March 6, 2022

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Canadian air force commander relieved of duties in Kuwait after claims of inappropriate comments

Canada’s military relieved an air force commander of his post in Kuwait on Dec. 7 amid an investigation into claims he made inappropriate comments, CBC News has learned.

The Department of National Defence confirms that Lt.-Col. Philip Marcus was sent back to Canada on Dec. 7, “when concerns over some inappropriate comments that demonstrated a concerning misalignment with our institution’s efforts to evolve our culture were raised” to leadership.

“These allegations resulted in a loss in confidence in the member’s ability to effectively lead and conduct the duties associated with his appointment as a commanding officer, and he was immediately relieved,” DND spokesperson Daniel Le Bouthillier said in a statement.

DND described the alleged comments as inappropriate. Sources who spoke to CBC News but who were not authorized to speak publicly said Marcus was heard making comments about lower-ranking women in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The allegations against Marcus were reported while he was the commanding officer of the air task force for Operation Impact in the Middle East. He started that role in November, according to a post on a military Twitter account.

The training mission is aimed at building military capabilities in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon to help a global coalition defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Read more on this story here.

Santa drops in

(Prapan Chankaew/Reuters)

A climber dressed as Santa Claus waves to children in a pediatric clinic in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Wednesday. 

In brief

Quebec Premier François Legault announced Wednesday that as of Dec. 26, indoor gatherings in the province will be limited to six people — or two family bubbles — in an effort to slow the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant and limit hospital admissions. “There’s truly a steep exponential rise in cases,” Legault said during a news conference. “We believe in the next few days there will be a big increase in hospitalizations.” Restaurants will also be limited to serving groups of six, or two family bubbles. Legault said the new measures are aimed at preventing hospitals from being overrun. The premier stopped short of announcing a curfew, which sources told Radio-Canada was discussed the previous night. For now, officials are also ruling out a return to the colour-coded system that limited inter-regional travel, and allowed for varied levels of restrictions in different zones. Read more on the province’s new restrictions.

WATCH | Calls for holiday flexibility as Omicron surge sees more daily records broken: 

Calls for holiday flexibility as Omicron surge sees more daily records broken

Public officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault are urging Canadians to be flexible with their holiday plans as provinces continue to break daily COVID-19 records. 2:56

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s taking all precautions and following all public health guidelines after three members of his staff and three members of his security team tested positive for COVID-19. Trudeau said he has taken multiple rapid tests that have all come back negative, but still opted to hold a virtual press conference on the COVID-19 situation in Canada on Wednesday out of an abundance of caution. “Following public health guidelines, I’m being careful about everything I do,” Trudeau said. Trudeau said public health authorities have told him to reduce his contacts but haven’t recommended he fully self isolate at this time. Read more on this story here.

Pharmacy workers across the country are struggling with what has become an unbearable workload, particularly in recent weeks, as provinces speed up the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine boosters and ramp up the distribution of rapid tests — all to fight the Omicron variant. At pharmacies where patients can get vaccinated, tested and pick up a rapid-test kit, the influx of walk-ins, phone calls and demand for appointments has been non-stop. The stack of paperwork that piles up with every test and shot can take hours to fill out. And that’s all on top of a pharmacist’s ordinary, non-pandemic duties. “There’s no other way to put it right now: We are just burnt out,” said Kristen Watt, the owner of Kristen’s Pharmacy in Southampton, Ont. Read the full story here

WATCH | Pharmacists burnt out as provinces expand COVID-19 booster eligibility: 

Pharmacists burnt out as provinces expand COVID-19 booster eligibility

Toronto police used Clearview AI facial recognition software to try to identify suspects, victims and witnesses in 84 criminal investigations in the 3½ months officers utilized the controversial technology before their police chief found out and ordered them to stop. The revelations are contained in an internal police document recently obtained by CBC News through an appeal of an access to information request. Between October 2019 and early February 2020, officers uploaded more than 2,800 photos to the U.S. company’s software to look for a match among the three billion images Clearview AI extracted from public websites, such as Facebook and Instagram, to build its database. Toronto police first admitted that some of its officers used Clearview AI in mid-February 2020, one month after the service denied using it. But until now, no details around how — and to what extent — officers used the facial recognition software have been released. Read more on this story here

It’s been decades in the making and has faced more than its fair share of delays, but if all goes as planned, the James Webb Space Telescope will launch within the coming days. Astronomers have been eagerly anticipating the launch of this telescope — and with good reason. The $10-billion telescope is the largest and most powerful ever sent into orbit. Building upon the discoveries of the famed Hubble Space Telescope, it will peer back into a time when our universe was in its infancy and will also reveal much more about the atmospheres of exoplanets. As of now, the telescope — also known as JWST, or just Webb — is expected to launch on Dec. 25 from French Guiana. Read more analysis here

LISTEN | The James Webb Space Telescope gets ready for lift-off: 

The Current19:26The James Webb Space Telescope gets ready for lift-off

Now for some good news to start your Thursday: Every year at this time, Saint John resident Hugh Brittain wonders if that one certain letter will show up in his mailbox. Last week it arrived: a Christmas card from a friend he’s never met. For the past 63 years, Brittain and his American pen pal, Wayne Anderson, have been exchanging Christmas cards. They’ve never met, they’ve never spoken on the phone, they don’t even have each other’s email addresses. But for the past six decades they’ve kept in touch, sending each other gifts and postcards and letters — and never once missing sending a Christmas card. Read about the teen prank that started the Christmas tradition.

Front Burner: A volunteer’s tragic end, his killer’s remorse

For those using drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Thomus Donaghy was a lifeline, committed to saving those on the brink of overdose. 

On the night of July 27, 2020, Donaghy, a volunteer at the Overdose Prevention Society, had just saved another life. Moments later, he lost his own.

Today, the stories of two men whose lives were shaped by a city in the grips of an overdose epidemic, the tragic circumstances that brought them together that night, and why Maximus Roland Hayes, the man who killed Donaghy, wants to make sure his life wasn’t lost for nothing.  

Our guests are CBC Vancouver reporter Jason Proctor, and Sara Blyth, the executive director of Vancouver’s Overdose Prevention Society.

23:16A volunteer’s tragic end, his killer’s remorse

Today in history: December 23

1771: Mother Marie Marguerite D’Youville, the founder of the Grey Nuns, or Sisters of Charity, dies in Montreal. In 1990, Pope John Paul II canonized her as the first Canadian-born saint.

1823: The poem A Visit From St. Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas, is first published anonymously in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel.

1908: Armenian portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh is born in what is present-day Turkey. He came to Canada in 1924. Among his many subjects were Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Audrey Hepburn.

1983: Jeanne Sauvé, the first female Speaker of the House of Commons, is selected to be Canada’s first female governor general. She served in the role from May 1984 until 1990.

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