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Liberals to win most seats in 2021 federal election

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OTTAWA — The Canadian Press is projecting that the Liberal party will win the most seats in the 2021 federal election, giving them the best chance to form the next government.

It is not yet clear whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will win a majority or need the support of at least one other party to remain in power with a minority government.

The Canadian Press projects that the Liberals are leading in 148 ridings, the Conservatives in 103, the Bloc Québécois in 28 and the NDP in 22.

The Liberals enjoyed a healthy lead Monday night as early poll results started trickling in across the country.

The party’s share of the vote in the two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, was well ahead of what polls heading into the election had forecast.

The Grits were hanging onto their commanding position in Atlantic Canada, where the Conservatives made modest gains.

The NDP lost its lone Atlantic seat, St. John’s East, to the Liberals. It had been held by New Democrat Jack Harris, who did not seek re-election.

Trudeau cabinet ministers Seamus O’Regan, Dominic LeBlanc and Lawrence MacAulay cruised to victory.

But Bernadette Jordan, who served as fisheries minister, lost to her Conservative rival in Nova Scotia’s South Shore-St. Margarets, evidently hurt by the lobster fishery dispute between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers in the region.

In Fredericton, N.B., Jenica Atwin, the former Green MP who defected to the Liberals last spring, was in a tight, see-saw battle with the Conservatives.

Green support largely collapsed throughout the region.

Heading into Monday night, polls suggested a dead heat across Canada between the Liberals and Conservatives — neither of them within reach of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government.

Trudeau pulled the plug on his minority Liberal government on Aug. 15, a little less than two years after Canadians first reduced the Liberals to a minority.

He argued that Canada was at a pivotal moment in history and Canadians deserved a chance to decide how they wanted to finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back the shattered economy.

But the timing of his election call, coming as a fourth wave of the novel coronavirus was beginning to sweep the country, quickly sapped the good will Trudeau had built among Canadians for his government’s handling of the pandemic over the previous 18 months.

And it gave rival leaders an opening to attack Trudeau’s character, describing him as a selfish egoist who can’t be trusted to put the interests of Canadians ahead of his personal ambition to secure a majority.

At dissolution, the Liberals had 155 seats, the Conservatives 119, the Bloc Québécois 32, the NDP 24 and the Greens two. There were also five independents and one vacancy.

While another minority seemed likely, it was a toss-up heading into Monday night whether it would be a Liberal or Conservative minority.

Which of the two front-runners ultimately forms government doesn’t necessarily depend on who wins the greatest share of the popular vote or even who wins the most seats.

Rather, it depends on which party can muster enough support from one or more smaller parties to survive crucial confidence votes in the House of Commons.

Canadians may well have to wait until Wednesday to learn which party will form the government.

There are almost one million mail-in ballots that election officials won’t start counting until Tuesday. Elections Canada has said it expects to finish the mail-in count in most ridings by Wednesday, but some may take another day or two.

According to Elections Canada, almost 6.8 million people voted early, most of them at advance polls over a week ago, and the rest through special ballots cast by mail or at Elections Canada offices.

Canada has more than 30 million eligible voters.

Elections Canada had previously warned that the pandemic could lead to longer waits for voters compared to past elections. Public health protocols involve keeping people at a distance and collecting extra information for contact tracing purposes, which could take extra time.

The polling stations themselves were also likely to be farther away, as many schools and landlords opted out of hosting crowds of voters during the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Elections Canada encouraged voters to wear masks but only required them in places where they were mandated by provincial rules. Proof-of-vaccination regulations do not apply at polling stations in any province where they currently exist.

George Walker cast his ballot in Toronto Monday afternoon. He described the experience as “smooth,” and he called the safety precautions taken at the polling station “wise.”

“But it took longer than it has in the past, mainly because of COVID,” Walker said, adding he didn’t mind the extra 15-minute wait.

Shannon Fernandez said voting on election day was “super easy,” “stress free” and “very straightforward.”

“I felt like it was very well-organized,” Fernandez added. “No complaints at all.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2021.

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Supreme Court of Canada sides with injured woman in snow-clearing squabble

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OTTAWA — A woman will get another chance to sue for damages over a leg injury she suffered while climbing through snow piled by a city’s plow, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

Taryn Joy Marchi alleged the City of Nelson, B.C., created a hazard when it cleared snow from downtown streets after a storm in early January 2015.

The removal effort left snow piles at the edge of the street along the sidewalk early in the morning of Jan. 5.

Late in the afternoon of Jan. 6, Marchi — then a 28-year-old nurse — parked in an angled spot on the street and, wearing running shoes with a good tread, tried to cross a snow pile to get on to the sidewalk.

Her right foot dropped through the snow and she fell forward, seriously injuring her leg.

Marchi contended the city should have left openings in the snowbank to allow safe passage to the sidewalk.

She pointed to the neighbouring municipalities of Castlegar, Rossland and Penticton in arguing there were preferable ways to clear the streets so as to ensure safe access for pedestrians.

However, the trial judge dismissed her case, saying the city was immune from liability because it made legitimate policy decisions about snow clearing based on the availability of personnel and resources.

In any event, the judge concluded, Marchi assumed the risk of crossing the snow pile and was “the author of her own misfortune.”

The B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, saying the judge erred in addressing the city’s duty of care and the question of Marchi’s negligence.

The ruling prompted the City of Nelson to seek a hearing in the Supreme Court.

In a written submission to the high court, the city said its actions amount to “a clear example of a core policy decision” that should be immune from liability.

In her filing with the court, Marchi said city employees made a number of operational decisions that fell below the expected standard of care of a municipality — decisions not required by the written policy.

In its 7-0 ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court said a fresh trial should take place because the city has not proved that its decision on how to clear the snow was “a core policy decision” immune from liability.

While there is no suggestion the city made an irrational or “bad faith decision,” the city’s core policy defence fails and it owed Ms. Marchi a duty of care, justices Sheilah Martin and Andromache Karakatsanis wrote on behalf of the court.

“The regular principles of negligence law apply in determining whether the City breached the duty of care and, if so, whether it should be liable for Ms. Marchi’s damages.”

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

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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Pfizer will ship millions of vaccine doses for kids as soon as it’s approved: Trudeau

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says as soon as Health Canada approves the COVID-19 vaccine for kids, Pfizer will ship millions of doses to vaccinate children as young as five.

Pfizer and BioNTech asked Health Canada Monday to approve the vaccine for children between five and 11 years old but said the doses already shipped for adults are different.

The pediatric formula is for a dose one-third the size as that given to adults and teenagers.

Trudeau said he knows Canadian parents are anxious to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible but urged patience because Health Canada will take the time it needs to complete its process to ensure the data confirms the vaccine is safe and effective for children.

The United States is expected to make a decision for this age group by the end of this month. While Canada has co-operated with both the U.S. and the European Medicines Agency to have common authorization requirements for vaccines, there is no deadline in Canada for the decision to be made.

Trudeau says as soon as that happens, Pfizer will ship “enough to get all kids between five and 11 vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement that the first shipment will be 2.9 million doses, which is enough to give the first dose to all children in that age group.

Anand said Pfizer agreed to accelerate the deliveries, and that Canada has procured the syringes and other supplies needed to administer the doses.

She said second doses will be delivered depending on how fast the first doses are rolled out.

“This will ensure that Canadian children have vaccines when they need them without keeping doses in freezers for extended periods of time when global demand is so high,” said Anand.

Pfizer and BioNTech reported that two 10 microgram doses of vaccine, given approximately 21 days apart, generated a similar antibody response in children between five and 11 years old as the adult-sized doses did when given to people between 16 and 25 years of age.

They earlier had tested three different sized doses for kids, and landed on the 10 microgram dose as the best option.

As of Wednesday, 29.6 million Canadians over the age of 12 have received at least one dose and 27.9 million of those are fully vaccinated with both required doses.

That amounts to 88.5 per cent of all eligible Canadians having at least one dose, and 83 per cent of them being fully vaccinated.

More than 414,000 Canadians have now received a third dose, mainly people with compromised immune systems and some residents in long-term care homes, for whom two doses did not give the same level of immunity as they did to most healthy adults.

Pfizer spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said the pediatric doses will come in vials of 10 doses, with a unique label for children and a different coloured cap to ensure it is differentiated from the vials of adult doses.

The adult doses are shipped in vials with six doses in each.

Moderna is also testing its vaccine on children, with results expected later this fall.

Pfizer and Moderna are both testing the vaccine on children younger than five as well, with clinical trials underway but no certainty on when the data will be ready.

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

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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