Nineteen per cent of people in a northeast Brampton neighbourhood who get tested for COVID-19 test positive,and that is more than any other region in the GTA. Kamil Karamali reports.
Nineteen per cent of people in a northeast Brampton neighbourhood who get tested for COVID-19 test positive,and that is more than any other region in the GTA. Kamil Karamali reports.
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
Students across Alberta started learning from home again Monday and will continue to do so until Jan. 11. In an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the province forced all students in Grades 7-12 to go back to at-home learning. All students will go on winter break on Dec. 18. In January, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 11 after a week of online learning to begin the New Year. Grade 8 St. Mary’s student Bethany Taylor says online learning is naturally different than in-class learning, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. “I’m still able to communicate with my friends and have a good time,” she said. “Learning online is good for me and I’m able to learn new things and communicate with everyone I need to.” When schools shifted online in March, they did not have much time to plan for the online aspect of learning. Taylor says things seem more structured this time around. “We have to be at a specific meeting at a specific time,” she said. “We have a schedule every day and it’s pretty similar to a normal day at school.” Alexandra Middle School student Rowan Hughson says online learning has its ups and downs. “It’s alright learning online and I don’t mind being at home,” Hughson said. “It’s just confusing sometimes trying to figure out what is going on. “I really like being around other people, so that is really hard at times, too.” The Grade 9 student says things seem much smoother this time around. “This seems much better than the emergency learning we had in March,” Hughson said. “I think they’ve had a lot more time to plan this time around and to listen to feedback from parents and students.” Jackson Harnett is a Grade 8 student at Notre Dame says online learning is a good experience. “I actually do like it – it’s really good,” he said. “I like that you get to work at your own pace and there aren’t as many distractions this way.” Harnett agrees that things are going better this time. “Everyone is showing up to class,” he said. “Things seem a lot more organized.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
Quebec City has inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2017 mosque shooting.The commemorative work designed by artist Luce Pelletier is located near the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, in the city's Ste-Foy district.Mayor Regis Labeaume said the Jan. 29, 2017 attack on the centre left families, a community and an entire city in mourning when six Muslim men were gunned down shortly after the end of evening prayers.Labeaume says the people of Quebec City want to live together in harmony, a sentiment reinforced by another recent tragedy, a sword attack that left two people dead and five injured in the city's historic district on Halloween night.He says the memorial, titled "Vivre Ensemble" (Live Together), is a way of making it clear that "hate will never win."The monument is composed of several elements that symbolize the meeting of different communities, with the part near the mosque serving as an area for meditation and commemoration.The area for reflection includes a written recounting of what happened that night while the commemorative portion includes the names of the six men engraved on stones, each adorned with perforated aluminum sheets with patterns inspired by their countries of origin: Morocco, Guinea, Tunisia and Algeria.Family members of the six victims — Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti — as well as some survivors were present for the unveiling today."This tragedy left a permanent scar on the hearts of thousands of residents," Labeaume said. "To demonstrate that we remember, that we still think about the victims today, we are proud to pay homage with the magnificent commemorative monument."The president of the mosque gave an emotional address with a message for the children of the six victims."For the kids present today, the children of our lost friends, you have felt that everyone loves you," Boufeldja Benabdallah said."When you cross people on the street, they embrace you. You are like their children, everyone loves you and everyone wants you to become the great citizens of tomorrow, to honour this city and to honour your parents' memory."The Quebec City man convicted of six counts of first-degree murder in the killings was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. Following a successful appeal decision last week, he is eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years in prison.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry. The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.” The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke. “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.” Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group. Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9. “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.” Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry. Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified. “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.” Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders. He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations. The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey. Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations. During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.” Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.” ___ Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco. Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The annual publishing convention and trade show known as BookExpo, a decades-old tradition where guest speakers have ranged from Bill Clinton to Margaret Atwood, may be coming to an end. ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for a quarter century, announced Tuesday that effectively immediately it was “retiring” the event, along with the fan-based BookCon and merchandise-based UnBound. Any future for the convention depends on the wishes of the book community. As in other industries, publishers have debated the necessity of holding BookExpo when much of the business once conducted there has moved online. BookExpo used to be rotated around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington, D.C., but it was held almost exclusively in recent years in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. New York publishers looked to reduce costs, including cutting back sharply on how much space they purchased on the convention floor. Earlier this year, BookExpo and BookCon were held virtually because of the coronavirus. The status for next year's show was already in doubt. "The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need," Reed event director Jennifer Martin said in a statement. "This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.” Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who has praised BookExpo as a chance for the industry to gather under one roof, said in a statement that he hoped such occasions would happen again. “Among the many traditions we greatly missed this year was having an industry event that brings together booksellers, authors and publishers," he said. "In this virtual world, Penguin Random House is continuously investing in innovative ways to connect our community members with one another, and we look forward to working with our industry partners to explore a newly imagined event where we all can come together to celebrate books and their essential role in our society and culture.” Booksellers have been meeting annually since the early 20th century, although the modern convention dates back to 1947 and the founding of the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show. The ABA, the trade group for independent owners, served as host until the mid-1990s, when tensions with the superstore chain Barnes & Noble and some publishers led to legal action and to the association's selling the show to Reed. Usually held in late spring, BookExpo was once a prime venue for upcoming books to “break out,” and for publishers to place orders with booksellers and bring in top authors to meet with store officials, agents, librarians and journalists. At a given convention, a dais might be shared by Atwood, William Styron and Margaret Thatcher, or by Bill Murray and Julia Child. At a 2006 luncheon in Washington, speakers included Amy Sedaris and John Updike, whose elegy for all the Manhattan bookstores now closed so moved the audience that few remembered what was said by the third featured author, a first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. But over the past few years, visiting authors lacked the star power of previous guests, and attendance fell to the point where sizable parts of the Javits centre floor were empty. In 2018, when Michelle Obama was looking to promote the fall release of her memoir “Becoming,” she didn't come to BookExpo, but instead addressed the convention of the American Library Association. And this year highlighted doubts over whether an in-person gathering raises sales: The market has remained stable despite the pandemic and the convention being held online. Meanwhile, other industry meetings continue, including regional shows and the increasingly popular Winter Institute, managed by the American Booksellers Association. The Winter Institute will be held virtually in February 2021. "The retirement of BookExpo feels like the end of an era," ABA CEO Allison K. Hill told the AP, adding that the need for booksellers to gather was as strong as ever. "ABA is exploring new ways to bring booksellers, publishers, and authors together in the future. For now, we’ll keep bringing everyone together virtually.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — The OPEC oil producers' cartel was to push ahead with a new round of discussions Tuesday about how much to pump next year as countries wrestled over whether to extend the production cuts that have been supporting prices depressed by the pandemic.Members adjourned a videoconference after a first day of deliberations Monday ended without an agreement. They also put off from Tuesday to Thursday a meeting with non-OPEC oil producers like Russia, who have been co-ordinating their actions with the cartel in recent years to increase their influence.Oil producing countries face a difficult situation. The pandemic has sapped demand for fuel across the economy, which induced them to cut back production this year to keep prices from sagging even more than they have. Yet the lower production means less revenue for governments that depend on oil sales to fill state coffers.And the outlook for demand is mixed across the globe; economies in the U.S. and Europe have been disrupted by a second upsurge in coronavirus infections, while activity and travel in China have rebounded more strongly.Oil traded 19 cents lower at $45.15 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is off from $63 at the start of 2020.The sag in demand has been reflected in lower prices to consumers for auto fuel in the U.S. Gasoline prices at the pump dipped well below $2 per gallon in many parts of the country in May as the pandemic took hold, and have remained flat after a mild rebound. The U.S. average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30, down 45 cents from the same week a year earlier but little changed from this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.Analysts at UniCredit bank said the oil producing countries were likely to agree to extend this year's production cuts of about 7.7 million barrels a day.“In our view, the delay should not be a concern and we still expect the current curbs to be extended into the first quarter of 2021,” they said, adding that it is not unusual for OPEC meetings to last longer than scheduled and virtual discussions slow the negotiation process.“Moreover, both Saudi Arabia and Russia – the two leaders of the group – favour an extension of the cuts and this should be enough to square the circle and finalize the deal on Thursday.” Saudi Arabia tends to take a leadership role within OPEC, while Russia is the biggest non-OPEC country to co-ordinate with the cartel.David McHugh, The Associated Press
Thanks to École catholique Sacré-Coeur students, people in need will have socks to keep their feet warm this winter. In just a week, students from Grade 5 to 8 donated 343 pairs of socks to SOCKS Timmins. The organization will then distribute donated items to local shelters and food banks. The idea came to the school’s student council president Jenna Kim. She said she wanted to do something to help the community and the school. “We made lots of signs, I made a video and spread the word and made announcements to the whole school to get everyone involved,” Kim said. Students could either bring socks or donate $2. “Thank you to all students, teachers and organizer (of SOCKS Timmins) who were involved in this big project, it means a lot,” Kim said. "It makes me really happy to think all these students would like to help their community by just donating even $2 or a pair of socks. It makes a big difference.” The school’s principal René Gaudreau said the student council is doing a good job of looking out for others and he was extremely proud of his students. “Sometimes, it’s about thinking about others. That mindfulness, that spirit of giving all around Christmas is really important because this has been such a tough year for everybody,” he said. “Because of COVID, it’s even more reason why we need to think outside the box and do these sorts of things.”Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
NEW YORK — Let Thanksgiving have the turkey. Let Christmas have fruitcake. Every other day, it's got to be pizza. So argue Thom and James Elliot, brothers and pizza makers from England who have written a book celebrating the worldwide phenomenon of roundish dough cooked with toppings. In the 270-page “Pizza" (Quadrille), the brothers offer over 30 recipes for homemade pizzas — including a carbonara and one with asparagus and pancetta — as well as eating guides to delicious slices in cities like Rome, Paris, Chicago and New York. It turns out New Haven, Connecticut, has a very distinct and vibrant pizza scene, though its just 70 miles from New York. The Elliots marvel that while the pizza we eat today was invented in Naples in the late 1800s, other cultures have their own versions, from one with spiced ground meat in Lebanon to a baguette topped with mushroom and cheese in Poland. “All these countries came up with this on their own. And that is the definition of a good idea, right?” says James Elliot. “It’s a bit like the way so many cultures created beer independently. Just great ideas make it through.” The brothers include sections on controversial ingredients — pineapple, that’s you — and which drinks to pair with a slice, as well as the various ways people can eat it, from rolling it into a cigar to a technique called the “snag and drag.” They present the info without judgement, refusing to weigh in on whether coal ovens are better than wood or if buffalo milk is better than cow milk for making mozzarella. “There’s that saying: There’s two kinds of people in the world — people that love ABBA and liars,” says James Elliot. “Not all music has to be high and mighty in the same way that not all pizza has to be high and mighty. You can love different songs and different pizzas for all kinds of different reasons.” The origins of the book began when the brothers ditched their regular jobs in 2012 to go to Naples and learn all about pizza. They travelled the length of Italy and the world and, once educated in all things delicious, came back to the United Kingdom to open a chain of pizzerias, Pizza Pilgrims. In Chicago, they encountered that city's famous, dense variation. “We ate four deep dishes a day for five days,” says Thom Elliot. “I really surprised myself. I went to confirm my hatred of it, but actually left being like, ‘This has got a place for sure.’” The book is a distillation of all they learned, from pizza records ("Cheesiest Pizza," “Furthest Pizza Delivery") to how to work with active dry yeast. The working title was “The Pizzapedia,” but the authors felt that didn’t convey their love of the food. “Encyclopedia just feels quite cold and quite factual,” says Thom Ellliot. “We’ve been told by so many people in so many different ways that pizza is not enough to carry a book. ‘There are not enough interesting things to say about pizza.’ And so we have been on this mission for five years to write a longer and longer and longer and longer list of why these people are wrong.” Despite the brothers' obvious respect for the classic Neapolitan version, they acknowledge the impact of the huge pizza-making chains, like Pizza Hut and Domino's. The book includes interviews with their executives, who oversee companies making millions of pizzas a year. “You can’t ignore it. They’re doing something right. Whatever you think, they’re doing something right,” says Thom Ellliot. "They love pizza. These are not people who are just sitting there going, ‘Oh, we don’t care. It's just all about the margin and how do we sell more for less.’” Pizza, to the brothers, is clearly woven into the fabric of humanity, a cheap, delicious, satisfying meal that can be scaled up or down. It's a food we eat when we are celebrating, gathering for entertainment, working hard collectively or when we're just in need of a hug. “Pizza is the place that people turn when they’re struggling, when they break up, when they lose their job, when they’re just having a tough day. Pizza is the food that they talk about — like their spouse — that thing that carries them over the line,” says Thom Ellliot. "I really genuinely think that you don’t get that with any other kind of food, even the ones that people obsess about, like barbeque. People don’t turn to barbecue in their time of need. They geek out about it and they obsess about it and they see perfection. But they don’t have it like a crutch in their life." ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
When one door closes another door opens, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly closed a lot of doors this year. Dr. David Rosen, a marine mammal researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Fisheries and Oceans, should be spending his time with animals at the Vancouver Aquarium, or delving into lab research somewhere else, but when the pandemic forced travel restrictions and cut into funding and resources, it forced him to see opportunities in his own back yard, with the hopes of answering some neglected questions of what role our cities play in the behaviour of marine mammals, and why it appears so many are returning to Vancouver waterways. “Researchers tend to think about going to exotic locations and isolated areas, and can be sort of blind to local opportunities. Thinking about it I realized that [Burrard Inlet] has fantastic research opportunities,” Rosen said. “Vancouver is a really interesting place because we love our nature, but we also love our development, so we’re getting a couple studies off the ground looking at what that urbanization means to our local marine mammal populations.” Burrard Inlet is largely neglected scientifically but provides a curious avenue of research by comparing the two arms of the inlet. They each have the historic capacity to host an equal array of sea life, due to their geographical proximity, but one heads east to Port Moody past highly developed areas, and the other turns north into undeveloped territory in Indian Arm. Rosen also plans to look closely at the increase number of harbour seals, the emergence of fur seals and California sea lions, and increased sightings of transient killer whales and dolphins in Vancouver waterways, surprising new behaviour as the metro area undergoes behavioral changes of its own during the pandemic. “We think this is new, but the question is, ‘who was paying attention to this before the pandemic?’ But things like transient killer whales, the public always notices that,” Rosen said. Harbour seals is especially important, as the animals were once hunted to critically low numbers to protect commercial fisheries. As debates heat up over their reemergence, during the worst salmon returns on record, Rosen said its important to establish the human impacts on the animals while the opportunity exists. A reemergence of a “whole suite” of marine mammals have also been observed in Burrard Inlet prior to the closure of a UBC field station last year, but the resources and time wasn’t available to probe the reasons why the animals were returning. It’s too early for Rosen to anticipate any conclusions or possible implications to his research. Right now he only wants to know what is happening, and why. “You can’t make management decisions if you don’t know what’s out there,” Rosen said. From a conservation perspective, he added British Columbians are acutely aware of the major marine issues at sea, but there’s too little known about our marine life in this context, in relation to the cities, pollution and marine traffic. Rosen is hoping to find research funding in the industrial sector in the area, which he said has regularly proven its readiness to adapt for the betterment of marine mammals. Maybe those efforts are paying off for the sea life. Maybe changing ocean temperatures, acidity and food supply are forcing behavioural changes, or maybe its the growing number of salmon hatcheries attracting more mammals to the Inlet. “There’s lots of questions and lots of opportunity for improving our knowledge,” Rosen said. “No doubt, the biggest challenge for the marine ecosystem is climate change, but it’s very difficult for people to get their head around that, to think they can do anything to help. So in some ways, finding local issues is a great way to make people aware of the human impact on the environment.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The Ottawa Tool Library and several other tenants under sublease to Makerspace North at Ottawa's City Centre have less than two weeks to find new homes.City Centre's landlord posted notices on the tenants' doors on Thursday giving them just 14 days to vacate."We had no inkling this was coming. Zero," said Bettina Vollmerhausen, founder of the non-profit Ottawa Tool Library (OTL), one of the subtenants being evicted.Makerspace North was founded in 2015 as "a community hub and startup incubator." According to the non-profit's website, the 20,000-square-foot space has been home to some 100 subtenants, from woodworking shops to product developers. Vollmerhausen said OTL has been vigilantly paying rent to Makerspace, and has asked the landlord through its management company District Realty if it could remain at City Centre. OTL, which has called the space home for six years, was told no, nor are any subtenants being allowed to store equipment at City Centre while they look for new digs."And so we now have to pack everything up," Vollmerhausen said Monday.District Realty's representative responsible for City Centre, Michael Morin, did not return calls from CBC. Makerspace awaiting pandemic reliefAccording to the notice to vacate, Makerspace and its founder John Criswick "are in long-standing and significant rental arrears under the lease and, despite numerous demands, have failed to put the lease into good standing."The notice said the ownership group, Development Corporation, Fourth Generation Realty Corporation and Freedom Holdings Inc., intends to "exercise its rights and remedies" under the lease and the law, "including the right to retake possession of the Premises." But Criswick said the eviction came as a surprise, and he's looking for answers."I still haven't heard back from them," he told CBC. "I've called a few times. I'm trying to understand where they stand."Criswick said Makerspace was doing well before the pandemic. He said the non-profit had let some tenants out of their subleases, but the space started filling up again this fall. Criswick said he spent a $40,000 interest-free loan he obtained through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program to pay down his own rent, and was counting on the recently passed Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to fill in the remaining gaps. Furniture store also evictedIt's not only Makerspace's subtenants that are being given the boot: furniture store Mikaza's lease was supposed to end at the end of the month, but owner Haig Khatchadourian said he'd been in negotiations for a month-to-month extension until he could move in the spring.Instead, Mikaza said he received a notice giving him 30 days to get out. "There's no physical way of emptying this space in one month because we can't find a location that would rent to us for just two months," said Khatchadourian, who's now scrambling to find temporary storage space.Other City Centre tenants said they've been assured they're not being evicted.OTL pleads for new spaceMeanwhile, OTL is asking anyone who may have a lead on a space, whether for temporary storage or a permanent home, to reach out."I don't know if we're going to find a new location by Dec. 9, but we're really hoping someone in town may know a space," Vollmerhausen said."We attract a lot of people, we're an amazing organization," she said. "We are a vibrant member of this community."
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled their annual gala back in April, but that’s not going to stop Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre from celebrating its 40th birthday. The drop-in centre on the northside is making the festivities virtual with its Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction, which launches Monday at noon and goes to Dec. 9 at 9 p.m. “We’re making the best of it and this online auction is just one way we want to get back some fundraising dollars we’ve lost so much on,” said Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre executive director David Ng. “Right now, we have 32 items and we’re going to be adding about three or four more. It ranges from eight or nine designer purses and some men’s fashion attire like wallets and some sunglasses. Most of it was donated through our sponsors. “We have some great items such as some outdoor furniture and local businesses donated some gift cards. We have something for everybody and we’re hoping to supplement some Christmas shopping. Most of the stuff came local. A lot of the businesses that sponsored us are supporting local and when you support local you’re supporting Lethbridge and seniors in our community.” Due to COVID-19 restrictions Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre had to cancel its third annual Under Northern Lights Gala and live and silent auction to raise funds for programming. “It was scheduled for April 25 and our 40th anniversary was April 22,” said Ng. “That’s where we really wanted to highlight where we came from and all the people who made it who we are. The gala was going to be big this year, but COVID came. We were forced to close our doors to the public. We still had some staff here and we started rolling out some modified, limited programming around August. But we’re still not fully operational.” Ng said Nord-Bridge has lost $15,000 to $20,000 in fundraising revenue and is losing more revenue by not being fully open. They hope to raise around $10,000 with the auction. “COVID has impacted everyone in different ways and we’ve definitely felt it quite a bit,” said Ng. “We’re really trying to make the best of the situation and we’re hoping we can come out of COVID with the same type of programming. We just want to be able to offer seniors a place to come and socialize. That’s one of the biggest things, because being locked in or isolated is one of the key things even before COVID happened. An isolated senior is probably the most detrimental thing that can happen to a person.” The online link for the Under Northern Lights 2020 Online Auction can be found at https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/UnderNorthernLights2020OnlineAuction-17182. For more information, visit the Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nordbridgeseniorslethbridge or their website at http://nordbridgeseniors.com/. Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
A co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's pandemic task force says addressing racial disparities cannot be an afterthought in the fight against the coronavirus. (Dec. 1)
Elliot Page, Halifax's own Hollywood star, has shared that he is transgender.The actor is known for his Oscar-nominated role in Juno, as well as Inception and most recently The Umbrella Academy. He addressed his social media followers on Tuesday with a lengthy Instagram post, in which he shared that he is trans and that he uses the pronouns he/they."I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey," Page wrote."I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page describes 'fragile' joyPage said he has been inspired by many in the trans community, and thanked them for their courage, generosity and working to make the world a more inclusive and compassionate place. While Page said his joy is real, it is also "fragile." Despite feeling profoundly happy and acknowledging his privilege, he is also scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the jokes and the violence.He cited the Human Rights Campaign's figure that nearly 40 trans people have been killed in the United States in 2020 alone, with the majority of those being trans women of colour. "Enough is enough. You aren't being 'cancelled,' you are hurting people. I am one of those people and we won't be silent in the face of your attacks," Page wrote.Outpouring of appreciationThe letter was met with an outpouring of appreciation on social media, with Canadian musicians Tegan and Sara tweeting that Page's strength, bravery and activism is "truly special."The official Umbrella Academy and Netflix accounts also tweeted their support, saying they are "proud of our superhero," in a nod to Page's character Vanya on the popular show.For years, Page has been one of the most visible queer actors in Hollywood since publicly coming out as gay in 2014 during an emotional speech at the Time to Thrive conference, an LGBTQ youth event.He married New York dance teacher Emma Portner a few years ago, and the 2016 series Gaycation saw Page and Ian Daniel explore LGBTQ cultures around the world.Page is also a passionate environmental activist, and made his directorial debut alongside Daniel with There's Something in the Water, a documentary that screened at TIFF last year.Inspired by a book of the same name by Dalhousie University professor Ingrid Waldron, the documentary takes on environmental racism — the way climate change disproportionately affects communities of colour — in Page's home province of Nova Scotia.Through this project, Page learned about the challenges people in Shelburne, N.S., had with contaminated wells. He pledged the money needed for a new community well in the south end of town, which the local council accepted in February.Warm welcome Non-binary CBC journalist Faith Fundal said they were excited by Page's announcement."We're sort of at a time where more and more people are feeling safe to come out, and to look at their own gender identity," Fundal said."And for some folks, like Elliot, realizing that, 'You know what, I'm not who I was gendered to be.'"WATCH | Fundal 'excited' by Page's news:Fundal said in their experience, and based on what they've heard from other trans people, coming out can be a scary experience."There is that very real fear of violence, of being beaten up or kicked out of your community, people not accepting you," they said. "So seeing all of these very positive things [about Page] from folks is heartwarming."Fundal said the people they've talked to are "happy to see this kind of visibility, to see this kind of representation, because representation is important."Nik Basset, an education co-ordinator at the Youth Project in Page's hometown of Halifax, is warmly welcoming Page to the trans community. The Youth Project is an organization offering support and services to LGBTQ youth.Basset, who uses they/them pronouns, told CBC's Mainstreet that they are "so excited for somebody to be moving into their authentic selves.""The courage that it takes to come out and advocate for your identity is a really hard thing to do," they said. "So I'm just really proud of Elliot."While Basset said someone with Page's profile may bring a lot of visibility to the trans community, they cautioned that such visibility is not always representative of social change.LISTEN | Basset welcomes Page to trans community: Basset said actions like misgendering (referring to someone by the wrong pronouns) or deadnaming (referring to someone by their former name) can be very harmful to a trans person.They said they understand what Page meant about his joy being "fragile.""From my lived experience, hearing pronouns that I don't identify with, or hearing my dead name, my given name, it reminds me of a time when I was closeted and afraid and confused," they said."I can't imagine — because I'm not famous — what it will feel like moving forward having this huge body of work tied to a name that they no longer use."Basset said there is a strong, supportive community for those who come out or who are questioning their gender identity."You're valid, no matter what," they said.
MOSCOW — The Russian military on Tuesday announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defence missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan. Russia's Eastern Military District said in a statement that the S-300V4 air defence missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier. The Russian Defence Ministry's TV station, Zvezda, reported that the air defence missile systems were deployed on Iturup, one of the four southernmost Kuril islands. The new deployment marked the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there. Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands it calls the Northern Territories. The Soviet Union took them in the final days of World War II, and the dispute has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities. Decades of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement haven't produced any visible results. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent a lot of time and effort in the hope of negotiating a solution during his nearly eight years in office but scored little progress. Shortly after taking office in September, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discussed the territorial dispute in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Suga said he hopes to find a settlement and sign a peace treaty. The Associated Press
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."