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N.S. RCMP delay on street checks apology damaging relations, Black leaders say –



HALIFAX — The RCMP are further delaying a decision on whether to offer an apology to Halifax’s Black community for their use of street checks, as some Black Nova Scotian leaders say the force’s silence is damaging trust.

Rev. Lennett Anderson, the past moderator of the African United Baptist Association, disagrees with the Mounties’ view that they must await the completion of a national review of the practice.

Street checks, which are now banned in Nova Scotia, are defined as police randomly stop citizens, recording information and storing it electronically.

The delay “wasn’t acceptable last year, nor is it acceptable now …. The silence is deafening,” Anderson said in an interview.

He was among the prominent Black citizens who participated in a provincially commissioned study of street checks released last year that found Black residents were five times more likely to be subjected to the practice than whites.

“It’s dehumanizing. It’s a traumatic thing,” Anderson said. “And they don’t need to wait for a national report to address the local damage.”

RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke wrote in a recent email the force first needs to see a report on the topic being prepared by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.

“With the Nova Scotia RCMP being the provincial police and part of a national organization, our work extends beyond the municipality, and thus our considerations regarding an apology do as well,” she said.

The RCMP, which polices the suburbs of Halifax, was part of a study by criminologist Scot Wortley released in March 2019 that condemned the practice as targeting young Black men and creating a “disproportionate and negative” impact on the Black community.

Last October, retired jurist Michael MacDonald released a legal analysis concluding the practice contravenes basic constitutional and common-law rights.

Attorney General Mark Furey immediately announced a ban on street checks, and on Nov. 29, Halifax police Chief Dan Kinsella issued an apology before several hundred members of the Black community.

Meanwhile, in an interview last fall, RCMP Chief Supt. Janis Gray said the Nova Scotia division would await the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission study, which began in April 2018 and had been expected in March of this year.

However, the commission said last week it has delayed the release of that report until the fall. Clarke said in an email the force will await the report “and determine the way forward from there.”

She wrote the Mounties are “committed to strengthening the relationship between the RCMP and our African Nova Scotian communities.”

Anderson said the latest slowdown is harming the force’s relationship with the province’s Black communities. He noted a public apology must be followed up with concrete measures but said an apology “is a step in the right direction.”

Vanessa Fells, the program co-ordinator of the African Nova Scotia Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, said at a time of global discussion on police mistreatment of Black citizens, the silence of the RCMP has become a growing concern for her group.

“At some point they need to stop stalling and step up and take responsibility,” she said in an interview.

Wortley, the criminologist, noted that calls for a study of street checks go back to a 2003 decision of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in the case of boxer Kirk Johnson, who was repeatedly pulled over by police and once had his car seized.

The Black community “waited over 16 years since that Johnson decision before the study on street checks was complete. You can understand if the community is wary about the implications of delay,” he said in an interview.

He also said it may be understandable for the RCMP, as a national organization, to await findings that are going to be national in scope before it acts.

“If the RCMP is going to address the issue, it would be better it be a nationwide strategy than something only affecting the Halifax region …. It’s been brought up by Black and Indigenous groups across the country.”

Wortley’s final report noted that it was important to set up a system to record data about police stops of all kinds — including traffic stops — by age, gender and race in order to identify patterns of unfair treatment.

He also called for periodic surveys of the general public about their experiences of contact with the police, and suggested these results be given to the public on a regular basis.

The RCMP didn’t provide an update on what items from the report had been acted upon by its regional division.

A spokesman for the Halifax police said the force has made “good progress” on several items in the Wortley report since the public apology, but added that COVID-19 has slowed the pace in some areas.

Const. John MacLeod cited improvements in education and training of officers. He said Wortley’s recommendation on data collection requires other police agencies and the province to participate.

Jill McKenzie, a spokeswoman for the provincial Justice Department, said the province is working to create a committee with representatives from the Black community, police, government and academia to recommend “a race-based data collection model.”

Fells said that while she is still looking for the Wortley report to be fully implemented by the Halifax police, it appears the public apology has started a process of change and dialogue.

“I’ve heard from (Kinsella) on his renewed commitment. We’ve heard nothing from the RCMP, nothing at all,” she said.

— This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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Quebec company begins human trials of coronavirus vaccine –



Medicago said on Tuesday it has begun testing its plant-based coronavirus vaccine in an early-stage clinical trial as the Canadian company, backed by tobacco company Phillip Morris, races against larger drugmakers to develop a treatment option to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medicago said it dosed the first healthy volunteers on Monday in a 180-person study, making it the first vaccine from Canada among the more than 20 experimental coronavirus vaccines being tested in humans.

Read more:
Canadian company to collaborate on potential coronavirus vaccine with GSK

Experts have cautioned that more than one vaccine may be necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with drugmakers such as AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc ahead in the race and gearing up to test their vaccine candidates in large trials.

Countries have spent billions to aid the development of safe and effective vaccines and to secure access to them.

Initial doses of Medicago’s vaccine could go to the United States and Canada, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Clark told Reuters.

“Our research base is in Canada and we have commercialization in the U.S., so it seems to be most likely the first countries will be in North America.”

Medicago’s vaccine is being tested with adjuvants, or vaccine boosters, from GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest vaccine-maker, and Dynavax Technologies Corp.

Medicago’s potential vaccine uses the leaves of a plant from the tobacco family to produce the S-spike protein, one of the three spike proteins of the novel coronavirus.

The company has already used this approach in a flu vaccine that is awaiting Canadian approval.

Read more:
Quebec biopharmaceutical company sees encouraging early COVID-19 vaccine tests

Medicago, which expects to make about 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021, is also building a facility in Quebec City, Canada. The facility is expected to be ready by 2023 and make a billion units a year.

The company, headquartered in Quebec City, is privately owned. Philip Morris owns 33% of Medicago and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma the remaining stake.

© 2020 Reuters

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21 new cases of COVID-19 detected in BC Wednesday, no new deaths –



Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said they were “concerned” about the recent growth in COVID-19 case numbers, as they provided an update on B.C.’s caseload Wednesday.

In a written statement, the health officials reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 but no new deaths related to the disease. 

it follows the announcement Monday of 62 new cases over the weekend and 13 new cases Tuesday.

Henry and Dix say community transmission is becoming a problem in the province and urged people to obey advice to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check.

“We are concerned about the increase in new cases in recent days, as COVID-19 continues to silently circulate in our communities,” they said in their statement. “While early on, many of our long-term care and assisted living facilities were impacted, most of the new cases are in the broader community.

“As we spend more time with others, we need to find our balance with COVID-19. We need to minimize the number of cases, manage new cases as they emerge and modify our activities accordingly.”

With Wednesday’s case numbers included, the province has had a total of 3,149 novel coronavirus cases to date and 189 deaths have been connected to COVID-19, while 2,753 people have recovered.

Two of Wednesday’s cases were epidemiologically linked cases, meaning they were never tested but are presumed to have the disease as they are showing symptoms and were in close contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.

No new outbreaks

The province also put the number of known cases that are still active at 207.

Fourteen people are in hospital, including five in intensive care. The rest are recovering at home in self-isolation, the officials said.

No new outbreaks were reported in either health-care settings or the community Wednesday. That leaves B.C. with two long-term care or assisted-living facilities with active outbreaks and one acute-care setting with an active outbreak.

There remains one active outbreak in the community, the statement said, “in addition to several community exposure events.”

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B.C. reports more than 20 COVID-19 cases for 6th time in a week –



British Columbia reported 21 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths.

The province did not hold a live briefing, but reported the numbers in a statement.

Read more:
B.C. reports 13 new cases of COVID-19, no new deaths

It is the sixth time in the last week that the province has reported 20 or more cases in a 24-hour period, after new cases stayed in the teens or single digits for more than a month.

On Monday, the province reported 62 cases of the disease over a three-day span. On Friday, health officials reported 25 COVID-19 cases, the most since May 8. Twenty cases were reported on Thursday.

B.C. sees slight increase in daily COVID-19 cases

B.C. sees slight increase in daily COVID-19 cases

The province saw the number of new cases begin to top 20 almost exactly two weeks after B.C. moved into Phase 3 of its pandemic reopening plan.

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B.C. forecasts $12.5B deficit due to COVID-19 spending, massive drops in tax revenues

B.C. has now recorded 3,149 cases of COVID-19, 14 of which are epi-linked. Of those, 2,753 people have recovered, and 189 people have died, leaving 207 active cases.

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Fourteen people are in hospital with the virus Wednesday, five of them in critical care.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,023 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,659 in the Fraser Health region, 135 in the Island Health region, 216 in the Interior Health region, 65 in the Northern Health region and 51 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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