Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump cheer as his motorcade leaves the White House, during a rally in Washington, D.C.
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump cheer as his motorcade leaves the White House, during a rally in Washington, D.C.
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
It's been nearly four years since a gunman opened fire during evening prayers at Quebec City's central mosque, but the wounds, both physical and emotional, may never mend."I'm remembering my brothers all the time," said Ayman Derbali, a father of three who survived the attack on Jan. 26. 2017, and is regarded as a hero by his fellow worshippers for putting himself into the line of fire so they might be spared."I have not yet healed," said Boufeldja Benabdallah, a co-founder of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre."This tragedy has left a permanent scar on the hearts of many of our fellow citizens," said Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume.The three men were on hand for the dedication of a memorial to the six victims who died in the attack — Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzedine Soufane and Aboubaker Thabti.It is also dedicated to the more than 40 people who suffered injuries and their families as well as to the community that rose to support them.The memorial, which is on two sites — across Route de l'Église from one another — was designed by Quebec City artist Luce Pelletier and built using $440,000 raised from the municipal, Quebec and Canadian governments.Pelletier imagined the work as an homage to resilience and unity. Titled 'Vivre ensemble,' the memorial features three plinths with the names of the dead inscribed, each of them connected by an arabesque of intertwined silver leaves.They were cast from maple and elm leaves Pelletier gathered from the grounds of the mosque, their adopted home, and have been stylized to reflect the artistic traditions of the countries the men were born in: Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, the Republic of Guinea.The leaves symbolize the ties that bind us all together. "The other," Pelletier said, "is us."Derbali, who drove past the site last Friday hoping to catch a glimpse ("It was still covered up," he said), was plainly touched by the memorial."It's like a bridge between the church and the mosque, between Christians and Muslims ... all the citizens of Quebec City and Canadians in general," he said. "It's very significant."Several of the other victims' families were also in attendance. Benabdallah described them as "serene."Benabdallah pointed out the practice of Islam involves esthetic considerations — "You wear your finest clothes to attend the mosque," he said — and linked it to the stark beauty of the memorial. "The joy of looking at something beautiful is calming," he said.It fell to Labeaume to address the elephant in the room: last week, Statistics Canada issued a report on hate crimes in 2019 and Quebec City ranked fourth highest in the country at 8.6 events per 100,000 inhabitants."Quebec City has an undercurrent of hatred. There are people who will dig into the depths of the human belly and who will make money with it," he said, alluding to the city's famously caustic talk-radio stations. "That's racism, or blatant prejudice."Benabdallah said "the statistics are the statistics, we can't run away from them," but added he has personally witnessed a new openness in his interactions in the city since the attack.In any event, he said, "a society is built through ups and downs. One dares hope the ups end up dominating."
The Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus is still hosting its annual Community Christmas meal, albeit with significant changes because of COVID-19 health restrictions. Usually, the free meal brings hundreds of people for food, socializing and singing. Community gatherings are not possible this year, so the Knights of Columbus will serve plates of food for people to pick up and eat elsewhere. Stan Bartlett, an organizer with the Knights of Columbus, said distribution will be at Earls Kitchen and Bar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Meals will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. “It’s not going to be the big event we’ve done in the last few years,” said Bartlett. “We’re happy we can still do something for people on Christmas Day.” The plates will be pre-prepared to limit the number of volunteers needed for the event. People will have to eat elsewhere and will not have access to the restaurant. “We don’t want to put anyone at risk,” said Bartlett. “People can come in to use the washroom if they need to, but we have to follow guidelines.” The event celebrated its 25th anniversary last year at Father Turcotte School. The first community Christmas meal was held in 1994 at the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. After 11 years, the Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus took over the event. While the event started as an outreach to homeless and low-income people, it has turned into an event where everyone is welcome, regardless of faith, language or economic status. April’s flood also impacted the Knights of Columbus when the church’s basement flooded, damaging the group’s supplies for events. The group is still working on replacing most of those damaged items. All things considered, Bartlett said he is happy the Knights of Columbus are still able to offer a community meal. “We hope everyone can have a good Christmas this year and we’re hoping we can be a little part of that with an expression of kindness,” he said. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
EDMONTON — Alberta Health projections released by the Opposition predict COVID-19 hospitalizations could soar to 775 by mid-December and the number of intensive care patients could reach 161. NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the numbers suggest the United Conservative government waited too long to act, then introduced ineffective half measures to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. “Our province is reporting the highest rate of COVID in the country,” Notley told Premier Jason Kenney during question period Tuesday. “The models showed you a second wave was coming. Why did you not prepare?” Kenney’s government has in recent weeks declined to provide internal projections on potential COVID-19 effects on hospital and intensive care wards, although Kenney said this week those numbers might be provided in the coming days. The latest numbers were leaked to the NDP. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said the projections are the "worst-case scenario" and don't take into account the recently announced new restrictions. "That is exactly the point of those restrictions ... to prevent us from hitting those high projections because what we need to do is bend that curve down," said Hinshaw. Alberta's daily case count has sat above 1,000 for almost two weeks, putting a significant strain on the health-care system. There are a total of 173 intensive care beds in Alberta. On Tuesday, there were 97 COVID-19 ICU patients of a total 479 in hospitals. Alberta Health Services, the front-line operational arm of Alberta Health, is rearranging and reassigning space, staff and patients to create another 250 ICU beds. AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said in an email that Calgary exceeded maximum ICU capacity Monday, but had space because 10 new beds had been added. Edmonton was at 95 per cent ICU capacity, but had 18 spaces available because of 20 new beds. Twenty acute-care hospitals, including the major ones in Calgary and Edmonton, are dealing with COVID outbreaks of their own. To stem the surge in cases, Kenney announced tighter health restrictions last week aimed at reducing community spread while keeping businesses and the economy as open as possible. No social gatherings are allowed in people’s homes. Restaurants and bars can stay open, but only six people can be at one table and they all must live under the same roof. The province is to review the measures mid-December and may intensify or add to them if the skyrocketing spread continues. The NDP and some doctors say the public-health orders, while aimed at balancing health and the economy, will ultimately fail both and a short, sharp lockdown is the way to go. Alberta is also facing the challenge of tracking spread. Health officials do not know where about 80 per cent of recent cases came from. Kenney reiterated that the province has 800 contact tracers and is working to hire 400 more while moving more part-time tracers to full-time status. “Alberta Health Services is pulling out the stops and has been for weeks to add capacity,” Kenney told the house. “We made it clear to them from Day 1 that budget is not an issue, that we are giving them maximum resources ... in hiring and training, and bringing people on board." Notley criticized Kenney for not moving faster during the summer to hire more contact tracers. She noted Alberta lags behind other comparable provinces. “B.C. has 26 contact tracers per 100,000 (people). Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30. Ontario, 27. Alberta, 18,” said Notley. “Contact tracing is strained across the country, that is true, but only in this province is it broken.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
TRAVAIL. S’inquiétant que la rémunération des salariés de l'administration publique accuse un retard grandissant par rapport à celle de l'ensemble des salariés québécois, le député de Rosemont et responsable pour Québec solidaire en matière de services publics, Vincent Marissal, appelle le gouvernement à commencer dès maintenant à combler cet écart dans le cadre des négociations avec les employés du secteur public. «La pandémie qui a frappé le Québec de plein fouet cette année nous a fait réaliser à quel point on a besoin d'une fonction publique forte pour offrir des services publics de qualité aux citoyens. L'écart important entre la rémunération des salariés de l'administration publique et celle des autres salariés a clairement un impact négatif sur la capacité du secteur public à attirer et retenir les travailleurs dont il a besoin pour remplir sa mission», déplore Vincent Marissal. Pour le député de Rosemont, cet écart de rémunération est un signal alarmant que l'État québécois doit offrir une meilleure rémunération aux salariés de l'administration publique. «Il est plus que temps que le gouvernement mette les bouchées doubles pour s'assurer que les salariés du secteur public bénéficient de rémunérations à la hauteur de l'importance de leur travail. La Présidente du Conseil du trésor ne peut plus faire fi de cette réalité et cela doit se refléter dans le cadre des négociations des employés du secteur public, qui doivent être l'occasion d'un début de rattrapage qui est plus que nécessaire», ajoute-t-il. Rappelons que selon les chiffres dévoilés par l'Institut de la statistique, l'écart de la rémunération globale entre les salariés de l'administration québécoise et les autres salariés du Québec est passé de 6,1 % en 2011 à plus de 9,2 % en 2020. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
B.C. health officials announced 656 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 16 more deaths.According to a written statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, there are now 8,796 active cases of infection from the novel coronavirus.There are currently 336 people in hospital, 138 more than two weeks ago, with 76 in intensive care. Henry and Dix said everyone, without exception, needs to follow public health orders and stop all social gatherings and community events in order to slow transmission of COVID-19."It is a time for all of us to pause, to think about the many people throughout our province, our nation and the world who have been impacted by COVID-19 and other global epidemics. It is also a time to think about what we can do to make a difference," they said."Let's be resilient in face of this surge. United and together, let's make an impact today through our own personal actions."With the latest deaths, the provincial death toll stands at 457. To date, 33,894 people have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C.A total of 10,123 are currently in isolation and under monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the virus.The provincial update includes one new outbreak in long-term care at The Harrison at Elim Village in Surrey.2 new outbreaks in Vancouver Island hospitalsLate Tuesday, Island Health declared two outbreaks at hospitals on Vancouver Island. Five patients and a staff member have confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, where visitors are now being limited.One staff member and one patient at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni have tested positive for COVID-19, but health officials say the outbreak is confined to one unit and the rest of the hospital is operating as usual.Also on Tuesday, Northern Health revealed that 52 employees at the LNG Canada worksite in Kitimat have now tested positive for the virus in connection with an outbreak there. Of those, eight cases are still considered active.The health authority has also issued a warning about a potential exposure to the virus at The Key Resource Centre and the Cold Weather Shelter in Fort St. James between Nov. 12 and 25. Anyone who visited either facility on those dates has been asked to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19.On Monday, Henry addressed the news that at least three churches in Langley and Chilliwack have held in-person services over the last two weeks, defying an order prohibiting all community and social gatherings.She said that most faith leaders have been supportive of public health measures, despite the "high-profile people who are trying to create some consternation" around the rules."Faith is not a building," Henry said Monday. "It is not about Sunday mornings, it is about every day. It's not about rights, it's about community."The current limitations on gatherings are in place until Dec. 7, 2020 at midnight.
Fisheries appear to be taking a more prominent role in B.C. Premier John Horgan’s new cabinet. On Thursday, Horgan announced a new parliamentary secretary for fisheries position within the Agriculture Ministry. Fin Donnelly, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, will take up the portfolio that is focused on revitalizing salmon population, protecting habitat, creating a provincial-level “coastal strategy” and increasing domestic fish processing capacity. Fisheries are a major industry in the province, with the wild harvest worth roughly $476 million in 2018. But unlike its East Coast counterparts, B.C. doesn’t have a fisheries ministry. That has meant responsibility for the sector’s myriad issues has been scattered across multiple ministerial portfolios. Those include environmental issues, rehabilitating wild salmon populations, the creation of culturally relevant jobs in rural communities and First Nations, food security (most fish caught in B.C. is exported) and ensuring the economic benefits of B.C.’s fish remain in the province. Donnelly’s mandate will require him to co-ordinate with at least three ministries — agriculture; environment and climate change; and forests, lands, natural resources operations and rural development. But without the administrative resources of a ministry, Sutcliffe expects it will be hard for him to address the plethora of environmental, social and economic issues facing the sector. For some environmentalists, concerns about the previous government's approach to wild salmon restoration have been amplified by Donnelly's new mandate. “We’re concerned (about) the directive to support innovation in fish hatcheries, which on the surface of it sounds great, but there’s a large body of science that shows hatcheries pose a lot of risks to wild salmon,” said Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, an environmental non-profit focused on rebuilding B.C.’s wild salmon. Unlike open-pen fish farms — a controversial type of aquaculture where Atlantic salmon are reared in floating nets — salmon hatcheries raise young Pacific salmon and release them into creeks and streams, allowing them to migrate into the Pacific to reach adulthood. Then, like wild salmon, they return to the streams of their birth to spawn. In Alaska, “ocean ranching,” or widespread hatchery use, is essential to sustaining the state’s massive commercial salmon industry. However, it has proved controversial, as hatchery-raised fish compete against wild fish for food and, through interbreeding, reduce wild fish populations' genetic diversity and resilience to environmental change. In contrast, open-pen fish farms threaten wild salmon through parasites, diseases, pesticide use and interbreeding with wild Pacific salmon. B.C. is the only jurisdiction on the West Coast where the salmon aquaculture industry can operate. A 2019 policy report prepared for the province by an appointed advisory committee to inform its salmon-related policies recommended that hatcheries be used only to “rebuild weak or extirpated stocks ... or for short-term interventions to help rebuild stocks for southern resident killer whales.” Protecting and restoring spawning habitats and developing a more equitable distribution of the fisheries' economic benefits are more important priorities, the report noted. However, the report has been criticized by Hill and other conservationists for having a pro-industry bias (many of the committee members are involved in the fisheries, according to Hill) and “failing to address the root causes of the salmon crisis.” Still, the province’s continued focus on salmon and Donnelly’s appointment were welcomed by Robert Chamberlin. The former chief of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation and former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs played a key role in the removal of open-pen fish farms from the Broughton Archipelago through a collaborative, nation-to-nation process he hopes can be replicated in other areas of the province. “I think (Horgan) put in key players,” he said, noting that in addition to Donnelly, Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and Nathan Cullen will also be shaping future provincial fisheries policy, and all are familiar with the Broughton Island process. Cullen is the MLA for Stikine and provincial minister of state for lands and natural resource operations — another new role — tasked with a suite of responsibilities, including habitat protection and co-developing a coastal strategy with Donnelly. “(Their appointments) match the statements (Horgan) made about sending a strong signal to Ottawa that the B.C. government is taking a very strong focus on salmon.” But that focus on salmon, while important, still leaves out large parts of the province’s fisheries, Sutcliffe said. “Salmon is iconic, it is rooted in our identity and affects the lives of so many people — you don’t have to be a fisherman to care about salmon. (But) we also can’t ignore the fact that many other species are fished and relied upon for the same reasons. If we want a healthy B.C. food system, it’s not enough to just focus on salmon.” Many of the challenges facing fisheries and the communities that rely on them aren’t about salmon, but the dozens of other species harvested in the province such as prawns, crabs and halibut. Those include everything from issues of unequal wealth distribution to access to credit to participation in conservation decision-making. While many of these issues fall primarily under federal jurisdiction, she said that federal efforts at reform will be hampered without the support that a dedicated provincial ministry could provide. “To realize a new direction in fisheries that maintains the level of ecological resilience we need, in an uncertain climate ... that brings the benefits of the fishery back to harvesters and their communities, requires not just federal, but also provincial leadership,” she said. “One can hope that with (Donnelly's appointment) the province will step up and play their role in supporting needed changes in the socio-economics of fisheries.”Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
RCMP in southern Alberta are asking for the public's help in finding a missing 41-year-old woman and her three children.Police say Jessie Foyston and her children were last spoken to by a family member during the first week of November.Bow Island RCMP also say neighbours have not seen Foyston recently.They say she is new to the community of Bow Island and has no other connections to the area.Foyston is believed to be driving an older model white Chevy Suburban, but police say the licence plate is unknown.Police say she has a 12-year-old son and two daughters ages 10 and five.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Daily Bread Food Bank has cancelled its holiday food drive this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Toronto but it is appealing to the public to continue to donate items and to give in other ways.Neil Hetherington, Daily Bread's CEO, told reporters on Tuesday that families need help more than ever in Toronto because of massive increases in food insecurity.Hetherington said public health and safety concerns prompted the food bank to change its operations this holiday season. He said the food bank has to respect public health measures in place in Toronto and did not want to encourage people to gather in any way."We have had to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 holiday food drive events. A lot of thought and consideration went into this decision," he said at a news conference."But we are prioritizing the health and safety of our supporters, volunteers and staff, even if that means risking not achieving our food raising goals."Hetherington said Daily Bread still hopes to raise 400,000 pounds of food, the equivalent of 17 tractor-trailer loads.In addition, the food bank is also asking for $1 million in financial aid. He acknowledged that goal is ambitious."Despite the challenges, the food bank remains committed to ensuring everyone's right to food is realized this holiday season and beyond," he said.Toronto residents can drop off food donations safely at local grocery stores or fire halls. The food bank will pick up the donations, he said.Food that is suitable is anything that people would put on their own kitchen tables, he added. That includes food highly nutritious and high in protein, he said. Peanut butter, tuna, canned meats, pasta sauce — "these are the things that many of our families enjoy at this time of year," he said.Residents can also place online orders from local grocery stores and have those orders delivered directly to Daily Bread at 191 New Toronto St., Toronto, ON, M8V 2E7.Hetherington said residents can do the following: * Make a financial donation that will allow Daily Bread to buy food that it will not be able to collect from its holiday public drive. For every dollar donated, the food bank said it can provide one balanced meal for someone experiencing hunger. * Give the gift of food by buying from the food bank's online store. The "symbolic gift" in the name of a loved one can provide enough to feed a family of four or help a senior fill his or her cupboard. * Bring family and friends together "in the spirit of giving" and organize an online fundraiser in support of the food bank. * Advocate for systemic change to end the root cause of hunger, which is poverty. The food bank suggests the residents contact municipal, provincial and federal government officials to let them know that they want to see poverty and food insecurity eliminated in Toronto.Hetherington said the cancellation of the holiday food drive means non-essential workers can continue to stay at home and venture out for only essential activities.He added the food bank had already cancelled its "public food sort," which involves families sorting food in a parking lot, because of the pandemic.WATCH | CBC Toronto's Dwight Drummond talks to Neil Hetherington about food insecurity:Hetherington said the food bank had planned to hold a "contactless" food drive, similar to its Thanksgiving food drive in its receiving dock, where hundreds of cars pulled up and had food removed from their trunks, but decided such an event was too risky, given high case counts in Toronto."This cancellation, however, does not change the food insecurity of the hundreds of thousands in the city each day," he said.Food bank visits 'spiked dramatically' during pandemicHetherington said food bank visits increased by five per cent in Toronto last year from previous year. Unstable employment, insufficient incomes and a lack of affordable housing have combined to create a food insecurity crisis, he said."COVID-19 has only exacerbated that crisis," he said. "And food bank visits have spiked dramatically."Food bank visits have increased by 51 per cent this year, year over year. In September, the food bank saw more than 104,000 client visits, a number greater than it has ever seen before.He said the food bank is delivering 52 per cent more food to Toronto this year, over 1.1 million pounds in the next four weeks alone.During the holidays, the food bank depends on the community to meet its food and fundraising goals that will determine distribution in the following months.He said December draws about 50 per cent of annual donations to the food bank.
The newest member of Acadia First Nation's band council is also the youngest and hopes to use her position to inspire other young people to pursue politics.Natteal Battiste, 28, was sworn in last week after winning a seat in the Nov. 21 election.She's the only new member of the nine-person chief and council.Battiste said engaging with young people who live in the many communities that make up Acadia First Nation is one of her priorities, as is shaking up how elections are held in the future. "I do see that there's a shift with our younger population wanting to get involved in politics, and that's what I really want to encourage and hope that I'm able to motivate for the next election," she said Monday. Ahead of November's election, Battiste told CBC Radio's Information Morning that new people running to be on council didn't have access to the contact list for voters like incumbents did.Hoped to see more new facesWith a very large portion of the First Nation's roughly 1,500 members living off-reserve, she said it made it difficult for new candidates to reach potential voters. "It is unfortunate that there wasn't more [new councillors] that were sworn in, I will say that," Battiste said. "I do wish that all of our areas were covered very evenly, having a representative from each area ... but that doesn't take away from my excitement that I have this opportunity of making a meaningful change."Acadia First Nation's eight councillors and one chief serve five-year terms. Chief Deborah Robinson was first elected as chief in 1987 and was re-elected last month along with seven other incumbent councillors. As a newcomer to politics, Battiste said the five-term will give her enough time to learn the ropes. Born in Boston, grew up in Yarmouth areaBattiste was born in Boston and moved to the Yarmouth reserve where she lived for 10 years. In 2010, she moved to Halifax to study psychology at St. Mary's University.According to a bio on Acadia First Nation's website, she started the Aboriginal student society at SMU and hosted the university's first sacred fire and tobacco offering ceremony for students.Battiste now lives in Dartmouth, and said living off-reserve can make it harder to access support and community resources. "You do feel kind of excluded when you are off-reserve, which means up to 90 per cent of our members could feel they don't have a connection to their heritage," she told CBC's Information Morning before the election. Her mission is to bring young members of Acadia First Nation together, no matter where they live, so they can learn from one another, she said. "Just connecting us one to another so we can start creating more deep-rooted relationships in the spread-out areas of southwest Nova Scotia." MORE TOP STORIES
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Le Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish reçoit un don de 25 000 $ de la part de Rio Tinto. Le centre fait partie des 12 refuges pour femmes et organismes locaux choisis par la multinationale, qui leur fait don d’un total de 360 000 $. La Maison des femmes de Sept-Îles et le centre d’hébergement Tipinuaikan d’Uashat mak Mani-utenam récoltent aussi 25 000 $ chacun. La contribution de Rio Tinto permettra à ces organismes de continuer à fournir différents services de soutien aux femmes et à leurs familles, dont des refuges sûrs, des conseils, des ateliers et des activités pour les enfants, entre autres. La coordonnatrice du Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish, Francine Blais, se réjouit de ce don. « On est très heureux d’avoir été reconnus. Ça va nous donner un coup de pouce pour la poursuite de nos activités dans le milieu. » L’organisme n’a pas encore décidé de la répartition du montant entre les points de service d’Aguanish et d’Havre-Saint-Pierre ni de ce à quoi l’argent servira. L’annonce du don de Rio Tinto a été faite le 25 novembre, soit la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Cookie swaps are an annual tradition for many of us who love to bake and to share treats with friends on an afternoon in early December.Here's the gist: everyone bakes a larger than usual batch of cookies or squares, typically a dozen for each guest at the swap — and then each participant goes home with a mixed batch of holiday baking to get them through the season.Things are a bit different this year, of course. With restrictions on in-home gatherings, a typical cookie swap isn't an option, nor are we all having the parade of seasonal get-togethers a huge stash of cookies might be useful for.But in the spirit of keeping traditions alive, and looking for ways to engage with each other this holiday season, there are ways to safely strategize a cookie swap.You could co-ordinate a door-drop cookie swap: package up baked cookies or squares, or make logs of cookie dough, put on some holiday tunes, pick up a latte or hot chocolate (from one of our many amazing local roasters) and drop festive packages on your friends' doorsteps.Consider swapping just the dough itself: it's less work for the bakers and minimizes handling (wearing a mask in the kitchen regardless as you prep is a safe extra step). It's also more easily packaged and stored, and allows the recipient to bake what they need, when they need it.One of the benefits of icebox cookies — most any shortbread or rolled sugar or gingerbread cookie dough — is that they have the same baking time, so you can cut a few slices off a variety of logs and bake them together for an assortment all at once. And if you're living alone or with a smaller group, you can bake a few at a time in the toaster oven. If you're planning a walk, skate, tobogganing outing or other outdoor activity with a few in your extended bubble, you could plan to swap cookies then (wearing masks and practising safe distancing, of course). And if there's someone in your life who may not have the ability to bake and deliver, pack up a tin to leave on their step.You can buy sleeves of paper boxes, like the ones they use in bakeries and delis, at restaurant supply stores such as the Real Canadian Wholesale Club, or buy festive boxes and bags at most dollar stores.What kind of dough freezes the best?They all do!Typically, shortbread or rolled cookie dough is best to roll into a log to slice and bake, and drop cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin) can be frozen in scoops, then transferred to ziplock bags for people to bake from the freezer.Let them sit on the baking sheet to thaw while you preheat the oven.Perhaps best of all, you can wrap chilled logs in festive paper with ribbon or string at each end, like a Christmas cracker — and not worry if they freeze on someone's doorstep.Cinnamon Bun Icebox CookiesThese swirled slice and bake cookies look and taste like cinnamon buns. Finish the cooled cookies with a simple icing drizzle to complete the effect, if you like. * ½ cup butter, at room temperature * ½ cup sugar * ¼ cup packed brown sugar * 1 large egg * 1 tsp vanilla * 1½ cups all-purpose flour * 1 tsp baking powder * ¼ tsp saltFilling: * ½ cup brown sugar * ¼ cup finely chopped pecans (optional) * 2-3 tbsp honey or golden syrup * cinnamonIn a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half an hour or so.On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch (ish) square, or to make two logs, into two smaller squares. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pecans and smooth them with your hand to evenly cover the dough. Drizzle with honey or golden syrup, and sprinkle with cinnamon.Roll up in a jelly-roll style, wrap in parchment, twisting the ends to seal, then refrigerate until firm (or for up to a week) or freeze for up to six months.When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the dough about ¼-inch thick and place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until pale golden and set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about two dozen cookies.Mona's Mother's Mother's Best Friend's Favourite CookiesFrom the original Best of Bridge cookbook, this is a great go-to drop cookie that can be customized to add all kinds of ingredients — dried cranberries, orange zest and white chocolate chunks or chips are great during the holidays. They also spread well, which works with dough you're going to freeze.Time in the freezer plus baking from colder than room temp will slow the spread, so this formula makes up for it.Ingredients: * 1 cup butter, at room temperature * 1 cup sugar * ½ cup brown sugar * 1 large egg * 1 tsp vanilla * 1¼ cups flour * 1¼ cups quick-cooking rolled oats * 3/4 cup coconut * 1 tsp baking powder * 1 tsp baking soda * ¼ tsp salt * 1 cup chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, raisins and/or nuts (optional)Instructions:Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.Add the flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt (stir together first if you like) and stir just until blended.If you like, add some raisins, chopped nuts, and/or chocolate chunks or chips as you mix.Drop by the large spoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.Makes about two dozen cookies.Sonya's Auntie Dianne's Jam Sandwich CookiesThanks to Sonya, who shared the recipe for her aunt's cream cheese sugar cookies, sandwiched with jam, on Twitter this week!This recipe makes a large quantity of dough, but it freezes well so you could roll and bake half now and the rest later in the season. Or use it to make rugelach.Sonya also suggested flavouring the dough with grated orange or lemon zest or cardamom, if you like.These are more involved and may be more work to make in larger quantities, but they're beautiful and satisfying to make — worth the effort when you have more time to spend in the kitchen and want to drop something special on someone's doorstep. Ingredients: * 1 cup butter, at room temperature * 1½ cups sugar * 1 8-oz. package cream cheese * 1 egg * 1 tsp vanilla * ½ tsp almond extract (optional) * 3½ cups all-purpose flour * 1 tsp baking powder * ½ tsp salt * jam, for spreading * icing sugar, for sprinklingInstructions: In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla and almond extract. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed or stir until you have a soft dough. Divide in half (or into smaller balls or discs), wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour, or up to a few days — it can also be frozen at this point. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼-inch thick.Cut into whatever shapes you like, and cut a small window out of half of them — use the open end of an icing decorating tip, or a small cookie cutter.Bake for 8-10 minutes, until pale golden.Once cooled, spread the solid cookies with jam (or marmalade, Nutella or anything else you like), and sprinkle the windowed cookies with icing sugar before placing them on top.Makes about two dozen medium sandwich cookies.
The Opposition Liberals say a tax that pays for tires to be recycled off-Island is no longer needed because the work is being done on P.E.I.Interim Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant said he noticed the tax after he purchased new tires himself.The charge is $4 per new tire with a rim size of 17 inches or less, and $11.25 per tire with a rim size greater than that."Why are we still charging the tax?" said Gallant.This spring, the province stopped sending tires off-Island for shredding.In the past, these tires were picked up, trucked to Quebec and shredded.Now, a local business picks up and shreds the tires at no cost to the province.Finance Minister Darlene Compton said the program shredding tires on the Island is a pilot project. She wants to make sure it's viable before she'll look at dropping the tax. Compton said she'd like to see the program operate for the next year or so. "The taxes that we charge go back into government programs and services and we want to ensure that the tires that are on the road are looked after when it's time for them to be put aside," Compton said from the floor of the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday."We will definitely take into consideration the tax being paid by Islanders."The province said it is not only saving money on the pickup and shredding of tires, it is also saving money on the finished product.Transportation Minister Steven Myers said the province purchases those shredded tires to help build new roads.The shredded tires replace class D gravel, the gravel used for the base of new roads."I think it's 60 per cent cheaper than gravel, notwithstanding the fact that we don't import it either," Myers said in June.More from CBC P.E.I.
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that the country is the first to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
Two crew members on a container ship anchored in Vancouver's English Bay were seriously injured after a lifeboat unexpectedly plunged into the water during a drill on Tuesday.According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the accident happened at about 1:15 p.m. Both crew members were on the lifeboat when it was released from the ship, and it was sinking when rescuers were called.Coast guard officers, the Vancouver Police Department's marine unit and the Vancouver Port Authority all responded to the mayday call.A vessel from the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was on scene within 10 minutes, according to a spokesperson, and paramedics treated the two injured people for "significant injuries."According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, the patients were taken to hospital in serious condition, but they are both stable.
It's two weeks since the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) closed Frank W. Begley Public School in Windsor because of a COVID-19 outbreak, and education officials are still not sure when the school will reopen and what are all the steps they'll need to take to get students back to class.Begley was the first school outbreak in Windsor-Essex. Forty students and nine staff have tested positive for the virus. The school has been closed since the health unit declared the outbreak on Nov. 17. Students have continued learning by remote means since then.Sharon Pyke, a superintendent of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board, says the board does not yet know when the brick and mortar school will be able to reopen."We are at the very beginning of talks with the health unit in terms of reopening Begley and what that looks like," she said. "We do know that we want students back as soon and as safely possible."Pyke says what the board does know is that students will not be returning to the school all at once."And we know it's going to be a staggered approach. As to the date, it's not been established yet, but we're hoping for soon," she said. The reason for the staggered approach is that not all students and staff began their mandatory isolation at the same time."So when we do our reopening, we really have to work with the health unit, and on advice of them," she said.Pyke added that the school board is ensuring that there will be ample mental health supports available for students as they come back to the physical school. She also says that the school has been thoroughly deep-cleaned in preparation for reopening."We're feeling pretty confident that when kids come back, their environment is going to be safe," she said.Effects on students and familiesThe school's closure means that students have had their education disrupted in a difficult year.Sarah Al Msaytem, a student at the school, says that while she feels safe with online learning, she doesn't prefer it to in-class instruction."It's too hard to pay attention," she said, adding that she also prefers going to the school so that she can play and talk with her friends more.This all comes while Sarah's brother Mohammed, who has COVID-19, has been isolating in the family's house."He coughs a lot, and he sneezes," she said.But Sarah's father Fahed, who has four children in school and one two year-old, says that while he's worried about his son's condition, he is confident that he'll eventually be able to send his children back to Begley safely."No ... I don't have any problems," he said.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A second inmate at an Alaska prison experiencing a coronavirus outbreak has died from complications related to COVID-19, as the total number of active cases at the state's largest prison has reached 480, the Alaska Department of Corrections said Tuesday. The 77-year-old with underlying health issues, who was serving sentences for sexual abuse and release violations, died Monday after being taken to a Palmer hospital on Nov. 22, the department said. It's the second death of an inmate related to COVID-19 that has been reported by the department. The first was last month. In each case, the department declined to release the names of the individuals, citing privacy concerns. Both were inmates at Goose Creek Correctional Center near Wasilla, which has been experiencing a coronavirus outbreak. The department said it offered tests to about 1,300 inmates at the prison to try to find undetected cases. Results brought the facility's active case count to 480, with results in 120 cases pending and another roughly 190 inmates considered recovered, the department said. Sarah Gallagher, a department spokesperson, said it “can only offer and recommend testing" — not require it — but she said there were few refusals to be tested. The total inmate population at the prison stood at about 1,260 on Tuesday, she said. In housing units that have had positive tests, those who have tested negative are retested every three days until there are no additional positive results in the unit for 14 days, the department said. Dr. Robert Lawrence, the department's chief medical officer, said “testing sweeps” provide a picture of spread that has occurred and allow officials to "target isolation and quarantine strategies to particular areas in the facility in order to flatten the curve of the spread.” Inmate housing is determined by test results and clinical status, and staff members are required to wear masks in the prison and undergo screenings before their shifts, the department said. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death. The Associated Press
After nine long months of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns people around the world are truly feeling the emotional and physical crunch. Humans are social creatures and this pandemic has succeeded in separating us from one another more than anything else in recent memory. In our desperate attempts to slow the spread of the virus throughout our communities, much of what we commonly experience together as communal acts of collective joy have become greatly restricted or shut down completely. One of the areas hardest hit is the live music industry. Venues have closed up, and over time we have seen repeated announcements in the news that many will not be able to ride out the storm and reopen in the future. Festivals both large and small were forced to go on hiatus this year sending out waves of financial crisis through the entire industry, from the producers at the top to the thousands upon thousands of musicians who rely more than ever on live performance engagements for their livelihood. In an attempt to utilize digital media to bridge the wide physical expanse, many organizations working in the music industry have turned to live streaming over the Internet to remain connected with their audiences. One organization operating as a music industry hub is the non-profit Canada's Music Incubator - Canada's Music Incubator (CMI). “We’re national. So we're based out of Toronto, but we also do a lot of our programming in the west as well in Alberta, out of the National Music Centre,” said CMI Live Events director Jesse Mitchell. The centre is a music performance venue located in Calgary. Much of the work that CMI does involves live music curation, as well as connecting musicians and managers with promoters and performance opportunities. But the organization also goes beyond that by producing music industry workshops and mentorships which serve to educate music creators and to invigorate the Canadian music landscape. Because of CMI’s success over their 10-year history, Mitchell and his associates were approached by representatives at the TD Bank, an organization with a long and prominent history of sponsoring and supporting many high profile music and cultural events across Canada. During these times of quarantine TD was seeking alternatives to sponsoring live events and approached CMI to spearhead a nationally-produced streaming performance program. Together the two partners came up with the Connected Music Series. Produced over the last few months and premiering on CMI’s YouTube channel, the Connected Music Series features 20 performances by Black, Indigenous and South Asian musicians. The artists selected were asked to stage their performances at venues in their community that held significance to that place. CMI also had a mandate to include local creators and media production crews to capture the performances. “The series has a focus on showcasing artists, but at the same time we’re interested in also showcasing significant spaces,” Mitchell explained. “But because this is online and it’s being videoed, we’re also highlighting media creators who work in these different communities.” The Connected Music Series features 20 prerecorded 30-minute musical performances airing between Nov. 19 and Dec. 20. The series hosts an incredible selection of Canadian talent, including many acclaimed Indigenous artists such as 2020 JUNO Indigenous Artist of the Year Celeigh Cardinal; Mi'kmaq Rapper Wolf Castle; two-spirit Mohawk singer Shawnee; Cree R&B; musician Sebastian Gaskin; Mohawk musician Logan Staats, and Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. The venues chosen by the performers range from the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Alberta, both in Edmonton, and the Pabineau First Nation Band Hall in Bathurst, N.B., to intimate locations like The Garden Strathcona in Vancouver and community-minded retail spaces like hip hop fashion store Friday Knights in Winnipeg. “There's lots of beautiful and incredible places where I could have taped my performance, but it was already winter here,” said Gilday, who makes her home in Yellowknife. “So shooting a half-hour performance outside in winter here is not possible because I play guitar.” “I chose the Bullock’s Bistro, which is our local fish and chips place, and it's like an iconic Yellowknife location.” Gilday appreciates the Yellowknife restaurant’s attraction as a community and tourist hub, established over the past three decades, and how “it’s connected to the water in a very special way.” Owners “Renata and Sam Bullock get their fish fresh out of Great Slave Lake literally a hundred feet away.” For Gilday, that speaks to her deeply about “food security and that connection to the water.” Whether locked down within the vast urban landscape of a city like Toronto or tucked in for the winter in the remote communities of Northern Canada there’s no denying the significance of how much digital media is helping to keep everyone connected in these trying times. Many of the artists featured in the series would normally be touring and performing in various corners of the world. During the pandemic, however, sponsored streaming events have been adopted by many producers and promoters to serve as an antidote to the moratorium placed on public gatherings and live music events. The Connected Music Series returns Dec. 3, streaming dynamic performances from unique Canadian locations by acclaimed Canadian BIPOC musicians and creators right through until Dec. 20. Visit the Connected Music Series YouTube channel to view the recorded performances so far. Windspeaker.com By David Owen Rama, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
MONTREAL — When the Quebec government tells English schools they cannot hire women wearing the hijab, it violates the rights of the English-speaking minority to manage its educational institutions, a lawyer argued Tuesday in a case challenging the province's secularism law.The law, known as Bill 21, forbids the wearing of religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for certain employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and school teachers.Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard, who is presiding over the trial, has set aside 14 days to hear closing arguments, which began on Monday.Constitutional rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Community Groups Network, which are both challenging the law.Grey invoked Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right of Quebec's anglophone minority to be educated in English. Over time, jurisprudence has interpreted this right as giving management power to English schools, which Grey argued includes the right to hire whom they choose as teachers, including those who wear religious symbols.While Bill 21 invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shield it from most charter challenges, including those based on freedom of religion, Grey argued it can't be used to override the language-rights protections in Section 23.Grey argued Section 23 is essential to the protection and preservation of the language and culture of the English-speaking minority in Quebec.And included in the culture of the English-speaking community is the protection of cultural minorities, he said.Grey also argued that Bill 21 infringes Section 28 of the charter, which provides for gender equality and isn't subject to the notwithstanding clause.A lawyer for Amnesty International argued that the law is too vague and that it doesn't include a definition of "religious symbols."School administrators can't all become theologians to manage their schools, Marie-Claude St-Amant said. Like Grey, she argued that it is not the government's objective in adopting the law that is important but rather the effects of the legislation. Those are disproportionately felt by Muslim women, she said, arguing that the stated goal of the law is a pretence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press