Here's the latest for Friday October 23rd: Trump and Biden have final debate; Drug approved for COVID-19 treatment; Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans approve Barrett nomination as Democrats walk out; Massive Colorado fire.
Here's the latest for Friday October 23rd: Trump and Biden have final debate; Drug approved for COVID-19 treatment; Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans approve Barrett nomination as Democrats walk out; Massive Colorado fire.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
A resounding no from council will force Georgian Bay Snowriders to find an alternative for the strip near Port McNicoll. A couple months ago the club’s agreement was up for renewal. At that time, when the request came to council, the club asked for access to a part of the municipal trail along Highway 12 towards Triple Bay Road. The agreement was renewed before its Nov. 1 deadline, however, a new request from the club came forward at a later council meeting asking for access to approximately 400m of the TransCanada Trail, just east of Triple Bay Road. “Due to recent water level increases from Hog Bay, the ditch parallel to the highway is incredibly flood sensitive and has become very difficult to maintain,” reads the letter to council. “It also has a new utility line running through the centre that may become difficult to navigate around.” But their request wasn’t enough to melt the hearts of council members. “With me, it's a hard no,” said Coun. Mary Warnock. “I would not even entertain this. There's no recourse to get repairs done to the trail after it's been used and we all know what happened last time they were allowed a little stretch, it got torn up.” She had support from other council members, too. “It's not worth the risk for our bikers, our walkers and our roller-bladers,” said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle. “I'm not in favour of this. We spend a lot of time and money on that trail and I'm not about to let it go at this point.” Coun. Paul Raymond said he could understand the club’s frustration at having to reimagine a trail on a temporary basis, but he was still against it. “We all know the damage (that) will happen,” he said. “What are we saying when we allow a motorized vehicle on the trail when we spend so much time trying to prevent motorized vehicles on trails? “Sorry to the Snowriders, but they have the ability to find alternate routes, I think,” added Raymond. Council voted to take no further action on the request. The Georgian Bay Snowriders did not respond to a request for comment.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately. "I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again. He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive."It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said."And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational. "They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre. "That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city."I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said."But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world. As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Author James McBride and editor Chris Jackson were among those honoured Thursday night by the Center for Fiction.McBride and Showtime received an On Screen Award for the acclaimed adaptation of his prize-winning historical novel “The Good Lord Bird,” which starred Ethan Hawke as the radical 19th century abolitionist John Brown. Jackson, whose authors range from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bryan Stevenson, was given the Medal for Editorial Excellence Award. Jackson runs the One World imprint of Penguin Random House.The Center for Fiction awarded its First Novel Prize to Raven Leilani for “Lustre,” the story of a young Black woman's affair with a married, middle-aged white man. Finalists included this year's Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain.”The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
A 94-year-old man is the first Aurora resident to lose their battle with COVID-19 since June 9. The man was a resident of Chartwell Park Place, which is currently in an active outbreak situation. An active outbreak at the Yonge Street residence, formerly Park Place Manor, was first reported by York Region Public Health on November 11 with two cases among its caregiver complement of 40. By press time this week, there were 11 confirmed cases of the virus among the 65 residents and 4 among caregivers and staff. Aurora, as of December 1, has seen a total of 371 cases of the virus, 27 of which remain active. 328 cases are now marked as resolved with the late Chartwell Park Place resident bringing fatalities to 16. His death was the first of an Aurora resident in this second wave of the virus, the day after the Region logged a record of new cases in a single day: 251 on Sunday, November 29. The last victim, an 85-year-old woman who was a resident of Chartwell Aurora lost the battle after a long hospitalization. “Our cases in York Region had been plateauing until the weekend when we saw quite a jump in the numbers of cases and we don’t know exactly what is responsible for this jump and we’re investigating,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, in his weekly update on Monday. The latest death comes as York Region cracks down on gatherings as new cases of the virus continue to rise. In the lead-up to – and aftermath of – Black Friday, York Region conducted a COVID-19 enforcement blitz, which resulted more than 1,000 visits to businesses across York Region to monitor compliance with public safety measures resulting from York being moved into Ontario’s Red (“Control”) Zone. Throughout the weekend, officers from York’s COVID-19 task force focused on malls, big box stores, restaurants, fitness centres and other public spaces to ensure public health measures were being followed. One Aurora business, Xclusive Fades on Yonge Street near Wellington, faces charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. “Most businesses across York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols, however there is an increasing number of complaints from the public about overcrowding in malls, big box and retail stores,” said the Region. “Businesses failing to keep their customers and employees safe by not adhering to the mandated COVID-19 safety measures will be subject to fines. Repeat offenders could face temporary closure.” Added Dr. Kurji: “York Regional Council had made the commitment of enforcement of the guidelines on York Region residents as well as businesses. As a result, we have the COVID-19 enforcement task force that has been very busy over the weekend having laid some 32 charges following 867 inspections as well as 1,151 compliance education activities. Fines can be laid even under the Reopening Ontario Safe Act or can be laid under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. The latter can be as many as $25,000 for a corporation. “When it comes to people coming to York Region from the lockdown zones, the Province generally advises them not to move from one zone to another. We in York Region have incidence rates that are similar to those of Toronto’s, although Peel’s incidence rates are higher. Therefore, we have taken the position that whilst people are supposed to stay home and only come out for essential shopping, if they do come here we want to make sure that everybody is kept safe. As a result, over the weekend previously, we had issued a Section 22 order requiring malls and retail outlets to ensure appropriate physical distancing and line management. By doing so, we have strived to keep people safe. However, with the holiday shopping season being here, we urge you first to stay home as much as possible, only to go out for essential trips, see if you can actually get your shopping done online from the local stores. If you can’t and you have to visit one of the stores, please visit them at off-peak hours and try and minimize the time you would spend at the malls or in stores and observe the directional arrows in the stores as well as the physical distancing requirement of two metres or more.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Not content to let the global pandemic get in the way of safe and festive fun, more than 500 carloads of Aurora residents descended upon the Aurora Family Leisure Complex on Saturday night for a Santa Under the Stars parade that was an Aurora first. Rather than travelling down Yonge Street to greet the young and the young at heart, in what has become his storied local tradition, Santa Claus parked his sleigh at the Complex (AFLC) and invited revellers to come to him in the Town’s first “stationary” Christmas parade. More than 20 community groups and local leaders decorated floats and found their place alongside Santa as vehicles came in from Industrial Parkway North and St. John’s Sideroad to do a one-way circuit around the AFLC’s tiered parking lot to pass dazzling displays of holiday cheer. For Sheryl Thomas of Marquee Theatrical Productions, whose group is represented in the parade year in and year out, the present challenge presented a new opportunity. Rather than having a few seconds in front of the thousands that normally line Yonge Street, budding theatre artists had something of a captive audience and used it to their best advantage. “This has been 100 per cent positive,” said Ms. Thomas at the start of the parade. “The only disadvantage is we had too many volunteers and we had to cut back. How often does that happen? We had such a great response from people who are just dying to be part of something for the community.” Volunteers came not just from theatre schools, but local companies as well who stepped up to help them execute their vision, including Priestly Demolition who donated the flatbed for their float – transformed into a capsule stage production of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. “Anything is possible,” said Ms. Thomas. “We’re going to come through this COVID thing and nothing can really get you down. There’s always a way to get through it.” This was a sentiment shared by Amal Mukhlis of Aurora Early Learning Centre, whose youngsters put on their creative caps to put together their own spin on the Grinch. “Our children did everything – they the boxes, they painted them, they did a theme of something they are very fond at the Centre, and that is the Grinch and Whoville,” said Ms. Muklis. “They put everything together. Unfortunately, they can’t be a part of it today, but they will be joining us in waving hello to us. This is something we are very proud of because the children took charge. It is something very authentic and it came from their heads.” Creative muscles were also being flexed by members of the Dynamic Dance Company, who have participated in the last three parades. In the previous two years, they secured honours for the Best Decorated Float, but the stationary aspect of the parade promoted some crafty thinking. “Doing it this year was definitely different because we had to think about the fact it is not a moving object because the cars are coming and we only had to decorate the front,” said Natalie Silia. “Normally we have our entire studio here dancing with us, but unfortunately we can’t so we’re Instagramming to show everybody. “We love being a part of the community, we love our dancers having that community feel and feeling like they are giving back with the holiday spirit. Especially this year in all years, I feel we definitely need the holiday spirit.” Also participating in the parade were Mayor Tom Mrakas and members of Council and, representing the Province, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa, who donned a “Shop Local” mask to drive home an issue close to the hearts of so many local businesses struggling due to the pandemic. “People need this, we all need it,” said Mr. Parsa of having the parade continue in the community. “It is nice to get out and see people again – it is nice to see people again! This has been a tough year for all our small businesses. Please, as much as you can, get out there and support them. We hope everyone does that [after the parade] and throughout the holidays as well.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Clayton Dixon has always had a sweet tooth – with a particular penchant for the sometimes creamy, sometimes dark, always satisfying confections that come out of traditional chocolateries. It was a love he balanced for many years with a career in finance, but, as he approached his 50th birthday, he decided it was now or never to live his dream and bring his sugary vision to the masses, starting in Aurora. Mr. Dixon, a resident of Whitchurch-Stouffville recently opened Chocolate & Company, a chocolate and gelato shop on Yonge Street and Brookland, which operates on the simple philosophy of “quality, decadence, all made on site.” “We wanted something better than what we could find,” says Dixon. “After doing cooking classes in my early 20s, I started playing around about 12 years ago, taking what I thought I could do a bit more seriously. I started practicing, built a little hobby kitchen in the basement and went from there.” From the basement, he decided he wanted to build something for the ground-up. But what? He knew what he had in mind: a chocolate that was more than a chocolate; a chocolate that was a dessert unto itself. At first, he envisioned an industrial kitchen to make his hand-made chocolate which would then, in turn, be sold to restaurants and retail shops. But, as he approached his milestone birthday, he decided he wanted to bring his dream confections directly to customers. “Welcome to my midlife crisis,” he joked, opening his door to The Auroran on Friday morning. “I wanted to sell to restaurants, but it just didn’t fit with what I wanted. I wanted a retail storefront because it would give me much more feedback from customers on what they really want. I take the approach almost like a two-bite brownie; two bites for a really luxurious dessert, something you can have with coffee or a glass of wine. It is not a pastry, but pure chocolate.” The ingredients, he says, are the best of the best. Although he does not roast his cocoa beans himself, he sources his chocolate – the obvious starting point – from Belgium and France. Then come the flourishes: pure hazelnut paste for the nutty confections, real raspberries, mango and more if you like your chocolate on the fruiter side of things, and hand-blended milk and dark chocolates for the perfect flavour balance. “I strive for something different, that extra level of decadence,” he says, noting that he and his daughter are often engaged in a battle over milk and dark chocolate, with his daughter a big fan of the former and dad veering more towards the dark side. “Now that I have opened to the retail market, I am bringing more milk chocolate into my recipes, so my daughter is happier!” As we get closer and closer to the holiday season, particularly during this challenging time, businesses and advocates are doubling down on their efforts to underscore the importance of shopping local. Chocolate & Company is no exception as they offer an array of flavours to suit every taste, with boxes of as few as two treats to as many as 27. “There’s a very strong Support Local base now because of COVID, but I think Support Local has been going on for quite some time, just extra-focused right now,” says Dixon. “People have [asked me] about starting a business at a tough time, but it is the whole Magic 8-Ball thing. I’m not really reinventing the wheel here, but I just figure the first six months are going to be tough anyway, and I am focused…on the store. It was meant to be and I kept being pulled in this direction. “I want to take the level of quality as high as I can take it. That is very important to me.” For more information, visit www.chocolateandcompany.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
British Columbia's top doctor says seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as the first week of January. Dr. Bonnie Henry says they hope to have everyone who wants to be immunized vaccinated by September.
Three women’s groups in the Downtown Eastside are calling for the immediate creation of a task force to end violence against women in the neighbourhood. The call comes after Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham wrote about a video which appeared to show a man sexually assaulting a semi-conscious woman in daylight on the sidewalk at Main and Hastings streets, while cars and pedestrians pass by. The Vancouver Police Department says it is investigating the footage. It’s not the only shocking incident in the neighbourhood. In April, when COVID-19 restrictions had closed many drop-in spaces and public bathrooms, a woman spent hours in a porta-potty in labour. No one apparently noticed she was in distress, and the baby did not survive. In May, a woman was held for hours in a tent in an Oppenheimer Park camp and repeatedly assaulted. Janice Abbott, the CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society, said the woman had been “held captive in that tent for 15 hours screaming,” but no one did anything to help her. “That’s how normalized it is.” WISH, a non-profit that supports sex workers, said a street-based sex worker called the organization’s bad date line last week after she heard a woman screaming in a car while other people walked by. WISH, Atira and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre are calling for an immediate emergency response to the escalating violence against women in the Downtown Eastside. “We want to see it happen right away,” said Alice Kendall, the executive director of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. “We want to see a crisis response, the same way that COVID has created a national, provincial, municipal kind of co-ordinated response to ensure that all of the aspects of COVID are addressed, the economy as well as health.” COVID-19 restrictions have reduced the number of spaces people in the Downtown Eastside can go to get warm and sheltered. Especially when it comes to spaces that are safe for women. Back in April, Kendall asked the City of Vancouver for help in creating a safe outdoor space as COVID-19 measures reduced capacity in the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. But it took eight months before the centre got permits and help from the city to set up a patio space that’s still smaller than it sought. This fall WISH opened Canada’s first shelter for sex workers, and efforts have been made to set up bathroom trailers in the Downtown Eastside. City facilities like the Carnegie Community Centre and the Evelyne Saller Centre also recently opened more drop-in spaces. The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre also opened a new space at 398 Powell St. But all the drop-in centres and shelters are full, while street homelessness has increased. “We have the drop-in open, but it’s at capacity,” Kendall said. “We have 398 Powell St. open, it’s at capacity. The shelter spaces are open, but they’re at capacity. We know that hundreds of women every day that used to come to the centre are not coming.” WISH, Atira and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre are calling for an immediate improvement in conditions. But they also want governments to adopt recommendations from other reports like Red Women Rising and the federal Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “Gendered violence continues, even within our own programs, because there are so few choices available for women and gender-diverse women in terms of housing, employment, income security, safe, appropriate services and other opportunities that allow women to keep themselves safe,” Abbott said in a press release.Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Indigenous rights advocates say the Liberal government's draft legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) is better than expected.Justice Minister David Lametti tabled Bill C-15 in the House of Commons on Dec. 3. The bill would chart a path toward implementing the rights affirmed in the declaration."I don't think it's perfect by any means but from the draft that they were discussing with us across the country, it's come some ways," said Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in B.C., who took part in the consultation on the bill."Changing the laws of Canada is going to take some time. I think the biggest issue is going to be how they will work with Indigenous people across the country to change those laws."UNDRIP was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007 after 25 years of negotiations to affirm the rights of Indigenous peoples to their language, culture, self-determination and traditional lands. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as Quebec's Viens Commission all called for the implementation of the declaration at all government levels.'Long-overdue'After the shooting of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member Chantel Moore by police in New Brunswick during a wellness check in June, Sayers said she is happy to see that the draft legislation addresses injustices like systemic discrimination but she has concerns about the proposed timeline outlined.If passed, the bill would require the federal government to prepare an action plan within three years of the bill's passage to achieve the declaration's objectives. Sayers would like to see meaningful consultation and an interim action plan that addresses the top priorities in Canada, something she acknowledges is not an easy task."That's going to be difficult, talking to 633 First Nations and determining that, but I really think that waiting for three years on action that may or may not be complete at that time is too long, way too long," she said."We need a change yesterday to many laws."Amnesty International Canada welcomed the legislation, stating it is "much-needed" and "long-overdue.""Because the core purpose of the new bill provides a framework for implementation, Amnesty International strongly urges the Canadian government to pass this legislation quickly," said Ana Collins, Amnesty International's Indigenous rights campaign advisor in a statement.Limitations on self-determinationIf the bill is passed, the federal government must ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP. While Canada is not the first country to legislate UNDRIP, Kenneth Deer said if the draft is passed as is, it would put Canada in the forefront of applying the declaration inside its borders."I'm cautiously optimistic that this could be beneficial for Indigenous people in Canada," said Deer, who is Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawake, Que., and was involved with the development of UNDRIP. He said it's important that Canada make legislation to implement the declaration, to move it from being aspirational to binding. He added the legislation has its limits when it comes to Indigenous self-determination by being a Canadian law."You can't have true self-determination and be limited by the Canadian constitution but Indigenous people can go a long way until we hit that wall," he said."Anything that the UN passes or Canada passes does not take away our right to self-determination or does not take away our sovereignty. Our sovereignty is inherent, and will always be there."
On Wednesday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at John Diefenbaker Public School. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, this case was not school-acquired. The division was informed on Wednesday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classroom/cohort, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. John Diefenbaker will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Urban design guidelines to help steer new builds in long-established local communities were formally endorsed by Council last week. The extensive list of guidelines provides parameters on everything from size to materials in order to ensure the new builds fit into what is already in the Regency Acres and Aurora Heights communities, as well as neighbourhoods on Temperance Street and around Town Park. Along with the guidelines, Council approved a semi-annual report that will outline to lawmakers the variance applications that have come forward and what has been approved. “The report will allow staff to identify trends and allow Council to better understand what development activity is taking place within the established Stable Neighbourhoods,” said the Town in a statement. “Under the Official Plan, stable neighbourhoods are protected from incompatible forms of development, and new development in these areas must respect and reinforce the area’s existing physical character and uses.” While a semi-annual update to Council was a request made by residents, particularly those in the Regency Acres neighbourhood, the report process as approved did not go far enough. They requested the semi-annual updates include a list of what applications were denied and why, a process which staff said would be too “onerous” to compile. Council agreed while sitting at the Committee level the previous week and when their decision came up for ratification on November 24, Councillor Wendy Gartner renewed the call. The main concerns of residents, she said, stemmed from privacy, particularly concerning rear yards, and the maintaining of the existing streetscape. Privacy concerns included minimizing the location of second floor balconies on rear side elevations. Additional issues ranged from the protection of trees to setting a maximum of three entrance steps to “encourage low profile entrance features close to the ground.” “The residents have requested reporting when consistency with the design guidelines is not adhered to by the developer,” said Councillor Gaertner, making a motion that the report “include instances where staff-approved variances regarding front and side yard setbacks, privacy and streetscapes are not consistent with the stable neighbourhood guidelines.” “Staff should be keeping a record of what they recommend to developers, that the developers aren’t interested in following,” she continued. “I think it is information Council should know and the residents want to have.” But this motion was ultimately unsuccessful with other lawmakers stating they were unsure what was hoped to be achieved by the report. “I am always happy to provide the residents with more information [but] I just fail to see the value it will get by doing this,” said Councillor John Gallo. Also casting doubt on including that in the report was Councillor Michael Thompson, who said as what was being recommended were guidelines for developers, the ultimate tools for compliance are the Town’s zoning bylaws. “The guidelines [are] meant to be able to shape the design, but there is a degree of flexibility in it,” he said. “If we want compliance in these areas, let’s reopen the zoning bylaw and put it back in the zoning bylaw and go down that road. Guidelines are just a tool and what Councillor Gaertner refers to in all those [areas] are subjective terms and they are open to interpretation. “The design guidelines are not meant for that kind of compliance. They are just meant to shape it and that is why producing this report would be so onerous because then it becomes a question of debating the subjective determination of what each term means and whether it was correct or incorrect. I don’t want to go down that road at all.” Councillor Harold Kim agreed, noting that the motion would take these guidelines in the direction of a bylaw. “I want to keep it high level and even if we went to that level of detail, what are we going to do with that information? I suspect we’re going to try and create bylaws out of that and we go back to Square 1 where we started two or three years ago. It is for those reasons as well intended as the amendment is, I cannot support that,” he said. Keeping an eye on how the guidelines go was something Councillor Rachel Gilliland said she supported, and that she understood what the residents were looking for, but what was being asked was too broad. “I feel if they came with their Top 2 or Top 3 concrete things that were the most important [and] relevant, maybe we can have a conversation, but it is almost the entire urban design guidelines that are being asked here,” she said. “It is so subjective and it is so many topics. I would think it would be very a very onerous thing for our staff to be reporting back on. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here with some subjective opinions, but it is not really going to do us any service.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Husky Energy will receive $41.5 million in federal money to maintain jobs and move toward restarting its West White Rose offshore oil project in Newfoundland and Labrador, although officials admit a restart is not certain.Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey made the funding announcement Thursday at Husky's offices in downtown St. John's. Furey said the investment ensures jobs for 331 people in the province for the next year. The money comes from a $320-million commitment from Ottawa to aid the province's sputtering offshore oil industry."We are all aware of the hardships our oil and gas industry has gone through as a result of the collapse in oil prices and a global pandemic," Furey said on Thursday.Husky will match the cash with $41.5 million of its own money, and the funding will ensure jobs for 331 people until the end of 2021, Furey said.Husky Energy announced in September it was halting construction on the project's massive offshore platform, which was largely being carried out in Marystown, on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, and Argentia, on the Avalon Peninsula. The project is roughly 60 per cent complete, and construction employed about 1,000 people in those two towns, according to a company press release. In October, the company announced it was suspending construction for all of 2021 as the company reviewed it operations in the province. "The (West White Rose) project is key to extending the life of the White Rose field. As we have said before, all options are on the table and accelerating abandonment remains a possibility," Husky spokesperson Kim Guttormson said in an email at the time. Ches Crosbie, leader of the provincial Opposition Progressive Conservatives, called Thursday's announcement "a Band-Aid over a pulsating wound." He said with no startup guarantee, Thursday's cash only helps Husky keep the West White Rose project "in mothballs."Husky had already committed to keeping the project in a state of readiness pending future decisions about its fate, and the $41.5 million is "found money," he said.Provincial NDP Leader Alison Coffin is also concerned about the project's uncertain future. "We're putting money into an industry that I don't think is sustainable at all," she said in an interview Thursday. "We're hearing time and time again that the oil industry is in decline."Thursday's decision was recommended by an oil and gas recovery task force assembled by Furey to determine how to parcel out Ottawa's $320-million aid money. The team has divided the federal cash into two streams, with $288 million earmarked for offshore oil operators, and $32 million allotted to the service and supply sector, Furey told reporters Thursday.More funding arrangements with operators will be announced in the coming weeks, he said.Coffin said she wished the money was going more directly to workers, rather than through the oil companies. "Many of those workers would like the opportunity to take control of their own destiny and be able to get the opportunity to transition to something else that is more sustainable for them," she said.Russell Williams, a political scientist at Memorial University in St. John's, said $41.5 million dollars is a lot of money to sustain a few hundred jobs. Williams said the province needs financial help in many other areas, and he's not convinced oil and gas should be a key priority for federal aid."If we're looking for financial assistance from the federal government, there are more important things," he said. In an emailed statement, Husky spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said Thursday's announcement "will allow us to progress certain work scopes in 2021 and preserve our options for a potential restart in 2022 if conditions permit."That includes work on the platform's living quarters, lifeboats, helicopter deck and flare tower as well as maintenance and preservation work, and work "to continue planning for future marine, subsea and drilling activities."Calgary rival Cenovus Energy Inc. announced a $3.8-billion friendly takeover of Husky in October. If the deal is completed as scheduled in early 2021, as many as 2,000 of the 8,600 employees and contractors currently working at the two companies will be laid off, with most of the cuts in Calgary.Synergies from the all-stock buyout are expected to result in annual savings of $1.2 billion, largely achieved within the first year and independent of commodity prices, the companies said.Husky is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing with about 70 per cent of shares, and he has agreed to the transaction.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.\-- With files from Dan Healing in Calgary.Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
A Vancouver choir has adapted Mariah Carey’s hit for the 2020 times.
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. military officer said Thursday the United States should reconsider its decades-old practice of stationing troops and their families in allied countries at risk of war, like South Korea and in the Persian Gulf. In remarks on the future of warfare, Army Gen. Mark Milley said he believes the military should be more selective in its presence abroad. He said he strongly favours an overseas U.S. presence but prefers that it be rotational or “episodic” rather than permanent. He was not referring to counties like Afghanistan and Iraq, where U.S. forces have been involved in wars for nearly two decades and are not accompanied by family members. “Large permanent U.S. bases overseas might be necessary for rotational forces to go into and out of, but permanently positioning U.S. forces I think needs a significant relook for the future,” not just because of the cost but also because it can leave military families vulnerable in high-risk areas, he said. “I think that is something that needs a hard, hard look," he said. "Much of that is a derivative of where World War II ended.” He specifically mentioned Bahrain, a longtime U.S. security partner that hosts the Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters across the Gulf from Iran, a key U.S. adversary. He also cited South Korea, where about 28,000 troops are stationed, many with families, as a holdover from North Korea's invasion of the South in 1950. The Trump administration has been in a diplomatic impasse with Seoul over Washington's demand that the Koreans pay a far larger share of the cost of maintaining the U.S. presence. The U.S. also has tens of thousands of troops permanently based in Japan and in Europe. In the event of an armed conflict with North Korea, “we would have a significant amount of non-combatant U.S. military dependents in harm's way," Milley said. “I have a problem with that.” More broadly, he said, ”I think we have too much infrastructure overseas and too much permanent infrastructure." He added: “Frankly, there's not a lot of enthusiasm to do what I just said, but I do think that's necessary.” Milley, who is in the second year of a four-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed several other issues that are likely to be on the agenda of the incoming Biden administration, including the prospect of shrinking Pentagon budgets and a defence strategy on China. Milley is expected to be a source of continuity at the Pentagon during the transition from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden, who has yet to announce his nominee for secretary of defence. Without mentioning the transition, Milley said he sees little chance of defence budgets growing by the 3% to 5% target that was set when the Pentagon published a defence strategy nearly three years ago that focuses investment on weapons, equipment and technologies designed to compete with China. He said he will argue the case for increases in the 3% to 5% range. “But it's also a reality, a fact, that it is highly unlikely that we are going to get that,” he said in an online forum with the United States Naval Institute. “I don't see that as a realistic thing in the coming years. I see us as being flat or even a downturn in the Pentagon budget,” in part because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Milley said the Pentagon will be compelled to search for budget savings. That inevitably creates tension in priorities — investing in modernized forces for the future versus spending to keep current forces ready for war. Milley said he is biased toward modernization, mainly because of the challenge presented by China. Separately, the Pentagon announced that Trump has nominated Adm. John Aquilino to lead U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, whose area of responsibility includes China. Aquilino currently serves as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. Milley said that competing effectively and peacefully with China requires a vastly larger U.S. Navy, including robotic surface and underwater vessels. The Navy currently is aiming to increase its fleet to 355 ships by 2035. Shortly before he was fired by Trump in early November, then-Defence Secretary Mark Esper proposed a goal of 500 manned and unmanned vessels by 2045. “You're going to have to have a much larger fleet than we have today if we're serious about great power competition and deterring great power war and you're serious about having dominant capability over something like China,” he said. “If you're serious about that, 500 (ships) is probably your entrance ticket.” Robert Burns, The Associated Press
The Quebec government will launch a pilot project to see whether electronic bracelets can reduce domestic violence by keeping violent ex-partners at a distance. The project is part of a wider plan to combat conjugal violence, which was announced Thursday afternoon by the minister responsible for women, Isabelle Charest, and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. Charest said the province's services need to be improved, after a string of homicides involving spouses and children in the past year in Quebec.Quebec has set aside $180 million over the next five years for several measures.The bracelets the government is considering affixing to violent ex-partners would set off an alarm if the person gets too close to the victim. "The first step is to determine if this is feasible, with all the issues it can bring up — the costs and legal issues. We're going to be looking at what's been done elsewhere," Guilbault said. France has implemented a similar program. Red Deer, Alta., also had one, but it lost funding. Quebec will spend $9 million seeing if the bracelets could work in the province, but Guilbault didn't say how long the feasibility study would last.The bulk of the $180 million will go to shelters for victims and their children, to help them upgrade their programs and services, as well as for repairs.The government will also be setting up crisis units in six new regions and creating programs that provide emergency funding to victims of domestic violence needing to leave a dangerous situation."All women and all children have a right to live in safety at all times. It's sad that we still have to repeat it in 2020," Charest said at the announcement. "This is a step in the right direction, but I'm aware there's still work to do."
Belle River teen comedian Louis Brady says Elliot Page, a Canadian actor who recently came out as transgender, shouldn't focus on other people's opinions because "they're not you and they're not transitioning." The gay, transgender 17-year-old said that he wasn't surprised to hear Page, a Halifax-born actor, share that he is transgender because, to him, it's like any other trans person coming out. Page, who is known for his Oscar-nominated role in Juno, addressed his social media followers Tuesday with a lengthy Instagram post, in which he shared that he is trans and that he uses the pronouns he or they."I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey," wrote Page, who also starred in Inception and most recently The Umbrella Academy. "I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."When Brady heard the news, he said while it's important, he "didn't really think about it." "In my personal opinion actors are just people with cooler jobs. So I thought it might be harder for him because he is such a big name and because he is obviously going to get a lot more attention from the media whereas if someone like me comes out it's not going to be such a big deal ... so I felt for him in that way but in the idea of him being an actor I don't see it being any different for me doing it than for him doing it." But Page's announcement does give attention to transgender men — a spotlight that Brady said is often focused on transgender women."Transgender men don't get as much media attention and although I would never want to take away any representation for transgender women, because they are just as fully important as us, I think it also is important to talk about both sides of the spectrum and to give opportunity to everyone in an equal platform," he said. Brady said these moments also serve to educate people. "I feel that it's important that we educate people on this because I feel like it makes it a lot easier for people like me to come out and to live as ourselves if everyone around us is aware because it's really hard when you are constantly being asked who you are and what you are and feeling as though you have to prove yourself to everybody and you have to constantly explain who you are — it's really exhausting." Being trans himself, Brady shared some advice for Page. "Don't feel bad correcting people because it's important to you and it's always a good idea to be understanding of other people not understanding because it is a newer thing in our world but I also think it's important that we don't let people off on oh whatever it doesn't matter because it does matter," he said, adding that he still gets mis-gendered. Brady continued to say that Page should avoid reading the comments on articles about himself.
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe isn't committing to a threshold suggested by his chief medical health officer for granting more people the right to gather at Christmas.Dr. Saqib Shahab said Wednesday that any decision to relax COVID-19 public-health orders would have to consider the risk of infections spiking in the new year. Shahab said his preference would be for the province to wait until there was an average of 120 new cases daily, or less, before loosening limits on gatherings."I wouldn't commit to that," Moe said Thursday."We also must understand that we have a holiday season that is upon us. We have put in place a number of measures that do impact our opportunity to see family, possibly in a long-term home, during that holiday season."Also Thursday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority announced it is planning to divert up to 600 staff to respond to the pandemic, meaning some procedures such as diagnostics will have to be rescheduled. Moving staff around is meant to brace the health system for a possible influx of hospital patients, including into intensive care. Officials forecast new daily cases hitting about 560 in the next two weeks and hospitalizations doubling. "It's not a crystal ball," said CEO Scott Livingstone of the data."Right now, we know that the 14-day forecasts over the last few weeks have been quite accurate relative to what we're seeing."Another 259 cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday, along with one death.Hospitals were treating 124 patients sick with COVID-19; 24 of them were in intensive care.Moe said he believes capacity limits on public venues, a ban on team sports and a provincewide mask mandate will start to slow the virus's spread enough so that some of the health orders can be loosened when they come up for renewal in three weeks.“If we have to make that decision today, it may not be the decision that I would want and that I think many other families across the province would want."Earlier in the week, the premier said he would like to see a way for more than five people to socialize in a home over Christmas — the current public-health rule — but Thursday mainly focused on relaxing rules for long-term care facilities.Visits are not allowed in long-term or personal care homes, except for compassionate reasons."As we get closer to Dec. 17, and ultimately likely even closer to Christmas, we’ll have the discussion about whether or not there are any opportunities for maybe a visit with full (personal protective) gear in a long-term care facility or not," Moe said.“I haven’t given up hope.”Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said he's concerned the premier's office is putting pressure on the chief medical health officer to do what is politically popular, but not wise for public health.“People need to think about this. Relaxing long-term care restrictions during a COVID-19 spike, during a time when we’ve got outbreaks — that’s a way to lose a lot of lives," Meili said.On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Party government also announced the revival of an emergency grant program for small businesses that have been hit by health restrictionsBusinesses with fewer than 500 employees can apply to receive a grant of 15 per cent of their monthly sales revenue recorded before the pandemic arrived in March, to a maximum of $5,000.Eligible businesses are ones that have had to change how they operate to comply with public-health rules. The plan is to get the money to businesses within weeks.The government expects the program to cost $8 million.Meili said the the criteria are too narrow and will leave some businesses ineligible. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press