HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Canadian Blood Services is holding its final mobile blood drive clinic of the year in Shelburne on Dec. 11 and all of the appointments to donate have already been filled. “What I would say for Shelburne is to certainly thank the community for stepping up and filling up that clinic,” said Elaine St. Pierre, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services. “It’s really important to know that if you did grab a spot, to take that hour out of your day, make that commitment and show up because we do need every single unit that we booked in.” Canadian Blood Services generally holds a blood drive in Shelburne at the Centre Dufferin Recreation Complex every three months, and while the COVID-19 pandemic has created restrictions for the non-profit organization, the need for blood continues. “The need for blood is something that is maintained, it’s there every day and it doesn’t matter that there’s a pandemic; babies are still being born every day; mothers are still having complications during childbirth; people still have cancer; there are still going to be car accidents,” said St. Pierre. “There are things that are going on every day that are constantly uses for blood.” At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, following a call to action for donations, St. Pierre says that the Canadian Blood Services saw a surge of people going to clinics to donate blood. With hospitals halting elective procedures and treatments that tend to have high use for blood, she notes they also experienced a dip in the demand. “We were very lucky that we happened to go into the pandemic with a good strong inventory in the country,” said St. Pierre. Canadian Blood Services resuming their donor clinics has since seen a reduced capacity for collecting blood, with physical distancing protocols and cleaning measures restricting the number of people they’re able to process – they’ve also seen a spike in the need for blood donations. “The demand for the hospital using the blood has gone back up to pre-pandemic levels, yet, we’re still constrained by our capacity to collect because of the need for physical distancing,” said St. Pierre. Now, with the demand back at pre-pandemic levels and walk-in donations not permitted, St. Pierre is urging those who have signed up to show up for their appointments as they need “every single unit booked in”. While appointments for the Shelburne mobile clinic have already fully booked up, St. Pierre adds that those looking to donate in the future can still check their eligibility to donate blood. Appointments can be booked at www.blood.ca or call 1-888-2DONATE. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
The latest hospital readiness plan from Saskatchewan health officials says the province needs another 250 beds, plus another 64 spaces for people requiring intensive care, to handle the surge in COVID-19 cases expected in the next two weeks.Hospitals and contact tracing in particular need more people, Derek Miller, the Saskatchewan Health Authority's emergency operations centre lead, said during a news conference Thursday."The pressures on our system are intense," added the authority's CEO, Scott Livingstone. "We are pushing things to the limit."To put the numbers in context, 250 beds is roughly equal to how many patients Cypress Regional Hospital in Swift Current and Prince Albert Victoria Hospital can take today, combined. Doubling of new cases predictedThe updated surge plan contemplates as many as 560 new cases of COVID-19 a day in the province by Dec. 15. On Thursday, 259 new cases were announced, just below the rolling seven-day average of 269. Twenty-four people were under intensive care as of Thursday. The projection for future ICU patients in the surge plan is more than double that.Service slowdowns in areas such as surgeries are needed to create more capacity in the hospital system, though the clampdown on services will not be as severe as it was last spring, Miller said.Up to 600 full-time health care workers will need to be moved around, according to the plan, which also calls for a pool of up to 60 health care workers spread across six regions who could be deployed to particular outbreaks. Livingstone said 600 new full-time health workers have already been added to the system in the last several months but that more are needed to handle the expected surge.The plan will be reassessed every week, based on need. Livingstone said whether the surge ever manifests depends on individual people and the degree to which they follow public health guidelines."They hold the ultimate control of that dimmer switch," Livingstone said. "We will light up all of our services again when Saskatchewan residents help us make it safe to do so."At this point, the health authority is not opening field hospitals considered in its original plan last spring, Livingstone said, but it is preparing teams should those hospitals be needed.Absence of families in hospitals keenly felt: doctor Dr. Susan Shaw, the chief medical officer for the SHA and a practising doctor in Saskatoon, was asked about what it's like in hospitals right now."I really miss the family presence at the bedside," he said. "The patients really benefit from that. The fact that we can't do that to keep people safe, it's hard on staff and it's heartbreaking for our families."The health authority suspended family visits in all health facilities in mid-November to help curb the spread of the virus.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Thursday he's still hopeful people might be allowed to visit loved ones in long-term care homes at Christmas, but that a final decision won't be made until Dec. 17. CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La santé publique de l’Ontario rapporte jeudi 1 824 nouvelles infections à la COVID-19, mais plus d’une centaine de ces infections ont été dépistées au cours des trois derniers jours. Le bilan provincial de plus de 1 800 nouveaux cas serait donc le résultat d’une erreur de traitement des données au Bureau de santé de Middlesex-London, indique le ministère de la Santé, où 127 cas rapportés jeudi ont été signalés sur une période de trois jours. Depuis le début de la pandémie, l’Ontario a enregistré 121 746 infections au coronavirus. Jeudi, la province déplore 14 nouveaux décès liés à la COVID-19, portant le bilan total des décès à 3 712, dont 2 342 résidents de foyers de soins de longue durée et huit employés de ces établissements. Au cours de la dernière journée, 666 Ontariens atteints du virus étaient hospitalisés, dont 195 aux soins intensifs et 107 sous respirateur. Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
The pandemic is taking a brutal toll on children and youth with special needs and their families, according to a new report by B.C.'s representative for children and youth."Families are just hanging on by a thread, they are absolutely spent," said Jennifer Charlesworth. "Can you imagine providing 24 hour care to children … who have lost all supports?"The report, Left Out: Children and Youth with Special Needs in the Pandemic, calls for urgent government action and collaboration with families and community organizations to address a segment of the population that has been neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic.The report includes a survey of over 500 families that paints a picture of the crisis many are facing.The closure of community services and suspension of in-class learning has hit these families the hardest, leaving them without vital services for children with complex medical, physical, behavioural and cognitive needs.Making matters worse, respite arrangements and community programs have also been cancelled or suspended because of the need for physical distancing.Meanwhile, wait-times for assessments and diagnoses have grown longer.Charlesworth said she is concerned that some families, pushed to their breaking point, will be left with no alternative other than to put their child or teen into foster care."That would be a tragedy," she said. The executive director of Inclusion B.C. said the pandemic has amplified frailties and fractures in the system that existed before COVID-19 hit."The pandemic has revealed a system that fails children with disabilities," said Karla Verschoor. "It's simply unjust and inexcusable to leave their families alone and unsupported, which is what we've done for far too long."The report makes the following recommendations: * More and better communication between the Ministry of Children and Family Development and families, community providers, family networks and advocates. * A one-year extension to fall 2021 of all pandemic-related benefits and processes for families with children and youth with special needs. * Creation of a special working table bringing together families, community organizations, advocates and funding ministries for regular check-ins and problem solving. * Funding support for community organizations to help families find alternative services. * A review of virtual service provisions delivered in the first months of the pandemic. * Streamlined processes for emergency benefits and approvals that minimize the paperwork and administrative burden for families. * Exploration of the concept of support "bubbles" for in-home services to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both family members and service providers.
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
The songs in his new album are deeply personal, as he explores the themes of relationships and family, during a time when people are learning more about both. Devin Hentsch, an English teacher at Centre Dufferin District High School (CDDHS), released his sixth album under Devin and the Dark Light called “Brideland,” earlier this month. The album, which features eight original songs written by Hentsch throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, expresses what he calls the “spiritual domestic.” “I think people are dealing with living together a lot more closely, and they’re learning to deal with conflict within their families, and also how to accept each other a lot more,” explains Hentsch to the Free Press. “The album kind of touches on that.” Originally from Orangeville, Hentsch formed Devin and the Dark Light, back in 2005 as a music project, bringing in other artists to add their own parts to his songs. Since its formation, Devin and the Dark Light have played at venues in Toronto, Collingwood, Guelph, and Orangeville. As an English teacher at Shelburne’s local high school for the last 15 years, Hentsch said he used song writing and music as a way to create outside his career as a teacher but over the years has brought it into his teaching. “Teaching English is great for song writing, because you’re dealing with themes all the time, and you have to be very descriptive,” said Hentsch. “If you’re teaching poetry, you’re dealing with rhyme, and you’re dealing with imagery; these are all the things that I do in my music, and then bring them into the classroom.” From the psychedelic sounds of harmonicas and synthesizers in the first song “Cellphone Light” to the indie rock drum loops in the last “Throwin’ Candy,” Hentsch said he tries to keep the music as experimental as possible. “I get bored when I record so I try to, use all of the instruments I have available to me to create something new,” said Hentsch. “That’s always the attempt, instead of falling back into old patterns of rock and pop.” While writing the album through COVID-19, a time when family and relationships have become increasing important, and with the recent release of “Brideland” both on CD and digitally, Hentsch will be donating the proceeds from sales to Shelburne’s local food bank, Shepherd’s Cupboard, until Dec. 21. “I was sitting on the album and I didn’t know how I was going to release it. I thought this made the most sense since it’s an album about family and relationships,” he said. “Brideland” is available for purchase online on the Devin and the Dark Light website, as well as at Aardvark Music in Orangeville.Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe isn't committing to a threshold suggested by his chief medical health officer for granting more people the right to gather at Christmas.Dr. Saqib Shahab said Wednesday that any decision to relax COVID-19 public-health orders would have to consider the risk of infections spiking in the new year. Shahab said his preference would be for the province to wait until there was an average of 120 new cases daily, or less, before loosening limits on gatherings."I wouldn't commit to that," Moe said Thursday."We also must understand that we have a holiday season that is upon us. We have put in place a number of measures that do impact our opportunity to see family, possibly in a long-term home, during that holiday season."Also Thursday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced it is planning to divert up to 600 staff to respond to the pandemic, meaning some procedures such as diagnostics will have to be rescheduled. Moving staff around is meant to brace the health system for a possible influx of hospital patients, including into intensive care. Officials forecast new daily cases hitting about 560 in the next two weeks and hospitalizations doubling. "It's not a crystal ball," said CEO Scott Livingstone of the data."Right now, we know that the 14-day forecasts over the last few weeks have been quite accurate relative to what we're seeing."Another 259 cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday, along with one death.Hospitals were treating 124 patients sick with COVID-19; 24 of them were in intensive care.Moe said he believes capacity limits on public venues, a ban on team sports and a provincewide mask mandate will start to slow the virus's spread enough so that some of the health orders can be loosened when they come up for renewal in three weeks.“If we have to make that decision today, it may not be the decision that I would want and that I think many other families across the province would want."Earlier in the week, the premier said he would like to see a way for more than five people to socialize in a home over Christmas — the current public-health rule — but Thursday mainly focused on relaxing rules for long-term care facilities.Visits are not allowed in long-term or personal care homes, except for compassionate reasons."As we get closer to Dec. 17, and ultimately likely even closer to Christmas, we’ll have the discussion about whether or not there are any opportunities for maybe a visit with full (personal protective) gear in a long-term care facility or not," Moe said.“I haven’t given up hope.”Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said he's concerned the premier's office is putting pressure on the chief medical health officer to do what is politically popular, but not wise for public health.“People need to think about this. Relaxing long-term care restrictions during a COVID-19 spike, during a time when we’ve got outbreaks — that’s a way to lose a lot of lives," Meili said.On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Party government also announced the revival of an emergency grant program for small businesses that have been hit by health restrictionsBusinesses with fewer than 500 employees can apply to receive a grant of 15 per cent of their monthly sales revenue recorded before the pandemic arrived in March, to a maximum of $5,000.Eligible businesses are ones that have had to change how they operate to comply with public-health rules. The plan is to get the money to businesses within weeks.The government expects the program to cost $8 million.Meili said the the criteria are too narrow and will leave some businesses ineligible. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Attorney General William Barr is coming under criticism from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are demanding a full review of the presidential election won by Joe Biden. (Dec. 3)
LOS ANGELES — Queen Latifah's upcoming drama series has scored a touchdown. CBS says “The Equalizer” will get the coveted post-Super Bowl slot next February to showcase its debut.“The Equalizer,” a reboot of the 1980s series about a retired intelligence agent turned private detective, stars Latifah as an ex-CIA agent and single mom who helps those “with nowhere else to turn,” according to a network description.The series will immediately follow the conclusion of CBS Sports' Sunday, Feb. 7, Super Bowl LV broadcast, with subsequent episodes of “The Equalizer” airing at 8 p.m. EST Sundays, CBS said Thursday.A special edition of Stephen Colbert's daily “The Late Show” will follow late local news on Super Bowl night, the network also announced.The returning series “FBI” also is getting special treatment, with its season debut following the NFL's AFC championship game on Sunday, Jan. 24. The show will then air regularly at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday.The other daily CBS late-night program, James Corden's “The Late Late Show,” will air a weekend edition on the night of the conference championship and after local newscasts.The Associated Press
A traffic light instillation won’t be stopping the opening of Shelburne’s new Tim Hortons, thanks to Shelburne Council approving a request from the owner to go ahead with opening. During their Council meeting on Monday (Nov. 23), Shelburne councillors voted “yes” to a relief of site plan approval request, which will allow the chain restaurant to open their doors prior to the required instillation of traffic lights. “I think this is the best course of action we have to make sure the Tim Hortons is still going to be a key tenant of this plaza,” town planner, Steve Wever said to councillors. The new Tim Hortons is part of the Summerhill Plaza development on the north end of town and is located on Owen Sound Street (Hwy. 10) at Colonel Phillips Drive. An original site plan approval for the development, implemented back in May of 2019, called for traffic lights to be installed at the intersection before any of the buildings in the plaza could be occupied. Wever said the approval process for the traffic light has been extensive, included an environmental assessment, and multiple design submission, before it was finalized. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been delays in the approval process. “The challenge that has resulted from all this extended length of time and some of the delays related to COVID this year through the MTO review process, has been that the site plan agreement requires signalization and intersection work to be completed [before] any occupancy is granted in the plaza,” said Wever. Delays in the approval process have now resulted in the construction of the lights needing to be held off until spring 2021 as it would now involve winter construction. The new Tim Hortons could be ready to open at the end of the year, or sometime in January, which is why the owner is asking for leniency on the original agreement. Wever said that the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) supported the Tim Hortons opening prior to the light instillation. Following the report from Wever, councillors addressed some of their concerns with the approval. Coun. Walter Benotto questioned if parking of transport trucks had been looked at, citing issues on Hwy. 124, where the town’s other Tim Hortons is located. “We want the highway at least signed as a minimum to identify trucks are not allowed to park along the shoulders of the highway,” said Wever adding the curbs near the intersections will help. Mayor Wade Mills also added that he was “slightly” uncomfortable with waiving the approval, which was specifically put in place for safety, but with the MTO’s support, he’s more agreeable to the idea. While the chain restaurant has been approved to open, other units in the plaza will not be allowed occupancy until the lights are installed. Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
The economic impact of the second wave of COVID-19 in Canada has been deeper than expected and the government must be agile to ensure it can respond to gaps in supports should any emerge, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday. Freeland told a Vancouver business group by video conference that the government hopes the supports it has put in place will get businesses and Canadians through to the end of the pandemic, but did not discount additional aid if needed. "The virulence of the second wave and its economic impact is a little deeper than people thought it would be," Freeland said.
A group of current and former Black civil servants has issued a proposed class-action lawsuit against the federal government alleging it discriminated against Black employees for decades.They claim the government has excluded Black federal employees from being promoted."Our exclusion at the top levels of the public service, in my view, has really disenfranchised Canada from that talent and that ability and the culture that Black workers bring to the table and that different perspective," said Nicholas Marcus Thompson.Thompson is one of 12 former or current employees from multiple government departments who are representative plaintiffs in the class action. Lawyers representing them say the suit could ultimately cover tens of thousands of people who have worked in the federal public service since 1970.The lawsuit comes at a time of heightened awareness about systemic and anti-Black racism.In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said systemic racism "is an issue across the country, in all our institutions."The plaintiffs in the proposed class action are asking for $900 million in damages, a declaration from the government that it infringed on the group's charter rights and a plan going forward to promote more Black employees.It was filed in the Federal Court of Canada on Thursday and is awaiting certification. The government is expected to be served in the coming days. Lack of representation The lawyers representing the civil servants say the suit is likely the first of its kind in Canada involving Black public servants at the federal level. The statement of claim names more than 50 departments and agencies as comprising the public service.Last year, two Black Ontario government employees sued the Ontario Public Service, among others, alleging discrimination because they were Black women.In an interview in Toronto with CBC News, Thompson said that when he joined the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) six years ago, something felt off to him."When I became a Canadian citizen many years ago, I remember the citizenship judge saying that Canada is a place where freedom abounds and opportunities are endless. But when I joined the CRA, that was my expectation that I could join, start at any position and climb the ranks. And my goal was really to serve Canadians," he said."I quickly realized that the agency was not, you know, as I thought it would be: all inclusive and diverse."Thompson, who was a collections officer, said a lack of Black representation in the agency caused his morale and confidence to suffer. He also said the work environment was toxic and led to illness.When his doctor gave him a prescription for a "workplace accommodation," Thompson said he was told to clean closets because no other work was available. WATCH | What it will take to make civil service more representative:The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, which is the employer of the federal public service, said it could not comment on the allegations in the suit because it was before the courts."Systemic racism and discrimination is a painful lived reality for Black Canadians, racialized Canadians and Indigenous people," said spokesperson Bianca Healy in a statement. "The government has taken steps to address anti-Black racism, systemic discrimination and injustice across the country."She said that includes a recently announced $12 million for "a dedicated Centre on Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service."The CRA referred CBC News to the Treasury Board statement. Complaints in multiple departments and agenciesBernadeth Betchi is another representative plaintiff who also worked for the CRA off and on for several years.In a Skype interview, she described a toxic workplace where she said she experienced microaggressions and had to go on sick leave. She had to work twice as hard as her non-Black colleagues to get noticed, she said.Betchi ended up leaving the CRA and eventually found work at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) — a federal organization that handles complaints about discrimination."Everything that they are about was everything that I am about, you know, it resonated with my values. It's there to help Canadians — Canadians who have been discriminated against, you know, on different grounds. And so I knew that this is where I needed to be," said Betchi, who's on a maternity leave from the CHRC.But her views quickly changed."When I started working there, I saw that, unfortunately, what the mandate says and what's being done inside of the organization is completely different. Black folks within the Canadian Human Rights Commission, my Black colleagues, are suffering. They're being — there's a lot of adverse differential treatment."When asked to comment on the allegations, CHRC said it "is committed to meeting the highest standards of equality, inclusion and representation" and that it has been "examining how racism may manifest itself within our organization and what steps might be needed to address it." "We know that Indigenous, Black and other racialized people face many societal, institutional and structural barriers to equality," said spokesperson Jeff Meldrum in an email."That is why work is underway to ensure that the views and perspectives of Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees on barriers that may exist within the Commission are heard and addressed. " WATCH | What has the Trudeau government done to diversify civil service?:Proposing solutions"There is a grave injustice that's taking place," said Courtney Betty, a Toronto lawyer involved in the class action."I think every Canadian should be troubled."Betty and his colleague, Hugh Scher, decided the lawsuit's time frame would start in 1970, the year Canada ratified the United Nations international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.In a joint interview, Betty and Scher spoke about possible solutions they hope will stem from the lawsuit if it's certified."There needs to be a third-party audit undertaken by an independent body, whether that's a former Supreme Court justice, whether that's a Black equity commission," Scher said.That third party should do a thorough review "to see what are the barriers to true equality and access and inclusion for Black employees, and what can be done about them," he said.Scher said another key element would be amending the federal Employment Equity Act.Its stated goal is "to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability."The legislation is also designed "to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities."But the lawyers argue that because Black employees are grouped together with all non-white and non-Indigenous people as "visible minorities" under the act, they've suffered by not moving up in the public service — and the unique racism they have to deal with has been ignored.Betchi agrees. "There's not a lot of Black women or Black men at the executive level," she said. "Our experience has been completely invisible and put aside."The Treasury Board has data that breaks down the "visible minority" category in the public service based on self-reporting by employees. It shows that in 2019, Black workers made up a smaller proportion of those in top-level executive positions than those doing administrative support. Thompson said he's optimistic the lawsuit will spark change."I'm very hopeful that this issue will be addressed in a forthright manner by the government of Canada," he said. "The government has shown signs that it is prepared. It has done the first major part by acknowledging that this issue exists."For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
From Sammy Davis Jr. to Snoop Dogg, the list of performers who have graced the stage of the Commodore Ballroom on the Granville Strip is as varied as the musical tastes of Vancouverites.Which could be why, on the 90th anniversary of the day the notorious nightclub first flung open its doors to late night revelers, it's hard to find a local who does not have a tale from a time spent twirling on the famous dance floor or watching a big star perform while they were still on the way up.Modelled after Art-Deco British ballrooms of the 1920s, with plush carpets and walls draped with floor-length curtains, the Commodore Ballroom opened on Dec. 3, 1930 and quickly became the place to party.It was not, however, a place where you could get a drink. Legally that is.According to Aaron Chapman, author of Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver's Historic Commodore Ballroom, nightclubs at that time were liquor-free and people would have to smuggle their hooch in.When the local police would make their rounds, the doorman would signal the band leader on stage who would immediately rally the band to play a tune called Roll Out the Barrel. This system let all the patrons know to hide their booze until the coast was clear."Police were there on off nights themselves and did the same thing, everyone knew," said Chapman Thursday on CBC's The Early Edition.Decades passed, liquor laws and musical preferences changed and still The Commodore remained a mainstay of the music scene.Originally a place where orchestras and big bands got the dance floor going, many, many well-known names have lit up the stage in the years since.Some mentioned by Chapman include: The New York Dolls in 1974, Kiss in 1975 and Tom Petty in 1978. The Clash also played their first-ever North American show there in the winter of '79."You can walk into that place and feel that energy in the room and that's a very special thing," said Chapman.There are also not many cross-generational venues remaining in the city where grandchildren can twerk where their grandparents once did the twist.For musician Alan Doyle, who has performed on the stage many times both solo and with the band Great Big Sea, it holds a very special memory.It is there, where in 2017, Doyle and about 50 other musicians came together to show support for John Mann, frontman of the local folk rock band Spirit of the West who had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.Doyle rallied talent that night, both vocal and instrumental, and recorded a song especially for Mann in the second floor men's washroom that Doyle converted into a makeshift studio.WATCH | Celebrated Canadian musicians perform at The Commodore to help a dear friendMann passed away in 2019 but had been in attendance at the event."The greatest night I ever had there, " Doyle told CBC Thursday.The venue has won numerous awards recognizing its importance as a local landmark and was named Most Influential Club in Canada by Billboard Magazine in 2011.To mark its 90th anniversary, the City of Vancouver declared Dec. 3 Commodore Ballroom Day.And while the pandemic may be preventing people from cutting loose on the dance floor this year, venue owners Live Nation threw a virtual birthday party featuring B.C. blues musician and Commodore regular Colin James.James, who hasn't seen his bandmates since March because of pandemic restrictions, says while playing to an empty house is weird, it's great to be playing at the venue."We just did a whole show and we couldn't take the smiles off our faces," James said. "You know, I'm not one to talk a whole lot between songs so we just had a great time playing and it felt oddly normal."James, who has played at The Commodore 33 times before says the venue is unique for allowing bigger shows but still retaining an intimate mood. "Some cities have gotten rid of their iconic venues," he said. "I've played it so many times over the years and it's still really great to be here."
The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown is getting an MRI scanner. "It's a big day for AVC," said Dr. Greg Keefe, the college's dean. "We've been wanting to move our program forward in this direction for quite a while."An MRI scanner uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create high-resolution images of bones and soft tissues in a non-invasive way, and can help doctors diagnose a variety of problems, such as brain and spinal cord disease, cancer and heart disease."Almost every specialty that we do here, from internal medicine to surgery to cardiology, they will all benefit from this," he said.Keefe said the MRI will particularly help in neurology and radiology, which will help the college attract and retain more specialists in those areas."There's a lot of intricacies to imaging brains," Keefe noted.The MRI is the first for vet care in the Atlantic provinces. The college receives 4,000 referrals from across the region per year. Keefe thanked the Rathlyn Foundation — a private foundation that provides financial support to educational and medical institutions — for its support on the project, in a news release issued Thursday.Higher expectations for pet carePreviously, veterinarians brought animals needing an MRI to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown to use its machine, but Keefe said that access was "extremely limited," and was only available for small animals.With the new MRI the college will be able to scan horses.The AVC also has a CT scanner, but the MRI allows vets to give even better diagnoses for some things. "The caseload in the veterinary teaching hospital is growing, and the expectations of our clients is that they can receive the same diagnostics and care for their animals as they would for themselves," said Dr. Heather Gunn McQuillan, the assistant dean clinical and professional programming, in the release."The addition of an MRI is an important step in expanding our service delivery to meet their needs."A section of the veterinary teaching hospital will be renovated to house the MRI. Officials say they expect the project to cost about $4 million and take up to a year to complete.Keefe noted the MRI project is the first part of several phases of planned expansion of the hospital, including building additional capacity for an eventual diagnostic imaging centre that would serve all of Atlantic Canada.More from CBC P.E.I.
Grey County has released the initial look at its 2021 budget, which proposes a 2.81 per cent levy increase. “The 2021 budget as proposed by staff, and based on the most current information, contemplates an estimated net levy requirement of $62,410,700, which is an estimated overall net levy increase of 2.18 per cent,” said Kevin Weppler, director of corporate services for Grey County. Weppler provided the county council with the first overview of the proposed 2021 budget at a recently held committee of the whole meeting. Prior to incorporating the 2020 assessment growth, the proposed budget outlined a requirement of an additional $2.6 million to be raised from taxation or an estimated levy increase of 4.35 per cent. Assessment growth is the sum of all the changes that happened in the county’s tax base during the 2020 year, including new construction, major renovations, demolitions, and property value appeals. “This 2021 budgetary levy increase has been estimated to be assisted with an additional $1,270,800 in new 2020 assessment growth,” Weppler explained. “This would then equate to a 2021 net budgetary levy increase of 2.18 per cent to be raised from taxation.” According to Weppler, if assessment growth does not meet or exceed this estimate, the required funding will be raised from taxation. “Assessment growth numbers will be further updated at the end of December,” he added. The 2021 draft budget was prepared with a number of assumptions including: assessment growth, supplementary taxation, write-offs, insurance, salaries, benefits, and utilities. A number of assumptions were also made in regards to COVID-19 financial impacts, including staffing levels, PPE expenses, federal/provincial funding, and “other budgetary cost pressures as a result of the pandemic." The proposed budget was also prepared with the concept of maintaining the current level of service, supporting department mandates, legislative requirements, priorities and expectations for service levels. Proposed additions to the budget include two new county staff positions — a new payroll and benefits supervisor and a financial analyst. In the economic development department, $93,600 has been budgeted for the addition of Grey Road 4 to the county’s transportation program. The Grey Transit Route (GTR) consists of 30 bus stops on four routes: Highway 10 between Owen Sound and Orangeville; Highway 26 between Owen Sound and the Town of the Blue Mountains; Highway 6 between Owen Sound and Wiarton and Grey Road 4 between Flesherton and Walkerton. Three of the four GTR routes are funded through a government grant until March 2023. In order to operate the Grey Road 4 route in 2021, the county will be required to cover the associated costs. A detailed report on the county’s transportation initiatives is expected to be provided to council members on Dec. 10. In the county’s housing department, the 2021 budget proposes establishing free, public wifi in the common areas of 27 housing building sites. The wifi project is estimated to cost $76,000, with $43,000 to be funded from the reserves to cover capital expenditures, and an annual operating cost of $33,000 is expected to be funded through taxation. In the paramedic services department, the county has outlined the cost of adding a night shift to the Chatsworth EMS, at $700,000. The proposed budget also includes a one per cent corporate budget increase, equal to $598,100, for construction, resurfacing and minor capital budget. “This funding is in addition to any inflationary cost increases estimated for the 2021 budget portfolio and this is based on the 2016 Asset Management Plan recommendation of increasing tax revenues by one per cent each year for the next 15 years, solely for the purpose of phasing-in full funding to the tax funded asset classes covered in the Asset Management Plan,” explained Weppler. The county has also proposed further investment into its long-term care (LTC) department, allocating $388,800 to aid human resource challenges in the sector. “There's a lot of initiatives going on to work toward improving the number of skilled staff that are available in our area. There are partnerships happening with economic development, and the college is working on getting people into the healthcare field,” said Jennifer Cornell, director of LTC for Grey County. The LTC funding will be allocated to additional staffing hours in dietary, laundry, personal support workers, activation, registered nurses, and clerical staff departments. “As the workload increases, if we're able to support the staff with additional hours, it helps make the work experience better. We're better able to do the things that we need to do, and the residents have a better experience,” Cornell said. When it comes to property assessments, according to Weppler, 2021 property values will continue to be based on the valuation date of January 2016, as the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation’s Assessment Update was postponed due to the pandemic. “Unless there was an alteration or physical changes, property values will be unchanged from 2020,” Weppler said. A more fulsome budget review will take place at a county committee of the whole meeting scheduled for Jan. 29. “This is just trying to give you an overview on what staff have proposed, and what we are planning to bring forward in January for council review and in each of the departmental presentations,” Weppler added. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Canada is readying a plan to distribute a first round of COVID-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable groups as soon as regulatory approvals are issued, but managing the nationwide rollout will be one of the most complex logistical undertakings in the country's history, officials said on Thursday. "In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities," said Canada's deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo. WHEN IS REGULATORY APPROVAL EXPECTED?
Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as U.S. president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he's pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That's made many people reluctant to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a "patriotic duty" and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20."On the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction" in the virus, Biden said.Biden also said he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration, "in the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents," as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert.The president-elect said he's asked Fauci to be a "chief medical adviser" as well as part of his COVID-19 advisory team.Ex-presidents would get vaccineRegarding a coronavirus vaccine, Biden said he'd be "happy" to get inoculated in public to assuage any concerns about its efficacy and safety."People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work," Biden said, adding that "it matters what a president and the vice-president do."Three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — have said they'd also get vaccinated publicly to show that it's safe.Obama said during an episode of SiriusXM's The Joe Madison Show airing Thursday, "I promise you that when it's been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it.""I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science," Obama added.Obama undergoing immunization may not be possible for the foreseeable future, though.The Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna later this month, but current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of this year. Each product also requires two doses, meaning shots will be rationed in the early stages.Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line, the advisory committee on immunization practices, an influential government advisory panel, said earlier this week. That encompasses about 24 million people out of a U.S. population of around 330 million.Clinton on boardStill, former president Bill Clinton would "definitely" be willing to get a vaccine, as soon as one is "available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials," spokesperson Angel Urena said."And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same," Urena said in a statement Thursday.Urena declined to answer a question on whether Clinton's team has been in touch with advisers to other former presidents about perhaps setting up a joint public immunization session whenever that might be possible.Former president George W. Bush's chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told CNN that the former president asked him recently to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, to let them know that "when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated.""First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations," Ford told the network. "Then, president Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera."Ford did not respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.Trump says he'll be criticized no matter whatThe overlapping sentiments by three former presidents come as the U.S. recorded more than 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring.The number of Americans hospitalized with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time, and new cases have begun topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.President Donald Trump has said that he'll get criticized no matter what he does on taking the vaccine — whether he's first or last.During the presidential campaign, Trump's re-election team tried to criticize challenger Joe Biden as being anti-vaccine. But the former vice-president said months ago that he'd take "a vaccine tomorrow" if one became available.
Tofino, BC - Master carver Joe martin normally keeps an open-door policy. It’s been customary for people from different territories and nationalities to drop by Martin’s workshop in Tofino and soak in his teachings. Theatrically waving his hands through the air, Martin would tell stories of how his ancestors used to pierce a whale under its left front flipper by launching a harpoon from a canoe with the strength of one arm. “I’m well over my mid-life,” said the 67-year-old. “It’s the law of nature – one day I’m not going to be here. Having teachings and passing them on is a responsibility.” No longer able to host visitors due to the ongoing pandemic, Martin has turned to social media as a way of sharing his ancestor’s stories. By posting short videos of teachings to his personal Facebook page, the Tla-o-qui-aht elder is hoping to appeal to younger generations. “That’s where we have their attention,” he said of the youth within his nation. Martin thinks back on his childhood with fondness. Considering himself one of the fortunate ones, he didn’t go to residential school. Instead, his father and grandfather were his teachers. Spending their days out on the land, Martin’s father would recount teachings to him over-and-over. Through oral repetition, his family’s histories seeped into his psyche and became a part of his being. As the world changes, the way we interact has transformed. Oral stories are being disseminated online as a way to bring communities together because people are unable to gather. “We have to adjust,” said Martin. “And this is how we’re adjusting.” In trying to capturethe attention of Tla-o-qui-aht’s youth, Martin said that he has also connected with elders of his generation who were forced to attend residential school. Stripped of the teachings from their own grandparents, some have clung to Martin’s stories. During the first week of lockdown at the end of March, Cory Howard, Huu-ay-aht First Nations health and wellness coordinator, began posting live videos of himself singing his family’s songs. It is a practice he has continued every Tuesday evening, drawing in an average of 500 viewers. “People are loving it,” said Howard. “They say it’s medicine for them.” After his cousin was stricken with COVID-19 last week, Howard recorded a song and sent it to him. “It makes [people] feel better when they have culture in their life,” he said. “When they’re down, it lifts them up.” During lockdown in April, Joe’s daughter, Gisele, spent a lot of time connecting with nature and photographing the “beautiful biodiversity” near her home in Esowista. At the time, she struggled on whether to post the photos online, worrying how it might affect people who were confined to their city apartments. But after deciding to share them, she was met with gratitude. “Even though they couldn't be there, it helped them with their day,” she said. “Through social media, I’m connected to people in a lot of different territories and get to hear their stories – it helps me navigate how I do things here.” Gisele has been helping her father with his videos. The recordings extend beyond the technicalities of how to carve a traditional dugout canoe. Collaboratively, they try to weave in stories about how generations of salmon returning to a river system provide nourishment to the surrounding forests, making it possible for a canoe to come into existence. As a Nuu-chah-nulth language and culture educator, Gisele said she recognizes the benefits of social media as a way of increasing cultural awareness, but remains cautious. “I think part of the problem or challenge with sharing things online is that our teachings can get fragmented,” she said. Using plants as an example, Gisele said that she would never go to another nation’s territory to harvest. There are a lot of considerations to be made about the reciprocal relationship people have with plants, along with traditional protocols that might not come through in a video, she said. Being a gathering people, online platforms have provided a space for Nuu-chah-nulth members to come together. But, as important as it is to connect with people, Gisele said it’s equally vital to interact with the landscape around you. Pictures on Instagram may allow people to appreciate the wonders of nature, but Gisele argues it is impossible to interact with nature through a screen. And while the black mirrors are helping to fill the void during this time of social distancing, we need to connect to the places where we live and “support the health of those places,” she said.Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa