Starting Monday, travellers coming from international destinations and landing at YYC can opt for a COVID-19 test upon arrival. As Lauren Pullen reports, it could possibly decrease quarantine from two weeks to two days.
Starting Monday, travellers coming from international destinations and landing at YYC can opt for a COVID-19 test upon arrival. As Lauren Pullen reports, it could possibly decrease quarantine from two weeks to two days.
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from January and said they would meet monthly to decide further output levels, gingerly adding more crude to a global economy still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.The decision followed days of wrangling over whether to increase output early next year at all after the pandemic sapped demand for energy and clouded the outlook for the industry.The OPEC members and a group of allies had made deep cuts in production last year to support prices as the pandemic sharply reduced demand for fuel. Analysts said simply extending the 7.7 million barrels per day in cuts was the course preferred by Saudi Arabia, which takes a leadership role among member countries, and also by Russia, the biggest of the non-members who have been co-operating with OPEC.But they faced pushback from countries including the United Arab Emirates, which opposed the extension and wanted countries that had overproduced their quotas to make compensatory cuts.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that participants agreed that 2 million barrels a day needed to return to the market “at some point” but that any increase would be gradual. The monthly meetings could decide in either direction, up or down, he said.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman alluded to hopes that the recent wave of lockdown restrictions on businesses “are not hampering demand as in the first wave” but cautioned that “the jury is still out” and that “we need to be cautious” about ramping up production.He said that at the monthly meetings “we could tweak upward, we could tweak downward, we could stay put... We elected to take the cautious approach."Oil producing countries face a dilemma: producing more increases their revenues but could send prices lower, especially given still-weak demand and uncertain prospects for the speed and timing of a post-pandemic economic recovery.Energy forecasters around the world, including those employed by OPEC, have been lowering their forecasts about how much oil will be needed. Airline travel, for example, has been dramatically reduced, and is not expected to rebound for several years.The U.S. benchmark for oil traded at $45.74 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 46 cents on the day. That is down from around $63 at the start of 2020. Gasoline prices for U.S. motorists have fallen during the pandemic to below $2 in some parts of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; the national average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30.A barrel of benchmark crude in the U.S. had been selling for around $40 for months, well below what most producers need to break even. It has risen in the past week but current prices still leave many oil producers struggling. In the past week, oil giants Exxon and Chevron both slashed their capital expenditure budgets for the coming year.Stewart Glickman, energy equity analyst at CFRA Research, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in many nations meant the original oil producing countries' plan - to raise production by some 1.9 million barrels per day from January - "might have sent crude prices tumbling further."He said crude inventories would be watched in coming months to see whether the “modest” production boost of 500,000 barrels per day is absorbed by markets or "whether oil demand remains too weak to sustain pricing” despite promising news regarding vaccine development.___AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York.David McHugh, The Associated Press
Air Design location, Ballon Design et les Gâteaux MB se réuniront sous le même toit à compter de janvier. Une préouverture ponctuelle est prévue dès jeudi, afin de permettre aux gens de se procurer décorations et cadeaux juste avant le début du temps des Fêtes. Les trois entreprises voulaient, en se réunissant, offrir aux clients la possibilité de ne faire qu’un seul arrêt pour l’organisation de leur événement spécial. Selon Jennifer Fournier, propriétaire de Ballon Design, ce partenariat est unique dans la région et très rare dans la province. « On s’est rendu compte qu’avec des ballons, des jeux gonflables, des gâteaux et des petits cadeaux, ça faisait vraiment un beau ‘mix’. Le concept qu’on a voulu créer, c’est vraiment d’avoir tout pour un événement, sous un même toit », s’est réjouie la propriétaire de Ballon Design. En parlant avec Mélina Dubé-Boily, de Gâteaux MB, les deux femmes ont remarqué qu’elles partageaient beaucoup de clients en commun. L’ouverture est prévue jeudi. Pour débuter, le commerce n’ouvrira que ponctuellement. L’ouverture complète à temps plein avec l’arrivée de la pâtissière n’est à l’horaire qu’au retour des Fêtes. Jennifer souhaite tout de même ouvrir dès le début du mois afin de faire profiter les clients des cadeaux et des ballons pour les préparations du temps des Fêtes. Le commerce d’Air Design location est ouvert, et il est possible pour les intéressés de voir l’inventaire en ligne. Pour ce qui est des Gâteaux MB, même si l’arrivée de la pâtissière à temps plein n’aura lieu qu’en janvier, les clients pourront venir chercher leurs gâteaux précommandés sur place. De tout en boutique Chaque entreprise qui s’installera dans ce nouveau local situé au 1247 boulevard Ste-Geneviève, à Chicoutimi-Nord, dispose d’une impressionnante gamme de produits. Air Design location a dans son inventaire plus de 125 structures gonflables, de toute sorte. Pour Gateaux MB, on comptera évidemment des gâteaux, mais aussi de gros biscuits, des cupcakes, et bien plus. Ballon Design se spécialise dans les bouquets de ballons et les petits cadeaux. Son créneau est le ballon personnalisé. « Je voulais faire quelque chose de différent de ce qu’on retrouvait déjà. Avec les ballons personnalisés, je peux écrire des prénoms, des phrases ou même recréer des dessins sur des ballons, ce qui est vraiment apprécié des clients », souligne Jennifer. Elle est fière d’amener ce concept ici dans la région et encore plus à Chicoutimi-Nord. Impacts de la Covid Bien évidemment, les derniers mois ont été difficiles pour tous ceux qui oeuvrent dans l’événementiel. L’annulation des fêtes, des mariages, des partys de bureau a difficilement touché le commerce de Jennifer. La jeune femme de 30 ans a dû se réinventer. « Nous nous sommes vraiment tournés vers les livraisons. Nous sommes allés livrer des petites touches de bonheur chez les gens. Plus ça allait, plus les gens me demandaient si j’avais des petits items cadeaux, qu’on pouvait joindre aux ballons », explique-t-elle. C’est ce qui fait que depuis environ un mois, on retrouve dans la boutique en ligne des cadeaux de tout genre : jouets pour enfants, produits pour le corps, items pour la maison, et bien plus. Certaines de ces surprises peuvent même être mises dans des ballons ! Ces produits seront bien sûr mis en valeur dans la nouvelle boutique. Pour tout savoir sur les heures d’ouverture et sur les items que l’on retrouve en boutique, les personnes intéressées peuvent visiter le site Internet ou la page Facebook de Ballon Design.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Health officials say another 12 Manitobans have died from COVID-19 and 368 have been infected with the virus. Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said a previously reported COVID-19 death has been removed from the province’s list of deaths due to a data entry error.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Barrie police has pulled the plug on a sexual-assault investigation that included the circulation of an artist’s sketch of a possible suspect. The sketch was widely publicized by local media outlets, and police created a direct tip line for information from the public. But police closed the case without charges following a three-week “thorough, detailed and comprehensive investigation,” according to a media release. “Investigators have determined that there was never a threat to public safety and, as a result, there will be no further details or updates provided regarding this investigation,” police stated. Police were called Oct. 1 about a sexual assault that was reported to have taken place in Hurst Park while a woman was walking her dog. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Almost one month after his Nov. 9 surgery, Evan Paterson is reportedly “progressing well with his therapies and, slowly but surely, his incision is healing and looking better.” In late October, the Cosmos featured a story on young Evan Paterson, a three-year-old who required brain surgery. Evan’s family had started a campaign to raise funds to support his recovery journey, which would include physical therapy, and medical aid devices. The GoFundMe has now raised almost $17,000, and is still growing. Three weeks post-op, Samantha Bishop, Evan’s mom, reports that the young boy is doing well. “This week he started to use a stander to help build his strength, with support, in order to one day start walking again. I was in a bit of shock when his physiotherapist said that’s what we were doing - I didn’t realize he was making THAT much progress!” says Bishop. Evan’s surgeon reports that he is confident Evan will heal well with time. Bishop says the Holland Bloorview rehab hospital has been a wonderful place for the beginning of Evan’s recovery and, again, she wishes to thank the community members who have helped support their cause. “We could not be more thankful.” “This week we find out how long they think Evan will need to be in the hospital. We have hopes that it will only be for a couple of months and then we can continue therapies at home,” says Bishop. Earlier this year, in July, after a series of seizures, a lesion was found on Evan’s brain. Doctors decided that the best way to stop the seizures and ensure that Evan continued to develop in a regular pattern, the left and right sides of his brain would need to be disconnected. It was predicted that, after the surgery, Evan would be extremely weak on one side, have no peripheral vision, and would have to learn how to do fundamental tasks again. “We are over the moon excited that he’s already in a stander!” says Bishop. To follow along with the family’s updates, or to make a donation, visit the Hope For Evan GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/agzcs-hope-for-evan Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Cannabis has been legal in Canada for two years, but several police raids on illegal grow-ops show the illicit market continues to thrive. The OPP said it seized more than 122,000 illegally grown plants, valued at about $143 million on the street, following 52 raids across the province since July 1. “There is still a huge demand for illegal cannabis here in Ontario and in Canada,” Det.-Inspt. Jim Walker told Simcoe.com. “A great deal of the illegal cannabis we are seeing is being exported into the United States and it’s coming back in the form of U.S. currency, but also in harder drugs like cocaine, meth, fentanyl and in some cases firearms.” The provincewide investigations ended with 195 arrests, the seizure of 36 firearms, $76,000 in cash and $514,000 in property obtained by crime. Twenty-five of the 52 search warrants were conducted in central region, which includes Simcoe County, where more than 7,000 illegal plants were discovered in a Midland industrial building last month. Walker said illegal grow-ops are being operated by “opportunistic” individuals who are using loopholes in Health Canada’s medical cannabis licences and diverting cannabis to the illicit market. Suspects allegedly “stack” personal and designated cannabis grow applications onto one address, Walker said. “So you are getting cannabis grown in these large-scale illegal cannabis production sites with no intention of it every going to a medical patient,” he said. Walker said those who purchase cannabis illegally should know they are supporting criminal groups involved in human trafficking, weapons offences and dealing hard drugs. “When you are buying it from the black market, those funds are going to the pocket of criminals.” The illegal grow-ops are also impacting the quality of life of residents who live near a large facility. “Municipalities are getting complaints about them not abiding by the bylaws and even building codes,” Walker said. Earlier this month, New Tecumseth town council placed a hold on new applications related to the production and cultivation of cannabis until a study has been completed. A grow operation popped up near Tottenham earlier this year without town approval, creating noxious odours for nearby residents.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
NEW YORK — There's theatre on Broadway. You just have to adjust your sights.More than a hundred blocks north of Manhattan's shuttered theatre district but on that same famed thoroughfare, an actor recently read his lines from a huge stage.But there was no applause. Instead, all that was heard was a strange command for the theatre: “And cut!”Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays was performing multiple roles for a high-tech “A Christmas Carol” that was being filmed for streaming this month at the empty 3,000-seat United Palace.The one-man show is an example of how many who work in theatre are increasingly defying COVID-19 by refusing to let it stop their art, often creating new hybrid forms.“Because it’s such a roll-up-your-sleeves business, theatre people figure it out,” said Tony Award-winning producer Hunter Arnold, while watching Mays onstage. “Of everything I’ve ever done in my life, it’s the place where people lead from ‘how?’ instead of leading from ‘why not?’”The coronavirus pandemic shut down theatre and the TV/movie industries in the spring. Film and TV production have slowly resumed. Live theatre is uniquely tested by the virus, one reason it will be among the last sectors to return to normal. Props and costumes are usually touched by dozens each night, an orchestra is crammed into a pit, backstage areas are small and shared, and audiences are usually packed into seats. New ways are needed.Mays' “A Christmas Carol,” which was filmed on a high-tech LED set, veers much more filmic than most other streaming theatre options and is raising money for suffering regional theatres — one stage production helping others during the pandemic.Other green shoots include radio plays, virtual readings, online variety shows and drive-in experiences that combine live singing with movies. The cast of the musical “Diana” reunited on Broadway to film the show for Netflix before it opens on Broadway.The San Francisco Playhouse recently offered screenings of Yasmina Reza’s play “Art,” an onstage production captured live by multiple cameras, with a crucial wrestling scene reimagined to keep social distancing. A musical version of the animated film “Ratatouille” is being explored on TikTok.“We will conquer it. We are theatre people. By God, we will conquer it and get it done,” says Charlotte Moore, the artistic director and co-founder of the acclaimed Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City.Her company has put on a free streaming holiday production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” with a dozen cast members, each filmed remotely and then digitally stitched together. Moore directed it — appropriately enough — from St. Louis. Other theatre pros are calling to ask how she did it.The cast was mailed or hand-delivered props, costumes and a green screen. They rehearsed via Zoom and FaceTime. A masked and socially distant orchestra recorded the score, and the sets were beamed onto the actors' screens.“You learn minute by minute by minute along the way what works, what doesn’t, what to do, what not to do,” said Moore, who starred in the original Broadway run of “Meet Me in St. Louis” in 1989. “It’s torture and it’s thrilling — thrilling torture.”Like many other theatrical hybrids venturing into the digital world these days, it's not clear what to call it. It's not technically live theatre, but its soul is theatrical.“It’s not definable in our current vocabulary,” Moore said. “It has to have a new definition, truly, because it’s certainly unlike anything that has been done.”One of the companies to show the way forward was Berkshire Theater Group in western Massachusetts, whose “Godspell” in August became the first outdoor musical with union actors since the pandemic shut down productions.Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire refused to entertain the notion that the company — established in 1928 — would have an asterisk beside 2020 that said no shows were produced that year.“We’re theatre makers, we’re creators, she said. ”We should be able to figure out how to create something.”So they used plexiglass partitions between each masked actor. The performers were tested regularly — at a cost of close to $50,000 — and had their own props and a single costume. Each was housed in their own living space — bedroom, living area and little kitchenette. In an open-air tent, they managed to pull off a crucifixion scene without any touching or lifting, itself a miracle.Audiences underwent temperature checks and were separated by seats. Staff were placed in three protective bubbles: artistic, production and front-of-house. And there was monitoring: Last year it was an intimacy officer; this year it was a COVID-19 one.Maguire thrashed out a 40-page agreement with the stage union Actor’s Equity Association. “We never had a positive test,” Maguire said. “We had five false positive tests,” which was “harrowing.”She thanked grants for allowing her to keep her staff on payroll, making the stress level tolerable. It was clear audiences were hungry for theatre: “I would watch people shoulders shaking as the show started because they were weeping,” she said. They're doing another outdoor show now — “Holiday Memories.”Since that first brave step, other theatre companies have plunged into the void. Play and musical licensor Concord Theatricals says theatre companies across the country are looking for flexibility in case of virus restrictions.“We’re seeing many groups applying for small cast, easy to produce, plays and musicals. They’re even seeking casting flexibility and asking for permission to perform with or without an ensemble,” said Sean Patrick Flahaven, chief theatricals executive.“There’s also a trend for groups to apply for both live performance and streaming rights. Many amateur theatres are producing single virtual performances to keep revenue flowing.”Playwright Natalie Margolin decided to write a new play during the pandemic but not a conventional one. She imagined what the world would look like when it was a given that all social life existed on Zoom.Hence “The Party Hop,” a play specifically to be performed on Zoom that's set three years into quarantine in which three college girls hit the town — online. It became her first published play, and she got stars such as Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Ashley Park to perform in an online version, currently on YouTube. She hopes high schools and colleges will be attracted to a play reflecting the era.“It was just exciting to take part in something where it wasn’t a placeholder or a replacement, and no one needed to imagine they were anywhere else than where they were to fully realize the piece,” she said. “It’s been exciting and heartwarming to see different ways theatre has reinvented itself during this time.”Theater makers have also leaned into the storytelling part of their craft, making The Broadway Podcast Network a hub for everything from audition advice to behind-the-scenes stories.Launched shortly before the pandemic with 15 podcasts, the theatre shutdown initially wiped out its revenue streams, advertising and sponsorship. The network has since righted itself and is growing with some 100 podcasts — from the likes of Tim Rice and Tonya Pinkins — plus benefits, show reunions and original programs, like the digital theatre-based frothy soap opera, “As the Curtain Rises” with stars Alex Brightman, Sarah Stiles and Michael Urie.“Even though we had lost all of our advertising, we just knew that this was important to our community, to keep our community connected and continue to tell stories," said Dori Berinstein, co-founder of the network and a four-time Tony-winning Broadway producer. “It’s not anything that will ever replace live theatre, but it’s an extension. It’s a different way of doing that.”___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 19, 2020 A 50-year-old Orillia man faces more than a dozen charges following what police are calling an early morning crime spree Oct. 17. The suspect has been charged with 14 offences including assaulting an officer with a weapon, arson, impaired driving, resisting police, unlawfully in a dwelling and theft under $5,000. Orillia OPP officers were called to a Nottawasaga Street to investigate a man who allegedly broke an apartment window and a truck window before fleeing on a stolen motorcycle. Police caught up to the suspect at a Mississaga Street residence after a call came in about a man on motorcycle who refused to leave the property. According to police, the man, who was allegedly carrying a large knife, struggled with officers but was subdued, handcuffed and arrested. Officers say the man is also a suspect in an arson after a fire was set at a Regent Street residence that morning, which was being investigated by the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal. The male was held for a bail hearing and is set to appear in Barrie court Oct. 20. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 19, 2020 Collisions in Barrie have dropped sharply during this year’s pandemic compared to last year, but there was an increase in one critical area. There have been nine people killed in vehicle collisions so far this year, compared to only three during the same period in 2019. The city’s police services board reviewed the numbers during a meeting Oct. 15. Overall, 779 collisions were reported to Barrie police from January to September 2019, compared to 464 from January to September this year. The statistics are part of a strategic plan update for the Barrie Police Service. The report states the reductions are likely due to COVID-19 restrictions, which have translated to fewer vehicles on the road this year. Collisions that resulted in injuries fell from 252 in 2019 to 134 this year, which represents a 40 per cent decline. Collision without injuries decreased from 524 last year to 321 during the same period this year. Criminal charges were laid in connection with at least one of the fatal crashes this year. Two teens aged 17 and 19 were charged with dangerous driving causing death after Paige Ferreira, 17, was killed in a crash on Georgian Drive Jan. 29. Police said a collision occurred after two drivers had an “interaction.” That case remains before the courts. Meanwhile, charges have not been laid in connection with the death of 26-year-old Cynthia Cisneros, who was struck and killed by a snowplow while crossing Veterans Drive at Mapleview Drive, at about 12:35 a.m. Jan. 17. Cisneros had moved to Canada from Mexico and was working as a cleaner when she was struck. A co-worker was also injured. Barrie police are attempting some creative measures in a bid to reduce speeding, especially in residential areas. The report says a new initiative known as “Constable Scarecrow” will test if a lifelike cutout of an officer holding a radar gun will reduce speeding. Residents in high-complaint areas will be surveyed to assess their feeling of safety and perception of police response. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
The Nova Scotia government is giving boat builders until next week to submit bids for a new 18-car ferry to carry passengers and vehicles between Blandford and the Tancook Islands.Although some are opposed to the new vehicle ferry and others have questioned its size, John Majchrowicz is convinced this is the right boat for the job."I have years of studies on all the volumes and people that we collect on the ferries," he told CBC News recently. As manager of marine services at Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation, Majchrowicz has crunched the numbers and determined an 18-car ferry and 11 crossings per day are what islanders need.According to figures supplied by Majchrowicz, ferry traffic is highest in June, July and August. In 2019, the number of passengers increased from 3,600 to 4,300 to 6,700 during those three summer months. Majchrowicz used a two-passenger-per-vehicle model to determine how many vehicles a ferry might carry per trip during those peak summer months. In June and July, he estimated seven to eight vehicles per crossing and closer to 11 or 12 in August. That's based on a projected 11 crossings per day, not the current four."For example, on a sailing at 10:20, you could average up to 90 people per voyage," said Majchrowicz. "So if you look at 90 people, two people per car, I would need 45 cars."Because we would be running more runs, I could now distribute those cars over so many runs. So an 18-car ferry would cover the load, so to speak."Current ferry has 1-car capacityThe ferry now in service, the William G. Ernst, has become old and unreliable. It can carry one passenger vehicle at a time and only during crossings when the tide is high enough.Having an 18-car ferry would also allow for truck traffic on the island, another major consideration for the province."Right now there are no service trucks, delivery trucks of any type, that go to the island," said Majchrowicz. "In the future, you will have the school bus, the delivery trucks, the septic tank pumpers, you know, all that type of traffic."Because right now it's all carried by hand, virtually."Ward Carson and his wife have been residents of Big Tancook Island for 4½ years. He acknowledged there are pros and cons to the proposed replacement ferry, but said he believes the benefits outweigh the disadvantages."Well, personally, for my wife and myself, I think they do, but I recognize that a number of people we know are less than happy about it," he said. "I think they recognize there will be benefits, but they like the existing system that we have."Simplifying oil, firewood deliveriesWhat he was sold on was the possibility of having door-to-door delivery."People can get oil delivered to their houses," he said. "We can get firewood delivered directly to our house.... It's complicated now. I know we have, over the years, had to get firewood either in crates or cattle boxes into our pickup truck on the island."He said it has taken multiple trips to bring it from the dock to his island home.About a month ago, the province announced it would spend almost $10 million to replace the William G. Ernst. The tender call ends Dec. 8.Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said the province would need to spend about $20 million more on building ramps and a new docking facility in Blandford, and on changes to existing docks on Big Tancook and Little Tancook islands.MORE TOP STORIES
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 19, 2020 Police officers are searching for two suspects after a woman was hit on the head and robbed in downtown Barrie Friday night. “The bleeding was quite significant,” Barrie police spokesperson Peter Leon said. The women, who was treated for her head injury in hospital, was robbed of her purse, limited-edition hot pink Doc Martens boots, and a velvet GAP jacket. Leon said the robbery was an “isolated incident” and officers are still investigating. Police said they believe an “edged weapon” and an airsoft rifle may have been used in the street robbery, near Dunlop and Owen streets, at about 10:25 p.m. Oct. 16. Both suspects – a male and a female – were wearing COVID-19 masks during the robbery so police are working with limited descriptions. But the female suspect did pull her mask down at one point, revealing gaps between her teeth, Leon said. The male suspect is described as 5-feet, 8-inches tall, with short blond hair. He was wearing a dark hoodie. He was carrying a backpack. The female suspect is described as Indigenous, 5-feet, 4-inches tall, with a heavier build. She has brown shoulder-length hair, possibly in a ponytail. She was wearing a light-coloured hoodie, possibly a jacket, and had a backpack. If you have information, call Barrie police at 705-725-7025. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 29, 2020 Is Barrie fitness club owner Christy Toms worried Simcoe County may follow York Region and shutdown gyms as the second wave of COVID-19 takes hold? The owner of HotBod Fitness in the city’s south end says she doesn’t dwell on the thought, but it does cross her mind. “I’m thinking it won’t happen, but you don’t know,” Toms told Simcoe.com. “Last time, I never thought that would happen in my entire life. So, when it went from two weeks to four months, that was a long time. You do get worried about a shutdown.” Toms, who opened HotBod more than six years ago, offered online classes during the shutdown and is taking advantage of Stage 3 openings announced in July. But there’s no guarantee her business would survive a second shutdown. “I’ve planned ahead in case,” she said. “But would we survive it? I don’t know, but I’m hoping we would.” HotBod was on a roll before provincewide COVID-19 restrictions closed gyms in the spring. “Last year was the best year we ever had. We’re probably down about 50 per cent revenue from what I was pre-COVID-19, which is frustrating to say the least, but you just kind of keep moving forward.” HotBod has gone from “cramming” 30 participants in a fitness class to limits of 15, and has put several COVID-19 safety measures in place. Face masks are essential at all times, except when a member is working out in their own space and is two metres away from others. Toms said she decided to go even further by checking temperatures and asking symptom-screening questions before members enter. “People want to be safe for the most part,” she said. “I think people are just happy to work out and be safe at the same time.” Toms said she could take advantage of a new rent subsidy announced by the federal government and has accepted a $40,000 government loan. But she is hoping she won’t have to dip into that safety net. “At least that’s there if I have to use it. No one likes to use a loan when they’ve been in business for a while.”Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
HALIFAX — As the number of new COVID-19 infections showed signs of stabilizing in two Maritime provinces Thursday, the chief of a First Nation in Nova Scotia confirmed two cases on his reserve.In an interview, Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said the band had been notified of the positive results by public health officials on Wednesday. He said initial findings suggested the first infection was contracted outside the community and the virus was then passed on to the second person. He said contact tracing was underway, but the news has put the community on edge."I understand and respect privacy, but the community is going a little crazy wondering who it is," Sack said. "We have a small and tight-knit community, so everyone is wondering whether they came in contact or not."Nova Scotia reported 11 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and the number of active cases dropped to 119 from 127. Nine of the new cases were in the central health zone, which includes Halifax, while the others were in the northern zone. "It is important to recognize that although our cases numbers are not as high as we expected them to be, we continue to see new cases of COVID-19 every day," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a news release. "Now is not the time to let our guard down."Stepped up testing has continued since the outbreak that forced the implementation of new restrictions in the Halifax area one week ago. Provincial labs completed 2,047 tests on Wednesday, while 338 tests were administered at a rapid-testing pop-up site in Halifax and 148 tests were done at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Wolfville. Health officials reported no positive test results at either site. In New Brunswick, health officials reported six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the number of active cases to 111.There was one case was in the Moncton region, three in the Saint John region and two in the Fredericton area. Those zones remain under an orange alert level, but chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the Fredericton and Moncton zones would be reassessed on Sunday. Russell said Saint John won't be reassessed until later because officials there are still dealing with an outbreak at a seniors' residence. She said another Parkland Saint John employee, who is in self-isolation, had tested positive for the virus. That brought the total number of cases at the facility to 16 — six staff and 10 residents.Russell urged residents not to travel during the holiday season or to have people visit from other provinces. "If you do decide to travel, be aware that case counts in other jurisdictions are much, much higher than here in New Brunswick," she said. Premier Blaine Higgs urged residents to help get all of the province back to the less restrictive yellow level."We know that vaccines are just around the corner, so we just have to be diligent," Higgs said. "Let's prepare for Christmas but let's not get impatient. Let's make sure we can get back to yellow."Higgs said Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, would lead the province's plan with the Department of Health and a working group to co-ordinate the deployment of a vaccine.In Prince Edward Island, health officials announced one new COVID-19 case Thursday. It involves a rotational worker in his 20s who recently travelled to the Island from outside the Atlantic region and has been in self-isolation since arriving.Prince Edward Island currently has five active cases of the disease.Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases for the first time in more than two weeks as its number of active cases fell to 29.Late Thursday, Nova Scotia health officials said they had identified a case at Citadel High School in Halifax. The school was already closed because of a professional development day and officials said it would remain closed on Friday and on Monday for cleaning.In Sipekne'katik, Sack said band officials don't anticipate the need to close off the community, located about 70 kilometres north of Halifax, although he said that would be a difficult choice to make in any event. "Our community doesn't have a grocery store or anything like that, so people need to leave our community regardless," he said. The chief said the band council was monitoring the situation closely and working directly with provincial health officials. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Kevin Bissett in FrederictonKeith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Le club de motoneige Les sentiers Rocher-Percé cherche un de ses ponts. Les crues soudaines de mercredi ont emporté la structure d’environ 30 mètres qui enjambait la rivière du Portage, à Percé, construite il y a à peine un an. Les importantes précipitations et le temps doux des derniers jours ont eu raison d’un pont construit il y a environ un an sur la rivière du Portage, mieux connue comme la rivière aux Émeraudes, à Percé. La structure qui appartenait au club de motoneige Les sentiers Rocher-Percé reste introuvable, alors que le niveau de l’eau redescend. «On croit qu’il est parti avec la crue, surement à cause d’un arbre. Ça a vraiment été une surprise parce qu’il avait résisté le printemps dernier, on pensait qu’il serait bon», note le président du club, Norbert Bond. Ce dernier se désole de voir cet investissement important emporté par les eaux, un peu moins d’un an après sa construction. «Il a couté environ 8000$ à construire. C’est beaucoup d’argent pour un petit club, on n’a pas grand moyens», note-t-il. Le pont, construit en amont de la rivière en décembre dernier, était destiné à remplacer une structure similaire, elle aussi emportée par le courant il y a quelques années. «L’autre était plus bas sur la rivière. On avait choisi de mettre le nouveau plus haut, entre la chute [aux émeraudes] et les grosses roches, justement parce que l’eau ne montait jamais à ce niveau-là», explique le président, qui estime que c’est un arbre entraîné par le courant qui a eu raison du pont. Même si les membres du club de motoneige n’ont pas encore eu l’occasion de partir à la recherche de la structure, le niveau de l’eau étant toujours trop élevé, M. Bond est d’avis que les chances de la retrouver sont faibles. «S’il est descendu avec la rivière, ça va très vite. Il pourrait être pas mal n’importe où», croit-il. Passage sur la route 132 Après avoir pris contact avec la fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec, M. Bond confirme que, même dans les meilleurs scénarios, le pont ne sera pas remis en fonction cet hiver. «On a pas les moyens de rebâtir cet hiver, ça, c’est sûr. On ne croit pas non plus être capable de faire un pont de glace, au moins pour le début de la saison», se désole-t-il. Pour les prochains mois, le club souhaiterait pouvoir emprunter la route 132 afin de traverser le cours d’eau, chose qui leur a déjà été refusée par le ministère des Transports il y a un an, ce qui a forcé le club a le pont emporté par les eaux mercredi. «Le ministère ne veut pas nous donner le droit. On aurait besoin de 1,3 kilomètre, et ils nous disent qu’on ne peut pas dépasser 1 kilomètre. On ne peut quand même pas passer dans la rivière!», explique M. Bond. Le ministère des Transports effectue actuellement des vérifications quant à la règlementation, même s’ils n’ont pas encore reçu de demande officielle de la part du club de motoneige. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil