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Vaccine distribution ramps up; Suez Canal ship still stuck: In The News for March 26


In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 26 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Canada has hit a milestone in its COVID-19 vaccination drive and the federal government says it expects to deliver at least 1.5 million more doses within the next week. 

Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday that the country had surpassed the 10 per cent mark of residents over 18 receiving at least one shot.

"To date, over 4.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Canada," Njoo said in Ottawa. "This marks an important milestone, with more than 11 per cent of eligible adult Canadians ... having received at least one dose."

Njoo said that includes 60 per cent of people older than 80 and 19 per cent between 70 and 79. More than 60 per cent of adults in the three territories have received their first shot, he said. 

Meanwhile, the federal body that advises how vaccines are deployed said it's reviewing a Vancouver study that found long-term care residents had a weaker immune response to their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than younger healthy adults. 

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization chair Dr. Caroline Quach said experts are looking at the research, which found a weaker antibody response among older recipients but did not measure whether seniors were more likely to fall sick or die.


Also this ...

Undocumented workers in Canada fear that getting vaccinated could mean being arrested if someone reports them to police or immigration authorities because of their lack of proper identification, say advocates.

Karen Cocq of the Toronto-based Migrant Workers Alliance for Change said undocumented and migrant workers should not be required to provide identification issued in Canada, including a health card, when they are booking appointments or attending clinics as part of a process to track vaccinations.

Cocq said many of the workers already don't use the health-care system because they're afraid of losing their jobs if an employer discovers their immigration status so it's not surprising they're hesitant to get vaccinated.

"People are very concerned about what happens with their personal information when they share it with any officials or with any authorities," she said. 

"They've heard stories about what happens if (the Canada Border Services Agency) is called."

Cocq said vaccinations could be tracked using government-issued identification from a worker's home country or, as in the case for some homeless people in Toronto, through other means, such as an email address, a library card or a letter from a food bank or community agency.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would likely seek reelection in 2024, but the 78-year-old Democrat left open the possibility of stepping aside after one term.

“My plan is to run for reelection. That’s my expectation,” Biden told reporters in a wide-ranging news conference, the first of his young presidency.

He later pushed back against a reporter's suggestion that his 2024 plans were definite.

“I said, ‘That is my expectation,’” Biden said. “I’m a great respecter of fate. I’ve never been able to plan four-and-a-half, three-and-a-half years ahead for certain."

Traditionally, there is no question as to whether a first-term president will run for reelection. Former President Donald Trump, for example, announced his plans to seek reelection on his first day in office. But questions about Biden's 2024 intentions have swirled since even before his November victory — because of his age. At 78, Biden is the oldest person to assume the presidency.

In office only two months, his 2024 plans have a direct effect on his political strength. If viewed as a one-term president, Biden would effectively be a lame duck with diminished sway at home and abroad as he pursues an aggressive agenda.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

Dredgers, tugboats and even a backhoe failed to free a giant cargo ship wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday as the number of stacked-up vessels unable to pass through the vital waterway climbed to 150 and losses to global shipping mounted.

The skyscraper-sized Ever Given, carrying cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. Even with the aid of high tides, authorities have been unable to push the Panama-flagged container vessel aside, and they are looking for new ideas to free it.

In a sign of the turmoil the blockage has caused, the ship's Japanese owner even offered a written apology.

“We are determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. said. “We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships travelling and planning to travel through Suez Canal.”

As efforts to free it resumed at daylight Thursday, an Egyptian canal authority official said workers hoped to avoid offloading containers from the vessel as it would take days to do so and extend the closure. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to talk to journalists.

So far, dredgers have tried to clear silt around the massive ship. Tug boats nudged the vessel alongside it, trying to gain momentum. From the shore, at least one backhoe dug into the canal's sandy banks, suggesting the bow of the ship had plowed into it. However, satellite photos taken Thursday by Planet Labs Inc. and analyzed by The Associated Press showed the vessel still stuck in the same location.


On this day in 1921 ...

The racing schooner ``Bluenose'' was launched at Lunenberg, N.S. Captained by Angus Walters, she raced five times for the North Atlantic fishermen's championship and was never beaten. The ``Bluenose'' was also a fishing boat. She returned from her first trip to the Grand Banks as highliner of the Lunenberg fleet, having caught more than the other ships. Sold during the Second World War, the ``Bluenose'' was wrecked near Haiti in 1946. The schooner -- a member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame -- is commemorated on the Canadian dime.


In arts ...

Qaumajuq, a $65-million Inuit art centre that opens Saturday and is billed as the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world, is not only impressive in scope.

It's also something of an immersive experience.

The building's exterior, undulating and white, has the look of snowdrifts. Its interior — with rounded white walls, skylights and extremely high ceilings — bears the feeling of Arctic tundra with an almost endless horizon. In some areas, large glass display cubes give off an icy look.

"The architecture alone is an amazing piece of art because it really captures the Arctic," remarked Maureen Gruben, an artist based in Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Terroritories, whose work is among the thousands of pieces on display. 

Qaumajuq is an Inuktitut word that translates into "it is bright. It is lit." The main gallery space is called Qilak, meaning sky.

"When you come in and ... see how wide open and airy and almost cloud-like the main space is, the name Qilak makes a lot of sense," said Heather Igloliorte, co-chair of the Winnipeg Art Gallery's Indigenous advisory circle. She is also co-curator of the centre's inaugural exhibit called INUA, which stands for Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut, or Inuit Moving Forward Together.


Also this...

A rare painting by Vincent Van Gogh was sold at auction Thursday by Sotheby’s Paris for 13.1 million euros ($15.4 million).

The sale of “Street Scene in Montmartre” was highly anticipated as it was one of the few paintings by the Dutch Impressionist master to still have been in private hands. The auction house had expected it to sell for between 5 million euros and 8 million euros.

Sotheby’s said the work had remained in the same family collection for more than 100 years, out of the public eye.

It depicts a windmill named the Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a bright sky, with a man, a women and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surrounded the place.

It was painted in 1887, one year after Van Gogh moved to Paris and lived in Montmartre while he was lodging with his brother Theo. He left the French capital in 1888 for southern France, where he lived until his death in 1890.

It was among over 30 works being sold by Sotheby’s on Thursday from masters including Modigliani, Rodin, Camille Claudel, Degas, Klee and Magritte.



Councillors in a southwestern Nova Scotia community voted unanimously this week to pressure the province to get rid of derogatory place names within the municipality's boundaries.

The issue was put before Barrington’s council Monday when Chuck Smith, president of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, made a presentation explaining the derogatory and offensive meaning behind the word "Negro," which is found in some place names in Barrington.

Barrington Coun. Shaun Hatfield said the move follows a 2018 complaint lodged with the province by a citizen over place names including Cape Negro, Cape Negro Island, Negro Harbour and Squaw Island.

Smith called the term “derogatory” in an interview Wednesday, and said it's a part of a long history of labelling for the Black community.

“We as Black people have had so many names put on us,” he said. “Back in the day, back in the '60s and '70s, we were coloured, we were Negro, then we became Black and African Nova Scotian. Those labels, eventually, it kind of wears you down.”

Barrington's website says the area was named by French colonialist navigator Samuel de Champlain, who wrote in the 1600s that he called the area Cape Negro "on account of a rock which from a distance looks like one."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2021

The Canadian Press

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