Weeks before the election, three Black supporters of President Donald Trump sit down with the Associated Press to discuss their allegiance to the President. They know their opinions may be in the minority within their community. (Oct. 14)
Weeks before the election, three Black supporters of President Donald Trump sit down with the Associated Press to discuss their allegiance to the President. They know their opinions may be in the minority within their community. (Oct. 14)
A historic meeting between Israel's prime minister and Saudi Arabia's crown prince has sent a strong signal to allies and enemies alike that the two countries remain deeply committed to containing their common foe Iran. Last Sunday's covert meeting in the Saudi city of Neom, confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh, conveyed a coordinated message to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden that Washington's main allies in the region are closing ranks. It was the first publicly confirmed visit to Saudi Arabia by an Israeli leader and a meeting that was unthinkable until recently as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations.
Some property management companies in Windsor-Essex advertise rental properties by marketing them specifically to students even though the Ontario Human Rights Commission makes clear that language which shows a landlord's preference for some people over others should not be used in a rental advertisement.Danielle Gilliard spent months trying to find a place to rent, calling the search "frustrating." She found herself scrolling through multiple rental advertisements, including ones by property management companies.She says if those companies were to stop allowing student-preferential language to be posted in rental advertisements, it may influence individual landlords from doing the same — eliminating any hesitancy that non-students may have from renting out whatever home or unit they like."It discourages you because you're looking for a home for your family — and these people are looking for students."The mother of four said that on multiple occasions, she would be discouraged from applying to rent certain properties since many of them contained language like "great for students.""It makes you feel almost belittled in a way," said Gilliard, who receives government assistance. "I've been denied because I'm not a student and I'm thinking — I have a guaranteed income every month."The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that indicating a rental unit as being "great" or "perfect for students" is the wrong way of writing a rental advertisement since this wording suggests that "the landlord prefers some people over others.,"There's a bit of a grey area and the issue is more about what happens after the advertisement. Students aren't listed as a ground under the Ontario human rights code, meaning that distinguishing between students and non-students in a rental advertisement isn't directly prohibited by the code as long as no subsequent discrimination takes place.But problems can lie with the wording of the ad itself. That's according to Matthew Horner, a senior lawyer with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who says marketing rentals to students can be deemed "contrary to the code" if a family — or other code-protected groups — can demonstrate they have been pushed out of the opportunity to rent a desired unit."If it turns out that you don't rent to families, you don't rent potentially to racialized people, you don't rent to anybody with a disability, then that would raise the concern of ... [the] seemingly-neutral rule of renting to students, in fact, having an effect on on other code-protected groups."Moreover, if a rental advertisement indicates an "intention to only rent to students," the party responsible for posting the ad runs the risk of having a claim to the human rights tribunal brought against them."[They could] argue that what you are effectively doing is excluding other groups ... and thereby discriminating against them," he said.Company pegs student-preferential language on 'transparency'CBC News reached out to three property management companies in Windsor operating websites which contain student-preferential rental advertisements. Property Hunters refused to comment and Maximum Property Solutions did not respond to email requests.Marda Management, however, did agree to speak with CBC News. When asked if she's aware that the use of student-preferential language in rental advertisements is discouraged by the human rights commission, company CEO Marla Coffin said "we welcome 100 per cent of clientele in 100 per cent of our units.""We absolutely do not discriminate and we are grateful and welcome any and all clientele across the board to all of our units, because our number one goal is to find a great home for each and every individual that looks to live within our system while simultaneously working diligently to achieve the goals of our property owners, which is to avoid vacancies," she said.Coffin pointed to "transparency" regarding the presence of ads for "student rentals" and "student rooms" on Marda Management's website, adding it's all about "being honest and open about the clientele" with whom renters may share space."We do try to be clear with people about what an ideal clientele can be," said Coffin, adding rentals that are advertised as "great for students" don't necessarily mean that they're "only for students."Coffin said she has not received feedback to suggest that non-students have been discouraged about inquiring about a house on Marda's website that's been marketed to students.She added her company would never deny housing to a non-student who could afford to rent a room or home — even if an advertisement indicated preference toward students.Gilliard says whenever she came across a home described as a "student rental," it usually meant there was no way her family would be able to occupy it. She recalled one instance when she attended a home to inquire about renting it only to find out that the bottom floor was already being occupied by students.> It discourages you because you're looking for a home for your family — and these people are looking for students." \- Danielle Gilliard Gilliard finally secured a place to rent after eight months of searching.
Aaliyah Edwards wears her mindset on her hair.The Canadian freshman on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team has rocked purple and gold braids since Grade 8.It's a constant reminder of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba Mentality.'"My brother and I, we're very big fans of his and just love the Lakers team also. So growing up, I would watch so many videos of him trying to do the same moves as him, do the fadeaway jump shot, biting my jersey, all that stuff," Edwards said.Edwards, 19, is a forward entering her first year at UConn. The Kingston, Ont., native was recruited by famed head coach Geno Auriemma out of Crestwood Preparatory College and arrived in Storrs, Conn., in late July.Edwards' collegiate career, already delayed due to the pandemic, was postponed another two weeks Tuesday after a member of the UConn program tested positive for coronavirus. The earliest the Huskies can now play, if medically cleared, is Dec. 15 against Butler.But if Edwards is anything like Kobe, she'll stay ready for whenever the moment is that she can make her debut."I just love his Mamba Mentality because there's so much focus on the game and grinding in the gym. But what's most important, I've learned over the years, is the significance of your mental competitiveness, because you can get so distracted and it will turn your whole game off for the next three quarters. It's that capability of saying, 'Oh, I missed the layup.' But that bounce back to next-play mentality is really what's important," Edwards said."I just love watching videos of [Bryant] just speaking and sharing his knowledge and everything. So it really just came from my brother, his love, and he gave it to me and now rocking the braids."Not only does Edwards credit brothers Jermaine and Jahmal for introducing her to Bryant, but she says they paved the way for her basketball career altogether. They were the first to put a ball in her hands and have her dribble around the house."The first time I did competitive basketball was in Grade 6 when my brother [Jermaine] and my mom were my coaches. And you can just imagine how stressful that is, having someone you call mom push that from coach to mom and [for] my brother to coach and kind of that frustration that you can get with the game."Still, Edwards credits that extra push for making her the high-motor, highly competitive player she is today.In Grade 6, Edwards would have been roughly 12. Three years later, she made her Canadian national team debut at the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas tournament. Edwards says that was the stepping stone she needed to pursue the sport full-time.She played that tournament just four months after Jermaine died at 27 years old. His cause of death was not made public."Jermaine and Aaliyah were very close and I think always will be," mother Jackie Edwards told the Kingston Whig Standard just after that FIBA tournament.In terms of basketball style, that sentiment still holds true."Jermaine brought an intensity to the team that we have really missed," said Jermaine's college head coach, Barry Smith, just after his passing. "There was a reason that he averaged the number of minutes a game that he did. He was not a scorer, but made up for his lack of scoring by his own personal drive and by pushing his teammates."Canadian women's national team head coach Lisa Thomaidis had similar praise for Aaliyah."I think the biggest thing with her is she competes, you know, she really competes hard. She's got a great motor."Auriemma said those traits remind him of UConn great and 2019 WNBA rookie of the year and all-star Napheesa Collier."She plays hard like 'Pheesa does, she has a lot of energy like 'Pheesa did. She has a motor like 'Pheesa had. She goes, at both ends, offensively and defensively, rebounding the ball, getting to the basket," he told the Hartford Courant.Edwards is part of a group of six freshmen at UConn, a young team for the storied program. That should give her plenty of playing time to shine, and perhaps make an even greater push toward the Canadian Olympic roster in 2021.Thomaidis says she's looking for Edwards to continue developing overall consistency, specifically on the defensive end, in her first season with the Huskies."The sky's the limit for her. She's certainly going to have a long career with senior national team as long as she continues to grow and improve and has a love for the game and competes hard. There's so much that I think she can accomplish with us," Thomaidis said.WATCH | Is this the golden era for Canadian basketball?:Already, the coach envisions Edwards playing a versatile role. At 6-foot-3, she has the skillset to become the positionless player that's become en vogue in recent years — someone who can play inside out on offence and guard virtually every position on defence.On the court, rebounding, ball handling and shooting range are traits Thomaidis and Auriemma agreed are strengths of Edwards.Off the court, it's that professional mindset."My dream has always been to be a part of the Olympic team. ... But in terms of just my college career, I'm just looking to develop my game both physically and mentally, so that when I leave college, I'll be at that level where I can either go pro in the WNBA or overseas or both," Edwards said.It was 2015 when a 19-year-old Kia Nurse, Edwards' Canadian UConn predecessor, led Canada to its first Pan Am gold medal in women's basketball and emerged as the country's next hoops star.Edwards, who will turn 20 just weeks before the Tokyo Olympics, is looking to follow in Nurse's footsteps.
Tracy Cloud can still remember the eruption on social media in response to the behaviour of a high-ranking Edmundston police officer who appeared to laugh when a reporter asked him a question about the shooting death of Chantel Moore. "It was shared many times over and over within our communities," said Cloud, a member of Metepenagiag First Nation. "There was just an explosion of many comments and of course, none of them were positive."Cloud says she's puzzled as to why the officer wasn't directed to participate in a localized cultural training program in response to a complaint filed against him by TJ Burke, the lawyer who represents Chantel Moore's estate. According to Burke, Insp. Steve Robinson has been ordered by the Edmundston police chief to take the Indigenous Canada course available online through the University of Alberta.Cloud is puzzled as to why the police are not using resources closer to home. She says the nine Mi'kmaw communities of New Brunswick, under the non-profit umbrella organization Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Inc., or MTI, do have programs that explain treaty principles and their historical context."In fact, this afternoon, we have a treaty session with about 85 people that will be happening through one of the federal government departments," said Cloud.The MTI also offers a regional variation of a teaching tool known as the blanket exercise. That's when a group of people, for example, a class of high school students, would gather in one room and stand in a space where the floor is covered with blankets that represent the land inhabited by Indigenous people that eventually became Canada.Participants read about chapters of Indigenous history, including the impact of disease, poverty, residential schools and the Indian Act. Progressively, they themselves are increasingly confined to fewer blankets and less space or rejected altogether from the circle. "We have people walking away in tears," said Cloud. "People who say, 'Had I known, I could have done better."Cloud says the cost to facilitate a program depends on factors such as preparation time, staff time and travel expenses. "The exercise is just a couple of hours long. People are able to put their feet in our moccasins for that brief moment and reflect on generations and hundreds of years of history and what Indigenous people have gone through."Cloud says MTI has been trying to get more people involved, including non-governmental agencies. "Really, anyone who's willing to have us in, we're happy to provide the discussion."Education shouldn't be discipline Lawyer Derek Simon, who works as legal counsel for MTI, says education shouldn't be used as a sanction. "I work for the Mi'kmaw chiefs in New Brunswick and they've been advocating for some time now for cultural awareness and treaty training and treaty education for all police officers in New Brunswick. They feel that's something that all officers should be receiving as a matter of course and not as discipline for bad behaviour," said Simon.In addition to completing the online course, Burke says Robinson must also meet with a Wolostoqi elder to discuss what he discovered on his journey for knowledge. Simon says it's a good idea but "sits wrong as a sanction.""It's something that should be a standardized part of the police experience," he said.Simon says the Mi'kmaw chiefs want to see Indigenous representation on the New Brunswick police commission.They also want every police department to have an elder they can turn to, who can provide guidance. "So instead of this one officer being singled out and told, 'You've done a bad thing, go speak to an elder about it,' this is something that should be provided as a cultural resource on an ongoing basis," said Simon.CBC News did ask to speak to Edmundston police Chief Alain Lang but he declined to be interviewed. A spokesperson for his office explained that Lang would not comment because under the New Brunswick Police Act (NBPA), disciplinary and corrective measures are confidential.
If you're venturing into the world of Black Friday sales — whether online or in-store — the owner of one e-commerce business in Port aux Basques says there are some things to be on the lookout for, as some deals aren't all they appear to be.Jay Mathur says some retailers use limited quantity or 'buy now' campaigns to keep people's shopping impulse high.Some products, such as televisions, even have specific models that are rolled out during Black Friday events, he said, but may have less functions than other models. He said most lower-end models, specifically in televisions, will be the ones on sale with dramatic price reductions. "Those TV models are actually very limited. They have a limited number of [outputs]. Maybe they'll only have one HDMI port, no ethernet port, it won't have any smart features, the processor may be very slow, it may not have a lot of memory," Mathur told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show."So the door-buster model that you're actually buying, it may actually be one of the worst TVs for sale."Mathur said looking at the fine print on products, especially in electronics, will tell shoppers everything they need to know, and people should balance that against the "non-holiday" model.Most products sold online will have a reviews section, written by happy or disappointed shoppers which should be used to help in decision making, according to Marthur.But it's important to remember that some product reviews are compensated, he said, meaning the company paid for the review. "That doesn't mean that it's fake, it just means that the retailer provided the product for free or maybe gave some additional incentive, but consider maybe the reviews you're reading may not all be 100 per cent factual," he said. American tradition comes to CanadaBlack Friday means deep price cuts for shoppers looking to save a little extra on holiday gifts for friends and family as December draws nearer. The annual savings event that has become a staple across the United States has quickly become a save-the-date for many Canadian consumers' calendars.Tom Cooper, an associate professor in the Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University, said the event became popular first within border provinces who would make the journey to the United States to save on gifts, well before the boom in online shopping. "Now it's almost become part of the culture whereby people start to prepare their Christmas shopping and start to think about, 'Is this a good time to go out, is this a good time to get the best deals of the season?'" Cooper told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. Cooper said the event has eclipsed Boxing Day sales events, in which companies are pivoting to have their stock out ahead of Christmas rather than after. Now in the middle of a pandemic, and the current state of COVID-19 surges in pockets across Canada, Cooper said he believes most shoppers will now hold out until Cyber Monday — a similar concept to Black Friday but with a focus on online shopping. Shopping localCooper said he would like to see a local Saturday event rather than Black Friday, where people flock to their local retail stores to buy gifts. For small businesses, especially after a year in which many have closed and many more have struggled due to the pandemic, Cooper said the holiday season is going to be important for them."The benefits stay in the community, the benefits stay locally, both in terms of jobs but also in terms of making this a better place to live," he said. "Although chains are great, and I'll still continue to shop at Sportchek and all those other great chains that provide really good products that you can't necessarily get locally, if there is a choice then I think, once again, this is a great time to help local retailers," he said.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The protesters demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader who seized power in the last coup in 2014, but say they do not want him replaced by another general. Prayuth's putsch was the 13th successful coup since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932. "The 14th coup will not happen because the people will come out and resist," one of the protest leaders, Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, told the crowd.
WinSport is opening its season on Friday for a year unlike any other — but for now, only pass holders will be allowed to participate."No walk-up or day tickets will be available, at least for the foreseeable future," said Dale Oviatt, senior manager of communications for WinSport. "[At least] until we can get a start on things and see how our processes are working."Pass holders are required to book times online with WinSport's reservation system as the organization seeks to control the capacity on the hill.The organization is also seeking to keep numbers down in indoor spaces. When guests arrive, they are asked to put their masks and equipment on and proceed directly to the hill."If you've decided to bring your own lunch, or you just want to warm up, just pop back out to your car, and use that for your items as well," Oviatt said.WATCH | Learn how venues like WinSport's Canada Olympic Park keeps ski runs open and in tip-top shape, even during iffy weather conditions:With the new restrictions announced this week by the Alberta government, Oviatt said WinSport is not allowed to operate warming areas.The hill's food court area will be open, but will follow restaurant guidelines."So, not a lot of indoor space," Oviatt said. "That's why we want you to use your car as your day lodge."Increased security will be onsite, but Oviatt suggested guests not bring valuables to the hill. In a typical season, WinSport sees families come out to watch kids participate in lessons. That will be changed due to the pandemic."We're not allowing any foot traffic or spectators anywhere on snow," Oviatt said. "That's just to keep the physical numbers down on the hill."The organization is requesting guests review all of the hill's COVID-19 protocols before visiting.The tube park at the facility is scheduled to open Dec. 19.
If all goes well, Prince Edward Islanders could start being vaccinated against the coronavirus early in 2021, Premier Dennis King said following a conference call with his fellow premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday evening.Face coverings will be mandatory for everyone at the Mark Arendz Ski Park in Brookvale, P.E.I., this winter, officials say, even when on the ski hill. On the hill, those coverings can be a knit balaclava.Nearly two-thirds of students who replied to a voluntary survey at UPEI reported struggling more with mental health issues during the pandemic and 11 per cent said they have had thoughts related to suicide.Bluefield High School student Sophie Flower has organized a food drive for the South Shore Food Share to help out people in her own community of Crapaud, P.E.I., her second during the pandemic.Contact tracing is underway at three potential COVID-19 exposure sites in Charlottetown — the Atlantic Superstore, Gahan House pub and Terra Rossa restaurant and so far, all tests have come back negative. New Brunswick's premier announced Thursday that as of midnight, everyone returning to that province — including people from P.E.I. — must self-isolate for 14 days to help curb the spread of coronavirus.Starting this coming Monday, masks will be mandatory for staff and students in Grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks. Exemptions will be made for when students are eating or drinking, and certain other situations.There are two active COVID-19 cases in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 70 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police have moved a female transgender Instagram celebrity, Millen Cyrus, to a special cell following public outrage over her initial placement in a male detention cell after she was arrested as a suspect in a drug case.“As for her status on her ID, she is a male, and we do not have a transgender status here. So to avoid something we do not want, we placed her in a special cell by herself. That is our policy on it,” Jakarta Police spokesperson Yusri Yunus said Friday.Cyrus, 21, whose birth name is Muhammad Millendaru Prakasa, has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Her account of her experiences as a transgender woman on YouTube has been viewed more than 6 million times.She was arrested on Sunday in a police raid on a hotel room in which 0.36 grams of crystal methamphetamine was found. Police announced then that she had been placed in the men’s detention cell at Tanjung Priok Port Police Station, following her identity on her ID card.That triggered criticism from rights groups and on social media in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.Yunus said police are still determining whether she was a drug user or dealer.The group Human Rights Watch said moving Cyrus to a special cell was a good decision by police.“Most trans women are imprisoned in male prisons, so they experience sexual harassment there,” said Andreas Harsono, the group's senior researcher in Indonesia.“The simplest one is verbal abuse. Some physical abuse happens too. It is not in the cell at the prison but in closed areas,” Harsono said.He said more than 2,000 LGBT people have been arrested in Indonesia because of their sexual orientation since 2014.LGBT communities have recently come under siege, although homosexuality is not illegal, except in conservative Aceh province.In February, some members of the House of Representatives proposed a bill that would define homosexuality as deviant and require lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to report to authorities for rehabilitation.Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press
A Quebec court decision that calls stacking life in prison sentences unconstitutional raises the possibility that Justin Bourque's sentence for killing three RCMP officers in Moncton could change, his former lawyer says.Bourque fatally shot constables David Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Douglas Larche and wounded constables Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois on June 4, 2014. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole for 75 years after pleading guilty.The sentence used a 2011 law passed by the federal Conservative government allowing judges to impose life sentences for multiple murders consecutively instead of concurrently.Bourque would be 99 years old when he is finally eligible for parole. Quebec's Court of Appeal issued a unanimous decision Thursday on a case involving a man who killed six people in a Quebec City mosque. The court reduced Alexandre Bissonnette's life sentence to 25 years without parole while also invalidating sections of the Criminal Code allowing consecutive sentences.The Quebec decision noted the "absurdity" of handing out life sentences that only allow a prisoner to apply for parole after they are likely to have died, saying rehabilitation is a fundamental concept in Canadian criminal law.David Lutz represented Justin Bourque and told CBC he was surprised by the decision that only affects cases in Quebec."I could not just go to the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick and say, reconsider this, because Quebec ruled in the manner it did," Lutz said of Bourque's sentence.Lutz said he expects the Crown will want to appeal the Quebec decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. A spokesperson for Quebec's prosecution service told CBC on Thursday it is studying the decision and would decide later whether to appeal.The supreme court only hears a select few cases each year that have national significance."I would think that this is a situation of national importance. When you're looking at constitutionality, I would assume that the supreme court has to rule on it," Lutz said.If it does, Lutz said it will likely be six months to a year before there's a decision. If that court strikes down the Criminal Code sections, then it would apply nationally and open the door to Bourque challenging his sentence."If the Supreme Court of Canada upholds the Court of Appeal of Quebec, then he would have an opportunity for an earlier parole application," Lutz said. "That does not mean that necessarily the parole board is going to look at it favourably."Lutz said he would contact his former client to tell him about the ruling.Radio-Canada reported in 2015 that Joëlle Roy, a lawyer in Quebec, was preparing to appeal Bourque's sentences. However, Roy was later appointed as a judge and no appeal was filed.The sentence by then-Court of Queen's Bench Justice David Smith was considered the most severe in Canada since the abolition of the death penalty.While Bourque pleaded guilty, avoiding the need to hold a trial, a two-day sentencing hearing included a detailed timeline of the killings."I found it the most difficult case I've done in my career," Smith said in an interview with CBC after he retired in 2019. "It was so emotional. Normally you don't get that much emotion in a case. … It was devastating listening to it."At the time of the sentencing, Lutz told reporters that Bourque was "resigned" to the prison sentence since pleading guilty.
OTTAWA — Newly released documents have shed light on the secret government talks and debate that took place ahead of a Canadian warship's passage through a sensitive waterway near China last year.Those discussions included a private meeting between the top bureaucrats at the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada, weeks before HMCS Ottawa sailed through the Taiwan Strait.Defence officials were also told to keep quiet about the frigate's trip in September 2019, three months after Chinese fighter jets buzzed two other Canadian ships making the same voyage. And they were ordered to keep the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister, in the loop as the Ottawa was making its way through the waterway.The unusual level of attention from the highest levels of government laid out in the documents, obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information, underscores the sensitivities surrounding the trip.That is because while much of the world considers the 180-kilometre strait to be international waters, Beijing claims ownership of the strait separating mainland China from Taiwan.Beijing, which regards the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a rogue province, has repeatedly condemned such passages by foreign warships from the U.S., Canada and elsewhere as illegal.HMCS Ottawa ended up sailing through the Taiwan Strait twice in early September. Media reports at the time said the frigate was shadowed by the Chinese navy.The heavily redacted memo to Global Affairs deputy minister Marta Morgan dated Aug. 7, 2019 starts by saying the Defence Department was looking for a risk assessment for the Ottawa's planned transit.Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas "has also requested a meeting with you on Aug. 12 to discuss this deployment," the memo adds.While HMCS Ottawa was in the region at the time helping enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the memo noted that the frigate was due to make a port visit in Bangkok in mid-September.Defence officials have publicly stated that the decision to have the Ottawa sail through the strait was because the route was the fastest way for the frigate to reach Bangkok from its position near North Korea.The memo backs that assertion, noting that going around Taiwan would add one or two days to the trip each way.Yet it also says the navy's presence in the South China Sea, of which the Taiwan Strait is a part, "has demonstrated Canadian support for our closest partners and allies, regional security and the rules-based international order."Global Affairs ultimately agreed to the Ottawa's sailing through the strait, but called on defence officials to keep the trip quiet, in large part because of fears the trip would coincide with the federal election campaign."Finally, GAC will ask DND to ensure that it keeps PCO informed as this naval deployment progresses," the memo adds.Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney described the discussions leading up to the Ottawa's transit of the Taiwan Strait as "an illustration of smart and effective consultation producing the right decision.""It is tremendously important that China sees that, in addition to the United States, other serious countries like Canada will not be intimidated into surrendering the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan itself to China's complete control," he said."The RCN, working closely with Global Affairs, is promoting the national interest and asserting our sovereignty from the far side of the world."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get worse, it turns out southern Saskatchewan's mouse population is exploding.The phones at Poulin's Pest Control in Regina have been ringing off the hook, said general manager Shawn Sherwood.He said this has been the busiest year for mice complaints that he has seen in two decades.That goes for residential calls and insurance claims."We clean trailers and cars that have had mice in them," Sherwood said. "Normally we will see them starting in March or April, and we'll be done by July. We're doing one tomorrow."And the problem isn't localized to just the Queen City.Sherwood said the company's Saskatoon office is seeing similar infestations.Jan Shadick, who runs Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon, said one way youu can tell there's been a bounty of mice is that last spring, birds who feed on the rodents had a large brood."When they're struggling to feed themselves, they're not going to have a whole bunch of babies that they know that they can't feed," Shadick said.On the downside, she says her research shows while bird numbers went up this year, so did the number of birds injured in traps. "We went from sort of one sticky trap last year to seven this year, so it's a huge increase," Shadick said. "We had four snap-trapped birds last year and seven this year. "We had one that came in, and [the trap] had actually caught on the beak of the bird and just broken it."That being said, when it comes to getting rid of mice, Shadick prefers people use snap traps."When they work, they're incredibly effective and quick and humane."But why are there are so many mice this year? That's hard to explain, but both Shadick and Sherwood said the increase is abnormal. Spikes like this usually happen when there's been a lot of snow the winter before — but that isn't the case this year in Saskatchewan. Sherwood has a simpler explanation. "People ask me, 'Why are we seeing so many mice?' It's 2020, man. What do you expect?"
The lead plaintiff in a one-billion-dollar-plus lawsuit alleging bullying and harassment within the RCMP says he hopes a recent report calling out the force's toxic culture will convince Ottawa to drop its fight against his claim.Last week, former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache released a report describing a police force in crisis. The report — "Broken Dreams, Broken Lives" — points to systemic cultural problems within the RCMP and called for an external review of the future of the iconic Canadian institution.The report grew out of the Merlo-Davidson settlement, which was the result of a class action lawsuit on behalf of women who were sexually abused or discriminated against while serving in the RCMP.Those findings hit home for Mountie Geoffrey Greenwood, who is helping to front a separate class action alleging "systemic negligence in the form of bullying, intimidation, and general harassment."Greenwood alleges he endured torment after reporting allegations of bribery and corruption against fellow drug officers in 2008.The Greenwood vs. Canada lawsuit — which seeks compensation for what could be thousands of officers, civilian employees, students and volunteers — argues that internal remedies for such complaints are ineffective because they are dependent upon the "chain of command," which is often made up of those who were either responsible for the offending behaviour or acted to protect others.According to the lawsuit, this chain of command perpetuated a toxic work climate, characterized by abuses of power.Greenwood said the RCMP's workplace culture ends up affecting almost every member.> The scars will never, ever go away. \- Geoffrey Greenwood"It does affect everybody, from the new recruit walking in the door to the member at my service. It affects everyone and it affects them both professionally and personally," he said."It's a very, very lonely road to walk and the scars will never, ever go away.". A Federal Court Justice certified the $1.1 billion lawsuit earlier this year. The federal government is appealing that decision. The Crown, on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is fighting against the lawsuit, saying the claims are "workplace disputes" for which there are various legislative remedies and avenues for redress within the RCMP. A hearing on Ottawa's appeal of the lawsuit's certification is expected in the new year.A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said it's too early to know if the Bastarache report will affect future litigation.Lawyer Megan McPhee, class counsel in the Greenwood suit, said there are parallels between her client's case and the one that led to the Merlo-Davidson settlement."The RCMP is continuing to fight this case and argue that the policies work, even though the reports say they don't," she said."They say that they are workplace disputes, when the reports confirm that it's a toxic culture that's at issue."Pressure mounts for external reviewThe Bastarache report also shows that the force can't be trusted to fix itself, McPhee said.In the report, Bastarache writes that he believes that "culture change is highly unlikely to come from within the RCMP." One of his main recommendations is for an external, independent review of the RCMP's future as a federal policing organization."We've seen decades of reports now, and they've come from different mandates and from different perspectives, but the findings of the reports have been consistent and that's what the RCMP can't fix itself internally," said McPhee."The processes and the policies in place for dealing with harassment aren't working for members."Greenwood said the only way forward for the force is to accept outside help in the form of an external review."Whenever there is a report, or whenever there is a decision, or whenever there is something that's contentious within the RCMP, their immediate fallback is to take out the old policy, dust it off, add a couple of new words or a couple of phrases and see if that works," he said."And nine times out of 10, that fails. So the membership, they're waiting."When asked about Bastarache's call for an external review during a committee meeting Wednesday, Blair said the government already committed to reform in September's speech from the throne."We have very clearly stated our commitment to bring about reform of the RCMP and in particular to deal with issues of governance, oversight and accountability," he said.
More than 150 people staked out Cuba's culture ministry on Friday to show solidarity with dissident artists facing a state crackdown, in an unusually large display of public dissent on the Communist-run island. The demonstrators demanded a dialogue over limits on freedom of expression and what they call state repression after the authorities cracked down on the San Isidro Movement of dissident artists and activists. The Dutch and Czech governments and Amnesty International, as well as other rights groups, voiced concern on Friday about human rights in Cuba.
It's traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year, but with the closure of non-essential shops, consumer surveys suggest shoppers are much less likely to go bargain-hunting.View on euronews
The Nunatsiavut government will be holding a by-election after an ordinary member of the Nunatsiavut Assembly had his Inuit land claims beneficiary membership revoked.Edward Blake Rudkowski has been a beneficiary since 1986, first as a member of the Labrador Inuit Association before the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act was passed in 2005. He was also Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly.He said he was advised by Nunatsiavut officials that because he was removed from the Labrador Inuit Enrolment Register, he could no longer hold his seat in government."I feel no differently about myself this morning than I did this time last week," Blake Rudkowski told CBC's Labrador Morning. "I don't feel any less Inuit, any less Indigenous."According to a press release from Nunatsiavut, the decision to revoke his membership was due to a review. > My grandparents would be upset beyond belief to see this sort of thing going on. \- Edward Blake RudkowskiBlake Rudkowksi said the day after he won the 2018 election, a losing candidate went to the Office of the Registrar of Beneficiaries and asked for a review of his membership, which under the land claims agreement is allowed. But he said after 34 years as a beneficiary, the timing seems odd. "When we are living in an era with so many concrete issues to deal with, when we have so many people dealing with homelessness and addiction and food insecurity … people turning upon their own and people fighting among themselves … is unimaginably counter-productive," he said. 'Blood quantum' too lowBlake Rudkowski said he was told he only had 17.14 per cent Inuit blood quantum. According to the land claims agreement, a member needs to have 25 per cent. "I couldn't begin to hazard a guess at how someone comes up with a number of 17 per cent," said Blake Rudkowski.The government said it plays no role in determining the membership of any individuals, as the beneficiary enrolment process is independent from Nunatsiavut.However, Nunatsiavut said there are other ways to become a beneficiary other than hitting a genetic benchmark for Inuit heritage. An individual can either apply as an Inuk or they can enrol as a person with 25 per cent Inuit descent, although it is unclear as to how the membership committee arrives at a percentage.CBC News has left messages with the beneficiaries registrar for clarification on Blake Rudkowski's situation. There also is a method that allows an individual to apply for a membership if they have settled on the land and follow the customs and traditions. "There's quite a few opportunities for an individual to highlight how they have connection to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement," said Nunatsiavut First Minister Tyler Edmunds."The process tries to demonstrate and test how an individual is connected."Edmunds said there also is an appeal process that can be taken if an applicant is unsuccessful in obtaining a membership and has further proof of their Indigenous heritage.Future unclearBlake Rudkowksi said he is undecided whether he will appeal, and doesn't yet know what his future holds. "What the next steps are is still unclear. I truly have not decided on where to go with this at this point," Blake Rudkowksi said."My grandparents would be upset beyond belief to see this sort of thing going on."Edmunds said he wanted to thank Blake Rudkowski for the work he has done for the beneficiaries over the years. "I can remember my first call with him when I was Speaker, and he was just ready to dive head first into his responsibilities as ordinary member," said Edmunds."I worked closely with Ed over the last couple years and I know he has had a tremendous passion for his work. I think a lot of people can easily see that."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Pierre Poilievre recently alerted the nation to what he thinks Justin Trudeau is up to.Last week, the presumptive finance minister in Erin O'Toole's "government-in-waiting" warned that "global financial elites" are attempting to "re-engineer economies and societies" in order to "empower the elites at the expense of the people." Canadians, he said, "must fight back against global elites" and "their power grab." He invited those who share his concerns to sign a petition calling on the government to "protect our freedom" and "end plans to impose the 'Great Reset'."That certainly does sound like a frightening scenario. But there are some holes in the plot.The item that so alarmed the Conservative frontbencher was a clip that circulated online last week of the prime minister speaking at a United Nations conference in September. "This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset," Justin Trudeau told the conference. "This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts, to re-imagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change."Poilievre linked Trudeau's comments to a call for a "great reset" made in June by Klaus Schwab, the executive director of the World Economic Forum, an independent organization best known for hosting a high-minded gabfest in Davos, Switzerland each year. (Trudeau has been to that summit twice — the same number of times Stephen Harper attended when he was prime minister.)Scary storiesIn doing so, the prominent Conservative MP brushed up against conspiracy theorists who imagine that powerful, shadowy figures are plotting world domination and tyranny.Poilievre emphasized the words "reset," "opportunity," "chance" and "re-imagine" in Trudeau's comments. But his petition cuts off Trudeau's second sentence before the prime minister's reference to the "global challenges of extreme poverty, inequality and climate change."Set aside the spooky stories about "global elites" and "freedom," and Trudeau's words simply point to a reality-based debate about the post-pandemic world — about which issues governments should focus on and how they should address them.Beyond questions about Poilievre's beliefs and behaviour, there are others that could usefully shape the Canadian political debate. Do Conservatives believe the Liberal government's stated priorities are not the sorts of things the federal government should worry about? Or do they simply believe the Liberals are bound to take the wrong approach to those problems? If so, what would they do instead?Crisis and opportunityJustin Trudeau is hardly the first prime minister to see a moment that calls for sweeping change. Stephen Harper, for instance, went to the World Economic Forum in 2012 and vowed that, in the wake of the Great Recession, his government would implement "major transformations to position Canada for growth over the next generation."But Poilievre wasn't the only one expressing alarm last week.Though he refrained from saying anything about "global elites," Conservative leader Erin O'Toole followed Poilievre's campaign with a video of his own. In it, he cited that same clip of Trudeau, but instead cast the prime minister's comments as insensitive and his plans as risky."It's hard to believe that anyone would look at the carnage caused by COVID-19 and see an opportunity," O'Toole lamented.A reporter asked O'Toole on Wednesday whether he believed in the "great reset" theory. "I don't follow social media," he replied — a response that's hard to square with the fact that O'Toole's own Twitter account recently promoted the creation of a separate Twitter account for his dog.Trudeau's government did leave itself open to the charge that it was, at the very least, getting ahead of itself. Back in the summer, Liberals began to talk aloud about the post-pandemic economic recovery and the "generational opportunity" that would be created by the need to rebuild. They were not alone in thinking such things, but as the second wave began to emerge, they shifted their messaging to signal that they remain focused on the immediate threat.In the midst of a global emergency, talk of "opportunity" can seem jarring. Harper was widely lampooned for saying that the stock market crash in 2008 offered some "great buying opportunities" — even though he turned out to be basically correct. But there has been widespread discussion, beyond the halls of power in Ottawa, about how countries and governments should plan to emerge from this once-in-century crisis.The pandemic will leave behind significant economic damage everywhere — damage that governments might help to repair through policy and public spending. At the same time, the pandemic has both exposed and highlighted an array of pre-existing problems, from economic, gender and racial inequalities to shortcomings in care for the elderly.And even as public and government attention is consumed by the immediate threat of COVID-19, the equally profound threat of climate change continues to bear down on the planet.In theory, when the pandemic begins to recede, all of those concerns might be addressed together — to stimulate economic growth while building a more equitable and sustainable economy. This is why the idea of "building back better" has caught on — among progressive leaders, like Trudeau and American president-elect Joe Biden, and with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a populist conservative whose example O'Toole has acknowledged studying.Trudeau's broad agenda on this front was laid out in September's throne speech — new spending on child care, further efforts to expand pharmacare, investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a cleaner economy, enhanced training for workers, measures to combat systemic racism and new standards for long-term care.In response, O'Toole warned obliquely that the Liberal government was preparing to conduct "social experiments."'Everything is not OK'At the most basic level, O'Toole and Poilievre might be trying to set up a simple conflict between risk and certainty, as opposed to a contest of different approaches to the same basic problems. But, as noted, Trudeau isn't the only leader saying that society might be improved somewhat; O'Toole himself said much the same thing in a speech three weeks ago."Everything is not OK," the Conservative leader said at an event hosted by the Canadian Club of Toronto. Instead of building back "better," O'Toole said, Conservatives would aim to build back "stronger."So perhaps the next election will be about your choice of adjectives.O'Toole also worried aloud about stagnant wages and workers who lack benefits and pensions. He said Conservatives need to take inequality "seriously." He praised capitalism while arguing that "free markets alone won't solve our problems" and "we need policies that build solidarity, not just wealth."It's not hard to imagine Poilievre expressing alarm if Trudeau had said similar things about the existing economic system."We must change," O'Toole said, even though "powerful forces continue to defend the status quo." (O'Toole and Poilievre might also want to compare notes about what exactly the "global elite" is up to these days.)O'Toole didn't say much about how he would address any of these concerns. He didn't mention child care or systemic racism. He criticized what he called the Trudeau government's drive to implement "green energy" policies, but he didn't explain how he would reduce Canada's emissions.To be fair, the Liberals haven't said much yet about how exactly they plan to tackle those problems either. They have yet to explain how many of the throne speech's promises would be implemented.For now, this is a phoney war between one party that says the federal government should try to do a bunch of things (but hasn't said how) and another party that says that trying to do a bunch of things sounds scary (even as it concedes that some things do need to change).At some point, it might be nice to talk about real things.
Ontario resident Madelyn MacNeill considered herself healthy and didn't expect to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery while visiting her parents in Nova Scotia this past summer.Nor did she expect the almost $13,000 bill for ground and air ambulance transportation that arrived weeks after she returned to Ontario."When I opened up the bill and saw it was $12,800, my jaw dropped. I was in quite a bit of shock," the 27-year-old said. "I can't afford to pay that amount of money all upfront. It boggles my mind."MacNeill has been offered an interest-free payment plan of $50 a month. She figures it will take her 21 years to pay off the bill.Back in June, MacNeill, who lives in Toronto, was working from home and hadn't seen her family for a while. She figured she'd drive home to Nova Scotia, self-isolate for 14 days and continue to work out there, while also enjoying some family time.However, on the last day of isolation, MacNeill experienced back problems. Days later, an ambulance was required to take her to the hospital in New Glasgow.Once there, it was determined she had herniated two discs and needed emergency surgery in Halifax, about 150 kilometres away. MacNeill was told there were no ground ambulances available, so she was transported by air and underwent surgery right away. Although she expected a bill for the ground ambulance, she said, "at no time was I told I would be footing the bill for the air ambulance or any sort of cost associated with the inter-hospital transfer."It's a cautionary tale for anyone travelling between provinces, especially during COVID-19. MacNeill said she has Ontario provincial health coverage as well as insurance through her work, and never imagined she would need travel health insurance while in another part of Canada."Every time I travel out of the country, I always purchase traveller's insurance, but I honestly never thought that I would need travel insurance for inter-provincial travel. I always thought in Canada we had universal health care," she said.Out-of-province visitors pay moreAmbulance travel within a province can be pricey and cause financial hardship, a situation highlighted by CBC's Marketplace in 2015.Fees for ground ambulance for provincial residents vary from a low of $45 in Ontario to a high of $385 in Alberta. Manitoba, which in 2015 had the highest ground ambulance fees in the country, has lowered its fee to no more than $250. Some provinces, such as Alberta, provide free ground ambulance service for seniors.All provinces charge non-residents more for ambulance services, though not all provinces post the fees online. Despite numerous requests, some did not provide CBC News with this information.Of those that did, Nova Scotia had the highest fee: $732.95 for ground ambulance for people from other provinces. (The fee for residents is $146.55.)Air ambulance fees are even costlier for out-of-province residents. Of those provinces that post fees or provided information, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia do not charge residents for air ambulance service, but people from other provinces who require it are billed $12,000. Both provinces, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, say the fees cover the cost of providing the service.Health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton said ambulances are not part of the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation that sets out what is universally covered. "It's a complicated business, but when the Canada Health Act was written, the only things that were covered in that legislation that would be insured were things that happened inside a hospital and services that are performed by a doctor," Hampton said.She notes that ambulances in Nova Scotia used to be based at funeral homes and were used for basic transportation in a medical emergency. Today, they are staffed by highly qualified paramedics. "I'm not suggesting that it's an easy issue to fix, but from a public point of view and from a patient point of view, it would make a great deal of sense to me for us to figure out how to get the [ambulance] user fees off the table and come up with a different funding model altogether," Hampton said.She urged people to contact their member of Parliament about rewriting legislation to make ambulances an essential service.Chris Hood, the former president of the Paramedics Association of Canada, agrees. Back in 2015, he told CBC's Marketplace, "You don't pay for a police officer to come to your house when you've got somebody breaking into it. You don't pay for the fire department to come and put your fire out. Why is paramedic service or ambulance service any different? It's the same thing." In an interview last week, Hood said that question remains valid today.Are fees a deterrent to use?Michael Nickerson, president of the union that represents Nova Scotia paramedics, said he hopes fees don't deter anyone from calling an ambulance if they need one."Anecdotally, we've heard from paramedics and patients alike that have concerns around the cost of an ambulance, and that some people have waited and not called at all or drove themselves to the hospital while experiencing a medical emergency," Nickerson said.He worries someone driving to hospital while having a heart attack, for example, could have an accident, injuring themselves further and perhaps others on the road — or worse."There's a danger of losing your life if you're having a heart attack and you're not being treated promptly," Nickerson said. He noted Nova Scotia paramedics are highly trained and the province is one of the few jurisdictions that allows paramedics to administer a medication specifically for heart attacks.The Nova Scotia government said in 2018 there were 1,649 ambulance bills, for a total of about $1.2 million. It said 44 bills were written off, for a total amount of $31,554.80.In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the province said the government has no immediate plans to review the fees.Will McAleer, executive director of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, said travel health insurance is easy to purchase and affordable, but many people don't realize they need it until they have an out-of-province emergency and are facing a big bill. "When you're looking at an interprovincial or within-Canada policy, you can purchase that for a dollar, maybe two dollars, a day," McAleer said. He emphasized the importance of discussing your needs with the insurance provider and identifying any pre-existing conditions prior to buying insurance to ensure you get the coverage you need. Payment options availableAs for MacNeill and her $12,800 ambulance bill, a small portion of it is covered by her work insurance.Most provinces offer an appeal process for those who feel they are unable to pay their ambulance bills, but it varies from province to province. According to government information online, the Nova Scotia Ambulance Fee Assistance Program will use your net household income as the primary eligibility test to determine whether you qualify to have the debt written off. MacNeill said she's been told the appeal criteria in Nova Scotia are very limited and that fees would only be waived if there's a paramedic error. In this case, there was not."The paramedics were very kind and helpful," MacNeill said.
In September, scientists announced they had found a chemical signature in the clouds of Venus that they said could be associated with life. However, in a new follow-up, pre-print study, the authors announced that the level of the chemical is seven times lower than they had initially reported.In the original paper, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers claimed they had found high traces of phosphine, a toxic chemical known as PH3. On Earth, phosphine is either produced by organisms that don't require oxygen to survive, or it can be created in laboratories.In a reanalysis of the data, which has not been peer-reviewed, the study's authors now say there may be less phosphine than initially reported, but that doesn't entirely rule out a phosphine detection. They also reported that they are detecting variations of phosphine over time. So does that mean there's no chance of life in the clouds of Venus?"No, not at all," said Jane Greaves, lead author of both studies and a professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, in an email. "The discovery of time-variation is particularly exciting, as other things change too over time (like how much water is seen in the clouds)." WATCH | Scientists discuss their original finding of phosphine in the clouds of VenusVenus, roughly the same size as Earth, is often called our sister planet. It's believed to have had oceans billions of years ago. But today, it's considered inhospitable to life. The cloud-covered planet is the hottest in the solar system with temperatures hot enough to melt lead and a crushing carbon dioxide environment. Over the past few decades, some astronomers hypothesized that life could exist in a narrow region of the clouds, between 48 and 60 kilometres above the surface. That's where the phosphine was detected, which is why the study's findings were so exciting to some.However, there has been increasing skepticism about the September study. Several papers were published in response questioning not only the conclusions that the astronomers reached, but also the data itself.Questions aboundThe initial observations were taken by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii in 2017 and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile in 2019. The high concentrations of phosphine detected with these telescopes, the researchers said, could not be accounted for by natural sources such as volcanoes, lightning or meteors burning up in Venus's atmosphere. The only thing left on the table, they said, was biological production. The study's authors knew there was "noise" in the data obtained from ALMA, perhaps from Earth's own atmosphere, but said they had ruled it out.A follow-up look at the telescopes at ALMA revealed some calibration errors that did explain some of the noise, which led other astronomers to further question the findings. One independent study suggested that instead of phosphine, the observations might have been detecting sulphur dioxide (SO2), a gas that is abundant in the planet's atmosphere.Another study, led by Therese Encrenaz, an astronomer at l'Observatoire Paris-Site de Meudon, looked at infrared data collected in 2015, where no phosphine was detected. The authors conclude that if phosphine does exist at all, it would be found in the upper atmosphere of Venus — above both where it was detected and that narrow region where life has been hypothesized.Even with the reanalysis by Greaves, Encrenaz doesn't believe the phosphine is produced biologically."Even if phosphine was present, they had no proof at all that there is life behind it, because they have no scenario to explain how microorganisms could form," Encrenaz said. "It's just an idea because they don't know how to explain it with regular processes.… I was a bit disappointed when I read their paper, because they should not have said so."Interactive | Click, drag and zoom to see Venus in 3DHowever, in another paper published in September on the pre-print server arXiv, researchers reanalyzing data collected by the Pioneer-Venus probe from the 1970s found the "data support[s] the presence of phosphine; although, the origins of phosphine remain unknown."David Grinspoon, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, said he welcomes the follow-up studies. Grinspoon was not involved in any of the studies but has been vocal in his support for the potential of life in the clouds of Venus."Whenever a new result is reported, especially one with potentially great significance, made with a difficult technique, it must be scrutinized and followed up with further observations and analysis," he said. "This is how science works."But he doesn't rule out the possibility that life could still exist in the clouds of Venus."If the phosphine goes away it certainly doesn't change my view of the possibility of life there, or really rule anything out. Why would the lack of an unlikely biosignature in an environment where it was never expected or predicted rule out life in a place? The logic does not make sense," Grinspoon said. "What we know about the clouds of Venus suggests that it is a possible habitat that should be explored further."So the jury is still out on whether or not the phosphine detection could be an indication of life, but astronomers hope that future observations — or a mission to the planet itself — could provide a better answer."We need new missions to Venus to directly probe the atmosphere with modern instruments," Grinspoon said. "No 21st century mission has ever directly studied the atmosphere of Venus."
Premier Stephen McNeil continues to refuse calls to release details about how $228 million in unbudgeted COVID-19 stimulus money is being spent. The funding is being used for a variety of infrastructure projects across the province, in part to drive employment during the pandemic.After government officials initially pledged to make the list available, a spokesperson for the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department said last month that it wouldn't happen after all. At the time, McNeil told reporters that all the information about the more than 200 projects was available by cross referencing capital plan documents with the government tender website.The premier suggested the government isn't a research department for reporters and that they do the work themselves.Several reporters at AllNovaScotia.com recently tried to do that work, but fell well short of being able to assemble a complete list using the method suggested by the premier. When that was pointed out to him Thursday, McNeil stuck to his guns about the availability of the information.'It should be available to taxpayers'"I don't know how much more transparent I can be, other than unless you want me to go down and identify every program that the money has come out of," he said Thursday following a cabinet meeting."I don't think Nova Scotians think that's the best use of the premier's time."Part of the challenge assembling the information is that some stimulus work wasn't actually tendered, but rather tacked on to projects that had previously been approved, something Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines confirmed last month.A few of the projects have yet to be announced, said McNeil, and so would not have been posted yet. AllNovaScotia's reporting showed that the projects they could locate did not appear to be disproportionately awarded to Liberal-held districts.Tory Leader Tim Houston said the public has a right to know how the government is spending its money.Houston said he was initially willing to give the premier the benefit of the doubt, but now that reporters have demonstrated just how difficult it is to account for the money, the premier should just call for a list to be produced."There's no reason to hide it," Houston told reporters. "It should be available to taxpayers."'Deliberately and willfully obtuse'NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the premier is being "deliberately and willfully obtuse in obscuring a very simple request" in a way that is consistent with his government's general approach to transparency."I can't imagine why, but it's quite plain that the obtuseness and the obscurity is deliberate on their part," Burrill told reporters."The question is as straightforward as it could possibly be."McNeil told reporters that asking for the details to be provided was a case of "people looking for something to complain about.""I don't know what more you want," he said."You're like every other Nova Scotian. [The projects] are on the website. Go look at them."MORE TOP STORIES