-50 Senate will work and how they will balance other priorities. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... The first treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force today, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate. When the treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance. Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it "a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." --- On this day in 1979 ... Former Manitoba premier Ed Schreyer was installed as governor general. His term ended in 1984. --- In entertainment ... A trade organization representing Canada's movie theatres is calling on British Columbia health officials to explain why cinemas in the province can only open if they're operating as restaurants or bars. Nuria Bronfman, executive director of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada, says COVID-19 guidelines that allow theatres to project sporting events on the big screen, but not movies, "highlights the kind of absurdity of what's happening" in the province. The frustration comes as B.C. leaders allow restaurants and bars to stay open, but forced movie theatres to close last November. Vancouver's Rio Theatre is moving forward with plans to reopen on Saturday by pivoting its business to operate as a bar. The city's Hollywood Theatre made a similar move in December. Both rebrandings were applauded by the province's health ministry in a statement that recognized "the arts and culture sector who have worked hard to find new ways to reinvent themselves during the pandemic." Bronfman says the movie theatre group takes issue with suggestions that movie theatres should be embracing "ingenuity in order to survive." --- ICYMI ... A Winnipeg cartoonist says he is honoured to play a small role in a historic moment after his comic book about U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris was included in a Canadian celebration of Joe Biden's inauguration. “Kamala in Canada” by Kaj Hasselriis was part of a swag bag given to people who attended a virtual inauguration event at the United States embassy in Ottawa. The comic follows Harris during her time living in Montreal as a teenager. Hasselriis says he was inspired when he heard how a young Harris staged a protest after her landlord banned kids in her apartment building from playing soccer in the courtyard. He says many kids may have given up, but Harris chose to take action. Hasselriis says he hopes the book shows children that they can make change happen and inspires them to get involved in politics. “It’s useful for them to know that politicians were once kids themselves,” he said. “And if you are a kid, that means you could one day grow up to become a leader.” --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021 The Canadian Press
Pandemic stay-at-home orders have changed how people are getting around Ottawa, and now the city wants to know whether its approach to keeping roads, sidewalks and cycling paths clear of snow and ice should evolve, too. Each winter, city crews are responsible for clearing 2,300 kilometres of sidewalks and 12,900 lane kilometres of roads. The city will be changing its winter maintenance standards for the first time since 2003. Coun. Tim Tierney, chair of the transportation committee, said some of the dramatic changes from the pandemic will have to be reflected in that overhaul. "When you hear a lot of businesses like Shopify, for example, have said everyone's staying home forever, there's going to be a lot more focus on local community walkability and cycling than ever before," Tierney said. "It's not just about plowing roads anymore. It's about everything else that's not a road." The review started before the pandemic. Tierney said the city will consider climate change, accessibility, sustainability, equity and gender as it revamps its standards for the first time in 20 years. Those standards determine how many hours go by before plows are dispatched to clear different types of roads, sidewalks and transit stops. The city has launched an online survey to help it settle on new winter maintenance standards, and is inviting residents to participate. Walkability a priority during pandemic Shayna Ghattas, a mother of three in the city's Whitehaven neighbourhood, said as long people are being told to stay close to home, residential streets should be a higher priority than major highways when it comes to snow-clearing. "During the pandemic and lockdown, walking is a saving grace for a lot of people, and it's not super safe to be walking in slippery conditions," Ghattas said. They have to focus on pedestrian things. - Sahil Vora Sahil Vora walks to work at a Tim Hortons in Lincoln Heights, and said many of his colleagues are avoiding public transit right now because of COVID-19. "If they manage to clean the bike lane, it's OK, but otherwise they have to focus on pedestrian things," Vora said. The city had considered increasing the snow-clearing threshold as a cost-saving measure, but more recently topped up the budget for plows and snow blowers after seven years of dipping into deficit. The city is holding virtual town halls on its winter maintenance standards from Jan. 25-28. The online survey and virtual workshops are available until Feb. 19.
The Doug Ford government's decision to expropriate downtown Toronto properties once home to Upper Canada's first parliament came as a surprise, city officials say — prompting one councillor to insist the land is "not for sale." City staff were informed last week that the provincial government was starting expropriation proceedings for two city-owned parcels of land needed for the construction of the Ontario Line — a rapid transit route projected to stretch more than 15 kilometres from the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place and the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. The property in question is known as the First Parliament Site, located at the intersection of Front Street East and Parliament Street. It is a full city block and nearly the size of Nathan Phillips Square. Its historical significance dates back thousands of years to Indigenous settlements but the site is currently home to parking lots, a car dealership and a car wash. "I would say to the province right now, these lands are not for sale," Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents the area, said in an interview. Wong-Tam says years of city planning and public consultation have already gone into developing a comprehensive master plan for the site, which includes proposals for a library and park. And she has a message for the province. "The community doesn't want to sell these lands to you. We want to work with you to build transit, to build out the master plan. And we believe that we can do that without conveying the lands to you." Tweets from Coun.Joe Cressy, who represents Spadina-Fort York, echoed Wong-Tam's concern. "There is no good reason to throw out years of hard work on this landmark project. The Province should work with the City and community," Cressy wrote. City staff say they received notice about the expropriation on Jan. 11 from Metrolinx, the province's transit agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. "I guess we weren't necessarily expecting to receive it," Mayor John Tory said Thursday. But Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins says the agency has been in "ongoing discussions" with the city about its Ontario Line plans, "including discussions that were held in advance of our fall 2020 virtual consultations where details on the First Parliament site were provided." The parcels required will be used for construction of the Ontario Line's Corktown station. "Some parcels may be temporarily needed for construction and then would be restored," Aikins said. 'Hugely significant site' Between 1795 and 1824, the site was home to Upper Canada's first and second parliament buildings. They were rebuilt after being burned down during the War of 1812. The site also housed the Home District Gaol (jail) and the Consumers Gas Company. "It's a hugely significant site and there was a great deal of excitement when it was discovered," Upper Canada historian and York University PhD. student Wendy Smith said in an interview. Smith said previous archeological digs at the site have unearthed artifacts and it's believed many more remain buried in the ground. Injunction sought for foundry site The expropriation effort, first reported Thursday by the Toronto Star, comes after the Ford government's controversial decision to fast track the development of another nearby heritage site on the West Don Lands. Earlier this week, demolition of the Dominion Foundry building on that site sparked a backlash and legal action in the community. The St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association has filed an application for a court injunction to preserve the building. Tory said Thursday he sees these conflicts over planning as "growing pains" in the city's relationship with the Ford government and its cooperative effort to build housing and transit. "I think these are all lessons as to how we're going to have to sit together as two governments and, yes, get affordable housing built and, yes, get transit built, but do it in a way that involves proper consultation with the city, with the communities, and respect for all the various other policies that go beyond housing and transit," Tory said. With First Parliament, Aikens says the local community has assurance from Metrolinx that it will engage with them on plans for the site. "We also remain committed to capturing the history of the site in the new Ontario Line station and will be consulting with the community, Indigenous communities, and cultural heritage experts to explore options for commemoration of findings in consultation with the City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services and the Ontario Heritage Trust," she said.