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Northern Pulp prepares to shut down amid protests on both sides – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of protesters rallied Thursday in support of Northern Pulp, as others urged the Nova Scotia government to make good on its promise to close the mill’s effluent treatment plant at Boat Harbour by the end of January.

Northern Pulp said Thursday it is preparing to shut down as the government remains silent on whether it will amend the Boat Harbour Act, which legislates the closure of the treatment facility by Jan. 31.

An amendment to the act would be required to change that date, however the province has yet to say whether it would consider that amendment. Premier Stephen McNeil is expected to speak publicly about the future of Boat Harbour on Friday. 

Northern Pulp officials have requested an extension to the deadline and have said the Pictou County-based mill cannot keep operating without one, something forestry officials have predicted would result in about 2,700 jobs lost within the industry.

“Without such decision from the Government of Nova Scotia, our stakeholders need to be ready for the worst-case scenario,” the company said in a news release Thursday. 

“We continue to believe that Pictou County deserves to have both a clean environment and a prosperous economy, and that Boat Harbour needs to be closed and remediated.”

Dozens in Pictou County came out in support of Pictou Landing First Nation Thursday. They want the province to stick to its word to shut down Boat Harbour Jan. 31. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

On Tuesday, Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said the company’s environmental focus report lacked enough science-based information for him to make a decision on the mill’s proposal to build a new effluent treatment plant, which would replace the current facility at Boat Harbour.

Members of Pictou Landing First Nation, which is located next to Boat Harbour and has suffered decades of pollution as a result, have urged the premier to keep his promise and uphold the closure date in the act.

Protests on both sides of the issue were staged on Thursday.  

In Pictou County, more than 200 supporters and members of Pictou Landing First Nation gathered in a gymnasium to urge the government to stick to its word and maintain the Jan. 31 deadline.

Andrea Paul speaks at a rally in Pictou on Thursday. She remains firm that the Jan. 31 deadline should not change. (CBC)

“You don’t get to 42 days [before Jan. 31] and decide that is not going to be the date,” Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul said during the rally.

“We have children watching this unfold. We have children that are relying on us to make this right.”

In Halifax, hundreds of people from the forestry sector descended upon Province House on Thursday morning to rally against a shut down.

Richard Freeman, co-owner of Freeman Sustained Forests, speaks to a crowd of hundreds in front of Province House on Thursday. (Paul Withers/CBC)

Richard Freeman, co-owner of Freeman Sustained Forests, said people in the industry want to see Boat Harbour cleaned up, but the Jan. 31 timeline is no longer achievable. 

“It’s going to be done right and it’s going to take longer than we all had hoped,” said Freeman, whose company is one of the largest employers in Queens County. 

“But there’s no sense in gutting rural Nova Scotia because a date on a piece of paper turned out to be unrealistic.”

Along Highway 118, between Dartmouth and Fall River, logging trucks lined up along the road to protest the potential closure of Northern Pulp.  (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Meanwhile along Highway 118, about 300 logging trucks were lined up end-to-end for 20 kilometres from Dartmouth to Fall River on Thursday morning to protest the potential shut down of the mill.

Many of those trucks then made their way toward Province House, causing traffic to snarl as they drove into downtown Halifax.

A convoy of logging trucks make their way down Barrington Street in Halifax Thursday afternoon. (Kassandra Nadeau-Lamarche/Radio-Canada)

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Don't downplay mRNA: Experts say new technology could change the vaccine landscape – CTV News

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When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.

The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others.

Experts say the new technique shouldn’t dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades.

The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product.

“It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there’s nothing outlandish about it,” said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. “This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA.”

Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.

Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses.

“As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen,” said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill.

“But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe.”

The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won’t be popping up overnight.

Still, Basta adds, there’s potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.

Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.”

Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.

Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.

While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments “truly take over.”

“The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn’t want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce,” he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that’s currently needed. “But I do think it’s an important milestone.”

Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.

Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn’t disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code.

“The technology application is new, but the science is mature,” Brown said. “We’ve just reached the point at which we can apply it.”

Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.

A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says.

While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that’s more transmissible — Brown says mRNA’s adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update.

“In six weeks they could produce something,” he said. “It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

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Delays to Canada's deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses keep getting worse – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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  1. Delays to Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses keep getting worse  CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News
  2. Quebec vaccine plan may be rethought after troubling Israeli data, says provincial advisor  CTV News Montreal
  3. Canada won’t receive any Pfizer shots next week — here’s what you need to know about the vaccination campaign  CBC.ca
  4. Dr. Bonnie Henry: B.C. is maximizing the benefit of the limited COVID-19 vaccine supply  Vancouver Sun
  5. Opinion: Canadians’ outrage over vaccine delays is misguided – not to mention entitled  The Globe and Mail
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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More than 220,000 businesses may disappear due to COVID-19: CFIB – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia working on legislation to regulate sale of used police vehicles

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is drafting legislation around the sale of used police vehicles and equipment, after a man driving a replica RCMP cruiser killed 22 people last April. Justice Minister Mark Furey told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday the legislation will regulate how police vehicles are decommissioned, which will include, he said, ensuring they are stripped of equipment and decals. “We are certainly aware of the previous circumstances and the most recent circumstances,” Furey said. The minister made the comments a day after the Mounties said a 23-year-old suspect from Antigonish, N.S., may have driven a vehicle that looked like an unmarked police car and pulled over drivers. The vehicle in question, a white 2013 Ford Taurus, is similar to the car Gabriel Wortman used during his 13-hour, deadly rampage in northern and central Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020. Furey noted that under current law it’s illegal to impersonate a police officer. “When it comes to police articles and decommissioned police vehicles there is certainly some work to do to fine-tune that legislation and the ability to mitigate and prevent, as best we can, access to this equipment that is used to mock-up police vehicles.” he said. Furey said there are no plans to ban the sale of decommissioned police vehicles despite calls by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives to prohibit those sales. He said RCMP and municipal police services have been consulted and are in support of the government’s draft legislation. Furey is recommending the Liberal government table a bill during the next sitting of the legislature. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press

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