A group of four hospital workers got a treat of a lifetime this year when they found out they had won big at the 6/49 British Columbia lottery.
Video by Shibani Gokhale
A group of four hospital workers got a treat of a lifetime this year when they found out they had won big at the 6/49 British Columbia lottery.
Video by Shibani Gokhale
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
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is forecasting higher spending and production in 2021 based on benchmark U.S. oil prices staying near their current levels of around US$45 per barrel.It says it predicts daily oil and gas production between 740,000 and 780,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, an increase of about 10 per cent compared with this year driven by higher bitumen output from its oilsands operations.It expects capital spending of between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, including sustaining capital of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion, an increase of about nine per cent over 2020's expected spending of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion.The Calgary-based company forecasts refinery throughput of 415,000 to 445,000 barrels per day based on a utilization rate of between 90 and 96 per cent.Suncor says it expects to repay between $500 million and $1 billion of debt and will introduce a $500-million share repurchase program.In reports, analysts said the guidance was in line with what they were expecting.Credit Suisse analyst Manav Gupta pointed out that Suncor cut capital and operating spending earlier this year and lowered its dividend payments."Suncor almost broke even in the third quarter of 2020, and now is getting ready to pay down portion of the debt it took on to navigate the crisis," he added.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SU)The Canadian Press
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
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
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says considering people’s age is the easiest way for health officials to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine delivery, outside of assessing underlying medical conditions and risk of transmission to vulnerable and remote populations. Tam says that age is the most important variable in severe illness and mortality, even after underlying conditions are factored in.
Up to $100,000 will be given to the N.W.T. resident or company that submits the strongest proposal for an investment in technology. That financial pledge comes from the N.W.T. Manufacturing Innovation and Technology Contribution, a GNWT fund designed to find a project that will reduce costs, increase productivity for an N.W.T. business, and increase local employment. Members of the N.W.T. Manufacturing Association and new businesses looking to become a manufacturer can apply, as can individual N.W.T. residents. Those applying must be prepared to make an equity contribution of at least 20 per cent of the cost of their proposal. The project seeks to “support and encourage innovation in the N.W.T. manufacturing sector by supporting research into existing and emerging technologies.” Entries must be submitted by December 13. Application details and eligibility criteria can be found on the GNWT’s website.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region. The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools. In the province's long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today. The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
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
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
The final decision lies with the Ministry of Health, but Grey Bruce Health Services has made its recommendation for the contractor for the new Markdale hospital. That name has not been released. The call for tenders from pre-qualified bidders was earlier this summer, and the bids have been reviewed locally. The Ministry of Health is expected to approve the bid within a few months, when the name will be made public. Site preparation should begin this spring, a press release from GBHS said. “We are checking off the milestones for this project, and getting ready to transition from the years of planning to physically building our new hospital,” said Gary Sims, GBHS President and CEO. Teams are working through the transition plans to co-ordinate the two-year project. The $70 million build will be about 68,000 sq. ft. with inpatient beds, a palliative care bed, 24/7 emergency care, lab and diagnostic imaging, as well as outpatient services. Two ambulance bays will be housed at the hospital. The community in the central and south Grey area was deeply involved in the project from the time of the public fundraising campaign in 2004. The hospital will replace an aging existing facility. Over more than 15 years since then, advocacy by locals including MPP Bill Walker has supported the new build, which is now close to seeing shovels in the ground. GBHS operates six hospitals in the Grey Bruce region. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
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.
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
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
Regina police have charged a 17-year old girl who allegedly stole a vehicle with a four-year-old child inside.Officers were called to the 2100 block of Albert Street around 8:17 p.m. CST on Nov. 21 for a report of a stolen vehicle, according police.Police were told a 31-year-old woman had given three young women a ride in her car while her child was also in the vehicle.Police said the driver stopped and got out of the vehicle briefly, at which point one of the passengers got in the driver's seat and started driving away. When the mother tried to stop her, the driver allegedly tried to hit her with the car.The suspect left the four-year-old on a street a few minutes later, police said. Two people found the child and called police.Officers identified the suspect and learned she had fled to Calgary. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 24. She was arrested by Calgary police for an unrelated matter.The suspect, who can't be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought back to Regina on Monday and charged with offences including abduction of a child under 14-years-old, assault with a weapon (vehicle) and auto theft.
Speaking at the company's annual re:Invent conference, executive Andy Jassy announced Amazon Connect Voice ID, which uses machine learning software to authenticate customers who dial into call centers. Jassy, who runs the firm's cloud computing division Amazon Web Services, said AWS builds a voice print for customers who opt in to save time on calls.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe's approval rating is 20 to 30 points higher than his counterparts in Alberta and Manitoba, according to a new poll.The Angus Reid Institute releases its approval ratings four times a year. The most recent poll was conducted in late November and shows Moe fifth among premiers with a 61 per cent approval rating. This was a two per cent jump from August, but four per cent lower than the 65 per cent he got in May's poll.Overall 37 per cent of those polled said they disapproved of Moe's performance, while two per cent said they were not sure.The 61 per cent closely mirrors the 60.67 per cent of votes Moe's Saskatchewan Party received in the October election.The only other premiers that improved their ratings from August were New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs and Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister saw the steepest drop, to 32 per cent in November from 44 per cent in August.Ontario Premier Doug Ford dropped to 55 per cent from 66 per cent. The premier with the lowest rating was Alberta's Jason Kenney, who had a 40 per cent approval rating.Over the past week, Manitoba leads in active COVID-19 case rate, while Alberta is second and Saskatchewan is third.The poll surveyed 5,003 members of the Angus Reid forum across the country and 497 in Saskatchewan. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
The federal Liberal government unveiled a suite of environmental measures on Monday as part of its fall fiscal update, proposing spending on things such as ecosystem restoration, clean transport and energy efficiency. The government’s Fall Economic Statement, tabled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, also sets up some signposts pointing to a “green transformation,” including issuing the first federal green bonds next year. Ottawa will be exploring the possibility of border carbon adjustments, where a fee is imposed on imports from countries without carbon pricing, so foreign products don't undercut those produced in Canada by companies subject to Canadian carbon pricing systems. And it will be setting up an “action council” focused on developing a sustainable finance market in Canada that would see capital flows redirected toward green initiatives. That will include looking at “enhancing climate disclosures,” the government said, as directors of Canadian corporations face mounting obligations to act on the risks posed by the climate crisis as part of the responsibilities of their jobs. But with Canada’s deficit projected to hit $381 billion in 2020-21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing back any larger stimulus plan until a vaccine is being distributed and outbreaks and shutdowns are in the rearview mirror. “When the virus is under control and our economy is ready to absorb it, we will deploy a three-year stimulus package to jumpstart our recovery,” reads the statement. “Key to this stimulus plan will be smart, time-limited investments that can act fast and make a long-run contribution to our future shared prosperity, quality of life, competitiveness and our green transformation.” Reaction was muted from some opposition members. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole dismissed the economic statement soon after Freeland tabled it as “putting the economy on hold.” He portrayed the government’s approach as wrongheaded, looking forward to future stimulus potential without first getting public health fundamentals correct. The Liberals were “not willing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, by taking steps to secure new revenue sources from large corporations making “massive profits” during the pandemic. “This is the exact opposite of what people need,” he said. Funding to address issues such as retrofits and clean transport was central to proposals issued last month by a coalition of more than two dozen environmental and conservation groups in Canada. The Green Budget Coalition’s roadmap for a federal green recovery called for $10 billion for energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, among other commitments. Monday’s economic statement commits to $2.6 billion over seven years for Natural Resources Canada to provide up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 each for homeowners and landlords to carry out energy-efficiency upgrades. The government said buildings account for 17 per cent of emissions, and “helping Canadians make their homes more energy efficient can support our environmental objectives, while making homes more comfortable and more affordable to maintain.” “We know that Canada’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to take advantage of the net-zero green economy,” Freeland said in Parliament after tabling the document. “Our growth plan must continue to advance our progress on climate action and promote a clean economy.” Efficiency Canada executive director Corey Diamond said home retrofits were a big environmental and economic boost, creating local jobs nationwide and contributing to Canada's journey to net-zero emissions. “The announcement today is a start, and a piece of the puzzle,” Diamond said. “But a lot more is required if we're going to be able to help Canadians.” He said there appeared to be “gaps in some high-impact areas,” including specific supports for low-income programs. “What is essential in all of this, however, is that the federal strategy integrates with existing programs on the ground, across the country,” he said. The Green Budget Coalition had also asked the federal government for $2.6 billion for “nature-based climate solutions” and $4.8 billion to support protected areas. The economic statement proposes to spend $3.16 billion over the next decade, starting in 2021-22, in order to follow through with its promise to plant two billion trees. It also proposed up to $631 million over 10 years, starting next year, to “implement climate smart, natural solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to ecosystem loss.” The statement acknowledges that Canada’s grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are “highly valuable for their ability to store greenhouse gases,” and proposes funding to “restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and improve land and resource management practices.” The government estimated that these kinds of “nature-based solutions” can provide “almost 40 per cent of the emission reductions needed by 2030.” Because of jurisdictional issues, both of those initiatives will require Ottawa to work with a wide range of partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities and non-governmental organizations. The government also touted a $98-million Natural Climate Solutions for Agriculture Fund, to capitalize on the potential of Canadian farms to increase carbon sequestration and “realize other environmental benefits” that will come out of a future “Canadian Agri-Environmental Strategy.” Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the economic statement was “yet another promise to go big on climate change and inequality at a future date.” Canada has made decades of “down payments without ever sealing the deal,” Stewart said. “We can fight the pandemic in a way that lays the groundwork for a greener, more equitable and inclusive future but this economic update doesn’t do that.” He said environmental groups will have to "keep the pressure on" for the forthcoming new 2030 emissions reduction target, and plan to achieve it, as well as the 2021 budget. The government said it was “committed to ensuring that Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy is achieved in a way that is fair and predictable for our businesses, and supports Canada’s international competitiveness.” To this end, the economic statement said the government was “exploring the potential” of a border adjustment for carbon, working with the United States, Mexico and “like-minded economies” in Europe. The government also plans to set up a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council, as institutions and investors around the world increasingly evaluate climate change risks to company assets. The Bank of Canada has warned that sectors such as oil and gas are exposed to risks that could spill over into “fire sales.” “Developing sustainable finance in Canada will promote the long-term growth and stability of our financial system in the face of climate change,” reads the economic statement. The commitment is worth $7.3 million over three years. Finally, Ottawa announced its intention to “issue the federal government’s first-ever green bond in 2021-22,” that it said would help finance its green infrastructure spending. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
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