1. COVID-19 and vulnerable populations
Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer of Health Robert Strang have announced that they’re moving to providing COVID-19 briefings just three days a week: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And so there was no briefing yesterday, and I was otherwise engaged all day in any event, so couldn’t even update the numbers.
Yvette d’Entrement, however, reported on the ‘Open Dialogue Live’ panel discussion that was held at Dalhousie University and live-streamed to a virtual audience:
[Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada’s secretary general] kicked off the discussion, noting how in recent weeks he’s experienced pushback when Amnesty International or other human rights organizations and experts say the COVID crisis needs to be about human rights.
“People kind of scratch their head and say, well, it’s a public health emergency. It’s an economic crisis. It’s not really a human rights concern, is it? But obviously everything about this situation, absolutely everything, is entirely about human rights,” Neve said.
“The virus itself. The economic collapse. Certainly the impact on the most marginalized and vulnerable communities. The ways in which a lot of existing human rights violations are exacerbated and made worse, and certainly the question of what kinds of restrictions are or are not permissible on other rights.”
2. A’se’K Day
“Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul is calling Thursday ‘A’se’K Day,’” reports Joan Baxter:
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented PLFN and allies from gathering to celebrate the occasion, it is a momentous one.
A January 29 ministerial order from Environment Minister Gordon Wilson stipulated that by April 30, 2020 the Northern Pulp mill on Abercrombie Point “shall cease discharge of all wastewater” through its effluent pipeline to Boat Harbour.
This puts an end to nearly 53 years of pulp pollution flowing into the water body known by the Mi’kmaq as A’se’K, or “the other room.”
The same directive stipulated that the pipeline itself be sealed by May 1, 2020 — today.
Once the Boat Harbour Remediation Project has received environmental approval from the federal government, the long process of removing contaminants and restoring A’se’K as a precious tidal estuary for PLFN can finally begin.
Incidentally, Joan Baxter has received an honourable mention from the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom for the 2020 Press Freedom Award. She shares that honour with cartoonist Michael de Adder; the overall award went to Kenneth Jackson, a reporter/producer with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
We’ve been so incredibly fortunate to have Joan as part of the Examiner team. She matches her reporting depth and thoroughness with a compassionate insight that I can only strive for: she sets the standard.
“Get your phones ready to take some tick pics,” reports Yvette d’Entremont. “A Bishop’s University research project that provides quick, expert online tick species identification and real-time monitoring and mapping of ticks has just launched in Nova Scotia.”
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4. Helicopter crash
“One Canadian military member is dead and five others are missing after a helicopter serving with a NATO naval task force crashed in international waters between Greece and Italy on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed,” report Kathleen Harris and Murray Brewster for the CBC:
Four Royal Canadian Air Force members and two Royal Canadian Navy members were on board at the time.
“All of them are heroes. Each of them will leave a void that cannot be filled,” Trudeau said.
Nova Scotia Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, a marine systems engineering officer originally from Toronto, is confirmed dead.
Later on Thursday, the defence department identified those still missing:
Capt. Brenden MacDonald, a pilot originally from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
Capt. Kevin Hagen, a pilot originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, an air combat systems officer originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec.
Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, a naval warfare officer originally from Truro, Nova Scotia.
Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, an airborne electronic sensor operator originally from Guelph, Ontario.
Like all of us, Barbara Darby has struggled to find an emotional anchor, the proper response, in the wake of our dual disasters:
So yes, I thought my heart was heavy. But in truth, my emotional responses in the last couple of weeks of this cruelest month have been all over the proverbial map. The ra(n)ge of my emotions includes shock, a lethargic paralysis of feeling at all, anger, bewilderment, and just plain sadness.
But I admit, I am most ashamed of one response in particular, and I don’t say this lightly.
I have shrugged. Well, maybe that’s not the best word but it’s the word I find now. I’ve said to myself (shrug), “oh, not another one.” (Remember, how the cry against antisemitism and mass-school shootings was “never again”?) And I’ve said to myself, with a shrug, “not that surprising.” That the (most) recent murders committed by a man with a so-called “passion” for guns and state-sanctioned force were acts of misogyny has come as a shock to many. I’ve shrugged and said out loud, “duh!”
It is the quotidian obviousness of it that I can’t stand. The oxymorony of this shrugging: I’m feeling intense anger at how unsurprised and hardened my heart has become to such horror. The anti-woman violence, the gun violence. On top of the shocking discovery that we’re collectively vulnerable because in part of how we’ve managed resources and our politics and supply chains and healthcare funding. We can’t even figure out how to get rid of extra milk or get a hair cut or keep up the animal slaughter without pushing people too close for health.
And so, I tell myself, don’t shrug this off. Let your heart be broken, so you don’t become inured (again).
2. Contagion at sea, c. 1875
Stephen Archibald relates the story of his grandmother, Mary Davis Armstrong, who weathered a smallpox outbreak aboard her father Samuel Bancroft Davis’ ship, the barque Herbert C. Hall. This happened around 1875 and Mary was about eight years old. Archibald recaps:
Doesn’t that sound familiar? I was fascinated that the approach we use today was so well understood: isolation to reduce infection, the value of those who have developed immunity, the importance of vaccination. Even being “hungry for bread!’
3. Death and caretakers
Jenny MacDonald writes about being with her 105-year-old grandmother, Connie MacDonald, at the time of her death.
I can relate to the intensely private moments Jenny shares — holding hands, the sponging of her mouth, applying Vaseline to her lips — as I experienced the same acts just a few months ago with my mother, as she lay dying.
Jenny bonded with one of Connie’s caretakers:
She cried. When the morning staff arrived hours later, they cried too.
This is how I learned what the word “care” truly means. It is about feeding, cleaning and clothing. It is also about knowing how much my grandmother loved her lipstick, and that she would have wanted to look her best even in her final moments — especially in her final moments. It is about grieving loss even when loss is part of your job. Call it care, compassion, kindness — call it love. It is all of these things.
We are all grieving — caretakers too.
Small acts of care like these help us to connect with our loved ones when they are at their most vulnerable. These acts comfort us as much they comfort our loved ones. In this era of Covid-19, so many of these experiences have been taken from us.
“More than 100 media outlets in Canada have made cuts in 11 provinces and territories in a six-week period, with nearly 50 community newspapers shuttering,” reports Steph Wechsler for J-Source. “Upwards of 2,000 workers have been laid off.”
COVID-19 Media Impact Map for Canada — a joint project of J-Source, the Local News Research Project at Ryerson’s School of Journalism and the Canadian Association of Journalists — collates available data on cuts across the country based on news articles and worker accounts confirmed by our own reporting. The map and a fact sheet summarizing the data are prepared by the LNRP principal investigator April Lindgren and project research assistant Christina Wong.
What we found won’t surprise many who have been following the news. Still, the constellation of cuts is sobering. While these data aren’t absolute — our project will be updated regularly — we do know that at local and hyperlocal levels, the pandemic is accelerating what some are describing as a mass extinction event.
This is terrible news. Of course lots of industries are failing, and businesses everywhere are shuttering. The personal impacts are enormous, whether you’ve lost your job because you worked at a bar or a hotel or a newspaper, so I don’t want to minimize anyone’s experience. It’s not a competition for who has the worst situation.
I will say, tho, that the news media play an important role in our society, and it’s not one that can be replaced or likely even fired up again should we start moving to something that looks like a path towards recovery. We’ll never “return to normal.” The future is going to be bleak for at least a few years, and it will be that much bleaker still without a press that can hold the powers that be to account.
On a slightly more positive note, so far the Halifax Examiner is weathering the storm. I have no idea what the situation will be like, say, three months from now, but I had honestly thought we’d be effectively bankrupt by now. However, because readers have been so supportive financially, we’ve been able to avoid that fate and even grow. And so we’re taking the opportunity to add an additional full-time reporter, starting Monday. Details then. How long we’ll be able to keep that reporter on staff depends entirely on your continued financial support; please subscribe.
Some people have asked that we additionally allow for one-time donations from readers, so we’ve created that opportunity, via the PayPal button below. We also accept e-transfers, cheques, and donations with your credit card; please contact iris “at” halifaxexaminer “dot” ca for details.
There’s a COVID-19 briefing today, at 3pm.
In the harbour
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from anchorage to Pier 41
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
15:00: Crane Master, dredger, arrives at Berth TBD from sea
15:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Charlottetown
16:00: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Barcelona
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is hearing from readers. People have been kind and of course the attaboys feel good, but I especially like that readers are engaged: they want to have conversations, they ask for more facts and for my opinion, they offer up their own discoveries and insights, and these are often quite compelling and useful. It’s something wonderful to realize that the Examiner is so much more than just me, or just me and the other writers, but additionally is a community. I value that.
In these crazy times, however, it’s impossible to keep up. Yesterday I was engaged in a work project that needed all my attention from 6am to 6pm. Throughout that time, I could hear my computer pinging with emails and DMs and FB messages and Slack updates and… And then I had to catch up with publishing articles and a complex tech situation that needed figuring out in order to advance a story, and before I knew it, it was 10:30pm, and I said ‘enough.’ I turned on the TV and cracked a beer, and no sooner had I taken my first sip when a new email popped up from a surprising source. OK, what’s this about? I wondered, and for the next 30 minutes I was on the phone. Then, to bed, finally.
And I woke up this morning to find that several readers had been up at 2am, at 3am, at 4:30am, sending me incredibly helpful information that will make its way into future Examiner articles. Really good stuff.
I’ll try to get to all of this, as time allows. But inevitably I’ll miss a lot of it, or set it aside to return to later, only to have those projects drop ever further down the pile. I apologize for this. But I want you to know that it means a lot to me. You folks are great.
iPolitics AM: Weekend protests likely to come up during PM's daily media update, special committee session – iPolitics.ca
ALSO TODAY: Singh to hold pre-sitting press conference — Amnesty International, MPs call on Canada to speak out against China’s proposed new national security laws
As previewed in the iPolitics weekly lookahead, the SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC is set to kick off its first full four-day work week with an extended ministerial question period that will include both the small contingent of MPs assembled in the Chamber and those joining the proceedings remotely via webcam. (12 noon)
Barring a last-minute scheduling change, however, the 95-minute session won’t feature an appearance by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
According to his official itinerary, Trudeau will hold his usual mid-morning media availability outside Rideau Cottage, during which he’s virtually guaranteed to field questions on the protests that continued across the United States through the weekend in the wake of the death of George Floyd, as well as an anti-racism march in Montreal that, as Canadian Press reports, “degenerated into clashes between police and some demonstrators on Sunday night.” (11:15 AM)
Also on his to-do list, as per the same advisory: Phone check-ins with his Guatemalan counterpart Alejandro Giammattei and the Sultan of Oman, as well as other “private meetings.”
UPDATE: A hot-off-the-press exclusive from the Star reveals that Trudeau is also expected to unveil “several billion dollars in assistance to help cash-strapped cities whose bottom lines have been battered by the pandemic,” which, according to an unnamed but looped-in senior official, “will be earmarked for infrastructure project.”
Back in the precinct, New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh will likely also have something to say about the ongoing protests when he drops by the West Block press theatre to chat with reporters before heading to the Commons for the special committee meeting. (9:30 AM)
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will also make himself available to the media this morning. (10 AM)
ON AND AROUND THE HILL
Amnesty International Canada teams up with the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, the Toronto Association for Democracy in China and the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, as well as Sen. Marilou McPhedran and a trio of MPs from the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic caucuses to push for a “strong Canadian response to China’s proposed national security law,” which, as per the notice, should include “anticipation of the potential for a growing number of refugees from Hong Kong seeking Canada’s protection.” (2 PM)
ON THE VIRTUAL COMMITTEE CIRCUIT
INDUSTRY members examine the impact of the pandemic on scientific and medical research during a panel discussion that will include Queen’s University astrophysicist Arthur McDonald and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories CEO Joe McBrearty, as well as senior executives from StarFish Medical, Dynamite Network and Bidali. (11 AM – 1 PM)
HUMAN RESOURCES surveys the leaders of some of Canada’s largest labour groups, including Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff, Unifor president Jerry Dias and United Steelworkers national director Ken Neumann. ( 2 – 4 PM)
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada distinguished fellow Stephen R. Nagy offers his perspective on Canada’s response to the pandemic during a one-hour appearance at GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS. (2 – 3 PM)
FISHERIES AND OCEANS members hold their first virtual organizational session, which is also the first time the committee has gotten together since March. (11 AM – 1 PM)
Due to the ongoing parliamentary shutdown, most House and Senate committee meetings are suspended until regular sittings resume.
FRESH FROM iPOLITICS
Sen. Tony Dean: Three Senators switch seats as Senate reform accelerates
HOT OFF THE WIRES
Committee highlights courtesy of our friends at iPoliticsINTEL.
Don’t miss today’s complete legislative brief in GovGuide.ca!
Trump's social media regulation push faces key hurdle at the FCC – National Post
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to regulate social media companies’ content decisions may face an uphill battle from regulators who have previously said they cannot oversee the conduct of internet firms.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai did not endorse Trump’s proposal on Thursday but said in a written statement “this debate is an important one” and added the FCC “will carefully review any petition for rulemaking.”
In August 2018, Pai said he hoped social media companies would embrace free speech but did not see a role for the FCC to regulate websites like Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter.
“They are not going to be regulated in terms of free speech,” Pai said at a forum. “The government is not here to regulate these platforms. We don’t have the power to do that.”
Another Republican on the five-member commission, Mike O’Rielly, expressed mixed feelings.
“As a conservative, I’m troubled voices are stifled by liberal tech leaders. At same time, I’m extremely dedicated to the First Amendment which governs much here,” O’Rielly wrote on Twitter.
Trump signed an executive order Thursday directing the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to petition the FCC to write rules clarifying social media companies’ legal protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, wrote on Twitter that the review is “based on political #speech management of platforms. So many wobbly parts to this govt ‘nudge.’ I don’t see how it survives.”
Another barrier is timing. The FCC will spend at least a few months reviewing and likely seeking public comment before potentially drafting proposed regulations. It could take a year or longer to finalize any rules, long after the November presidential election.
Section 230 protects internet companies from liability for illegal content posted by users and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts.
Trump wants the FCC to “expeditiously propose regulations” to determine what constitutes “good faith” by firms in removing some content. He also wants Congress to repeal the Section 230 protections.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, said he expects the commission will seek public comment on the forthcoming NTIA petition to provide clarity on what “good faith conduct” by companies means and draw a line between permissible and improper behavior.
“When a final decision is reached, my hope and expectation is that it will provide clarity about that line,” Carr said.
Twitter called Trump’s executive order “a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law…. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.”
Alexandra Givens, chief executive of the Center for Democracy & Technology, said the order “not only violates the Constitution, it ignores 20 years of well-established law. The Executive Order is designed to deter social media companies from fighting misinformation, voter suppression, and the stoking of violence on their services.”
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, suggested turning the FCC “into the president’s speech police is not the answer. It’s time for Washington to speak up for the First Amendment.” (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
In China, U.S. protests a hot topic on state, social media – TheChronicleHerald.ca
By Huizhong Wu
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state media is giving extensive coverage to violent protests roiling cities across the United States, while the unrest has also featured widely in Chinese social media.
The death of George Floyd, a 46-year old black man, while in police custody last week has sparked demonstrations and unrest across the politically and racially divided country.
China’s state-run CCTV aired parts of an interview that his brother, Philonise Floyd, gave to U.S. news channel MSNBC in its noon broadcast on Monday, where he said U.S. President Donald Trump did not give him the opportunity to speak during a phone call and where he cried at the mention of his brother.
While the unrest in U.S. cities has been widely reported by international media, China’s interest comes at a time when relations between the two are particularly strained.
CCTV featured reports from one of its reporters running with protesters in Minnesota, as well as short videos shot by Americans depicting police violence against protesters.
On China’s social media platform Weibo, at least five news items on the protests were among the top 20 trending topics by midday, led by reports Trump had been temporarily taken to a bunker as protesters surrounded the White House.
On Twitter, the protests also featured widely among the top 20 trending items, with the hashtag #BunkerBoy at a prominent second place.
For some analysts, the Chinese media coverage of the protests echoed their reporting on the coronavirus situation in the United States.
“The number one thing they want to show is that the Communist Party is doing a better job in terms of fighting the coronavirus and managing society,” said Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
“That’s the main message: the U.S. is not doing good.”
Some Chinese media have made comparisons between the U.S. protests and those in Hong Kong, the latest flashpoint in U.S.-China tensions. Trump has begun the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish Beijing’s decision to impose new national security laws on the territory.
The state-run China Daily posted a political cartoon showing a coronavirus patient saying “I can’t breathe” – the dying words of Floyd – as a figure resembling Trump walks away after cutting the line to an oxygen tank labelled “WHO”.
That was a reference to his decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization on Friday.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying wrote on Twitter on Saturday “I can’t breathe” in response to a tweet from U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus criticising China’s actions in Hong Kong.
(Reporting by Huizhong Wu; Editing by Tony Munroe and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
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