Here are the top stories for Saturday, November 21st: Mike Pompeo meets Afghan, Taliban representatives for talks; Lebanon protests continue on Independence Day; Student rally in Bangkok for reforms; US-European ocean monitoring satellite launches.
Here are the top stories for Saturday, November 21st: Mike Pompeo meets Afghan, Taliban representatives for talks; Lebanon protests continue on Independence Day; Student rally in Bangkok for reforms; US-European ocean monitoring satellite launches.
Premier François Legault has tightened the rules of his "moral contract" with Quebecers, asking the public to limit themselves to two gatherings between Dec. 24 and 27.Legault said last week that people could meet in groups of at most 10 — if they quarantine themselves for a week before and a week after Christmas. On Tuesday, Legault said people can only do that twice."Public health authorities told us that we have to limit ourselves to two gatherings," Legault said Tuesday.Legault also said shopping should be done seven days beforehand, if possible.He added, as well, that Quebecers should "refrain from travelling outside Quebec" during the holidays to avoid returning with the virus.Gatherings will only be allowed over the holidays if the number of daily cases and hospitalizations remains stable, said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director.Arruda said, ideally, he would like to see a decrease in the daily numbers before the holiday season, given that an increase in transmission is expected over Christmas.The province's case count has stubbornly remained above 1,000 for several weeks. On Tuesday, the province reported 1,124 cases and 45 deaths.
Children under the age of five are amazing sponges for information. Ask any childhood researcher, or any parent who has told a story to another adult, only to have a child bring it up at an inopportune moment. But that sponge-like nature, if encouraged and nurtured, means a child has the opportunity to grow into their best self, and have the tools and capabilities that will allow them to succeed in whichever way they see fit. “We know that the child’s first experiences with language and culture come from within his own family, and within early childhood settings.” says Josée Latulippe, manager of Collège Boréal’s Centre d’innovation sociale pour l’enfant et la famille (CISEF – Child and family social innovation centre). It is for this reason that the FrancoFUN program was created by the Association francophone à l’éducation des services à l’enfance de l’Ontario (AFÉSEO – Francophone association for early childhood education) as a way to ensure that early childhood educators are not just offered the chance to enhance early French-language learning for children, but to ensure that they can view their classroom through the Francophone lens, and build identity as well as skill set. “Identity building is vital, “Latulippe said. “Because studies show that it is a key mechanism to ensure the vitality of minority-language communities and prepare young children to be educated in French when they enter elementary school.” And it is this “continuum of language,” as Latulippe calls it, that ensures language and cultural identity survives. As children here in Sudbury, both Anglophone and Francophone, have the ability to enjoy their education in French from childhood to post-secondary, it ensures that a culture and language that could be considered already marginalized is one that will last the test of time, regardless of the surrounding majority. The FrancoFUN program focused not just on providing language to students, but also the cultural identity behind the Franco-Ontarien legacy. It is a specific culture, with a specific dialect — headed to ‘camp’ anyone — and stories and history all its own. And it is one that, if shared, can enrich a child’s ability to learn a language, and bring together a community that is consistently working to preserve its cultural identity. And now that the FrancoFUN program has been in place for some time, helping Early Childhood Educators find ways to continually incorporate cultural, historical, language-based, and just plain fun aspects of the Franco-Ontarien peoples, they are now ready to measure the success, and share their methods with others. “We are always reflecting,” said Latulippe, and notes the questions they continually ask: “How can I better my program? How can I make it more accessible? Do we have a welcoming structure in place to welcome families that are French and English?” For it is not just fully Francophone families that can benefit from this type of study, and action. If you would like your child to speak French, but your home is mixed-language, or perhaps somewhat disconnected to the culture, then this type of programming will not only offer you the opportunity to increase your child’s chances of success, as Latulippe notes that research shows language learning is greatly helped by immersion into the culture of the language, not just the words. And this is especially true for parents who would like their children to speak French, but do not do so themselves. Simply by building a bridge between your home and the school, said Latulippe, you can enrich your child’s language learning without knowing a word yourself. With a program like FrancoFUN, you can learn about the culture as well. “It doesn’t mean you need to take French classes,” Latulippe said. “You just need to support the culture in your home. It’s because we are all the first educators.” And now, as the program has raised awareness among early childhood educators about their role in encouraging Francophone identity in their classrooms, it’s time to find out how the tools are working. From now until March of 2021, a survey of the educators and their thoughts and feeling about the program will be gathered, and shared amongst interested parties. “We are hoping we will have a tool to promote culture and language identity within Early Childhood settings,” said Latulippe, “which can then be shared within the community, with teachers at the college, and with the Franco-Ontarien culture really.” And it is this tool that Latulippe hopes will encourage not just French-language learning across Ontario, but also an understanding of the unique and beautiful qualities that make a culture, and a portrait of those who have come before, and those who will come after. Because the loss of any culture is a horrific idea; but the loss of folklore, of La Nuit sur l'étang, of ‘Notre Place’, of CANO, and of tourtière and tarte au sucre, is much too tragic to imagine. Jenny Lamothe is a Local Journalism Reporter at Sudbury.com, covering issues in the Black, immigrant and Francophone communities. She is also a freelance writer and voice actor. Contact her through her website, JennyLamothe.com.Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
The University of British Columbia has launched an investigation after more than 100 entry-level math students were accused of cheating on their midterm exam several days ago.The investigation became public after an ominous note from the students' professor was posted online late Monday. It was also circulated to students directly."I am extremely disappointed to tell you that there were over 100 cases of cheating," said the note, a screenshot of which was posted to the UBC Reddit thread."If confirmed, the students involved will receive a 0% for the course (not just the midterm) and I will recommend their expulsion from UBC."The note is signed "Mike." The CBC has not been able to verify the UBC professor's identity. However, the university has said it's investigating allegations of widespread cheating in one section of the math department involving entry-level math students.There are more than 1,500 students currently enrolled in Math 100 at UBC, split up into classes of about 250. The class is being held entirely online this semester, due to the pandemic. Midterms are run online as well.Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs, confirmed the university is investigating allegations of widespread cheating. He said it is too early to be able to provide details on how the students might have been cheating or how they were caught."Those details, I'm sure, will come clear in the investigative process," he said by phone on Tuesday.Ramsay said the professor's note was first sent to students, then posted online.Test monitoring toolsMany schools across the country, including UBC, have been using online software extensions to help detect and discourage cheating since classes went virtual. One test-proctoring tool, called Proctorio, monitors students for suspicious behaviour while they're writing a virtual exam.UBC faculty can offer an alternative, like a final project, to replace exams if they are overly concerned about cheating, but exams can't always be replaced."In some instances, it is necessary to use ... software like Proctorio to ensure academic integrity," Ramsey said. "Incidents of academic misconduct themselves are very uncommon, very rare at the university," added Ramsey, who has been with the school since 2014. "I have not seen allegations of this nature in my time at UBC but, again, they are, at this point, allegations."Investigations into academic misconduct begin with a professor reporting their concerns to the dean's office. That office can either dismiss complaints, give students a warning or pass the case along to the President's Advisory Committee on Student Discipline for potential punishment. Penalties can range from a formal warning to being expelled from the university.Since investigations are complex and take time, Ramsey said, it's too soon to gauge whether there has been an overall increase in cheating since classes and exams began moving fully online in the spring."If the students are disciplined, we will get a sense as to those numbers in the coming months. At this point, it's just too early to say," he said.
Nonobstant la récession provoquée par la COVID-19, la ville de Laval maintient sa cote de crédit. La firme de notation financière S&P; Global Ratings vient en effet de lui renouveler la cote «AA» avec une perspective stable, indique l’administration Demers par voie de communiqué, le 24 novembre. Dans un rapport publié quatre jours plus tôt, l’agence «confirme que la structure économique dynamique et diversifiée ainsi que les rigoureuses pratiques de gestion financière de la Ville sont des facteurs favorables au maintien de la cote», résument les autorités municipales. Rappelons qu’il y a à peine un mois, la Ville anticipait clôturer l’année 2020 avec un surplus de 29 M$, une projection basée sur une mise à jour budgétaire au 31 août dernier. «Cette cote, qui témoigne de la qualité de notre gestion, permet de positionner avantageusement Laval afin de poursuivre la réalisation de projets et d’investissements nécessaires aux besoins de sa population croissante», a réagi le maire Marc Demers. Celui-ci a profité de l’occasion pour rappeler l’engagement de son administration «à maintenir l’attractivité de la ville et à la propulser vers une reprise économique robuste en 2021». À cet égard, une récente étude économique de Desjardins prévoit que le produit intérieur brut (PIB) bondirait de 7,3 % à Laval, l’an prochain, comparativement à 6,3 % à l’échelle de la province, sous réserve que le virus demeure sous contrôle. Enfin, pour la Municipalité, la cote de crédit qui lui est attribuée démontre qu’elle «possède la capacité de respecter ses engagements tout en s’assurant que le niveau de sa dette demeure prévisible et sous contrôle».Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
A big-box pet store has plans to jump into Liverpool, eyeing opportunity in a county that has been without a pet shop for the past eight years. Pet Valu has confirmed it’s going to open a retail outlet in the town. “Pet Valu is really excited to be opening a store in Liverpool in mid-2021,” Katherine Clark, a spokesperson for the pet store chain, said in an email. Liverpool’s last pet store, Kameko’s Cove & Aquatics, closed in February, 2012 after five years in business. The store sold tropical fish, reptiles and other small pets, along with pet supplies. Pet Valu’s Liverpool plans include the construction of a new 4,000 square-foot building, which will be located beside the Dollarama Store on Queens Place Drive. One of Canada’s largest pet specialty retail chains with 1,200 stores in North America, Pet Valu Canada Inc. started in Toronto in 1976. It currently has 11 stores in Nova Scotia.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the display outside his constituency office "offensive".
Two not-for-profit organizations in Labrador West got a big boost recently from the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC). IOC donated $36,000 to Indoor Play Labrador and the Labrador West Association for Community Living to help them keep helping others. Cindy Humphries, director of the Labrador West Association for Community Living, said the donation couldn’t have come at a better time. The group, which supports people with intellectual challenges, had to cancel the annual Ken Gage Memorial Bowling Tournament this year due to the pandemic. The tournament normally raises $12,000 to $15,000 range for the group and is the only big fundraiser they do. They received $15,000 from IOC, which Humphries said will be used for things like tablets, wheelchairs, ceiling lifts and other equipment for families. “It was a huge help,” she said. “They approached us and asked what we needed, and after some paperwork we had to fill out and whatever they had to do on their end, it came through." Humphries said they can have up to 100 teams in the tourney some years and it can last for weeks. That simply wasn’t viable with the pandemic health protocols in place, Humphries said, and if things don’t change, they may not have one next year. “It’s just too much to try and control or monitor that many people,” she said. “You never know, come the new year things could be a lot different but if things are the same, I can’t see it going ahead.” The other not-for-profit that received funding was Indoor Play Labrador, the organization that manages the Kids Club in town, the only indoor playground in the region. The building was only opened in March and had to shut its doors 16 days later and suspend membership fees due to COVID-19 restrictions. Jenny Sullivan, president of Indoor Play Labrador, said the $21,000 from IOC came at a great time. “We were only open for 16 days and had to close, but still had rent and bills coming in, and those bills didn’t stop even though we weren’t bringing in any money as we expected. There was a period of uncertainty, so having that money come in to help with a lot of those expenses now that we’re back up and running has been amazing.” Sullivan said they had only been able to open initially because of community donations — having raised over $200,000 — and she is always impressed by the support in the community. IOC president and chief executive officer Clayton Walker said in a statement that not-for-profit organizations are an important part of Labrador City’s social fabric, particularly in a time of crisis. “Without the unique contributions of Indoor Play Labrador and the Labrador West Association for Community Living, our community would not be as safe, inclusive and fun,” he said. “We are happy to help them promote the health, safety and wellness of our families.” Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Unlimited internet packages will be available to residents in seven northern communities starting Dec. 1, after the CRTC gave the North's telecommunications giant the green light on Tuesday.Northwestel applied for unlimited internet packages for a handful of communities across the North in October with hopes of offering them to residents by early November. However, the CRTC delayed approval, saying it needed more time to consider the company's application.On Tuesday, a post on the CRTC's website showed the commission had approved Northwestel's proposal on an interim basis."The Commission considers it appropriate to approve the application on an interim basis prior to reviewing the whole record, in order to address customers' increased Internet data needs and alleviate their increased Internet usage costs in the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic," the website says."The Commission will address its final determination regarding the unlimited Internet data packages and rates that are under consideration in the application, and any related issues if necessary, in a subsequent order that will be based on the complete record."The seven northern communities are: * Whitehorse. * Carcross, Yukon. * Yellowknife. * Hay River, N.W.T. * Fort Smith, N.W.T. * Norman Wells, N.W.T. * Fort Nelson, B.C.Northwestel said in a news release it will start taking orders from customers wanting to upgrade their internet packages on Dec. 1, when they become available."It's great to be able to bring new unlimited options to many customers in time for a holiday season, especially with so many of us sticking close to home," said Tammy April, Northwestel's vice-president of consumer markets, in a statement.
India's ruling Hindu nationalist party approved a decree in the country's most populous state on Tuesday laying out prison terms for anyone compelling others to convert their faith or luring them into these conversions through marriage, officials said. The move follows a campaign by hardline Hindu groups against some interfaith marriages that they describe as "love jihad", Muslim men engaging in a conspiracy to turn Hindu women away from their religion by seducing them. Critics said the unlawful conversion order approved by the cabinet of Uttar Pradesh state, run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, was aimed at further alienating India's 170 million Muslims by painting them as aggressors plotting to weaken Hindus.
With millions dining at home for safety and a swing to the spicier side in the U.S. in recent years, Cholula, the hot sauce with the distinctive wooden cap and a cult following, has become a very valuable brand. McCormick & Co., the spice maker that dominates U.S. grocery shelves, said Tuesday that it was buying Cholula for $800 million from L Catteron, a private equity firm. McCormick made a notable tilt toward the hot sauce shelf three years ago when it acquired Frank’s RedHot, the preferred fuel in Buffalo wing recipes, as part of its $4.2 billion acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business. “The sauce with the little wooden cap is, like Frank’s RedHot, well-known to ‘chilli-heads’ around the globe but its appeal is much wider,” said Dean Best, food editor of Global Data. The acquisition arrives with the pandemic warping how America and the rest of the world eats, meaning largely at home. There was evidence of that trend in recent regulatory filings from McCormick, a company in Hunt Valley, Maryland with a valuation of close to $25 billion. McCormick said in September that revenue surged 8% during the third quarter as people replaced the contents of outdated spice racks, or started one for the first time. And hot sauce is increasingly part of the pantry mix. The volume of hot sauce produced for North America has risen in each of the past five years by an average of 4.7%, to more than 127,000 tons in 2020, according to the data service Euromonitor. That production is expected to rise by 16% within the next five years, according to the group. “Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth," said McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius in prepared remarks Tuesday. Cholula has made its own adaptations during the pandemic to get the sauce to its cult followers. Earlier this month the company teamed up with simplehuman to create a touch-free Cholula dispenser for restaurants or other places that serve the hot sauce, allowing those eating out to bring the heat in relative safety. Shares of McCormick, which have hit an all time high this year, rose more than 2% Tuesday. Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert lies a mystery: A gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a break from their work. They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together. But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why. “This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety. Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10- to 12-foot (3- to 4-meter) monolith and embed it in the rock. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey." Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorization. Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to throw out one of the convictions against a man who was found guilty of killing a father and his two-year-old daughter as well as a senior.Derek Saretzky's lawyer, Balfour Der, had argued that his client's first-degree murder conviction in the death of Hanne Meketech, 69, in September 2015 should be overturned because Saretzky's rights were breached when police improperly took his confession.Saretzky was also convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.Saretzky, 27, was in custody when he confessed Meketech's killing to an RCMP officer who visited him at a correctional centre.Der said Saretzky should never have been convicted in the woman's death since the confession came without a lawyer present and six months after Saretzky admitted to killing Blanchette and the toddler.The Crown argued that at the time of the police interview Saretzky would have been well aware of his right to counsel.The three-justice Appeal Court panel unanimously dismissed the appeal."The appellant was not under arrest and the trial judge found he had not been detained," wrote Justice Peter Martin on behalf of the court."Those findings were well supported by the evidence and are entitled to deference. I agree with his conclusion that on considering all of the circumstances of this case, the appellant's confession would not have been excluded."Meketech's body was found in her home in Coleman, Alta., on Sept. 9, 2015. She had been struck in the head and stabbed in the neck. During the trial, the jury was shown videotaped confessions in which Saretzky told police it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to kill Meketech, who was a friend of his grandparents, because he didn't think anyone cared about her. Five days later, Blanchette's body was discovered in his home in Blairmore, Alta. His daughter was missing, which sparked an Amber Alert and an extensive search in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta.Court heard Saretzky was "an aspiring serial killer" at the time of the attacks. He had few close friends and possessed numerous books on serial killers and serial killings.Saretzky was sentenced in 2017 to three consecutive life sentences, which means he is ineligible for parole until he has served 75 years in prison.The Court of Appeal still has to schedule and hear an appeal of the sentence.This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 24, 2020.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Dans son essai Nous méritons mieux : Repenser les médias au Québec, l’animatrice et productrice Marie-France Bazzo offre une longue réflexion sur les médias québécois, leurs failles et comment les sauver de leur complaisance. La journaliste émérite ne se gêne pas pour critiquer avec force, avec franchise, voire avec candeur, les médias du Québec. C’est d’ailleurs parce qu’elle leur voue un grand amour qu’elle se permet d’être aussi incisive. Elle croit que le public québécois mérite des médias plus curieux, plus diversifiés, plus représentatifs et plus innovateurs. Et en lisant ses arguments, on lui donne raison. Pour Marie-France Bazzo, le plus grand problème que rencontre nos médias est le désamour du public. « C’est la désaffection des lecteurs, des auditeurs, des téléspectateurs par rapport aux médias. Ils s’en méfient. Ils se disent : « Ça ne m’intéresse pas. Je peux trouver mon information ailleurs, me divertir ailleurs. » » Elle croit que cela est dû à la complaisance des médias. Ceux-ci présentent toujours les mêmes talents (les fameux A), les mêmes formules, qui deviennent diluées et fades, et les mêmes opinions, campées d’un côté ou de l’autre mais devenues prévisibles. Résultat : le public ne se voit plus dans ses médias. « Il se dit : « Vous ne me parlez pas. Vous ne me ressemblez pas. Vous ne vous intéressez pas à moi. » » Selon l’animatrice aguerrie, la solution pour contrer ce désamour est la diversité. En fait, « toutes » les diversités : ethniques, culturelles, d’âge, géographiques, de sujets, etc. Pour ce faire, il faut d’abord que les médias tendent l’oreille à leur public et fassent preuve d’audace. « Écoutez, pour une fois, ce que les gens ont à dire! Observez pourquoi ça marche ailleurs, pourquoi les balados sur des sujets nichés et pointus, dont on ne parlerait jamais à la télé, sont si populaires. […] Ça serait l’fun de voir des émissions par et pour des enfants, ou de voir des millénariaux avec des baby-boomers. Pas pour faire un débat générationnel, mais simplement parce que ces gens se côtoient dans la vraie vie. » La productrice télé déplore également que, trop souvent, les grands médias se préoccupent d’abord des grands centres, en particulier Montréal, au désavantage des autres régions. « La radio et la télé, malheureusement, sont trop centralisés. » Non seulement croit-elle que les gens à l’extérieur de Montréal devraient être mieux représentés, mais qu’ils y ont droit. Après tout, nous finançons tous directement ou indirectement, par le biais de nos taxes et de nos impôts, tant les médias publics que privés de la province. « On devrait montrer tous les territoires québécois, à nous-mêmes et à l’extérieur. » Sans compter que, même pour les Montréalais, cette homogénéité de l’information manque de saveur. « À Montréal, on parle de ce qu’on s’imagine intéresse tout le monde… mais ça devient abstrait! » À ce titre, les médias régionaux pourraient faire partie de la solution, grâce à leur proximité et à leur couverture des préoccupations locales. Ils apportent des points de vue et des enjeux différents. « Même la publicité est beaucoup plus voisine qu’à Montréal, où ce sont seulement des grandes enseignes! », illustre-t-elle, avec une pointe d’humour. Marie-France Bazzo rappelle que cette crise des médias n’est pas unique au Québec. « C’est une crise sociale qu’on vit un peu partout en Occident. Il y a une polarisation des médias, et dans la société. » Toutefois, même si cette polarisation crée bien des heurts dans les démocraties à travers le monde, la journaliste est moins inquiète pour le Québec. « Honnêtement, je suis optimiste. On n’a pas le choix au Québec. On est beaucoup moins nombreux qu’aux États-Unis ou en France. Cette polarisation, elle ne pourra pas durer. On arrive très rapidement confronté à notre voisin, à notre collègue de travail. Ça devient invivable. Un moment donné, il faut s’écouter mutuellement et se rencontrer, réfléchir la société québécoise pour tisser des liens. Je crois qu’on peut y arriver. »Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
PARIS — Restorers at Paris’ fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral have completed key preliminary work by successfully removing all the perilous roof scaffolding, officials said Tuesday.The removal of the 200 tons of scaffolding was considered dangerous, with some experts fearing that it could cause more of the Gothic monument to fall down. It was thought that the scaffolding might have melded to the cathedral in the blaze, and be keeping it in place.When the Notre Dame fire broke out on April 15 last year destroying the spire, the cathedral was already under restoration.The scaffolding previously installed resisted collapse, “but was deformed by the heat of the fire” Notre Dame restoration officials said in a communique.The Associated Press
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Tuesday it had rejected a petition from ZTE Corp asking the agency to reconsider its decision designating the Chinese company as a U.S. national security threat to communications networks. The FCC announced in June it had formally designated Chinese's Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE as threats, a declaration that bars U.S. firms from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies. ZTE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
WINDSOR, Ont. — The mayor of Windsor, Ont., has apologized for breaking COVID-19 rules when dining out with seven other people last week. Mayor Drew Dilkens made a statement to Windsor city council on Monday, saying he made an "unfortunate error" that should not have occurred. Windsor was in the yellow tier of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions system last week. That tier permits only six people to dine together while inside a restaurant. “As mayor, there is responsibility for me to lead by example and showcase to all in our region that we need to follow all restrictions and guidelines to the letter," Dilkens said. Dilkens noted to city council that although he was not fined or issued a bylaw ticket, he will donate $750 – the typical fine for such an infraction – to the Windsor Goodfellows. The Windsor Goodfellows provides local families with assistance and support, including through a food bank, school breakfast programs, and a children’s footwear program. Dilkens also said that Gordon Orr, the chief executive officer of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, will be making an equivalent donation to an organization that works with children and youth facing mental health concerns. Windsor-Essex Region moved to the heightened orange zone of Ontario's COVID-19 restriction system on Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
Twenty-three B.C. mayors are calling on Premier John Horgan to establish policies that give resource-based communities a key role in the province’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan. In an open letter to Horgan Nov. 19, the mayors of both rural and urban municipalities praised previous foundation investments in natural resource development, as well as associated construction and transportation needs, and asked for inclusion in future policy discussions. “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, BC has undergone a tremendous economic shock,” the letter reads. “Fortunately, BC’s resource industries have been able to persevere during this period. Our mines have continued to operate, the forest sector was able to take advantage of soaring lumber prices during 2020, aquaculture continues to invest and innovate, and four major energy projects have kept British Columbia workers busy building the resource infrastructure of the future.” In September the province announced a $1.5 billion pandemic economic recovery plan, in addition to previous commitments, targeting primarily tourism, food security, climate action, technology and innovation. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said the group of mayors found no disagreements with the strategy, and issued the letter primarily as a show of support. “This was just to let the premier know that we are ready and willing to engage,” Ackerman said. “Our resource industries need to be front of mind when we’re looking at creating the future of British Columbia. We’ve got businesses that need to get working. With a new cabinet coming into place we needed to send the premier our congratulations and hope that we can work on this together.” The mayors asked Horgan to enshrine five core pillars for economic recovery into the Mandate Letters of incoming cabinet ministers. Those pillars are: quickly enable shovel-ready projects to proceed; ensure international investors know B.C.’s industries can succeed in uncertain global investment conditions; recognize the unique advantage of globally carbon-competitive exports; put workers and communities first when delivering on campaign commitments; and ensure any new regulations affecting delivery on the first four pillars are considered carefully. Going forward, the mayors also offered their support on all aspects of pandemic recovery and ongoing efforts with climate change and First Nations reconciliation. The letter was written by Ackerman and Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, and supported by: Mayor Andy Adams, Campbell River Mayor Bruno Tassone, Castlegar Mayor Allen Courtoreille, Chetwynd Mayor Lee Pratt, Cranbrook Mayor Dale Bumstead, Dawson Creek Mayor Michelle Staples, Duncan Mayor Sarrah Storey, Fraser Lake Mayor Brad Unger, Gold River Mayor Linda McGuire, Granisle Mayor Phil Germuth, Kitimat Mayor Dennis Dugas, Port Hardy Mayor Joan Atkinson, Mackenzie Mayor Linda Brown, Merritt Mayor Gary Foster, Northern Rockies Mayor Brad West, Port Coquitlam Mayor Gaby Wickstrom, Port McNeill Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Pouce Coupe Mayor Doug McCallum, Surrey Mayor Rob Fraser, Taylor Mayor Carol Leclerc, Terrace Mayor Keith Bertrand, Tumbler Ridge Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The year was 1974. North Americans were huddled around their television sets on a warm summer night bidding farewell to a disgraced Richard Nixon while crooks of another kind were on the move in downtown Sudbury. Two rival schools, Sheridan Tech and Sudbury High, had just been amalgamated to become what is now known as Sudbury Secondary School. Perchance, two original A.Y. Jackson paintings called Spring on the Onaping River (1955) and A Windy Day, Lake Superior (1959) were united in the school’s main office. In the dead of night, the paintings mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again – and more than four decades later, a local playwright is bringing the story to light. The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson, written and directed by Judi Straughan, is a radio play staged for broadcast that explores a true local crime that occurred on Aug. 9, 1974. The crime is considered an open case to this day and is still under investigation by the Greater Sudbury Police. Viewers will be able to stream a performance of the play online from Dec. 4 to 7, where they will get the chance to immerse themselves in Sudbury’s history and become amateur detectives as they try to piece together what happened. For more, go to firstname.lastname@example.org. “With the hundredth anniversary of the first exhibit of the Group of Seven, this is the year to get inquiring minds across the nation to come and search for the missing Jacksons,” said playwright and director Judi Straughan. “Because this play is streaming online, anybody anywhere will have the chance to watch it. Wouldn’t it be interesting if, after 47 years, someone came forward? Someone out there must know something. Maybe they are ready to talk after all these years.” Straughan’s retelling of the events that occurred in 1974 is not fictional. Both of the stolen paintings had been purchased from A.Y. Jackson, a member of the famous Group of Seven, in the 1950s. Spring on the Onaping River (1955) belonged to Sheridan Technical School. In fact, it had been created after Sheridan art teacher Jack Smith invited Jackson to paint with his students, resulting in several Jackson sketches of Onaping Falls. A Windy Day, Lake Superior (1959) was purchased by the students at Sudbury High School to commemorate a beloved teacher who had been murdered during a school lunch hour. The reason the paintings were united was because the schools had been amalgamated. They were in the main office to be cleaned and it was intended that they would be hung at Sudbury Secondary School together. Before that could happen – and before the school even opened its doors – the paintings were stolen. Police have not yet been able to uncover who did it. In The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson, Straughan brought together 15 Sudbury actors to play real Sudburians from 1974 and dramatize the events leading up to and following the theft. “It’s a mystery that sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a True Detective magazine. Surprisingly, there’s even a murder on the periphery of the story,” she said. “The two-act play presents the facts in Act 1 and the whodunit theories in Act 2. It even provides a fictional solution to the crime. As a bonus, former Sudbury High and Tech students will get to hear their school songs performed once more.” Full of what Straughan calls “Sudbury chuckles” and real-life intrigue, The Case of the Missing A.Y. Jackson will entertain, raise money for a local radio station, and maybe inspire someone to come forward with a piece of information that could help solve the case. Crime Stoppers, a not-for-profit charitable organization that helps law enforcement agencies solve crime, has actually come on board to encourage viewers to come forward with tips. The play was supposed to be performed on stage in the spring, but was delayed due to COVID-19. On Nov. 8, the Sudbury Theatre Centre allowed ticketholders into the theatre to watch the play while it was filmed in advance of the virtual show. “Len Yauk, who was the principal of the school at the time and who is actually a character in the play, drove to Sudbury from Parry Sound to see the performance on Nov. 8,” said Straughan. “He told me that he had received a phone call about three years ago from the RCMP asking questions about the case. He said that every once in a while, something comes up, and he’s glad that people are still paying attention.” Tickets for the online performance are now on sale on CKLU radio’s website at www.cklu.ca. All proceeds will go towards CKLU 96.7, a local not-for-profit radio station that operates on campus of the McEwan School of Architecture. If you have information about the theft of these paintings or any other crime, you can provide an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 705-222-8477 (TIPS) or 1-800-222-8477 or by going online at www.sudburycrimestoppers.com. Tips that result in the successful resolution of a criminal offence may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000. All tips are completely anonymous, and you will not be asked to testify in court. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
WINDSOR, Ont. — Public health officials say 29 students and nine staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at a Windsor, Ont., elementary school. Frank W. Begley Elementary has been closed since Nov. 17 and students and staff were asked to isolate for 14 days.The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says the entire school population is at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19.Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed had said that the first three cases in the outbreak were staff members, and transmission is suspected to have happened at the school.A letter to parents from the health unit says students are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.The health unit says it is working closely with the school and the Greater Essex County District School Board to manage the outbreak and limit the spread of infection.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press