'Wuhan pneumonia’: Ontario MPPs urge Chinese-Canadian doctor to remove ‘divisive’ sign

Two Toronto-based politicians are pressing a Chinese-Canadian doctor to remove a sign on his office door – in Chinese – that refers to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan pneumonia,” complaining the wording could incite anti-Asian hatred.

The English part of the sign, which explained Dr. Kester Kong’s office protocol during the pandemic, referred only to COVID.

The incident raises thorny questions about when citing the coronavirus’s origins constitutes a form of racism, and whether it makes any difference if the audience is Asian itself.

Vincent Ke, a Progressive Conservative member of the provincial legislature with a

history of ties

to the Chinese government, said Kong may have made an innocent mistake, but it doesn’t matter that the mention of Wuhan was in Chinese.

“No matter the language spoken or written, the term ‘Wuhan pneumonia’ to describe the COVID-19 virus is not just incorrect, it is inflammatory,” a spokesman for the politician said by email. “In fact, many Chinese Canadians feel extremely offended and vulnerable by the term used by Dr. Kong … MPP Ke has confidence that if Dr. Kong learned how divisive and hurtful the term ‘Wuhan pneumonia’ is to the people in our communities, he would remove the sign.”

Ke had earlier posted about the issue in an anti-racism forum on the China-based WeChat social media site, saying that if the physician did not change the notice, he and fellow Tory MPP Aris Babikian would hold a news conference to publicize the issue.

Kong could not be reached for comment.

But Babikian, who represents the Scarborough-Agincourt riding where the doctor’s office is located, said he spoke to the neurologist on Tuesday, and the physician agreed to change the sign.

“This pandemic, it is international, it is worldwide,” the MPP said. “To just try to label it as a pandemic caused by a certain ethnic community and group, it is unfair.”

He said there have been a number of incidents since the pandemic started of harassment against people of Asian descent in his constituency, where he said about 40 per cent of residents are ethnic Chinese. In one recent case caught on video, a Chinese-Canadian senior citizen waiting in line at a take-out restaurant was pushed to the ground by a man behind him, Babikian said.

But a critic of the Beijing regime suggested the sign affair may have more to do with standing up for China in its

bid to evade blame

for the pandemic than fighting racism.

Anti-Asian bigotry is a real problem in Canada, but most people of Chinese descent don’t mind references to Wuhan and the virus, said Cheuk Kwan, spokesman for the Toronto Association for Democracy in China.

“They don’t see this as a big deal.”

Ke, the member for Don Valley North, seems “over-eager to defend China, rather than being too worried about anti-Asian hate,” he added.

“This is the playbook of Chinese consulates in Canada,” said Kwan. “They are using this anti-Asian hate to rally the troops, (win) the hearts and minds of Chinese Canadians.”

There is little doubt that the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, with a

recent World Health Organization investigation

concluding it likely originated in bats, passing to humans through another animal. China has also been criticized for

attempting to cover up

the new pathogen and its seriousness in the outbreak’s early days, allowing it to spread widely.

Media,

scientists and others

referred to SARS-CoV-2 as the Wuhan virus at first, before the WHO coined the term COVID-19 in line with its policy of avoiding geographic monikers for new pathogens.

But former U.S. President Donald Trump revelled in still calling it the “Chinese virus” or even

“Kung-flu,”

terminology that has been linked to a rise in anti-Asian attacks in the U.S.

In fact,

a recent study

concluded that most COVID cases introduced into Canada from other countries came from the United States.

Ke recently helped found a new group, the Asian-Canadian Anti-Racism Alliance. Its initial members — announced at a virtual news conference for Toronto-area Chinese-language media — included the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations (CTCCO) and other groups f

riendly with Beijing

. Not among them was the

Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter

and Elimin8Hate, which collaborated on a report last month that documented a sharp rise in anti-Asian racism incidents.

Ke, an immigrant from Quanzhou, China, was a student cadre at his undergraduate university there, organized an overseas Chinese students society — a type of group often close with local consulates — at the German university where he did a Master’s degree, and in 2013 was chosen by the Toronto consulate to attend a training session in China for ethnic Chinese leaders from other countries.

He and Babikian have

repeatedly attended

CTCCO and related events alongside China’s Toronto consul general, including celebrations in 2018 and 2019 of the 69

th

and 70

th

anniversary of the founding

of the People’s Republic of China.

• Email: tblackwell@postmedia.com | Twitter:

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

'We do not welcome interference': When First Nations break with environmentalists

Active logging near Fairy Creek protest camps in Port Renfrew, B.C., on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

It’s been dubbed the new “War in the Woods”: A growing Vancouver Island protest encampment aimed at disrupting planned logging in Fairy Creek, an expanse of old-growth rainforest located just north of the British Columbia capital of Victoria.

But this month yielded an unexpected twist in the Fairy Creek saga: Local First Nations leadership are definitely not on board.

“We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our Territory, including third-party activism,” read an April 12 letter drafted by the Pacheedaht First Nation, whose traditional territory encompasses the Fairy Creek watershed. The letter was posted to Twitter by Nathan Cullen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Natural Resource Operations

The letter denounced “increasing polarization” over forestry activities in the area, and asserted the Pacheedaht right to determine how the forest is used. “Our constitutional right to make decisions about forestry resources in our Territory … must be respected,” it read.

It’s a phenomenon that is becoming not all that uncommon in British Columbia which – unlike much of Canada – sits largely on untreatied land. As the province’s Indigenous communities acquire greater control of development and natural resources, they are increasingly butting up against environmentalist groups who claim to represent them.

In early 2020, Southern Vancouver Island’s Scia’new First Nation denounced Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island after the group blockaded the home of B.C. Premier John Horgan, ostensibly in defence of the recognition of Indigenous rights.

“We find it disturbing that you would ignore our rights and titles over our traditional territory and not follow protocol and ask permission to enter,”

said the letter,

which also demanded an apology to the Scia’new community, chief and council.

Around the same time, a different Vancouver Island faction of Extinction Rebellion was also denounced by K’òmoks First Nation for an illegal highway blockade that activists asserted was devoted towards “defending our home in the K’omoks Territory.”

“This event was organized by non-indigenous Comox Valley residents who aren’t connected to our territory in the same way as K’òmoks, and in no way represent K’òmoks or our values,” wrote K’òmoks chief Nicole Rempel

in a statement at the time

.

Fairy Creek, located about a two-hour drive from the B.C. capital, is one of the last unlogged valleys of coastal rainforest in all of British Columbia. According to the Ancient Forest Alliance, Fairy Creek is

home to some of the world’s largest yellow cedars

, including several specimens that may be more than 2,000 years old.

 A demonstrator pictured next to trees in the Fairy Creek watershed on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

Pacheedaht First Nation encompasses 284 members, 97 of whom live on reserve. Pacheedaht

is in the process

of negotiating a modern treaty with the B.C. government, and in recent years

has moved heavily into the forestry sector

. The nation owns a log-sorting facility, a sawmill and cutting rights to several woodlots. In 2017, the nation

signed a memorandum of understanding

with TimberWest Forest Corp.

In the April 12 letter, Pacheedaht noted their use of forestry resources is guided by a stewardship plan, “which will include the identification of special sites, traditional use areas and places where conservation measures will be in place.”

Although two thirds of Fairy Creek are subject to existing protections, the remaining third is subject to a tree-cutting licence owned by the Surrey-based forestry company Teal-Jones Group.

After Teal-Jones began moving equipment into the area in August, a group calling itself the Rainforest Flying Squad quickly moved into the area to blockade roads. While Teal-Jones successfully obtained an injunction earlier this month to arrest protesters, the area remains at a stalemate.

 A Rainforest Flying Squad blockade of a logging road in Fairy Creek.

The original “War in the Woods” occurred in the early 1990s in Clayoquot Sound, about 100 kilometres north of the Fairy Creek watershed. In one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history, hundreds of protesters ignored a court injunction and faced arrest in order to prevent MacMillan Bloedel logging operations in the area.

In the case of Clayoquot Sound, local Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations — most notably the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht —

had been among the first to oppose planned logging operations in the area

by declaring a tribal park over Meares Island, one of the most celebrated areas targeted for clear-cutting.

Although First Nations and environmental groups had a mutual desire to prevent wholesale clearcutting in Clayoquot, conflict did emerge over the latter’s goal to preserve the region as a pristine wilderness. Speaking at a Clayoquot Sound fundraiser at the time, Ahousaht spokesman Clifford Atleo said that his nation did not oppose logging on its face and that “natives become annoyed when non-native environmental leaders make public statements such as ‘not another tree will fall’ in Clayoquot Sound.”

 Clayoquot Sound logging protesters pictured in July, 1993.

Clayoquot Sound never came under formal protection from logging, but the protests ultimately caused MacMillan Bloedel to pull out of the region. Clayoquot tree farm licences then reverted to smaller, First Nations-owned companies.

The last major B.C. resource battle to galvanize Canadian public opinion came just before the onset of COVID-19. The country saw nationwide rail blockades put up in support of Wet’suwet’en opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a 700-km pipeline to carry natural gas from around Dawson Creek to the port of Kitimat.

Coastal GasLink had the support of elected band governments along its route. But anti-pipeline activists backed a dissenting faction of hereditary chiefs, asserting that they represented a more legitimate form of Indigenous governance as opposed to elected band councils established by the Indian Act.

Lost in the resulting national controversy — ginned up by both environmentalist and gas industry influence — was an intra-community fight over power and legitimacy. Elected chiefs accused hereditary chiefs of going rogue, as did female subchiefs who accused the all-male anti-pipeline chiefs of acting outside of their nation’s matriarchal traditions. “To ignore their clan members and Elected Councils, something is terribly amiss,” Dan George, chief of the Ts’ilh Kaz Koh First Nation,

told APTN in March 2020

.

 Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs from left, Rob Alfred, John Ridsdale, centre and Antoinette Austin, who oppose the Costal Gaslink pipeline take part in a rally in Smithers B.C., on Friday January 10, 2020.

In the case of Fairy Creek, the Pacheedaht letter was signed both by the nation’s elected chief councillor, Jeff Jones, and hereditary chief Frank Queesto Jones, the grandson of Queesto, a legendary Pacheedaht chief who, when he died in 1990 is believed to have been 114 years old.

Within days, however, a counter statement had come out from Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones claiming that Frank Jones is not a legitimate hereditary chief. “He is not eligible to make the claim for the Jones family line, and is not informed by the hereditary system amongst our peoples. In fact, the Jones family is not originally from the territory, and have no chief rights to the San Juan valley. The Jones family is ancestral to this place, through many intermarriages and ties to the land, but that is within the last 400 years,” read the statement, which came out in the form of an interview with Bill Jones’ niece Kati George-Jim (xʷ is xʷ čaa), a former coordinator with the Sierra Club who posted it to her Facebook page.

Statement by Bill Jones from an Interview with Kati George-Jim.
Originally released to my Facebook page on April 13.

I…

Posted by Kati Raven George-Jim on Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Rainforest Flying Squad has not acknowledged the Pacheedaht First Nation’s letter in any of its official social media channels, but they did issue an

April 18 statement

saying they “stand with Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones.”

Other B.C. environmental groups have been more willing to address the Pacheedaht call for an end to outside interference. Stand.earth is the descendant of Friends of Clayoquot Sound, one of the main organizers from the War in the Woods era. In

a release

, the group said it “fully supports and upholds the sovereignty of the Pacheedaht Nation,” but also renewed their call for deferring old-growth logging.

“Our hearts go out … to the Pacheedaht Nation in this difficult moment as a result of lack of provincial leadership.”

• Email: thopper@postmedia.com | Twitter:

 

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Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

New midrise helps stitch together community on the Queensway

A second release of units at the 10-storey Tailor has been set for May 8.

As condos move into former industrial buildings all along the Queensway in Etobicoke, Marlin Spring’s The Tailor is getting plenty of help as it strives to stitch the surrounding community together.

The 10-storey project under construction on the southwest corner of the Queensway and Zorra Avenue is steps away from the City of Toronto’s new Senator Marian Maloney Park and the adjacent green space soon to be installed by Altree Developments as part of its Thirty-Six Zorra condo tower. With Remington Group’s four-tower IQ development already in place on the east side of Zorra, the area’s transition from industrial to residential is clearly in full swing.

“The Queensway is a great gateway neighbourhood for residents to be close to their jobs, friends and family in the downtown core, without being subjected to the elevated price per square foot,” says Erin Millar, Marlin Spring’s vice-president of sales and marketing. With 80 percent of The Tailor’s units already sold, and another release coming May 8, “the buyer profile has proven to be a really nice mix of residents moving in from places like Mississauga, Hamilton and Brampton, and people who are pre-planning their move out of downtown Toronto and looking for a little bit more space and a neighbourhood where they can start to have a young family.”

At The Tailor, that extra space comes in the form of two- and three-bedroom suites topping out at more than 810 and 940 square feet respectively. Along with studios, one-bedrooms and one-bedroom-plus-dens, the 141 units feature nine-foot ceilings, balconies and terraces with glass railings, oversized windows and Juliet balcony doors, bathrooms and kitchens with quartz-topped vanities and counters, and finishes offered in three colour palettes curated by the interior designers at Toronto-based Mason Studio.

 Finishes in the units will be offered in three colour palettes curated by the interior designers at Toronto-based Mason Studio.

That strip of the Queensway, meanwhile, is seeing more owner-operated retailers and eateries join the big box stores and strip malls that have long dominated the area. “The pipeline of condo projects coming to the Queensway is only going to solidify the area’s identity in the next five to 10 years and give it a vibrancy and a life of its own,” Millar predicts.

As pleased as Millar is with the evolution of The Tailor’s surroundings, its amenities, she says, will create “a strong identity within the building itself.” A private entryway leads to a concierge who occupies a stylish lounge where residents can pick up parcels from their lockers, seek refreshment at a water bar, get down to business in a co-working space and peruse ground-floor shops including a coffee shop, sushi restaurant and clothing boutique.

Up on the rooftop, a private outdoor terrace landscaped by NAK Design Strategies will offer a fully equipped kitchen, a TV and fireplace, and a partially covered dining and barbecue area. Another terrace, this one connected to a library and study area, is geared toward quiet reflection.

Designed in collaboration with the team at Fuel Training Club, residents can stretch and strengthen in an in-house wellness centre outfitted with high-end training equipment, as well as a group fitness and meditation area.

Along with their wish to reflect The Tailor’s community-building endeavours, the Marlin Spring team “wanted to make sure the name captured the idea that their new home was tailored just for them,” Millar says. “They won’t be waiting 25 minutes for an elevator, and won’t have to deal with a multitude of rental pools around them. We like to say that residents are neighbours, not numbers.”

Units starting in the high $400,000s. For more information, visit

www.tailorresidences.com

.

 1. The rooftop features a private outdoor terrace landscaped by NAK Design Strategies with a fully equipped kitchen and partially covered dining and barbecue area.

Three things

Named after the late activist who was dedicated to the advancement of women in politics, the compact tree-lined Senator Marian Maloney Park, designed by Janet Rosenberg & Studio, is anchored by a central walkway lined with a water feature that leads to an amphitheatre on the lawn, a bosque of flowering trees, a splash pad and play area for children, and several intersecting boardwalks. 40 Caven St.

A few blocks east along the Queensway, The Pie Commission serves modern interpretations of classic British-style savoury pies. Made from scratch in-house, its six varieties, which range from braised beef rib to kale-and-cauliflower, have butter crusts and can be ordered with hand-cut fries, a mixed green salad or coleslaw. 927 The Queensway

Nothing chases Pie Commission fare like the seasonal ales, bottle-conditioned brews and craft lagers poured in the Great Lakes Brewery tasting room and sipped at a picnic table on their expansive patio. 30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

GTA condos: The last affordable game in town

ELAD Canada was offering purchasers of two- and three-bedroom suites in its Galleria III building two years of free maintenance fees in April.

Before her April visit to the Galleria on the Park presentation centre at Dupont and Dufferin, Jennifer Freeman considered herself among the 39 per cent of Ontario non-homeowners under the age of 40 who, according to a

new RBC survey

, had “given up on the dream of owning a home.”

But that resignation shifted when the Galleria made its pitch. Purchasers of two- and three-bedroom suites in ELAD Canada’s 31-storey Galleria III building were being offered two years of free maintenance fees — valued on the top end at $20,000 — covering amenities such as a co-working lounge, swimming pool and reservable outdoor dining, along with a finance structure that would spread a 20 per cent deposit over four and a half years in five per cent increments.

“Ten per cent by the end of the year I can do,” the thirtysomething nurse says, adding that the free maintenance “would ease some of the financial pressure if and when I move in.”

Freeman says she would prefer to buy her first home sooner rather than later, and she isn’t alone. More than 70 per cent of Ontario-based RBC survey respondents believe the majority of Canadians will be priced out of the housing market in the next decade.

This belief is well-founded in the GTA, where residential real estate experienced record activity in 2020 and early 2021. Affordability deteriorated in 2020 in all but one category: New condo listings far outstripped growth in sales, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) reports, with the segment experiencing the slowest pace of average price growth in 2020 (at 7.1 per cent). While buyer confidence in the condo market has improved in 2021, with year-over-year sales up nearly 80 per cent in the first quarter, average selling prices remain below pre-pandemic levels.

 The ELAD Canada fee relief covers amenities such as a co-working lounge, swimming pool and reservable outdoor dining.

In short, the condo market is the least hot of Toronto’s scorching housing segments. This explains sales incentives at Galleria III, and the many other Toronto condo projects offering capped development charges, waived assignment fees and incremental deposit structures. While these incentives have become commonplace, those listed below represent more aggressive and creative bids to draw reluctant buyers back to the market.

Discounted suites

The address:

Canary House Condos, 475 Front St. E. at Cherry Street

The offer:

Dream Development is knocking $10,000 off the price of one-bedroom and one-bedroom-plus-den suites, and $20,000 off suites two-bedroom and larger, in this 13-storey project, part of a 35-acre master-planned community.

Starting prices:

The low $700,000s

Occupancy:

May 2024

Info:

https://www.canarydistrict.com/

Discounted parking

The address:

Elle Condos, on the corner of Ellesmere and Brimley in Scarborough

The offer:

A parking spot under this 15-storey building by iKore overlooking West Highland Creek is going for $35,000, a $15,000 discount on its regular rate.

Starting prices:

$499,000

Occupancy:

May 2024

Info:

https://ellecondos.com/

Private double garage access

The address:

One Delisle Condos, 1 Delisle Ave. at Yonge

The offer:

As well as knocking $19,000 off the cost of $179,000 parking spots for owners of suites 850 square feet and larger at this upscale property, Slate Asset Management is offering private double garage parking with the purchase of a penthouse suite.

Starting prices:

Low $900,000s

Occupancy:

Summer 2026

Info:

https://onedelisle.com/

Discounted wi-fi

The address:

The Oscar Residences, 500 Dupont St. at Bathurst

The offer:

Lifetime Developments is offering discounted Bell Fibe high-speed Internet at $25 per month for residents of this nine-storey project near Casa Loma.

Starting prices:

Low $900,000s

Occupancy:

Fall 2024

Info:

https://oscarresidences.com/

Free upgrades

The address:

Perch Condos, 4694 Kingston Rd. at Lawrence

The offer:

A kitchen island valued at $5,000 in one-, two- and three-bedroom suites is being offered as a freebie at this 12-storey east end build by Firmland Development overlooking the Highland Creek ravine.

Starting prices:

High $400,000s

Occupancy:

August 2023

Info:

https://perchcondos.com/

Bulked-up down payments

 Buyers at The Humber Condos may qualify for down payment loans offered by the developer to help purchasers boost their down payments.

The address:

The Humber Condos, 10 Wilby Crescent at Weston Road

The offer:

For 25 years, the developer Options for Homes has offered down payment loans for up to 15 per cent of the purchase price of a unit in one of their buildings. (Buyers kick in five per cent of their own money.) The lower barrier to entry helps purchasers secure conventional mortgages, reduce carrying costs and avoid paying mortgage loan insurance. (The loan gets repaid when the buyer sells or moves.) Now, the developer is offering an additional five per cent to families of two or more buying into The Humber Condos, a 22-storey building that overlooks its namesake river. That would help buyers bring the down payment up to as much as 25 per cent of the purchase price of a two- or three-bedroom suite.

Starting prices:

Low $600,000s

Occupancy:

Winter 2021

Info:

https://www.optionsforhomes.ca/

 

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Rapid tests, drugs, and contact tracing support from federal government going unused by provinces

As military medical personnel prepare to help the latest COVID-19 wave in Ontario, some of the previous supports the federal government has sent to the provinces have gone unused.

OTTAWA – As the country battles a crushing third wave of COVID-19 that has filled hospitals and led to deaths and crippling economic lockdowns, provinces have declined to use several supports already available from the federal government, including a new drug treatment, rapid tests and help making contact tracing calls.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced military doctors and nurses would be sent to Ontario and the government is also considering requests for more help in other parts of the country. But as this new help arrives, some of the previous supports the government has sent have gone unused.

According to the federal government’s numbers, it has shipped more than 41 million rapid tests to the provinces, about a quarter of which have been pushed on to long-term care centres, workplaces and other settings, but just 1.7 million tests have actually been used to see if someone has COVID-19.

The full price of the multiple contracts the government signed for rapid tests has not been released, but a document obtained under an access to information request showed that for just one company’s rapid tests, the Abbott Panbio COVID-19 antigen test, the government paid a total cost of $173 million. The government bought nearly 23 million units of the test and shipped them to provinces.

Those tests provide results in 15 minutes and have received the most use of any of the four the government purchased, but still only 1.5 million of the nearly 23 million have been actually used.

Trudeau said Tuesday his government’s role is to ensure the supports are there, but he respects provinces’ decisions on how to use what the government provides.

“Our job as a federal government is to be there with supports that are needed and we’ve continued to do that. We respect provincial jurisdiction, provincial decision making, but every step of the way, we will work to fulfil the promises we have made to Canadians.”

Trudeau said he would rather have supplies that aren’t used than not have them when Canadians need them.

Alexandra Hilkene, press secretary to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, said the province has pushed the tests out to workplaces and continue to work to put them in the right hands.

“The government is in contact with dozens more interested companies to introduce testing at their work sites, and we continue to make steady progress in the distribution of rapid tests,” she said.

Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Alberta Health, said the initial Health Canada approval of rapid tests was narrow and provinces were restricted in how they could use them.

“The rollout of rapid testing was delayed originally due to provinces adhering to the approved use of the tests licensed by Health Canada,” he said.

McMillan said the province can now use the test more widely and will be rolling more out to workplaces. On Monday, the Alberta government eased restrictions for the test further, by allowing them to be used by people who are not medical professionals.

The federal government is also continuing to offer Statistics Canada operators to make contact tracing calls during the pandemic, helping to track people who may have been exposed to the virus to encourage them to isolate and get tested.

Several provinces have signed agreements with Statistics Canada to use the service, but even with cases at record highs the call centre has not been used to anywhere near its full capacity. The most recent data the agency has for the project shows it could have made nearly 120,000 contact tracing calls a week, but between April 11 and April 17, it made less than half of that at just over 50,000 calls.

In November, after it received authorization from Health Canada, the government purchased 26,000 doses of bamlanivimab, at a cost of just over $40 million. The drug is a monoclonal antibody treatment administered intravenously that has shown positive results treating mild cases of COVID-19, preventing them from becoming more serious cases.

The drug was developed by Vancouver company AbCellera and manufactured with drug giant Eli Lilly. Carl Hansen, AbCellera’s president and CEO, said there have been a few trial uses in B.C., but broadly provinces have failed to even consider using the drug.

“There’s been a complete lack of initiative and leadership in getting therapy to patients,” he said.

 Only 1.5 million of the nearly 23 million Abbott Panbio COVID-19 antigen tests the federal government has sent to the provinces — at a cost of $173 million — have been used so far.

Hansen is clear the drug is limited to people in the early stages of COVID-19 and won’t help those already in ICUs. He also said it is not as effective against all new variants, particularly the P1 variant first identified in Brazil.

In the U.S., the FDA has revoked its emergency authorization for the drug as a stand-alone treatment due to those variants, but is still approving the drug to be used in combination with another similar drug and there have been no reports of serious adverse events.

Hansen said the drug has shown strong results against original strains of COVID and the U.K. variant that is widely circulating in Ontario.

“In Ontario, if tomorrow you started doing infusions, every 50 infusions you did would save someone’s life, every eight to 10 infusions would save a hospital visit. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Kerry Williamson, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services, said the province has looked at the drug and is prepared to use it in a limited trial fashion, but a review of the current evidence left them unconvinced.

“This decision to limit bamlanivimab use to the study is based on AHS’ review of the current evidence which notes further study is required to determine whether bamlanivimab offers benefit to patients with mild to moderate COVID-19,” he said.

Williamson also said administering the drug would take away resources, because it must be done through an IV.

“Bamlanivimab requires intravenous administration, and any proposed use would require support from front-line medical staff in an outpatient care setting,” he said.

Hilkene, with the Ontario government, said the province’s science table considered it, but was similarly not sure it was ready.

“The current guideline summary from the Science Table notes that bamlanivimab is not recommended outside of clinical trials. The Science Table will continue to monitor new clinical information regarding bamlanivimab and update its recommendations accordingly,” she said.

Hansen said the new clinical trial information the company has conducted should end any doubts and he stressed it has little to no side effects. He said U.S. hospitals found a way to use the drug successfully, but provinces haven’t shown the same interest.

“It’s not as though we tried and failed. We never even tried. There hasn’t been an effort to solve any of the logistic problems,” he said.

He said while Canada waits for more vaccine the drug could still be put to good use to help prevent mild COVID cases from becoming severe.

“In vaccines we have no supply, here we’ve got supply. We bought it, it is sitting on the shelf, it works and we cannot muster the effort to actually bring it to the patient.” he said. “It is an appalling failure of our system.”

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Know your fisher: Local seafood networks thriving during COVID-19

Joel and Melissa Collier of Courtenay, B.C. harvest prawns, salmon and scallops, and partnered with community-supported fishery Skipper Otto to sell some of their catch.

Joel and Melissa Collier had just finished harvesting scallops for the season when the pandemic hit and global seafood markets crashed.

As Melissa recalls in an episode of

Social FISHtancing

, a podcast focusing on how fishers in Canada and the United States have been affected by the pandemic, scrambling to find buyers for their scallops during the early days of COVID-19 was “terrifying.”

Sequestering their catch indefinitely in cold storage would come at a cost to the Courtenay, B.C. family; letting it go to waste was unimaginable. “That’s a fisherman’s nightmare,” she said. “I would have rather left it in the water than put it to waste any day.”

After struggling to find new ways to sell their seafood, the Colliers partnered with

Skipper Otto

, a community-supported fishery based in Vancouver. Through its share-based model, their scallop business is now performing better than it did pre-pandemic.

Many may be aware of community-supported agriculture (CSA), a “know-your-farmer” subscription system connecting producers with consumers. But community-supported fisheries — built on direct relationships between harvesters and customers — have been operating on the fringes. Until the pandemic happened.

While the global seafood system wavered during the first six months of the pandemic, local alternatives such as community-supported fisheries experienced unprecedented growth, according to a new study led by the University of Maine and the University of Guelph, and published in

Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems

.

“I have been working with fishing communities for the last decade, thinking about alternative and community-based approaches to seafood distribution. It always felt a little bit like a niche thing, and then COVID-19 happened,” says lead researcher Joshua Stoll, professor of marine policy at the University of Maine. “The entire world started to question the resilience and viability of our global food systems. And suddenly everyone was thinking about local food.”

Philip Loring, holder of the Arrell Chair in Food, Policy and Society at the University of Guelph, saw the study as an opportunity to do formal research on the areas he and fellow study co-authors Hannah Harrison and Emily De Sousa had been exploring while producing their

Social FISHtancing

podcast. The alternative seafood network sector is small but growing, he says, with more than 500 operators in Canada and the U.S.

The spotlight may have been on toilet paper shortages in the early days of the pandemic, but supply of fish and seafood was also disrupted. Prior to COVID-19, Loring says, Canadian fisheries were oriented around export. Consumption, on the other hand, centred on imports and people ate most of their seafood at restaurants. During rounds of restaurant shutdowns, an important market closed for small-scale fisheries, which were simultaneously affected by a dwindling export market.

But Canadians’ interest in seafood didn’t wane when restaurants closed their doors. “The rapid change in demand, that all of a sudden people were searching (online), indicates that Canadians are actually more interested in seafood than the market has been giving them credit for,” says Loring.

Drawing on direct relationships and building on core values, the study found, alternative seafood networks were able to adapt quickly to this increased demand, and local fishers were able to continue selling their catch. Their findings highlight the resilience of alternative seafood networks, the researchers say, but also the importance of diversity in food systems.

Alternative seafood networks were primed to fill the void left by faltering global seafood systems in large part because they were accustomed to connecting with consumers outside of the mainstream, Loring explains. Some of them already had experience with social media and direct marketing, and had established relationships they could draw on.

“Because you’re talking about operators who are already trying to innovate and do things differently, they have this culture of a willingness to do things differently,” says Loring.

Stoll attributes this ability to adapt primarily to relationships: between harvesters and the consumers who pre-purchase their catch; between network operators and fishers, and the processors who cut the fish.

“If you’re building a business model on relationships rather than transactions, then you have these closer lines of communication, you have trust from community, you have a desire for people to invest in you and the work that you’re doing,” says Stoll.

These relationships extended to the research itself, which was co-authored by representatives of 12 seafood companies in Canada and the U.S., including Melissa Collier, co-owner of

West Coast Wild Scallops

, and Sonia Strobel, co-founder and CEO of Skipper Otto.

Strobel says their community-supported fishery has “absolutely thrived” over the past year. Skipper Otto has seen a 125 per cent increase in members since 2019 (2,800 to 6,300 at time of writing) and a 52 per cent increase in fishing families (21 in 2019 to 32 in 2020). She sees personal interactions as being central to their success.

“Fishing families came to us and said that their other buyers were dropping their price by two-thirds of what it was the previous year because of the pandemic. But we were able to keep our prices the same as they ever had been. So there’s that connection, that loyalty,” says Strobel. “And we had members writing letters to fishing families. Literally hundreds of letters to say, ‘Thank you. What you’re doing is meaningful.’”

In Canada and the U.S., some of the first alternative seafood networks emerged after the global financial crisis of 2008, says Stoll. With short supply chains, transparent harvesting methods and clearly articulated values, these alternative models are in stark contrast to the industrial seafood industry — its lengthy, shadowy supply chains, issues with human rights abuses and confusion around the veracity of sustainability labels.

“In some ways, these systems are a response to globalization, to the opaqueness, to these bad narratives and these bad issues that are happening in the broader seafood system. And saying, ‘Well actually, here’s an alternative way for you to access your seafood,’” says Stoll. “You know the harvester, you know how they’re operating, you know what fisheries they’re participating in.”

Share-based approaches are reciprocal, Loring adds. Because members are buying shares up-front, they’re making an investment in the fisher at the start of their season, which results in economic certainty and stability. In exchange, members benefit from access to local, ethically sourced food.

“The fisheries that we’re working with, they value these high-quality connections with people in their communities. They value these high-quality relationships with the people who work on their boats. And they value and maintain really high-quality relationships with the environment and the fisheries themselves,” says Loring.

With all of the challenges people have faced during the pandemic, the strength of alternative seafood networks is a “bright spot,” says Stoll.

“It speaks to the resilience and the ingenuity and the creativity of a lot of these small-scale operators. And it has provided a way for people to connect … during a time when we haven’t been able to have many social connections,” he laughs. “I was talking to a fisherman a few months ago. He described his involvement in direct marketing as psychological nourishment: ‘This is so important for me. I get to see people who are thankful for what I’m doing. And that is the value.’”

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

China to report first population decline since 1949 despite relaxing one-child policy

China’s birth rates have weakened even after Beijing relaxed its decades-long family planning policy in 2015, allowing couples to have two children instead of one.

China is set to report its first population decline since records began in 1949 despite the relaxation of the government’s strict family planning policies, which was meant to reverse the falling birth rate of the world’s most populous country.

The latest Chinese census, which was completed in December but has yet to be made public, is expected to report the total population of the country at less than 1.4 billion, according to people familiar with the research. In 2019, China’s population was reported to have exceeded the 1.4 billion mark.

The people cautioned, however, that the figure was considered very sensitive and would not be released until multiple government departments had reached a consensus on the data and its implications.

“The census results will have a huge impact on how the Chinese people see their country and how various government departments work,” said Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think-tank. “They need to be handled very carefully.”

The government was scheduled to release the census in early April. Liu Aihua, a spokesperson at the National Bureau of Statistics, said on April 16 that the delay was partly due to the need for “more preparation work” ahead of the official announcement. The delay has been widely criticised on social media.

Local officials have also braced for the data’s release. Chen Longgan, deputy director of Anhui province’s statistics bureau, said in a meeting this month that officials should “set the agenda” for census interpretation and “pay close attention to public reaction”.

Analysts said a decline would suggest that China’s population could peak earlier than official projections and could soon be exceeded by India’s, which is estimated at 1.38 billion. That could take an extensive toll on the world’s second-largest economy, affecting everything from consumption to care for the elderly.

“The pace and scale of China’s demographic crisis are faster and bigger than we imagined,” said Huang. “That could have a disastrous impact on the country.”

China’s birth rates have weakened even after Beijing relaxed its decades-long family planning policy in 2015, allowing all couples to have two children instead of one. The population expanded under the one-child policy introduced in the late 1970s, thanks to a bulging population of young people in the aftermath of the Communist revolution as well as increased life expectancy.

Official data showed the number of newborns in China increased in 2016 but then fell for three consecutive years. Officials blamed the decline on a shrinking number of young women and the surging costs of child-rearing.

The real picture could be even worse. In a report published last week, China’s central bank estimated that the total fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman was likely to have in her lifetime, was less than 1.5, compared with the official estimate of 1.8.

“It is almost a fact that China has overestimated its birth rate,” the People’s Bank of China said. “The challenges brought about by China’s demographic shift could be bigger [than expected].”

A Beijing-based government adviser who declined to be identified said such overestimates stemmed in part from the fiscal system’s use of population figures to determine budgets, including for education and public security.

“There is an incentive for local governments to play up their [population] numbers so they can get more resources,” the person said.

The situation has led to calls for a radical overhaul of China’s birth control rules. The PBoC report suggested the government should “completely” abandon its “wait-and-see attitude” and scrap family planning entirely.

“Policy relaxations will be of little use when no one wants to have [more children],” the paper said.

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Black Conservative addresses an Alberta Christian University and a free speech fight breaks out

Samuel Sey at his Brampton, Ont., home on Monday. In a speech, he denied systemic racism based on Biblical definitions.

EDMONTON — An Alberta Christian university student council has disavowed its own apology, issued after a Black History Month speaker denied the existence of systemic racism in a speech on Biblical definitions of racism.

Last Monday, Ambrose University in Calgary said the speech, given in February by Samuel Sey, a conservative activist, blogger and Christian who is Black, “caused severe harm” to some students.

“As a Christian, what I was saying should not be controversial to them at all, but because they disagree with what the Bible says on racism, it becomes offensive to them,” Sey told the National Post on Monday. “They are essentially, by attacking me, attacking the Bible; I didn’t go there to share my opinion, I was going there to explain what the Bible says about racism.”

The apology, which was retracted Thursday, said the student council had “invited speakers to come and speak to our student body who have caused harm and offence with the words that they have spoken.”

An

updated post

detailed Ambrose’s commitment to free expression and intellectual diversity.

“Each person has their own experiences and we believe that by having healthy discussions and learning different world views that we have the opportunity to expand our horizons,” the statement says.

The apology was “never intended to be public and sought only to provide support for those students who had been emotionally affected,” the statement says.

Sey, an anti-abortion activist with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform who also runs the blog

SlowtoWrite

and has contributed to many conservative websites, spoke to students over Zoom on Feb. 4.

The event was in honour of Black History Month, according to an Ambrose Student Council Facebook post.

It was intended “as part of our commitment to fostering conversations about racism and how we can support members of our community who have experienced racism,” the student council said in an email to the National Post.

Sey provided his notes for the speech to the Post. It opens with a question and a proposition: “If I asked you, what’s the best anti-racist book today, what would you say?”

“If we say anything other than the Bible we’re completely and destructively wrong.”

Sey argues that racism is determined by intention, not outcome, if you go by the Biblical definition. He cites two books of the Bible: 2 Timothy and James, arguing the “Christian definition of racism is that it’s partiality, or bias against someone because of their skin colour.”

It means “our opinions, feelings and experiences do not determine what’s racist,” he concludes. “Racial disparities between white people and black people do not prove racism…. A lack of diversity or representation doesn’t determine what’s racist.”

Sey also suggests there needs to be “a policy or law within a system — especially our political system — that shows partiality for white people or partiality against black people.” Absent that, there cannot be systemic racism, he says.

“I know no one here today can identify a single racist law,” he says.

According to the student council statement, his views — and the event itself — “caused some members of the community to feel as though Ambrose did not support their lived experience of systemic racism.”

“I guess they didn’t expect what would come out of my mouth,” Sey told the Post.

 “My skin colour does not define truth. As Christians, the Bible is supposed to define what’s true,” says cultural blogger Samuel Sey.

He said he did ask the students to feel free to offer criticism.

“I don’t want anyone to be afraid to challenge me because of my skin colour,” he said. “My skin colour does not define truth. As Christians, the Bible is supposed to define what’s true.”

The Ambrose student council said that Sey was vetted, but that they feel the process fell short for this event.

“As a result, we have amended our vetting process so that we may better inform students about topics that are being discussed especially when they may conflict with lived experiences and convictions,” it said. “This process is not intended to reduce the variety of voices on our campus but to more clearly inform.”

Sey said that statements intended to respect and support people of colour and their lived experiences ring hollow.

“Clearly they only mean the lived experiences of black people that’s approved by Robin DiAngelo (the author of White Fragility) and themselves,” Sey said. “When they say they are allies of people of colour, they really only mean some people.”

• Email: tdawson@postmedia.com | Twitter:

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Chrystia Freeland says allegations against former top soldier Jonathan Vance 'deeply, deeply troubling'

Canada's former Chief of Defence staff, Jon Vance

OTTAWA – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says recent allegations of sexual misconduct against Canada’s former top soldier are “deeply troubling,” but stopped short of saying which or when measures would be taken to address the “deep problems” in the Canadian Armed Forces.

In an interview Sunday on Global’s

West Block

, Freeland also refused to say if the government would bring in any civilian oversight to the CAF, as many experts have pleaded over the past months.

“I would also like to say that the testimony that we’ve heard at committee has been deeply, deeply troubling. It’s clear to me, as we heard from numerous reports in the past, that there are some deep problems in the Canadian Armed Forces with sexual harassment, and with treatment of women. And that has to end,” Freeland said.

The deputy prime minister and finance minister was reacting for the first time to a series of

shocking revelations

that have rocked the Canadian military since February regarding alleged sexual misconduct by former Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance.

The retired general has been under investigation by military police after Global first aired allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate (later identified as Maj. Kellie Brennan) for years, and that he had sent an email inviting another woman he outranked to go to a “clothing optional” resort with him.

Then this week, Brennan alleged in front of a parliamentary committee that Vance had fathered two of her children during their 20-year relationship, that he had boasted he was untouchable and that he “owned” the military police investigating him.

Vance has not yet responded to the latest allegations, which could not be independently verified. He has previously denied any wrongdoing.

“The most important conclusion I draw from all of these revelations is we have some deep problems in the Canadian Armed Forces. We need to get to the root of these specific allegations, and that is very important. And we also need a systemic solution, because young women who want to serve their country need to know that they can do that safely,” Freeland said on

West Block

.

But what are those solutions, and when are they coming?

The deputy prime minister refused to give concrete answers during the interview, instead repeating that last week’s federal budget committed $236.2 million over five years to expand the government’s work to “eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence” in the military.

She also refused to commit to additional civilian oversight of the military that reports directly to Parliament instead of the military chain of command.

“I just want to assure them that we take it very seriously, and putting this measure in the budget is one sign of that seriousness and there is a lot more to come,” Freeland said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was equally vague when questioned Friday on what his government would do to address sexual misconduct in the CAF.

“I can tell you we continue to work very hard and closely with various organizations to move forward in the right way and we will have more to say shortly,” he said, later saying to expect more announcements in the coming weeks.

Sunday, Freeland also reiterated her confidence in Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who has been accused of inaction after being warned by an ex-military ombudsman of the allegations against Vance back in 2018.

She also expressed her support for the prime minister’s Chief of Staff Katie Telford. On Friday, former PMO staffer Elder Marques told the Commons defence committee that he had briefed the Liberal’s top staffer of the allegations against Vance after Sajjan heard of them, but that he had not told the prime minister.

To date, Trudeau insists that he was not told about the allegations until media reports in February.

“I have confidence in the people who took the decisions in the moment,” Freeland told reporter Mercedes Stephenson. “Every single person you’ve mentioned is someone who cares deeply about women, who cares deeply about safe workplaces, and who cares deeply about serving Canada.”

A few weeks ago, the former clerk of the Privy Council Office Michael Wernick told committee members that his office had lost track of the issue when came time to follow up on the allegations made against Canada’s top soldier back in 2018.

“I do concede it dropped off the radar in 2018,” Wernick said to committee members about the Vance allegations. “I did lose sight of the conduct issue.”

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques

Oscars live and in person from L.A.’s Union Station, where the homeless say they were ejected

Most nominees and presenters at the the 2021 Oscars ceremony  tonight will be situated at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, with both its indoor and outdoor spaces used for the evening’s events.

Tonight, for the first time, the 93rd Academy Awards will be held in downtown Los Angeles at the city’s big commuter hub, Union Station, and that can only mean one thing — homeless people who shelter and panhandle at the station have been ordered out.

Fox 11 Los Angeles

reports

that the homeless were told to clear out about one week before the Oscars show, which airs live tonight at 5 p.m. PST.

“They told us if we didn’t move, they were gonna just demolish our stuff,” DJ, who lives in a tent, told the network television station.

An Academy Awards spokesperson told Fox News that organizers were working with community groups to reduce disruption for Union Station’s homeless population.

“NO unhoused residents are being forced to relocate,” City Council Member Kevin De León added. “Since being sworn in, my office has been painstakingly working to house those experiencing homelessness throughout my district and we were able to offer housing options to unhoused residents in the vicinity of Union Station.”

Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, where the A-list have packed into a single space for the last 20 years, will also host part of a ceremony spread over multiple locations, but the Art Deco Union Station is key to Oscars producers’ determination to host an in-person show in the age of Zoom.

“It’s the f—ing Oscars. It’s not a webinar,” Steven Soderbergh, one of the show producers,

told

the Los Angeles Times. “So we’re just trying to get people somewhere where we can really make it look great. We want everybody to participate.”

Soderbergh and fellow producers Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins have positioned most presenters, including Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, and the nominees at the station, limited the audience to 170 people and restricted the nominees to a plus-one. Other nominees will join by satellite from international venues.

Complicating things, trains will continue to roll as will the people in attendance in an attempt to avoid congregate situations between categories.

Strange also this year will be the red carpet scene during the Oscars pre-show. A handful of reporters will stand at least seven feet from the stars who won’t be required to wear masks on camera but have been told to don them during commercial breaks.

The producers have stationed  a COVID-19 safety team with PCR testing capability on site.

Few of the winners seem to be locked down after an extended awards season, but “Nomadland” – Chinese-born Chloe Zhao’s slow- burn quasi-documentary about the traveling community of American van dwellers – is seen as the front runner for taking home best picture.

If Zhao, 39, wins best director, she will be only the second woman and the first Asian woman to clinch the Academy Award in that field.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protests, is seen as the strongest challenger to “Nomadland” for best picture, awards experts say.

The race for lead actress is wide open, featuring Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”), Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) and Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday”).

he late “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, 43, appears to be in line for his first Oscar, for his final film role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” But Britain’s Anthony Hopkins, who plays a man struggling with dementia in “The Father,” could be rewarded, while Riz Ahmed’s deaf punk drummer in “Sound of Metal” is seen as another possible best actor winner.

With additional reporting by Jill Serjeant, Reuters

Source: National Post Quebec Nordiques