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Alberta extortionist who demanded $1M found guilty of 1st-degree murder

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A man in Medicine Hat, Alta., has been found guilty of murder and extortion in a bizarre case involving a demand for $1 million, a threat of murder and a victim who was found dead 24 hours later. 

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U.S. oil comprised 77 per cent of Canada’s foreign oil imports last year, regulator shows

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Storage tanks are shown at the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit on April 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sancya Paul Sancya/The Associated Press The United States provided nearly four out of every five barrels of imported crude in 2020, a year when global demand for fossil fuels was badly dented by the COVID-19…

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Storage tanks are shown at the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit on April 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul Sancya

Paul Sancya/The Associated Press

The United States provided nearly four out of every five barrels of imported crude in 2020, a year when global demand for fossil fuels was badly dented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest data from the Canada Energy Regulator shows.

Some 77 per cent of Canadian imports came from the U.S., up from 72 per cent in 2019 and a paltry six per cent in 2010, before a dramatic spike in domestic American oil and gas production over the last decade.

“We do often think of the pipeline relationship between the two countries as being one of, ‘Canada produces and exports to the U.S.,”’ said Darren Christie, the regulator’s chief economist.

“This is specifically showing that there is another side to that coin, which is that we also import production from the U.S.”

Close observers of Canada-U.S. trade flows, particularly those in the energy sector, might not be overly surprised by how much American crude oil has been travelling north in recent years.

The U.S. absorbed a whopping 96 per cent of Canadian oil exports last year, the bulk of it heavy crude, more than half of it to the U.S. Midwest, which has been ground zero for pipeline disputes for much of the last 15 years.

But a massive surge in U.S. oil and gas production, fuelled in part by new extraction technology like fracking and horizontal drilling, has made it a convenient source of feedstock for refineries in both countries, Christie said.

“Their crude oil production has more than doubled in the last 10 years, which is quite a remarkable increase,” he said.

“That creates a massive supply push out of the U.S. And if we are just north and had previously been importing some crudes from around the world, it’s a natural market for a lot of that increased production out of the U.S.”

While foreign oil has long been a part of the Canadian energy mix, the latest numbers – along with the proportion of imports from the U.S. – casts the ongoing controversy over pipeline links between the two countries in a surprising new light.

On his first day in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, which would have ferried an additional 800,000 barrels a day of Alberta oil sands bitumen to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Michigan is currently in court with Enbridge Inc. over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to shut down Line 5, a vital cross-border energy link that crosses the Great Lakes beneath the ecologically sensitive Straits of Mackinac.

The pipeline is widely billed by its defenders as a critical piece of infrastructure that feeds key refineries in Sarnia, Ont., and provides more than half of the propane needed to heat homes in Michigan alone, to say nothing of neighbouring states.

Canada has vowed to strenuously defend Line 5, with Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan insisting last month that its operation is “non-negotiable.” Ottawa has yet to say if it will take part in the ongoing court case.

Protesters in Minnesota are also doing their best to disrupt Enbridge’s ongoing $10-billion upgrade of Line 3, another key link in the cross-border chain that connects to Line 5 at a facility in Superior, Wisc.

The dependence on U.S. oil is especially high in Atlantic Canada, a region of the country where pipelines are often not an option. Imports to refineries there have increased tenfold over the last decade.

While Canada’s energy exports to the U.S. are more than six times what moves in the other direction, the interdependence between the two countries is dramatic, both from the standpoint of energy supply and economic impact, the American Petroleum Institute said in a report last week.

Over the past 10 years, the value of petroleum liquids traded between the two has measured as high as 20 per cent of all Canada-U.S. trade. Up to 90 per cent of oil refined in Eastern Canada travelled either through or from the U.S., the API said.

“Trade volumes in both directions are dominated by crude oil,” it said.

“Crude oil trade growth has been primarily driven by heavy crude oil shipped from Western Canada to the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast by pipeline and rail, and light crude oil from North Dakota and Texas shipped to Eastern Canada by pipeline and marine vessel.”

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Two Toronto health networks forced to limit or close COVID-19 vaccine clinics due to shortages

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Toronto The Canadian Press Published April 14, 2021 Updated April 14, 2021 Getting audio file … Audio for this article is not available at this time. This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy. Full Disclaimer Two health networks in Toronto say shortages of COVID-19 vaccine are forcing them to…

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Toronto

The Canadian Press

Published April 14, 2021 Updated April 14, 2021

Getting audio file …

Audio for this article is not available at this time.

This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy. Full Disclaimer

Two health networks in Toronto say shortages of COVID-19 vaccine are forcing them to limit or close immunization clinics.

Scarborough Health Network says it will be closing its Centennial College and Centenary hospital clinics today.

University Health Network says it has had to pause registration for appointments for adults over 18 who qualify for vaccination based on their postal code.

Both organizations say they will reopen their clinics as soon as they receive more vaccines.

The networks say they are contacting everyone whose vaccination appointment was cancelled by the supply shortage and will rebook appointments as soon as possible.

The clinics run by Scarborough Health Network were vaccinating local residents over the age of 50, all Indigenous adults, and health-care workers.

Others eligible for the vaccine at the closed Scarborough locations are chronic home care clients, faith leaders, and people over 18 with high-risk health conditions.

Ontario reported 4,156 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 28 more deaths related to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 1,254 new cases in Toronto, 593 in Peel Region, and 476 in York Region.

The ministry of health says that 642 people are in intensive care.

Ontario says more than 112,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since yesterday’s update.

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This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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What can and can’t you do after your first COVID-19 vaccine dose

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Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., April 10, 2021. JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press More than five million people, or about 13 per cent of the Canadian population, have now received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to…

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Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., April 10, 2021.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

More than five million people, or about 13 per cent of the Canadian population, have now received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to government data. But as the number of partially vaccinated Canadians grows, infectious disease and immunology experts caution against dropping one’s guard against the coronavirus.

Even though a first dose may offer partial protection against death and severe illness, those who have not received their second doses should continue to behave as though they were unvaccinated, experts say. That means continuing to avoid crowds and closed spaces, to wear masks and to practise physical distancing.

“I would argue – and I suspect many of my colleagues who are immunologists and infectious disease specialists who are familiar with the immune response would also suggest – that until you have your second dose, you continue to follow all the guidelines for someone who is unvaccinated,” said Eleanor Fish, professor of immunology at the University of Toronto and emerita scientist at the University Health Network.

Canada vaccine tracker: How many COVID-19 doses have been administered so far?

Tracking Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans: A continuing guide

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released guidelines for what people can do and shouldn’t do after they’ve been fully vaccinated. For example, they can have in-home visits with others without wearing masks and travel without the need to quarantine afterward. But they’re advised they shouldn’t attend medium or large gatherings, or stop wearing masks and maintaining physical distance when in public and when visiting unvaccinated people who are at high risk of severe COVID-19.

But in Canada, less than 2 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. And as Canadians may wait up to four months before their second doses, which is among the longest gaps between doses in the world, many are caught in an in-between stage, neither fully protected nor fully unprotected against COVID-19.

According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the expert panel advising the federal government on vaccines, all Canadians, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated, should continue to practise the recommended public-health measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

While Health Canada has authorized four different COVID-19 vaccines – Moderna; Pfizer-BioNTech; AstraZeneca (and Covishield, a version manufactured by the Serum Institute of India); and Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson – Canada has not yet received shipments of the latter one, which requires a single dose. Currently, all vaccines available to Canadians require two doses, and the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for adults under the age of 55.

When it comes to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, partial protection only kicks in about two weeks after the first dose is administered, Dr. Fish explained.

Depending on one’s age and health status, “that partial protection varies quite significantly,” she said, which means people are still susceptible to becoming infected, and it’s unclear how sick they could get. Moreover, by extending the time between doses beyond the three to four weeks recommended by vaccine companies, it’s unknown how long that partial protection may last, she said.

“Whether it lasts up to four months or it doesn’t, we have no idea,” she said.

In addition, the antibodies we generate, called neutralizing antibodies, which prevent the virus from infecting cells by blocking its ability to attach to them, don’t appear to work as well against certain new variants of the virus after a single dose, added Tania Watts, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto. Two doses, however, are shown to provide good protection, she said.

“That’s one concern, that you’re still vulnerable to these variants and they’re increasing now very quickly in Canada,” Dr. Watts said.

She offered two reasons to continue to adhere to public-health measures after a single dose: “One is to make sure you don’t spread it [the virus] to anyone else because you might not be completely protected. And the other is that you don’t even want to get a mild case of COVID because we’re hearing that even people with mild COVID can have long-term symptoms.”

This is particularly important in the present circumstances in which case counts are climbing and people have a much higher likelihood of encountering someone who is infectious with COVID-19, said Leighanne Parkes, an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

But just because it shouldn’t change your behaviour doesn’t mean you should put off getting vaccinated, experts say. With a single dose, you’re probably still less likely to die or end up in intensive care from COVID-19, Dr. Watts said.

“Having one dose is better than nothing,” she said.

Eventually, after many Canadians receive their second doses, Dr. Parkes said she expects recommendations, similar to the CDC’s in the U.S., may be given by public-health officials in Canada, which would gradually ease up on restrictions for those fully vaccinated. That could mean, for example, allowing small groups to hold outdoor barbecues without the need for masks, she said.

“The light is there; we just need to be very cautious until we hit that end of the tunnel,” Dr. Parkes said. “We really need to all work together, get vaccinated and keep those public-health measures in place until we’re all fully vaccinated.”

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