Director Ava DuVernay and NBC are teaming up to develop a drama about a Native American family. 'Sovereign' is the first drama about an Indigenous family to be developed for network television.
Director Ava DuVernay and NBC are teaming up to develop a drama about a Native American family. 'Sovereign' is the first drama about an Indigenous family to be developed for network television.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Liberals are pushing back against allegations from their political rivals that the federal government has failed Canadians on COVID-19 vaccines, noting Canada was one of the first countries to order doses from several foreign suppliers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that other countries with domestic vaccine production are likely to inoculate their citizens first before shipping doses to Canada, which prompted an outcry from the opposition parties.The Conservatives have also accused the Liberals of having put too much faith in what was ultimately a failed partnership between the National Research Council and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.The Liberal government confirmed in August the deal with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart, after the Chinese government blocked the shipment of doses for clinical trials in Canada. The Tories are now pushing for parliamentary hearings into the arrangement.On Tuesday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal with U.S.-based pharmaceutical firm Moderna — and that the company has confirmed it will be one of the first to receive doses of its vaccine.Anand decried what she described as “misinformation” around vaccines, noting that Moderna “has stated publicly that Canada is at the head of the line for its vaccine doses.”Canada signed a deal to purchase 56 million doses of vaccine from Moderna on July 24, according to the government. That was 18 days before the U.S. government reached its own agreement with the firm, and months before Britain, the European Union and Japan. Canada was also the fourth country to finalize a deal with Pfizer after the U.S., Britain and Japan, Anand added, again noting the company has confirmed the timeline. And it was the first country without the ability to mass produce vaccines domestically to ink an agreement with AstraZeneca. The three vaccines, along with another developed by Johnson & Johnson, are now being reviewed by Health Canada for approval. The government is hoping distribution to Canadians will begin in the first quarter of 2021.The timing of any vaccine delivery and distribution has become a major question for the government, opposition parties and Canadians who have been struggling physically, financially and emotionally through nearly nine months of the pandemic.Anand listed numerous other measures to ensure Canada is ready to start immunizing people when the vaccines are approved, including the purchase of freezers to store doses and enlisting the military to help with logistics.Asked exactly when the vaccines will arrive, however, Anand replied: “It is not possible to circle a single date on a calendar.” She went on to suggest the question has become politicized, but that safety will trump any political considerations.Opposition parties continued to demand more information from the government while repeating past allegations that the Liberals dragged their feet on vaccines."There's no question that other countries landed priority on vaccines ahead of Canada while Trudeau was dithering and spinning his wheels in the middle of last summer," said Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said. The Conservatives also pushed to probe the deal with CanSino at the House of Commons industry committee. The Tories want more information about a $44-million project to upgrade a National Research Council facility in Montreal as part of that arrangement, and how the deal with CanSino might have affected the timely procurement of vaccines from elsewhere.Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet appeared to suggest the Liberals should have used emergency laws in the spring to take existing technology from elsewhere and put it to use for Canada, dealing with the intellectual property issue after the fact.Governments across the country are also figuring out who will be immunized first.Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that according to what science suggests about who is most at risk from COVID-19, the initial round of vaccines should go to those in high-risk situations such as hospitals and care homes. The next batch, she added, should be distributed by age, with the oldest at the front of the line.Trudeau declined to get into specifics, including whether he should be one of the first inoculated, saying he is “going to trust experts to make the right determination of what the priority populations are.”Meanwhile, the prime minister said the federal government is stepping up assistance in two northern communities struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases, while the Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to the Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan.The moves come as provinces reported thousands of new cases across the country Tuesday, along with dozens more deaths.Alberta, the province with the highest rate of COVID-19 — 223 per 100,000 people — reported 1,307 new cases and 479 people in hospital. Leaked health projections show hospitalizations there could soar to 775 by mid-December, with 161 people in intensive care.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said restrictions on public gatherings and business openings in the province, where the daily rise in cases has levelled off after a spike last month, could remain into the winter as the health-care system continues to strain. The province also said it handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week, after setting strict limits on public gatherings and requiring non-essential businesses to close.A mandatory-mask order was also implemented for all indoor public spaces in Yukon as Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases in the territory over the past week, bringing its total to 47 since the start of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.—With files from Beth Leighton in Vancouver, Steve Lambert in Winnipeg, Mia Rabson in Ottawa and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The pandemic hasn't seemed to have hurt bank profits, yet thanks to consumer spending on credit, experts warn a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies may still be coming once the post-pandemic recovery is underway.
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Greg Vanney says he was "handed the keys to what was a Ferrari in development" when he took over Toronto FC in August 2014.In truth, then-Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke and GM Tim Bezbatchenko led him to a car crash and told the first-time head coach to build something out of it.Vanney was Toronto's ninth coach in eight years. At the time, TFC was a bumbling franchise that had never made the playoffs and had an all-time MLS record of 60-114-72. Barring the Canadian Championship, the only thing TFC had won was scorn.He inherited a club that was 9-9-6 in the standings under fired coach Ryan Nelsen and had won just one of its six games and three of its last 13. Star striker Jermain Defoe, Mr. Bloody Big Deal, wanted out."I know we can get more out of this group of guys," said Bezbatchenko, who essentially engineered the firing of Nelsen by taking his complaints to the media and then watching the Kiwi coach snap back in public.Hired by TFC in December 2013 as the club's assistant general manager and academy director, Vanney had been the coach in waiting.Given the job, the welcome mat was hard to find."The first game that I walked out for Toronto FC as the coach I remember implicitly a fan behind me … yelled out 'Hey Vanney, I hope you're renting,'" he recalled Tuesday after announcing he was stepping down."That was, I think, the first voice I heard in my stretch as a coach at TFC. I remember thinking 'I am renting but I'm going to be renting for a long time.'"Vanney finished out the season with a 2-6-2 record. Then the turnaround started.Six years later, Toronto's trophy case contains everything there is to capture other than the CONCACAF Champions League spoils and Vanney took the team to a penalty shootout in the final of that competition.Toronto has gone from the league's doormat to a model franchise, one that Vanney is now reluctantly leaving behind.But the 46-year-old father of four is leaving on his own terms, albeit in the wake of a painful 1-0 loss to expansion Nashville SC in the first round of the playoffs after a difficult pandemic-rejigged 2020 season.Vanney's departure was not expected, although delays in sorting out a new contract had raised questions. His current deal expires at the end of the 2020 season.An emotional Vanney thanked his players, staff and TFC's ownership, saying it was the right time to move on."I'm a builder. I like to build things and I like projects and I like big things," he told reporters. "And this club is in a really really good place. There's not a lot of building to do. It is an incredible club that is positioned, from where we started to where we are, to be great." He said his departure had nothing to do with money or other contract terms, calling it a "personal family decision." He praised the club for its patience "while I worked through this entire process."Vanney, team president Bill Manning and GM Ali Curtis painted the picture of a painful prolonged deliberation.Manning said talks dated back to May, with a particularly emotional session in July. While he said they "didn't want to push Greg or stress him," he acknowledged the team asked Vanney for an answer as the regular season came to an end. After finally being able to spend some time with his family at home ahead of the playoffs, Vanney came to his decision, which was delivered Sunday."When he notified us, I was not totally taken by surprise," said Manning, who said one of his best decisions was not firing Vanney after becoming president in October 2015. "I respected him for the decision that he made."But it was sad in a way because we obviously have great respect for Greg and wanted him to continue here. But we now have to move forward."Vanney said he had no immediate plan "other than to regroup, spend some time with the family and figure out what's next." But it doesn't sound like he will remain idle for long."I do need to catch my breath, I do need to regroup a bit. But anyone who knows me knows I don't sit still very well so it won't be a long thing. But at the same time, I do know that this has been an exhausting year emotionally." There are openings, including the Los Angeles Galaxy.The search is already on for his replacement with Manning saying MLS experience is not a requirement given his and Curtis' experience in the league."We're going to try to have the best coach possible, whether it's an international coach or it's a domestic-based coach," said Manning.The hope is to hire somebody sooner than later, to have the new coach involved in personnel decisions. Finding a new designated player, an attacking player who can generate goals, is top of the listAs a coach, Vanney's trademark was his preparation, commitment and even hand. His teams were able to shift on the fly and he was able, at least on the surface, to manage the many egos that make up a pro soccer team.He put in long hours, somehow finding time to check up the academy where his twin boys played — his youngest boy was in the TFC Junior program. At home he was rarely away from a laptop, working on his own team or watching what others were doing.Anything to get better."Thank you for the trust and support and being there with me every step of the way," Toronto captain Michael Bradley said in a social media post. "I'll miss you and your commitment and knowing that you were spending every waking moment trying to push us forward."Vanney and his coaching staff go back decades. He played with Dan Calichman and Robin Fraser, now head coach at Colorado, with the Galaxy. Jim Liston, Toronto's director of sport science, was the strength and conditioning coach for the Galaxy during the 1999, 2001 and '02 Cup final run.Vanney played at UCLA with Nick Theslof, another TFC assistant coach. When Vanney went home to Arizona during college, he met Michael Rabasca, now TFC's director of cognitive development.Chances are they will be reunited with Vanney at his next stop. The ripple effect of Vanney's departure will spread wide.Together with front office help from Bezbatchenko, then Manning and Curtis, they have built an organization where winning and trophies are expected.Away from the field, Vanney is courteous and decent with immense patience, although there were limits. Constant questions over Jozy Altidore's health in the run-up to the 2019 MLS Cup produced rare moments of testiness.He leaves as the longest-tenured coach in TFC history, holding every coaching record, including games coached (250) and wins (112). He has a regular-season record of 87-68-48.A finalist for coach of the year, Vanney led Toronto to the second-best regular-season record at 13-5-5 in a challenging 2020 campaign. Forced to play all but four games away from BMO Field because of travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, injury-plagued Toronto limped into the playoffs losing three of its last four games.The post-season ended quickly in a 1-0 extra-time loss to Nashville. Vanney took the club into the post-season in his first full season at the helm in 2015 and went on to guide TFC to the MLS Cup final in 2016, 2017 and 2019, winning the title in '17 on home soil.He coached Toronto to the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship in 2017, becoming the first MLS club to win a domestic treble. He was named MLS and CONCACAF coach of the year that season.Toronto qualified for the playoffs under Vanney five of the past six seasons and captured three Canadian championships since 2016."My objective when I arrived here … was to leave the club in a better place than I picked it up," he said.Mission accomplished.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on TwitterThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian PressNote to readers: q
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting. The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native. Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last. “I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website. A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro. Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection. Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District. That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP. The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year. Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race. A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run. Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture. Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us." His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.” Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary. Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before. Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
The latest updates from around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The emergency department at Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, N.S., will begin using a new protocol next week whenever the site hits overcapacity near closing time.Under the protocol, which comes into effect Monday, priority will go to the most emergent or urgent health issues. Anyone else will be offered options, including coming back when the department reopens, going to the nearest open emergency department in Bridgewater, or waiting to see a primary-care provider the next day."Safety is our priority. Fishermen's emergency is supposed to close at 10:30 p.m. Our doctors and nurses are frequently working into the wee hours to see patients, and that makes it difficult for them to do their work safely and efficiently," said Dr. John Jenkins, the emergency department's physician leader."This becomes even more problematic when those same nurses and physicians are scheduled to work in the emergency department or a family practice office the next day. We need to prevent burnout."The protocol will be triggered if the number of patients triaged, but not seen, is greater than the number of patients who could be seen before the emergency department shuts its doors for the night.Jenkins said more and more patients have been arriving at the site close to closing time in recent months."I think people had been holding back coming to [the emergency department] during the lockdown and people with chronic conditions got worse," Jenkins said."Many of them were very ill people who just waited a long time to come in because they were fearful of getting COVID."A trickle of additional patients soon "became a flood," said Jenkins, as people became more comfortable going to the hospital during the pandemic.With nurses and doctors often following an evening shift with a day shift, it became an issue of safety."When you're basically awake until almost when the next shift starts, it starts to present some problems with fatigue and burnout or people start to cut back on their shifts," he said.The late-night deluge of visitors to the emergency department has been less of a problem recently and Jenkins said the hope is the new protocol won't have to be triggered very often. It follows similar models to what's used at hospitals in Lower Sackville, Glace Bay and North Sydney.The changes were developed after consultation with clinical leaders, staff, and doctors who provide coverage at the hospital's emergency department.MORE TOP STORIES
NEW YORK — A final tally of absentee ballots has confirmed that Republican Nicole Malliotakis has defeated U.S. Rep. Max Rose, denying the Democrat a second term representing one of the few conservative-leaning parts of New York City.Malliotakis, a New York State Assembly member, opened a big lead over Rose on Election Day in a district that includes all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.She declared victory on Nov. 3 and Rose conceded the race Nov. 12, but The Associated Press didn’t call the race until Tuesday because New York City's Board of Elections refused for weeks to publicly release information about its count of a large number of absentee ballots.With her victory, Malliotakis will become the only Republican in New York City's congressional delegation.The race between Malliotakis and Rose, an Army combat veteran, played out over a year that saw violent clashes between protesters and police officers in New York City, and several months in which shootings in some parts of the city soared.Malliotakis ran on a pro-law enforcement platform and sought to link Rose to Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is deeply unpopular on Staten Island, and to calls for defunding the police, which Rose says he does not support.To distance himself from de Blasio, Rose created an ad calling his fellow Democrat the “worst mayor ever.” Malliotakis was a candidate for mayor against de Blasio in 2017.The daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother and a Greek immigrant father, Malliotakis grew up on Staten Island and has represented parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn in the Assembly since 2011.The Associated Press
A man is in critical condition after a crash at BC Ferries' Tsawwassen Terminal on Tuesday.BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said it happened at about 12:30 p.m., as the Coastal Renaissance sailing from Duke Point was finishing its disembarking routine."The last vehicle to be unloaded off the upper car deck drove off the ship, accelerated rapidly and smashed through a concrete wall. The vehicle then fell approximately 30 feet (nine metres) to the lower holding compound of the terminal, landing on its roof," said Marshall.B.C. Emergency Health Services confirmed that one patient was taken to hospital in critical condition. Marshall, along with Delta police confirmed that no other people were in the pickup truck or in its path, as it plummeted to the ground below the loading ramp.The Coastal Renaissance is about an hour behind schedule, but no other BC Ferries sailings were affected, said Marshall.
TORONTO — The 2021 Juno Awards are moving to May for their 50th anniversary.Organizers behind Canada's biggest night in music say the golden celebration, set to take place in Toronto, is being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The televised show will happen on May 16, 2021, about a month and a half after its originally planned date in March.Allan Reid, head of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, says the move is intended to give artists and the local community more options to celebrate in a time when physical distancing measures are expected to still be in place."We also hope that the warmer weather will bring more opportunities for some unique outdoor programming," he said in a press conference."The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a huge effect on the city and our music community, but we will be resilient and live music will return, and we will be there to help in any way we can."The return of the Juno Awards to Toronto, for the first time in a decade, was billed as a splashy affair when it was announced last year. Thousands of fans were expected to gather inside the Scotiabank Arena, with many past honorees in attendance.How the momentous occasion might take shape in the pandemic is a work in progress, Reid said, and it's still undetermined whether any of the Juno performances will be permitted to take place indoors.The organization also stopped short of announcing details for Juno Week, a series of concerts and events leading up to the broadcast that in other years have proven to be a business boon for local bars and concert halls.Other changes will be introduced as part of the Junos anniversary, including three new looks for the award statuette.The updated designs take inspiration from designer Shirley Elford's human-shaped molten-glass award, first handed out in 2000.A gold Juno will be given to Juno Award winners, while a silver version is for recipients of a special Juno prize, and a gold and silver variation goes to Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees.There's also a notable change within the R&B categories, first announced in October. The R&B recording of the year award will now be two distinct prizes, one for contemporary R&B recording of the year and another for traditional R&B/soul recording of the year.Reid noted that artist submissions for the Junos reached a record high, though he did not offer specific figures. He said the historic interest shows the resiliency of Canadian musicians in a difficult year that saw many of their concert tours cancelled.Nominees for the Juno Awards will be announced early in 2021.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.David Friend, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Liberal government says it will take steps over the next year to tax foreign homeowners who live outside of Canada as part of a plan to lower housing prices.It's an idea that has been growing in popularity over the last few years in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, but some experts question how effective such a plan would be.In this week's fiscal update, the government says the plan will benefit first-time homebuyers and put more homes on the market by taxing homeowners who use Canada to passively store wealth in housing.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last year his government would introduce such a tax, praising a similar measure in British Columbia during his most recent election campaign.The B.C. government said last year its speculation and vacancy tax raised $115 million, paid mostly by owners based abroad, with Finance Minister Carole James crediting the tax as a factor behind the 5.6 per cent fall in home prices in the first part of 2019.Tsur Somerville, an associate professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, said that while prices did fall in the Vancouver area after the introduction of foreign buyers' taxes, the policy is not a silver bullet for affordability. "If you're looking to address affordability, that on its own is never going to get you to affordability. But it can certainly be part of the package of both demand- and supply-side policies," he said.In addition to the speculation and vacancy tax — on those who own local residences but do not pay provincial income taxes — B.C. has also tried a property transfer tax on home purchases made by foreign nationals in Vancouver, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants regulator of British Columbia. In 2017, Ontario passed a speculation and vacancy tax on homebuyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe who were neither citizens nor permanent residents. And in Prince Edward Island, non-residents must apply to a special commission to buy more than five acres of land.Renewed talk of taxing non-Canadian homebuyers comes as several housing markets across the country set sales records during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing up prices amid low interest rates and a rush on telecommuter-friendly houses with yards.While the housing market has been hot, the government is looking for ways to finance $25 billion in new spending to support those hit hard by the pandemic.In practice, some markets with lots of demand from foreign buyers could see house prices decline but remain "crazy unaffordable," even with the proposed tax, said Somerville. Other locales, such as tourist spots, could actually benefit from travellers owning vacation homes there, Somerville said, while still other cities may already have landlords who are struggling to find tenants as it is.For example, the supply of housing may be flexible enough in cities like Calgary or Edmonton where foreign-based buyers don't have that much impact on overall home prices, he said. Also, when it comes to building a giant apartment building, foreign investment from a European pension fund is unlikely to be an affordability problem, he noted."I can't understand why you would introduce it at a national level," Sommerville said. "That doesn't make any sense to me as a policy because it is not as if we are in a national crisis of foreigners buying up housing in every market and creating challenges on affordability. That's a stretch."Somerville also noted that the policy has raised objections for targeting Chinese people in Vancouver, although different populations would be affected in different areas of the country.Andrey Pavlov, professor of finance at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, said it was a "terrible" idea to nationalize British Columbia's policies, saying the tax would discourage foreign investments without improving affordability.Pavlov said that the share of first-time homebuyers has actually gone down since the tax was put in place in B.C. Other than Toronto and Vancouver, most Canadian cities can be built out to accommodate and even benefit from second homes for people like business travellers, said Pavlov. The problem with further taxing homeownership, Pavlov said, is that it could actually reduce the supply of housing by discouraging builders and investors. Pavlov also questioned whether the policy would help the government pay for its fiscal stimulus plans."Our chance to repay the debts we are incurring now is to grow our economy as fast as we can," Pavlov said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
On the Toronto Raptors' first full day in their temporary home away from home, the state of Florida hit an inglorious milestone, surpassing one million COVID-19 cases.Concern around the pandemic itself is just one of the huge challenges Canada's NBA team faces in Tampa, where the Raptors will host their home games for at least the first part of the season because of Canada's travel restrictions around COVID-19.The price tag of playing outside their own market is massive. "It's something we're going through with the league now," GM Bobby Webster said on a Zoom call Tuesday. "There is a discretionary fund that the NBA has . . . the last time it was invoked for something like this was Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans went to Oklahoma City."It's a huge strain on us as an organization, but I think, as you all know, when faced with different challenges or obstacles, we thrive, and we like it, so we're looking at it much more from a really unique experience for our team, for our staff."The Raptors made their team official on Tuesday. On a positive note, they signed Canadian Oshae Brissett to a multi-year extension. The restricted free agent forward from Mississauga, Ont., who split time between the Raptors and Raptors 905 of the G League last season, averaged 1.9 points in 19 games with the NBA team.The presence of Terence Davis at camp, however, is a contentious topic. Davis is facing seven charges, including two counts of third-degree assault, after he was arrested in New York on Oct. 27 for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. "We've obviously had our conversations with Terence, done as much due diligence as we can on the situation," Webster said. He said the matter is in the hands of the NBA and the players' union and results of their investigation will determine whether Davis might be put on administrative leave."I think sometimes that may feel a bit unsatisfying but I think that we need to be respectful of that process as well," he said. The Raptors have taken a proactive approach to hiring women, so Webster was asked if their position on Davis is hypocritical. "We take this incredibly serious," he said. "There’s no basketball issue that would ever prevent us from doing anything, but we also have to go with our relationship and our understanding of the conversation and what happened."The Raptors began individual workouts at Saint Leo University on Tuesday. They're still in the process of setting up a practice facility in a downtown hotel — another of the huge hurdles no other team in the league faces. They got the hotel ballroom idea after seeing the league do it in the "bubble" at Walt Disney World. "If you can imagine a world-class basketball court, a world-class training room, a world-class weight room, there are challenges in doing that in the equipment but essentially the idea here was to create a world-class practice facility in a place where there isn’t one," Webster said. "That’s been fun and challenging for us."Webster, a dad of two young kids, isn't sure how many Raptors players and staff might move their families temporarily to Tampa. "We’re all in a bit of no-man’s land as we decide. We all wanted to come down here and see what the setup is . . . so see what the setup is here, what the comfort level is, obviously finding housing or living in a hotel is different than living in a place with a routine," he said. "I think over the course of the next few days or weeks we’ll have a better sense of it."Webster said they learned other lessons from being cooped up in the Disney World bubble for three months they can apply to this unique season."You really understand the meaning of being part of a team and relying on each other, not only for playing the games and getting to the arenas, but now it's our collective health, our collective well-being," he said. "I think that sense of belonging and unity is really important for a time like this, where everyone feels like we have each other's back, and we're all looking out for the greater good."If there is a plus side to playing in Tampa, Webster noted that it snowed Tuesday in Toronto. "We are here in nice, sunny Florida with no state income tax," Webster grinned.The Raptors also announced centre Henry Ellenson signed a multi-year contract. Ellenson played five games for the Brooklyn Nets last season. He has also played for Detroit and New York since entering the league in 2017.Meanwhile, the Raptors signed first-round pick Malachi Flynn to a rookie-scale contract and second-round pick Jalen Harris to a two-way contract.Free-agent forwards Alize Johnson and Yuta Watanabe have signed one-year, Exhibit-10 contracts.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — When the Quebec government tells English schools they cannot hire women wearing the hijab, it violates the rights of the English-speaking minority to manage its educational institutions, a lawyer argued Tuesday in a case challenging the province's secularism law.The law, known as Bill 21, forbids the wearing of religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for certain employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and school teachers.Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard, who is presiding over the trial, has set aside 14 days to hear closing arguments, which began on Monday.Constitutional rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Community Groups Network, which are both challenging the law.Grey invoked Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right of Quebec's anglophone minority to be educated in English. Over time, jurisprudence has interpreted this right as giving management power to English schools, which Grey argued includes the right to hire whom they choose as teachers, including those who wear religious symbols.While Bill 21 invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shield it from most charter challenges, including those based on freedom of religion, Grey argued it can't be used to override the language-rights protections in Section 23.Grey argued Section 23 is essential to the protection and preservation of the language and culture of the English-speaking minority in Quebec.And included in the culture of the English-speaking community is the protection of cultural minorities, he said.Grey also argued that Bill 21 infringes Section 28 of the charter, which provides for gender equality and isn't subject to the notwithstanding clause.A lawyer for Amnesty International argued that the law is too vague and that it doesn't include a definition of "religious symbols."School administrators can't all become theologians to manage their schools, Marie-Claude St-Amant said. Like Grey, she argued that it is not the government's objective in adopting the law that is important but rather the effects of the legislation. Those are disproportionately felt by Muslim women, she said, arguing that the stated goal of the law is a pretence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
MADISON, Wis. — President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in a battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state's 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Evers until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit, an unusually tight deadline that speaks to how quickly the court is likely to decide the case.The state's highest court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, also is considering whether to hear two other lawsuits filed by conservatives seeking to invalidate ballots cast during the presidential election. Separately, two Wisconsin Republicans filed a new federal lawsuit Tuesday that mirrors some of Trump's claims and asks a judge to declare him the winner in Wisconsin.Trump's lawsuit repeats many claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties that large swaths of absentee votes were illegally cast. Local officials rejected his claims during the recount, and Trump is challenging procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won.Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans called the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground." Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was “without merit.”Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, noted that the lawsuit doesn't allege that anyone was ineligible to vote, but instead seeks to create a two-tiered election system where voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties are disenfranchised “under much stricter rules than citizens in the rest of the state.”Trump's Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, said in a statement that voters "deserve election processes with uniform enforcement of the law, plain and simple.”Similar Trump campaign lawsuits have failed in other battleground states.In Phoenix, a judge has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state. A judge is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office, which certified Arizona’s election results on Monday, said there was no factual basis for conducting such a review.Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.Trump's Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to discard 170,140 absentee ballots where there was not a written application on file and all absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day.People who vote in person early fill out a certification envelope for their ballot that serves as the written record. But the vast majority of absentee requests these days are made online, with a voter’s name entered into an electronic log with no paper record.Trump wants to toss 5,517 ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted. The practice has been in place for at least the past 11 elections, and the state elections commission told clerks it was OK.Trump also challenges 28,395 absentee ballots where a voter declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined” under the law. Such a declaration exempts voters from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it is up to individual voters to determine whether they are indefinitely confined, a designation used by nearly four times as many voters this year than in 2016 due to the coronavirus pandemic.Trump also alleges that Madison opened illegal voting sites when the city held events at parks where election workers accepted 17,271 completed absentee ballots from voters looking to avoid crowds and mail delays. City officials said the poll workers at the 220 parks served the same purpose as ballot drop boxes.The federal lawsuit came from Bill Feehan, the La Crosse County Republican Party chairman, and Derrick Van Orden, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress this year in western Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a firebrand conservative attorney who was removed from Trump's legal team, is among the lawyers.Van Orden said after the lawsuit was filed that he had spoken with someone in Powell's office about the case but had not given permission to be named as a litigant. Van Orden said he tried calling Powell to ask that his name be removed but could not get through. Powell did not immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment.“Why they would want me on there, I'm not quite sure,” Van Orden said.The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit, not in Wisconsin.Also Tuesday, Republicans on the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the Democratic chairwoman to resign after she finalized election results on Monday. They argued the commission should have been involved with that process, while the chair, who refused to resign, said she was following state law and precedent.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The head of Canada's transport regulator says the 11,000 complaints filed to the Canadian Transportation Agency since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will not start to be processed until early next year.CTA chairman Scott Streiner says the agency is struggling to handle another 11,000 complaints it received between last December and March, immediately after a new passenger rights charter came into effect.The majority of complaints since March concern refunds, which most Canadian airlines have refused to give customers after cancelling hundreds of thousands of flights due to pandemic travel restrictions, opting instead for flight vouchers or credit.The 22,000 complaints racked up in less than a year contrast with the 800 submitted to the CTA in 2015 amid growing passenger frustration.Streiner says that if legislation did not constrain him he would act "quickly" to fix a gap in regulations, which he claims compel airlines only to address reimbursement in their passenger contracts but not to provide it in situations outside their control.Earlier this month, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced he planned to negotiate an aid package for struggling airlines that would be conditional on them agreeing to offer refunds for cancelled trips.The number of complaints may drop considerably if the support plan can be hammered out, Streiner told the House of Commons transport committee Tuesday.Bloc Québécois transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval said the complaints delay remains a major problem.“If I was a manager of a complaints department and I had two years of backlog ... wouldn’t I lose my job?" he asked Streiner.Streiner said more than half of the 11,000 complaints filed between last December and March have now been dealt with.Federal rules, provincial contract law and tribunal precedent at the CTA oblige airlines to reimburse passengers for services paid for but never rendered, say consumer rights advocates and opposition lawmakers.“We’re being told by the government that these Canadian citizens who purchased these airfares are not able to get a refund because the government is concerned that the airline corporations are going to go bankrupt. Now you’re putting citizens in a situation where they’re essentially involuntary or unwilling creditors to these huge corporations," NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said."The legislation constrained us. There was no way that we could establish that obligation in the regulations," Streiner replied.Committee members pushed him on how big a role Transport Canada had in the CTA's statement on vouchers from March, which said airlines did not need to provide refunds unless their passenger contract required it in particular circumstances.“There was certain communication in order to make sure that we were not creating any confusion," Streiner said.“We communicated with the office of the minister of transportation throughout this entire crisis."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — “Papa!” screams a hospital worker, covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit and PPE, in the opening moments of the documentary “76 Days."This is in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, back in January and February when the city of 11 million went into a 2 1/2-month lockdown and hospitals were overrun. The health worker's father has just died, and her agony at not being able to sit by his side is overwhelming. Her colleagues restrain her as she sobs, moaning, “Papa, you'll stay forever in my heart.”“76 Days," shot in four Wuhan hospitals, captures a local horror before it became a global nightmare. Given the constraints at the time on footage and information from Wuhan, it's a rare window into the infancy of the pandemic. The film is directed by the New York-based filmmaker Hao Wu, who worked with two Chinese journalists — one named Weixi Chen, the other is remaining anonymous — to create of a portrait of the virus epicenter.Some of the images document the fear and confusion of those early days: A group of patients mill outside the hospital doors, pleading to be let in. Others are by now more familiar: Solitary deaths followed by phone calls to family members.“There has been so much news coverage and commentary about the pandemic but most of that has primarily been about statistics and our political divide," Wu said in an interview. “What I think is missing is the human stories, the human faces of the pandemic.”That may be especially true for stories of the pandemic from China, which President Donald Trump and his supporters have been highly critical of, blaming it for the “Wuhan virus.” Wu's film, though, consciously avoids politics to concentrate on the humanity inside the hospitals — even if the workers are so obscured by their Hazmat suits that they're only identifiable by the names penned in sharpie on their backs.“I feel like right now there is such a toxic background to a lot of the discussions around the virus,” Wu says. “The virus is an enemy that doesn’t care about your nationality.”“76 Days," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is being released Friday by MTV Documentary Films is more than 50 virtual cinemas. Last month, it was nominated for best documentary by the IFP Gotham Awards.It's among the first in a coming surge of coronavirus documentaries. A handful have already arrived, some — snapshots in an ongoing drama — hurriedly edited even as the scope of the pandemic has continued to expand. In October, Alex Gibney released “Totally Under Control," a two-part indictment of the federal U.S. response to the virus. In August, the artist-activist Ai Weiwei debuted “Coronation,” a documentary he directed remotely with dozens of volunteers to capture the lockdown experience for ordinary Chinese people.For some, the films are too harsh a reminder of an all-consuming reality. But “76 Days" feels like a vital early draft of history. Wu's first instinct had been to create a more straightforwardly journalistic film examining what happened in Wuhan. But Wu — a Chinese native who lives in New York with his partner and two children (he depicted his journey as a gay man in a traditional Chinese family in the 2019 Netflix documentary “All in My Family” ) — soon recognized the difficulty of access and the rapidly changing situation would make such a film either very difficult or potentially stale by the time it was finished.“The images coming out of Wuhan were so harrowing. Everyone was scouring social media, trying to find out what happened in Wuhan, how it got so bad. A lot of us were so angry,” he says. “I started getting away from wanting to assign blame."The journalists, working with press passes, would have typically been closely watched by Communist party minders but in the chaos were given more free rein. Wu leaned into a more observational approach without talking heads, and urged his collaborators to focus on the people and the details. One poignant shot shows the ziplocked cellphone of a deceased person quietly ringing.Wu's last trip to China was in January and February. Right after he came back, his grandfather was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. He would die a month later. Wu, unable to visit because of travel restrictions and busy on the film, wasn't able to say goodbye in person.“For me, I was compelled to tell the story. It’s almost like a tribute to my grandfather,” says Wu. “The shots that attracted me were those that showed the details of people willing to be nice to each other. I guess it was guilty about not being able to say goodbye to my grandfather, to hold his hand.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press