U.S. democrats, Pelosi call on Biden to extend COVID-19 eviction ban

WATCH ABOVE: Millions face threat of homelessness as U.S. eviction protection expires

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leaders on Sunday called on the Biden administration to immediately extend the nation’s eviction moratorium, calling it a “moral imperative” to prevent Americans from being put out of their homes during a COVID-19 surge.

An estimated 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some as soon as Monday.

Congress was unable to pass legislation swiftly to extend the ban, which expired at midnight Saturday, and the Democratic leaders said in a statement that it was now up to President Joe Biden’s administration to act. They called on the administration to extend the moratorium through Oct. 18.

“Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration,” Pelosi said in the statement signed by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Whip James E. Clyburn and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. “Science and reason demand that they must also extend the moratorium in light of the delta variant. Doing so is a moral imperative.”

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The White House, which has urged localities and states to tap aid already approved by Congress, had no direct response to the Democrats’ call for action.

Some Democratic lawmakers said they were caught by surprise last Thursday when Biden announced that he would not extend the moratorium again in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that suggested congressional action was necessary for another extension. Lawmakers were left with only days to act before the ban expired, creating frustration and anger and exposing a rare rift with the administration.

On Sunday, hours after the expiration, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said that Democrats had to “call a spade a spade” and pointed to her own party.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” the progressive congresswoman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats joined Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who camped outside the Capitol over the weekend in protest.

On Saturday, with no legislative action pending, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the chair of the Financial Services Committee, told CNN, “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the ban in place as part of the COVID-19 response when jobs shifted and many workers lost income. The ban was intended to hold back the spread of the virus among people put out on the streets and into shelters.

Another source of frustration for lawmakers is the slow pace of pandemic relief already approved by Congress _ nearly $47 billion in federal housing aid to the states _ getting to renters and landlords owed payments. Biden has called on local governments to “take all possible steps” to disburse the funds immediately.

“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement Friday.

Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to echo that sentiment. “No landlord should evict without seeking that rental assistance, and states and localities need to get that money out urgently, and they can do that,” Deese said.

Landlords also have argued for speeding up the distribution of rental assistance and opposed another extension of the moratorium.

As the deadline approached Saturday night, Pelosi urged House Democrats to check into how the money already allocated had been distributed so far in their own states and localities. She said the Treasury Department, which transferred the funds earlier in the year, offered to brief lawmakers during the coming week.

When the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in late June to allow the broad eviction ban to continue through the end of July, one of those in the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”

The White House has maintained that Biden wanted to extend the moratorium but that concerns remained over challenging the court. Doing so could lead to a ruling restricting the administration’s ability to respond to future public health crises.

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While racing to respond to Biden’s announcement Thursday that congressional action was needed, Democrats strained to draft a bill and rally the votes. Waters produced a draft of a bill that would require the CDC to continue the ban through Dec. 31. At a hastily arranged hearing Friday morning to consider the bill, she urged her colleagues to act.

In the end, Democratic lawmakers had questions and concerns and could not muster support to extend the ban.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on another panel handling the issue, said the Democrats’ bill was rushed and that “this is not the way to legislate.”

Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

'Extremely dangerous': Toronto man films himself climbing Whistler Peak-2-Peak Gondola

Just days after BC Hydro issued a warning about people risking their lives on the Crown corporation's property in pursuit of the perfect selfie, a man has posted video of himself scaling a Whistler-Blackcomb landmark and climbing a construction crane in Vancouver. Grace Ke reports.

A Toronto-based “urban explorer” is raising eyebrows with a pair of sky-high stunts in B.C. last month, filmed for his YouTube channel.

The climber, who goes by the name ChaseTO, posted videos of himself scaling Whistler’s Peak-2-Peak Gondola, and a crane atop a Vancouver skyscraper in July.

In the Whistler video, ChaseTO can be seen hiking up the mountain in the pitch black of early morning, before scaling a ladder on one of the gondola’s towers at dawn, where he films himself with a selfie stick and a drone.

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“I haven’t seen a single video of anyone free climbing the giant supporting towers before so I figured why not be the first?,” he writes in the description, adding that he navigated up the mountain using Google Earth on his phone.

“I was able to climb up and down without interfering at all with the gondola’s regular operation, unlike some of the other stunts that have been performed here before me. It was an otherworldly morning— one to look back upon with great elation.”

Reached through Instagram, ChaseTO said he picked the two structures to climb because they were the tallest he could find during a trip to B.C.

“I like climbing and making videos / taking pictures.,” he said in explanation of the daredevil stunts.

“The mountain sunrise views were amazing.”

ChaseTO’s YouTube channel, which features about three dozen hair-raising climbing videos, has more than 300 subscribers.

The Whistler video, which has been viewed close to 1,000 times, attracted numerous comments — many applauding the climb, and several saying the climber could have put search-and-rescue crews at risk.

Officials were unanimous in their condemnation.

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Vail Resorts, which operates Whistler Blackcomb, issued a statement calling the video “reckless.”

“The individual trespassed on Whistler Blackcomb’s tenure, bypassed a locked gate and illegally climbed the tower for the purpose of filming himself,” the company said.

“This action put him at extreme risk, as well as had the potential to damage Whistler Blackcomb property.”

Vail said it had referred the matter to the RCMP, adding that its lift equipment is regularly inspected and there was no risk to the public.

Whistler RCMP did not respond to a request for comment.

Sgt. Steve Addison of the Vancouver police described the skycraper video as the action of a thrill-seeker “trying to achieve social media fame.”

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“Stunts like this … are extremely dangerous for the people involved and they promote copy-cats,” Addison said.

“They can also put police, firefighters, and paramedics in danger in the event the thrill-seekers get stuck or injured and need rescuing.”

ChaseTO dismissed those concerns, saying he never brings anyone with him that can’t handle the difficulty of the climb.

“I don’t worry about myself, I’m confident in my abilities,” he said.

“I discourage anyone from replicating my videos.”

There have been a number of high-profile deaths around the world in recent years attributed to risky behaviour by influencers seeking the perfect picture.

In July, Sophia Cheung died while trying to snap a selfie at a waterfall in Hong Kong.

Earlier this week, BC Hydro released a report suggesting selfie-takers and would-be influencers seeking social media fame were behind a 200 per cent increase in trespassing on its infrastructure, including transmission towers and dams.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

B.C. proclaims Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day to mark official end of slavery in Canada

Steven Cook, site manager of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site, talks about commemorating Emancipation Day on August 1st which marks the Slavery Abolition Act coming into effect in 1834.

British Columbia officially recognized Emancipation Day for the first time on Sunday.

The province has proclaimed the day on Aug. 1, to mark the date in 1834 that slavery was abolished across Canada and the British Empire.

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“The Black community has been part of British Columbia since April 1858, when more than 800 members of the community came to traditional territories of the First Nations and the Métis fleeing brutality and exploitation,” Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives Rachna Singh said in a statement.

“Yet the experience of Black British Columbians continues to be marginalized, their histories and contributions to this province little known or celebrated. This proclamation reaffirms our commitment to recognize the historical and present wrongs of exclusion, segregation, displacement, surveillance and over-incarceration that Black communities have experienced. We must and can do better.”

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In March, the federal government unanimously passed a vote to designate Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day.

It comes amid a reinvigorated civil rights movement, that gained momentum in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer.

Last year, hundreds of people marched through downtown Vancouver to mark Emancipation Day.

That same day, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart proclaimed Aug. 1 to be Emancipation Day in the city.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edmonton's Oliver Square changes name to Unity Square

WATCH ABOVE: A well-known retail area in Edmonton has undergone a significant name change to distance itself from a controversial historical figure. Chris Chacon reports

A well-known retail area in Edmonton has undergone a significant name change to distance itself from a controversial historical figure.

“The property managers here at Oliver Square and Oliver Village have made the decision to change their name away from their original namesake of Oliver to a new name called Unity Square for both areas,” Oliver Community League president Robyn Paches said.

Paches said he’s been in constant communication with property owners BentallGreenOak about this change that has been in the works for a while.

“They’re changing the name away from Oliver because of the feedback they’ve heard from the community and because of what they’ve heard from indigenous people as well as marginalized communities in Edmonton,” Paches said.

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Frank Oliver founded Edmonton’s first newspaper and is a namesake for schools, parks and an entire neighbourhood.

In addition to establishing the city’s first newspaper, Oliver created the Northwest Territories’ first public school system and then went on to a career in politics.

Oliver was an MLA and also an MP. It was during that time that he implemented an immigration policy banning Black people and another that chased the Papaschase First Nation off its land.

The community league, in partnership with several Indigenous groups, has also been advocating for the Oliver community to change its name and hopes this rebranding will also inspire other area businesses to make a change.

“This is a win for all of us, this is a win because we are once again having a very important conversation about this place, the names that we call it and also the history that we are a part of and more importantly to the future that we’re headed towards,” Uncover Oliver volunteer and member of Sucker Creek First Nation Hunter Cardinal said.

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While this is a positive step for advocates, one business owner said he was not consulted.

“We didn’t get to discuss this with anyone, we didn’t know what’s going on here or what’s the name and how they came up with the name,” Mrs. Barber co-owner Amjad Alhellwani said.

Alhellwani said he did receive an email notice and despite the lack of consultation, he said he still supports the decision, but will now need to change his business’ name on several platforms.

“Our location is called Mr. Barber Oliver, even with that we’ll try to be with every business around here and change our name to the new name, which is the Unity Square,” Alhellwani said.

Alhellwani said he hopes the new name will be positive for businesses in the area.

As for the community league, it said after finding a new partner and after this next round of consultations, it will propose the new community name to council and hope to have that approved in the next year or so.

Global News reached out to property management for the square. They were not available for comment Sunday.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

All deaf Regina cast producing 'first of its kind' short film

It'll be the first film of its kind in western Canada and maybe in all of Canada — a short film with an all deaf cast is currently being produced in Regina. Taz Dhaliwal has more on this trailblazing film and the significance behind it.

There’s no other film like it in all of western Canada and maybe even across the country.

Fable Deaf is a short film comprised of an all deaf cast, consisting of four characters, however, the film is targeted towards hearing audiences.

The creators of the movie aim to provide insight into the isolating struggles deaf individuals face on an on-going basis.

Deaf Crows Collective, a non-profit theater collective, is producing the film in partnership with Moxie Films.

According to its site, the mission of Deaf Crows Collective is to provide opportunities for theatre performance by deaf, hard of hearing, hearing, and late deafened actors of all ages to celebrate deaf culture, encourage self-expression, and foster relationships between hearing and deaf communities.

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“The movie has many different themes, the most important goal of this movie is about the cultural and linguistic genocide for the deaf community,” said Joanne Weber, artistic director for Deaf Crows Collective.

“How the deaf community is figuring out how to persevere, and continue passing along, language and our culture to the younger generations,” she added.

Weber explains that sign language is being pushed aside as more focus is being targeted towards oralism, relying on cochlear implants and hearing aids.

The film, which is being shot in American Sign Language (ASL), strives to shine a light on this issue, that not only deaf people across Canada, but the world continue to struggle with.

“We’re using surreal imagery and some kind of fairy tale, mythological approach to paint a metaphor of what’s really happening in the deaf community,” said Chrystene Ells, director of the film.

“Many movies and many performances are always led by a hearing director and there’s a lot of hearing people making decisions and they don’t understand anything about the culture, the language or the behaviour, and we have a very different experience in our lives,” Weber said.

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Fatima Nafisa, one of the characters in the film, hopes audiences will take away the message of inclusion, which is one of the central messages the film depicts.

“You know a whole variety of things related to identity, you just have to accept and respect everything,” said Nafisa.

“Don’t think that we are less than or that you are better than us or you know that, we are the same as everyone else in the world, and we just want that respect and that’s very important,” she added.

The team is currently on an intense 15-day shooting schedule, Ells says they’ve been working long 12-18 hour days.

But, despite the long hours, a very tight film budget and skeleton crew, both the artistic and film directors are elated to see members come to the set, day after day with smiles on their faces.

The film is slated to be released next fall as the group still has six months of post-production work ahead of them.

Ells also says the team hopes to showcase the movie at a number of different festivals, possibly even some international ones.

Deaf Crows Collective performance and art projects are made possible by generous donations of public and private donors. For information about sponsorship, you can email deafcrowscollective@gmail.com.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

City councillor Michael Ford wants to take another look at ActiveTO

As the world continues to open up, Counc. Mike Ford says we need to do away with closing major arteries in the city for Active TO. But as Frazer Snowdon finds out, there are still several people in support of the initiative.

The whole idea of ActiveTO when it was first introduced was to give people space and to encourage exercise.

But now some say it’s become a major problem for drivers in the city — and Toronto city councillor Michael Ford wants to look at putting an end to the program.

“We have to do away with shutting down major arteries of the city,” says councillor Ford, who posted on social media this week about the idea.

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“We’re starting to see quite a congestion build on arterial roads.”

ActiveTO started at the beginning of the pandemic — as a way to give residents more space to spread out when we were supposed to stay apart.

But Ford says as the world is slowly opening up — roadways are getting busy.

“City data is showing us that traffic is increasing, three times the regular amount on adjacent routes,” says Ford. “I think that tells us something.”

The idea was carried over into this year, shutting down major roadways, such as Lakeshore Boulevard West, and in The Beaches as well.

But now after more than a year of it in place — some are torn on what to do.

“The traffic back up is nuts,” says resident Kevin Lecour. “It’s great for us , but for the majority of the people, it’s a huge headache,” he says.

Driver Mario Venerus says it’s time to go.

“I think they should have just left everything alone in the past,” he says. “Stop this nonsense.”

“Horrible, just horrible,” says Ester, a Toronto resident. “You have to wait four or five lights for this? It’s not worth it for me.”

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But not everyone on council feels the same as Ford. Councillor Joe Cressy posted a rebuttal on social media.

“Alternate Take, make it permanent and expand it,” he says.

“The pandemic has exposed the importance of accessible public space. Our task is not to simply beat it, but to build a new and better city afterwards.”

That is something Kevin Rupasinghe, who is with bike advocacy group Cycle Toronto, agrees with.

“I think calls to cancel the program are premature and misguided,” says Rupasinghe. “We should really be continuing to monitor and adjust this. The pandemic is not over and people are still looking to get out.”

Cycle Toronto has been pushing to make it permanent as well and have garnered nearly 5,000 pledges in support of the idea.

“I think we’ve seen it’s a popular program, lots of people continue to use it. Certainly cancelling should not be considered at this time,” Rupasinghe said.

In a statement, Mayor John Tory says he is supportive of keeping the program but recognizes we must watch closely.

“I am committed to making sure ActiveTO continues in the future while also recognizing we must carefully analyze the extensive traffic data we are collecting and make sure we have a plan which acknowledges the realities of a big city and busy weekends with lots of events.”

Councillor Ford says he sees the positives of the initiative, but says something needs to change.

“If there are secondary roads that we can confidently close off. I’m okay with that.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Police watchdog investigating man's fatal fall from Coquitlam balcony during RCMP call

B.C.’s civilian police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, has been deployed to Coquitlam, where a man died early Sunday morning.

The IIO said it happened at an upper floor unit in a residential building in the 1100-block of Heffley Crescent around 3:30 a.m.

Coquitlam RCMP said officers were called to a report of a disturbance at a home. When they arrived, the occupant ran towards the unit’s patio, police said.

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“The officers entered the home and made their way to the patio but reportedly did not see him,” RCMP said in a media release.

“When they looked over the railing he was spotted below. He was later confirmed deceased.”

The IIO will investigate whether police actions or inactions played any role in the man’s death.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the IIO.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

WATCH: Global National - August 1

Watch the full broadcast of Global National/em>, hosted by Eric Sorensen for Sunday, August 1, 2021.

View more Global National videos here, or submit a photo for our Your Canada segment here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

West Kelowna veterinarian cautions pet owners amid smoky skies

Humans and nature aren't the only things affected by the smoky skies, it can hurt your pets too. Sydney Morton spoke with West Kelowna veterinarian Dr. Oz to find out how to keep your pets safe in poor air quality.

That smoke that is making your eyes water, your throat hurt and is giving you headaches isn’t just bad for you, it’s just as bad for your pets.

“Be careful, make sure, because it’s very hot for us and we are not going to run the marathon or do heavy training, it’s the same thing with dogs,” said Dr. Moshe Oz of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Oz has seen dozens of pets having respiratory troubles come through his doors just this week as smoke continues to coat much of the Okanagan.

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“Even today, I just got a call from two people, their dogs can’t stop coughing,” said Dr. Oz.

“Try to take care of it, if there are some signs , call the vet. We need to get some kind of medication and to assess.”

Pets can show a variety of symptoms — they could have coughing fits, be coughing up phlegm, and even develop redness and swelling around their eyes.

Dr. Oz says there are a few things that pet owners can do to prevent this from happening.

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“What I advise to our clients, it’s just to stay home as much as possible. Make sure that they have a humidifier, make sure that they have ventilation so we can have some kind of airflow,” said Dr. Oz.

He also says to limit pets’ time outside.

“If those signs of respiratory distress, coughing phlegm, just bring them home immediately, and if it has escalated and becomes more of a problem, make a call to the vet.”

So while the skies remain smoky, Dr. Oz recommends keeping an eye on how your pets are doing, especially if they have any pre-existing conditions, are elderly or still growing.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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