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Trudeau calls University of Ottawa professor’s remarks ‘Quebec bashing’

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Mar 23rd, 2021

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s had enough of “Quebec bashing” following controversial remarks from a University of Ottawa professor.

At a press conference Monday, he and Quebec Premier François Legault said they were disappointed the institution’s president opted not to condemn online comments from law professor Amir Attaran, who claims the province is led by “a white supremacist government” and too tolerant of racism.

The two leaders weighed in after the University of Ottawa opted not to apologize to the Parti Québécois for Attaran’s posts.

Jacques Frémont, the university’s president, said in a letter to PQ leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon on Sunday that the institution does not share Attaran’s opinions, but that they were were posted on his personal social media account and thus not subject to sanction, as course lectures might be.

The PQ leader had asked for an apology following recent remarks from Attaran, who on Twitter has called Quebec’s culture racist, dubbed it the Alabama of the north and accused Quebec nurses of “medical lynching” in regard to Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Indigenous woman who died in a Quebec hospital in 2020.

In the House of Commons on Monday, Bloc Québécois MP Alain Therrien said the posts — and the university’s response — demonstrate Quebecers are a minority that remains subject to “hate speech without any consequences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

RCMP breached policy on collection of online information: audit

JIM BRONSKILL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Mar 23rd, 2021

An internal review says the RCMP routinely flouted its own policies when gathering information from the internet, potentially endangering investigations and prosecutions.

The newly released audit report says many members across the RCMP use “open source information” in the course of investigations, intelligence gathering, research and engaging with the public.

The national police force’s efforts in the open-source realm range from passive online reading to creation of fake social media accounts.

A section of the Mountie operational manual provides a framework for the collection and use of open source material.

However, the audit found that many employees were unaware that an open-source policy existed or that it applied to their activities.

Overall, the reviewers concluded that internet-related open-source activities conducted across the RCMP “were not consistent nor compliant with” the operational policy.

In a response included in the report, RCMP management agreed with recommendations to improve compliance with policy, training and oversight concerning open-source information.

“We recognize that proper training, support, and in particular the organization’s approach to governance around this function is critical.”

In December, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki acknowledged the inadequacy of the force’s data-handling practices in her response to a watchdog report on Mountie surveillance of opponents of the now-defunct Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force should provide clear policy guidance on collection of personal information from open sources such as social media sites, the uses that can be made of it and what steps should be taken to ensure its reliability.

The commission also said the RCMP should treat such information from social media sources as a separate category of records — data that should be kept no longer than strictly necessary.

In the latest report, the auditors found that roles and responsibilities related to the police force’s open-source information policy were not well understood by employees.

“Without clearly established and communicated roles and responsibilities, there is a risk that OSI will be inappropriately obtained and used in support of criminal investigations and criminal intelligence gathering, which can expose the Force to liability and potentially impact prosecutions,” the report says.

The auditors found most of the RCMP’s open source research was done passively, involving no interaction with subjects of interest.

But they noticed some exceptions that were contrary to policy, “such as joining closed Facebook groups in a proactive monitoring effort to obtain information on upcoming events such as a protest or demonstration from online discussions, and using personal social media accounts to overtly try to contact a missing person.”

The RCMP devised a standard form for the creation, modification and removal of discreet online identities, such as fake social media accounts.

A key purpose of the form is to allow RCMP to determine if a subject of interest is actually another police officer. It is also intended to help flag cases where an online identity or account has been compromised and should no longer be used.

However, an audit sample of 110 employees determined that only six per cent had properly completed the form with the required approvals.

Employees from various RCMP divisions also told the auditors no consistent process was in place to remove a discreet online identity when an employee leaves a unit.

In addition, the RCMP policy did not include specific information on how to capture, store and retain open source information gathered by the police force.

Canada’s vaccine rollout is slow, and very confusing. Here are some answers.

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Mar 23rd, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, so, now the AstraZeneca vaccine is OK for people over age 65? What about the blood clot risk?! Why are some pharmacies taking walk-ins for people in their 60s right now, but some government portals are only booking for people 75 and up? Why is it suddenly alright to go four months between doses? Why are we leaving so many vaccines in the freezer? Is there enough supply or not? Why do Quebec, Ontario and Alberta have such wildly different priorities when it comes to who gets it?

The first few months of Canada’s vaccination rollout have been slow, and extremely confusing. When supply was limited, perhaps that wasn’t such a huge deal. But with two million doses at least expected every week for the next month, now is when push comes to shove. Is this just about to really get going? Or have our governments dropped the ball?

GUEST: Sabina Vohra-Miller, clinical pharmacologist, co-founder of the Vohra Miller Foundation

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Several provinces begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to more groups

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 22nd, 2021

Several provinces are redoubling COVID-19 vaccination efforts today, offering shots to broader swaths of the population.

Ontario has lowered the age threshold for those who can book vaccines through the government’s online system starting today, from 80 down to 75.

Also starting today, certain pharmacies and family physicians in some regions will be allowed to administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to anyone 60 or older.

Previously, that vaccine was only offered to those between the ages of 60 and 64, but that has expanded now that the product has been approved for use in older adults.

Meanwhile, Quebec is expected to start vaccinating people 65 and up in Montreal-area pharmacies today, a week after the provincial booking system opened for reservations.

And to the east, New Brunswick is stepping up a program to vaccinate high school staff, saying it expects 4,500 such workers will receive a first dose.

As of last night, government figures show 3.95 million doses of vaccine had been administered across Canada, and nearly 630,000 people had been fully vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

A look at COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada on Mar. 22, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 22nd, 2021

The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday March 22, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 91,952 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,954,285 doses given. Nationwide, 629,956 people or 1.7 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 10,433.669 per 100,000.

There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 4,773,170 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 82.84 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

<i>Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis.</i>

<b>Newfoundland</b> is reporting 12,432 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 46,053 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 87.949 per 1,000. In the province, 1.80 per cent (9,411) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 66,470 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 13 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.28 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>P.E.I.</b> is reporting 1,131 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 16,779 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 105.775 per 1,000. In the province, 3.54 per cent (5,614) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 21,925 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 14 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.53 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Nova Scotia</b> is reporting 11,145 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 58,036 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 59.469 per 1,000. In the province, 2.05 per cent (20,050) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 119,110 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 12 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>New Brunswick</b> is reporting 22,623 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 61,106 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 78.337 per 1,000. In the province, 1.57 per cent (12,219) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 93,455 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 12 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.39 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Quebec</b> is reporting 29,140 new vaccinations administered for a total of 944,793 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 110.416 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 1,050,355 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 12 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 89.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Ontario</b> is reporting 40,823 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,521,705 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 103.594 per 1,000. In the province, 2.03 per cent (298,549) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 1,780,135 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 12 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Manitoba</b> is reporting 5,088 new vaccinations administered for a total of 133,687 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 97.085 per 1,000. In the province, 3.13 per cent (43,168) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 193,760 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 14 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Saskatchewan</b> is reporting 6,351 new vaccinations administered for a total of 139,827 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 118.582 per 1,000. In the province, 2.64 per cent (31,170) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 150,755 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 13 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.75 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Alberta</b> is reporting 7,166 new vaccinations administered for a total of 459,856 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 104.464 per 1,000. In the province, 2.12 per cent (93,236) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 528,845 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 12 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>British Columbia</b> is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 490,022 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 95.492 per 1,000. In the province, 1.70 per cent (87,139) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 630,860 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 12 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Yukon</b> is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 32,350 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 775.203 per 1,000. In the territory, 25.40 per cent (10,598) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 51,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 120 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 62.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>The Northwest Territories</b> are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 32,074 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 710.876 per 1,000. In the territory, 27.46 per cent (12,389) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 48,600 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 66 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<b>Nunavut</b> is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,997 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 464.727 per 1,000. In the territory, 16.56 per cent (6,413) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 37,500 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 97 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 47.99 per cent of its available vaccine supply.

<sup>*</sup>Notes on data: <i>The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial.</i>

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Covid and grief: What happens when we can’t say goodbye?

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Mar 22nd, 2021

n today’s Big Story podcast, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have lost loved ones to this pandemic. And most of them lost them without being able to say goodbye or to properly mourn them. Grief over a death is challenging at any time, but how are we coping without the two parts of the process that can offer us comfort.

A last hug or hand squeeze, a wake and a communal gathering have been part of our grief as long as we’ve been human. For the past year we’ve done without them. How will that impact us when all this is over?

GUEST: Dr. Mary Fernando

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

No link between colonialism and vaccine hesitancy among Indigenous people: expert

MAAN ALHMIDI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Mar 19th, 2021

There is no evidence that Canada’s history of colonialism has made Indigenous people any more hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 than the general population, says an Indigenous studies professor casting a critical eye on the oft-repeated theory.

The federal government is among those who have suggested colonialism and systemic racism have fostered mistrust in vaccines. But Veldon Coburn, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies, says available data on vaccine hesitancy suggest that is not the case.

“The historic events that were bad and unethical … didn’t have the same or the effect that’s being claimed and maybe it’s just naive good intentions but it doesn’t stand up,” Coburn said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Coburn says there’s no evidence of a causal link between vaccine hesitancy and the historical and intergenerational trauma Indigenous people feel live with because of residential schools and other colonialist practices.

Nutrition experiments that were performed on Indigenous children at several Ontario residential schools in the mid-1940s are unlikely to have any effect on Indigenous people who are alive now, said Coburn. He is a member of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, located about 150 kilometres west of Ottawa.

“I’m Indigenous,” he said. “My grandparents went to Indian residential school. None of this was sort of transmitted.”

Coburn noted newborns in Indigenous communities get vaccinated routinely.

“We get needles all the time,” he said. “It is not a traumatic experience.”

But while acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is surprisingly high in some Indigenous communities, Dr. Evan Adams, deputy chief medical officer at Indigenous Services Canada, said there is some hesitation in other places.

“We’re hearing a number of issues. Some as mundane as ‘I felt a little tired after the first vaccine’ … to experimentations happening on them or there are some really unsavoury products within the vaccine,” he told a virtual news conference Wednesday.

Rebecca Kudloo, president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, said some Inuit might be hesitant because of their historic mistreatment by the government.

“Even in the present day, systemic racism that Inuit experience in the health-care system — that might be the reason,” she said.

Indigenous Services Canada said the long-standing history of colonization and systemic racism in Canada has created a mistrust in the health-care system among Indigenous communities, including a mistrust of vaccines.

“We are working with all partners to increase cultural safety and respect for Indigenous Peoples when planning for the COVID-19 vaccine and addressing hesitancy around the vaccine,” said Adrienne Vaupshas, spokesperson for Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.

Vaupshas said the department has developed culturally appropriate messaging to raise awareness of the vaccine and promote uptake, including the translation of documents to Indigenous languages, social media posts and broadcast scripts.

Yet the available data suggest that vaccine hesitancy is not more pronounced in Indigenous communities than non-Indigenous communities.

In 2010, Health Canada surveyed First Nations on reserve and Inuit after the H1N1 pandemic and found that about 97 per cent of reserve residents and nearly 94 per cent of Inuit said childhood vaccinations were important.

“If there were any effects from residential schools, it would’ve showed up in 2010 during the same conditions. There was none,” said Coburn, who also recently shared his views in an article published by The Conversation and distributed by The Canadian Press.

Coburn said there isn’t much of a difference in vaccination acceptance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people when it comes to getting flu shots.

The 2017-18 Canadian Community Health Survey showed that 55 per cent of Indigenous people had a seasonal flu vaccine compared to 59 per cent of non-Indigenous people, he said.

He said the World Health Organization, through its strategic advisory group of experts on immunization, vaccine hesitancy and acceptance after H1N1, has noted that vaccination is a very complex decision that people make individually and not at the population level.

Coburn said there’s a “cultural zeitgeist” at the moment that’s made many people think Indigenous people are “very delicate” and need others to care for them.

“It’s sort of a self-flagellation from certain segments of the population: … We’ve got to be very gentle with (Indigenous Peoples) because very bad things happen to them in the past and it’s going to hinder our pandemic response,” he said.

“They sort of invented an injury that didn’t exist, and they want to be the crutch.”

An online survey by Angus Reid in British Columbia earlier this month suggested Indigenous people are more willing to get the vaccine than the general population.

Sixty-eight per cent of respondents who self-identified as Indigenous said they would get the COVID-19 vaccine when available and 16 per cent said they would wait awhile at first but would eventually get the shot.

That was slightly higher than the survey results among the general population, in which 66 per cent of the respondents said they will get a COVID-19 vaccine when available and 17 per cent said they would eventually get it.

More than 166,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in 538 First Nations, northern and Inuit communities as of March 12, according to Indigenous Services Canada.

“This represents 54 doses administered per 100 adults in First Nations and Inuit communities in provinces, and adult residents in the territories,” Vaupshas said.

Coburn said the majority of Indigenous people want to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“My friends and family, even on my reserve, they can’t wait to get that needle, and they’re like, ‘Bring it right now, I’ll inject myself,’” he said.

———

With files from The Canadian Press’ Emma Tranter

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

How Homer Simpson became an aspirational figure

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Mar 19th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, the Simpson family’s circumstances have barely changed at all over 30 years—but the world around them has dramatically shifted. When the show debuted, Homer and his family were holding onto the bottom rung of the lower class and were portrayed that way through all sorts of financial crises.

But by today’s standards, Homer—who has a steady job that pays enough for Marge not to work, belongs to a union, owns his own multi-bedroom home and can afford annual vacations—would be among the most economically stable millennials. The way income inequality has shifted the window of dreams for a young family can be clearly seen in TV’s longest-running sitcom. But how did it happen?

GUEST: Dani Alexis Ryskamp, freelance journalist, The Atlantic

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Montreal police investigate after two bodies found inside cab in city’s east end

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Mar 19th, 2021

Montreal police are investigating after two bodies were found by a citizen inside a taxi today in the city’s east end.

Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant says a passerby made the discovery at about 5:25 a.m. and called police.

Police say the bodies had apparent stab wounds, but Brabant adds it’s too early to confirm the circumstances around the event and whether investigators are dealing with a double homicide or a murder-suicide.

Officers have set up a perimeter, and investigators and crime scene technicians are on their way to the scene in the St-Leonard district.

Police have yet to formally identify the two people found in the parked vehicle — a man in his 40s who was in the driver seat and a woman in her 40s in the passenger seat.

Uniformed officers are expected to go door-to-door to meet with residents and check for any video evidence.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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