The coldest temps of the season will start to sneak into S ON, dodging the Great Lakes to finish the week. Increasing ice coverage will inhibit the lakes' ability to moderate the temperatures as the cold stretch continues
The coldest temps of the season will start to sneak into S ON, dodging the Great Lakes to finish the week. Increasing ice coverage will inhibit the lakes' ability to moderate the temperatures as the cold stretch continues
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
Pembroke -- A respected member of the Upper Ottawa Valley legal, business and agricultural community, Del O’Brien, was recognized by Renfrew County Council at its February 25 meeting for his coming induction into the Ontario Agricultural Wall of Fame. He was introduced via ZOOM by Donna Campbell, secretary-treasurer of the Renfrew County Federation of Agriculture, one of the bodies which supported the nomination for the honour. Ms. Campbell noted some of the highlights of Mr. O’Brien’s career during which legal, agricultural and business interests, local as well as provincial, continued to intersect. The nomination highlighted his agricultural involvement and specifically his years of work with the Ontario Drainage Tribunal, a body which adjudicates disputes under the Ontario Drainage Act with regard to the impact of water management on farmland use. “In 1975 he was asked to establish and chair the Ontario Drainage Tribunal,” said Ms. Campbell. “As such he had a major influence on the evolution of tile drainage law in the province. In 1984 he was appointed founding chair of the Ontario Agricultural Council. And in 1994 he was appointed the official Drainage Referee for Ontario, a position he held until 2006. Now retired, he continues to operate a 500-acre organic farm along the Ottawa River with his sons.” Mr. O’Brien thanked Mrs. Campbell for her introduction, and county council for the honour and for the opportunity to speak to them. He said he would take the opportunity to leave them with a message. He told the meeting the challenges of coping with the COVID-19 virus bring with them two revolutionary opportunities for Renfrew County. “If we follow the news, we see that city living has become almost untenable,” he said. “People want to flee to the country. Renfrew County is a green area which is very inviting and has a lot to offer. “The second is the IT revolution. The internet has made it possible to work from any home. Renfrew County has severances along every road where the municipality doesn’t have to spend a nickel for services. The road, hydro, and telephone are already there, and in most cases there’s good internet. People can have a large lot with a drilled well and a septic tank. It’s green, green, green! Why do business in the city when it can be done in any home, anywhere in the country?” He said every municipality could use more children in schools and rinks, and more people in the churches. “The county’s structure was originally set up for one family on every 100 acres,” he said. “Thousands of people could be attracted to the Valley by making building lots readily available. Every real estate agent and developer can tell you the demand for lots and houses is outrageous. We’ve got to accommodate that demand and do it quickly, and not by subdivisions which take years to get in place and cost a great deal of money.” He added residential development along existing roads is completely compatible with farming today. “It’s mainly cash crops that are being produced now,” he said. “Due to Mad Cow Disease, beef operations are almost non-existent. And dairy operations are in confined housing 24/7. Planning policies are outmoded and haven’t recognized the revolutionary changes in farming. They must be brought up to date and modernized so that severances move quickly because they are needed immediately. You, the leaders of county council, can be the engine of that change. You’re in charge and you have to seize the opportunity.” Warden Debbie Robinson thanked Mr. O’Brien for his input. “You did not disappoint,” she said. “Your message is extremely timely as we’ll be discussing our Official Plan later today. It was excellent and it was heard.” She congratulated him and displayed a certificate of recognition which she plans to present to him in person when COVID-19 regulations permit. “I can assure you that, if we were doing this today in person in council chambers you would receive a standing ovation with thunderous applause,” she said. Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
EDMONTON — Five Black Muslim women, all Somali-Canadians wearing hijabs, have been attacked or threatened in Edmonton in the last 10 weeks. The city's Al-Rashid Mosque began offering Muslim women self-defence lessons following the attacks. The classes are full. Trent Daley is a member of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. He says someone approaches him or his network on a weekly basis about an assault. Most victims are Black and Muslim women. "There's been a notable marked increase (in assaults) following the pandemic. It's so pervasive right now," Daley says. "It's full of racial epithets, full of disgusting language targeting them based off the scarf that they wear and the identity they presumed that this person has. It's dehumanizing." Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. Cheryl Voordenhout with the Edmonton Police Service says it received 60 reports of hate crimes last year. So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women. On Dec. 8, a mother and daughter were violently attacked in the Southgate mall parking lot. A week later, near the same mall, another woman was subject to racial slurs as someone tried to hit her head with a shopping bag. In February, a man made racial comments and became aggressive toward a woman at the University of Alberta transit centre. The same day, a man came up behind a woman walking in a popular neighbourhood, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa. The latest attack happened Feb. 17. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said a man approached a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Century Park transit station, swore at her and threatened to kill her. Political leaders, including Premier Jason Kenney, have spoken out against the attacks. But the CEO of the national Muslims council says condemnation is not enough and government leaders at the local and provincial level need to take action. "Anti-Black racism is a real problem in Alberta," says Mustafa Farooq. "Black-Muslim women tend to face greater challenges than almost anyone else, because racism and gendered Islamophobia are real problems. "We can look, for example, at street harassment bylaws. We can look at ways in which anti-racism initiatives are being funded. We can look at hate crime units and their advocacy in dealing with these challenges." "So much can be done immediately, but it's not happening." Daley added that recent rallies and marches in Edmonton and Calgary in opposition to COVID-19 measures are examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated racism in Alberta. Some participants were seen carrying tiki torches, which many say are a symbol used by white supremacists. Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the police service is doubling down in its effort to work with the Somali community to address racially motivated assaults. "We've got to listen to what they need and then we've got to figure out how we can ... actually get some of the changes that they need," he said at a news conference Tuesday. McFee also alluded to the suspects in the assaults possibly having mental-health issues. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This story has been edited. An interview subject was removed from the original version because of concerns raised about her safety.
Rideau Lakes Township has approved a one-per-cent property tax rate increase for 2021. At the township council's regular meeting earlier this week, members agreed in a 7-2 vote for the local tax rate increase, down from the 2.5-per-cent increase that was presented in December. The one-per-cent tax increase translates into an additional $12 per year in property taxes on the average home, assessed at $250,000. This in turn measures out to an increase of $113,000 in revenue for the township. The township ended 2020 with an estimated surplus of just over $1 million. Township administrators say this is attributed to the impact of COVID-19 delaying some projects and stronger-than-forecasted revenue. Many on council gave kudos to the township staff for configuring a budget for this year that increases property taxes by only one per cent while still increasing reserves and decreasing the debt level. "I'm really happy with the budget that the staff presented," said South Crosby Coun. Claire Smith during Monday's meeting, adding that in a way she feels the budget is more the staff's than council's due to the strains virtual meetings have on discussions and debates. Only Mayor Arie Hoogenboom and South Elmsley Coun. Jeff Banks voted against the budget. Banks said he would have preferred no increase in the property tax, with Hoogenboom agreeing. "I received a lot of calls, a lot of people are struggling with the COVID," said Hoogenboom. Despite the mayor voting against the budget on the "principle" of the matter, he also said he will respect the will of council and ensure it works best for the township. "The township's fiscal future is bright," said Hoogenboom. "The 2021 budget continues our commitment to prudent spending and progressive rural governance." In a municipal services committee meeting last week, council had a lively discussion on what budget proposal to bring to the regular council. Four options were presented by staff, two each offered either a zero- or one-per-cent property tax increase. At the committee meeting, Hoogenboom and Banks were joined by Couns. Cathy Livingston and Bob Lavoie in voting no on the eventual budget option. Both Livingston and Lavoie ultimately voted yes on the budget in the regular council meeting Monday. All other councillors – Carolyn Bresee, Joan Delaney, Marcia Maxwell, Ron Pollard and Smith – said in the meetings they were happy with the budget brought forward by staff and voted for it in both committee and council. According to a release by the township, the budget includes revenue and expenses of $18.6 million. A total of $2.9 million is being invested towards roads. Plum Hollow Road, which runs from County Road 5 to Healey Road at the Elizabethtown-Kitley Township line, has been designated for a full roadbed reconstruction. The schedule of maintenance stone application to gravel roads has been altered to have the program run at a two- and three-year cycle rather than a three- and five-year cycle. Major investments in buildings include revamping the Ronald E. Holman Municipal Complex. The building formerly housed the Rideau Lakes detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police before it moved to the former Rideau Centennial Public School in Portland. Along with renovating the former police space into a library, work on a new outdoor recreation area will begin this year. Other community halls and parks in the township will be receiving a combined $600,000 in investments, of which half is coming from revenue sources like grants, donations and parkland reserves. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officers will soon receive a powerful new tool to assist patrols in B.C. waters for illegal fishing and infringements on marine protected areas. Sometime in April the DFO base in Campbell River will take possession of a new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance aircraft for a suite of missions up and down the coast and into the western Arctic. “The aircraft has lots of sophisticated surveillance sensors and arrays on board that captures information we can present to courts in prosecution situations, but also present it to flag states as evidence of illegal activities. The other aspect is to direct our support vessels to suspected illegal activity so they can carry out inspections,” Brent Napier, DFO’s director of enforcement policy and programs, conservation and protection said. The plane will keep within 200 nautical miles of the coast with the ability to stay aloft for eight to 10 hours, twice the flight time of DFO’s current plane, a Beechcraft King Air. This new capacity is critical to reach remote protected areas. “We’d like to spend a lot more time outside of our traditional patrol sites, because what we’re seeing really is a changing pattern in the Pacific, as large fleets look for ever-new stocks to fish," Napier said. "We want to be there to make sure we’re protecting those stocks. This [aircraft] will give us a whole new capacity that we never had before.” The new plane will be a vital enforcement tool under an ever-growing mandate of the fisheries and oceans ministry to restore ocean health and fisheries, protect southern resident killer whales and expand ocean-based economies with sustainable industries. In 2019 DFO signed a five-year, $128-million contract with PAL Aerospace in St. John’s, N.L. for a fleet of four new aerial surveillance aircraft. The other three are headed to the Atlantic provinces. B.C.’s Dash-8 will also be used in partnership with the US government agencies to patrol the western arctic as new vulnerabilities arise due to the melting ice sheets. “This aircraft will let us know what’s going on up there. There are emerging fisheries and science that’s being conducted, and we want to make sure everyone’s following the rules, that we aren’t getting foreign vessels as the ice clears," Napier said. The Dash-8 will strengthen Canada’s ability to uphold obligations with other Pacific nations to police the “scourge” of illegal fishing in international waters, particularly with B.C.-bound Pacific salmon. The plane will also serve as a scientific platform to more accurately map and monitor the migratory routes of specific salmon populations to help guide fisheries management decisions. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
A promotional photo and video shoot was produced at McGeachie Trails in Limerick Township on Feb. 27 to highlight the trails’ suitability for various winter sports for residents and tourists alike, and to promote economic development. The photo and video materials, focusing on cross country skiing and snowshoeing, were produced by Hastings Destination Trails Inc. with a grant from the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, in cooperation with Hastings County. It is set to be used to promote McGeachie Trails after the pandemic has subsided, likely for the 2021/2022 winter season. According to HDTI’s Cathy Trimble, the organization had received a $2,500 digital marketing grant from the OHTO recently, and decided to do a photo and video shoot to market McGeachie Trails as a winter tourist destination for the 2021/2022 winter season. Luisa Sorrentino is the marketing coordinator for economic development and tourism with Hastings County, and emphasizes that the photos and video will not be used to publicize McGeachie Trails this year, due to COVID-19, but will be used to do so next year for the 2021/2022 winter season. “So, we are not promoting the area this time during COVID-19. We are all local within Hastings County. We’re wearing masks and we’re doing everything according to protocol,” she says. While there was an uptick in local tourism to the area in 2020, with some businesses seeing a 30 per cent increase in revenues, Sorrentino wants to prepare for when the pandemic is behind us and tourism from other parts of Ontario, Canada and the world can start to resume. “We’ve been busy helping businesses survive and pivot during COVID-19, and also to be ready with services when [COVID-19] ends and tourists come back to the area,” she says. To that end, HDTI and Hastings County highlighted the trails’ suitability to use for cross country skiing and for snowshoeing. They had Clive Emery, the owner and operator of Trips and Trails Adventure Outfitting (tripsandtrails.ca), and an avid skier and sportsman, to teach a handful of people how to cross-country ski on the trails and take them on a short journey for the video. Trimble confirmed that Emery was there that morning teaching skiing fundamentals and that the photo and video shoot went well. “He was the instructor and supported us with equipment for the event. They [his students] were novice cross country skiers and they really enjoyed themselves. Clive just showed them the ropes and they went for a short ski,” she says. Bernie Hogan was also there that afternoon to teach a small group of people how to snowshoe for the afternoon’s video segment and to take them on a brief snowshoeing excursion. They were the Card family; Meredith, Shayne and son Maxwell, and Rick Cassidy and Mary Ann Pierce. An award-winning long-distance runner and snowshoe racer, Hogan is also the athlete ambassador for northern Ontario with Snowshoe Canada (snowshoecanada.ca/contact). He works at CP Rail as a track maintenance technician. He’s been snowshoeing since he was a kid, but took up snowshoe racing a few years ago to keep his conditioning for running in place over the winter. Racing snowshoes are smaller and lighter than traditional snowshoes. “I started getting injured running in the snow, so I was looking for a different kind of sport and found it with snowshoe racing,” he says. Hogan has seen more people on snowshoes this winter than he did last year, and says it’s even hard to buy snowshoes at all as they’re selling out. Grooming the trails that day was Don Stoneman, a retired editor and journalist, director of Canoe Kayak Ontario and an avid canoeist. He used his specialized extra wide track snowmobile and its grooming attachment. “It was a bit of a challenge as the snow was so wet, so I just packed it down with the snowmobile. I’ll track it when it gets a bit colder,” he says. The cross-country skiing and snowshoeing were captured for posterity that day by local photographer Emily Musclow (emilymaeannphotography.com) and local videographer Erica Tripp (ericasorensonmedia.ca). Tripp, who recently moved back to Gilmour from British Columbia, captured the action along the trail with her digital video camera and her gimbal, which is a camera mount that uses three motors within the mount to compensate for unwanted movements and keep the camera steady. “The weather was pretty interesting this morning. It was a bit of a challenge shooting with the snow, but we made it work,” she says. Overall, the photo and video shoot went great that day and Trimble and Sorrentino were happy with the results. “The idea is for people, not during COVID-19 but next year, to come up here as tourists or even if they buy a place up here,” says Sorrentino. “They want to be able to have opportunities to go out and live an active lifestyle and try new experiences, something they’ve never done before, like snowshoeing or skiing.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
A transport truck contracted by Canada Post to carry mail and parcels caught fire Monday morning, just after midnight, in Smiths Falls, the Crown corporation confirmed. A spokesperson from Canada Post said the truck caught fire at the post office on Church Street. Nobody was injured, but most of the truck and its contents were destroyed. Smiths Falls Fire Prevention Officer Lieutenant Randy Normandin said the blaze started at 12:38 a.m. Monday. The fire department responded with eight men and one truck. Part of the reason there was only one truck is the post office is across the street from the firehall, Normandin said. An investigation is underway into the cause of the incident. Customers are being notified by letter of the incident. Any customer who believes they have not received mail are asked to contact the sender. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The man they call Father T now has the appropriate headwear to be Chaplain Father T. Father Thomas Dorward was given the white helmet last week that signifies him as the Fire Rescue Chaplain of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department. "It's wonderful to be recognized by your peers and by the township and village," said Dorward. Fire Chief Scott Granahan considered it to be "absolutely an honour" to entrust the helmet to Dorward. "We sometimes look past the roles that are often supportive," said Granahan. "But I don't forget, nor does our Deputy (Chief) forget, that we have that ability to pick up the phone and have somebody that can not just help, but also bring us back to where we need to be. "He's been just an absolutely amazing resource, not just for our members in the community, but also for our members' families." Dorward, who began serving with the fire department shortly after moving to Westport in 2002 following retirement, made the decision last year to step back from being a full-time responding volunteer firefighter. "As they say, 'time marches on,'" said Dorward. "It seemed the right time to step down from the rigours of firefighting." "We really wanted to keep him in our family, so that’s where this little bit of a change to him becoming a face within our command team came from," said Granahan, who is chief of the just over 80 other members of the fire department. There are many roles of a Chaplain within a fire department. Some include offering support and assistance at emergency incidents, conducting or assisting with fire department funerals or memorial services and acting as a confidential listening ear to personnel and family members. Granahan said the role is vital, as one call cannot drag into the next. "He offers such a level place to focus to get our members and our department as a whole back to where they need to be," Granahan said. Before his run with the township's fire department, Dorward's previous work experience included serving in the Canadian Forces medical services, an emergency EMS responder, and a full-time Toronto International Airport Emergency Services and volunteer firefighter. The last job he held before retirement was as security director for the Toronto District School Board. "It seemed a natural fit to be able to utilize the skills I had learned to serve our new home community," said Dorward on why he joined the volunteer fire department after he and his wife Brenda moved to Westport. When Dorward moved to Westport, he was a Religious Brother in the Order of Saint Andrew. Upon joining the fire department, he assumed the dual role of firefighter-chaplain. Soon after completing his studies, Dorward was ordained as a priest. Something that both Dorward and Granahan stressed was that Dorward's role as fire chaplain is not limited to Rideau Lakes. "With our mutual aid services and partners… this isn't a service that is limited to our own membership. It is something that is absolutely available to everybody in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Lanark and beyond," said Granahan. "There's been issues where a chaplaincy was required in other departments," said Dorward. "It's like any other fire department resource. If another department requires it, all they have to do is ask. "We're there for everybody." Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Although Alek Minassian was found guilty of all counts in the Yonge Street van attack, the judge has set a Canadian precedent by considering autism a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code. Kamil Karamali reports.
WASHINGTON — Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats are hustling to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, confident they can avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was set for a House vote late Wednesday. The sweeping legislation, which was approved last summer but stalled in the Senate, was named in honour of Floyd, whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked protests nationwide. The bill would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement and create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. Democrats say they are determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry. But the debate over legislation has turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that Democrats were intent on slashing police force budgets. This bill doesn't do that. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said it was a reason the party, after talking confidently of growing its majority in November, instead saw it shrink to just 10 seats, 221-211. “We played too much defence on ‘defund the police,’” Perez said. Moderate Democrats said the charge helped to drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has pushed for more police funding in places like his city of Laredo, where law enforcement presence is especially concentrated given the close proximity to the Mexican border. While Democrats used their then-larger majority to pass the police reform measure in the House last summer, it stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP senators pushed an alternate plan that Democrats blocked from consideration, calling it inadequate. Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. The bill had been set for a vote Thursday, but House leaders abruptly changed the schedule after U.S. Capitol Police warned of threats of violence by a militia group seeking to storm the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 siege. Democratic control in the House is now so narrow that the loss of even a handful of moderate votes can sink legislation. But senior Democratic congressional aides said Wednesday they were confident the policing bill would clear the House and were eager to get it to the Senate, where negotiations will take longer. Despite the political attacks by Republicans, even the House's more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, appear ready to back the bill. Aides pointed to the moderate New Democrat Coalition saying this week that its members would support it. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill's prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without such legal protections, fears of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits such suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it., “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity and easing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Bass said she was not planning to make concessions before the bill clears the House. Changes would only serve to weaken it while failing to shield Democrats from the false “defund the police” narrative surrounding it, she said. “Even if they were to vote against the bill, even if they were to have a press conference denouncing the bill, they are still going to be hit with the same lie,” Bass said of Democrats. She also acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But Bass said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how, “The scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, she conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50s. Bass said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding “hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” That could prove a tall order, despite the White House's vocal support for police reform. Biden has promised to combat systemic racism and signed executive orders he says will begin doing that, though advocates are expecting the new administration to go further. Biden has tweeted that he hopes "to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
The owner of a Calgary cafe has started a letter-writing campaign aimed at convincing city council to reverse a decision that will result in the eatery being evicted from a historic building in Eau Claire. The city, however, says its decision is irreversible — and has been in the works for a long time. The 1886 Buffalo Cafe has been running out of the historic Eau Claire Lumber Company building for about 40 years. Next month, however, the city will not be renewing its lease, in order to undertake some long-anticipated area refurbishment. City councillors said the cafe owners were given notice in 2017 that the city would need to move the building to do some major flood work, and as part of the redevelopment that was happening in Eau Claire. But owner Joanna McLeod told CBC News she feels the city led her astray with confusing communications that made her think they'd be able to stay in the building longer. It prompted her to start a letter-writing campaign and petition in the hopes of saving the cafe. "I just think there's a lot of missing information for the city's aspect," she said. "We've been the best tenants for 40 years … and we would really just love to stay in that building." 'Timeline of assurance' McLeod said they were in negotiations with the city to renew its lease in 2018. At the time, they were on a month-to-month lease, she said, because of the developments that were planned for Eau Claire. The cafe owners were told the revitalization of the area would have the cafe moved closer to the river, and in the same building. In February 2020, McLeod said, she was offered a five-year lease by the city that went unsigned after a realtor told her the language wasn't typical for a commercial lease, and the cafe owners wanted a few details changed before they committed. According to the city, the lease was rescinded in November 2020, after the tenant failed to sign and the city received confirmation of $8.6 million in funding from the province to proceed with the Eau Claire Plaza reconstruction project. But McLeod said there are documents and emails that showed a "timeline of assurances given to us by the city, and kind of leading us down a path of security with them." The owners were blindsided, she said, when they were eventually given notice by a leasing agent that they had 90 days to vacate the premises. And thinking they were going to be staying in the building, McLeod said they invested money into the place. "Had we known that it was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to continue business out of that building … we would have chosen to do business a little differently," McLeod said. Development plans not a secret, councillor says If the decision isn't reversed by the city, McLeod said, she is hoping they will be compensated for the business decisions they made "under bad faith." However, Coun. Druh Farrell told the CBC that while she is very sympathetic with the owners, they have known for a very long time that these developments were in the works. "It's not a secret, and the information has been shared with council, and we've been working on this for a number of years," said Farrell, who represents Ward 7. Significant changes are coming to the area, including essential flood work, that will be very disruptive — but there is a commitment to restore the building and put it in a new designated location, Farrell said. It will be available again in 2023. "There will be no reversing this decision," Farrell said. Still, McLeod is hoping the city might budge. "We're imploring them to change their mind. It's a building that's not only close to our hearts, it's a building that's close to many hearts," McLeod said. "It's just such an iconic piece of Calgary."
Pembroke – A 21-year-old Bonnechere Valley man is back home after he was granted bail following his arrest last Thursday in relation to large objects left on local roads over a five-month period, among them a hot water tank left on Highway 17 in the middle of the night endangering the lives of unsuspecting motorists. Despite the strong objections of the Renfrew County Crown Attorney’s Office citing reckless behaviour putting at risk the lives of people travelling along the highway, Joshua Patrick Boyce was allowed to return home after his mother was appointed Surety along with posting a $500 bond. He was arrested last Thursday afternoon by members of the Crime Unit of the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). A long with other local OPP Detachments in the area, police originally charged him with two counts of mischief endangering life; theft under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000. After his arrest, police laid three additional charges of mischief endangering life. The investigation began on October 1st, 2020 after police received numerous complaints of debris on roadways. The main roadway where this debris was located was on Highway 17 from the Olmstead-Jeffrey intersection east of Cobden, to the pull off lanes just east of B-Line Rd in Laurentian Valley. He is also accused of willfully leaving items on some other area roads endangering the lives of motorists. Beginning in early October it is alleged Mr. Boyce was involved with placing pylons on Pembroke St. E. near the 148 Highway. Along with Mr. Boyce, Annie Immel and Brent Ethier are said to have seen pylons on Cecilia St near LifeLabs, took them, and placed them on the Highway 148 west-bound turn off at Pembroke St E. across the lane so no car could drive through. It is alleged they then parked at the Esso gas station to watch what vehicles would do with the pylons on the road. After some of the vehicles started to drive off into the ditch to get around the pylons, Ms. Immel went out and removed the pylons before an accident occurred. Then, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ms. Immel returned to Pembroke St E near the small hill by Old Mill Rd. where the speed limit changes from 60km/h to 80km/h. They placed pylons across the road in the lanes near that location, but as they were unable to find a place to sit and watch the vehicles avoid the pylons, they removed them shortly after placing them there. On January 8, Mr. Boyce and three others are accused of placing numerous stones across the lanes of Highway 17 near Olmstead-Jeffrey Rd. causing vehicles to swerve to avoid the stones, with two vehicles hitting the stones, causing damage to the vehicles. On February 7, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and Ryan Fitzgerald were driving late at night on Round Lake Rd near Doran Rd. when Mr. Boyce left the vehicle and walked to the rear of the building coming back to the car with 4 black metal tire rims and put them in the rear seat area of the vehicle. The men proceeded to drive on Highway 17 towards Cobden and while en route, Mr. Boyce is alleged to have attempted to push out the tire rims onto the highway and Mr. Fitzgerald became upset and pulled off the highway. Mr. Boyce is said to have grabbed the ignition keys and placed the four tire rims onto the highway in the lanes despite Mr. Fitzgerald’s objections. A third incident on February 9 linking Mr. Boyce to the highway debris involved a hot water tank and water softener tank that had been left on the shoulder of the road at the intersection of B-line and Highway 17. Over the course of five months numerous other debris was placed along Highway 17 during the night hours. These caused many motorists to swerve and some caused damage to their vehicles. As a result, many people became hypervigilant and nervous to drive the highway due to the debris being found. History of Criminal Activity Mr. Boyce is also identified as a person of interest related to other criminal activities prior to the placement of objects on the highway. Based on interviews with some of those involved, it is alleged Mr. Boyce and some companions were driving through Pembroke in the early hours of May 24 when they began discharging fireworks at various locations. One of the locations was near 385 Mackay Street, and it is alleged Mr. Boyce had lit a firework and threw it over the car towards a residence. The firework ignited causing a fire. The Pembroke Fire Department responded and quickly contained the blaze. One occupant of the home escaped without injury and damages are in excess of $14,000. Police have also linked Mr. Boyce to a shed fire in an apartment fire located at 9 Bennett Street in Pembroke. The fire began shortly after six o’clock in the morning on December 26th, where it alleged Mr. Boyce and another individual started the fire which resulted in complete structural loss of the shed, with an estimated value of approximately, $20,000.00. On January 30th, an individual was being interviewed on another investigation. During the interview, the individual stated that Mr. Boyce had told him that he and Braden Baumhour started the shed fire because they were bored. The two men were charged with arson. When he appeared for his bail hearing last Friday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke, the Crown argued against his release, citing the numerous crimes linked to Mr. Boyce. Despite the Crown’s objections, Justice of the Peace Jocelyne St. Jean granted the accused bail with strict conditions and he is to remain at his Eganville home until his next appearance. Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
EDMONTON — Alberta is following guidance from a national vaccine advisory panel and increasing the time between COVID-19 doses. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the greater lag time will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. She said the plan is for Alberta to match British Columbia, which announced Monday it will follow the four-month window and get a first dose to everyone who wants one by July. “This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose,” Hinshaw said Wednesday. “We can all take heart that by getting more first doses to Albertans more quickly, the change I am announcing today brings the light at the end of the tunnel nearer.” Earlier Wednesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended first and second doses can be to up to four months apart if supplies are limited. The decision was made based on emerging studies in places including Quebec, the United Kingdom and Israel that show even one dose of vaccine can be about 70 to 80 per cent effective. When vaccines were first available late last year, manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recommended two shots spaced three to six weeks apart. Alberta is now into its second round of priority vaccinations. The 29,000 highest-risk Albertans, those in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, have been vaccinated twice. Seniors over 75 and First Nations people 65 and older are among those now allowed to book their shots. Hinshaw said second dose appointments will go ahead for those who have already booked them, and those who want to book a second shot within the previous six-week window will be able to up to March 10. Starting then, those who book a first vaccine dose will have the second one delayed by as much as four months. Newfoundland and Labrador also announced an extension to four months. Manitoba has said it will bring in a delay. Ontario said it was weighing a similar move and seeking advice from the federal government. The change comes as more vaccine doses are on the way. Along with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the federal government has approved a third vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca. Hinshaw said Alberta expects to soon receive shipments of that vaccine as early as next week. Alberta has so far administered 255,000 vaccinations, with 89,000 people getting the full two doses. Hinshaw reported 402 new cases Wednesday. There were 251 people in hospital, 48 of whom were in intensive care. Twelve more people died, bringing that total in the province to 1,902. Case numbers and hospitalizations are a small fraction of what they were at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 in December. The economy remains under public-health restrictions, which include no indoor gatherings and limited capacities for retailers and restaurants. Premier Jason Kenney announced earlier this week a delay in loosening some rules, given unknowns, such as variant strains of the virus. The strains can spread much faster than the original one, with the potential to quickly overwhelm the health system. Alberta has detected 500 variant cases, and Hinshaw announced Wednesday the first variant case at a continuing-care home. Churchill Manor, in Edmonton, has 27 staff and residents who have tested positive, with 19 of them positive for the variant. “Local public-health teams and the operator are taking this outbreak extremely seriously and (are) working closely together to limit spread and protect everyone involved,” said Hinshaw. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
When it comes to industrial development, the City of Calgary is keeping an eye on Rocky View County. City council's planning committee met on Wednesday to talk about the city's new industrial growth strategy. But the neighbouring county was the elephant in the room. Paul Marsden, a commercial real estate broker with Colliers International, told the committee that Calgary's industrial space has nearly doubled since the year 2000 and has grown continuously. But it's what's happening outside the city boundaries that should be a concern for city council. "Balzac specifically is now a household name in the industrial market, not just locally but nationally," said Marsden. "Both from the institutions who invest in this real estate as well as occupiers who fill that real estate with pallets and products." He said that back in 2011, there was 775,000 square feet of inventory space in the Balzac area. This year, that area in Rocky View County is expected to surpass nine million square feet of industrial space. "This explosive growth is driven largely due to the cost advantage of what we see outside the city limits," said Marsden. Rocky View advantages Among the differences, land values are lower in Rocky View, taxes are low, development standards are lower and the area has developed its own market momentum. For the first time, he said there will be more industrial development in the county than in the City of Calgary. It's not just companies interested in coming to the Calgary area that are choosing Balzac. He pointed out that a company can save 18 per cent simply by relocating from Calgary to Rocky View County. For that reason, large companies are crossing the boundary line. Marsden said Sobey's, Lowes and Smuckers have already moved warehouse business out of Calgary and the city should pay attention so that other major companies, such as Loblaw, Saputo and Federated Co-operatives, don't follow suit. He said existing companies in Calgary are pushing landlords for lower lease rates to compete with Balzac and that means lower property tax revenues for Calgary. If that's not enough of a challenge for the city, Marsden said developers are actively looking for even more developable land on the city's doorstep. "A number of developers are currently looking for other regions in Rocky View County including the southeast area off Glenmore Trail past the HeatherGlen golf course, where a number of developers are looking at large land positions to build what would be dubbed as Balzac 2.0." Keeping up means change While the city's industrial market in the northeast and southeast quadrants currently amount to more than 100 million square feet, the amount of growth that's happening outside of Calgary's borders is a concern. The city's new industrial growth strategy calls for a number of changes to be made to help it compete. The planning department is proposing new industrial zonings, infrastructure improvements to help speed access to freeways and working with Calgary Economic Development to help attract new customers. An industry working group is seeking ways to make Calgary's non-residential property tax rate more competitive but proposals aren't expected until later this year. Role seen for province The chair of council's planning and urban development committee, Coun. Jyoti Gondek, said the growth outside the city's boundaries is well known. But she said it shows a need for guidance from the provincial government. "If the Government of Alberta actually is interested in making sure that we have economic success in all of our jurisdictions, they need to step in here," said Gondek. "It wasn't enough to create a metropolitan regional growth board that only looked at planning and servicing. The economics has been left entirely out of the equation." Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek said she would like to see Calgary and Rocky View cooperate on industrial development standards that would benefit all municipalities involved.(Scott Dippel/CBC) If the province doesn't get involved, then she said Calgary has other options. "When you see the economics like you did today, we've got a problem," said Gondek. "Maybe it's time to look at where our boundaries actually are." Annexation not only solution Annexing land from surrounding counties has been talked about in the past. In expressing his displeasure in 2015 with then proposed redevelopment plans in the Conrich area just beyond Calgary's northeast boundary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the "mother of all annexations" might be a way to solve the problem. Gondek said she's not sure annexation is what's required on the industrial development file. She'd rather see Calgary and its neighbours cooperate on industrial development standards which would benefit all municipalities involved in terms of attracting jobs while building quality places to live and work. From her perspective, she said not addressing the sprawl that's occurring on both sides of the city's boundaries is a missed opportunity to do regional planning better and more efficiently for taxpayers.
The Transportation Department’s watchdog asked the Justice Department to criminally investigate Elaine Chao late last year over concerns that she misused her office when she was transportation secretary under President Donald Trump but was rebuffed, according to a report released Wednesday. The report said the Justice Department’s criminal and public integrity divisions declined in December to take up the case for criminal prosecution following the inspector general’s findings that Chao used her staff and office for personal tasks and to promote a shipping business owned by Chao's father and sisters, in an apparent violation of federal ethics rules. That company does extensive business with China. “A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” deputy inspector general Mitch Behm wrote in a letter to lawmakers. Chao, the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, stepped down from her job early this year in the last weeks of the Trump administration, citing her disapproval over the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. Chao has denied wrongdoing. In the report released Wednesday, she did not specifically respond to allegations, instead providing a September 2020 memo that argued promoting her family was an appropriate part of her official duties at the department. “Asian audiences welcome and respond positively to actions by the secretary that include her father in activities when appropriate,” that memo said. The watchdog report cited several instances that raised ethical concerns. In one, Chao instructed political appointees in the department to contact the Homeland Security Department to check personally on the status of a work permit application for a student who was a recipient of her family’s philanthropic foundation. Chao also made extensive plans for an official trip to China in November 2017 — before she cancelled it — that would have included stops at places that had received support from her family’s business, the New York-based Foremost Group. According to department emails, Chao directed her staff to include her relatives in the official events and high-level meetings during the trip. “Above all, let’s keep (the Secretary) happy," one of the department’s employees wrote to another staffer regarding Chao’s father. “If Dr. Chao is happy, then we should be flying with a feather in our hat.” The report found that Chao also directed the department’s public affairs staff to assist her father in the marketing of his personal biography and to edit his Wikipedia page, and used staff to check on repairs of an item at a store for her father. The IG report said Justice Department officials ultimately declined to take up a criminal review, saying there “may be ethical and/or administrative issues” but no evidence to support possible criminal charges. As a result, the inspector general's office said in the report it was now closing its investigation “based on the lack of prosecutorial interest” from the Justice Department. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chairman of the House transportation committee, who requested the investigation, expressed disappointment that the review was not completed and released while Chao was still in office. “Public servants, especially those responsible for leading tens of thousands of other public servants, must know that they serve the public and not their family’s private commercial interests,” he said. Hope Yen, The Associated Press
Pembroke -- The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is counting on ultra-fast gig internet in the region and has submitted an ambitious proposal to the federal and provincial government for funding for a $1.6 billion project. “A regional project is the best approach,” Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson noted on Monday morning following the submission of the proposal. “A county project alone would be hugely expensive.” The project would use a competitive process to choose a telecommunications partner and maximize coverage across the region. In this massive undertaking, EORN seeks to fund the $1.2 to $1.6 billion project through a combination of funding, with $200 million each from the federal and provincial governments and the remainder from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the private sector. The timing is right according to the proponents, who are supported not only by the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus, where Warden Robinson serves as chair, but also the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus and represent some 1.2 million people in the region. “Every day we hear from our constituents about their frustrations with poor or limited high-speed broadband services,” a letter from Eastern Ontario wardens and mayors stated. “A co-ordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of Eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage.” Right now, both the federal and provincial governments are investing in broadband. The federal government established the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) and the Government of Ontario created the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) fund. Both funds focus on local projects. EORN is seeking support through a flexible use of these programs, or any other appropriate funding streams. “We appreciate how committed both governments have been to improving broadband access,” said Warden Robinson, in her role as chair of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC). “We all share the same goals, and we look forward to working together on a solution that is both comprehensive and cost-effective.” Delivering Gig service generally involves a fibre optic or cable connection to the home or business. The EORN Gig Project leverages previous investments in infrastructure and services. This includes a fibre 2 optic backbone and other infrastructure across the region built to handle the speed and capacity of the Gig project. EORN anticipates it could provide up to 95 per cent of the region or more than 550,000 premises with Gig service by 2025-2026 if fully funded. The County of Renfrew has had huge success in the past with EORN projects bringing broadband to the area but recently there has been some concern the province is looking at individual areas to develop their own projects instead of having this more regional approach which has worked so well. Last Wednesday at Renfrew County council there was some discussion on having a Renfrew County plan and developing a local plan to bring in broadband. Warden Robinson noted the collaborative approach and regional approach through EORN is the best way to bring broadband to the area, but there still needs to be a back up plan. “We are going to look at a broadband strategy for the county in conjunction with what is happening here,” she said. “You don’t want to put all your hopes on one project.” Warden Robinson said while there is funding available from the provincial and federal government, EORN is looking for a provider to work with. The goal is to have the same reliable broadband service people in the larger cities take for granted. Having a regional project also means broadband would be delivered in areas where people actually live and work in Eastern Ontario and not just where the telecom providers decide to invest. “A patchwork process in the area would be telecom providers building out from existing infrastructure,” she said. That strategy means areas with little or spotty coverage might not see much improvement. In Renfrew County there are still areas with no access to reliable broadband. For anyone trying to work from home, participate in a virtual meeting or access the internet the way people in more built-up urban areas take for granted, the poor connectivity is very frustrating, she said. With a prevalence of ZOOM or virtual meetings for the last year, the importance of reliable broadband has been highlighted, the warden added. “On Wednesday, during county council even my internet connection at the county was showing up as unstable,” she said, noting she was in the County of Renfrew building just outside Pembroke. “You can’t conduct business like that.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to work from home or spend more time at home. As well, students are learning from home and people are moving to rural areas. All this has made the need for faster broadband all the more urgent. “We can grow, but not without decent broadband,” Warden Robinson said. “If we have that here, the growth would be incredible.” Speed is an issue and that is why this Gig project is being pursued. Instead of going for slightly faster speeds, the goal is to fix the system with the speed required not just in 2021 but for years to come. “Speed is important and even people who think they have good broadband discover it is not as good as they thought,” she said. “So why not fix the problem now for the long term?” EORN covers all of Eastern Ontario and is currently working on a $213 million project, funded by the public and private sector to improve and expand cellular services across the region. From 2010 to 2014, EORN helped improve broadband in Eastern Ontario with a $175 million public-p Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
The City of Windsor is in the process of purchasing a hotel to house people experiencing homelessness. The city's chief of staff, Andrew Teliszewsky, told CBC News in an email Wednesday that city council had approved the deal during an in-camera meeting earlier this year and the legal steps are already underway. He said the city is also working out getting access to provincial funding sources to complete the sale in the coming weeks, though the costs associated with the purchase have not yet been revealed. Though the city's homeless population is currently experiencing a significant COVID-19 outbreak, Teliszewksy said the procurement of a space had been a topic of discussion since last year following an Emergency Shelter Review that went to council in the fall of 2020. He added that beyond the current challenges the city is experiencing with COVID-19 and shelter space, the hotel will be used to support long-term needs by providing an area for women with or without children, youth and young adults. "Proceeding with a property will allow the City of Windsor maximum flexibility in the years ahead to serve community needs," Teliszewsky said. Details of the hotel's location cannot be provided at this time, as the owner is still having conversations with their employees, he added. To cope with the large COVID-19 outbreak among the city's homeless population, an emergency shelter opened on Feb. 25 at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre. As of Monday, 124 clients and staff have tested positive between the Downtown Mission and Salvation Army shelters. The Downtown Mission shelters have since been ordered to close by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
There's been a rise in the number of people believed to have one of the COVID-19 variants of concern, according to Ottawa's medical officer of health. Variants of concern are ones that can spread more easily or cause more severe infections. So far, 10 people have tested positive for one of the variants — eight with the one first identified in the U.K. and two first identified in South Africa. On Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches said another 73 people have been identified as having a genetic indicator after initial screening — meaning they may be infected by a COVID-19 variant of concern. "These screened positives are likely to be confirmed as a variant of concern," said Etches during a virtual OPH news conference. 'We're actually treating everything as if it could be a variant of concern,' said Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches.(CBC) The city's key indicators have also been on the rise — something Etches said is concerning. Latest wastewater data shows a significant jump at the end of February. The number of people hospitalized have gone up, as have the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive. "That is the experience in other jurisdictions, that the variant does spread more quickly," she said. "It does have that potential to grow. I'm concerned." Most variants related to travel About 70 per cent of the variants of concern identified in Ottawa so far are related to either travel, someone coming into close contact with someone who travelled, or by living in the same household with someone who has the variant. Etches said the source is unknown for 30 per cent of cases, which indicates it was likely caused by community spread. It can also take weeks to determine if someone has a variant of concern because all positive samples are sent to a Public Health Ontario lab for genetic sequencing, used to determine if a sample has the variant. "We're actually treating everything as if it could be a variant of concern," said Etches.
As First Nations across the country begin to adopt their own child and family welfare laws, they are being reminded about liability issues and adopting statutory immunity. “It’s very much a policy or political issue for Indigenous governing bodies as to whether or not they want to follow what most provinces have done in including a statutory immunity … (which) obviously does limit recovery for children who may have suffered damages. It’s a question that may not be palatable to include in laws, but it’s there in the laws that the provinces have applied,” said Eileen Vanderburgh, lawyer with Alexander Holburn Beaudin and Lang LLP. In the case of child services, statutory immunity would require a child who is suing for damages to establish that the acts or omissions were done in bad faith, which is a higher standard than claiming a duty was not performed, said Vanderburgh. Vanderburgh spoke March 2 at the third of five virtual gatherings hosted by the Assembly of First Nations on Child and Family Services and Self-Determination. Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, came into force Jan. 1, 2020. It allows Indigenous groups to design and deliver child and family welfare services in the manner that best suits their needs. Indigenous groups would be taking over delivery of these services from the provinces. Vanderburgh addressed liability considerations for transitioning to First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services, pointing out that Indigenous governing bodies could be sued in Canadian courts for damages suffered by children whose care they have taken over. It was a sobering reminder of what could go wrong. “This is a complex area of law that is being applied to a complex web of relationships and there’s a number of legal principles guiding (this),” she said. She pointed out that claims of negligence in performance of duties were common and that these fell into two categories, direct and vicarious. “Vicarious liability can apply even if the authority itself hasn’t done anything wrong but somebody who they employed or contracted with to supply services has, and the law recognizes a vicarious liability in that relationship,” said Vanderburgh. She also noted that the Indigenous governing body could be held liable in the performance of duties that they delegated to another agency. However, the courts do make distinctions between foster homes and institutions. Vanderburgh highlighted the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2003 decision in KLB v. British Columbia, where “the relationship between governing bodies and foster parents is not sufficiently close to impose vicarious liability on governing bodies for abuse committed by foster parents.” Foster parents were described by the court as “independent contractors.” When it came to institutions, the court made the distinction that care was provided by employees and it was the employees who abused or neglected the children and “that was the distinction why vicarious liability would be imposed on the institution for the institutional care, but not on the province where the care was in a foster home,” said Vanderburgh. She added, however, that there were exceptions to the rule and there were cases where the province was held directly liable for abuse that took place in the foster home because the province failed to properly investigate a foster home, to supervise regularly or to investigate complaints made by the child. Vanderburgh also said that the Indigenous governing body could be held financially accountable in a case of joint and several liability even if they are not vicariously liable. Where a number of defendants are liable for damage caused to a child and not all defendants can pay, the court would order the defendant “with the deep pockets” to make compensation. That defendant is most likely the governing body. In turn, the governing body can collect from the other defendants. Vanderburg also pointed out that various sections of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families Act underscored that the best interests of the child were the primary consideration of the Indigenous governing body and not the child’s parents or family when it came to decisions made or actions taken to apprehend the child. “This is consistent with the case law that has developed in child welfare,” she said. The act sets out the minimum national standards of care for the child, but Indigenous governing bodies can adopt other measures in their laws and these form the basis for standard care. Development of clear and operational policies and protocols, as well as limiting liability through laws passed by the governing bodies help to manage the risks, as does hiring and training of employees, and providing supervision and support to caregivers. “Really the gold standard is get insurance…That’s the best risk management tool,” said Vanderburg. She also suggested that Indigenous governing bodies consult with the provinces to see what policies they have in place. “It will outline the scope of what certainly the province considered needed to be covered by policy and tailor that. It will become more than what we want but we can tailor it to the issues that you see or what you want to address in your own policies,” said Vanderburg. She also suggested that First Nations think hard about whether they wanted to create an internal judiciary system or use a dispute resolution system to address the issues that will arise from child and family welfare services. “They could be complicated claims and whether or not you want to take on that additional burden and if so how do you manage that in the legislation because it affects people’s rights who are affected by the decisions made by the governing body on these issues. That I think is a trickier sort of policy, political question as to whether or not that’s what you want to do,” said Vanderburg. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
VANCOUVER — Endangered southern resident killer whales would have a much better chance of survival if chinook were in their hunting grounds during winter off the coast of British Columbia, a new study says. The whales expand their menu and the distance they travel as they forage for food from October to March in the waters off California up to Alaska, which leaves them with little energy, says the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Plos One. Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said this is the first study that looks at the diet requirements of killer whales from their perspective. Hanson, fellow author Robin Baird and others collected and analyzed the prey and fecal samples of northern and southern resident killer whales for 13 years, starting in 2004. They found that chinook salmon made up almost all of the whales' diet in spring but fell to around 70 per cent in mid-winter and plunged to about 50 per cent heading into the fall. Baird said the animals supplemented their diet with coho and chum salmon, as well as other fish including lingcod, halibut and flounder, which are bottom dwellers. Of all the fish in the sea, whales prefer chinook salmon because they are the largest, richest, most energy dense and easily intercepted, said Baird, who is a research biologist at Washington's Cascadia Research Collective. "The whales have become these chinook specialists probably over tens of thousands of years because of the great availability of those fish," he said in an interview Wednesday. "If the whales have to expend a lot more energy getting that prey then they basically get less bang for the buck." The whales then don't have enough energy to store fat that helps them keep warm in the cold waters. This leaves them weak and unable to reproduce, he said, adding most mothers are not able to feed a calf even if they do give birth. "Reproduction of southern residents is directly or indirectly related to chinook abundance," he added. Chinook populations have fallen dramatically over the last 100 years by human actions including farming, the construction of dams, industrial activity and the destruction of estuaries, he said. All 14 stocks of chinook salmon that are preferred by whales are threatened, he said. These fish would move in and out of inshore waters at different times of the year and ensure a steady supply of food for the orcas. "Let's say, just for sake of argument, there was one river that had 100 million chinooks that all came back during the same time of the year," Baird said. "That's going to be a lot less beneficial to the whales than 100 rivers, each of which have a million chinook and those chinooks all come back at different times of the year." One way to ensure a steady chinook supply for orcas is to catch fish at the mouths of rivers after they've passed through areas where whales forage, he said. "Unfortunately, there is no one simple solution." Overfishing and large-scale degradation of spawning and rearing habitat are some of the biggest threats to chinook salmon and by extension the southern resident killer whales, Baird said. The southern resident killer whale population is just over 70. Killer whales are top predators, which means they are often ecosystem indicators, he said. A reduction in the southern resident killer whale population is indicative of a degraded environment, which affects everyone, he said. "So, I think that killer whales are an indicator," Baird said. "And the big question is whether or not we're listening." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Hina Alam, The Canadian Press