WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The annual Feed the Meter campaign in Belleville, Trenton and Picton is returning on December 1st. While staying safe and shopping local this holiday season, residents of the Quinte West community are encouraged to drop donations in the meters in support of student nutrition programs in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. All funds collected in meters during December 2020 will support Food for Learning’s school breakfast and snack programs in the community. As COVID-19 persists, Food for Learning programs are needed more than ever in local schools to support students experiencing food insecurity. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that some children may arrive at school hungry; whether it’s due to long bus rides, rushed mornings, or parents simply not being able to afford breakfast, there are many reasons why children may go without a healthy meal in the mornings. Food for Learning programs support a vital part of every child’s day by providing healthy breakfasts to children in Hastings and Prince Edward counties. Providing children with access to fresh fruit, granola bars and other breakfast foods, Food for Learning recognizes the need for nutritional support in local schools. For some kids, the Food for Learning program may have been their only opportunity to get breakfast, or potentially their only meal of the day. Each day, 4000 students cross the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, including some students who are learning from home, are provided with healthy snacks and meals. Due to the continuing pandemic, Food for Learning student nutrition programs have been redesigned to ensure the safety of all students and staff. As a result, program costs are considerably higher as the Food for Learning program experiences an increase in student participation and individual portions and packages food to minimize contact. The Food for Learning program is continuing to support students learning from home that are experiencing food insecurity as well. “I feel that both health and wellness of our student nutrition program contribute to a more positive school environment that supports student self-regulation physically, emotionally, and mentally, which leads to increased student performance, self-esteem, and social skills. It is a vital program to help improve and maintain our overall school climate,” said a student nutrition program coordinator. Residents wishing to support the Feed the Meter campaign from the comfort of their own homes can also mail their donations to: Food for Learning c/o The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, 156 Ann St., Belleville, ON K8N 3L3. Please make cheques payable to The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation. The Feed the Meter campaign is supported through the generous contributions from campaign sponsors: Starboard Cares (Cool 100 & Hits 95.5 & InQuinte), Market High Advertising LTD., Greek Community of Belleville Quinte West and District, The Grand at The Greek Banquet Hall. GOLD sponsors of Feed the Meter 2020 include: Belleville: Kellogg’s, Fresh Co Belleville, Vision Transportation, Whitely Insurance, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Prince Edward County: Kellogg’s, Prinzen Ford and McDougall Insurance & Financial. Quinte West: Kellogg’s, Findlay Food, Whitely Insurance, Tomasso’s Italian Grille, Wilkinson & Company LLP and McDougall Insurance & Financial.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
TORONTO — Netflix Canada will bid farewell to "Friends" later this month as the hit sitcom moves to Crave.Both streaming platforms confirmed the switch on Tuesday, saying Dec. 31 will see all 10 seasons of the show depart Netflix for their new home on Crave under an exclusive agreement.The change comes as Crave continues to bulk up its streaming library of hit network TV comedies, which include "30 Rock," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Frasier."The streamer, owned by Bell Media, also recently picked up the rights to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," which will leave Netflix on Dec. 30.Netflix isn't left empty-handed when it comes to classic TV, however. The company says it will have the Canadian streaming rights to "Seinfeld" starting next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ CIBT Education Group Inc. (MBAIF) on Tuesday reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $3.3 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.On a per-share basis, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company said it had a loss of 5 cents.The operator of business, technical and language colleges posted revenue of $12.2 million in the period.For the year, the company reported profit of $914,000, or 1 cent per share. Revenue was reported as $46.5 million.In the final minutes of trading on Tuesday, the company's shares hit 50 cents. A year ago, they were trading at 45 cents._____This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on MBAIF at https://www.zacks.com/ap/MBAIFThe Associated Press
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press
If you’re looking for some exercise in the great outdoors, rest assured that cross country skiing options will be available aplenty this winter. And really, how can one social distance any better than in serene nature? SPIN has prepared a list of what’s open and what’s about to open. If you’re looking to get hyped for the winter, we recommend checking out this video of Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club produced by Tourism Kamloops, it’s sure to get you stoked for the winter. Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club Located in Chase, the area is now open to the public for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. All ski trails are “packed and tracked,” with the exception of Sunflower Trail, which is closed due to a lack of snow There are some hazards to be aware of, but overall it’s good to go. Sun Peaks Nordic Centre Sun Peaks Resort LLP’s (SPR) nordic trail system is open for business. The resort asks the public to ski with caution and respect terrain closures that are in place. Sun Peaks Nordic Centre is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. STAKE LAKE (25 km south of Kamloops) The Stake Lake Trails are accepting registration for the 2020/2021 season, but the trails are not yet open. On its website the Overlander Ski Club, which operates the 60km trail system, said they’re waiting for more snow and sustained colder temperatures. Give them a follow on Facebook (search Overlander Ski Club) for more updates. HARPER MOUNTAIN Harper Mountain has a tentative opening date of Dec. 12 for its operations. The mountain offers a three kilometre groomed trail that meanders through a forested area, and is great for both traditional cross country skiing and skate skiing. TELEMARK NORDIC CLUB The Telemark Nordic Club, located in West Kelowna, has an anticipated opening date of Dec. 5. The club recently delayed its opening due to a lack of snow, saying in the following: “We have a good base of snow, things are currently looking pretty white, and some people are already skiing and snowshoeing,” states the club’s website. “However, the base is too thin for us to do regular grooming of the trails without damaging them and making them unsafe. We just need one more good snowfall and we’ll be ready to open. Skiing and snowshoeing are possible right now but grooming will be limited and we will not have rentals or day passes available until Dec 5th.” They provided the following update at the start of the week: “We received two good snowfalls this week and we will be starting to pack the trails and do our final preparations for the coming winter. There is not enough snow yet to open officially but if this cool and snowy weather holds we anticipate being open and ready for member and public skiing by Saturday.” KELOWNA NORDIC This nordic skiing area got off to an early start, having opened on Nov. 11. They provided the following update on its website. “There has been a fair amount of snow over the past week and we have groomed approx 55 per cent of our trails. The ski tracker system has not been activated yet by the host so there is no live reporting. All car parks are plowed. Some of the lowest trails will not be re-groomed in order to preserve snow and avoid bringing up dirt. The upper trails are good but may be soft for skating. Watch for sticks, rocks, dirt and open water. The groomer will be on the trails in daylight hours in order to see any hazards. Watch and listen for it. Snowshoeing is good.” Sovereign Lake Sovereign Lake, located near SilverStar Resort, is open. You can see a full list of the trail that are open here. Rates for skiing can be found here. Big White Nordic Big White’s nordic trails are open for business.Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
A group of B.C. parents is pulling their kids from school for the day on Tuesday to protest the province's back-to-school plan, despite the provincial health officer pointing to low rates of COVID-19 transmission in schools.Parents behind the "BC Student Sick Out" campaign, which has more than 2,500 members on Facebook, say they want classes capped at 15 students, more online learning options and masks mandated in schools. Co-organizer Tara Kurtz, whose two kids are students in the Langley School District, said the event is in support of teachers who don't have the same protection as in other workplaces."Dr. Bonnie Henry likes to push the Swiss cheese model," Kurtz said.That model entails physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, minimizing interaction and making spaces safe. "But the only layer of protection being given to schools is to wash your hands. And then we're hearing about districts that are short on funds now for paper towels, for soap."In a statement, the B.C. Ministry of Education said it has earmarked $290 million to buy cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment and hire more staff where needed. Schools have also segmented students and teachers into learning groups to reduce interaction (60 students for elementary and middle schools and 120 students for secondary schools).Middle and secondary school students must wear masks in busy areas, such as hallways and school buses but aren't required to wear them in class.Many exposures, little transmissionProvincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated Monday there has been very little transmission in schools."We've had many exposure events, but they have very rarely resulted in transmission, particularly from children to anyone," she said.A school exposure is when a single person is confirmed positive for COVID-19 and has been in the school during their infectious period. An outbreak in a school setting is when there is ongoing transmission, and public health officials are not clear on the source of the transmission.There have been many exposure events but only a few outbreaks in schools so far.When asked about the protest, Henry said, "I think the parent voices are very important to ensure that's what happening in their school community meets the needs of parents and children."Parents, however, have denounced the province's lack of transparency around cases and school exposures. Some have launched a Facebook page to track exposures in B.C. schools, with more than 1,000 exposures recorded to date.Stephen Hoption Cann, an epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said it's normal for parents to be concerned, but cautioned against misinformation on social media. "Government sources are a source of information that's accurate and kept up to date," he said. "If you're depending on social media for your information, there is the possibility of giving inaccurate or slated information, which may not be helpful."It's not clear how many students were pulled from class Tuesday. Several dozen parents on the Facebook page reported keeping their kids at home. Jennifer Beaton, a mother of four school-aged kids in the Langley School District, said she chose not to take part. She disagrees with a mask mandate in schools and says wearing them is difficult for two of her kids, who have autism. "They have to wear it outside their cohort, and to me, that makes more sense than having to wear it all the time," she said. However, Kurtz, the protest co-organizer, said parents simply want safety measures bolstered in schools for teachers."They went to school to become educators," she said. "They did not sign up to put their lives on the line in a pandemic."
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
A fourth route for the Town of Orangeville’s transit system will be delayed thanks to a decision to nix the transfer hub plans on Broadway. The route was set to be established in order to serve an area of town that currently does not have transit service. “(It’s) so frustrating,” Coun. Todd Taylor told the Orangeville Banner. “We are losing precious time to serve all of our community.” He added that Veteran’s Way and the west end of town are two examples. “We currently have entire neighbourhoods not served by transit,” said Taylor. The fourth route would allow the transit service to operate on a four-quad system. Each quad would serve a different area of the town and meet with the rest at a central location, allowing riders to transfer to reach their destination. Council reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from businesses in the downtown core and the BIA. Taylor, along with Councillors Lisa Post and Grant Peters, felt that sufficient work had been completed to prove the safety and benefits of a Broadway transfer point, which would have been located between First and John Street. Instead, several members of council would like to see staff investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre, an idea which was favoured until more recently. “I am disappointed in the decision,” said Taylor. “The Edelbrock site will cost over $300k to implement, while downtown was minimal.” Until council settles on a location, any work on the transit project, which includes the fourth route, has been put on hold. Taylor added that part of the reasoning behind a centralized station is to improve challenges deterring ridership, such as reliability and access to certain parts of town. “Our buses are underutilized today; this is a fact,” said Taylor. “Why would anyone want to ride a bus that is frequently late and does not get you close to a desired location?” Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to revisit the idea of using the Edelbrock Centre at its Dec. 14 meeting.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
Inoccupé depuis 10 ans, l’ancien centre communautaire Saint-Noël-Chabanel a finalement croulé sous le pic du démolisseur à la fin du mois de novembre. L’administration Demers est à réfléchir quant à la vocation qu’elle entend donner à ce site, alors qu’à 1,5 kilomètre à l’ouest s’amorcent les travaux préliminaires à la réalisation du centre de services de proximité de l’Est (CSPE). «Différents scénarios que l’on ne peut dévoiler pour l’instant sont à l’étude, précise le conseiller municipal de Saint-François et membre associé du comité exécutif, Éric Morasse, dans un communiqué publié le 1er décembre. D’ici à ce qu’une décision soit prise, le terrain en question situé à l’angle du boulevard Lévesque et de la montée du Moulin sera gazonné, mentionne-t-on. «On peut maintenant affirmer que Saint-François est en route vers un meilleur avenir», se réjouit M. Morasse, fier de constater que «le secteur est plus que jamais en effervescence». Par ailleurs, le 10 novembre dernier, le futur centre de services de proximité de l’Est a fait l’objet d’une présentation en ligne où les croquis du futur bâtiment de quelque 4400 mètres carrés ont été dévoilés. Ce centre, qui s’élèvera sur l’ancien site industriel que BASF Canada a occupé de 1969 à 1986, abritera des espaces communautaires, une salle de diffusion, le poste de police de quartier ainsi que la bibliothèque Marius-Barbeau qu’on y relocalisera en 2023. La mise en chantier est prévue en 2021. Plus de détails à venir.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
TORONTO — The Liberal government says it will take steps over the next year to tax foreign homeowners who live outside of Canada as part of a plan to lower housing prices.It's an idea that has been growing in popularity over the last few years in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, but some experts question how effective such a plan would be.In this week's fiscal update, the government says the plan will benefit first-time homebuyers and put more homes on the market by taxing homeowners who use Canada to passively store wealth in housing.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last year his government would introduce such a tax, praising a similar measure in British Columbia during his most recent election campaign.The B.C. government said last year its speculation and vacancy tax raised $115 million, paid mostly by owners based abroad, with Finance Minister Carole James crediting the tax as a factor behind the 5.6 per cent fall in home prices in the first part of 2019.Tsur Somerville, an associate professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, said that while prices did fall in the Vancouver area after the introduction of foreign buyers' taxes, the policy is not a silver bullet for affordability. "If you're looking to address affordability, that on its own is never going to get you to affordability. But it can certainly be part of the package of both demand- and supply-side policies," he said.In addition to the speculation and vacancy tax — on those who own local residences but do not pay provincial income taxes — B.C. has also tried a property transfer tax on home purchases made by foreign nationals in Vancouver, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants regulator of British Columbia. In 2017, Ontario passed a speculation and vacancy tax on homebuyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe who were neither citizens nor permanent residents. And in Prince Edward Island, non-residents must apply to a special commission to buy more than five acres of land.Renewed talk of taxing non-Canadian homebuyers comes as several housing markets across the country set sales records during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing up prices amid low interest rates and a rush on telecommuter-friendly houses with yards.While the housing market has been hot, the government is looking for ways to finance $25 billion in new spending to support those hit hard by the pandemic.In practice, some markets with lots of demand from foreign buyers could see house prices decline but remain "crazy unaffordable," even with the proposed tax, said Somerville. Other locales, such as tourist spots, could actually benefit from travellers owning vacation homes there, Somerville said, while still other cities may already have landlords who are struggling to find tenants as it is.For example, the supply of housing may be flexible enough in cities like Calgary or Edmonton where foreign-based buyers don't have that much impact on overall home prices, he said. Also, when it comes to building a giant apartment building, foreign investment from a European pension fund is unlikely to be an affordability problem, he noted."I can't understand why you would introduce it at a national level," Sommerville said. "That doesn't make any sense to me as a policy because it is not as if we are in a national crisis of foreigners buying up housing in every market and creating challenges on affordability. That's a stretch."Somerville also noted that the policy has raised objections for targeting Chinese people in Vancouver, although different populations would be affected in different areas of the country.Andrey Pavlov, professor of finance at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, said it was a "terrible" idea to nationalize British Columbia's policies, saying the tax would discourage foreign investments without improving affordability.Pavlov said that the share of first-time homebuyers has actually gone down since the tax was put in place in B.C. Other than Toronto and Vancouver, most Canadian cities can be built out to accommodate and even benefit from second homes for people like business travellers, said Pavlov. The problem with further taxing homeownership, Pavlov said, is that it could actually reduce the supply of housing by discouraging builders and investors. Pavlov also questioned whether the policy would help the government pay for its fiscal stimulus plans."Our chance to repay the debts we are incurring now is to grow our economy as fast as we can," Pavlov said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
Two Edmonton long-term care centres battling deadly outbreaks of COVID-19 are struggling to stay on top of patient care as the disease spreads among staff and residents. Capital Care Lynnwood and the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre are among 26 long-term care sites in the Edmonton zone listed on Tuesday as having COVID-19 outbreaks. As of Monday, the Lynnwood facility was reporting 84 active cases — 29 staff and 55 residents — plus six deaths. At the Chinatown centre, there are active cases among 45 residents and 42 staff, while 12 residents have died. Both facilities have acknowledged that the outbreaks are taking a toll on patient care, and are raising red flags for a health-care advocacy group and the union that represents long-term care workers. "Families are upset, they're afraid for their loved ones," Sandra Azocar, executive director for Friends of Medicare, told CBC News on Monday. "We get daily emails from families that are concerned, or that get calls from their loved ones saying, 'I didn't get a shower again, I didn't get my breakfast.' There's so many health concerns that are being reported by families that are not being addressed by some of the operators." At Lynnwood, where the outbreak affects two units, the staff shortage means patients may be getting bed baths instead of normal baths or showers, said Bonnie Roberts, site director at Capital Care Lynnwood. "Staff from other units are helping support the two units on outbreak," Roberts said in an emailed statement. "This means that some services have been impacted, or reduced, on the affected units." Meanwhile, the situation at the Chinatown facility is extremely challenging, said Sabrina Atwal, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services. "Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre is a standalone site with no other sites to draw staff from, and staffing agencies are also strapped trying to support many organizations, some contracted by AHS and others that are not," Atwal said in an emailed statement. Basic care needs, including meals, are being met, Atwal said. Problematic staffing protocols The outbreaks highlight what Azocar and Michael Dempsey, an Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) vice-president, call a systemic problem with how long-term care facilities are staffed. "The outbreaks are spreading rapidly, lots of staff members are affected and infected," Dempsey told CBC News. "There aren't enough workers to do this. … The models they're built on go way back with low, minimal staffing. And when you have something like this, they're just not prepared." Many of the staff members providing care are part-time workers, who in the past have worked at multiple locations to earn full-time paycheques with benefits, including sick leave. In April, Alberta's chief medical officer of health imposed a rule limiting employees to one worksite, but Azocar said the current shortage means staff are working in multiple sites. Even worse, fears about lost income may influence workers who aren't feeling well to go in to work regardless, she said. "When they need to be off because of illnesses, they're not being compensated," she said. "So a lot of people are being put into a position where they might not be able to afford to be truthful when they're not feeling well, and still going to work." Friends of Medicare wants to see regular, unannounced inspections to help ensure operators have met staffing levels, are following health orders and providing a high standard of care, Azocar said. "We need the provincial government to make sure that the working conditions for staff are supported, either through COVID pay or to get pay when they have to stay home and self-isolate," she said. "We need to make sure that these workers are kept healthy and able to work in a healthy facility." As of Monday, there have been 541 deaths in Alberta from COVID-19, of which 358 have been seniors aged 80 and older.
GENEVA — The U.N. humanitarian office says needs for assistance have ballooned to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, projecting that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021.This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global challenges including conflicts, forced migration and the impact of global warming.The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, expects a 40% increase in the number of people in need of such assistance in 2021 compared to this year — a sign that pain, suffering and torment brought by the coronavirus outbreak and other problems could get worse even if hopes of a vaccine are rising.OCHA made the projections in its latest annual Global Humanitarian Overview on Tuesday, saying its hopes to reach 160 million of those people in need will cost $35 billion. That’s more than twice the record $17 billion that donors have provided for the international humanitarian response so far this year — and a target figure that is almost certain to go unmet.“The picture we’re painting this year is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs we’ve ever set out, and that’s because the pandemic has reaped carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet,” said U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who heads OCHA.“For the first time since the 1990s, extreme poverty is going to increase, life expectancy will fall, the annual death toll from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is set to double,” he said. “We fear a near doubling in the number of people facing starvation.”Lowcock told a U.N. briefing in New York on the overview that he thinks the U.N. appeal will probably raise a record $20 billion by the end of the year -- $2 billion more than last year. But he said the gap between needs and funding is growing and the U.N. is looking to “new players” coming on the scene in 2021, including U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration.The U.N. aims to reach about two-thirds of those in need, with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations trying to meet the rest, Lowcock explained.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humanitarian aid budgets are now facing dire shortfalls as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, and said extreme poverty has risen for the first time in more than a generation.“The lives of people in every nation and corner of the world have been upended by the impact of the pandemic,” he said in a video statement. “Those already living on a knife’s edge are being hit disproportionately hard by rising food prices, falling incomes, interrupted vaccination programs and school closures.”The overview, which is billed as one of the most comprehensive looks of the world’s humanitarian needs, has put together nearly three dozen individual response plans for a total of 56 “vulnerable” countries.Lowcock said the biggest problem is in Yemen where there is danger of “a large-scale famine” now, saying a prime reason is lack of funding from Gulf countries that were major donors in the past which has led to cuts in aid and the closing of clinics.He said the biggest financial request is for the Syrian crisis and its spillover to neighbouring countries where millions of Syrians have fled to escape the more than nine-year conflict.OCHA said other countries in need include Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. Newcomers to this year’s list are Mozambique, where extremist activity has increased in the north, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.Lowcock said it’s not the pandemic, but its economic impact that’s having the greatest effect on humanitarian needs.“These all hit the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest of all,” he said. “For the poorest, the hangover from the pandemic will be long and hard.”Lowcock told the launch of the overview, speaking virtually from New York, that the world faces a clear choice.“We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal – the unravelling of 40 years of progress – or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic,” he said.___Lederer reported from the United NationsJamey Keaten And Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.Sometimes labelled a "Netflix tax," the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it's only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it's likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals."Right now, the way in which they're delivering their services, they're not responsible for the collection," Micallef said."And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices."A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better."How many times? How many transactions? It adds up," Micallef said.Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. "I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we're talking about corporate finances," said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.He said that the term "Netflix tax" has become highly politicized and is often used as "code" for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters."And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense," Winseck said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Paddon, The Canadian Press
MILLBROOK — Cavan Monaghan Township residents from Cavan Ward were able to voice their opinions about off-road vehicles during a virtual public meeting on Monday. A total of 16 individuals signed up to speak for a maximum of three minutes, some who were for and some who were against the concept of ORVs on township roads in the Cavan Ward. Robert Winslow, the founder of 4th Line Theatre, was among the speakers. “I live at 779 Zion Line in Cavan Ward; fifth generation of my family on this property. I was born and raised on our farm which I retrofitted into a live outdoor theatre in 1992, almost 30 years ago,” he said. Winslow said that added noise from ORVs during performances will reduce the appeal of their theatre. “In a movie theatre you can ask the person who is talking in the row ahead of you or behind you to shush so you can enjoy the film properly. Our theatre patrons won’t have that option as ATVs, side-by-sides, or dirt bikes pass by the farm during our plays,” he said. In addition to the hazards of the winding, narrow, steep and shoulder components of the road, along with high speeds of cars, trucks, motorcycles and commercial industrial vehicles along the road, Winslow said, ORV traffic on his road could also be an added danger for both patrons arriving and leaving the theatre and as well as ORV operators. However, Garry Otten, a realtor at Century 21, said many people he deals with move to the region because of the recreational opportunity. “More so today with the pandemic, our ORV interest has gained popularity beyond belief,” he said. The value of many properties in the area will increase if council chooses to allow ORVs on municipal roads, Otten said. “Our location allows us the good fortune of being able to access a trail that could take us all the way to Bancroft. We could certainly use that extra business in this township and our businesses could use that extra business. I would hope our councillors recognize the benefits instead of all the fear mongering that’s taking place,” he said. Comments will be received by the township until Dec. 4. Staff will then summarize the comments and bring forward a report in early 2021 for council to make a final decision. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting.The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native.Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last.“I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website.A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro.Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection.Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District.That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP.The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year.Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race.A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run.Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture.Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us."His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.”Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting.On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary.Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before.Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee.Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
Regina police responding to a call about an injured person found a woman lying dead in the snow on 23rd Avenue Tuesday morning.Police said when they arrived at the 1300 block of 23rd Avenue around 7:30 a.m., they found the woman unresponsive.EMS responders confirmed the woman was dead at the scene.Police have confirmed the woman's identity and are now trying to notify her out-of-town next of kin.They are not releasing any further other details.The police and Saskatchewan Coroners Service have begun an investigation.Anyone who has information that could assist police and the coroners service in this investigation is asked to contact Regina police at 306-777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.