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‘You cannot claim any more:’ Russia seeks bigger piece of Arctic

Russia wants to stretch out imaginary lines on the ocean floor — and below it — and that has one northern security expert worried about consequences for other Arctic countries like Canada.

Last week, Russia filed a submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend a claim to the Arctic Ocean seabed.

The UN still has to review the submission but, if it’s approved, Russia would have exclusive rights to resources in the seabed and below it, and not in the water.

The new submission would push Russia’s claim all the way up to Canada’s exclusive economic zone, an area 200 nautical miles from the coastline, in which Canadians have sole rights to fish, drill and pursue other economic activities.

Philip Steinberg, a political geography professor at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, estimates Russia’s submission expands its original claim by about 705,000 square kilometres.

‘A maximalist submission’

Robert Huebert, a political science professor at the University of Calgary, said Russia’s request gets as close to Canada’s 200-mile limit as possible.

“This is a maximalist submission. You cannot claim any more,” said Huebert, an Arctic security and defence analyst with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.

Countries have sovereignty over their zones but can submit scientific evidence to the UN to claim control over the soil and subsoil of the extended continental shelf.

Here’s a situation where they’re claiming the entire Canadian and Danish continental shelf as part of their continental shelf.​​​​– Robert Huebert, University of Calgary political science professor

Russia’s amended submission overlaps with those from Canada and Denmark, but does not extend into the north of Alaska.

“In effect, they’re claiming the entire Arctic Ocean as their continental shelf in regards to where their Arctic comes up against Canada’s and Denmark’s,” Huebert said.

The claims from Canada, Denmark (on behalf of Greenland), and Russia already overlap at the North Pole, but the amended claim goes beyond that, Huebert said.

“We haven’t seen a country before that’s extended over its neighbours. Here’s a situation where they’re claiming the entire Canadian and Danish continental shelf as part of their continental shelf.”

Huebert noted there have been recent reports of an increased Russian military presence on the Ukrainian border over the last two weeks.

“If the Russians reinvigorate the conflict with Ukraine, that is going to spill into all of this.” he said.

“I don’t think anyone should assume that Russia will do anything less than pursue its maximum foreign policy interests.”

‘Playing by the rules’

Whitney Lackenbauer, a professor at Trent University who specializes in circumpolar affairs, disagrees.

“Russia is playing by the rules. And for those of us who are concerned about Russia’s flouting of the rules-based order, I actually take a great deal of comfort in seeing Russia go through the established process in this particular case,” Lackenbauer said.

He believes Russia’s submission signals eventual talks between the three countries to determine the limits of their continental shelves.

“Setting out to negotiate where the outermost limits would be was something that was always in the cards,” Lackenbauer said.

“I’m not worried about Russia’s actions as an Arctic coastal state seeking to determine the outermost limits of its extended continental shelf.”

Nor is he concerned about potential conflict, since Russia has submitted the required scientific evidence.

“You can’t sit on a continental shelf and claim squatter’s rights to it.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Canada “remains firmly committed to exercising in full its sovereign rights in the Arctic” according to international law.

The statement also said Russia’s revised outer limit “does not establish new rights for Russia over the newly created overlap areas.”

It said Canada is studying Russia’s revised claim on its outer limits to prepare an appropriate response.

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CBC | World News

Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate the area closest to a volcano on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent raced to get clear Saturday, a day after it erupted with an explosion that shook the ground, spewed ash skyward and blanketed the island in a layer of fine volcanic rock.

The eruption Friday of La Soufrière — its first large one since 1979 — transformed the island’s lush towns and villages into gloomy, grey versions of themselves. A strong sulfur smell was unavoidable Saturday and ash covered everything, creeping into homes, cars and noses, and obscuring the sunshine that makes the island so popular with tourists.

Chellise Rogers, who lives in the village of Biabou, which is in an area of St. Vincent that’s considered safe, said she could hear continuous rumbling.

“It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time,” she said. “[It’s the] first time I am witnessing a volcano eruption.”


People in Kingstown, St. Vincent, walk on a street covered with volcanic ash on Saturday, a day after the La Soufrière volcano erupted. (Lucanus Ollivierre/The Associated Press)

Scientists warn that the explosions could continue for days or even weeks, and that the worst could be yet to come.

“The first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang this volcano will give,” Richard Robertson, a geologist with the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, said during a news conference.

About 16,000 people have had to flee their ash-covered communities with as many belongings as they could stuff into suitcases and backpacks. However, there have been no reports of anyone being killed or injured by the initial blast or those that followed. Before it blew, the government ordered people to evacuate the most high-risk area around the 1,220-metre volcano after scientists warned that magma was moving close to the surface.

‘It’s difficult to breathe’

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of the 32 islands that make up the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said on local station NBC Radio that people should remain calm, be patient and keep trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus. He said officials were trying to figure out the best way to collect and dispose of the ash, which covered an airport runway near the capital of Kingstown, about 32 kilometres south, and fell as far away as Barbados, about 190 kilometres to the east.

“It’s difficult to breathe,” the prime minister said, adding that although the volcano was venting less, a big plume of ash remained. “What goes up, must come down.”


Ash covers roads in the capital Kingstown following Friday’s major eruption. (Robertson S. Henry/Reuters)

Although Gonsalves said it could take up to four months for life to return to normal, he’s confident it will.

“Agriculture will be badly affected, and we may have some loss of animals, and we will have to do repairs to houses. But if we have life and we have strength — we will build it back better, stronger, together,” he said.

People who didn’t heed the initial evacuation order hurried to do so Saturday. At least a few ash-covered evacuees escaped in small boats and headed to other parts of the main island, which makes up 90 per cent of the country’s total land.

Thousands take refuge in shelters

About 3,200 people took refuge at 78 government-run shelters, and four empty cruise ships stood ready to take other evacuees to nearby islands, with a group of more than 130 already taken to St. Lucia. Those staying at the shelters were tested for COVID-19, with anyone testing positive being taken to an isolation centre.

Nearby nations, including Antigua and Grenada, also offered to take in evacuees.


Soldiers and residents stand next to a car covered in volcanic ash in Kingstown on Saturday. (Orvil Samuel/The Associated Press)

On Saturday, some people swept outside their homes and taped their doors and windows shut in the hopes of keeping out the ash.

The ash has forced the cancellation of several flights, and poor visibility limited evacuations in some areas. Officials warned that St. Lucia to the north and Grenada to the south could get light ash fall, though most of it was expected to head northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.

Although the ash can seem scary, it won’t harm healthy people in the short term, said Claire Horwell, a professor at Durham University in the U.K. who will be analyzing the ash emitted by La Soufrière. She recommended that people wear face masks, long sleeves and pants to avoid irritation.

However, she warned that the ash and gases, particularly sulfur dioxide, could affect asthmatics and others with chronic health conditions.

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CBC | World News

Stress from scuffle with police ‘more than Mr. Floyd could take’, medical officer testifies

George Floyd’s scuffle with police, along with Derek Chauvin’s knee pressed into his neck, was too much for his underlying heart condition and caused the death of the 46-year-old Black man, the local county’s chief medical officer told a Minneapolis court on Friday.

“[The adrenaline is] going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation,” said Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Floyd and ruled his death to be a homicide.

Baker’s testimony marked the 10th day of the murder trail of Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Floyd.

“And in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” Baker said.

Baker’s testimony veered somewhat from what the court had previously heard from other medical witnesses called by the prosecution.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down.

Witness reaffirmed autopsy report

The outcome of the high profile trial is being closely watched after video of the arrest of Floyd captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests over race and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.


Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell questions Baker at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Court TV/Associated Press)

The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

The court has so far heard from prosecution medical experts, including a leading lung specialist, who have testified that Floyd died from asphyxia — or insufficient oxygen — because of the actions of police. Baker has not ruled asphyxiation to be a cause of Floyd’s death.

Previous witnesses had significantly downplayed Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and drugs found in his system as playing a role in his death. 

However, Baker reaffirmed the findings of his autopsy report. He said those elements were contributing factors, though not the primary cause of death.

Adrenaline impacts

Under questioning by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Baker explained that Floyd had narrowed coronary arteries — about 75 per cent blockage in his left anterior descending artery and 90 per cent blockage in his right coronary artery. Floyd also had hypertensive heart disease, meaning his heart weighed slightly more than it should.


Chauvin’s defence attorney Eric Nelson cross-examines Baker. (Court TV/Associated Press)

Floyd’s confrontation with police, which included being pinned facedown on the pavement while Chauvin pressed his knees into his neck, produced adrenaline that made Floyd’s heart beat faster.

Baker testified that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” 

Asked to explain cardiopulmonary arrest, Baker said that was “fancy medical lingo for the heart and the lungs stopped.”

He also explained the definition of “homicide” in an autopsy report, that it was a medical and not a legal term, which is applied when the actions of other people were involved in an individual’s death.

Cross-examination 

During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson seized on the potential role played by Floyd’s heart condition and drugs found in his system.

“In your opinion, both the heart disease as well as the history of hypertension and the drugs that were in his system played a role in Mr. Floyd’s death?” Nelson asked Baker.

“In my opinion, yes,” Baker said. 


Chauvin takes notes at his trial in the death of George Floyd. (Court TV/Associated Press)

Baker also agreed that he had certified overdose as the cause of death in other autopsies where that individual had much lower levels of fentanyl in their system than was found in Floyd.

Nelson asked Baker if he recalled having conversations last year with prosecutors in which he described the level of fentanyl found in Floyd’s system was a “fatal level.”

“I recall describing it in other circumstances, it would be a fatal level,” Baker said.

But Baker also agreed that he had described Floyd’s s death as a “multifactorial process.”

He said drugs and hypertension were not “direct causes” but they were “contributing causes.”

The trial continues. 

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CBC | World News

Why Canadians have reason to be more optimistic about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Comparing apples to oranges isn’t necessarily useful if you’re trying to learn more about apples. And that is exactly what some experts say is happening in recent discussions of Canada’s vaccine rollout performance on the world stage.

This country’s vaccination record can seem disappointing when compared to the quick progress in some other countries, but that may not be a fair comparison, some experts say. The fact is certain key metrics suggest Canada’s rollout performance is actually on the rise compared to those of many other countries.

“It really does matter who you compare Canada to,” said Trevor Tombe, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary and a research fellow at its school of public policy. 

How we evaluate Canada’s performance, he said, is by comparing ourselves to other major countries and by “using realistic metrics based on Canada’s current rollout strategy.”

At the beginning of March, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the interval time between first and second doses for the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines be extended to a maximum of four months.

The group doubled down on that recommendation this week, saying the extension will allow more people to receive a first dose more quickly. And the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health publicly announced its support of the interval recommendation the same day.

Tombe said that extension is the reason why Canadians should be sure they are really comparing apples to apples, so to speak, when we look at our numbers internationally.

Comparing Canada to the world based on the metric of how many people have received at least one dose of vaccine paints the most accurate comparative picture right now, he said, given the country has focused its efforts on administering first doses.

By those markers — measuring the Canadian vaccine rollout to other major economies and looking at the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose — this country is doing better than average.

Canada is third in the G7, behind only the United States and United Kingdom. Canada also ranks third when compared to members of the G20 (with data not available for Saudi Arabia and China). And those same metrics put us in the top 10 out of 37 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Scott Halperin, the director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, agrees that comparing Canada’s “fully vaccinated” rate with the rest of the world is not the best measure of the country’s immunization progress right now. 

“When you have a policy of first dose completion, that’s the metric you want to use — because it’s a conscious policy,” he said. 

“When you make a conscious decision not to give the second dose for another three or four months, then your two-dose completion rate is going to stall for that three or four months.”

Halperin and other experts have pointed out the dearth of vaccine supply in February and early March was caused mostly by a lack of capacity in Canada to manufacture vaccines on a mass scale, a situation created by decades of policy-making decisions. 

“You can only do as well in rolling out the vaccine in terms of how many vaccine doses you have,” he said. “And the leaders in rolling out the vaccines, except for a small number of exceptions, are countries who already had manufacturing capacity and invested very heavily in those vaccines.”

But in the here and now, he said, working with what Canada has to work with, the rollout is ramping up at a pace that matches supply.

The rationale behind the strategy

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, the head of NACI, says she responds to criticisms of Canada’s vaccination record with a similar recounting of facts. She says the lack of vaccine supply is a factor that influenced her group’s decision to recommend extending the time gap between first and second doses, which is part of what led to Canada’s seemingly poor performance on the world stage when comparing “fully vaccinated” numbers.  

“What we’ve decided to do in Canada is to give one dose to as many people as possible,” she said. “I know that that decision, that was taken by Canada and the provinces, has led to a lot of anger and anxiety in some people.

“It’s very complicated for some people to understand that better protection for all is eventually going to be better protection for them as well.”

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CBC | Health News

Canada must continue investing in economy to exit pandemic more quickly: Duclos

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos says one lesson learned from recessions and depressions past is to veer away from under-investing in the economy as a crisis comes to an end.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip much of the country — something Duclos himself didn’t expect to see more than one year on — it’s advice he’s backing as the federal government maps out its economic recovery from the global public health emergency. 

“There is unfortunately … a tendency to under react, to be under prepared and to be under reactive … to the challenges posed either by the health or economic crisis,” the former economics professor said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.

“That is a very unfortunate outcome because it means that we are then faced with higher unemployment, lower growth, lower living standards for Canadians and therefore lower taxes and greater deficits over the longer term.”

When the first federal budget in two years is presented later this month, it’s expected to include details of Ottawa’s three-year stimulus plan, which is valued between $ 70 billion and $ 100 billion and is intended to spark the country’s post-pandemic recovery. 

In a pre-budget outlook published last week, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux said the temporary package could provide a “significant boost” to Canada’s economy, but cautioned it could potentially result in “materially larger budget deficits.”

Feds will support Canadians for ‘as long as it takes’

The stimulus plan was not factored into the PBO’s overall report due to a lack of details about the package. The spending watchdog projected the government would run a $ 363.4 billion deficit in the 2020-21 fiscal year — lower than the $ 381 billion figure Ottawa predicted last fall. 

But the PBO noted the deficit should decrease in the years ahead — and projected employment would return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.

We are facing a third wave, which was both unexpected and certainly not the outcome we were hoping for…– Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos

When asked by CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton whether pandemic support for Canadians should continue to be extended, Duclos said the government plans to stick around “for as long as it takes.”

“Obviously, we are facing a third wave, which was both unexpected and certainly not the outcome we were hoping for at this time of the year. I think we all look forward to seeing the budget on the 19th of April,” he said.

Variant-driven surge in cases

The PBO estimate was crafted with the assumption that a so-called “third wave” of COVID-19 cases and infections of coronavirus variants would not be severe, particularly as more Canadians get vaccinated. 

In recent days, parts of Quebec have shut down amid a rise in cases, while Ontario imposed an “emergency brake” Saturday to curb the rapid spread of the virus. British Columbia, meanwhile, implemented three weeks of its own sweeping restrictions as variants of concern drive transmission of COVID-19. 

The country surpassed one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 this weekend.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces an Ontario-wide ‘shutdown’ on April 1, as intensive care admissions in the province related to the coronavirus surpass those of the second wave of the pandemic. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

“I think we’re going to see a rapidly increasing number of cases because of the variants’ increased transmissibility,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, said in a separate interview. “I think that’s very concerning.”

Russell cited “variants, vaccines and vigilance” as the three most critical factors that will determine how quickly Canada finds its way out of the pandemic.

“I would say go below the headlines and the sound bites to understand the numbers. The risks right now in every province is higher to get infected with COVID-19 and one of the variants,” she said. “That risk is higher than any kind of a problem that you could have with any of the vaccines at this point in time.”

WATCH | Critical time for vigilance, says Russell:

New Brunswick’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says it’s a critical time for vigilance as the Atlantic provinces grapple with more cases involving new variants of concern. 8:43

Vaccinations alone not enough, Duclos says

Duclos also appealed to Canadians to be “mindful and focus on the work that each of us needs to do in the next few critical weeks.”

That includes refraining from any non-essential travel, regardless of someone’s vaccination status.

“It’s not the time to travel now and it’s not the time to consider opening up our borders with any country, including the United States,” Duclos said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control declared last week that people who are fully vaccinated can travel within the country without requiring a COVID-19 test or needing to quarantine.

“Even in the United States, where vaccination is more advanced … we’re currently speaking of a fourth wave,” Duclos said. “So that tells us that vaccination is not enough.” 

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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CBC | Health News

7 more Canucks added to NHL’s COVID protocol list, bringing total to 14

Seven Vancouver Canucks have been added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, bringing the team’s total to 14.

The NHL announced Saturday that goaltender Thatcher Demko, defenceman Tyler Myers and forwards Bo Horvat, Tyler Motte, Travis Boyd, Jayce Hawryluk and Brandon Sutter have been added to the list.

They join goaltender Braden Holtby, defencemen Alex Edler, Quinn Hughes and Travis Hamonic and forwards Adam Gaudette, Zack MacEwan and Antoine Roussel.

The news comes as British Columbia set a record for positive cases Saturday with 1,072 new infections, up 1,018 from the day before.

It remains to be seen whether the increased number of Canucks players under protocol will result in additional missed games for the team. Vancouver has already had four games postponed, and as of now the team cannot practice before April 6.

Gaudette was pulled from Tuesday’s practice following a positive test result and added to the list that afternoon.

The NHL postponed the Vancouver’s Wednesday matchup with the Calgary Flames after another player — later identified as Hamonic — and an unnamed member of the coaching staff entered the league’s protocols.

Holtby, Edler, Hughes, MacEwan and Roussel were added Friday.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo recaps week 11 in the NHL’s all-Canadian division:

In our weekly segment, Rob Pizzo catches you up on the week that was in the all-Canadian division in the NHL. 3:54

A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive.

The league’s protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time an individual’s initial test comes back positive, the lab does a second test on the initial sample.

If the second test is negative, a second sample is collected. But if that sample returns a positive result, it’s considered to be a “confirmed positive.”

The league requires individuals with positive tests to self isolate for 10 days, and for close contacts to self isolate for two weeks.

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CBC | Sports News

Canadian men’s soccer team battling more than tough opposition at Olympic qualifier

Canada will be battling more than El Salvador on Friday when it opens play at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in Guadalajara.

Heat (the forecast for the 4 p.m. local time kickoff calls for a temperature of 29 C), altitude (1,550 metres), inactivity (14 of Canada’s 20-man roster play in North America and so are coming from out of season) and unfamiliarity (the Mexico tournament marks the first exclusive get-together for this under-23 team) will likely all come into play at Jalisco Stadium.

But for Canada Soccer and men’s supremo John Herdman, who has tasked the Olympic team to assistant Mauro Biello while he looks after the senior side in World Cup qualifying, it’s a chance to test Canada’s depth and processes.

Since taking over the men’s national team in January 2018, Herdman has brought plenty of young talent into camp to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Canada looking to end Olympic dearth 

“This is an opportunity for a lot of young players here to showcase themselves but at the same time, in terms of the program, everything’s aligned from the men’s national team all the way to our U-15 program,” Biello told a virtual news conference Thursday.

“So a lot of these players that have had some experience graduating through the youth teams and now into the U-23s in our environments are now ready.”

Ten of Canada’s 20 players have national team experience.

Derek Cornelius (13 caps), Marcus Godinho (5), Zachary Brault-Guillard (4), Charles-Andreas Brym (3), Theo Bair (2), Zorhan Bassong (2), Ballou Tabla (2) and Kris Twardek (1) have all played for the senior side while the uncapped Tajon Buchanan and James Pantemis have been called into at least one senior camp.

Herdman and Biello joined forces in guiding a young Canadian side that turned heads at the prestigious Toulon youth tournament in France in May-June 2018.

Cornelius, Pantemis, Aidan Daniels and forward Theo Bair were on that Toulon team.

Now they are looking to help the Canadian men return to the Olympics for the first time since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, where Canada lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

Finding the ‘rhythm’

“We’re sure that the quality is there. We’re sure that we have the talent,” said Cornelius, a 23-year-old defender with the Vancouver Whitecaps. “And it’s just about getting the small things right so that we can really show it on the pitch.”

The eight-team Olympic qualifier was originally scheduled for last March but was postponed due to the pandemic. It will send two teams from the region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, to the Summer Olympics.

Only players born in 1997 or later are eligible for Olympic qualifying (the same age limit was kept despite the qualifying tournament’s one-year delay). Countries that make it to the Olympics are allowed up to three overage players.

After facing El Salvador, Canada continues Group B play against Haiti on Monday and Honduras next Wednesday. Group A, which opened the tournament Thursday, consists of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the U.S.

The top two in each group advance to the semifinals with the winners booking their tickets to Tokyo.

Mexico, which has won the last two CONCACAF qualifiers, and Honduras represented the region at the last two Olympics. Honduras was fourth at the 2016 Rio Games while Mexico defeated Brazil 2-1 to win gold in 2012 in London.

Biello calls El Salvador a possession-based technical team that is organized defensively. It’s also a team that has been together three times already, he noted.

“Obviously my main concern is getting that rhythm,” Biello said of his squad. “A lot of these players haven’t played, whether it’s off-season, whether it’s pre-season.”

Plenty to play for

“This is not going to happen perfectly on the first go,” added Cornelius. “I’m just looking to improve and get the team to be better and better as we go along in the tournament.”

With World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup on deck this year, the Canadian men have plenty to play for.

Canada and El Salvador tied 0-0 when they met at the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament. Canada won 4-2 in 1996.

Biello was unable to summon Toronto FC young talent after the MLS team went into a training camp lockdown earlier this month due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

El Salvador forwards Joshua Perez and Enrico Hernandez are both based in Europe, with Spain’s UD Ibiza Spain and the Netherlands’ Vitesse, respectively.

Canada Olympic Team

Goalkeepers: Sebastian Breza, Bologna (Italy); Matthew Nogueira, CS Maritimo (Portugal); James Pantemis, CF Montreal (MLS).

Defenders: Zorhan Bassong, CF Montreal (MLS); Zachary Brault-Guillard, CF Montreal (MLS); Derek Cornelius, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Marcus Godinho, FSV Zwickau (Germany); Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Pacific FC (CPL); Callum Montgomery, Minnesota United FC (MLS).

Midfielders: Michael Baldisimo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Aidan Daniels, Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL Championship); Lucas Dias, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal); Patrick Metcalfe, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); David Norman, Cavalry FC (CPL) Ryan Raposo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS).

Forwards: Theo Bair, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Charles-Andreas Brym, Royal Excel Mouscron (Belgium); Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution (MLS); Ballou Tabla, CF Montreal (MLS); Kris Twardek, Jagiellonia (Poland).

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CBC | Soccer News

More students kidnapped in Nigeria as gunmen attack forestry college

Gunmen in northwest Nigeria kidnapped around 30 students overnight from a forestry college near a military academy, three students said on Friday, in the fourth mass school abduction since December.

The Federal College of Forestry Mechanization sits on the outskirts of Kaduna city, capital of Kaduna state, in a region roamed by armed gangs, who often travel on motorcycles.

Kaduna state’s security commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, confirmed the attack but did not say how many students had been taken.

Sani Danjuma, a student at the college, said those abducted were all female students, but authorities were unable to confirm this. Other students said some of the young women had managed to escape during the attack.

Local resident Haruna Salisu, speaking by phone, said he had heard sporadic gunshots at around 11:30 p.m.

“We were not panicking, thinking that it was a normal military exercise being conducted at the Nigerian Defence Academy,” he said.

WATCH | Nigerian girls released:

A group of 279 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped at gunpoint have been released. But mass abductions for ransom are on the rise, and the government is under increasing pressure to make them stop. 2:02

“We came out for dawn prayers, at 5:20 a.m., and saw some of the students, teachers and security personnel all over the school premises. They told us that gunmen raided the school and abducted some of the students.”

Salisu said she had seen military personnel taking the remaining students into the academy.

On Friday morning, relatives of students gathered at the gates of the college, which was surrounded by around 20 army trucks.

Lawless region

Banditry has festered for years in northwest Nigeria, rendering large swathes of the region lawless.

The trend of abduction from boarding schools was started by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 270 schoolgirls from a school at Chibok in the northeast in 2014, around 100 of whom have never been found.

It has since been taken up by armed criminal gangs seeking ransom.

Within the last few weeks, 279 schoolgirls were freed after being abducted from their boarding school at Jangebe in northwest Nigeria’s Zamfara state, and 27 teenage boys were released after being kidnapped from their school in the north-central state of Niger, along with three staff and 12 family members. One student was shot dead in that attack.

Military and police attempts to tackle the gangs have had little success, while many worry that state authorities are making the situation worse by letting kidnappers go unpunished, paying them off or, as in Zamfara, giving them amenities.

In late February, the presidency said President Muhammadu Buhari had urged state governments to “review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”

The unrest has become a political problem for Buhari, a retired general and former military ruler who has faced mounting criticism over the rise in violent crime, and replaced his long-standing military chiefs in February.

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CBC | World News

COVID-19 exposes need for more collaborative, community-based health care

When Adil Butt’s body started to ache, he immediately isolated himself in a small bedroom for a month to keep his young family safe from COVID-19.

The 42-year-old lives in Thorncliffe Park, a tightly knit community of apartment buildings in Toronto’s east end. Neighbours have been hit hard by the coronavirus.

Butt phoned to inquire about testing at a local pop-up site on Saturday, Dec. 5, got tested and received his positive result the following Monday.

He went above and beyond public health guidelines to avoid passing on the virus to his wife and children, ages 10, seven, six and three.”Nobody got it,” he said. “It was very hard, especially [for] my small kid.”

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the first quarantine measures to control COVID-19. When CBC News canvassed some doctors and scientists across Canada on what’s fundamentally changed in health care during the pandemic, what stood out was the need for more collaborative care similar to what Butt received.


Adil Butt said staying away from his young children was especially difficult after he received a positive test result. (Submitted by Adil Butt)

Primary care providers help prevent people from coming to hospital with damaging and costly complications of diabetes or infections.

Deaths and policy failures 

Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of social medicine at Toronto’s University Health Network, said community health centres such as where Butt was tested offer a one-stop shop of services, including prescription medications, healthy foods and connections to housing and jobs for people living on the margins across Canada.

“There’s actually systemic discrimination in the way we pay for primary care and the way we fund our health-care system,” he said.

Boozary said the pandemic has exposed public policy failures, not only in long-term care homes but also in neighbourhoods where essential workers, many who are racialized, bear a disproportionate burden.


The Black Creek Community Health Centre, in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, serves an area with high case rates of COVID-19 but few resources. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“Our failure or lack of policy has really determined who lives and who dies,” Boozary said. “When you go back to look at things like primary care, if you put the map of where primary care funding was and the map of where COVID was, there’s a complete mismatch.”

Boozary draws hope from community health centres, which he said have been a leader for decades in gaining patients’ trust by working with them regularly where they are.

Caring for all to stop coronavirus

Cheryl Prescod, executive director of Black Creek Community Health Centre in the city’s northwest, said their service is priceless and underestimated.

“Throughout this past year, I believe we saw our value,” she said.

Asked about the need for stable funding beyond the pandemic, Prescod said, “We feel invisible compared to larger hospitals or larger health-care institutions. The small community health centres are the distant cousins.”


Cheryl Prescod said small community health centres are seen as distant cousins of hospitals. Their value to the health-care system, however, is priceless, she said. (CBC)

But the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will not discriminate between someone who earns a high income and someone who doesn’t.

WATCH | Community volunteers ease vaccine roll out: 

Several community and religious groups in British Columbia are armed with computers and phones, ready to help local seniors sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations. 2:03

“The virus will not be stopped unless we take care of everybody,” Prescod said.

Paulina Aghedo works as one of the centre’s community ambassadors, sharing safety tips to stop the spread in her neighbourhood.


Paulina Aghedo hands out flyers promoting COVID-19 testing for the Black Creek Community Health Centre in Toronto. Her efforts helped a woman get tested so she could return to work. (CBC)

Now, Aghedo hands out flyers and sparks conversation, all to raise awareness of testing sites in apartment complexes, lobbies and parking lots. It’s home to many personal support workers and grocery clerks who work long hours and may still struggle to make ends meet.

She recalled knocking on doors in her crowded building to distribute flyers when a friend called to say someone needed to know about testing right away.

“She is just coughing in her working place and they told her if she doesn’t bring that COVID-19 test [result] she shouldn’t come back to work,” Aghedo said.

The flyer reached the woman, who tested negative and no longer feared losing her job.

“I was very happy I could help someone,” Aghedo said.

For his part,  Butt gave up his job as an Uber driver during COVID-19. He temporarily lost his sense of smell, even for perfume that was pungent to his wife, as well as sense of taste.

During self-isolation, the food delivery volunteer relied on friends from his neighbourhood to return the gesture. For Butt, seeing neighbours helping each other to cope and recover resembles how doctors and nurses care for patients in hospitals.

“He [a friend] was bringing the food for me and leaving it outside my door and this is how we survived,” Butt said of his neighbour.

Butt’s fever broke after a few days and he’s fully recovered.

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More racially diverse areas reported much higher numbers of COVID-19 deaths: StatsCan 

The most racially diverse neighbourhoods in Canada reported COVID-19 mortality rates more than twice as high as those reported by districts that are overwhelmingly white, according to new data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

The report, titled Year in Review, lays bare the uneven effects of this pandemic on Canadians of different racial backgrounds.

The data affirms what some Canadians have reported anecdotally for months: Black people in particular have been far more likely to succumb to the virus than members of other groups.

In areas where a quarter of the population or more identified as “visible minorities” — the term the government uses for non-white and non-Indigenous people — the mortality rate averaged 35 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to an average of 16 deaths per 100,000 people in regions where less than one per cent of the population was composed of racial minorities.

The data account for deaths between January 2020 and January 2021.

Women from areas where racial minorities are most prevalent reported mortality rates nearly three times higher than women from predominantly white areas — the places where just between one and 10 per cent of the population was made up of people of colour.


People wear face masks as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 3, 2021. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

In B.C. and Quebec, the racial contrasts were particularly stark. Despite having much lower mortality rates than most of the country, B.C. posted 10 times more deaths in diverse areas (5.6 deaths per 100,000 population) than in places that were virtually all white (0.5 deaths per 100,000 population).

Racially diverse areas of Quebec experienced many more COVID-19-related deaths than nearly all-white census districts (123 per 100,000 versus 35.1 per 100,000). In Montreal, the mortality rate was 149.3 deaths per 100,000 in areas with the highest percentages of Black Canadians, compared with 88.1 per 100,000 in areas with the lowest percentages.

The data include one particularly alarming statistic for public health officials: Black Canadians, the people who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, are also the group most likely to say they are reluctant to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine hesitancy rates higher among Black people

Based on data collected in September 2020, at a time when comparatively little was known about the prospects of a COVID-19 vaccine, 77 per cent of Black respondents to a StatsCan survey said they were “not very likely to take a vaccine” — a rate nearly 20 points higher than similar responses from white, Chinese and South Asian populations.

People with a high school education or less also reported higher rates of vaccine hesitancy: 64 per cent of them told StatsCan they were not likely to get the shot when it’s made available, which is double the rate reported in people with higher levels of formal education.

Members of racial minorities are also reporting higher unemployment rates and higher levels of financial stress because they’re more likely to work in low-wage jobs that can’t be performed remotely, StatsCan reported.

Twelve per cent of visible minority members reported being out of work as of January 2020, compared to 9 per cent of white Canadians. StatsCan found that Black Canadians and Canadians of Arab, southeast Asian, Latin American and Filipino extraction were more much more likely to report finding it “difficult” or “very difficult” to meet basic financial commitments over the past month.

Mental health-related police calls spike

The national statistics agency also has published new figures that quantify the mental health impact of this pandemic and the resulting public health measures that have kept family and friends apart.

StatsCan found that calls to police for mental health-related concerns have spiked at a time of severe disruptions to social and economic life.

Compared with 2019, the number of calls for service increased by 8 per cent during the first eight months of the pandemic. Substantial increases were seen in wellness checks (up 13 per cent), mental health-related calls such as a person in emotional crisis (up 12 per cent) and reports of domestic disturbances (up 8 per cent).

There were also notable drops in the frequency of certain crimes between March and October 2020. Shoplifting incidents declined 47 per cent, breaking-and-entering cases dropped 27 per cent and sexual assaults have declined 20 per cent since last year — all of which likely reflects social distancing efforts that kept shops closed and people at home.

The agency found that the mental health of Canadians improved in the fall with the return of school and as some public health restrictions were eased, only to deteriorate again in November and December as lockdowns were implemented in some jurisdictions.

‘Surge’ in cancer cases expected: StatsCan

As has been previously reported, the number of opioid-related overdoses has increased dramatically nationwide over the last year, but there are other physical health consequences of COVID-19.

Because a number of elective procedures and screening appointments have been cancelled or postponed, the statistics agency said Canada should brace for a spike in cancer diagnoses.

A cancer simulation model, OncoSim, shows a “surge” of projected cancer cases when screening resumes, the agency said.

A six-month suspension of screening for colorectal cancers could lead to an increase in the cancer incidence rate by 2,200 cases, with 960 more cancer deaths.

For breast cancer screening, a three-month interruption could also increase the number of cases diagnosed at advanced stages and cancer deaths over the next ten years, StatsCan said.

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