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Canadians OK with vaccine wait and wolfdogs get a home: In The News for Dec. 1

Last Updated Dec 1, 2020 at 4:24 am EST

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 Dec. 1 …

What we are watching in Canada …

A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies say they are very concerned that Canada may not receive doses of a new COVID vaccine as early as the United States while 48 per cent say they are not concerned.

Ten per cent say they don’t care at all or are not planning to get vaccinated anyway.

With the likelihood of multiple vaccines coming on to the market over a period of time, just 28 per cent of respondents said they will take the first vaccine they can get, while 45 per cent say they will wait for other vaccines to become available.

The poll suggests that the vast majority of Canadians want people entering Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with 83 per cent of respondents say being vaccinated should be required.

The online poll of 1,516 adult Canadians was conducted from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29.

Also this …

The trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a prestigious Toronto high school is set to resume today.

The former student of St. Michael’s College School has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon.

The charges relate to incidents that occurred on campus in the fall of 2018. The trial began in March.

Court has previously heard there were two sexual assaults at the school in 2018 when boys involved with a school football team pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle in a locker room.

Three teens have already pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon for their roles in the incidents and have been sentenced to two years of probation.

One of them also pleaded guilty to making child pornography for recording one of the sex assaults in a video that was then shared widely within and outside the school.

Another student received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time after pleading guilty. The charges against two other students were dropped.

Neither the accused teen, the perpetrators or the victims can be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post.

A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment. Atlas confirmed the news in a Monday evening tweet.

Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 267,000 Americans.

Atlas has broken with government experts and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to criticize efforts to encourage face covering to slow the spread of the virus. Just weeks ago on Twitter he responded to Michigan’s latest virus restrictions by encouraging people to “rise up” against the state’s policies.

His views also prompted Stanford to issue a statement distancing itself from the faculty member, saying Atlas “has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic.”

“We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing,” the university said Nov. 16. “We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

A top Iranian security official on Monday accused Israel of using “electronic devices” to remotely kill a scientist who founded the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program in the 2000s.

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, made the comment at the funeral for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, where Iran’s defence minister separately vowed to continue the man’s work “with more speed and more power.”

Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has repeatedly declined to comment on the attack.

Fakhrizadeh headed Iran’s so-called AMAD program, which Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003. U.S. intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report.

Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and research into other technologies. Iran long has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Shamkhani’s remarks drastically change the story of Fakhrizadeh’s killing, which took place Friday. Authorities initially said a truck exploded and then gunmen opened fire on the scientist, killing him and a bodyguard. State TV even interviewed a man the night of the attack who described seeing gunmen open fire.

On this day in 1986 …

The Supreme Court ruled that Canada Post does not have to provide door-to-door delivery.

In sports …

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League says it will not hold any games until early January because of COVID-19 issues.

The major junior league says it will suspend all activities from Tuesday through Jan. 3.

The 18-team league league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions in the four provinces where it operates.

The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open play around its normal start date.

The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.

ICYMI …

Angie Birch isn’t worried for a moment as she’s greeted by Rocky, Rue and Loki at a sanctuary for wolfdogs whose unpredictable behaviour and innate fear of humans make them too hard to handle for their original owners.

“We’re going to have a visit. Please be nice,” says Birch as she sits down on the ground at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, her three admirers licking her face and leaning against her.

“What a good boy. Could he be more precious?” she asks about Rocky.

Birch started out as an intern at the sanctuary, about 15 kilometres west of Cochrane, Alta., nearly six years ago. She’s now a tour guide and helps take care of the 37 wolfdogs permanently housed there.

A wolfdog is produced by mating a domestic dog with a grey wolf, eastern wolf, red wolf or Ethiopian wolf.

Anyone familiar with the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones” would be struck by the wolfdog’s similarity to the dire wolves featured prominently in the show.

Alyx Harris, the park’s operations manager, says many pet fanciers don’t realize what they’re in for when they decide to get a wolfdog and that’s why the sanctuary is near capacity.

She says wolfdogs aren’t considered dangerous, because wolves have an instinctual fear of humans. But that also makes it difficult for them to make a connection.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020

The Canadian Press