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Chinese government interference derailed Canadian vaccine partnership: researcher

NICK WELLS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Mar 12th, 2021

A Canadian vaccine researcher says he believes that Chinese political machinations ended a vaccine partnership last summer.

Dr. Scott Halperin, the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, made the accusation Thursday to the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.

The partnership was originally planned to be between China’s CanSino Biologics and the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. CanSino had been given a licence by the National Research Council to use a Canadian biological product as part of a COVID-19 vaccine.

China blocked shipments it was supposed to send to Dalhousie researchers by the end of May 2020 to start human trials.

Halperin said he was initially told it was due to bureaucratic issues such as paperwork.

By August, he said, it became clear that the Chinese government had no desire for the vaccine to leave the country.

Halperin said he realized paperwork wasn’t to blame after he discovered the vaccine had been given the green light to be shipped out of China to Russia, Pakistan, Mexico, Chile and Argentina — all of which were countries researchers had planned to stage the third phase of the clinical trials in.

“It was clear that this was not … that CanSino wasn’t able to ship out of the country, but that it was specific to Canada,” he said Thursday.

“That’s when it became clear it was political and not something that was going to be solved by more paperwork.”

CanSino Biologics did not immediately return a request for comment.

Halperin said CanSino officials repeatedly assured researchers that the issue would be sorted out, but the delays quickly led to the work researchers had done to become irrelevant.

“Up until that point the dates of scheduling them kept rolling back and back and back until finally the vaccine had to be shipped back from the airport to the company,” he said.

Members of the special committee questioned Halpern over whether he knew that CanSino had connections to the Chinese government before the partnership started.

“I was aware that the founders had previously worked in Canada at Sanofi Pasteur and then had gone back to China to start that company,” he said.

Halperin was also questioned over what CanSino gained from the partnership, such as access to Canadian research, without offering anything in return.

“For the Phase 1 study that ended up being cancelled, they gained nothing and we gained nothing because we were not able to generate any data from the planned study,” he said. “It just ended up being a waste of a lot of time on all parties.”

Military reservist who rammed Rideau Hall gate sentenced to 6 years; will serve 5

NIGEL NEWLOVE AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 11th, 2021

A Manitoba man who rammed his truck into Prime Minister Trudeau’s home at Rideau Hall last year has been sentenced to six years in prison minus one year for time served.

WATCH: https://toronto.citynews.ca/2021/03/10/rideau-hall-manitoba-man-sentencing/

Corey Hurren will also be prohibited from possessing any firearms, ammunition or explosive substances for life.

Hurren had initially faced 21 weapons charges and one of threatening the prime minister. He pleaded guilty last month to seven weapons related charges.

In his sentence Ontario Court Justice Robert Wadden said the degree to which Hurren was armed was “shocking.”

“I find that Mr. Hurren represents an ongoing risk,” Wadden said.

“This was an armed aggression against the government, which must be denounced in the strongest terms.”

There was a risk that Hurren’s guns could be used to cause serious bodily harm or death, Wadden said.

“The deliberateness of Mr. Hurren’s actions and his intentional use of loaded weapons to make a political statement bring him a long way from a usual first offender caught with a single gun.

“Corey Hurren committed a politically motivated, armed assault intended to intimidate Canada’s elected government.”

The 46-year-old military reservist was arrested while he was he headed on foot to confront the Prime Minister on the morning of July 2, 2020.

He was initially accused of uttering a threat to “cause death or bodily harm” to Trudeau.

But according to an agreed statement of facts read in court on Feb. 5, Hurren told police he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, and that he wanted to arrest Trudeau to make a statement about the government’s COVID-19 restrictions and its ban on assault-style firearms.

He said he had hoped to make the arrest during Trudeau’s daily pandemic briefing outside Rideau Cottage.

Hurren, who told police he hadn’t qualified for emergency aid benefits, was angry about losing his business and his guns. He believed Canada was turning into a communist state.

Hurren also told police at the scene that he wanted to show Trudeau “how angry everyone was about the gun ban and the COVID-19 restrictions” and said the prime minister “is a communist who is above the law and corrupt.”

Data retrieved from his cellphone, Facebook and Instagram posts included exchanges with friends about “conspiracy theories related to the Canadian government,” as well as a “sacrifice theory” related to the date of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia last April and suggestions that COVID-19 is a hoax.

Hurren later told a doctor he expected to be shot dead.

Crown prosecutors had been seeking a six-year sentence, saying Hurren’s actions posed a serious threat to public safety.

Hurren’s lawyer, Michael Davies, had sought a sentence of three years for his client, describing him as a hardworking member of society who suffered financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic that put him into a state of depression.

The judge said the defence request was not reasonable in this case, adding Hurren represents and ongoing risk and should seek treatment for a mood disorder and major depression.

Extension on renewing Ontario driver’s licence remains in effect

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 11th, 2021

It has been over a year since the province introduced an extension on renewing Ontario driver’s licences, and the extension remains in place.

Documents that have expired on or after March 1, 2020 remain valid and legal past the expiry, until further notice. This includes your licence plate sticker, driver’s licence, Ontario photo card and accessible parking permit.

The Ministry of Transportation says recognizing that Ontario will be facing COVID-19 for some time and in an effort to limit in-person interactions at Service Ontario locations, the province is also temporarily waiving the driver’s licence renewal requirements for seniors aged 80 years and over so they can renew their licences online.

The requirement for people to update their driver’s licence photo is also waived so drivers have the option to renew their licences online.

Despite the extension, the province says it strongly encourages everyone to renew their driver’s licence and licence plate stickers online, where possible.

According to the ministry, if you renew your Ontario driver’s, vehicle and carrier products today, you will be required to pay for this past year.

It says questions about Ontario Health Cards should be directed to the Ministry of Health and further questions about Accessible Parking Permits can be directed to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

If you must visit a Service Ontario location in person, appointments can be booked online in advance for services at certain centres.

Government issues at least 15 tickets to travellers who won’t quarantine

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 11th, 2021

The government has issued at least 15 tickets to travellers arriving in Canada with no quarantine bookings, and who refused to go to a quarantine hotel, the Public Health Agency of Canada tells CityNews.

The agency says that number is as of March 8, adding most people have been fined $3,000 under the Quarantine Act. It’s not clear if that’s in total, or for each day of non-compliance, as described under the act.

The maximum fine for ignoring quarantine rules under the act is $750,000, with possible imprisonment of up to six months. Penalties increase to as much as $1 million and three years in prison should the person be found to have lied about quarantine plans and affected seriously someone else’s health.

“It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure they have a confirmed government-authorized hotel booking before they fly to Canada,” Health Canada says in a statement. However, some people with plans to return have spent hours on hold, for days in a row, while trying to book government-approved quarantine hotels. It’s a situation that’s forced some travellers to try and board their flights without a stay booked.

Canada’s Public Health Agency says it’s looking to expand the number of hotels that can serve as quarantine sites. There are currently 47 quarantine hotels nation-wide, and some recently opened for online booking. Currently, the GTA has 17 quarantine hotels, but only 12 are open for online booking. The government’s official quarantine website still notes that its booking phone lines are still receiving a high volume of calls.

“A traveller who could not secure a room at a government-authorized hotel will be assessed by a Quarantine Officer and may be directed to a designated quarantine facility or another a suitable place to quarantine, if they have private transportation to get there,” explains Health Canada in a statement. “A traveller may also be fined for not booking a room in advance.”

Meanwhile, a constitutional rights advocacy group is mounting a legal challenge to the federal government’s quarantine hotel policy, arguing it infringes on Canadians’ fundamental rights.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation has filed an application with Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice along with five individuals, seeking an end to the policy. The application names the Attorney General of Canada as the defendant.

A government order that went into effect on Feb. 14 mandates that anyone entering Canada from abroad must stay in a federally approved hotel for the first three nights of a 14-day quarantine.

“The biggest issue is that we have a fundamental right to enter Canada and this is a limit on that right and it’s not a justified limit,” said Christine Van Geyn, litigation director for the CCF. “There are so many alternatives that would be less infringing on rights.”

Travellers are expected to pay for their government-approved accommodations, which can cost hundreds of dollars per night. They may leave the hotels once a COVID-19 test taken at their point of entry comes back negative.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation argues in its legal application that hotel quarantine requirements are “overbroad, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate.”

The applicants are seeking an injunction to suspend the order, but are also asking to have the law struck down for infringing upon the constitutional rights of liberty, freedom from unreasonable detention, and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.

The CCF is also seeking damages of $10,000. Van Geyn said the request for nominal damages is to cover off the costs of the five individual applicants for their hotel stays at approximately $2,000 per person.

“The focus is not on the money, the focus is on the ability for them to exercise their fundamental rights,” she said.

The CCF argues that the hotel policy detains people without COVID-19 symptoms who would be able to safely quarantine outside of government-approved accommodation at minimal or no expense.

A spokesperson for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada said that they were aware of the legal action and that the federal government intended to respond to the application.

When the order came into effect Van Geyn and the CCF asked for people impacted by the quarantine hotel policy to reach out to them. She said that the group received approximately 5,000 letters of support or from people directly effected by the policy.

Van Geyn said that the five individuals participating in the legal challenge were selected because they all had to travel out of Canada for compassionate reasons, in three cases attending to their parents in the final days of their lives.

She noted that Canada has an exemption to its quarantine policy for people entering the country for compassionate purposes, but not for residents who had to leave Canada for similar reasons.

“If you live in Florida and your mother breaks her hip and you need to come to Canada to help her … you can apply for an exemption and be granted one,” said Van Geyn. “But if the situation is reversed, if you live in Canada and your mother lives in Florida, you would still want to go and help her prepare for surgery and recover, but you are not eligible for an exemption when you return.

“It’s strange to me that the government is concerned about these compassionate travellers but only when you’re travelling in one direction.”

New contactless credit card payment option coming to Metrolinx

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 11th, 2021

Metrolinx is introducing a new, long awaited contactless payment option to PRESTO for its customers.

Starting Thursday, customers will be able to use their credit card or mobile wallet to pay for their trip on the UP Express. Customers simply tap the reader with their card, phone or mobile wallet and then tap off with the same card or device at the end of their trip.

“For the same price as the PRESTO adult fare, UP Express customers can now tap on a PRESTO device with their credit card (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express) or their phone or watch with a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay,” the transit agency said in a statement. “There’s no need to preload funds or purchase a ticket before travel.”

Metrolinx says it will also begin piloting Interac debit on UP Express, which will make it the first transit agency in Canada to offer debit as a payment option.

Following the UP Express pilot program, PRESTO expects to gradually roll out the additional payment options to other transit agencies, including the TTC.

GRAMMY GRUB: 10,000 hour BBQ RIBS!

Matt Dean Pettit | posted Thursday, Mar 11th, 2021

 

10,000 hour BBQ RIBS!

Recipe by: Matt Dean Pettit

Instagram: @mattdeanpettit

Well I know it’s the winter here in Canada but that doesn’t mean that we need to put away our Grills! BBQing in the snow should be a Canadian sport in my opinion! 

This recipe great recipe is a classic but with a fun twist at the end just like country music band Dan & Shay collaborating with our Canadian superstar Justin Bieber with their Grammy-nominated “10,000 Hours”

 

*You can cook these on the BBQ or in the oven as per the recipe below. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 racks pork ribs, silver lining membrane removed. 
  • 1 bottle of Budweiser Beer
  • 1 tspb ground cumin
  • 1 grated orange peel
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar 
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated 
  • 3 tbps ketchup 
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco Chipotle sauce 
  • 1/2 cup of crusted pistachios (garnish)
  • Orange zest (garnish) 

 

Directions:

  1. Cut the 2 racks into halves giving you 4 pieces. Place into a dish 
  2. Mix all the ingredients minus the pistachios in a medium sized mixing bowl. 
  3. Pour marinade all over the ribs fully covering them. Cover with tin foil and place into refrigerator for minimum 12 hours. 
  4. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator still

While covered and let sit at room temp for 30-45 mins 

  1. In the meantime pre-heat the oven to 275f and 137c. 
  2. Place ribs on a baking sheet, ensure ribs are well sauced, cover with tin foil and place in the oven. 

7.Cook the ribs for approx 2 hours. 

8.Remove the time foil and place back in to the oven for another 15-20 mins max. 

  1. Remove from heat and let the ribs rest for 5 mins, sprinkle with crushed pistachios and more orange zest, dip and dunk into more KC BBQ sauce and enjoy!

 

GRAMMY GRUB: Circles Crab Cakes with Dijon Aioli 

Chef Devan Rajkumar | posted Wednesday, Mar 10th, 2021

Circles Crab Cakes with Dijon Aioli 

Recipe by: Chef Devan Rajkumar

Instagram: @chefdevan

Crab Cakes

  • 1lb ready to eat, Crab meat
  • 2 tbsp Red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 Scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp Red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Hot sauce
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¾ cup Panko breadcrumbs 
  • Salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup High smoke point, neutral flavoured oil (Grapeseed, Avocado, Canola or Light Olive Oil), for shallow frying

Dijon Aioli 

  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Lemon zest
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  1. In a bowl, add red onion, jalapeno, scallion, red pepper and garlic. Add whole-grain Dijon, mayonnaise, Old Bay, hot sauce and lemon juice. Fold the egg through the mixture, then season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add crab meat and panko breadcrumbs. Taste the mix, and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  3. Using a tablespoon, form the crab cakes, packing lightly. Roll in panko and place on a tray lined with parchment paper to avoid sticking. Place in the refrigerator to firm up, about 10 – 30 minutes. 
  4. Add mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. Season and mix well to form Dijon aioli.
  5. Pre-heat a pan with oil, ensuring that the oil does not smoke. Gently place the crab cake into the pan. Avoid crowding the pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
  6. Serve warm with drizzled with Dijon aioli. 

Equipment required 

  • 1 skillet or frying pan
  • 1 large bowl (Crab cake)
  • 1 medium bowl (Dijon Aioli)
  • 2 spatulas or mixing utensils 
  • 2 tablespoons (one for tasting and one for spooning out the crab cake mixture)
  • Tray or plate lined with parchment paper (to refrigerate crab cakes)
  • Plate lined with paper towel or wire rack (to allow crab cakes to rest)

Huffington Post to cease operations in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 10th, 2021

BuzzFeed says it’s closing HuffPost Canada’s operations and laying off 23 workers as part of a broad restructuring plan for the company.

The decision follows a deal announced late last year by BuzzFeed to buy HuffPost from Verizon.

BuzzFeed says in a statement it is also laying off 47 HuffPost employees in the U.S. and beginning consultations in Australia and the U.K. to propose “slimming operations” in both places.

HuffPost Canada says on a message posted to its website that it will no longer be publishing content.

It said existing content will be maintained as an online archive, but that certain site features will be permanently disabled as of March 12.

CWA Canada says about two dozen workers at HuffPost Canada had filed for union certification in February.

Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, says it appears the decision to close HuffPost’s Canadian operations was planned.

O’Hanlon says the decision is devastating for Canadian journalism and continues the alarming trend of media consolidation across the country.

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