Social Media Expert Jesse Miller explains the reasons behind Facebook's ban of Australian news and why it's being condemned around the world.
Social Media Expert Jesse Miller explains the reasons behind Facebook's ban of Australian news and why it's being condemned around the world.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
HOLTVILLE, Calif. — Authorities are investigating whether human smuggling was involved after a crash Tuesday involving an SUV packed with 25 people and a tractor-trailer that left 13 people dead and bodies strewn across a roadway near the U.S. Mexico border. Most of the dead were Mexicans, a Mexican official said. When police arrived, some of the passengers were trying to crawl out of the crumpled 1997 Ford Expedition while others were wandering around the fields. The rig's front end was pushed into the SUV's left side and two empty trailers were jackknifed behind it. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the two-lane highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California about 125 miles (201 kilometres) east of San Diego. Another person died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said. “It was a pretty chaotic scene,” said Watson, who also described it as “a very sad situation.” Roberto Velasco, director of North American affairs for Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department, confirmed Tuesday on his Twitter account that at least 10 of those killed have been identified as Mexicans. No identities have been released. The cause of the collision was unclear, authorities said, and it also was not immediately known why so many people were crammed into a vehicle built to hold eight people safely. Watson said the SUV only had front seats — the middle and back seats had been removed. That would allow more people to fit into the vehicle but makes it even more unsafe. It wasn't immediately clear whether the SUV was carrying migrants who had crossed the border, ferrying farmworkers to fields, or was being used for some other purpose. “Special agents from Homeland Security Investigations San Diego responded ... and have initiated a human smuggling investigation," the agency said in a statement, adding that other details weren't being released. Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said agents were not pursing the SUV at the time of the crash, which was initially rumoured. The immigration status of the passengers was unknown. “It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” Mora said. The people in the vehicle ranged in age from 15 to 53 and were a mix of males and females, officials said. The 28-year-old driver was from Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border, and was among those killed. The 68-year-old driver of the big rig, who is from nearby El Centro, was hospitalized with moderate injuries. The passengers' injuries ranged from minor to severe and included fractures and head trauma. They were being cared for at several hospitals. One person was treated at a hospital and released. The crash occurred around 6:15 a.m. at an intersection just outside Holtville, which dubs itself the world’s carrot capital and is about 11 miles (18 kilometres) north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It was a sunny, clear morning and authorities said the tractor-trailer and its two empty containers were northbound on State Highway 115 when the SUV pulled in front of it from Norrish Road. A California Highway Patrol report said the SUV entered an intersection directly in front of the big-rig, which hit the left side of the SUV. Both vehicles came to a halt on a dirt shoulder. It's not clear if the SUV ran a stop sign or had stopped before entering the highway. It's also not yet known how fast the tractor-trailer was travelling. The speed limit for tractor-trailers on the highway is 55 mph (88.5 kph), according to CHP Officer Jake Sanchez. The other road is also 55 mph for vehicles. A 1997 Ford Expedition can carry a maximum payload of 2,000 pounds. If it had 25 people inside, that would easily exceed the payload limit, which taxes the brakes and makes it tougher to steer, said Frank Borris, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation. “You’re going to have extended stopping distances, delayed reactions to steering inputs and potential over-reaction to any type of high-speed lane change,” said Borris, who now runs a safety consulting business. SUVs of that age tended to be top-heavy even without carrying a lot of weight, Borris said. “With all of that payload above the vehicle’s centre of gravity, it’s going to make it even more unstable,” he said. The crash occurred amid verdant farms that grow a wide variety of vegetables and alfalfa used for cattle feed. Thousands of people cross into the U.S. each day to work in the fields. The harvest of lettuce and other winter vegetable crops runs from November until March, and buses and SUVs carrying farmworkers are often rumbling down the rural roads s in the early morning hours. The area has also seen smugglers carrying migrants in trucks and vehicles. Hundreds of migrants who died after crossing the border are buried in unmarked graves in Holtville’s cemetery on the edge of town. ___ Associated Press reporters Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles, Julie Watson in San Diego, Anita Snow in Phoenix, Tom Krisher in Detroit and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed. ___ This story has been corrected based on updated information from officials to show the tractor-trailer driver is 68, not 69. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
St. Louis’ first-ever female mayor will be replaced by another woman, after city Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer on Tuesday bested two men in a new primary election format to advance to next month’s general election. Jones received 25,374 votes and Spencer was second with 20,649 votes, according to unofficial final results. Aldermanic President Lewis Reed was third, followed by businessman Andrew Jones. Incumbent Democrat Lyda Krewson chose not to seek a second four-year term. Tishaura Jones said on Zoom that St. Louisans “should be able to succeed here regardless of your skin colour, who you love, how you worship, your ZIP code, or any identity you have.” Spencer has been outspoken against special interests. She said on Facebook that her campaign “has changed the dialogue about how we serve St. Louis.” The city’s new “approval voting” format makes municipal contests nonpartisan and has another unique feature: Voters can “approve” of as many candidates in the primary as they want. Each vote counts as one. The idea is to get the two candidates with the most support to the general election, which is April 6. Four years ago, Tishaura Jones finished a close second to Krewson in the Democratic primary, and Reed was third. Krewson easily defeated Andrew Jones, a Republican, in the April 2017 general election to become the city's first woman mayor. Tishaura Jones and Andrew Jones are not related. Though this year's general election also will be nonpartisan, both Jones and Spencer are Democrats. The next mayor faces the daunting challenge of taming violent crime in a city that has been at or near the top of per capita homicide rankings for decades. Jones and Spencer, in interviews with The Associated Press last week, both said reducing violence was the top priority. Both pledged to address the underlying issues that lead to crime such as drug and alcohol addiction, poverty and mental illness. Jones, 48, is a former state representative who has been treasurer since 2013. She said the “arrest and incarcerate” model of criminal justice has been a failure. She would bring in more social workers, mental health counsellors and substance abuse counsellors, rather than adding more uniformed officers. Spencer, 42, has been a member of the Board of Aldermen since 2015. She favours a “focused deterrence” model connecting those at risk of committing violence to self-help resources, but making it clear those who cross into crime will face the consequences. Krewson, 67, had a personal connection to the violence -- her husband was fatally shot in a 1995 carjacking. She ran on a pledge to battle crime, but the city saw a staggering increase in killings during the coronavirus pandemic. Police said 262 people were killed in St. Louis last year — five less than the record of 267 set in 1993. But because the city’s population has declined since 1993, the homicide rate was much higher in 2020. In announcing her retirement from politics in November, Krewson said elections “are about the future.” She said at the time that challenges posed by crime, COVID-19 and other issues were not factors in her decision. In previous years, Democrats and Republicans squared off in separate primary elections in March. St. Louis is so heavily Democratic that the April general election was virtually irrelevant. Voters in November adopted the new “approval voting” method. St. Louis is just the second city to try it. Fargo, North Dakota, used it for the first time last year. Jim Salter, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — The Canadian military says aircraft and ships have responded to an emergency aboard a Canadian fishing vessel that has been damaged by fire off of the coast of Nova Scotia. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax says the FV Atlantic Destiny is a scallop freezer factory ship with 32 people on board and there are no reports of injuries. The ship has lost power and is adrift about 120 nautical miles south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas. Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens said a CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter has started removing some of the crew members from the ship. "It has started extracting non-essential crew from the Atlantic Destiny and will be transporting them to Yarmouth, N.S.," Owens said in an interview Tuesday night. "The U.S. Coast Guard has a helicopter on scene and once our helicopter clears the area will extract the remaining personnel." Owens said a small number of the crew will remain on board to manage the vessel. He said the fire is out but the ship was taking on water and the crew have put on their immersion survival suits. Owens said the rescue centre received a call from the master of the ship at around 8 p.m. reporting a fire on board, a loss of power and that it was adrift. The ship reported eight-metre waves and 55-knot winds. Owens said a CC-130 Hercules aircraft was tracking the vessel and a Canadian Coast Guard ship was en route to the location. Another fishing vessel, the FV Lahave, was nearby. Owens said the families of the crew members have been contacted by the company that owns the vessel and was giving them updates. The FV Atlantic Destiny's home port is Riverport, N.S. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
One in five Chinese Australians say they have been physically threatened or attacked in the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and tensions in Australia's relationship with China, a survey by the Lowy Institute think tank reported. The findings prompted a call from the Chinese Australian Forum, a community group, for national leadership to tackle racism as Australia deals with a more assertive China, and also recognition that the Chinese community in Australia is diverse in its political views and origins.
Trustees at the York Region District School Board voted on Tuesday night to rename a secondary school in Vaughan, Ont. after a late Somali-Canadian journalist known as a positive voice for her people. Formerly known as Vaughan Secondary School, it will now bear the name of Hodan Nalayeh, trustees decided at a board meeting. Nalayeh had a TV show and established herself as a journalist who wrote uplifting stories about Canada's Somali community. She was killed in an attack on a hotel in Somalia in 2019. The school, and the city, originally was named after Benjamin Vaughan, a slaveholder in the 18th century. Black community organizations pushed last year for the name to be changed. Shernett Martin, the executive director of ACORN, formerly Vaughan African Canadian Association, said the renaming is a positive move for the community. "Her legacy will be kept alive and the joy of who she was and what she stood for will reverberate through the hallways and the classrooms of this high school and we'll never forget the sacrifices that Hodan made. We celebrate having a hijab-wearing Black Muslim woman in a high school our city," she said. Trustee Bob McRoberts described Nalayeh as an "inspirational storyteller." "She believed that education was the foundation upon which life can be built," McRoberts said. Nalayeh's family told CBC News in a statement on Tuesday night after the vote: "It is with a heavy-heart and with a deep sense of gratitude that we accept the community's recommendation and in turn the York Region District School Board's decision to rename the school in question with Hodan's name. "With it, comes a tremendous responsibility to uplift and support all students, their families and the communities they are a part of whether local to the school or across our great region." Emily Mills, founder of a group called How She Hustles and a friend of Nalayeh, said it is meaningful "to have somebody that represents, and reflects your community in a way, on a building." 'An inspiration for all of us' "Hodan is an inspiration for all of us, you don't have to be Somali, you don't have to be female, you don't have to be from Vaughan, I think she represents the best of what Canada should be about," she said. "I think she represents exactly what we need at this time, which is stories of resilience," she added. "When you've got someone who touches a community, in life and even in their passing, as Hodan did, it just lands a different way and it's going to resonate in a different way, and I think it's going to leave a legacy for this generation to relate to and many generations to come." Nalayeh, who once resided in Vaughan, Ont., and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, were among those who were killed in the July 2019 attack in Somalia's port city of Kismayo. Nalayeh was pregnant at the time. "It was really hard for so many in the community, it was really hard to understand how a light so bright could be dimmed," Mills said. Ahmed Hussen, who was minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship at the time of the attack, had said Nalayeh made immeasurable contributions to the Canadian Somali community. "Through her work as a journalist, she highlighted the community's positive stories and contributions in Canada, and became a voice for many," Hussen told CBC News. "Her work, particularly in helping women and youth, strengthened the ties between Canada's Somali community and Somalia, as it continues to go through stabilization and reconstruction. We mourn her loss deeply, and all others killed in the Kismayo attack." Added Mills: "When you've got someone who touches a community, in life and even in their passing, as Hodan did, it just lands a different way and it's going to resonates in a different way, and I think it's going to leave a legacy for this generation to relate to and many generations to come." 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)
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Health experts in China say their country is lagging in its coronavirus vaccination rollout because it has the disease largely under control, but plans to inoculate 40% of its population by June. Zhong Nanshan, the leader of a group of experts attached to the National Health Commission, said the country has delivered 52.52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Feb. 28. He was speaking Monday at an online forum between U.S and Chinese medical experts hosted by the Brookings Institution and Tsinghua University. The target is the first China has offered publicly since it began its mass immunization campaign for key groups in mid-December. China has been slow to vaccinate its people relative to other countries, administering 3.56 doses per 100 people so far, according to Zhong, in a population of 1.4 billion. The fastest to vaccinate is Israel, which has given 94 doses per 100 people. The U.S. has administered 22 doses per 100 people. Chinese health experts say the country has enough vaccine supply for its population, although the country has pledged to provide close to half a billion doses abroad, roughly 10 times the number it has delivered at home. “The current vaccination pace is very low due to outbreak control (being) so good in China, but I think the capacity is enough,” said Zhang Wenhong, an infectious diseases expert based in Shanghai who also spoke on the panel. Developers of China’s four currently approved vaccines have said they could manufacture up to 2.6 billion doses by the end of this year. Still, vaccinating China’s massive population will be a daunting task. Even at the rate of vaccinating 10 million people a day, it would take roughly seven months to vaccinate 70% of its population, Zhang noted. The experts all acknowledged the complex task of vaccinating the world's population, pointing to the slowness in the global rollout of vaccines. “Demand will outstrip supply for many months, and unless there is more manufacturing, … for years,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also cautioned against expecting a quick return to normal. The head of China’s Center for Disease Control, Gao Fu, predicted that life could return to an “approximate normal” in summer next year. Gao, along with Zhong and other Chinese health experts, urged more U.S.-China co-operation. Gao specifically called on the U.S. and China to co-operate on COVAX, an initiative to distribute vaccines more fairly across the developing world. “Let’s work together,” he said. ____ This version has been updated to CORRECT that the figures of doses administered per 100 people in China, Israel and the United States is not a percentage of their populations since many people vaccinated have received both of the two doses required. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
The security forces resorted to live fire with little warning in several towns and cities, witnesses said, as the junta appeared more determined than ever to stamp out protests against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The heaviest toll was in the central town of Monywa, where five people - four men and one woman - were killed, said Ko Thit Sar, editor of the Monywa Gazette.
MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens have made another change to their coaching staff, appointing Sean Burke to take over as the director of goaltending. General manager Marc Bergevin made the announcement Tuesday following a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators that gave rookie head coach Dominique Ducharme his first NHL victory. Burke replaces Stephane Waite, who held the position since 2013 and was let go Tuesday. Ducharme replaced the fired Claude Julien last week in the wake of consecutive shootout and overtime losses to the Senators in Ottawa. No. 1 goaltender Carey Price made 26 saves for the victory Tuesday over the Senators, but has struggled in 2020-21. He entered Tuesday with a 5-4-3 record to go along with an .888 save percentage and 3.13 goals-against average this season. Over his previous six starts, the former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner was 1-4-1 with an .870 save percentage. Montreal backup Jake Allen, meanwhile, is 4-2-2 with a .929 save percentage and 2.12 GAA this season. Burke will be required to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine before joining the team. Laval Rocket goaltending coach Marco Marciano will work with Montreal's goaltenders until Burke is cleared to join the squad. The 54-year-old Burke was originally hired by the Canadiens in 2016 as a professional scout for the Western region. He has also worked as a goaltending consultant for Montreal. He spent six seasons as a member of the Coyotes' hockey management group, serving as goaltending coach and director of player development before being promoted to assistant general manager in 2012. He had an 18-year NHL career, suiting up for eight organizations before moving into management post-retirement. The three-time NHL All-Star represented Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, and served as Canada's general manager at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang where the team won bronze without NHL players. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Emergency crews were evacuating crew members from a fishing vessel that twice caught fire and was taking on water off the Nova Scotia coast Tuesday night. A CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter has removed six of the 32 crew members from the Atlantic Destiny, according to Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens, a spokesperson for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC), a federal government search and rescue organization. The ship has lost power and is adrift about 222 kilometres south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas. There were no reports of injuries. All fires are out, but the ship is still taking on water, Owens said. A small crew will remain aboard the vessel "to control the water coming into the vessel," the JRCC said. "They have restored generator power, so the pumps are working," Owens said. The master of the Atlantic Destiny called the JRCC to report the fire at 8 p.m. AT. Experienced crew The Atlantic Destiny is based in Riverport, N.S., and is part of the fleet owned by Ocean Choice International of Newfoundland and Labrador. Company CEO Martin Sullivan said it's unclear how many people will have to stay onboard the vessel, but estimated it will be between six and 10. Sullivan said the crew and captain have lots of experience. "It's a tough situation, but we have great people that can stand up to it," he said. A CC-130 Hercules aircraft from Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, a fisheries patrol vessel and two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters were responding. JRCC said all crew evacuated from the ship will be flown to Yarmouth, N.S. The first six crew members were being flown aboard the CH-149 Cormorant, Owens said. Additional crew members will be transported in the U.S. helicopters, Sullivan said. Another fishing vessel, the Lahave, is near the Atlantic Destiny and is standing by to assist. High seas and strong winds Owens said the Atlantic Destiny was adrift in eight-metre seas and winds of 55 knots. "The weather is quite adverse," he said. It's unclear what caused the fire. Sullivan said the company is focused on the safety of the crew and have been providing updates to family members throughout the evening. "The rest we can deal with later," he said. In March 2017, the Atlantic Destiny suffered a catastrophic engine failure that caused the ship to lose power. A year later, a Transportation Safety Board report blamed the failure on a combination of maintenance gaps, a broken emergency stop mechanism and the actions of an inexperienced crew member. MORE TOP STORIES
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Just before two RCMP officers opened fire on a fellow officer and a civilian during last year's Nova Scotia mass shooting, they struggled with congested radio channels and mistook a man wearing a bright vest for the killer. These are among the fresh facts revealed Tuesday in a police watchdog agency report clearing the Mounties of criminal wrongdoing after they fired five shots with high-powered rifles outside the Onslow, N.S., firehall. The six-page report by the Serious Incident Response Team says the "totality of the evidence" prompted the officers to believe the killer was standing just 88 metres away from them on the morning of April 19. "They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries .... The (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons," it concludes. The six-page document traces the 10:21 a.m. incident — which didn't result in deaths or injuries — to the early hours of the morning, when the two officers were recalled to duty at 3 a.m. for a briefing as the shootings that would take 22 lives unfolded. According to the report, they were told that the spouse of the killer had said the gunman was driving a replica RCMP car and was wearing an orange vest. "They learned that several children had witnessed their parents being shot dead .... The actual total number of victims was unknown at the time of the briefing because several buildings in Portapique were on fire, and whether there were additional victims had not yet been determined," the report says. They also had been briefed that the gunman had high-powered weapons with laser-mounted sights. Several hours after the first briefing, there were radio transmissions saying the killer had murdered a woman in Wentworth, N.S. At that point, the two officers were "transitioned from investigators to being involved in the hunt for the killer," the report says. Through the morning, reports of additional murders came over the radio, including two women in the Debert, N.S., area, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Onslow firehall. As they approached the firehall, which had been designated as a rest area, they saw a marked RCMP car parked in front and a man wearing a yellow and orange reflective vest standing next to the driver's door. According to the report, the two officers didn't realize a uniformed RCMP officer was sitting in the vehicle. The investigation says the two officers repeatedly tried to advise other RCMP officers by radio of what they were seeing but couldn't get through. Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said in an email to The Canadian Press that he didn't have an exact time of arrival. "I can only extrapolate from the radio communications that it was about a minute before shots were fired," he wrote. According to the report, both officers got out of their vehicle with their rifles and were still unable to reach anyone on the radio. The report says they yelled "police," and "show your hands," but the civilian in the vest ducked behind the car before popping back up and running toward the firehall. The Mounties opened fire, with one officer firing four shots and the other a single shot. During the killer's 13-hour rampage, the report found, there were 7,731 radio transmissions over emergency response channels. It says the "sole reason" the reason the officers couldn't transmit before opening fire was because "there was no available talk path due to the heavy volume of radio traffic." It concluded the officers had a "lawful excuse" to fire their guns and didn't break Criminal Code provisions that prohibit officers from using their firearms in a careless manner. "Based on everything (the officers) had seen and heard since coming on duty and what they had just observed, they had reasonable grounds to believe that the (civilian in the vest) was the killer and someone who would continue his killing rampage," says the report. In a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade said it is "frustrated and disappointed that there will be no accountability for the RCMP. Their actions that day endangered lives, damaged property and caused mental health issues for many of the people involved." An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the two officers. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both people shot at outside the firehall were RCMP officers.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of Neera Tanden to be his budget director after she ran into stiff opposition over tweets that upset lawmakers, in the first Capitol Hill rebuff of one of his nominees. "I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget," Biden said in a short statement on Tuesday. The decision to withdraw Tanden's nomination reflected the tenuous hold his Democrats have on the Senate.
Toronto Community Housing has re-housed one of the five households it evicted for missed rent last fall, after a Star story that revealed one of the households landed in a homeless shelter. Those five evictions took place between the end of a provincial eviction moratorium in August and a motion from city council to halt arrears evictions in TCH in December. The day after the Star’s report, Mayor John Tory said he’d contacted TCH CEO Kevin Marshman, to confirm that no further arrears evictions would be taking place. “It shouldn’t have happened, and certainly today I had a conversation in light of this story,” Tory said at the time, while noting that the evictions had still been within the bounds of the law. “It was one of those things where it happened in kind of in a short gap that exists between one lockdown and another … I’m not making an excuse for it, I’m just staying that’s what happened.” Asked what would happen to the evicted households, Tory said he would ask Marshman to examine the cases “and see what the appropriate response should be.” During a committee meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Paula Fletcher asked for an update. “I know that at least one family was rehoused as a result of work we did with the shelter and the analysis that we did of their eviction,” replied Scott Kirkham, TCH’s manager of stakeholder relations. Asked by the Star to confirm whether the re-housed family was the one evicted into the shelter system, TCH declined to comment, saying it couldn’t reveal personal information. “We can confirm that, following a review, one of the five households was re-housed,” a statement read. Tory, in a statement Tuesday, said he was “pleased to hear” that an evicted family was re-housed in TCH. Wong-Tam said it seemed the agency had taken a “moment of self-reflection,” and credited its response to city officials’ requests about arrears evictions during the pandemic. “TCH seems to fully understand the severity of the issue,” she said. The housing committee on Tuesday voted to send a request to council on March 10 for TCH to extend its arrears eviction halt until at least June. With files from Francine Kopun Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Rental tenant advocates say the the province’s new legislation to stop false renovictions is good, but doesn’t go far enough to protect existing affordable housing stock nor address “exponential” rate increases over the last few years. The B.C. government announced Mar. 1 it would extend the freeze on rent increases, and proposed a new policy that would have landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch to be able to evict people for renovations. They would have to show renovation permits, demonstrate that renovations are significant enough to require vacancy and prove that renovations are necessary. Currently, there’s no onus to prove renovations are significant or actually required, allowing opportunistic landlords to flip suites and jack up rent for the new tenant after a few superficial improvements. The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre is excited about the change, saying it will help curb illegal renovictions, which they think happen often, thought it’s impossible to track. But the new legislation, which if approved will go into effect July 1, does very little to protect affordable rental stock, said Zuzana Modrovic, a lawyer with TRAC. “A lot of the affordable rental stock is in buildings that are aging, where renovations are likely needed. When a landlord does those renovations, they can charge whatever they think the market will bear,” she said. RELATED: B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021 The task force’s solution also fails to address “exponential rate increases” over the last few years, and it doesn’t help people who fell behind on rent during the height of the pandemic. “At the start of this emergency, we were told by Premier John Horgan and Selina Robinson, who was the housing minister at that time, that nobody would lose their housing due to COVID-19. They have not kept that promise. People are now losing their housing because they can’t afford rent, never mind the repayment of missed rent, and there’s no protection for them,” Modrovic said. Now tenants are facing paying regular rent, plus a repayment plan to make up missed rent. The province has said landlords must give renters until August 2021 to repay rental debt owed from the first five months of the pandemic. “Essentially that’s just like a temporary rent increase. They have to pay an additional $200 or $300 a month, or more.” A ministry spokesperson said B.C. has the second lowest rate of rent arrears in the country, and that there has not been a significant increase in the number of disputes in recent months. TRAC has been asking the government for rental arrears forgiveness across the province, or at the least another eviction freeze. The government initially said no one could be evicted for not paying rent due to COVID-19, but that ban lifted July 30. Landlord BC, an association for landlords was also included in the task force, said they welcome the change but said the Rental Tenancy Board will have to handle the application process efficiently. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
For two communities that share so much, the dividing line between Collingwood and the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has never felt more defined. Alar Soever, mayor for TBM says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the political separation between Collingwood and TBM. “Now, it's unfortunate that Collingwood is in the grey zone. But, that just shows you that the county boundary is kind of an artificial construct,” Soever said. Collingwood sits in Simcoe County under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. While TBM sits in Grey County and falls under the Grey Bruce Health Unit. Earlier this week the two regions moved in opposite directions under the provincial COVID-19 reopening framework. Grey County moved forward into the green zone and Collingwood moving backwards into the grey zone. The vast difference in restrictions between the grey and green zones has created waves in the community, even pushing Collingwood town council to demand the health unit change the designation. But according to Soever, the issue goes far beyond the pandemic restrictions. He explained that county and public health borders are a serious problem that should be examined once the pandemic is behind us. “It's one of the issues that we bring up all the time. Collingwood is in Simcoe County and we are in Grey County, even though we really do have a lot in common,” Soever continued. “As Mayor Brian Saunderson has pointed out, we are tied economically and we are tied to the ski hills.” Soever said the two communities have more commonalities than differences and that it would be beneficial to have both communities residing in the same county and the same public health unit. “You really have to look at these political boundaries that are kind of artificial and are from years and years ago, and say do they still make sense? Because in terms of community character, if you look at Collingwood, TBM and Wasaga Beach, we have far more in common then Collingwood has the urbanized communities in southern Simcoe County.” He said its an issue that is constantly coming up at council table through various initiatives, including transportation, community safety plans, social service initiatives and housing. “There's an interesting discussion to be had. People claim that they are in the wrong colour zone? Well, maybe it's far more than that. Maybe, you're in the wrong political subdivision,” Soever said. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won't call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada. In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau's minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote. The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government. However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won't vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19. That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself. Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious. "Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister," the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee's report. Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government's defeat. They thank Liberal committee members for taking "a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months." At the same time, Conservatives have been pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: They've been systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid. They have also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic. Bill C-19 is the government's response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election. In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic "has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy." They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador's election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the "delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting" that could undermine Canadians' confidence in the outcome of a federal election. "This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged," the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump's unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic. Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted. The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that "the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay." Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots "would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Another temporary modular housing project may soon be built in Richmond. BC Housing has applied for a three-year permit for properties on Smith Street and Bridgeport Road. The intention is to construct a three-storey supportive housing building with 40 studio units. “I’m excited to see another modular housing (project) come in,” said Coun. Carol Day. The city’s director of development Wayne Craig said a memorandum of understanding will be developed between the non-profit operator, the construction company and BC Housing to ensure the security of the space. The existing modular housing project on Elmbridge Way will serve as a model for the new proposed project. “Elmbridge was very successful and it’s continuing to be successful,” said Coun. Bill McNulty. “I think we need to tell people about the successes that we have. This modular housing is working, and this is our second one, and we should continue maybe to do a third one somewhere down the road.” If approved by council, the building’s completion and occupancy is targeted for early next year. The issue will be discussed at a March 15 public hearing. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel