Strong winds along the shore blow waves onto the adjacent roadway.
Strong winds along the shore blow waves onto the adjacent roadway.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are marking the end of the first week of the provincial election campaign with a massive snowstorm. Though some candidates were out knocking on doors Thursday morning, by late afternoon it was difficult to see across the street in St. John's with all the blowing snow. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey made it back to St. John's before the storm hit after a few days of campaigning in western and central Newfoundland. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie is in Clarenville, where 60 km/h winds blew overnight Thursday. As of Thursday evening, it was unclear whether NDP Leader Alison Coffin would make it back to St. John's from campaigning in Labrador, where another storm was swirling over the north coast. The snowstorm also marks the one-year anniversary of the record-breaking blizzard, now dubbed "Snowmageddon," which dumped more than 70 centimetres on the capital city and prompted officials to enforce a state of emergency for more than a week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Tyler Toffoli continued to run amok over the Canucks Thursday, tallying two goals and an assist as the Montreal Canadiens dominated Vancouver 7-3. The three points added to the hat trick Toffoli scored against the Canucks — his former team — in Vancouver’s 6-5 shootout win over Montreal on Wednesday. Joel Armia had two goals and two assists, and Josh Anderson, Jake Evans and Ben Chiarot each scored for the Canadiens (3-0-2) Thursday. Vancouver (2-4-0) got a pair of goals from Bo Horvat, one from Brandon Sutter and a pair of assists from Tyler Myers, who took a five-minute major for a checking to the head on Armia late in the third period to go along with three minors for a total of 11 minutes in penalties. Montreal goalie Jake Allen registered 14 saves and captured the 150th win of his NHL career. Thatcher Demko stopped 35-of-42 shots for the Canucks. The Canadiens sealed the score with 1:05 left on the clock when Chiarot's rocket from the blue line beat Demko. The goal was Montreal's only power-play marker on the night, despite having the man advantage nine times. Sutter temporarily put a dent in the Canadiens' lead 4:56 into the third period with a nifty backhand that hit the cross bar before dropping into the net, making the score 6-3. But the Canucks had already fallen apart over the course of 94 seconds in the second frame. Toffoli scored Montreal's second short-handed goal of the night, putting a shot behind Demko 1:13 in. Vancouver battled through much of the frame before crumbling around the 15-minute mark. J.T. Miller took a shot from the blue line that Allen turned away with his pads. Nick Suzuki stole the rebound and sprinted down the ice alone. Demko stopped Suzuki's shot but Anderson was lying in wait at the side of the net to bat the rebound out of the air and into the Canucks goal. Just nine seconds later the Canadiens struck again when Paul Byron whipped a pass across the crease to Evans, who buried it. Armia struck next, scoring with a backhand shot from the slot to put Montreal up 6-2. Vancouver challenged the play for goalie interference but after a review, officials upheld the call on the ice. It was the second flurry of scoring action on the night. The two sides also combined for four goals in the first eight minutes of the game. The Canadiens were first on the board after Brogan Rafferty was caught trying to clear the puck from behind the Canucks' net. It was picked off his stick and a battle ensued in front of the crease. Toffoli came away with it and snapped a shot past Demko to open the scoring 1:54 into the first frame. It took Vancouver less than 90 seconds to respond. Myers took a long shot from the top of the face-off circle and Horvat deflected it in to knot the score at 1-1. A Canucks power play took a turn for the worse after Jonathan Drouin was called for holding 3:55 into the first period. Vancouver defenceman Nate Schmidt gave the puck away deep inside his own zone, where it was picked up by Toffoli. He dished it off to Armia and the right-winger fired it past Demko for Montreal's first short-handed marker of the night. Horvat tied the game at 2-2, beating Allen with a one-timer from the point on a power play before the midway mark of the first period. Vancouver’s veteran defenceman Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic were injured Wednesday's outing and missed Thursday’s game. Hamonic was placed on injured reserve Thursday. The lack of blue line depth was apparent in the second half of the back-to-back, with the Canucks dressing Rafferty, Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield — a trio that had played a total of seven NHL games. Chatfield suffered an upper-body injury midway through the first period and did not return. The Habs and Canucks will close out their three-game series at Rogers Arena on Saturday. NOTE: All five of Toffoli's goals this season have come against Vancouver. The 28-year-old centre signed with Montreal in free agency after play 10 regular-season games with the Canucks last year. … The Canadiens fared better on the Canucks' power play than their own, scoring two short-handed markers and capitalized on just one man advantage. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — A lawyers' group filed an ethics complaint against Rudy Giuliani with New York's courts, calling for him to be investigated and his law license suspended over his work promoting former President Donald Trump's false allegations over the 2020 election. Lawyers Defending American Democracy, which includes former judges and federal attorneys among its members, sent the complaint on Wednesday to the Attorney Grievance Committee of the state's court system saying Giuliani had violated the rules of professional conduct. “Giuliani has spearheaded a nationwide public campaign to convince the public and the courts of massive voter fraud and a stolen presidential election,” the complaint said. The complaint called for the committee to investigate Giuliani's conduct, including his comments at a rally before rioters stormed into the U.S. Capitol, and to suspend his law license immediately while any investigation is being done. A message was left with the committee seeking comment. An investigation would be the first step in a process that could lead to a disbarment. Another complaint against Giuliani was filed earlier in January by New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, who asked that disbarring Giuliani be taken up for consideration. The New York State Bar Association separately has opened an inquiry into whether he should be expelled from that organization, which is a voluntary membership organization. An email seeking comment was sent to Giuliani's representative. The New York Times reported that on his radio show on Thursday, Giuliani said “the whole purpose of this is to disbar me from my exercising my right of free speech and defending my client, because they can’t fathom the fact that maybe, just maybe, they may be wrong." The Associated Press
LISBON, Portugal — With the moderate incumbent candidate widely seen as the sure winner of Sunday’s presidential election in Portugal, the most intriguing question for many Portuguese is how well a brash new populist challenger will fare in a ballot skewed by a surging COVID-19 pandemic. Mainstream populism, which has upended political assumptions elsewhere in Europe in recent years, is a novelty in Portugal. But that could change as taxpayers squeezed by the economic downturn, vexed by hefty bailouts for banks and galled by corruption look for somewhere to vent their anger. A significant political shift in Portugal could help add fresh momentum to a continental trend. Lawyer and former TV soccer pundit André Ventura leads a right-wing populist party called CHEGA! (ENOUGH!), founded in 2019. Nobody expects him to win on Sunday, as he is polling around 11% compared with more than 60% for incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Even so, Ventura, 37, could conceivably place second among the seven candidates, drawing a level of support that until recently was unthinkable and sending a shudder through Portuguese politics. A recent surge in the COVID-19 pandemic that has placed Portugal among the worst-hit countries in the world for new daily infections and deaths has added an unpredictable ingredient into the contest, even though the head of state is not directly involved in organizing the country's response. A potentially low turnout as voters, especially the elderly, possibly shy away from busy polling stations could upset expectations and allow determined populist sympathizers to capture a bigger share of the ballot. Ventura's showing “is quite something for a new party,” says Marina Costa Lobo, a senior researcher at Lisbon University’s Institute for Social Sciences. “He has gained a lot of visibility, a lot of exposure.” Like other populists, Ventura portrays himself as leading common people against an entrenched and corrupt elite. French far-right populist Marine le Pen flew in for one of his campaign events in Lisbon. Ventura has participated in rallies in Italy held by Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League party. Ventura occupies his party’s single seat in Portugal’s 230-seat parliament. But he punches above his weight by generating headlines. He is eloquent, happy to scrap in public and disdained by mainstream parties. His firebrand speeches have whipped up public support, especially on social media. He calls his supporters the “Portuguese Popular Army.” He has complained that “minorities are living at our expense” and questions recent liberalizing trends. He asked in parliament last year, “You can change sex at 16 but you can’t go to a bullfight! Doesn’t this country have things the wrong way round?” Ventura ticks the populist boxes. He wants heavier prison sentences, including currently disallowed life terms, for some crimes and chemical castration for convicted pedophiles and rapists before their release from prison. He opposes letting migrants, especially Muslims, into Europe and supports police demands for higher pay. He also wants to reduce the number of lawmakers in parliament and their salaries. Major scandals in recent years have provided grist for his cause. Corruption cases against a former prime minister and against the head of the country’s largest private bank, which went bankrupt, have fueled outrage and tainted Portugal’s two main parties, the centre-left Socialists and the centre-right Social Democrats. Taxpayers, meanwhile, shelled out more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) to help banks between 2008 and 2019. That’s a substantial sum in one of the European Union’s smaller economies. The election frontrunner, incumbent Rebelo de Sousa, is the kind of target Ventura relishes: An establishment figure with a 46-year political career, including a stint as leader of the Social Democratic Party. Over his past five years as president, the gaunt 72-year-old has displayed the patrician bearing and cordial manner expected of a head of state. Though a president in Portugal has no legislative power, which lies with the government and parliament, the role carries considerable influence. But Rebelo de Sousa’s once cozy relationship with the head of what was Portugal’s biggest private bank, including luxury vacations spent together, and his long spell at the heart of power, have left him vulnerable to attacks from Ventura and the election’s five other candidates. Even so, Rebelo de Sousa has during his term kept his approval rating above 60% and is held in affection by many in this country of 10.3 million. He cultivates an image of man of the people: Portuguese capture photos of him standing alone in line with his groceries at the supermarket, having a shave at a barber’s shop and chatting with excited children on the beach near his house in Cascais, an old fishing town 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Lisbon. His small security detail keeps a discreet distance. On Sunday, more Portuguese are likely to value those traits than Ventura’s pugnacity. Barry Hatton, The Associated Press
When Kerri Thompson was allowed to see her mother once again as an essential visitor to her assisted living residence, it was a lifeline for the family. Kerri’s mother, Joyce, was a regular visitor to the Alzheimer Society of York Region’s D.A.Y. program six days a week. Her visits to their Edward Street facility offered social interaction that was not only craved, but needed. She was busy, staying active and, in doing so, remained vital, engaged and interested. But, when COVID-19 forced the shut-down of the regular D.A.Y. programs and Joyce was largely confined to her room, Kerri saw Joyce begin a rapid decline. “My mom’s world was narrowing with COVID and now it’s literally one room,” says Kerri. “Each day, all she wants to do is do what she always loved to do, which is go for a walk. That one small pleasure and a sense of normalcy has been taken away. For her own health, she cannot leave her room and yet, for her mental health, all this is just devastating. She is losing her strength and her confidence to walk.” Kerri being deemed an essential visitor helped to a degree. Although her mother was still confined to her room, Kerri was allowed to visit after following all protocols, but four days after Joyce was out of lockdown, Kerri tested positive for COVID-19. Not being able to visit her mother as an essential visitor during that trying time was understandable and necessary, but no less difficult. While Kerri was sick with mild symptoms, Joyce, who tested negative, saw isolation set in even deeper. It goes without saying that COVID-19 is devastating, but “COVID-Alzheimer’s” is another thing altogether. “Thank God for the wisdom of the government officials and general managers at the respective retirement homes to understand that COVID is absolutely too isolating for seniors and that we had to do something different from what we did in March, April and May, which was to lock them in their rooms,” says Kerri. “For the people lucky enough to be on the first floor, they got to wave to their loved ones and all the rest, but others missed even that little glimmer of interaction. There were a lot of people trying to do the right things for the right reasons, but not looking at the total impact of keeping people alive. There’s more to it than that that we have to consider. It is a no-win situation. If just one person gets sick from this idea [of essential visitors] then the public is in an uproar.” By the time Kerri was first deemed an essential visitor, she had to re-learn the rules of the game. Not only were there new and strict screening measures, she couldn’t take her mother into common areas. Confined to their room, both Joyce and her daughter were required to mask up. They couldn’t hug, hold hands or otherwise touch. They could not eat or drink when they were together and they had to sit six feet apart. “But, the fact that we were able to be in the same room was wonderful,” says Kerri. “With my mum having Alzheimer’s, which is an isolating disease because they get lost in their own locked room in their mind, kind of being in that locked room physically too, I lost a lot of her. Her Alzheimer’s came on harder and faster, not to the fault of anybody, but just to the reality of a pandemic. She’s less interactive. She wouldn’t get as excited. It was just so long that she had done anything but stare at those four walls that there wasn’t that same amount of energy, desire and remembrance of some of the fun things she had done more recently while having Alzheimer’s. She even lost that.” Joyce was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease 18 months ago, but Kerri says the reality of the situation was her fight has been “twice as long as that.” It was a difficult but necessary decision to put her in an assisted living facility so she could get the help, care and safety that she needed. “I knew she was fraying around the edges, specifically because she had lost her sense of time,” Kerri shares. In a pandemic, that has been a mixed blessing. While Kerri says Joyce doesn’t have a concept of how long this pandemic has been going on, there is a huge negative in that every day there could be a disappointment in waking up and not fully understanding why you can’t leave your room or receive visitors. “At the first stages of this pandemic, I couldn’t even visit her. I was the person standing outside her window every single day, usually with my then-15-year-old son just waving to her. We weren’t even allowed to have the window open to try and communicate with her out of logical fear of the virus. Some days you would see her in tears and some days you saw a smile on her face, but you didn’t know what you were going to get. Every day I was distracted – never with her safety, because the retirement home does a great job – but it was more her happiness. “Sitting alone in her room has taken away the joy. She knows enough about what she is missing to say, ‘Kerri, sometimes I just want to scream.’ I get you, mom. Go ahead and I will scream with you. Please, we need the vaccine faster so mom can go to the Alzheimer Society of York Region D.A.Y. program and fight to keep what abilities she has.” Kerri’s quarantine ended on January 8 – 14 days are an “eternity” when it comes to Alzheimer’s, she says – and she can’t wait to be with her mother once again, but this difficult journey has only underscored that the isolation that is a by-product of COVID can have unintended consequences. “I have nothing but applause to give to the caregivers and management of the facility that my mom is at,” says Kerri. “To be honest, there isn’t a single thing that I truly think they could do differently, except one little thing that would make me and my mother happy is if I could bring her in the car and just drive her around. “We’re trying to be smart but at the end of the day the most important thing is their happiness in the last years of their life. Let them have meals together as opposed to going into these outbreak situations where everyone has to stay in their room and there are no activities. I am hoping once the vaccination moves through retirement homes, essential workers, that they can look ahead and say, ‘We have the vaccine. What did this allow us to do different from where we were a month or six months ago because to die of loneliness – that, to me, is the cruellest thing of all, when there are all these people around who are loving and caring and just can’t get access. That goes for the people who work in the retirement home: they are loving and caring and they are not allowed right now to do the activities, to give hugs, to hold people’s hands. They would if they could, but they dare not to.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hit back at the search giant saying "we don't respond to threats" after Google said it would remove its services from the country.View on euronews
Although it might be at least another week before Aurora’s Community Energy Plan receives its final ratification from Council, local youth have given the goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions and find efficiencies an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Council, meeting at the Committee level, gave its tentative approval to the Town’s draft Community Energy Plan, one which identifies sources of emissions and proposes solutions, all with a goal of cutting emissions down by 80 per cent from 2018 levels by 2050. Before the official debates could even get under way, however, three elementary students stepped up to have their voices heard on the issue. And their message was clear: it’s time to get moving to improve the environment. “I have always loved the environment and the older I get the more I see what climate change is doing to our planet,” said Alexandra L. “I love our community and I would love to help as much as I can. Because I realize what is happening to our earth, I would like to change the environmental impact we’re having on our plants and animals. “This is a huge step in the right direction and hopefully in the future we will be able to see the change it has made. I am well aware of what is happening to our earth and humans are the cause. We are also noticing how it is already impacting ecosystems, some more than others, and communities play a huge role in these impacts. Luckily, just as we are the problem, we can also be part of the solution.” By taking these steps towards sustainability, we will be on the road towards healthier lives, she said. “By activating this plan, it can also create job opportunities for citizens as we need people to create these electric car stations and solar panels,” she said. “It can be extremely beneficial financially for you and the community as well. I don’t see how there could be any downsides to this plan and I really hope it becomes a reality as it will impact the environment in the most positive way possible. I can finish growing up in this community in the years to come by watching how this plan evolves to create a better world.” Students Valerie S. and Sumaya C. offered similar viewpoints, presenting together, albeit separately, during last week’s Committee meeting held over Zoom. “The next years are the last we can really make a difference,” said Valerie. “The plan will help the community of Aurora to develop an eco-friendly environment which can really help us in the future. We think the ideas in this plan…are beneficial and can be put to great use by our Town.” Added Sumaya: “We think that becoming more sustainable is immensely important. Becoming more sustainable and eco-friendly would be more cost-effective and could help save money in our community. We could use that money for more eco-friendly and sustainable changes throughout the Town or [for] new programs in the future.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
WASHINGTON — Testing wristbands are in. Mask-wearing is mandatory. Desks are socially distanced. The clearest sign that there's a new boss at the White House is the deference being paid to coronavirus public health guidlines. It’s a striking contrast to Donald Trump’s White House, which was the epicenter of no less than three separate outbreaks of COVID-19, their true scale not fully known because aides refused to discuss cases publicly. While the Trump administration was known for flouting safety recommendations, the Biden team has made a point of abiding by the same strict guidelines they’re urging Americans to follow to stem the spread of the virus. It’s part of an overall effort from President Joe Biden to lead by example on the coronavirus pandemic, an ethos carried over from his campaign and transition. “One of the great tragedies of the Trump administration was a refusal to recognize that many Americans model the behaviour of our leadership," said Ben LaBolt, a former press secretary to President Barack Obama who worked on the Biden transition. “The Biden administration understands the powerful message that adhering to their own guidelines and modeling the best public health behaviour sends, and knows that that’s the best path to climbing out of this until we can get a shot in the arm of every American.” To that end, most of Biden’s White House staff is working from home, co-ordinating with colleagues by email or phone. While the White House aims to have more people working onsite next week, officials intend to operate with substantially reduced staffing for the duration of the pandemic. When hundreds of administration staffers were sworn in by Biden on Wednesday, the ceremony was virtual, with the president looking out at team members displayed in boxes on video screens. The emphasis on adhering to public safety guidelines touches matters both big and small in the White House. Jeffrey Wexler is the White House director of COVID-19 operations, overseeing the implementation of safety guidelines throughout the administration, a role he also served during the transition and campaign. During her first press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested those working in the office would receive daily testing and N95 masks would be mandatory. Indeed, Biden's new federal mask mandate executive order requires that federal employees, contractors and others in federal buildings and on federal lands wear masks and adhere to social distancing requirements. The executive order allows for agency heads to make “case-by-case exceptions" — like, for instance, Psaki's. She wears one until she steps up to the podium for briefings. Officials in close contact with Biden wear wristbands to signify they have been tested that day. Every event with the president is carefully choreographed to maintain distancing, with strips of paper taped to the carpet to show the likes of Vice-President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci where to stand when Biden is delivering an address. When Biden met with his COVID team in the State Dining Room on Thursday, the five people in the room sat at individual tables placed at least six feet apart and four others joined by Zoom to keep numbers down. Plexiglass barriers have been set up at some desks that are in open areas, but nearly all staff who are already working in the building have enclosed offices. The Biden team already had a robust contact tracing program set up during the transition, which it's keeping around for any possible exposures. Staffers also were issued laptops with wallpaper displays that offer a list of COVID symptoms and a directive to “call the White House medical unit” if they have experienced any of them. The Trump White House was another story altogether. After one virus scare in May, the White House mandated mask-wearing, with a memo from chief of staff Mark Meadows requiring their use in shared workspaces and meetings. Simple surgical masks were placed at the entrance to the West Wing. But after only a few days of moderate compliance, mask-wearing fell away almost entirely, as Trump made it clear to aides he did not like the visual of people around him wearing masks — let alone wearing one himself. Trump’s White House reduced staffing capacity during the earliest days of the pandemic, but by late spring, when Trump was intent on projecting that the country was “reopening” from pandemic lockdowns — and the U.S. was at roughly 80,000 deaths — aides quickly resumed normal operations. That provided ideal conditions for the spread of an airborne virus. It was only after Trump himself tested positive that some aides began staggering their work schedules to provide enhanced distancing and contingencies in case someone tested positive. Those working for the new administration welcome the stricter guidelines now, but they do pose some potential complications as the Biden team builds out its operation. Karen Finney, who was a spokeswoman in the Clinton White House, said the first challenge may simply be creating a cohesiveness and camaraderie when some new staffers are brought on board without ever having worked in the same room. “When you sit in the same office as everyone, it’s just a different dynamic," she said. “There's a sense of, ‘We’ve got each other's backs, we're going to be working together on this.'” Finney added that most of the staff are used to working remotely at this point, so it's not necessarily a new challenge. But she allowed that the national COVID response itself could be somewhat hamstrung by the COVID requirements at the White House. “Having to co-ordinate between limited staff in the office, those working remotely, along with governors, mayors, their staff, those on the Hill — it’s a challenge,” she said. “They’ve had the time to think through how to do some of this, but look, it’s going to be a work in progress." Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Thursday's Games NHL Montreal 7 Vancouver 3 Winnipeg 4 Ottawa 1 N.Y. Islanders 4 New Jersey 1 Tampa Bay 3 Columbus 2 (OT) Boston 5 Philadelphia 4 (SO) Los Angeles 4 Colorado 2 Florida at Carolina -- postponed --- NBA L.A. Lakers 113 Milwaukee 106 New York 119 Golden State 104 Utah 129 New Orleans 118 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
The “Shop Local” movement is in full swing as we endure a second lockdown, but there’s another movement one resident says we should take to heart as well: grow local – at least when it comes to eggs. That was the message delivered to Council last week by local resident Darryl Moore. Mr. Moore, a long-time proponent of a being able to keep backyard hens in Aurora, said going down this road and adopting the necessary bylaws to make it happen could pave the way not only for home-raised food in the form of eggs, but also pets, companionship, and even educational opportunities. “These are small things, but they’re important,” said Mr. Moore. “I know I have autistic children and animals are a very good thing for them, and chickens work very well that way. As well, people are learning where their food comes from.” This is not the first time Council has considered a backyard hen program, but previous efforts have fallen on the issues of odour, noise, and potentially attracting predators into neighbourhoods. Mr. Moore tackled these issues point by point, contending that backyard hens have no greater impact than dogs, cats or other conventional pets when it comes to odour and any scents are easily mitigated. As for noise, roosters would be the main culprits and would fall outside of any backyard hen program. But the issue of predators, however, was less clear cut. “It depends on where you live,” said Mr. Moore. “Where I live on Victoria Street, wolves and coyotes are not a big issue. Next to a ravine, they might be. It is easy enough to fortify the coops so it is not a big issue and you fortify them as much as you need depending on the types of predators you can expect. Chickens are on the bottom of the food chain, so animals are going to want to eat them, but it is easy enough to take care of.” The impact of backyard hens on property values, he admitted, was harder to evaluate but research and conversations with realtors, he contended, indicate it is minimal. “The main issue is people’s perceptions,” he said. “Property value is a perception. It isn’t really there because there isn’t an issue – people often don’t notice the chickens. Everyone has the right to enjoy their property to the best they can and that is probably the thing that comes up: they don’t want the nuisance of a chicken next door. There’s a lot of interest in this Town for backyard hens and I am really hoping that given the experience other municipalities have had, including ones right next door, that we can move quickly and implement based on knowledge and come up with some pilot project to get started and then move from there.” If Aurora adopted a backyard hen program, they wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel. Similar programs have been piloted in the City of Toronto while the Town of Newmarket has incorporated provisions into their bylaws whereby all one has to do is apply for a permit with the Town, with some restrictions tied to yard size. Mr. Moore’s pitch received a mixed reception from Council. One lawmaker to signal their tentative support was Councillor Rachel Gilliland, who questioned the best method of getting a pilot project up and running. While the earliest a motion to do can be brought forward is February, she said there is much to consider. “It seems there is an appetite and other municipalities have taken that step,” she said. “Maybe there is some room to foster this idea and something we can implement here.” Less enthusiastic, however, was Councillor Harold Kim, who said he would not be able to support the idea “at this time.” “It is not because I don’t necessarily agree with your project, because it is certainly a noteworthy one…but this reminds me of when a couple of members of Council, including the then-mayor introduced the transparent garbage bags [initiative]. It was a very worthy project to move forward with, but do we have acceptance from the general community and the public? They have also inherited an intrinsic right to enjoy their property. Even though everything you say might be scientifically correct, it is about convincing everyone around you and that is a big problem and the challenge for me. I think it is just a matter of time. “It is about convincing our fellow neighbours and our community members to adopt it. It is not necessarily an overcoming [of] the fears of coyotes or salmonella…even though we have all the facts on the presentation. It is about convincing the general public. For those reasons, it is going to be challenging for me to sponsor it.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Today's announcement that B.C. will not impose an interprovincial travel ban went over just fine with one northern mayor. “It really doesn’t matter where folks come from,” Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson said. “What matters is their behaviour once they are in Valemount.” So far, local residents and non-essential visitors are adhering to provincial health protocols, said Torgerson, whose village is about a 1.5-hour drive from Jasper, AB. Besides being a popular outdoor adventure tourist destination year round, the village of Valemount and surrounding communities in the Robson Valley are currently hosting up to 100 Trans Mountain workers, he said. “Much of current interprovincial travel is work-related and therefore cannot be restricted,” Premier John Horgan said, nixing a potential travel ban via press release this afternoon. “Public health officials tell us what is most important is for everyone to obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules,” Horgan said. “Therefore, we will not be imposing travel restrictions at this time.” Last week, Horgan said the provincial government would investigate the legal options of restricting travel after he heard from citizens concerned out-of-province visitors were spreading COVID-19 in B.C. British Columbians were frustrated at seeing other people travel out of the province and country over the holidays, while they stayed home, Horgan said on Jan. 14. “Canadians and British Columbians are making sacrifices and one of those sacrifices is staying close to home, not traveling to see loved ones, not going to tend to what would have been traditions or pressing matters,” Horgan said. “On the surface, it would seem an easy thing to do, just tell people not to come here,” he said, responding to media questions about imposing a ban. “That's not part and parcel of who we are as Canadians.” Getting a legal opinion would resolve the matter once and for all, Horgan said at the time. “People have been talking about (a travel ban) for months and months, and I think it's time we put it to bed finally,” he said. “Either we can do it, and this is how we would do it. Or we can't, and this is the reason why.” Today, the Premier said a ban was unworkable. The province can’t restrict interprovincial visitors unless they’re harming the health and safety of British Columbians during non-essential travel, he said. Instead, Horgan asked the other Premiers to send a united message to their citizens that now is not the time for non-essential travel. "We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available," he said. "And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely." Meanwhile, the issue may be revisited if there is an uptick in virus transmission linked to people involved in non-essential travel, Horgan said. Torgerson is comfortable with that. “So long as actual mandates are followed,” Torgerson said. “Layers of protection are what will get Valemount through this pandemic, and we expect this of all folks.” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
Council is poised to give the green light to a new Community Energy Plan this month, one which sets environmental and sustainability goals through 2025. Lawmakers gave the tentative green light to the Community Energy Plan (CEP) while meeting at the Committee level last week and the Plan could receive final ratification on January 26. First proposed to Council by John Abel, who served as Councillor from 2010 – 2018, the resulting CEP provides recommendations on how the community as a whole can improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while also fostering “a culture of conservation for Aurora.” “Community energy planning helps address Aurora’s role in the global climate crisis and is aligned with the Town’s 2019 Climate Energy Declaration,” said Natalie Kehle, Energy and Climate Change Analyst for the Town. “By declaring a climate emergency, the Town deepened its commitment to reducing emissions and protecting the community from the impacts of climate change, in keeping with the Paris Accord. “Aurora’s Official Plan directs the Town to develop policies and programs designed to reduce per-capita greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2031 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. The Official Plan also requires the development of Town-wide Community Energy Plan to detail energy use requirements, establish a plan to reduce energy demand, consider the use of alternative and renewable energy generation options, and ensure that communities are designed to optimize passive solar gains.” If adopted, the CEP will provide “a pathway towards the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2018 levels by 2050.” Strategies within the plan includes the design and implementation of a tiered building code or “green standard.” The plan finds that homes are responsible for 45 per cent of all energy use in Town and 37 per cent of total emissions. In the plan, developers of new homes would be “encouraged to meet higher levels of energy efficiency when building new homes.” There would also be, if adopted, a voluntary “deep energy” retrofit program for existing homes, looking at ways to increase energy efficiency through a whole-house lens. Businesses, which the study finds are responsible for 16 per cent of all energy used in the community and 14 per cent of emissions, would be subject to similar proposals. Transportation and transit also figure into the CEP. Findings in the report indicate that transportation was found to be responsible for 26 per cent of total energy used in the Town and 37 per cent of total emissions. A personal vehicle, the report notes, is responsible for 99 per cent of all transportation energy and emissions. “The first strategy aims to reduce the impacts of travel through ‘mode shift,’” said consultants leading the CEP. “This means encouraging other methods of travel such as cycling, walking or taking transit instead of driving. The second strategy aims to support the adoption of electrical vehicles by developing a plan to increase EV charging infrastructure.” This infrastructure would be contingent on support from upper levels of government, as is the overall goal of the CEP. “A significant effort will be required to meet these reductions by the Town, agencies, homeowners and businesses. While the CEP strategies are significant, there remains a gap in achieving 80 per cent emissions reduction by 2050. An additional effort by federal and provincial governments, as well as advances in technologies will be needed. The plan intentionally sets a 30-year planning gap horizon, and the Town will continue to evaluate progress over time and identify ways to close the gap. The CEP will guide the Town of Aurora and the wider community to reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions. A strong focus on implementation, governance and modelling is essential to the Plan’s success.” At its first sweep of the plan, Council signalled its overall support. While both Councillors Harold Kim and Wendy Gaertner expressed reservations on the emphasis on EVs, citing the large amount of resources needed to produce the lithium required to power them, they said a CEP was the right way forward. “I think the community energy plan is necessary and anything that is important, especially like the environment, has to be a grassroots movement that has to start from the ground up from an action perspective,” said Councillor Kim. “…Getting individuals activated, municipalities have a big role in the education, marketing and communication.” Added Councillor Gaertner: “I am fully in support of the vision, the goals and the targets of the CEP. The bottom line is that we are at war with nature, or maybe nature is at war with us, and we just can’t keep going on the way we were. An energy plan is a no-brainer.” Councillor Rachel Gilliland, who made the original motion for Aurora to declare a Climate Emergency said the report before Council, and the draft CEP, was “the very first step” in moving forward. “I have seen some really great results from this report, everything from identifying the energies, where efficiencies are, compact housing, carbon sequestering, all these really major points,” she said. “We need to identify how we’re going to actually be reducing energy and we have to start somewhere. We have to do it by educating ourselves, educating the public and getting that buy in.” Additional concerns were noted by Councillor Michael Thompson, who questioned the financial implications of the plan. While he didn’t disagree with the findings, funding was a missing piece of the puzzle, he said, particularly rebate and retrofit programs for homes and businesses. “I think it is important to just clearly communicate there is a cost to this program,” he said. Added Mayor Tom Mrakas: “We are taking a leadership role here in the Town of Aurora but at the same time we don’t want to give people a false impression that we can achieve all of these things without the other two levels of government helping us out. It will take all of us working together on this. “We have a lot of great ideas, we have a great plan, and we’re putting it out there… and doing all this work to find efficiencies to create a better environment for our community, but we have always said the environment doesn’t just end at our borders. This is right across our community, the next community, the province, the country, the whole world. We all need to work together on this.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
CAMEROON, Cameroon — The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force on Friday, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global climate. When the treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — supported it and neither did the 30-nation NATO alliance. Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945 strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the treaty, called it “a really big day for international law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The treaty received its 50th ratification on Oct. 24, triggering a 90-day period before its entry into force on Jan. 22. As of Thursday, Fihn told The Associated Press that 61 countries had ratified the treaty, with another ratification possible on Friday, and “from Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law” in all those countries. The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries. Fihn said the treaty is “really, really significant” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward civilians and soldiers during war and the conventions banning chemical and biological weapons and land mines. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty demonstrated support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament. “Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause,” he said in a video message. “The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.” But not for the nuclear powers. As the treaty was approaching the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, the Trump administration wrote a letter to countries that signed it saying they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The letter said the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament" and would endanger the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nonproliferation efforts. Fihn countered at the time that a ban could not undermine nonproliferation since it was "the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the treaty’s arrival was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and “hopefully will compel renewed action by nuclear-weapon states to fulfil their commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.” Fihn said in an interview that the campaign sees strong public support for the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and Spain. “We will not stop until we get everyone on board,” she said. It will also be campaigning for divestment — pressuring financial institutions to stop giving capital to between 30 and 40 companies involved in nuclear weapons and missile production including Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
New York City’s main bus terminal, long ridiculed for leaky ceilings, dirty bathrooms and frequent delays, could be in for a major overhaul. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a plan Thursday to rebuild and expand the embattled midtown Manhattan bus terminal. “Everyone knows the bus terminal. Very few have anything good to say about it,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “It is way past time that this building be replaced.” The new station would be build on top of the existing one, with sleek, glass-walled entrances and added infrastructure to accommodate more buses. Ramps that stretch across several blocks would be moved, and a storage building would be built to keep empty buses off the streets. Construction could begin in 2024, finish by 2031 and cost as much as $10 billion, the Port Authority said. About $3 billion would come from sell rights to build four commercial buildings in the area, including one atop the terminal. The Port Authority Bus Terminal opened in 1950 at Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets near Times Square. A statue of Ralph Kramden, the fictional bus driver from “The Honeymooners," stands outside its main entrance. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the terminal handled more than 250,000 passenger trips on weekdays, many commuting from New Jersey. Officials have debated replacing or overhauling the bus terminal for years. A prior plan to build the new terminal a block west of the current location led to a bitter dispute between the New York and New Jersey arms of the dual state agency. The Associated Press
The leader of the NL Alliance has officially ended his campaign after suffering a medical situation over the weekend that required emergency surgery. Graydon Pelley was to be on the ballot in Humber-Gros Morne, up against Liberal Leader Andrew Furey, Progressive Conservative Jim Goudie and New Democrat Sheina Lerman. In a release in the early morning hours on Friday, Pelley announced he would have to suspend his campaign permanently. "This was an extremely difficult decision, and one I put a great deal of thought into over the past days," Pelley said in the release. "I've discussed the possibility of continuing the campaign with my doctors and family at length, and at this time we all feel that focusing on my health and recovery is most important." The party had been hopeful that Pelley would recover in time to continue his campaign, but according to Friday's release, he will require "extensive recovery time," following the emergency medical situation on Jan. 16, which led to emergency surgery the next day. Pelley will stay on as leader of the NL Alliance. The party will not be reopening nominations in the district, citing time restraints around nomination deadlines. Anyone who wants to put their name on the ballot for the Feb. 13 election must file the necessary paperwork with Newfoundland and Labrador Elections by 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Les chouettes effraies, très visibles pour les proies les nuits de pleine lune, ont réussi à faire de l’astre un allié.