TEST BULLETIN (AP) — The following is a TEST. Don Young, GOP,
elected U.S. House, District 1, Alaska.
AP Elections 10-31-2020 11:54
The Associated Press
TEST BULLETIN (AP) — The following is a TEST. Don Young, GOP,
elected U.S. House, District 1, Alaska.
AP Elections 10-31-2020 11:54
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A former Trump campaign associate who was the target of a secret surveillance warrant during the FBI's Russia investigation says in a federal lawsuit that he was the victim of “unlawful spying.”The suit from Carter Page alleges a series of omissions and errors made by FBI and Justice Department officials in applications they submitted in 2016 and 2017 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on Page on suspicion that he was an agent of Russia.“Since not a single proven fact ever established complicity with Russia involving Dr. Page, there never was probable cause to seek or obtain the FISA Warrants targeting him on this basis,” the lawsuit says, using the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.Page has received death and kidnapping threats and has suffered economic losses and “irreparable damage to his reputation," according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington.The lawsuit to some extent echoes the conclusions of a Justice Department inspector general report that found significant problems with the four applications. Former FBI and Justice Department leaders who were involved in signing off on the surveillance have since testified they wouldn't have done so had they known of the extent of the issues, and the FBI has initiated more than 40 corrective steps aimed at improving the accuracy and thoroughness of applications.In the complaint, Page accuses the FBI of relying excessively for information on Christopher Steele, a former British spy whose research during the 2016 campaign into Donald Trump's ties to Russia was funded by Democrats. It says the FBI failed to tell the surveillance court that Steele's primary source had contradicted information that Steele had attributed to him, or that Page had denied to an informant for the FBI having “any involvement with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.”The complaint also accuses the FBI of having misled the surveillance court about his relationship with the CIA, for whom Page had been an operational contact between 2008 and 2013. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty in August to altering an email to say that Page had not been a source for the CIA.The suit names as defendants the FBI and the Justice Department, as well as former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and additional officials who were involved in the Russia investigation.Despite the problems with the warrant applications, the scrutiny of Page, who was never charged with any wrongdoing, accounted for only a narrow portion of the overall investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.The same inspector general report that detailed problems in the applications also concluded that the FBI had a legitimate basis for opening the Russia investigation, and did not find evidence that any of its actions were influenced by political bias.____Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPEric Tucker, The Associated Press
LONDON — The British government appointed a vaccines minister on Saturday as it prepares to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus, potentially starting within days.Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Conservative lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi will oversee the country’s biggest vaccine program in decades.The U.K. medicines regulator is currently assessing two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca — to see if they are safe and effective. The Guardian newspaper reported that hospitals have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7, if it receives approval.The U.K. says frontline health care workers and nursing home residents will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by older people, starting with those over age 80.Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough for 20 million people, and 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.In all, the U.K. government has agreed to purchase up to 355 million doses of vaccine from seven different producers, as it prepares to vaccinate as many of the country’s 67 million people as possible.Decisions about which, if any, vaccines to authorize will be made by the independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.Pfizer and BioNTech say their vaccine is 95% effective, according to preliminary data. It must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit).The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at conventional refrigerator temperatures, and is also cheaper than its main rivals. But some scientists have questioned gaps in its reported results.Oxford and AstraZeneca reported this week that their vaccine appeared to be 62% effective in people who received two doses, and 90% effective when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose. They said the half dose was administered because of a manufacturing error, and they plan a new clinical trial to investigate the most effective dosing regimen.The British government hopes a combination of vaccines and mass testing will end the need for restrictions on business and everyday life it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 confirmed virus-related deaths.The prime minister said this week that officials hope to inoculate “the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter.” But he warned that “we must first navigate a hard winter” of restrictions.A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday, and will be replaced by three-tiered system of regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers.The restrictions have sparked protests, with police arresting scores of people at an anti-lockdown demonstration in London on Saturday.Several bottles and smoke bombs were thrown as anti-mask and anti-vaccine demonstrators scuffled with officers in the city's West End shopping district. The Metropolitan Police force said 155 people were arrested.Johnson also faces opposition to the measures from dozens of his own Conservative Party’s lawmakers, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits.Bur Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the restrictions were “grimly” necessary to avoid the health system being overwhelmed this winter.Writing in The Times of London, Gove said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000. A rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would “displace all but emergency cases. And then even those.," he said.“If, however, we can keep the level of infection stable or, even better, falling, and hold out through January and February, then we can be confident that vaccination will pull the plug on the problem,” Gove wrote.Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections Saturday while surpassing the threshold of 7,000 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The province reported 1,480 new confirmed cases Saturday, exceeding the previous record set on Thursday of 1,464 new diagnoses. Meanwhile, the 37 most recent deaths pushed the provincial total to 7,021. "We must continue to respect health measures throughout Quebec and in all settings if we want to limit the transmission of the virus," Health Minister Christian Dube said through his Twitter account. Of the deaths, 10 were recorded in the past 24 hours while another 23 were recorded during a five-day period between last Saturday and Thursday. The number of hospitalizations increased slightly, with nine more patients seeking care for a total of 678. The number of patients in intensive care increased by three to 93. The Quebec government has said it will need to see a reduction in cases to trigger a plan to allow for a maximum of two gatherings of 10 people from three households between Dec. 24 and 27. Health authorities want people to quarantine for one week before and one week after the proposed four-day gathering period. The province is expected to introduce new measures and some restrictions for patients in long-term care homes and seniors residences ahead of the holidays to keep COVID-19 out of those facilities. "Those new rules are going to be published early in the next week," Dr. Horacio Arruda said on Friday during a news conference in the Saguenay. On Saturday, four long-term care homes and 14 seniors' residences were listed as critical in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases. Much of the province has been at the highest COVID alert since October, with restaurant dining, gyms and entertainment venues now shuttered until at least Jan. 11. The province has 11,716 active cases of COVID-19. Montreal reported the most new infections with 429, followed by Monteregie, south of Montreal, with 215 cases and Lanaudiere, northeast of the city, with 120. The province has now reported 139,643 COVID-19 cases and 7,021 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 1,179 new recoveries for a total of 120,906. The province conducted 29,652 tests on Thursday, the last day for which numbers were available. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
A nine-storey, mix-used residential and retail development in Lower Lonsdale, set to offer 75 market rental units, has been given the green light. City of North Vancouver council voted 6-1 to approve a rezoning application by Cressey Development and First Capital Realty for the redevelopment of 200 West Esplanade at Monday’s general meeting. The development will replace the old Cineplex Esplanade theatre building, which closed in April last year in light of the new Park Royal location opening. The site was desirable for a rental project as it’s close to public transit, being less than five-minute walk from the SeaBus terminal, Lonsdale Quay bus exchange and R2 Marine Drive RapidBus. The new building will have commercial retail units at ground level, above-grade parking on the second level, and 75 market rental units, eight of which will be offered at mid-market rates. Designed by Rafii Architects, the plan also boasts both indoor and outdoor amenities, including a gym and a separate lounge area indoors and planter beds, a play area, and a gazebo outdoors. The redevelopment of the site was mostly supported by surrounding residents, with the building’s height – which will reach eight storeys at the lane but due to a slope will be nine storeys facing West Esplanade – and increased traffic to the area the main concerns raised by the community at a developer’s information session on Sept. 19, 2019. At the time, about six residents opposed the development going ahead. Only two residents came forward to speak at a virtual public hearing on the development at Monday’s general meeting. One resident, who lives in the Time building at 175 West First St., raised the same concerns about the building’s height, increased cars in the area and obstructed views. While another resident spoke on behalf of the owners of 224 West Esplanade, the building immediately west of the new development, stating they had worries about the impact construction of the new development could have on their existing building, including the building’s foundation being undermined, the building settlements that might occur and historic water incursion problems in the area. The developers responded that the height of the building was in line with the city's Official Community Plan for the site, and that a traffic impact study had already found that the future building would have a very minimal effect on traffic in the area. The report to council also highlights that the building will be "harmonious with the transition from taller developments directly across Chesterfield to the east, and lower developments to the west," also adding the design will create an "engaging frontage along West Esplanade that includes a pedestrian plaza area." The development plan only has 32 parking spaces, with two for car share, which raised a red flag for Coun. Don Bell. He decided to vote against the rezoning application, as he believed the development did not have adequate parking or storage facilities. Meanwhile, Mayor Linda Buchanan and fellow councillors were supportive of the development, with most mentioning its proximity to transit and the positive increase in rental options it will bring to the Lower Lonsdale area. “I do think this project actually fulfills many of the policy and guideline directions that the city has,” Buchanan said. “It is part of the housing action plan for us to be able to deliver rental housing and certainly mid-market housing and this project does that.” Coun. Angela Girard said it was a good location for the city to be supporting density, being on an active transportation corridor. “The Lower Lonsdale area has been developed more recently with predominantly stratified apartment units, and by fusing both market and mid-market rentals into this area, I think will greatly benefit the neighborhood by providing an alternative housing type for working professionals, for families, that may not be able to afford market condos,” she said. “In my opinion, the complex offers great indoor and outdoor amenities.” The development will also see the design and construction of a new a bike lane and sidewalk, including street lighting and landscaping, from the development site to Semisch Avenue. On top of this, a public art installation, with a value of $25,000, will be installed to jazz up the area.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
In the fall of 2019, Bernie McClean had to dry every single bushel of canola on his farm in northwest Saskatchewan — something he never had to do before.Weather was just one of various challenges farmers in the province had to deal with last year.According to Statistics Canada, realized net farm income was up in six provinces, but not in Saskatchewan, where farmers saw a $307 million decline — the largest in Canada. Lower oilseed receipts contributed to the drop, said a Statistics Canada report released this week."The real difficulties actually began in the fall of 2019," said McClean."Excessive amounts of rain during harvest that turned into cold weather and actually eventually it turned into a fair bit of snow. And that stopped harvest completely. There were a lot of areas that the snow melted and we were able to get going again."But those types of conditions, they increase the costs substantially."McClean and his family grow grains and oilseeds on their Glaslyn-area farm, including wheat, oats, barley, canola and forage crops. Part of their land recently also became home to bison.In 2019, he and his family were able to harvest all their crops in the fall, but "it was right to the very final minute to get it done," he said."There have been a number of years that have been difficult in the northwest part of Saskatchewan."Farm income rose in Canada, not in Sask.Overall, Canada's farmers saw an increase in realized net income of 14.9 per cent from 2018, to $5.5 billion in 2019. According to Statistics Canada, the increase is the result of higher cannabis and livestock receipts in the country, along with increased program payments.The drop in realized net income in Saskatchewan, though was 14.4 per cent.A drop in realized net farm income in Saskatchewan means that there was a reduction in income relative to expenses during that year, explains Richard Gray, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan's department of agricultural and resource economics.The total net income, which takes inventory change into account, also dropped in Saskatchewan in 2019. Trade disputeGray says two main factors affected oilseed income."The harvest was very long and delayed," he said. "There was significant acreage of canola that was not harvested in 2019 but was left to the spring to harvest in 2020."So that grain, which would have been income, was left in the field because of weather conditions."The other factor, according to Gray, was a large outbreak of African swine fever in China. The disease reduced the size of hog herds in the country, and consequently the demand for oilseeds.A trade dispute with China also created headaches for the province's canola farmers, after China effectively stopped buying the crop from Canadian producers."Saskatchewan farmers produce the most canola in the country and they were the most affected by the drop in price," said Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. He is a fourth-generation farmer in the Gray district, south of Regina.The trade dispute with China "seems like a long way from Saskatchewan, but it really does come straight to the farm gate here in the province."There is a possible upside to the Canada-China dispute, said McClean."The trade disruption that we've experienced with China has actually taken the blinders off a little bit and allowed us to investigate and further explore other or emerging markets … whether that's export markets or whether it's opportunities right here in Canada," he said.2020 a better year for Saskatchewan's oilseed farmersAfter the lows in 2019, this year has been much better for Saskatchewan oilseed farmers. "There was an early harvest," said Gray."Grain shipments have been at a record level. Because of the recovery in the hog herd in China, soybeans and oilseed prices are actually higher this year. So prices have gone up, volumes [have] gone up."According to the provincial government's final crop report, Saskatchewan saw above-average crop quality this year. While rail disruptions in 2019 caused problems for producers, the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 has allowed for improved movement of grain in 2020, said McClean.The livestock industry, on the other hand, has been negatively affected by COVID-19, with some slaughter plants closing down, said Lewis.Farmers and ranchers now have to feed more cattle, but the price for feed grain has gone up, he said."So it's been positive for the grain producers."
PARIS — Tens of thousands of critics of a proposed security law that would restrict the filming of police officers protested across France on Saturday, and officers in Paris who were advised to behave responsibly during the demonstrations repeatedly fired tear gas to disperse rowdy protesters who set fire to France's central bank and threw paving stones.The mood was largely peaceful, however, as dozens of rallies took place against a provision of the law that would make it a crime to publish photos or video of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.”Civil liberties groups, journalists, and people who have faced police abuse are concerned that the measure will stymie press freedoms and allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished.“We have to broaden the debate, and by doing that, we say that if there were no police violence, we wouldn’t have to film violent policemen," Assa Traore, a prominent anti-brutality activist whose brother died in police custody in 2016, told The Associated Press.She was among at least 46,000 people who packed the sprawling Republique plaza and surrounding streets carrying red union flags, French tricolour flags and homemade signs denouncing police violence, demanding media freedom or calling for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron or his tough-talking interior minister, Gerald Darmanin.The crowd included journalists, journalism students, left-wing activists, migrants rights groups and citizens of varied political stripes expressing anger over what they perceive as hardening police tactics in recent years, especially since France’s yellow vest protest movement against economic hardship emerged in 2018.Violence erupted near the end of the march as small groups of protesters pelted riot police with small rocks and paving stone. The officers retaliated with volleys of tear gas, prompting minor scuffles. Rioters then set fire to the facade of the central bank and to police barricades; in the melee fire trucks struggled to reach the site.Macron's government says the law is needed to protect police amid threats and attacks by a violent fringe.But the chief editor of French newspaper Le Monde, Luc Bronner, argued at the protest that the law against publishing images of officers is unnecessary.“There are already laws that exist to protect civil servants, including police forces when they’re targeted, and it’s legitimate – the police do a very important job," Bronner said. “But that's not what this is about. It’s about limiting the capacity of citizens and along with them, journalists, to document police violence when they happen.”While journalists have been the most outspoken over the security bill, it could have an even greater impact on the efforts of non-journalists who film police during aggressive arrests, notably minorities who can try to fight police abuse and discrimination with a few seconds of cellphone video.“There were all those protests in the summer against police violence, and this law shows the government didn’t hear us... It’s the impunity. That’s what makes us so angry," protest participant Kenza Berkane, 26, said.Berkane, who is French and of North African origin, described being repeatedly stopped by police for identity checks in the metro or while going to school. while white friends were allowed to pass. “We ask ourselves, when will this stop?”The cause has gained renewed importance in recent days after footage emerged of French police officers beating up a Black man, triggering a nationwide outcry.Macron spoke out against the video images on Friday, saying “they shame us.”Video that surfaced Thursday showed the beating of music producer Michel Zecler, following footage of the brutal police evacuation Tuesday of migrants in a Paris plaza. The officers involved in the beating of Zecler were suspended pending an internal police investigation.An internal letter from Paris Police Prefect Didier Lallement called on officers to use “probity, the sense of honour and ethics” when policing Saturday's protests, which were authorized by authorities despite France's partial virus lockdown.Through most of the march police hung back, chatting while holding their helmets or watching silently as protesters shouted “Shame!” at them.The crowd was overwhelmingly peaceful, but some in the unruly minority came equipped with gas masks and helmets.Article 24 of the proposed security law criminalizes the publishing of images of police officers with the intent of causing harm. Anyone found guilty could be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and fined 45,000 euros ($53,000).Many protesters, police and journalists have been injured during protests in recent years, including several Associated Press journalists.Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24, but he backtracked after hearing from angry lawmakers. The commission is now expected to make new proposals by early next year on the relationship between the media and police.___Alex Turnbull in Paris contributed to this report.Angela Charlton And Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press
There will be fewer places to pick out the perfect real Christmas tree on the North Shore this festive season, with new COVID-19 rules making it increasingly difficult for groups to get approval to set up their annual fundraising events. But, in true Christmas spirit, residents will still have the opportunity, thanks to a lot of effort put in by some of the local Lions Clubs and Scout troops to gain approval by meeting Covid-19 guidelines put in place by the provincial health authority. Eric Miura, Lynn Valley Lions Club president, said having to jump through more hoops than usual to get the event set up was an “understatement,” but the club was pleased it could make a contactless drive-thru Christmas tree lot a reality for the community. “We have some experience hosting events over this COVID period, so I think that’s why we haven’t been rejected,” he said, explaining the club had been working on an intensive proposal for the past six months. “It’s a tradition, and the Lynn Valley Lions Club is more than happy to do all the paperwork and make sure it’s safe. We know that we can handle the safety, it’s just a lot of protocols and a lot of procedures. “We’re proud of our ability to adapt.” Miura said the club moved its event from the parking lot at the Royal Canadian Legion's Lynn Valley branch to a much larger site in the Moodyville area, partnering with Wall Financial, and even built roads to make the drive-thru possible. He said people could either choose their tree online – variety, size, price – or drive through and view the trees and pick one from their car at the site at East Second Street and Ridgeway Avenue. “Everyone has to stay within their cars and all of our team members must be family units working in their particular zone on the site,” Miura said. Community members will need to book a time slot in advance online to visit the site, so numbers can be controlled and managed appropriately. While the drive-thru tree lot adds festive cheer to the lives of North Vancouverites, Miura said the event was also important because the club’s future applications for community gaming grants were associated with how much an organization fundraises. “We do raise a fair bit, but this is our largest fundraiser – so it’s almost a double whammy if we don’t make a good effort,” he said, also noting that proceeds from the tree lot go back into the community to help schools and other organizations. The Christmas Tree Market drive-thru opened Friday, Nov. 27. Sadly, not all clubs will be opening their tree lots. After 75 years of helping make the holidays brighter, Dave Weightman, president of the Ambleside Tiddlycove Lions Club, said the club would not be running its annual tree lot fundraiser in Ambleside this year due to confusion surrounding the provincial restrictions. He said the club had made the hard decision not to open, believing they did not have provincial permission based on the tree lot being classified as a fundraising event but later discovered on Nov. 24 that changes had been made that they were not informed about. “I found out five minutes ago that on the Nov. 19, unbeknownst to us, the ministry of health changed our designation from an event to a vending market and that would have allowed us to open," he said, speaking on Nov. 24. Having cancelled much of their plans, he said the club could no longer go ahead with their market as their tree grower had now sold off most of his trees. Weightman said the club had worked closely with the District of West Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health to put forward a plan that they felt met the COVID-19 guidelines of B.C. Health, and he wished he had known sooner of the designation changes. “We asked for reclassification as our plan outlined numbers restrictions which would see very limited numbers, masked, and distanced in a 12,000-sqare-foot outdoor setting," he said, explaining his original plan. The funds raised from the annual event usually allow the club to support many North Shore charities and foundations, which Weightman said would be greatly missed. “It’s just disappointing, like everything else we’re facing,” he said, with the hope the club’s tree lot would reopen in 2021. Similarly, West Vancouver Scouts posted to their website the tree lot at Taylor Way and Clyde Avenue at Park Royal will not be opening “due to restrictions and the uncertainty around COVID-19.” However, the 11th Seymour Scouts were able to set up their annual tree fundraising sale, and said they have “no shortage of Christmas trees” at their event in Deep Cove. The tree sale, which runs Nov. 27 to Dec. 23. has been relocated to Dollarton Village, at 489 Dollarton Hwy., and the scouts have advised people to “please follow all COVID protocols” when picking up a tree, including wearing a mask and physical distancing. Their website states that additional safety instructions are posted at the tree lot.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Wife of OPP Const. Marc Hovingh, Lianne Hovingh, spoke at his funeral Saturday and read an email from the son of a family friend. Const. Hovingh died last Thursday in a shooting that also left a civilian dead in Gore Bay, Ont., on Manitoulin Island.
The Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A;) Public Health Unit has released a video detailing how a single case of COVID-19 was transmitted to up to 20 local individuals over the course of the past week. “You can see now how from one individual…that there’s a cascade,” said Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore. “This is 15 to 20 proven COVID-positive individuals now with threats to schools, to the acute care sector, to the business sector, to home case services. All the result of one transmission.” The case of COVID-19 was originally contracted when an individual had to travel to Toronto for work, Dr. Moore said, noting that he has changed a few details in the transmission description to protect the identities of those involved. “He had to go into a closed space, crowded with individuals and close faces, and hence as a result was exposed to the virus and brought the virus home to family,” Dr. Moore said. “Many of the family members also got ill. People who came and visited the family and got ill.” One of the family members then had to go to work, and while pre-symptomatic, also went to the gym. Dr. Moore did not identify the workplace or the fitness facility in the video, however KFL&A; Public Health has indicated that whenever they suspect a risk to the general public, that information is shared. “At work as a Personal Support Worker (PSW), there was incidental transmission to a patient, and from that patient to another PSW. When the person went to the gym, there appears to have been transmission at the gym to a healthcare worker,” he said. “That healthcare worker had exposure with another… so there’s an investigation at that workplace.” Kingston Health Sciences Centre confirmed on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 that two employees at Kingston General Hospital had tested positive for COVID-19. “One of the members of the gym went back to a different family. Everyone in that family was infected,” Dr. Moore continued. “That family has children that were school-aged so that’s another investigation to ensure that there’s no transmission in the school setting.” Dr. Moore noted that this is just one example of several investigations underway by Public Health this week. The key lessons he said, are to be careful when travelling outside the region, to minimize the number of contacts and to go for testing if symptoms arise. “Tremendous thanks to the community. We still continue to have a very high testing rate. We can’t do our work unless the community comes forward if they have symptoms to get tested, so that’s a big thanks. Our local lab is working very well, and our assessment centre,” he added. Dr. Moore noted that anyone accepting visitors into their home from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) should feel free to screen them for COVID-19 symptoms. The latest information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can be found at COVID-19.ontario.ca. “The safest thing is not to travel,” he said. “Stay within your household setting, be very careful about the ‘Cs’ — crowded spaces and close faces.”Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
For the first time, people can vote in this year’s Festival of Trees online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, festive trees are decorated by local merchants and organizations and displayed inside Steveston’s Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. In addition to the new online voting option, the cannery will also be open for in-person viewing and voting, starting Tuesday (Dec. 1) with additional protocols in place. There will be 15 trees decorated this year, says marketing and visitor services manager Mimi Horita. She adds that, as expected, some groups have cancelled due to different circumstances during this unusual year. “We did not hold a ‘decorating party’ this year, and scheduled the decorating times over a one-week period to ensure safe distancing,” Horita says of the changes to this year’s planning. While advance tickets are not required, capacity will be reduced to allow for physical distancing. In keeping with new public health restrictions, all visitors must wear a face mask while visiting the display. Staff and volunteers at the cannery also wear masks at all times. The Festival of Trees will be open daily from Dec. 1 to 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Dec. 24 it will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular admission is $11.90 for adults and $10.20 for seniors, with youth under age 17 and society members able to enter for free. Admission will be by donation on Sundays: Dec. 6, 13 and 20. For more information, call 604-664-9009.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
A 46-year-old man is dead following a collision between a grain truck and a semi-trailer in central Alberta on Friday. Blackfalds RCMP responded to report of a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42 east of Range Road 275 at about 2:30 p.m. Friday. An early investigation revealed that a westbound grain truck collided with a southbound semi-trailer unit, according to a news release from RCMP. The grain truck driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver was not injured. The investigation is ongoing, and local officers are working with a RCMP collision analyst. Blackfalds, Alta. is about 13 kilometres north of Red Deer.
For Gen Lalonde, part of the allure of cross-country running is the unexpected, which can't be said about the 3,000-metre steeplechase, her signature event."I know there is going to be 35 barriers and some of them aren't going to have water," she said. "I generally know what the pace is going to be, but in cross-country I have no idea. It can be anyone's day."Lalonde, the two-time defending senior women's champion, was hoping Saturday would be her day for a third consecutive year at the Canadian championships but the event — scheduled for Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford, B.C. — was cancelled in August because of the coronavirus pandemic.However, she is planning her own version of cross-country this weekend — running a solo 10-kilometre time trial.It will be the Moncton, N.B., native's latest attempt to mimic a "normal" year since the Canadian record holder didn't enter a steeplechase race through the summer."I did an 8K time trial a few weeks ago that would have coincided with the [B.C.] provincial championships," said Lalonde, who moved to Victoria from Guelph, Ont., in January and married elite Canadian triathlete John Rasmussen in September."It gives me goals to [strive for] since I haven't raced since February and simulates the pre-race jitters [for] when I step on the line for real."Lining up for a tough race in Abbotsford on Saturday and watching the distance running community come together to celebrate the sport is something the French on-air host at Radio Victoria says she will miss."The national cross-country championships is about running, having fun and trying your best," said the women's 10K champion at the 2020 Pan American Cross-Country Cup in Victoria. "You never know how the race is going to go, so part of the fun is being ready for anything."WATCH | Gen Lalonde runs to steeplechase Pan Am gold:Looking back, the path to victory each of the past two years couldn't have been more different.'Rewarding to come out with victory'"In Kingston [Ont.], my goal was to run with Natasha Wodak, as long as I could," Lalonde said of her 2018 race plan on the famed Fort Henry course. "I knew she had been dominant on the cross-country scene and is a gritty runner. She's really strong, consistent and knows her pacing, so I knew if I ran with her, I would have a good chance to medal."I started to break from the [lead] group and knew I had gained the momentum and was having so much fun. Joel [Bourgeois], my coach [behind the scenes], was coaching [at] the University of Laval at the time and running around the course."I remember him saying, 'Way to go' and I remember smiling and waving," continued the 2016 Olympian. "I knew I still had work to do — I think I had two kilometres to go — but I knew in that moment I had put in a lot of work and it was so rewarding to come out with a victory."Last year in Abbotsford was very, very different. After only a month of training after I took time off after a long track season, I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't know how hard a 10K could feel. It was consistent pounding and [eventual second-place finisher] Sarah Inglis was relentless. Maria [Bernard-Galea] was right behind us and it was back and forth."All three of us were surging and with one kilometre to go, [my primary coach] Hilary [Stellingwerff, from the University of Victoria] looked at me and she was like, 'Just make it to the finish.' I didn't know if I would. I was able to [pull out] the win but it was definitely the hardest run I've ever done."Uncertain when and where her next race will happen, the 2019 Pan Am steeplechase gold medallist has tried to mix things up in her training recently — running trails and hurdle drills on the track and long, muddy hills — to keep things fun and prepare her for all race conditions."My focus right now is on consistent base mileage," said Lalonde, adding if she was to compete indoors in January and February it wouldn't extend beyond one or two races. "In the coming months, I'll gradually transition from running more on the road and trails to the track."The focus will be on there being an Olympics [next] summer and being ready, happy and healthy come then. Crossing the finish line in Tokyo is where we want to be."
LONDON — The British government said Saturday that it had struck an agreement with France to double the number of French police patrolling beaches in the country's north in an attempt to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats.Britain’s Home Office said Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had agreed on the measure as part of efforts to make the route “unviable” for people-smugglers. The agreement also will boost surveillance using “drones, radar equipment, optronic binoculars and fixed cameras,” the U.K. said.It said the two countries had agreed to spend 31.4 million euros ($41 million) on the measures.Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain — usually in trucks or on ferries —and the issue has long strained relations between the two countries.Many migrants appear to have turned to small boats organized by smugglers during the coronavirus pandemic because virus restrictions have reduced traffic between France and Britain. More than 8,000 people have made the dangerous journey so far this year, up from about 1,800 in all of 2019.Last month, a family from Iran, including two parents and their children aged 6 and 9, died when their boat capsized in the Channel. Their 15-month-old son is missing and presumed drowned.Aid and human rights groups say the best way to stop the journeys is to provide safe routes for people to seek asylum in Britain.The Associated Press
A temporary COVID-19 drop-in testing clinic will be open Saturday from 5-8 p.m. at Stratford Town Hall.The clinic, located at 234 Shakespeare Drive, was set up to support the high demand for testing at the Charlottetown testing clinic on Park Street.Islanders can also go to the COVID-19 drop-in testing clinic at Slemon Park in Summerside, which is open until 8 p.m.P.E.I. announced two new unrelated cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.The province said anyone who has been contacted by Public Health nursing to get tested in relation to the positive cases should get tested as soon as possible and isolate until they receive the results, or as directed by Public Health nursing.More from CBC P.E.I.
Residents in the Moodyville area are calling on the City of North Vancouver to “preserve the character of their neighbourhood” with the proposal of a new development they say is set to “cast a shadow” over their homes and lives. The public will have the chance to once again voice their concerns or support for the Cascadia Green redevelopment at 402-438 East Third Street and 341-343 St. Davids Ave. next week. After a robust discussion at the Nov. 16 general meeting, council voted to move forward with a public hearing on the developer’s application to change the land use and permitted height in the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaw, which would allow the development to go ahead. The proposed changes would give the developer permission to increase from four storeys to five storeys as well as add a commercial laneway and extra retail and office spaces to the development. The proposed 5,516.5-square-metre mixed-use development includes three separate buildings: the West building, a four-storey building along East Third Street with 82 market strata residential units, including ground-floor live-work townhouse units; the East building, a five-storey mixed-use building with 71 market strata residential units, 14 commercial retail units, office spaces and a childcare facility on Level 1, and the North building, a four-storey mixed-use building with 16 market strata residential units. In the report prepared for council, staff said they supported the OCP amendment, stating it would “increase the commercial component in the development to provide significant amenities to the Moodyville area.” Staff also highlighted the inclusion of childcare, improvements to active transportation infrastructure and intersections, and housing pilot programs were all consistent with the City’s policy framework. "The form of development has also been evaluated and considered appropriate in the site context," the report states. "On balance, the proposed application will support the continued growth of Moodyville into a more sustainable neighbourhood - environmentally, socially, and economically." Members of the surrounding community already voiced both grievances and support for the developer’s proposal at a town hall meeting in November 2019 – with more than 85 comment sheets and emails submitted after the event, with 23 expressing opposition and 62 expressing support. A virtual town hall was then hosted in July this year, to provide an update on changes to the proposal which resulted in a further 316 comments. Those in support have praised the project for offering relatively affordable housing, with a Rent-to-Own and Affordable Home Ownership Program, its pedestrian orientated design and the proposed mix of neighbourhood retail and restaurants. Residents in opposition are hoping council will make developers stick to the original plans. More residents came forward to speak against the OCP ammendments at the Nov. 16 council meeting, echoing the same key concerns about the heights, size, and shadow impacts of the three buildings. Residents in opposition fear the massive development will impact traffic, on-street parking, privacy and noise in area. The community is also worried the development would put pressure on Ridgeway Elementary, which is already at capacity. Jeff Murl, an East Fourth Street resident, said the current plan being proposed dramatically altered the “density, form and character” of the neighbourhood. Murl argued the change was not “marginal” and the new plan proposed five times the residential density and 10 times the commercial density of the OCP. “What is proposed is seeking to overwrite the hours of work and consideration of public input already encapsulated in the OCP,” he said. Murl said the neighbourhood was not “looking to be an experiment” when it came to the activation of a laneway behind their homes, suggesting the nearby TransLink bus depot site, zoned for commercial, was the better retail development option. Fellow resident Brian Charleton, who bought into the neighbourhood in January, said he was previously aware of the four-storey development before purchasing, but was astounded to find out the potential height changes could mean he’d have an almost 70-foot building towering over his home in the future. “The only time we will see direct sunlight is during the summer solstice, all other seasons of the year we will be shaded,” he said. Staff say since consultations with the community a number of changes have been made to the application, highlighting the North building has been redesigned in order to respond to the neighbouring houses along East Fourth Street, site circulation has been improved to significantly calm traffic surrounding the site, and the childcare space is now located at the breezeway, away from East Fourth Street. But East Fourth resident Melissa McConchie, who has written twice to the city to voice her concerns and spoke at Monday’s meeting, said the adjustments weren’t good enough. “We’re not anti-development but this proposal is just way too big for our neighbourhood and it will have a significant negative impact on my family and the other families who live on this street,” she said. “Particularly because we’re on the south side of Fourth Street, these buildings are literally directly in my backyard – our duplex is going to disappear in a sea of buildings. “If approved, this will turn our quiet, residential street into a busy commercial zone with 30,000 square feet of commercial space along Third Street, St. Davids Avenue and our laneway.” She said the community just wanted “city council to preserve the family character of this street.” “This is a great neighbourhood and it would be a tremendous shame to see it completely overhauled when the official community plan already provides the roadmap for how to balance the need for new development with the impact on existing residents,” McConchie said. At Monday’s general meeting, the vote to move to the public hearing was carried five to two. Coun. Jessica McIlroy was happy to move forward, saying she’d like to hear more from the public and staff on the development. “We have heard concerns from members of the public about the project, but I feel that the application has gone through the necessary steps to move to a public hearing,” she said. Meanwhile, Coun. Holly Back was “quite concerned” about moving the application forward. She had similar issues with the project as the community, including a fifth storey being too high, future overcrowding at the local school, and the increased size of the development compared to the original plans. With similar concerns about the heights and size of the development, Coun. Don Bell, who had also previously opposed the project, voted against moving forward to a public hearing, agreeing with the community that the development would change the area’s character. “I think this project is too dense for that site and too massive in terms of form,” he said, mentioning he also wasn’t convinced it was the right spot to introduce a commercial laneway. “I think the project is, you know, attractive and I would have liked to have seen it kept within the OCP limits.” The virtual public hearing has been set for Nov. 30. Click here to register and for more project details.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
Wymbolwood Beach residents are standing up for the rights of the animal that makes up Canada's official emblem. A deputation of neighbourhood residents makes its way to council this Monday. They're upset about the removal of a beaver dam at Skylark Road and Tiny Beaches Road South. The group, being led and represented at council by Julia Aronov, has also signed a petition to stop municipal staff from removing the beaver dam that has existed in the local creek since May. "The beaver dam created a beautiful wetland area that mallard and duck families called home," says the petition, "there were many fish, frogs, dragonflies, butterflies and numerous other wildlife and important pollinating insects. "Over the last six months, not once was the beaver's dam destroyed," continues the petition. "He was able to live free without fear of human interference in his daily life. With it being close to winter, destroying the beaver's dam now puts his life at risk as he does not have enough time to create a proper home that can sustain him over the long cold winter season." Another critter-related request is being brought forward Marjorie Dubeau. She wants council to allow the re-installation of 'Tiny Animals', which are wooden boards painted with animals on, on the trail between Balm Beach Road East and Concession Road 9. The 8"x8" boards can serve as an interactive game for people and children using the trail. Among other presentations will be one made by Skelton Brumwell and Associates on a short-term accommodations (STA) management strategy. The consultants are bringing forward recommendations around zoning, noise and disturbance, licensing, complaints process and municipal and private services. A second bylaw review is being brought forward by Barriston Law representatives around business licensing regulations bylaw (BLB) related to trailer parks/campgrounds. The report submitted as part of the committee of the whole agenda states that the BLB is not permitted to restrict or regulate land use, so a zoning bylaw amendment must be made. Some of the changes to that will clarify the number of mobile homes on trailer park/campground for caretaker use, specify prohibition of other mobile homes to prevent year-round living, and allow for removal of a mobile home within six months of the lapse of a licence. Council will also consider a staff recommendation of how the municipality should handle incidents related to racism and displaying of the Confederate flag. As well, councillors will also take a look at the recommended update to the definition of construction noise and prohibited time of use of domestic tools and lawn maintenance equipment. The report being brought forward suggests that the definition of domestic tools include, but not be limited to, air compressors, electric power tools and manual hammers. Lawn maintenance equipment and snow removal machines are to be included in a separate category. The report further notes that using items in these two categories should be limited to 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. over the weekend. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and will be streamed live via the township's YouTube channel.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Across the world, teams paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Saturday with moments of silence before European soccer games and a touching gesture from New Zealand's rugby team.The death of the Argentine great was still being felt three days after he had a heart attack at the age of 60 outside Buenos Aires, where he had been recovering from a brain operation.Manchester City and Burnley players and coaches stood and applauded as a video showed Maradona’s famous solo run and goal for Argentina against England in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup. The “Hand of God” goal was earlier in the game.“This week, we lost a true footballing great. Diego Maradona was everything football should be: expressive, exciting, attacking and free,” City manager Pep Guardiola said in the team's matchday program.“A unique, once-in-a-generation player who brought joy to so many people,” he added. “Football will never forget Diego.”City and Burnley players warmed up to the song “Live is Life” by Austrian band Opus. That's the tune Maradona warmed up to before one of Napoli's UEFA matches in 1989. The players went through their usual routine as the Etihad Stadium loudspeakers played the song.Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti struggled to hold his emotions together. He made the sign of the cross and kissed his finger after a tribute before their match against Leeds. Ancelotti played against Maradona during their time in Serie A and later went on to manage Napoli.Maradona led Napoli to its only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990 and is considered an icon in the southern city.Tributes are ongoing across Serie A this weekend. The warmup song will also be broadcast in Italian stadiums.All Serie A players were taking the field wearing a black armband, and a minute’s silence was being observed before each kickoff, with players lined up around the centre circle.The Italian league is also holding a minute's silence, projecting an image of Maradona on stadium screens, and highlighting the message “Ciao Diego” on the stands — which, like most stadiums in Europe, are empty because of coronavirus restrictions.At the 10th minute of each Italian match, an image of Maradona was being projected again, in honour of his jersey number.Napoli hosts Roma on Sunday. Thousands of Napoli supporters made a pilgrimage to San Paolo Stadium on Thursday to light a candle, leave a scarf or a shirt and shed some tears in memory of their hero.Across the Bundesliga, teams stood for a moment's silence and images of Maradona were shown on stadium screens, including one of the Argentine raising the World Cup trophy in 1986, when they beat West Germany in the final.At Union Berlin's home game, stadium announcer Christian Arbeit said in Spanish: “Hasta siempre compañero.”The tributes weren't limited to soccer.Before their rugby Tri Nations test against Argentina, New Zealand captain Sam Cane presented an All Blacks jersey with Maradona's name and number 10.As the All Blacks lined up to perform the haka, Cane stepped out, walked toward midfield and laid down the jersey as the Argentina players stood arm-in-arm and watched.“It was a gesture, a token, of paying our respects to an Argentine legend, a world legend in his field as well,” Cane said after the match, which New Zealand won 38-0.Several Argentine players nodded in acknowledgment of the gesture.“I’m really thankful for that," Pumas flanker Pablo Matera said. "Diego Maradona was obviously huge for Argentina, so I’m really thankful for that gesture from the All Blacks.“He’s been a huge inspiration for all of us: Players, coaches, the people of Argentina."___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press
Squamish Public Library is set to permanently acknowledge its location on the traditional territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation through a commissioned artwork. The library is inviting artists from the nation to submit designs for a vinyl window covering for the front of the library building and the children’s area. "The intention is for the artwork of a Squamish Nation artist to publicly and permanently acknowledge the library's location on the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation,” Rachel Bergquist, public services librarian, said. "This art commission aims to celebrate the art, traditions, culture, and land of the Squamish Nation through the unique vision of the artist.” She said windows of the library offered the opportunity for a large-scale showcase of art, visible to library patrons, passersby, and the hundreds of people who use Squamish Transit. "We have so many visitors to our town and the library really is a hot spot for people looking for directions, bathrooms, and other resources," Bergquist said. "So, it’s just exciting to have the opportunity to have that public acknowledgement facing outward to both the people who are living in our community, but also those people who are passing through who might not have as much of an understanding of where they are.” The library is searching for a design that will feel like an integrated part of the building and still allow for some visibility through the windows, with the final image to be printed on cut-out frosted vinyl in monochrome white and grey. “We wanted something that still allows for us to see outside and allows the natural light in,” Bergquist said, on the choice of frosted vinyl. “We want people inside the library to be able to see the world around them. Sitting inside the library, looking out that window, you can see the Stawamus Chief.” The chosen artist will receive $5,400 for the digital file of their commissioned work and the library will arrange for the production and installation of the final product. Acknowledgement and information about the art and artist will also be installed along with the window covering. Bergquist said artworks received will be reviewed by a selection committee of library staff, the director of library services and be shown to Squamish Nation Elders for their blessing. She said the library team was excited to see the designs artists submit and were available for any questions artists may have about the project. The public art project was made possible by a Community Arts and Culture Enhancement Grant from the Squamish Arts Council and capital funding from the District of Squamish. The submission deadline is Dec. 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. The successful artist will be announced early next year, and it’s hoped the installation will occur in spring. All proposals must be submitted to Rachel Bergquist or dropped off at the library at 37907 Second Avenue, Squamish, B.C. Find the full call for artists here. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A lab in Alaska failed to report over 1,600 positive coronavirus tests to the state health department in the past month, according to a state official. Dr. Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state, said Friday that Beechtree Labs did not report 1,636 positive test results out of 13,169 tests conducted, most of which were done in the last two weeks. Beechtree is a new commercial lab based out of Anchorage. The announcement is a sign that climbing daily case counts reported by the state reflect only a part of total cases, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Castrodale said that understaffing at clinics, labs and the state’s Department of Health and Social Services have also caused backlogs that have affected the entire coronavirus data system. “It’s fair to say that the system is stretched,” Castrodale said. Coleman Cutchins, a clinical pharmacist who leads the state health department's testing effort, said that patients and providers still received their test results from Beechtree within two days. The results not reported to the state include 357 positive cases in Anchorage and 880 positive cases in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The state's health department reported its second-highest single day tally of virus cases on Friday with 735 new confirmed cases. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — There was a strong message conveyed to cabinet ministers last week as senators grilled them on the Trudeau government's bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying.We told you so.Ministers were repeatedly reminded that when the federal government introduced its first bill in 2016 to legalize doctor-assisted death in Canada, senators warned it was unconstitutional and predicted it would be struck down by the courts. A majority of senators voted at that time to drop the central pillar of the bill: that only those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable should be eligible for an assisted death.The government rejected the amendment and senators ultimately backed down. But, as they'd predicted, the near-death provision was subsequently struck down in a Quebec Superior Court ruling in September 2019.Now, some senators are convinced the bill introduced to bring the law into compliance with that ruling is also unconstitutional. And they're pondering how far they should go to protect the rights of Canadians seeking access to medically assisted death.All legislation must be approved by both houses of Parliament. The Senate can defeat a bill outright, although that has rarely happened.If the Senate amends a bill, it is sent back to the House of Commons to decide whether to accept or reject the changes. The Senate can dig in its heels and insist on an amendment rejected by the Commons, potentially leading to legislation ping-ponging back and forth between chambers without resolution.In practice, however, because senators are not elected, they generally acquiesce to the will of the Commons, as they did on the 2016 assisted-dying bill.But some senators argue that a different standard applies when fundamental constitutional rights are at stake."If it's a very clear violation of a constitutional right, I think we have the right, the moral obligation even, to stick to our position and to insist (on amendment)," says Sen. Pierre Dalphond, a former Quebec Appeal Court judge who sits with the Progressive Senate Group.Dalphond is highly skeptical that the government's latest assisted-dying bill, C-7, is constitutional. He's awaiting further explanations from the government before making a final decision.Appointed in 2019, Dalphond was not in the Senate when the chamber last debated medical assistance in dying legislation. But some senators who did live through the 2016 debate seem particularly determined not to let history repeat itself.Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan believes Bill C-7 violates the guarantee of equality rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by specifying that people suffering solely from mental illnesses will not be allowed access to an assisted death. He thinks the proposed two-track approach to eligibility — one set of rules for people who are near death and more restrictive rules for those who aren't — is similarly problematic."I think the government has created another bill that will have to come back … in two or three years after a court challenge," Carignan says.He believes the government is determined to proceed cautiously on assisted dying and is quite content to have the courts force its hand every step of the way. The trouble with that approach, in his view, is that it forces vulnerable people who are suffering unbearably from serious illnesses to spend time, money and energy fighting for their rights in court."That's really tough. So I think if we want to protect those people we have to insist and say, 'Look, don't go there another time.'"Fellow Conservative Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu is hopeful the Senate will propose, and the government will agree, to a compromise this time: amend the bill to remove the mental illness exclusion but give the government one or two years to come up with guidelines and safeguards before that part of the law goes into force.He said that could "be a good compromise" that would avoid a potential standoff between the Senate and the government over the issue.Dalphond is inclined to support such a compromise because it would force the government to act on the issue, rather than leave it to be discussed, possibly without resolution, during a promised parliamentary review. That review must grapple with other thorny matters, such as whether to allow advance consent for assisted death, as well as access to the procedure for mature minors."We have an opportunity maybe to straighten things up now. Why wait another one, two, three years? … People will be suffering during that period."The composition of the Senate has changed considerably over the past four years so it's not yet possible to gauge whether the current crop of senators will go as far as — or further than — senators did in 2016 to protect charter rights. There are certainly many senators who are passionately opposed on moral grounds to any expanded access to assisted death, and especially opposed to extending it to people suffering solely from mental illnesses.But senators with extensive legal backgrounds — both veterans like Carignan and more recent appointees like Dalphond — who grilled ministers last week during committee hearings on the bill all questioned its constitutionality.The most recently appointed senator, Brent Cotter, a prominent legal ethicist and former senior public servant in Saskatchewan, pointedly asked Justice Minister David Lametti whether he believes senators have a duty to ensure legislation is constitutionally valid.Lametti did not answer and Cotter concedes it's a question he's wrestling with himself."The nice thing about the Senate is, on the one hand, I do think we have to advance our viewpoint on the basis of principle and we have much more luxury to do that in a less partisan Senate," says Cotter, a member of the Independent Senators Group."And on constitutionality, it's quite possible that senators need to be firm … But at the same time I don't think we have the right to overreach because we are involved in a role where we are appointed, we are not elected by constituents and we need to be respectful of the electoral process that leads to government according to law."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press