Walking through a snow covered forest in St. John's, NL.
Walking through a snow covered forest in St. John's, NL.
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
New rules governing how temporary foreign workers can isolate upon entering New Brunswick are sowing fears about significantly higher expenses for farmers this year. Spring is around the corner and New Brunswick farmers are preparing to bring in another crop of foreign workers, mostly from Mexico and the Caribbean. However, unlike last year when workers were allowed to self-isolate in shared dwellings on their employer's property, the provincial government has said they'll now need to isolate for 14 days in accommodations that don't include shared amenities. According to a Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour memo shared with CBC News, that means temporary foreign workers won't be able to stay in accommodations that have shared sleeping quarters, shared bathrooms and showers, shared kitchen facilities or shared laundry facilities. The memo suggests employers rent hotel rooms for their workers for the 14-day period. "These changes are public health measures to minimize the risks related to the highly transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus," the memo states. For Tim Livingstone, co-owner of Strawberry Hill Farm near Woodstock, N.B., the new rules put an added burden he's not sure he can handle. Tim Livingstone, co-owner of Strawberry Hill Farm, said he could have to spend up to $5,000 to have his workers self-isolate upon arriving in New Brunswick.(Mike Heenan/CBC) Last year, three workers he brought in were able to self-isolate in a home where they shared common amenities. While it only had one kitchen, it did have a bedroom with its own bathroom in the event one of them became sick and needed to be separated from the others. "Now, with these new rules, the house can only have one person because there's only one kitchen, even though there's, you know, multiple bedrooms and you even have two sets of laundry," Livingstone told CBC's Shift New Brunswick. "It means that we're going to most likely ... be required to put them in a motel somewhere, where they can be completely isolated for those 14 days." Livingstone said he estimates that if he had to foot the bill to put his workers in a motel, he'd possibly end up spending up to $5,000. For other farmers who expect to bring in more workers, that figure could be significantly higher, he said. On top of that, he said some farmers already went through the costly process last year of setting up accommodations for workers to isolate in shared dwellings on their property, with one farmer he knows spending $170,000 to do so. "So it's bringing a new expense, a new hurdle, right at a time when, you know, we're getting into the season, we're buying inputs, we're trying to get things lined up and all of a sudden now what we were counting on no longer fits the rules." At Friday's COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said she had "no clear answer" to the concerns raised. After a 2020 plagued by pandemic and drought, the province's new rules will only make life harder for farmers, and potentially consumers, said Lisa Ashworth, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick. Lisa Ashworth, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, said the new rule by the province could worsen New Brunswick's problem of food insecurity.(Submitted by the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick) With farmers still feeling the economic effects of a less-than-stellar year, some won't be able to plant this year if the new rules remain in place, she said. And while New Brunswick has typically relied on importing its produce from other parts of the world, strains on production elsewhere could even jeopardize that in the future, she said. "We don't want to go into another season handicapping our own province's food security if we don't have to," she said. "It's a delicate balance and that is the challenge. We want to have rigorous health and safety protocols, but they have to be realistic and they have to be economically viable at the end of the day or people will simply not plant crops."
OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. Internal reviewers found several of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's preparatory steps for the execution of warrant powers needed strengthening. Among the shortcomings were insufficient training of personnel and a lack of quality-control measures. In underscoring the importance of the process, the report notes warrants are authorizations issued by a federal judge that enable CSIS to legally undertake actions, including surveilling people electronically, that would otherwise be illegal. "Failure to properly apply or interpret a warrant at the time of its execution exposes the Service to the risk of its employees committing unlawful actions, and in certain situations, criminal offences," the report says. "The investigative powers outlined in warrants must be exercised rigorously, consistently and effectively." Potential misuse of these powers could result in serious ethical, legal or reputational consequences that might compromise the intelligence service's integrity, the report adds. The Canadian Press requested the 2012 audit under the Access to Information Act shortly after its completion, but CSIS withheld much of the content. The news agency filed a complaint through the federal information commissioner's office in July 2013, beginning a process that led to disclosure of a substantial portion of the document more than seven years later. CSIS operates with a high degree of secrecy and is therefore supposed to follow the proper protocols and legal framework, particularly concerning warrants, said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, which includes dozens of civil society organizations. "Seeing a report like this, it just raises a concern ... to what degree they're really following that framework with the most rigour possible." CSIS can apply to the Federal Court for a warrant when intrusive collection techniques are needed because other methods have failed or are unlikely to succeed. Once a judge approves a warrant but before it is executed, a step known as the invocation process takes place. It involves a request from CSIS personnel to use one or more of the authorized powers and a review of the facts underpinning the warrant to ensure appropriate measures are employed against the correct people. However, the reviewers found CSIS policy did not "clearly define or document the objectives or requirements of the invocation process." "When roles and responsibilities are not documented, they may not be fully understood by those involved. As a result, elements of the process may not be performed, or be performed by people who do not have sufficient knowledge or expertise to do so." Overall, the report found the invocation process "needs to be strengthened" through a clear definition of objectives, requirements and roles, and better monitoring, training and development of quality-control procedures. In response, CSIS management spelled out a series of planned improvements for the auditors. But concerns have persisted about the spy service's warrant procedures. A Federal Court of Canada ruling released in July said CSIS had failed to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism. Justice Patrick Gleeson found CSIS violated its duty of candour to the court, part of a long-standing and troubling pattern. "The circumstances raise fundamental questions relating to respect for the rule of law, the oversight of security intelligence activities and the actions of individual decision-makers," he wrote. Gleeson called for an in-depth look at interactions between CSIS and the federal Justice Department to fully identify systemic, governance and cultural shortcomings and failures. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, the key watchdog over CSIS, is examining the issues. Another review, completed early last year by former deputy minister of justice Morris Rosenberg, called for improvements, including better training and clarification of roles, but stressed they would not succeed unless the "cultural issues around warrants" were addressed. CSIS spokesman John Townsend said the intelligence service continuously works to improve training and updates its policies and procedures accordingly, informed by audits, reviews and best practices. The Rosenberg review prompted CSIS to launch an effort last year to further the service's ability to meet its duty of candour to the court, resulting in a plan that was finalized in January, Townsend said. "The plan includes specific action items directed at ensuring the warrant process is more responsive to operational needs, documenting the full intelligence picture to facilitate duty of candour and ensuring CSIS meets expectations set by the Federal Court," he said. "In addition to training on CSIS's duty of candour already provided under the auspices of the project, additional training on a variety of operational issues including warrant acquisition will be developed by the project team and offered to employees." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
CAIRO — A trailer-truck crashed into a microbus, killing at least 18 people and injuring five others south of the Egyptian capital, authorities said. The country’s chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement the crash took place late Friday on a highway near the town of Atfih, 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Cairo. The Cairo-Assiut eastern road, located on the eastern side of the Nile River, links Cairo to the country’s southern provinces and is known for speeding traffic. Police authorities said the truck’s tire exploded, causing it to overturn and collide with the microbus. The victims were taken to nearby hospitals, the statement said. The truck driver was arrested. Traffic accidents claim thousands of lives every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. The crashes are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws. The country’s official statistics agency says around 10,000 road accidents took place in 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available, leaving over 3,480 dead. In 2018, there were 8,480 car accidents, causing over 3,080 deaths. The Associated Press
LONDON — Britain’s royal family and television have a complicated relationship. The medium has helped define the modern monarchy: The 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s first mass TV spectacle. Since then, rare interviews have given a glimpse behind palace curtains at the all-too-human family within. The fictionalized take of Netflix hit “The Crown” has moulded views of the monarchy for a new generation, though in ways the powerful, image-conscious royal family can’t control. “The story of the royal family is a constructed narrative, just like any other story,” said Phil Harrison, author of “The Age of Static: How TV Explains Modern Britain.” And it’s a story that has changed as Britain moved from an age of deference to an era of modern social mores and ubiquitous social media. “The royals, particularly the younger royals, have moved from the realm of state apparatus to the realm of celebrity culture in recent decades,” Harrison said. “That’s worked well for them up to a point — but celebrity culture takes as well as gives and is notoriously fickle.” So anticipation and apprehension are both high ahead of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan — the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — a year after they walked away from official royal life, citing what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is biracial. A clip released by CBS ahead of Sunday’s broadcast shows Meghan, a former TV star, appearing to suggest the royal family was “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and Harry. A look at some other major royal television moments, and their impact: PRINCESS DIANA The 1981 wedding of 32-year-old Prince Charles and 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral was a fairy-tale spectacle watched by an estimated 750 million people around the world. But the relationship soon soured. The couple separated in 1992, and in 1995 Diana gave a candid interview to the BBC’s Martin Bashir, discussing the pressure of media scrutiny and the breakdown of her marriage. “There were three of us in that marriage,” Diana said, referring to Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The interview prompted a wave of sympathy for Diana, seen by many as a woman failed by an uncaring, out-of-touch royal establishment — a pattern some say has repeated itself with Meghan. Charles and Diana divorced in 1996; Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris the following year, triggering intense public mourning and a period of reflection for the monarchy, which has since tried to appear more modern and relatable — with mixed results. ___ PRINCE ANDREW The biggest scandal to engulf the family in decades stems from the friendship between the queen's second son, Andrew, and wealthy convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a New York jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. One woman who says she was a victim of Epstein alleges she had sex with Andrew when she was 17, a claim the prince denies. The prince tried to undo the damage by giving an interview to the BBC’s “Newsnight” program in November 2019. It backfired spectacularly. Andrew appeared uncomfortable and evasive, and failed to convey empathy for those who say they were exploited by Epstein, even as he defended his friendship with the man. He called Epstein’s behaviour “unbecoming,” a term interviewer Emily Maitlis suggested was an understatement. Charlie Proctor, editor of the Royal Central website, said at the time that the interview was "a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion-level bad.” After the interview, Andrew announced he was “stepping back” from public duties. He has not returned. ___ SARAH, DUCHESS OF YORK Like Diana before her and Meghan since, Sarah Ferguson was a young woman who had a bruising collision with the royal family. She was initially welcomed as a breath of fresh air for the stuffy royals when she wed Prince Andrew in 1986. But she quickly became a tabloid target, dubbed “Freeloading Fergie” for allegedly scooping up freebies and spending more time vacationing than performing public duties. Some saw snobbery in coverage of a woman who, before and after her marriage, worked for a living and was open about her problems with weight, relationships and money. After her 1996 divorce, the duchess used television to speak out — frequently. She appeared on Winfrey’s show in 1996, saying palace life was “not a fairy tale.” She spoke to Winfrey again in 2010 after being caught on video offering access to her ex-husband for $724,000. The duchess said she had been drinking and was trying to help a friend who needed money. The following year she appeared in her own reality show, “Finding Sarah,” on Winfrey’s OWN network. The duchess was not invited to the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, in what was widely seen as a royal snub. ___ “THE CROWN” It may be fiction, but Netflix's “The Crown” is the most influential depiction of the royals in years. Over four seasons that have covered Elizabeth’s reign up to the 1980s, its portrait of a dutiful queen, prickly Prince Philip, oversensitive Prince Charles and the rest of the clan has brought the royal soap opera to a new generation. It is widely seen as helping the royals by humanizing them, though British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested it should come with a warning that it’s drama, not history. Prince Harry has defended the show — while underscoring that it's fiction — telling TV host James Corden that he was “way more comfortable with ‘The Crown’ than I am seeing stories written about my family or my wife.” Now Harry and Meghan are getting their chance to tell their story. It’s a high-stakes strategy, especially since the interview is airing as 99-year-old Prince Philip, Harry’s grandfather, in a London hospital after a heart procedure — timing critics have called insensitive. “I think this particular interview, like so many of those interviews, is going to do a great deal more harm to Harry and Meghan than anything to do with the British monarchy,” said royal historian Hugo Vickers. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has long proclaimed itself “Almost Heaven,” a nod to a song and soaring mountaintop vistas. Now some joke the state name-checked in “Take Me Home, Country Roads” could take things up a notch as Democratic U.S. Sen Joe Manchin bargains his way through Congress. “Maybe we’ll get to heaven status,” said longtime Democratic Party official Nick Casey. Reviving West Virginia’s economically battered coal towns and reversing a persistent population decline is a tall order. But Manchin, who grew up in the mountain town of Farmington, has emerged as a key swing vote in a divided Senate. Now he has his best shot in years to steer federal dollars back home. Manchin put himself in the middle of things again this week over the COVID relief bill making its way through Congress, singlehandedly halting work on the measure Friday as Democrats sought to placate his concerns about the size and duration of an expanded unemployment benefit. As for his own agenda, Manchin has dropped hints publicly about “common sense” infrastructure investments sorely needed back home: expanding rural broadband and fixing roads among them. He declared that West Virginia could supply the manufacturing firepower to “innovate our way to a cleaner climate.” And more than once, he's said coal miners can build the best solar panels if given a chance. Some wonder if his newfound clout might help him do something former President Donald Trump promised but couldn’t deliver — reignite a state economy long overly dependent on a coal industry in freefall. Manchin's Senate colleagues have good reason to study the needs of small towns beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. Manchin, 73, was already a recognized dealmaker on Capitol Hill, but deference to the most conservative Democrat in a 50-50 Senate has ratcheted up since November. A senator from Hawaii recently teased him as “your highness.” The guessing game of which way he'll vote has become fodder for late night television. In recent days, Manchin's opposition helped sink Neera Tanden as President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the federal Office of Management and Budget. Not since Robert Byrd’s death in 2010 has a senator from West Virginia wielded this much influence. Over half a century, Byrd brought home billions of dollars in federal buildings, landmarks and roads, many bearing his name. “This is hardscrabble country, man — our population is dropping, the demise of coal,” said Casey, an attorney and former chair of the state Democratic Party. “We got a guy now who can maybe do something legacy-wise. And I think there’s a lot of hope and some expectation that Joe’s going to do things that are significant, exceptional.” Pam Garrison, a retired cashier, said she told Manchin at a meeting seeking a $15 federal minimum wage that Byrd has universities and hospitals named after him because “when he got into power, he used that power for the good of the people.” “If you do what’s good for the people, even after you’re gone, you’re going to be remembered.” Manchin, though, sees himself not as a seeker of pork-barrel projects but as a champion for policies that aid Appalachia and the Rust Belt. “What we have to do now, and I think it’s appropriate — we show the need, and that the base has been left behind,” he said. He started down that road by joining Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in co-sponsoring a proposal for $8 billion in tax credits to boost clean energy manufacturing for coal communities and the auto industry. Robert Rupp, a political history professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College, says Manchin can use his position in a 50-50 Senate to put his small state in the forefront of everyone’s mind. “He’s at the centre of attention, and he could assert power,” Rupp said. A former governor, Manchin has deep roots in West Virginia politics. That helps explain why he is the last Democrat to hold statewide office in a state Trump carried twice by large margins. Manchin maintains an air of unpredictability. He opposed a $15 minimum wage provision in the $1.9 billion pandemic stimulus package, even after activists rallied outside his state office in Charleston, leaving some to question his future legacy. “We’re either going to smell like a rose in West Virginia, or we’re going to smell like crap, and it’s going to be attributed to Joseph Manchin,” said Jean Evansmore, 80, an organizer with the Poor People’s Campaign in West Virginia. Days later, the Senate parliamentarian ruled an increase couldn’t be included in the COVID-19 relief bill. That was a win for Manchin and his reverence for Senate customs, including the filibuster, which helps sustain a 60-vote hurdle to advancing most legislation. Manchin has vowed never to support ending the filibuster. On a recent morning in Charleston outside the golden-domed state capitol, saving it was a rallying cry for anti-abortion advocates, who held signs stating, “Thank you Senator Manchin.” “We need to encourage him to stand strong,” said Marilyn Musgrave, who works for the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion non-profit. Musgrave's group looks to Manchin now after campaigning against his 2018 bid for a second full term, which he won with just under 50% of the vote. Manchin opposes public funding for abortions but stops short of supporting an outright ban. Still, he typically scores a low rating from abortion-rights groups, which puts him more in line with West Virginians who collectively have sent mixed signals on abortion. With his centrist instincts in such a red state, Manchin has occasionally been the subject of rumours he'll switch parties. “Republicans kind of have this day-dream that just because he’s conservative on some issues that would mean he would jump parties,” Rupp said. That's unlikely, especially given Manchin's newfound clout, he said. And that's fine with Matt Kerner, a 54-year-old West Virginian who wants Manchin to never forget that 16% of the people in his state live below the poverty line, the sixth-highest rate in the nation, according to the U.S. Census. “We're hoping Senator Manchin remembers that he represents some of the poorest people in this country,” Kerner said. Cuneyt Dil, The Associated Press
Muslim women and women from other faiths will gather online Saturday for a special event to mark International Women's Day, which takes place on Monday. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association is bringing together presenters from different perspectives under the banner "Women as Nation Builders." The organization says the event is about celebrating and fostering excellence, along with challenging misconceptions about the contributions of women from different backgrounds in establishing successful societies. "It's a very unique and extraordinary event for women, by women," said Maham Anna Malik with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association. "Our goal is to provide a forum for women from diverse backgrounds to build connections with a shared respect and mutual understanding. "We have Christian speakers, Indigenous speakers, Sikh speakers, Muslim speakers and other guests with women attending from across the prairies." The virtual event takes place at 4 p.m. MST with hundreds of women expected to take part. The list of attendees includes dignitaries, faith leaders and academics. The program includes presentations from female faith leaders, elected officials, multimedia presentations and an interactive question and answer segment. "We feel it's important to empower women, to provide a safe, encouraging and educating dialogue to learn the essential role of women as leaders and nation builders across faiths," said Malik. "Despite our differences, we have so much in common." For more information on the webinar, click here.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll has risen to at least 20 after a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a popular restaurant in Somalia’s capital on Friday night, with 30 wounded, the government news agency reported Saturday. The Somali National News Agency cited the Aamin ambulance service for the death toll. Police spokesman Sadiq Ali Adan blamed the attack on the local al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida and often targets Mogadishu with bombings. The Luul Yamani restaurant also was attacked last year. Some houses near the restaurant collapsed after the dinnertime blast, and police said that caused a number of deaths. Security in Mogadishu had been especially heavy, with thousands of government forces deployed in anticipation of a planned demonstration on Saturday by an alliance of opposition leaders over the country’s delayed national election. The demonstration was later postponed. The Associated Press
SYDNEY, Australia — Sydney’s annual iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras went ahead on Saturday, only in a different format due to coronavirus restrictions. It was being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where people can socially distance in their seats rather than on the traditional route down Oxford Street. Up to 23,000 spectators will be allowed in the stands while the performers will be on the pitch. Organizers say this year’s parade will move away from the traditional large floats and instead focus on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props. Face masks will be mandatory for participants and there will be temperature checks and screening at entry points. Meanwhile, LGBTQI rights protesters have been given the green light to march down Oxford Street in a separate event before the parade. Health officials in New South Wales state agreed to make an exception to the 500-person limit on public gatherings after organizers agreed to enhanced contact-tracing processes. The marchers are protesting social issues including transphobia, the mandatory detention of asylum-seekers and the criminalization of sex work. The Associated Press
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Saturday for a binding deal by the summer on the operation of a giant Ethiopian hydropower dam, as he made his first visit to neighbouring Sudan since the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir. Egypt also signalled support for Sudan in a dispute with Ethiopia over an area on the border between the two countries where there have recently been armed skirmishes. Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Addis Ababa says is crucial to its economic development.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday, in a bid to push forward peace talks with the Taliban, that his government was ready to discuss holding fresh elections, insisting that any new government should emerge through the democratic process. "Transfer of power through elections is a non-negotiable principle for us," Ghani told lawmakers at the opening of parliament session in Kabul. President Ghani met U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul during the past week to discuss ways to inject momentum in the stalled peace negotiations with Taliban representatives being held in Qatar.
After questioning in the legislature Friday from Liberal Heath MacDonald, Prince Edward Island Health Minister Ernie Hudson has committed to opening a supervised injection for drug users in the province, but did not put a timeline on when that might happen. Supervised injection sites can be found in most major cities across Canada. Staff do not supply or administer illegal drugs, but are there to supply clean needles, test a consumer's drugs for fentanyl, and to watch and help if anything goes wrong, such as an overdose. Depending on staffing, they might also offer other help for users, such as accessing social services and shelter. In question period in the legislature Friday, Hudson said he personally thinks supervised injection sites are a good idea, and his government will more forward with opening one, but that he needs time to discuss implementation with experts. "I do support it, I will move forward on this, I'm not going to stand here and give a date though," Hudson said. "Are we going to have safe injection site harm reduction in the next week, in the next two weeks? No, that's not going to happen. And at the end of the day, what is this going to look like? I really couldn't say," Hudson said. Hudson said he would be discussing the matter with groups such as the harm-reduction group PEERS Alliance (formerly AIDS P.E.I.). Advocates for harm reduction on the Island have been calling on the government to create a supervised injection site as soon as possible. Overdose deaths on P.E.I. From January to September of last year, six people died of opioid overdoses on P.E.I., three of them involving fentanyl. A week ago, P.E.I.'s coroner said a young woman died after accidentally consuming cannabis laced with fentanyl. Health Minister Ernie Hudson didn't make an announcement of a supervised consumption site on Friday, but under questioning he did commit to one. (P.E.I. Legislature) Just last week in neighbouring New Brunswick, the government announced it plans to implement overdose prevention sites this year as part of a new mental health and addictions strategy. A harm reduction group there, Ensemble Moncton, estimated the sites would each cost $100,000 to $300,000 a year to run, and would be less elaborate than a supervised injection site. Some supervised injection sites, like one opened last year in Saskatoon, are in the same building as drop-in centres which offer coffee and food, and family and shelter supports. More from CBC P.E.I.
The Dalai Lama, who is 85, was administered the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday at a hospital in the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
The manager of the laboratory responsible for processing a huge spike in COVID-19 tests in the past week says staff are doing "an incredible job" of keeping pace with the demand. "Of course I'm biased here because I'm in the middle of it," said Charles Heinstein, the manager of the primary microbiology lab for the central zone. "It's been definitely some of the busiest times of my career here in Nova Scotia Health, but we're hanging in here." Staff have been scrambling to process thousands of tests. Records have been broken three times this week, culminating in 6,875 tests processed on Tuesday. Not bad for a lab whose testing capacity is about 5,000. 'It's hard to sustain' "What we have the ability to do is stretch our capacity on a given day," Heinstein said. "For us to sustain almost 7,000 tests ... it's hard to sustain that for any period of time. So we can sustain it for two or three days, but then it has to draw down back to a more sustainable capacity." Before COVID-19 hit, the microbiology lab would process about 600-800 tests per day, and in the particular section where the molecular COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are analyzed, "big weeks in there would be 150 to 200 samples in the whole week," Heinstein said. "The scale of what's going on … is pretty impressive." Heinstein said while the lab has the ability to analyze about 10,000 tests per day, it's the clerical work associated with processing tests — verifying names, health card numbers and dates of birth, as well as labelling the samples with a barcode that tracks that information — that slows the system down. But over the next month or two, some new technology may speed up that process, Heinstein said. The lab has been drawing from every available resource within the system, as well as recruiting new workers and training them quickly to tackle the work. "All hands on deck is really what we've been preaching." A swab is taken at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in November.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press) As Nova Scotians continue to heed the calls from Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, to get tested, Heinstein's lab is always gearing up for the next big wave. He said after the lab saw a spike in testing last April and again in November, staff analyzed what worked and what didn't. The time will come for that again, but for now, lab workers are just trying to get through the current influx. "It's a bit of controlled chaos," Heinstein said. "So that's a little bit frazzled, but then on the opposite side of that is, staff are really proud, they're really happy, they're really invested in getting COVID tests out for Nova Scotians…. It's pretty neat to see the amount of teamwork." Testing FAQ Do daily stats of tests completed include rapid tests? No. The rapid tests completed at pop-up sites across the province are not included in the daily or cumulative figures. To date, 27,760 rapid tests have been conducted. Does the daily testing statistic reflect how many people were tested, or how many tests were processed in the lab? The daily stat shows how many PCR tests (non-rapid tests) were finished being processed in the lab. Does the number of new positives announced each day necessarily reflect swabs that were collected the day before? No. The number of positive cases is not necessarily based on the tests collected the day before, but rather the tests that were finished being processed in the lab the day before. So, for example, if 6,551 tests were processed on Wednesday, and on Thursday three new cases were announced, it doesn't mean the three positive swabs were collected on Wednesday. They may have been collected before Wednesday, but the lab only got around to processing them on Wednesday. Is the processing of tests prioritized in any way? Yes. Staff prioritize tests for people who need results urgently — for example, people who are about to be admitted to hospital or undergo surgery or be transferred to a long-term care facility. Why do test results sometimes come back at different times — even days apart — if two or more people got tested at the same time? The lab uses different systems to process tests so they can use a variety of reagents and not be limited to one supplier. Since the systems function differently — for example how the samples are loaded and how many samples can be loaded at the same time — the results can come back at different times. Why do some negative test results get delivered by email, while others get delivered with an automated phone call? If there is an error in the email address, if an email hasn't been opened after 24 hours, or if someone doesn't have a Nova Scotia health card, an automated call will be used instead. MORE TOP STORIES
HONG KONG — A group of 11 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists accused of subversion will stay in jail for at least another five days while judges consider whether to release them on bail, a court said Saturday. The group, which includes three former legislators, will have hearings Thursday and on March 13, the High Court said. A court agreed this week to release them but prosecutors appealed the decision. They are among 47 people who were charged under a national security law imposed on the Chinese territory last year by the ruling Communist Party after pro-democracy protests. They were arrested after opposition groups held an unofficial vote last year to pick candidates for elections to the territory’s Legislative Council. Some activists planned, if elected, to vote down major bills in an attempt to force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. The national security law was imposed following months of rallies that began over a proposed China extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy. The law prompted complaints Beijing is undermining the “high degree of autonomy” promised when the former British colony returned to China in 1997, and hurting its status as a business centre. People convicted of subversion or other offences under the law can face penalties of up to life in prison. Hong Kong traditionally grants bail for non-violent offences but the new law says bail cannot be granted unless a judge believes the defendant “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.” On Friday, four of the 47 people charged were released on bail after prosecutors dropped a challenge to the decision. The group due to appear in court Thursday includes former legislators Helena Wong, Jeremy Tam and Kwok Ka-ki. The next hearing for the 47 defendants is May 31. The Associated Press
Austin Hutton's hands were shaking a little when he got the package, a portal to the past tucked into a plain manila envelope. It was his diary, written in 1988, when he was a Grade 6 student at Havelock Elementary School. "I was excited, and pretty emotional, to be honest," Hutton said. "I had no idea what I'd written, what mattered to me back then. It was like getting a window on your childhood." The diary was one of dozens, forgotten by the students but held onto by their teacher for decades, that are now making their way across the country. Their secrets are sweet, simple, unscandalous. But the effort to reunite them with their now-grownup authors has left more than a few people feeling "goose bumpy" with appreciation. Stored in Saint John, forgotten for decades Back in the 1980s, Havelock Elementary School teacher Hugh Brittain, liked to assign his Grade 6 students creative writing projects. A diary was one of the class favourites. Predictions of what their adult life would look like were another. Some of the students collected their writing projects at graduation and took them home. Many did not. Brittain kept all of the left-behind diaries — "I never read them. I told the students they were private, and they were," — storing them at his west side home. Every now and then, he'd come across them and think, "I suppose I should toss those out," he said. "But I just couldn't do it." Earlier this year, Brittain decided he'd try to reunite the paper treasures with their writers. But first, he'd have to find them. Retired teacher Hugh Brittain kept his students' forgotten diaries in his garage for decades. 'I just couldn't bring myself to throw them out.'(Submitted by Hugh Brittain) A social media seek-and-reunite mission Brittain, 79, concedes he's not really a social media whiz. He posted a note on a Beaconsfield School Days Facebook page. "I have a number of diaries written by grade six students of Havelock School. … They were written 33-43 years ago and I don't have the heart to dispose of them. I am sure they would get a kick out of what their thoughts were as a twelve-year-old. Perhaps someone could help me contact the following students." The post got a few delighted responses, but there were many students whose trail had gone cold. That's when super-sleuth Cher Raynes stepped in. Now living in Saskatchewan, Raynes grew up in Saint John and had a friend who'd attended Havelock. She started with her, and then she just kept going. She reached out to former students, friends of former students, relatives of friends, tracked down email addresses, and soon a flurry of interchanges was threading across the country, from Saint John to Moose Jaw to Edmonton and beyond. "Mr. Brittain is trying to track down these students … put the word out." "I think his sister is still in Saint John, you could try her at this address." "I know her married name, will reach out." "It's like putting a puzzle together," Raynes said in an interview. "I enjoy it, and I've reconnected with a few chums from the past as well." Slowly but surely, almost every one of the diary writers was tracked down, and Brittain mailed each of the diaries out, paying the postage himself. "I don't mind, it wasn't much," he said. "I was just happy they'd all have them back." Austin Hutton enjoyed looking over his diary with his son, AJ, who is the same age now that Hutton was when he wrote the diary.(Submitted by Austin Hutton) The diaries begin finding their way home Across the country, former Havelock students waited eagerly for their passage to the past to arrive. So many years had gone by, and even the school itself no longer exists, having been closed in 2016 and demolished. The diaries were a long-forgotten link to all of that. Austin Hutton found himself transported back to those years even before his diary arrived. Now living in Fort St. John, B.C., Hutton has four children, including a son who is the same age now that Hutton was when he wrote the diary. "I was so curious to see if I was anything like he is now at this age," he said. Hutton's diary arrived about a week ago, with a stern warning on the cover. "MY DIARY. Top Secret. KEEP OUT!" Hutton's wife got a chuckle out of that. "She said that is very much me," he said in an interview. The diary shed a lot of light on what mattered to 11-year-old Austin: chiefly, mowing lawns to earn cash, saving all his earnings to buy a new bike, and winning the attention of "the prettiest girl in my class." He'd managed to get her phone number that day — " I actually wrote it down in my diary," Hutton said with a laugh — although he never did get the girl. "She dated other guys," he said. Hutton said getting the diary back has been a deeply moving experience, and while the memories of his past crushes have long since faded, his respect for his Grade 6 teacher never will. "I get goose bumpy thinking how he held onto them all these years, looked us up across the country and sent them out. The joy and the love that he put into this … the kindness. It's just unbelievable." Ted Dakin was amused to find his Grade 6 predictions of what his grownup life would be like entailed a wife with 'sparkling blue eyes' and a wedding at which he insisted his mother-in-law be seated in the back row of the church.(Submitted by Ted Dakin) A wedding planner is born A few months ago, an old friend from Saint John flagged Ted Dakin on Facebook. "Hey, Hugh Brittain is trying to get ahold of you, he has something for you. That diary you did in Grade 6." Dakin was astonished. "I had no recollection of what I would have written back then, but I was so curious to find out," he said. He sent Brittain his address in Edmonton and sat back, reminiscing about the old days on the west side. "It was a simpler life," he said. "Your biggest concerns were getting to school on time, going to baseball practice, lots of chaos among the kids. And I remember Mr. Brittain. He was our neighbour and a great teacher." Within a few weeks, his parcel arrived. "In my case, it wasn't a diary," Dakin said. It was a letter to his grownup self, and the assignment was 'Tell me what you see in your future.' " Apparently, Dakin said, what he saw was wedding cake. "I guess because I lived with two women, my mom and my sister Pauline, I decided to write about getting married. In some detail." Young Ted described his bride-to-be as "a dirty blond with sparkling blue eyes." "It was actually a girl in my class, but I won't name names," said Dakin, who worked in a flower shop. They would get married on April 11, 1992, at Centenary Queen Square United Church in front of 201 invited guests. "And," young Ted took pains to note, "my mother-in-law would sit in the back row." They'd honeymoon in Hawaii, move into a two-bedroom cabin in the California woods and, if his choice of vehicles was any clue, begin preparing for a family. "I'd buy a GMC van and jazz it up," he wrote. So how prophetic did his predictions turn out to be? "Well there's been no GMC van," Dakin said with a chuckle. But he did marry a blond, he did plan his own wedding, and they did move to a two-bedroom cabin in the woods, built by Dakin himself. "I don't know what any of that means, but I do know this, when I get back to Saint John for a visit, I'm definitely going to knock on Hugh Brittain's door," Dakin said. "I'm blown away that he would keep these all these years." Susan Fearnhead Knolla got her diary from Brittain when she finished high school and has held onto it. 'Great memories,' she says.(Submitted by Susan Fearnhead Knolla) Back when mail was delivered to your door — by your teacher Susan Fearnhead Knolla's experience was a little different. She was reunited with her diary when she graduated from Saint John High School. "Mr. Brittain came around to give the Grade 6 diaries to some students who were still in the neighbourhood," she said. "It was pretty cool to get it back after six years, and he walked around the neighborhood personally to deliver them." Fearnhead Knolla said she left town, travelled a lot, moved overseas, then eventually "came home" to west Saint John. And after all this time, she said, she still has her diary. "I'll keep it forever. Great memories."
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan handily won a vote of confidence from the National Assembly on Saturday, days after the embarrassing defeat of his ruling party’s key candidate in Senate elections. Khan secured the votes of 178 members of the lower house of Parliament, which is comprised of 340 lawmakers. The 11-party opposition alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement —boycotted the assembly’s special session. Khan needed 172 votes to show a simple majority and dispel any suggestion he had lost the support of the majority of lawmakers in the National Assembly. In the National Assembly, Pakistan's lower house, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party has the support of 180 members, including 157 members from Khan's party and 20 members from allied parties and two independents. The need for the confidence vote arose after former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Senate elections Wednesday defeated Hafeez Sheikh, the finance minister in Khan’s Cabinet. The Senate vote was seen as a test for Khan, who came to power in the 2018 parliamentary elections. It boosted the number of Senate seats for the opposition, which has a slight, 53-47 majority over Khan and wants Khan to step down. Responding to the opposition demand, Khan decided to seek the vote of confidence, noting that it was the democratic right of lawmakers from his own party to vote against him if they oppose his policies. Frustrated over the defeat of Sheikh, Khan criticized election authorities who he said failed to ensure a free and fair vote. Earlier, he claimed that 15 or 16 lawmakers from his party “sold” their vote but they could not be identified because the vote is done by secret ballot. “In August 2018 Imran Khan got 176 votes to become prime minister and today he secured 178 votes to show his majority in the house,” said Asad Qaiser, the speaker of the lower house, after the vote. Khan said his party members went through agony after the Senate vote but now he wants to make the country great. “We have to apprise our young generation about the purpose of the creation of Pakistan,“ he said. “Pakistan was created to make a welfare Islamic state and not made to generate politicians like (former president Asif) Zardari and (former Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif, who have been accused of corruption. The resolution of confidence was presented to the assembly by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Members who voted in favour of Khan signed a register and then entered the Parliament building lobby. Outside Parliament, opposition leaders from the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League argued heatedly with Khan’s supporters. Zarar Khan, The Associated Press
The village of Chester wants to replace its 60-year-old firehall, located on Central Street, because it can no longer accommodate modern firefighting equipment. "The problem is the height of the doors," said Bill Nauss, the village commission's chairman. "It's hard to buy a fire engine that will fit in." So the village commission is using $625,000 from its reserves to buy the Windjammer Motel property, which is on the outskirts of the community, in hopes that a new facility can be built there. The site is about a kilometre from the current firehall. Nauss said it will provide easier access for volunteer firefighters. The move concerns John Redden, a fire consultant based in New Brunswick, who is familiar with the Chester Fire Service. "What they've done is move their firehall from the highest risk area to the outskirts," said Redden. "I think they're adding issues to the whole response curve of the fire department." The Windjammer Motel property is a possible location for a new firehall.(Steve Lawrence/CBC) Chester resident Tom Mulrooney, a former member of the village commission, said he is not happy with how the issue has been handled so far. Mulrooney is worried about it becoming a multi-million dollar project. "If they really believe that we needed this, they should have gone out and priced the whole thing, land, building, everything, and then have a meeting and present the whole package to the public," he said. According to Redden, Mulrooney's concern is valid because he's seen firehall projects that end up costing up to $5 million. But Nauss said a new firehall project will need approval from local residents and the Municipality of Chester as well as the blessing of the Municipal Affairs department before it can go ahead. "We're not trying to hide anything, everything will be transparent," said Nauss. "We are taking the most fiscal approach that we can possibly take." A new firehall will need approval from local residents and the Municipality of Chester as well as the blessing of the province before it can go ahead.(Steve Lawrence/CBC) The village commission has posted a list of questions and answers about the firehall issue. Nauss said even if the project is approved a new firehall won't be completed before 2023. Mulrooney is also concerned about the timing of the land acquisition, given that since 2019 the Municipality of Chester has been conducting a review of all fire stations in the area, including the one in the village. "It makes no sense," said Mulrooney. "Why is this study being ignored?" But the municipality's warden does not believe the new location for the village firehall will impact the assessment. "It's so close to where the firehall is now that it's insignificant," said Alan Webber. "In terms of responding outside of the village core it may even have a positive impact." The assessment is still in a draft form, is under review by a steering committee and has not yet been presented to the public. MORE TOP STORIES
Juliana Aguero of London, Ont., knew she was going to have a tough time buying a house after she separated from her husband. "Every time, I lost the offer for $100,000 or something like that. It was crazy," said Aguero, who made about 10 offers on homes within a span of three months. The average price of a home in London is now more than $600,000. Aguero, who moved to Canada from Colombia 11 years ago, has two children with her ex-husband. The couple decided they wanted to live in the same neighbourhood — near Victoria Hospital — and raise their children together. Aguero is shown with her ex-husband, David Cuellar, and their children, Valeria and Santiago, when the couple was still married.(Submitted by Juliana Aguero) That's when Aguero found a three-bedroom condo listed for $330,000. It seemed like a good deal; other units in the building were listed for $20,000 more. Aguero offered $375,000. Paying it forward "When my realtor came, she actually started with Juliana's offer," said Damian Devonish, a London-based therapist with three children. "[She] said, 'This is a really touching story. I know your heart and I know that you will want to give it to her.'" Without her knowledge, Aguero's realtor had included a letter with her offer, detailing her client's backstory. Devonish, also a recent immigrant, arrived in Canada eight years ago from Barbados and believes strongly in paying it forward. "We don't know how life will treat us 10, 15, 20 years from now. So the best thing to do is to live it well today." Devonish, who moved to London from Barbados eight years ago, is shown with his three children, Destiny, Caden and Dasha. (Submitted by Damian Devonish) "I really didn't have a lot of money when I came to Canada," He said. "I was having difficulty getting a job because I needed a vehicle." Devonish found a car on Kijiji and remembers how the seller agreed to take $500 less for it, and he also threw in a set of winter tires. And that's why when Devonish reviewed all of the offers on his condo, and Aguero's was the lowest by about $50,000, he still accepted it. "I just feel so blessed," said Aguero, who takes possession of the home on May 6. "I've cried. I cannot believe there are people like Damian," she said. During an interview on CBC's London Morning, Aguero spoke directly to Devonish: "I'm absolutely sure you will receive many, many blessings in different ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
China's proposal for Hong Kong electoral reforms could prevent a "dictatorship of the majority", pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Martin Liao told Reuters on Saturday. The Chinese parliament is discussing plans to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure Beijing loyalists are in charge. Hong Kong representatives, in Beijing for an annual session, say the change is necessary and desirable.