Sudbury Columnists | Sudbury Star
Sims: Doc's pep talk – and look at numbers – allay AstraZeneca shot qualms
I got a little jolt of reality after something Middlesex-London’s medical officer of health said to me during our conversation about any regrets I had about taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in light of some clunky comments early this week from federal experts.
McCarthy and Pulfer: To defend the free press, we must clean up misinformation
Today is World Press Freedom Day. And while reporters continue to risk their lives in many parts of the world, high-quality journalism is under a growing threat from the sludge of highly emotive, inaccurate content on social media.
Media should not give an extremist a platform
Last week, an anti-masker who goes by Chris Sky made headlines when someone asked a local eatery to provide Sky and his entourage with free food when Sky arrived in Sault Ste. Marie during his travels across the country. They got a resounding ‘no’ from the restaurant owner, and she in turn received a round of applause from the community at large. What you might have missed, though, was that Sky made more waves in the Sault a day or two after that. A local web show – that I won’t name simply because I don’t want to drive any viewers to it – had Sky on the show. That might not sound like much, but I have two problems with this. First, is that Sky was featured alongside the show’s ‘co-host’ in person. That is, rather than having him on virtually and keeping their distance, he appeared maskless just inches away from the also maskless co-host. Now, that might ordinarily ruffle my feathers, but this instance really got to me because that co-host just happens to have been a nurse with an organization that provides home care. As if that’s not enough, that organization provides home care to my father. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out how troubling it is for a nurse – someone responsible for caring for vulnerable people – to so blatantly disregard public health regulations. Let’s just say that I’m disgusted that people can have such utter disregard for the wellbeing of others. Fortunately, the nurse’s employer agreed and when I reached out for assurance that – at the very least – this nurse would not be attending my parents’ home, they informed me “This nurse is no longer with our organization.” I can honestly say that this is one job loss that I will not be losing any sleep over. The other problem I have with the whole situation is that the host of this web show would invite Sky on in the first place. Even if you condone Sky’s anti-mask misinformation and feel that is worth sharing, he is also an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier, quotes Hitler on social media (enthusiastically and appreciatively), believes that Black people are genetically and intellectually inferior, accuses the LGBTQ community of condoning pedophilia, and vilifies Muslims. This man does not deserve any kind of platform to share his hateful, disgusting rhetoric, yet he was invited onto this web show. Even if he did not bring up any of those topics in this interview, nobody like that deserves the opportunity. There is an important balance that people with such platforms have to try to strike between allowing for free speech and sharing information on the one hand and maintaining responsibility for whose voices you are amplifying on the other. It is not always an easy balance to maintain, but it is crucial to do one’s best. In this case, that balance was not struck, and I’m not sure that an effort was even made. Honestly, the whole issue just reminded me of how tired I am. Of people getting so upset over being asked to wear a mask. Of people refusing to stay home for the good of the entire country. Of people thinking they know better than others who have spent their lives studying a subject. Of people thinking it’s OK to disparage anyone even slightly different from themselves. Of people not taking their responsibilities seriously. And of people being so self-centred – so upset about a mild inconvenience to themselves – that they’d risk the lives of so many other people – “because, freedom.” I think the COVID fatigue has finally set in for me.
Advice for the beginner gardener
Are you a beginner gardener? Understanding terminology might clear up some of the confusion that new gardeners feel. The most common confusion seems to be understanding the difference between annuals and perennials. An annual plant is one that is not frost hardy in our area. Annuals are planted outdoors once the weather warms enough that daytime temperatures are above 10C and nights do not dip below zero. A common example of an annual flower would be geraniums. The trick to remembering this term is, “Annuals are replanted annually.” These flowers bloom continuously throughout the summer but die off in fall when frosty nights return. At that point, dead plants can be thrown into the compost pile and recycled for next year’s garden. Perennials are a permanent part of your garden. They go through a yearly cycle of growing up from the soil in spring and reaching their mature size throughout the growing season. Individual perennials will have their own time of bloom: primroses bloom in spring, irises and peonies in June, daisies in early summer, Echinacea in late summer and aster in fall. Very few perennials bloom all season long. The trick to having a colourful perennial garden all season is to choose plants with different bloom times, so you always have something flowering. Not sure what to pick? Plant tags offer a wealth of information: how tall it will get, how wide it will spread, the bloom time and duration, plus flower colour can all be found on the tag. Many gardeners will plant patches of annuals in their perennial borders so some constant colour shows as the perennial flowers ebb and flow. Just remember those annuals will die off at the end of the season. Perennial plants can be cut back in fall to about four inches from the ground. This tidies up the garden since perennial foliage does not survive the winter, only the crowns and roots of the plants do. You may also choose to let foliage die down on its own and collapse into the garden. This gives native pollinating insects a habitat to overwinter in. Trees and shrubs are different than annuals and perennials. They have woody stems and branches that do survive over the winter. Each year new growth begins from buds on the previous year’s wood, so trees and shrubs grow taller and wider each year. Trees and shrubs are also a permanent part of your landscape. You do have to look closely at tag information about mature height and width so you choose a spot that can accommodate the eventual size of the plant. I have seen small blue spruce trees planted beside the entrance of a house that eventually grew so tall and wide that the front door was no longer accessible. Over the years, plant breeders have focused efforts on developing more compact tree and shrub varieties to suit smaller gardens. An example of this is the many new types of hydrangea that have become available in recent years. Limelight Hydrangea was introduced about 10 years ago and then Little Lime came out five years later. It is half the size of the parent plant with all the wonderful flower characteristics of the original. When buying annual flowers, you are less concerned with cold hardiness. Any flower that is rated for Zone 6 or higher will be an annual here. Trees, shrubs, and perennials that you purchase should all be rated to grow in Zone 4. Hardiness zone maps are created using average low winter temperature. We are Zone 4b on some maps and 5a on others. Some Zone 5 plants do quite well here, if they are low enough to be insulated from cold winter winds by a good snow cover. Planting a Zone 5 tree is always risky. The main part of the tree is well above the snow line in winter.
Sault police should have ticketed protesters on site
Usually when police see an offence taking place before their very eyes, they move in and take appropriate action. But that certainly wasn’t the case in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. Despite warnings from police and public health earlier in the week about the heavy penalties that could be applied to those organizing and also those attending public gatherings, more than 100 people showed up at Bellevue Park for the “Stand for Freedom” rally protesting the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19. Sault police officers were there but according to news reports, they only took pictures. The idea, it seems, is to identify those involved by poring over the pictures and then issuing fines. I see this as being patently unfair. Police undoubtedly will not be able to identify all who attended and therefore those whom they can’t identify will escape the fines. “The whole thing boils down to safety of everyone involved as well as officers,” Lincoln Louttit, a spokesman for Sault Ste. Marie Police Services, was quoted as saying. “By going into a potentially aggravated crowd does not ensure public safety. Public safety is the No. 1 priority there.” I thought this comment was disingenuous at best. This was a peaceful protest by people who, although woefully misguided and ill-informed, I can’t see resorting to violence if issued tickets. I have no doubt some would get mouthy but violence, no. In warning about the gathering, police stated anyone attending could face fines of up to nearly $1,000 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and those deemed to be organizers could face fines up to $10,000. I thought this would be enough to keep people away but apparently not. Some of those attending were quoted as saying they weren’t anti-mask or anti-vaccine but saw them as infringing on their freedom, that they had had enough of the restrictions. This is about whether you want to wear a mask, whether or not you want to send your kids to school with masks on, whether or not you want to inject yourself with experimental injections, one said. Another said lockdowns are extremely damaging and are destroying livelihoods. “If we do not take these masks off and start rolling our economy back, we’re in big, big trouble,” said the speaker who identified himself as a Canadian Forces veteran. A woman who identified herself as a personal support worker denied that hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID patients, claiming that the virus has been exaggerated and that the measures taken against the virus by government and public health authorities are an overreaction. Where have these people been? Do they not read about or see on television what is going on around the world? Or is it that they just don’t, or can’t, think? It is all there for everyone to see, especially the situation in India where fires have to be kept burning in cleared areas to get rid of the bodies which, because of COVID, are now too plentiful for the crematoriums to handle. And you can rail about lockdowns all you want, they along with the continued use of masks are going to help us keep the virus at bay until we all can be fully vaccinated. But my central point here concerns the police. In future I would prefer that they nail on the spot those who are defying the edicts that have been put in place to protect us all They did it at a protest at Station Mall a couple of weeks back. They should have done it here and should especially do it if it happens again.
HEY TO MAY DAYS OF JUNIOR HOCKEY
Junior A level hockey leagues across Canada are closed for registry business until June 1. Which, as an example, means that teams in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League can’t officially announce any new player signings or trades until June 1. But, as they should be, NOJHL coaches and general managers will no doubt be busy throughout the month of May working on potential player recruitment and transactions ahead of June 1. To be sure, the off-season is the busiest of times relative to player signings, commitments and trades in the junior hockey world. As an example of transactions alone, NOJHL teams combined to make more than 40 trades well before the start of the recent 2020-2021 season. Notably, trades are often made with teams outside the NOJHL. For example, during the 2020 off-season, Soo Thunderbirds acquired star goalie Alex Bugeja from the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League while also obtaining standout defenceman Cameron Dutkiewicz from the Renfrew Timberwolves of the Central Canada 2 Hockey League. NOJHL teams also traded within the league during the last off-season, primary examples being the Espanola Express obtaining top forward Devon Savignac from Blind River Beavers for a player development fee and acquiring James Eng from French River Rapids for Jayden Parnell in an exchange of forwards. And now, as the spring of 2021 heads towards the summer and then to the planned start of the 2021-2022 campaign in the fall, NOJHL hockey bosses are, without question, recruiting and talking trade both within the league and outside of it. There are general managers and coaches who have just been hired by their respective teams who are already at work building towards next season. Included in that group are GM Jamie Henderson and coach Cole Jarrett of Soo Thunderbirds, GM John Buchanan and coach Brian Noad of the revived and rebranded Elliot Lake Red Wings, and coach-GM Brandon Perry of Timmins Rock. Henderson, who previously worked for the Thunderbirds as an assistant coach and assistant manager during their championship seasons of several years ago and who will continue to coach the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League, has been settling in to his new post as the T-Birds GM. And Henderson told me if any player from last season’s Thunderbirds wants to be traded to another team in the NOJHL or to another Canadian junior league, he will not stand in their way. “We want kids who want to be here,” Henderson simply stated. Meanwhile, down the road from the Sault to Blind River, Beavers coach and GM Kyle Brick may be faced with moving forwards Justin Mauro and Devin Mauro. While Brick said he has commitments from 8-10 players to return for the 2021-2022 season including hard-working forward Nick Jameus and No. 1 goalie Gavin Disano, the Mauro brothers have made no such pledge. When asked about trading the Mauro boys — Justin has a 2002 birth date and Devin was born in 2004 — Brick, much like Henderson in the Sault, noted “We want players who want to be in Blind River. Having said that, we are not just going to give any player away without getting a player or the player development fee in return.” Notably, the Mauro brothers are both Sault Ste. Marie residents as are committed returnees to Blind River, the aforementioned Jameus and Disano. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Jameus was a reliable performer for the Beavers through the 18 games that he played in the abbreviated 2020-2021 season. Used mainly as a shutdown forward, Jameus came through with one goal, eight assists, nine points. “I expect Nick can come in and be our No. 1 center this season,” Brick said of the now 19-year-old Jameus. “He is a good kid and there is no question of his skill level and ability.” Meanwhile, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Disano faced a slew of shots in becoming a workhorse between the pipes for Blind River and becoming its No. 1 goalie as a rookie. Signed by the Beavers prior to the start of the 2020-2021 NOJHL season after a year with the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League, the soon-to-be-18-year-old Disano posted a 6-4-1 record on a Blind River team that finished with a 9-11-1 mark. Disano’s 6-4-1 record, .891 save percentage and goals against average of 4.53 did not tell the whole tale of what the young goalie faced in the Beavers net. That is, in 689 minutes of action, Disano faced a whopping 478 shots, which, tallies up to a per game average of almost 42 shots per 60 minutes. Plus, Blind River played the last seven games of the season with just two regular defenceman due to injuries and suspensions. And Brick, as the coach and GM, welcomes the return of Disano as the Beavers starter for next season. “He is a quiet kid, a really good kid who doesn’t say much. There are a lot of qualities that Gavin has that really stand out,” Brick told me. “His preparation, approach and focus during practices and games are off the charts.” As for what lies ahead through this month and over the course of the summer, Brick said he has already started recruiting players to play in Blind River next season. “I have been making some phone calls and watching some video regarding players who could help us next season. It is kind of tricky right now because we don’t know what lies ahead … Will there be body contact when we return to play next season and will the (Canada-United States) border be open are questions that, right now, we don’t know the answers to,” Brick pointed out.