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
Charges of first and second-degree murder have been laid against three men in connection with the 2017 shooting death of 24-year old Alexander Blanarou in Abbotsford.Islam Nagem and Edrick Raju are both charged with first-degree murder, while Michael Schweiger is charged with second-degree murder. According to Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesman Sgt. Frank Jang, Blanarou was shot multiple times in what is believed to be a targeted killing related to drugs but stopped short of identifying it as a gang hit."Those details will come in court," said Jang. "Including our victim ... all the men are known to police."Blanarou was killed on Dec. 28, 2017 while out on bail on two drug charges he was facing in the Yukon.His body was found in a blueberry field in the 5200-block of Bates Road in rural Abbotsford. The three accused remain in custody. Blanarou's parents are suing ICBC over an insurance claim related to their son's truck which was stolen shortly before he was killed.
A delegate to the recent Nipawin council meeting is requesting work be done to improve the tennis courts in Nipawin. Craig Decker with the Nimbledon Tennis Club presented to the Nipawin council during their meeting on Nov. 30 about the state of the two tennis courts at LP Miller Comprehensive. According to the report presented by Decker, the club is borderline unplayable. “Despite the poor condition of the courts, the courts are frequently used. However, it is our position that usage would significantly increase were the courts to be refurbished,” reported Decker. The club has about 20 active members and has been doing as much maintenance themselves as they are able, including the cleaning and weed removal on the court and painting the tennis lines onto the court. “The Nimbledon TC is passionate about tennis, and they have not shied away from spending both their time and money on prepping the courts for the summer season,” reported Decker during the meeting. Looking into some of the larger expenses and more in depth repairs to the court, Decker has received a quote for $60,000 for the asphalt and resurfacing and about $7,000 for a new net. To rebuild the court entirely would be around $250,000 to $300,000. Chelsea Corrigan, the parks and recreation director, said the town contributed to cleaning and weed removal in the past few years and replacing the courts, including finding a more suitable location, has been on the town’s radar for a number of years. While she rarely sees the courts in use, she does admit that that could be because of the current state of the courts. “That's not new to us, [the courts] definitely are in bad condition. (The Parks and Rec department) has been looking into new courts for a number of years and looking at a multi-sport court. It is great that a group of individuals are interested in a new court in Nipawin.” The club would like to expand its programming to youth and junior programs and singles and double leagues, Decker said, and recruitment for these programs would be made much easier with upgrades to the courts.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
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
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."
There’s a $600,000 hole in Au Chateau’s annual budget West Nipissing may have to help plug with municipal tax dollars. It’s one of several issues coming up on tonight’s council agenda, which includes a general government discussion about ‘ward boundaries’ for the 2022 election. Au Chateau, which has 102 long-term care beds, serves West Nipissing and Temagami, and it can levy their taxpayers to make up any shortfalls. Au Chateau’s funding shortfall is being caused by the Jan. 31, 2021 end of 35-year funding agreement with the federal and provincial government. The issue is critical for both communities as they look at COVID-19 impacted revenue and expenses heading into the 2021 budget deliberations. It was briefly mentioned at the last council meeting with the municipality hoping to set up meetings with representatives of higher levels of government for assistance. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is live-streamed using Zoom on the West Nipissing YouTube channel. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
BERLIN — The European Union drug agency said Tuesday it may need four more weeks to approve its first coronavirus vaccine, even as authorities in the United States and Britain continue to aim for a green light before Christmas.The European Medicines Agency plans to convene a meeting by Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough safety and efficacy data about the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved. The regulator also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival shot by American pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc, which submitted its request to U.S. and European regulators this week.If its vaccine is approved, Germany-based BioNTech said the shot's use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020 — but that seems quite ambitious, given that the EU Commission usually needs to rubber-stamp the regulator's decision. Still, the agency has also left open the possibility that the date of that meeting will be brought forward if data comes in faster.Any approval granted by the European regulator will be conditional on companies submitting further information to confirm the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.The date now being eyed would be later than some European countries had hoped. Germany, which has given BioNTech 375 million euros ($450 million) in funding to develop the vaccine, has been preparing to start immunizing people from mid-December onward.On Tuesday, officials in Germany, France and the Netherlands cautioned that vaccine programs likely won't start until the end of the year.“With the information we got in recent days we have to assume that approval will only happen around the turn of the year,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.“It has moved because some studies obviously need a little longer to be submitted," he said. "What’s important is to be prepared.”His comments were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who said authorities in those countries are working to begin vaccinating people in the first week of January.“It won’t be a vaccination policy for the broader public” during the first few months, Macron said at a news conference.BioNTech and U.S. partner Pfizer have said that clinical trials showed their vaccine is 95% effective. The two companies have already submitted data to regulators in the United States and Britain, and approval might come from them first.Hospitals in England have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot as early as the week of Dec. 7 if it receives the OK, the Guardian and Financial Times reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer’s request to allow emergency use of its vaccine, and a decision could come shortly thereafter.Stephen Evans, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that although the main drug regulators will all analyze the same data, the European regulator's decision-making process is slowed by the bureaucracy of the 27-nation bloc.He explained that approval at the EMA “requires co-operation from member states, who each have a say in the authorization of a vaccine.”British regulators also are assessing another vaccine developed by researchers from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.Whichever of the three regulators — American, British or European — acts earliest would be giving the first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been that’s been rigorously tested in tens of thousands of people in trials that meet common scientific standards.Numerous other vaccines are also being worked on. Russia and China have even begun administering shots of locally developed vaccines and selling them to other countries but have not published evidence from advanced studies proving the vaccines are safe and effective.Globally, every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, although countries with weak systems usually rely on the World Health Organization to vet the shots. In the EU, countries typically accept EMA approval for vaccines and drugs unless there is a specific issue the country wants examined further.Multiple successful vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in Europe and the U.S. and so far left more than 1.4 million people worldwide dead.Authorities and drugmakers have pledged to work together to immediately begin rolling out the first shots once approval comes in, whether that’s in the United States or Europe.“Depending on how the authorities decide we can start delivering within a few hours,” said BioNTech's chief operating officer, Sierk Poetting.But officials caution that while some people may receive a vaccine in the coming weeks, it will likely take years to give billions of people around the world the shot, or two if a booster is necessary, meaning that people will be living with some virus control measures at least well into next year.While the three major vaccines so far submitted for approval seem to prevent people from getting sick, it is still unclear whether they prevent people from picking up the virus entirely — and crucially — passing it to others.The EU's top official said Tuesday around 2 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the bloc's 27 nations and called hope for their quick approval "a huge step forward toward our normal life."EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, however, urged EU citizens to remain “disciplined till we have reached finally a vaccination that is appropriate to eradicate this virus.”Even after vaccines are approved, manufacturers and regulators will be monitoring how well they are received by patients to determine the frequency of rarer side effects that may only appear when millions are immunized.___Cheng reported from London and Petrequin from Brussels. Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___This story has been updated to correct that Pfizer and BioNTech asked for expedited approval of their vaccine, not an emergency use authorization.Frank Jordans, Maria Cheng And Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Nurses seeking to resolve stalled contract talks went on strike in New Rochelle, New York on Tuesday as COVID-19 hospitalizations rose across the state. (Dec. 1)
MOSCOW — The Russian military on Tuesday announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defence missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan. Russia's Eastern Military District said in a statement that the S-300V4 air defence missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier. The Russian Defence Ministry's TV station, Zvezda, reported that the air defence missile systems were deployed on Iturup, one of the four southernmost Kuril islands. The new deployment marked the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there. Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands it calls the Northern Territories. The Soviet Union took them in the final days of World War II, and the dispute has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities. Decades of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement haven't produced any visible results. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent a lot of time and effort in the hope of negotiating a solution during his nearly eight years in office but scored little progress. Shortly after taking office in September, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discussed the territorial dispute in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Suga said he hopes to find a settlement and sign a peace treaty. The Associated Press
CENTRE WELLINGTON – A heritage study in Centre Wellington has identified 18 areas of importance and recommends prioritizing urban areas for further study. At a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) study draft report was presented to Centre Wellington council. Mariana Iglesias, senior planner with the township, said with recent development pressures in the township they’ve found the need to protect larger areas that are historically and culturally significant. These areas are called CHLs, which the presentation to council identifies as a grouping of heritage features such as buildings, structures, spaces, views, archaeological sites or natural elements valued together. This study was commissioned as a starting point to identify the most significant CHLs in collaboration with the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders. Annie Veilleux, consultant from Archaeological Services Inc., said the township is known as a scenic area with the Grand River being the backbone of influencing development in the township. “The significant CHLs are spread out throughout the township but are concentrated on the Grand River corridor,” Veilleux said. The study further identified higher priority areas that are more likely to have adjacent development, risk of altering heritage attributes or with more economic and tourism benefits. The report prioritizes the following urban areas for technical studies: Veilleux said CHLs in rural areas tend to be more stable. Also, those owned and managed by the Grand River Conservation Area have existing regulations and protections. These lower priority areas include: Council was very receptive to this report with councillor Kirk McElwain saying it should be part of the local school curriculum. He asked if a CHL designation provides any additional protection and noted that GRCA properties could be threatened by recent proposed changes to conservation authority mandates. Veilleux clarified that this report does not give protections to the CHLs but provides recommended priority areas for further study. “Following this study, the township may take on additional technical studies that are CHL specific and those studies would have the opportunity to develop protection measures for these places,” Veilleux said, adding that these measures could come from the heritage, planning, zoning. The CHL study is open for comments from the public until Jan. 29 where it will be later finalized and approved by council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
A woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit failed to appear in court Nov. 30 and a warrant was issued. Amanda Wohobin, 31, failed to appear Nov. 9 and a warrant to hold was issued. She again failed to appear on Nov. 30 so the warrant was activated. The RCMP Crime Reduction Team arrested Wahobin, along with Kyle Caron, 40, and Dean Lafreniere, 48, on Sept. 20 after police raided a home in North Battleford, a vehicle and a hotel room. The arrests followed a two-month investigation into drug activity in North Battleford. The three were charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and weapons offences. Caron and Lafreniere appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court on Nov. 30 and their matters were adjourned to Feb. 1, 2021, for election and plea. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Thanks to École catholique Sacré-Coeur students, people in need will have socks to keep their feet warm this winter. In just a week, students from Grade 5 to 8 donated 343 pairs of socks to SOCKS Timmins. The organization will then distribute donated items to local shelters and food banks. The idea came to the school’s student council president Jenna Kim. She said she wanted to do something to help the community and the school. “We made lots of signs, I made a video and spread the word and made announcements to the whole school to get everyone involved,” Kim said. Students could either bring socks or donate $2. “Thank you to all students, teachers and organizer (of SOCKS Timmins) who were involved in this big project, it means a lot,” Kim said. "It makes me really happy to think all these students would like to help their community by just donating even $2 or a pair of socks. It makes a big difference.” The school’s principal René Gaudreau said the student council is doing a good job of looking out for others and he was extremely proud of his students. “Sometimes, it’s about thinking about others. That mindfulness, that spirit of giving all around Christmas is really important because this has been such a tough year for everybody,” he said. “Because of COVID, it’s even more reason why we need to think outside the box and do these sorts of things.”Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Il n’est pas nécessaire d’aller bien loin afin de dénicher des activités extérieures à faire avec les membres de sa maisonnée, une fois l’arrivée des temps plus froids et de la neige. Malgré la situation que l’on vit tous, il sera loisible de profiter, au cours de l’hiver, d’une programmation saisonnière au Parc régional éducatif du Bois de Belle-Rivière, à Mirabel. Un sentier de glace en forêt fait partie des activités à réaliser seul ou avec les membres de sa bulle familiale. D’une longueur de 2,5 km, il saura ravir vos petits comme les plus grands, alors qu’une zone glacée sera disponible pour les débutants. D’ailleurs, vos férus de hockey pourront profiter d’une patinoire de grandeur réglementaire, afin d’improviser des parties. À noter cependant qu’il n’y a aucune location d’équipement sur place. Cela dit, les amateurs de ski de randonnée, de glissade et de raquette hors piste seront aussi choyés. Le parc régional offre 7 km de piste de niveau débutant dédié au ski en forêt. On y retrouve également une pente d’une hauteur de 20 mètres qui, assure-t-on, fera l’unanimité auprès des jeunes et des grands qui désirent faire de la glisse. La COVID-19 Le parc régional est désormais en zone rouge, comme Mirabel et la région des Basses-Laurentides. Cela veut dire que les rassemblements sont interdits et que les visiteurs doivent garder en tout temps une distanciation sociale de deux mètres. Ceux-ci peuvent se présenter avec les membres de leurs familles, restant au sein de la même résidence. L’équipe du Parc régional éducatif Bois de Belle-Rivière dit continuer à s’ajuster à la situation pandémique pour la sécurité de ses visiteurs. Notons qu’il est recommandé de joindre l’un des préposés du site et du service à la clientèle par téléphone ou par courriel. Dans les circonstances actuelles, les responsables des lieux offrent aux visiteurs de les accompagner pour la préparation et la réalisation de leur journée. Pour trouver les coordonnées et pour plus amples informations, il suffit de visiter le [www.boisdebelleriviere.com]. Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil