The Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia, Rev. Raphael Warnock, has defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.
The Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia, Rev. Raphael Warnock, has defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
Island Abbey Foods, makers of Honibe cough and cold lozenges, is eliminating 30 temporary staff at its Charlottetown production plant. The P.E.I. company is putting the blame on the "almost non-existent cold and cough season" so far this winter, as potential customers wear masks, stay two metres away from others and practise good hand hygiene. "Cold and cough season is almost non-existent this year, which has resulted in a decline of our lozenge business for the first two quarters of 2021," Scott Spencer, president and chief operating officer of Island Abbey Foods, said in a statement to CBC News. "While we have seen substantial gains with our digital retail strategy, it does not replace the volume we projected in anticipation of a regular cold and cough season. Therefore, unfortunately, we've made the difficult decision to eliminate 30 temporary positions from our production operation. The company says demand for its Gummie Bees multivitamins and other health products continues to be strong, and planning is well underway for an expansion to meet those demands. "2020 was a tremendous year at Island Abbey Foods," said Spencer. "We increased headcount significantly across our company to meet higher than anticipated demand and position our company for success. Like other businesses, we are continuously adapting to the ever-changing business realities that COVID-19 is imposing on the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
HALIFAX — A key member of outgoing Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil's cabinet says she too will leave politics once the next provincial election is called. Finance Minister Karen Casey, who is also deputy premier, made the announcement following a cabinet meeting Thursday, saying that after 15 years representing the riding of Colchester North, she is ready to retire and wants to spend more time with her four grandchildren. Casey said while she had been pondering her future for some time, she only made a final decision over the last week. "Fifteen years, I think, is a good amount of public service to give to my constituents," Casey told reporters. "I'm happy with the work that we (government) have achieved, and it's time to let somebody else represent Colchester North." Casey, a former teacher, also served in the education and health portfolios and was named deputy premier in 2017. Over her time in the education portfolio, she was instrumental in the Liberal government's move to rein in contract demands by the province's teachers — a battle that ultimately saw the imposition of a contract that ended a two-month work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers in February 2017. As finance minister, Casey also played a part in helping the government table five consecutive balanced budgets. "I learned a lot personally in the finance portfolio, but there were challenges there, and I quite like a challenge," she said. McNeil, who is leaving politics next month, said he counts Casey as a personal friend and believes she played an "integral role" in helping return the province to fiscal health. "We have really run a duo operation here in lots of ways," McNeil said. "She is one person that I have always sought counsel of in my most difficult days." Casey was a former interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives and defected to the Liberals in January, 2011 at McNeil's invitation. "That allowed me to join a caucus and a leader ... whose values I thought I shared," said Casey. "What motivated me? It would be knowing that my ideas and those of my constituents and me as a person would be respected." Casey confirmed she would stay on until the next election, which must be called by the spring of 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — Elizabeth Shelby had her inauguration outfit planned weeks in advance: blue jeans, a Kamala Harris sweatshirt, a green coat, and pink Chuck Taylors as an homage to her sorority’s colours and Vice-President Harris’ signature shoe. And pearls, just like the ones Harris wore when she graduated from Howard University, was sworn into Congress, and was sworn in as the first woman, first Black and South Asian person, and first Alpha Kappa Alpha member to serve as vice-president. Shelby, a member of the Alpha Psi chapter of AKA, had hoped to wear her pearls at the inauguration in Washington, D.C. Instead, she donned them at home in Nashville, Tennessee. Following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, AKA, the oldest sorority of the historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the Divine Nine, called off inauguration events and urged members to stay home. So countless AKA members celebrated the historic moment in their living rooms, on Twitter and on Zoom calls. “I wanted to help show Kamala that her sisters are behind her always,” Shelby said. “I wanted her to look out and see a sea of pink and green and know that this is her moment.” After the Capitol insurrection, Shelby cancelled her plane tickets and hotel reservation. The rioting robbed many AKAs of their feeling of safety at the inauguration and beyond, she said, and many members have been telling each other to stop wearing their letters in public for safety reasons. But Shelby said that didn't stop her from celebrating at a Zoom viewing party with her local graduate chapter. “I’m not going to let this take the joy out of this moment,” she said. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, joined AKA in 1986 at Howard University, one of the country’s oldest historically Black colleges and universities. When she accepted the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in August, she thanked AKA, saying, “Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha.” Soon after, donations in increments of $19.08, marking the year, 1908, when the sorority was founded, started flowing in to a Biden-Harris campaign fundraising committee. Alpha Kappa Alpha declared on Twitter that Jan. 20 would be Soror Kamala D. Harris Day, and encouraged members to share photos of their celebrations with the hashtag #KamalaHarrisDay. Andrea Morgan, who became an AKA the same year Harris did, posted photos of her pink sweater and pearls on Twitter with the hashtag, which she told the AP “makes us feel closer together even when we're far apart." “If we were able to be there in person, I don’t think you’d be able to look anywhere without seeing pink and green,” said Genita Harris of the Delta Omega Omega chapter in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. "Now on social media, this is a showing of our solidarity, of our love and support for our soror.” She said group chats with her sorority sisters were “going bananas” during a historic moment for the sisterhood and for HBCUs. “It’s been the same story of white men for centuries," she said. “Now a new story is being written, and it’s our story.” AKA soror Josclynn Brandon booked her plane tickets to D.C. the day Biden announced Harris as his running mate in August. When the 2020 presidential election was called, CNN was playing on her phone on the dashboard of her car. She pulled over and cried. “I knew then that I was going to see Kamala Harris make history,” she said. “It confirmed that Black women and women of colour are so much more capable than some people believe us to be.” Brandon made plans to be in D.C. from Jan. 13-21 to celebrate the sorority’s Founders’ Day on Jan. 15, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration, all in the same city where AKA was founded. After the Jan. 6 insurrection, she, too, cancelled her trip. “It did rob me of my feeling of safety while going to D.C., and it robbed me of the moment of seeing a Black woman and sorority sister become VP right in front of me,” she said. “But it took away so much more than just me going to D.C. It takes away from this celebration and robs our incoming administration of the full celebration they deserved.” Brandon watched Harris' swearing-in from her home in Indianapolis while wearing a sweatshirt with a photo of Harris from college and the words, “The Vice-President is my sorority sister.” “I’m still going to celebrate,” she said. “I’m not going to let that group’s action take away this moment. I don’t want to let them win.” Shelby grew up hearing young Black boys say they wanted to be president after Barack Obama made history as the country’s first Black president. Now, she hopes Black girls will have those dreams too. “It’s a historic moment,” she said. “To see not only a woman but a woman of colour and member of the Divine Nine become vice-president is something I never even dreamed of happening as a little girl growing up in America.” “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” she continued. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us. She is truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams.” — Fernando is a member of the Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christinetfern. Christine Fernando, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says critics of the provincewide curfew who say homeless people should be exempted are trying to divide Quebecers. The premier was responding to calls from all three opposition parties, the mayor of Montreal and the federal Indigenous Services Minister, who said the homeless shouldn't be included in the health order requiring people stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Their calls followed the death of a homeless man who was found frozen in a portable toilet Sunday morning. Legault told reporters Thursday he was saddened by the death of Raphael Andre. But, he added, Montreal police know the city's homeless population "very well" and won't give fines to that community "for fun." "I've asked the opposition and many people to give me one example of a police officer who took a bad decision and they cannot answer that, so it's working well," he said, regarding the curfew. The premier said everyone wants to help the homeless, adding that those who had criticized his government are trying to sow division in society. "I find it very unfortunate to see certain people try to divide us, trying to say that there are good guys and bad guys, that there are some who care for the homeless and some that don’t care. We all want to help the homeless, it’s complex and it’s not the time to divide us, it’s the time to work together,” he said. Legault has said the province has sufficient overnight shelter beds to accommodate the homeless during the curfew, which is scheduled to be in effect until at least Feb. 9. Quebec, however, recently announced it was adding 262 shelter beds in the Montreal area — including 150 beds in a soccer stadium for homeless people with COVID-19 who don't need to be hospitalized. The curfew is working, Legault said, citing the fact that the province's infection rate has been lower over the past ten days compared with the beginning of January, before the curfew. Legault didn't rule out extending the curfew, particularly in the Montreal area. Meanwhile, Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters nearly 100 per cent of long-term care residents in Quebec have received a first dose of vaccine. Quebec, however, is sticking to its plan to delay administering second doses up to 90 days from the first dose, he added. Public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said he's aware of reports from Israel suggesting one dose provides significantly less protection than the two doses required by vaccine manufacturers. He said he's waiting to read scientific papers on the efficacy of a single dose before the province changes course. Legault repeated his call for the federal government to ban non-essential flights to Canada. If Ottawa refuses, the premier said he'd like to see travellers forced to quarantine for two weeks in hotels — at their own expense — where they can be monitored by police. Legault said he's particularly worried that people travelling to resorts in warm destinations could catch the highly contagious COVID-19 variants and bring them back to the province. Quebec reported 1,624 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 66 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 22 that occurred in the past 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by 14, to 1,453, and the number of people in intensive care remained stable at 216. Quebec has reported a total of 248,860 cases of COVID-19 and 9,273 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
A U.S. judge on Thursday rejected Parler's demand that Amazon.com Inc restore web hosting services for the social media platform, which Amazon had cut off following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said Parler was unlikely to prove Amazon breached its contract or violated antitrust law by suspending service on Jan. 10, and that it was "not a close call." She also forcefully rejected the suggestion that the public interest would be served by a preliminary injunction requiring Amazon Web Services to "host the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the U.S. Capitol."
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Combien de langues faut-il pour faire comprendre à la population l’importance de rester à la maison afin de réduire la transmission de la COVID-19? Pour Doug Ford, la réponse est 22. C’est le nombre de langues que Doug Ford a utilisées, dans une publication sur Twitter faite jeudi, pour propager à nouveau ce message simple: «Restez à la maison». Après avoir été vivement critiqué pour la complexité des nouvelles mesures sanitaires imposées en Ontario le 13 janvier dernier, le premier ministre ontarien Doug Ford s’était défendu en affirmant qu’elles ne sont pas si compliquées et que la mesure la plus importante est de rester à la maison. Il l’avait même répété en français, langue qu’il ne parle pas mais qu’il a promis d’apprendre. Cette fois-ci, c’est en cantonais, mandarin, italien, russe, polonais et en espagnol, entre autres, qu’il a martelé le message. Le premier ministre Ford a fait cette publication alors que la province fait état jeudi d'un nouveau bilan de 2 632 infections quotidiennes à la COVID-19 et déplore 46 décès liés au virus survenus au cours de la dernière journée. À LIRE AUSSI: COVID-19: encore des problèmes de traduction en OntarioÉmilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's auditor general says the provincial government is not retrieving the vast majority of overpayments it makes to doctors. Tyson Shtykalo examined fees that physicians across the province were paid for patient examinations, surgeries and other services over a five-year period. In a report released Thursday, Shtykalo said the Health Department's own auditing branch found $1 million in overbillings submitted by doctors, but only about $11,000 was collected — just over one per cent. The government seems to focus more on educating doctors to avoid future overbillings than retrieving the money, he said. The report says the fee-for-service system is complicated and some mistakes are to be expected when there are billions of dollars in payments over a five-year period. But the Health Department has the authority to withhold future payments as a way to collect money it is owed by physicians. "The (Health Services Insurance Act) provides the department with the authority to offset overpayments against future claims from the physician." Even when the province goes after an overpayment, reimbursements are negotiated, the report says. "We were told that the department starts by asking for 80 per cent of the amount owing and the physician suggests a much smaller amount. Eventually, an agreement is reached, resulting in a repayment lower than the original overbilled amount." The group that represents the province's doctors said it is committed to accurate billing. "The auditor general's report confirms the vast majority of physician billings — over 99.9 per cent — have not been found to be inaccurate or overbilled. Only an average of about $200,000 per year out of almost $1 billion in annual physician services has been flagged as potentially overbilled," Doctors Manitoba said in a written statement. The group also questioned one part of Shtykalo's findings. It said the $1-million figure for overbillings would include suspected cases that were later followed up and deemed correct. "While it's totally legitimate for provincial auditors to flag billing submissions as a potential overpayment, it's important to note that in many cases physicians provide additional documentation that backs up their billing submission and the matter is resolved." Shtykalo confirmed his figures refer to cases as they are initially flagged by Health Department auditors. His report makes six recommendations, including retrieving all overpayments, improving training for health department auditors, and doing more reviews of payments to physicians. The Health Department said it agrees with the recommendations. Many of the issues are addressed in a bill currently before the legislature, it said. "Legislative amendments contemplated in Bill 10 are fundamentally aligned with the recommendations made by the (auditor general's office) in its report," the department said in a written response that accompanies Shtykalo's report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
The Alberta government is thinking about selling its profitable land titles, corporate and personal properties registries to a private company, according to public documents posted to its online procurement site. Service Alberta issued a request for expressions of interest on Monday. The document said the government would be willing to offer "an exclusive 35-year concession to operate an essential services business in the province." The registries offer potential purchasers a "robust financial profile with highly stable cash flow streams," the document said. Revenues for the three registries totalled $123.6 million in the last fiscal year. The province's objectives, according to the document, include maximizing "sale value and proceeds to the province" and modernizing technology used by the registries. If the province receives enough interest, it plans to issue a formal request for proposals in April. About 130 Alberta government employees work in those departments. Tricia Velthuizen, press secretary for Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, said private sector operations of registry services have worked in other jurisdictions and the government wants to see if it could work for Alberta. "Service Alberta would continue to have legislative authority for these services and oversight of a potential private sector partner," she wrote in an email. "Right now, Service Alberta is looking into options to provide more modern and efficient registry services, and no decisions have been made." The provincial government has retained CIBC Capital Markets to facilitate any proposed sales. Kevin Barry, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said the government on Monday sent the union notice about the start of the formal 90-consultation, as required under the collective agreement. The request for expressions for interest went online shortly afterwards. Barry said privatization could mean higher fees for Albertans accessing these services. He said he can't understand why the government would sell off operations that make money when it has lost so much revenue due to a slump in resource prices. "They're going to give that revenue up to the private sector," Barry said in an interview with CBC News. "It certainly is an odd timing with everything that's been happening of late that they're going to give up revenue or (are) even thinking about giving up revenue." Service Alberta lobbying According to the lobbyist registry, Regina-based Information Services Corporation hired Wellington Advocacy to lobby the Alberta government between July 23, 2019, and Dec.31, 2021. Wellington Advocacy was contracted to convince Service Alberta and other government ministries about the benefits of "alternative service delivery and business models for land registry, corporate registry and personal property registry." The president and founder of Wellington Advocacy is Nick Koolsbergen, who was chief of staff to Premier Jason Kenney when the United Conservative Party was the official opposition. Koolsbergen also ran the UCP's successful provincial election campaign in 2019. ISC was a Crown corporation operated by the Saskatchewan government until 60 per cent of it was sold in 2013, transforming it into a publicly traded business. ISC is listed on the Alberta Purchasing Connection site as one of the vendors that has viewed the Service Alberta bidding documents. Teranet, which operates land registries in Ontario and Manitoba, is also listed. According to the Alberta Lobbyist Registry, Teranet retained Maple Leaf Strategies to lobby Service Alberta and other areas of government between February 2020 and February 2021 on privatizing land, corporate and personal property registries.
TORONTO — Experts at a leading children's hospital say schools need to ramp up COVID-19 testing and masking in order to have all kids return safely to the classroom as soon as possible. The guidance comes a day after Ontario said it would allow just seven public health units in southern Ontario to resume in-person learning Monday, while students in hot-spot regions will continue with online learning until at least Feb. 10. Northern regions returned to the class last week, but areas including Toronto and Peel were deemed too-high risk. Thursday's guidelines, led by experts at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, urge COVID-19 tests for all staff and students exposed to a case, and that indoor masking be made mandatory for all those Grade 1 and up. Report co-author and SickKids president Dr. Ronald Cohn said current protocols only require tests for those with symptoms, and that's not good enough. "We need much more rigorous systematic testing in place for everybody who had a contact," said Cohn. "That's missing right now and that's key information that we need (in order) to identify areas where we need to improve health and safety measures, but also to collect this data that we just don't have in Ontario." Cohn acknowledged this could further burden provincial labs but said there was capacity to increase tests. Cohn also noted the preferred method of COVID-19 testing – in which a nasopharyngeal swab is inserted deep into the nose – may be especially tough to get from wriggling children and so less invasive samples such as saliva could be considered to encourage co-operation. Ontario's associate chief medical officer Barbara Yaffe suggested plans were already afoot to consider such a move, and that the government has experimented with expanded testing. She said a pilot exercise back in November offered tests to entire cohorts sent home because of a case, as well as family members of the students. The positivity rate was around two per cent, "which is very low," she said. "We're looking at maybe continuing to do that when we open schools," said Yaffe, adding the deployment of rapid tests was also being considered. Cohn urged a slew of "bundled" infection control measures to limit school disruption he said has taken a toll on the physical and mental health of many young people, as well as exacerbated social inequities. The experts urged kindergartners be allowed to play and interact with their peers without the same distancing requirements of older children, as long as they were cohorted to limit contacts. Masks should also be encouraged in this group, if possible. However, Cohn said masks should not be an option for older children – not just middle and high school students but also elementary students. He noted that extending mask mandates to elementary children was a point of contention among the group. "We have 39 experts who have contributed to our document and probably the most controversial question around getting consensus was around masking," said Cohn. He said school safety will depend on a mix of suppression tactics. "If everybody is going to wear a mask but we don't consider other aspects like cohorting, screening, hand-washing, ventilation, then the mask itself is not going to make a huge difference either," said Cohn. The experts said targeted one-time surveillance tests to find pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic children could be useful if the chance of infection is high, but otherwise was not recommended. They also discouraged the use of rapid tests using molecular or antigen tests because of their lower sensitivity and less effectiveness with asymptomatic cases. Yaffe agreed that kids in school should be a priority, but said positivity rates spiked among children after the holidays and that transmission was so high a lockdown was deemed safest. "We do have a lot of layers of protection in the schools but if the community infection rate is high, that's where it comes into the schools," said Yaffe. "It's not a simple situation. We're continuing to monitor very carefully and put in more measures as appropriate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
The OPP is enforcing a new stay-at-home order and dispersing larger gatherings, but said it is not targeting individuals. The province introduced a new stay-at-home order Jan. 14, demanding people only leave for essential trips such as work, purchasing goods, exercise, caring for animals or others, or moving. The province also said law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines under the order. OPP spokesperson Const. Iryna Nebogatova said the attention the order has received has brought more complaints, which drive enforcement. She added gatherings - limited to five people outdoors - are the main source of the complaints. “I do understand the stay-at-home order under the emergency management and Civil Protection Act, Reopening Ontario Act are quite confusing,” Nebogatova said. “What we are focusing on here would be the large gatherings, the gatherings whether they’re indoor or outdoor. “The individuals are not the focus of this enforcement,” she added. In a press release Jan. 15, OPP said it could levy fines of $750 for failing to comply with the order and/or $1,000 for preventing others from complying. However, the press release added that officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or vehicle to check compliance with the orders. “Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work,” OPP said. “Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act.” The province said bylaw enforcement can also issue fines under the order, but Dysart et al bylaw officer Robert Mascia said he is redirecting complaints to OPP. “If the OPP require assistance in enforcement measures, the municipality’s bylaw department will gladly help,” Mascia said. Cottagers being allowed County resident Donna Pugh said she called police on a cottager neighbour who visited their secondary residence this past weekend. But Pugh said OPP indicated that it is allowed – and they were not going to attend to address someone travelling to a secondary residence. “Our premier of the province has strongly told us all to stay home,” Pugh said. “Then to see our County booming with people who don’t live here all the time, when they’re asked to stay home, I just find that really frustrating.” The order states someone can travel to another residence if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours and are attending for an essential purpose; or if they intend to reside there for at least 14 days. Nebogatova did not directly address cottager enforcement when asked but said there are exemptions for people to leave their homes under the order that should be respected. “We are requesting that the members of the public voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit their mobility outside their homes except for essential reasons,” she said. Pugh said despite the province’s words, the enforcement is not going far enough. “The whole thing doesn’t have many teeth,” she said. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
A yet-to-be identified variant of COVID-19 found in a Barrie, Ont., long-term care home is extremely concerning because it appears to be spreading more quickly among residents, public health officials said Thursday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said the unusually rapid spread of the virus at Roberta Place earlier this month prompted officials to start testing for a variant strain. Fifty-five people at the nursing home became ill within 48 hours of the first COVID-19 case being identified, said Dr. Colin Lee, the unit's associate medical officer of health. As of Wednesday evening, the health unit reported that 122 residents and 69 staff had been infected, and 19 residents had died. The variant was identified in six cases and further results are expected in the coming days, the unit said. "The problem is that this spreads so quickly to so many people that ultimately you're going to have a higher chance of more people severely ill and (more) deaths," Lee said. There's a "very high probability" that the variant detected at the home is one of three known COVID-19 variants – strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, said Lee. Public health officials will be carrying out more testing at the home and will be trying to immunize as many residents and staff at the facility as possible, he said. An earlier immunization effort saw only 21 residents vaccinated as most others were already infected with COVID-19, he said. "We went in there on Saturday and immunized as many as we could," he said. The health unit is trying to reach all close contacts of those infected as quickly as possible so they can self-isolate if needed, said Lee. "One of our primary goals right now is to prevent the spread further, as it gets into households and other hospitals," Lee said. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical of health, said public health officials will also be stepping up infection prevention and control at the home. Yaffe said the source of infection is still hard to determine as the outbreak at the home is still under investigation. "At this point, we know a mutation is in there. The 501 mutation that’s associated with increased transmissibility ... We don’t know which mutant it is, or which variant of concern," she said. “So it’s hard to say right now how widespread it is because we don’t even know exactly what it is.” Last week, the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Roberta Place to help with the growing outbreak. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, along with other local organizations, has also been asked to help manage it. The Ministry of Long-Term Care said Thursday that it was working with its health partners to ensure staffing levels at the home were sufficient. “This development underscores the need for everyone to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our long-term care homes, especially as we find more evidence of new variants in our communities,” said spokeswoman Krystle Caputo. The nursing home's website says it can accommodate 137 residents. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
Resident sport-fishing licence sales soared by 30 per cent in 2020 over 2019 and Alberta Fish and Wildlife is hoping that will translate into more interest in how the province is managing its fish populations. "We are seeing more and more people fishing this year; more outdoor participating and therefore maybe more engagement in our sessions," says Kayedon Wilcox, regional fisheries manager for Alberta Environment and Parks. Every year Alberta Fish and Wildlife hosts public meetings to review sport-fishing regulations, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the sessions online. While they are hoping for more participants, organizers know drawing anglers will be difficult. "We are trying to pull viewership from Netflix, Crave and have the hockey fans tune in to the evenings a little bit," Wilcox said Thursday in an interview on CBC's Edmonton AM. So far the webinars have been a success, he said. In the three of seven webinars held so far, about 1,000 participants attended. Last year, the total attendance at 14 public meetings was 1,300. That success has the province thinking about continuing online sessions once the pandemic ends. "I think I still see, and our staff appreciates, the ability of in-person discussions with stakeholders," Wilcox said. "That certainly won't go away, we also will see if there are members of the angler community who prefer the webinar method." One of the issues this year is a review of the 15-year-old walleye tag program. The program is used for certain bodies of water that cannot sustain open harvest. "In those cases, we do have a limited harvest tool where we provide a finite number of tags out and within that, a tag-owner can harvest anywhere between two or three walleye," Wilcox said. He said they have heard from people wanting improvement on the tags themselves. The province issues new fishing regulations for April 1 every year.
Both Burns and the suppers that celebrate him have proven remarkably malleable symbols worldwide of the Scottish nation and Scottish hospitality.
OTTAWA — Here are quick facts about Julie Payette, who resigned as governor general on Thursday:Age: 57Hometown: MontrealEducation: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal and earned an international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Studied electrical engineering at McGill University before obtaining a master's degree in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. Has 24 honorary degrees.Early career: Conducted research in computer systems and speech-recognition software as an engineer with various organizations, including IBM and the University of Toronto, before being chosen by the Canadian Space Agency to become an astronaut in 1992. Payette was one of four people chosen out of more than 5,300 applicants.Astronaut experience: Technical adviser on a robotics system that Canada contributed to the International Space Station before obtaining her commercial pilot licence and military pilot qualification, studying Russian and other training in preparation for travelling to space. CSA's chief astronaut from 2000 to 2007. First space mission was an 11-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver supplies in 1999, when she became the first Canadian to board the ISS. The second was a two-week flight to the ISS in 2009.Post-space life: While still part of the CSA, Payette accepted a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. in 2011 before becoming a representative for the Quebec government in the U.S. capital. She retired from the space agency in 2013 to become the head of the Montreal Science Centre as well as vice-president of a federal Crown corporation, the Canada Lands Company.Viceregal appointment: Sworn in as Canada's 29th governor general in October 2017 following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recommendation to the Queen. Trudeau recommended Payette after abolishing a panel designed to vet and recommend potential governors general.Post-appointment controversy: Following Payette's appointment, it emerged that she'd been charged with second-degree assault while living in Maryland in 2011. She called the charge unfounded, and it has since been expunged. She was also involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident that same year. The case was closed without charges after a police investigation. Both revelations nonetheless raised questions about the government's decision to recommend her. She also raised eyebrows for using a speech shortly after taking over the position to mock those who question climate change and believe in creationism, and reducing her participation in traditional duties and responsibilities of her office.Toxic work environment: Reports emerged within the first year of her time in office of problems at Rideau Hall, before explosive allegations erupted last year of a toxic work environment within her office. A private firm was hired to investigate and its findings led to her resignation on Thursday.Interests and experiences: Running, skiing, racket sports and scuba diving. Fluent in French and English, conversant in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. Plays the piano and has sung at venues in Canada and Switzerland. Has also produced a number of science productions for broadcast.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — A New York judge on Thursday denied the National Rifle Association’s bid to throw out a state lawsuit that seeks to put the powerful gun advocacy group out of business. Judge Joel Cohen’s ruling will allow New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit to move ahead in state court in Manhattan, rather than dismissing it on technical grounds or moving it to federal court, as the NRA’s lawyers desired. James’ lawsuit, filed last August, seeks the NRA’s dissolution under state non-profit law over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for trips, no-show contracts and other expenditures. James is the state’s chief law enforcement officer and has regulatory power over non-profit organizations incorporated in the state, such as the NRA, Cohen said. “It would be inappropriate to find that the attorney couldn’t pursue her claims in state court just because one of the defendants wants to proceed in federal court,” Cohen said at a hearing held by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen also rejected the NRA’s arguments that James’ lawsuit was improperly filed in Manhattan and should’ve been filed in Albany, where the NRA’s incorporation paperwork lists an address. The NRA’s arguments for dismissing the case did not involve the merits of the case. The NRA has been incorporated in New York since 1871, though it is headquartered in Virginia and last week filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to reincorporate in that state. The NRA, in announcing its bankruptcy filing last Friday, said it wanted to break free of a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York” and that it saw Texas as friendlier to its interests. The NRA’s lawyers said at a bankruptcy court hearing on Wednesday in Dallas that they wouldn’t use the Chapter 11 proceedings to halt the lawsuit. After Thursday’s ruling, they said they were ready to go ahead with the case, including a meeting with lawyers from James’ office on Friday and another hearing in March. In a letter to Cohen in advance of Thursday’s heading, NRA lawyer Sarah Rogers said the organization had no position on seeking to stay the case through bankruptcy, but that it reserved right to seek such orders from bankruptcy court in the future. Normally, a bankruptcy filing would halt all pending litigation. James’ office contends that its lawsuit is covered by an exemption involving a state’s regulatory powers and cannot be stopped by bankruptcy. Assistant New York Attorney General James Sheehan said he hoped to bring the case to trial by early 2022. In seeking to dismiss or move the state’s lawsuit to federal court, Rogers argued that many of its misspending and self-dealing allegations were also contained in pending lawsuits in federal court — a slate of cases she described as a “tangled nest of litigation.” Part of Rogers’ argument for moving the state lawsuit to federal court involved an error in the state’s original filing that she said altered the timeline of when it was filed. James’s office filed its lawsuit on Aug. 6, but later had to amend the complaint to include a part that was left. That same day, the NRA filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging James’ actions were motivated by hostility toward its political advocacy, including her comments in 2018 that the NRA is a “terrorist organization.” Rogers contended that because of the filing glitch James’ lawsuit should be considered a counterclaim to the NRA’s lawsuit and handled alongside of it in federal court. Cohen rejected that, saying Rogers was placing “far too much weight on a non-substantive error that was quickly fixed.” “The attorney general filed first,” he said. ___ Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
A doctor at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax says pregnant women should talk with their doctors and weigh the risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine given the lack of data available right now. Pregnant women were excluded from initial clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which means there's no information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for them. Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, said there's no blanket recommendation telling Canadian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not to get immunized, but "theoretical risks" should be considered. "It's really a case-by-case basis, individual decision of that risk," he told CBC's Information Morning on Thursday. "If somebody is not seen coming into contact with people with COVID-19 and they're pregnant, they might be able to afford to wait several months and get the vaccine as soon as they deliver." Women working on the front lines of the pandemic may have different considerations, he added. "If somebody is in a position where they are much more likely to be exposed, then that individual risk might be more from the COVID-19 and a woman might choose to get the vaccine during pregnancy, and we're seeing both of those situations and both of those different types of decisions," Halperin said. Early research released in December from the University of British Columbia shows that pregnant women are at higher risk of being hospitalized if they do get the virus compared to non-pregnant women in the same age group. Researchers cautioned that their study is preliminary and only included data from cases in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. Data could be available later this year Halperin said at this point there are no red flags that the COVID vaccines themselves are harmful to a mother and baby. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which provides advice to the federal government, recommends that approved COVID-19 vaccines may be provided to people excluded from clinical trials, "if a risk assessment deems that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks for the individual." "The biggest risk is if somebody, a woman, had a fever with the vaccine, which you can get and if it were a high fever, fever itself can be harmful, not all the time, but occasionally to the fetus, so it's that type of risk that we're looking at," Halperin said. That could be a small risk compared to the risk of getting COVID-19, he added. Halperin estimates it could still be six to eight months before data about how pregnant and breastfeeding women respond to the vaccine is available. "There are women who are getting the vaccine and we'll be collecting data from women who do receive the vaccine in order to see how they respond to the vaccine and to ensure that it is safe," he said. Halperin advises women trying to get pregnant to take a similar approach and weigh the risks. "If one gets the vaccine, one should wait about a month or six weeks before getting pregnant … even theoretically there wouldn't be lasting risks so one doesn't have to not get pregnant for a year, just for a matter of weeks." He said at one time pregnant women weren't involved in clinical trials at all over concerns about harming the fetus. "That's no longer considered to be ethically sound because we need to use vaccines in pregnant women, and therefore we need to get data from clinical trials from pregnant women, but they're still excluded from the initial studies," Halperin said. Studies involving pregnant women and children are only done once the vaccines are deemed safe for the general public, he said. More vaccines on the horizon People who are immunocompromised also weren't part of the initial clinical trials for the vaccines, and Halperin said it's a good idea for them to talk with their health-care providers about the risks of getting immunized. "Right now, there are very few exclusions to getting vaccinated," he said. "People who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccines in the past … should take care with immunizing." Halperin said more vaccines will be available to Nova Scotians in the months ahead. The U.K. was the first country to approve the new AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and Halperin expects Canada won't be far behind. "Hopefully within a month or so, we'll have maybe four vaccines and further ones a couple of months beyond that." MORE TOP STORIES
The elephants are counted using a computer algorithm trained to identify the creatures against a variety of backdrops.View on euronews
CHIBOUGAMAU-La région du Nord-du-Québec est devenue l’une des premières ce jeudi à entreprendre une campagne de vaccination massive contre la COVID-19. Depuis jeudi matin, la plupart des résidants au nord du 49e Parallèle âgés de 40 ans et plus ont reçu ou recevront dans les prochains jours leur première dose. La région socio-sanitaire avait jusque-là été relativement épargnée par la pandémie. Elle a tout de même été classée Niveau 4 par l’Institut national de la Santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), en raison de son isolement et de son éloignement. «Le domaine de la santé demande déjà une bonne logistique sans la COVID, explique la PDG du Centre régional de santé et de services sociaux de la Baie-James, Nathalie Boisvert. Pour les cas plus graves, comme les AVC, nos résidants doivent parcourir plusieurs kilomètres vers un centre de santé, pour souvent être transférés par la suite dans un établissement dans le sud de la province. Tout cela apporte une pression supplémentaire et des inquiétudes avec la COVID-19. C’est pour cela que notre vaccination était prioritaire.» Des éclosions À l’instar du reste du Québec, le Nord-du-Québec a connu ses épisodes d’éclosions du virus. En novembre dernier, 146 personnes avaient été mises en isolement après avoir fréquenté le salon de quilles Bolorama, de Chibougamau. La Santé publique de la région souligne également deux éclosions dans des résidences pour personnes âgées dans le temps des fêtes. «Notre équipe de santé publique a fait un travail formidable en amont, affirme la PDG du CRSSSBJ. Ils ont travaillé fort pour faire du dépistage préventif.» L’immensité du territoire représente aussi un défi logistique, selon l’adjointe à la PDG, Julie Pelletier. «Nous avons des ententes avec d’autres régions, comme par exemple dans le secteur au nord de La Sarre, qui relève de notre juridiction, explique-t-elle. Ces régions sont plus près de l’Abitibi, même si elles sont en Jamésie. Nous irons vacciner les gens de ce secteur au cours des prochains jours.» Des échanges avec le Cree Health Board Autre casse-tête : les populations d’origine crie et non-crie se côtoient sur le territoire, mais ne sont pas régies par les mêmes organismes. Les Cris sont pris en charge par le Cree Health Board (CHB), qui a juridiction sur ces populations. Sauf que le virus, lui, ne fait pas de distinction. «Nous avons des échanges constants avec le Cree Health Board, indique Nathalie Boisvert. Nous sommes conscients que le virus circule dans les deux populations, nos devons donc travailler de concert pour garder le contrôle sur les éclosions.» Ainsi, tous les jeudis, des représentants des deux entités s’assoient avec des représentants politiques pour faire le point sur la situation. Il y aussi de l’entraide mutuelle dans le quotidien. «Lors de l’éclosion à la salle de quilles, le CHB nous a prêté deux infirmières pour aider au dépistage, indique Mme Boisvert. Dernièrement, on a recensé plusieurs cas de COVID dans la communauté d’Oujé-Bougoumou (située à moins de 30 km de Chapais), et à Mistissini. Quatre de nos infirmières sont allées prêter main forte là-bas.»Après les 40 ans et plus, ce sera le tour des personnes âgées de 18 ans et plus d’être vaccinées au début de février. «L’éloignement des grands centres a ses avantages, mais au point de vue de la santé, nous sommes loin des services spécialisés, affirme Julie Pelletier. C’est pour cela que nous avons comme objectif une immunisation collective rapide.» Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
The provincial and federal governments have announced new funding today to support essential air carriers that serve remote First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. The funding will ensure communities have access to essential supplies, services and goods. Canada will be investing $11.1 million, while the province has earmarked $14.2 million to operate remote airports in 2020-21, including an additional $4 million this year to ensure safe operations during the pandemic. Today’s announcement includes Fort Albany First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Peawanuck and Attawapiskat First Nation. Across Canada, there are 140 communities with airports that were considered remote when the federal government announced the funding program last August. Out of 34 remote communities in Northern Ontario, 28 don’t have all-year-round access and rely on air carriers for essential services and goods. “While we continue to work together to limit the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure remote communities continue to have the air connectivity they need for essential goods and services, travel and business," Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said in a statement. "This agreement with the Government of Ontario will allow for reliable air services to keep remote communities in Ontario connected to the rest of the country." The Ministry of Transportation owns and operates 29 airports, 27 of which support remote First Nation communities, according to the press release. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com