With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
President Donald Trump's frantic effort in the courts to delegitimize an election he lost has come no closer in a month to reversing any results. Lawyers for Trump and his allies have asked judges in several states to take the drastic and unprecedented step of setting aside President-elect Joe Biden’s wins. They have filed new cases and vowed to press on with appeals. But the quantity of affidavits, lawsuits and claims made by Trump belies that they are spurious or often repetitive of arguments already rejected by judges and elections officials, some of them Republicans. Here is a look at where the legal action stands in several key states: ARIZONA A judge on Friday threw out a Republican bid to undo Biden’s victory in Arizona, concluding the state’s GOP chief failed to prove fraud or misconduct in her challenge of election results in metro Phoenix. The judge also noted the evidence presented at trial wouldn’t reverse Trump’s loss in the state. Judge Randall Warner dismissed Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s challenge of ballots in metro Phoenix that were duplicated because voters’ earlier ballots were damaged or could not be run through tabulators. Poll observers called to testify by Ward said they witnessed problems in the processing of duplicated ballots, but the judge said those problems were pointed out to election workers, who then fixed the mistakes. Warner wrote “there is no evidence that the inaccuracies were intentional or part of a fraudulent scheme. They were mistakes. And given both the small number of duplicate ballots and the low error rate, the evidence does not show any impact on the outcome.” Courts there had already dismissed four other cases. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, certified Arizona's results Monday. In a touch of symbolism, he declined a phone call from Trump while signing the certification papers. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who was recently kicked off Trump's legal team and has been pushing wild conspiracy theories about the election, has also filed a lawsuit there. PENNSYLVANIA Trump has lost repeatedly in Pennsylvania, collecting a series of stinging rebukes from Republican-appointed judges. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a district judge's dismissal of a key lawsuit argued in an error-filled performance by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” wrote Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, nominated by Trump. The district judge, Matthew Brann, wrote of the complaint, “One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption." Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, noted that the campaign did not provide that evidence. Trump's lawyers have vowed to ask for review from the U.S. Supreme Court anyway. MICHIGAN Six cases brought by Trump and Republican allies in Michigan have either been rejected or dropped. On Wednesday, Giuliani appeared at a public meeting with lawmakers and urged activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to “step up” and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory. A Michigan appeals court turned down an appeal Friday from Trump’s campaign in a challenge to how absentee ballots were handled in Detroit and other issues. WISCONSIN The state’s Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear Trump's lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the battleground state. In a divided decision, the court didn’t rule on the merits of the claims but said the case must first wind its way through lower courts. Trump wants to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Trump’s lawyers said they didn’t have enough time to start in a lower court. 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.” Trump's campaign filed a similar lawsuit in federal court Wednesday. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also declined Friday to hear a lawsuit brought by a conservative group over Trump’s loss. ____ Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix; and Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report. Nomaan Merchant And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
The union for blue-collar workers in Montreal says it wants to put pressure on the city to speed up negotiations and says it has issued a strike notice that will come into force in the next couple weeks. The city's 6,500 blue-collar workers have been without an employee contract since Dec. 31, 2017. In a news release sent by the union representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, "discussions are ongoing but we want to put some pressure to get things done.""Blue-collar workers want a new employment contract that is fair and respects the work they provide on a daily basis," the release said. It said in mid-November 2,846 members voted 97.2 per cent in favour of a mandate giving them the right to exercise pressure that could go as far as a general strike.The assembly was held in a temporary drive-in installed on the site of the Royalmount project, where members arrived by car. The City of Montreal says it is aware of the union's decision but that it has not been informed of the pressure tactics workers plan on taking, or which essential services they will continue to offer.
The Free Store in Summerside is booked solid with shopping appointments and asking clients to cancel their slots if they can't make it. Due to COVID-19 spacing restrictions, anyone wishing to shop at the store must make a 15-minute appointment in advance. The problem comes, said owner-operator Belinda Woods, when someone doesn't show up for their appointment. Then the time is wasted instead of another client being able to use it. "If you're coming, great," said Woods. "If not, please let other people come."My worry is that people aren't going to get the things that they need."> It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store. — Belinda Woods, The Free Store The Free Store allows people to shop free of charge for new and used goods such as winter clothes, bedding, furniture and household items. The store is always popular this time of year, said Woods, but before the pandemic, Islanders in need could line up outside and she let about 25 people into the store at once. Now, only one to five people are allowed inside at one time. "It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store," said Woods. "Please, please, either keep your appointment, or cancel it or let me know and I'll be able to fill it with somebody else." The store is open for shopping every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. Appointments are all filled, but you can still get on a waiting list in case people cancel.Special children's shopping event Woods also just began taking appointments for her special annual children's shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 12. "That's where the children can come and shop for their parents," she said. She anticipates those spots will fill up fast as well, and she might extend the event to two Saturdays. More from CBC P.E.I.
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it.U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted.The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position.On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year.Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program.Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4.An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security.“Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration.DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew.The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court.In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so.About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program.The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it has reached a settlement with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent hotels to expropriate the derelict properties on the Downtown Eastside.The hotels, which had been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city's most vulnerable people before they were ordered shut over safety concerns in 2017 and 2019. The city says in a news release Friday that the settlement ensures it can move forward with BC Housing to turn the buildings into safe and secure low-income housing. It approved the expropriation of the buildings for $1 in late 2019 but faced a legal challenge from the owners.The news release says the city decided to settle to lessen the financial risk posed by the upcoming judicial review and potential claims for greater compensation and to enable planning to begin on the future of the properties. It says it cannot share the value of the settlement under its terms. "Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of," Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in the release. "Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community." The settlement marks the end of many years of enforcement and legal action against the owners, who oversaw decades of underinvestment and unaddressed safety issues, the city says.Parkash Kaur Sahota, 90, and Pal Singh Sahota, 81, are identified as the owners in the petition for judicial review. They could not be reached for comment. Staff plan to report back to council, which approved the settlement, on the next steps and timeline for the revitalization of the properties early next year. Given the significance of the two properties to the Downtown Eastside community, the city says community engagement regarding their future is a priority and will also begin next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
A palliative care facility in St. Albert met an act of vandalism with a renewed spirit of giving after Christmas trees and memorial plaques were damaged this week. On Sunday, the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) lit trees on the hillside outside of the the Foyer Lacombe palliative care facility. Community members were invited to tune in online or participate in a drive-by viewing. "We certainly had tears in our eyes and what a tender gentle moment ... to see all those lights coming on outside the room where my mother died," recalled donor Sharon Ryan, whose mom spent her final days there last summer. A day or two later, vandals struck — damaging memorial plaques and several trees while stripping lights off others. But Ryan said what should have felt like a punch in the gut sparked the opposite reaction. "We just rolled our eyes, and we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work immediately to rebuild those light displays," said Ryan, who has also founded an advocacy group for seniors. "It was just such an automatic reaction — nobody's going to hold us back." Joheanna Buisman, president of SASHA, said she was saddened by the incident — especially because the lights were meant to honour loved ones and caregivers. But she said the overwhelming support from the community, which included $25,000 in donations for end-of-life-care, only grew after the incident. "I can't believe the outpouring," said Buisman. "People reaching out and saying 'could we do something for you, can we help you, can we help pay for the lights, can we give you lights, can we help string lights'." Support has included donations from local business owners to buy new lights for the trees. RCMP have no leads but want to hear from anyone with information.
Those most at risk will be getting the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — including health-care workers, seniors over 70 and adults in Indigenous communities. The process is expected to use all of the initial allotment and be finished by the end of March 2021.
A Vancouver home builder isn’t waiting for government regulations to change to demonstrate his idea for quickly offering emergency housing to homeless people. Bryn Davidson is putting the finishing touches on a prototype of what he calls a “tiny townhome,” a basic shed-like structure that Davidson has suggested could be an alternative for people who are homeless and live in a tent or without any shelter at all. “We’ve listened to people just talk, talk, talk for ages, and it seems like very little ever happens,” said Davidson, the owner of Lanefab Design/Build. “The ability to just jump in and do something is appealing.” Once the 100-square-foot prototype is finished Davidson hopes to put it up at a yet-to-be-determined location to give people a sense of how the idea could work. The prototype will meet the City of Vancouver’s current zoning rules for a shed, but Davidson said a bathroom and kitchen module could be added to the tiny dwelling. The basic unit Davidson is building costs around $15,000. Davidson posted a video tour of the under-construction tiny townhome on Twitter. Davidson first suggested his idea earlier this fall as the city was grappling with what to do about rising homelessness and a growing tent city at Strathcona Park. Out of several options — including trying out a tiny home village — city councillors opted to prioritize buying or leasing more hotels rooms and apartment buildings to provide housing for people who are homeless. That option provides the highest quality housing but takes time to put into place. Meanwhile, COVID-19 capacity restrictions mean Vancouver has 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter. Another city council motion from Coun. Pete Fry asked city staff to look at what zoning and building code regulations would have to change to allow tiny homes. But Davidson doesn’t expect to see any actual changes to the building code or zoning until summer 2021 at the earliest. “I feel like something needs to be done,” he said. “The city was analyzing all these options from the city’s point of view. The advantage of [the tiny homes] strategy is it’s something the private sector and private individuals can just jump in and contribute to.” Tiny home villages have sprung up in many North American cities, and range from prefabricated structures with power to very basic dwellings with no heat or electricity. City staff have expressed concerns about designs for tiny homes that don’t include heat and electricity or a private bathroom. Current zoning would also require dwellings to include a fire suppression system. But Davidson and other tiny home proponents say the idea is to provide a temporary solution that provides better shelter and security than a tent. People who store their belongings in tents often have their stuff stolen, and when tents leak in cold, wet weather it’s difficult or impossible to dry out bedding and clothing. The prototype is insulated but would need to be hooked up to electricity to allow heat and ventilation. Davidson said he’s currently talking with the city, church groups and non-profits about a location for the prototype. Davidson envisions small “villages” of 10 to 20 tiny townhomes across Vancouver, placed in vacant lots that are awaiting development, for instance. When the prototype is finished, Davidson plans to try sleeping inside with his family to see what it’s like. “I think that there should be one of these little villages in every neighbourhood in the city,” Davidson said. “It’s not just something where somebody in Dunbar thinks, ‘Oh, that’s just a Downtown Eastside problem.’ I’d like to see every neighbourhood contributing.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says tougher health restrictions likely to be aimed at Calgary and Edmonton are coming if current public-health orders don’t bend the curve down on COVID-19.Kenney, taking questions on a Facebook town-hall meeting, says it makes sense to target the novel coronavirus where it’s having the most impact.“If you’re in a remote community with a negligible number of COVID cases, where there are no cases in the local hospitals, that is not the issue right now,” Kenney said Thursday night.“The issue is the hot zones in Calgary and Edmonton — and that’s what we’ll be addressing with increasing focus in the days to come.”His comments came just hours after Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical health officer, reported a concerning rise in rates in rural areas. She stressed that even one case can move like wildfire and COVID-19 doesn’t respect geographical boundaries. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem,” Hinshaw said.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn't care where you live or what your postal code is."The province reported 1,828 new cases on Friday. Active cases stood at 18,243. There were 533 people in hospital, 99 of them in intensive care, and a total of 590 Albertans had died.Alberta Health says more than 15 per cent of active infections are in areas outside the Edmonton and Calgary medical zones. About 30 per cent are outside the four largest cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge. Areas with high active case counts per 100,000 population include Banff, the Municipal District of Acadia and Smoky Lake County.Kenney has been lauded and criticized for taking a regional, nuanced approach to try to stem the spread of the pandemic while trying to keep open as many businesses and community centres as possible.It's not going well.Alberta has registered well over 1,000 new cases a day for two weeks and, on some days, has had more new cases than larger provinces such as Ontario. Health officials are reassigning staff, space, and patients to free up more intensive care beds, while dealing with outbreaks at 22 hospitals and health facilities. The government is also exploring bringing in medical field tents from the Red Cross if needed.Last week, Kenney introduced tighter provincewide health restrictions that included a ban on indoor gatherings. But there are looser measures for areas with low infection rates. They don’t have to follow a 25 per cent capacity limit in businesses or a maximum of six people — all from the same household — at one table in restaurants. Nor do they have to abide by a one-third capacity rule for worship services.Most municipalities have made it mandatory to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Kenney has, unlike all other premiers, refused to implement that provincewide. He has said it’s unnecessary in remote areas and some rural folk would refuse to wear masks if it were an order. Cold Lake, a city of almost 15,000 in the province's northeast, has twice voted down a mandatory mask bylaw. Mayor Craig Copeland said Friday masks don't need to be required, because people are following guidelines from Hinshaw."Ninety per cent of the people in Cold Lake now are wearing masks," Copeland said. "Do they really need to be told by a mayor and council to wear a mask?"Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said Kenney’s public-health directives cater to his rural political base and the anti-mask fringe he wants to keep happily ensconced in his United Conservative Party.“(Kenney) is more interested in protecting his political fortunes with a small minority of folks who are going to resist."In Smoky Lake County, northeast of Edmonton, restaurant owner Hong Hu said her Maple Gardens Restaurant is one of the few in the area that is doing takeout only."If it gets worse, of course I (will) worry about it," said Hu, who added she's more worried about the mounting cases in Alberta than the cases in her region.She said the county has a mask bylaw and has put notes up at businesses reminding people to wear face coverings and to sanitize regularly.Back in Cold Lake, resident Cathy Olliffe-Webster, 60, said she is disappointed in the premier and her mayor for not making masks mandatory.Cold Lake is still holding indoor events such as Christmas craft sales, despite the area's first COVID-related death this week and active cases rising to more than 70, she said."I understand that Alberta's economy has been hit harder than most, but I'm really sick of people putting money before people's lives," Olliffe-Webster said.She said she was moved by an emotional speech Thursday by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who begged people to follow COVID-19 rules."I just wish Jason Kenney was a little like him."— With files from Fakiha Baig and Daniela Germano in EdmontonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
The Trump administration on Friday suspended all federal student loan payments through the end of January and kept interest rates at 0%, extending a moratorium that started early in the pandemic but was set to expire at the end of this month. By extending payments by one month, the administration is effectively leaving it to the Biden administration or Congress to decide whether to provide longer-term relief to millions of student borrowers. The measure was included in a March relief package and the White House extended it in August, but its fate was in doubt amid stalemate over a new relief bill. In announcing the extension, DeVos rebuked Congress for failing to act. “The added time also allows Congress to do its job and determine what measures it believes are necessary and appropriate," DeVos said in a statement. "The Congress, not the Executive Branch, is in charge of student loan policy.” Under the measure, students will not be required to make payments, their loans will not accrue interest and all collection activity will halt until the end of January. DeVos won praise for using her authority to pause federal student loan payments in March. Congress later cemented the measure in legislation and Trump extended it through December, but the looming deadline stoked fears that millions of borrowers would be forced to resume payments even as unemployment rates soared. Last month, the American Council on Education and dozens of other higher education associations urged DeVos to extend the relief, saying the recent surge in COVID-19 cases would likely lead to even more economic turmoil. “Bringing millions of Americans back into repayment in the thick of this crisis will cause additional financial hardship and force borrowers to make difficult decisions about their limited resources,” the groups wrote in a letter to DeVos. Even DeVos' own agency warned of looming trouble if the moratorium lapsed. In its annual report last month, Federal Student Aid, the office that oversees student loans, said that without an extension it would face a “heavy burden" in moving millions of borrowers to active repayment at the same time. President-elect Joe Biden has not directly addressed the moratorium but on Tuesday called for immediate relief including "relief from rent and student loans.” He has also supported proposals to erase up to $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers as part of a future virus relief package. In Friday's announcement, DeVos said her agency is working to notify the loan servicing companies that the Education Department contracts with to manage collections. A federal lawsuit filed against DeVos in April alleged that thousands of overdue borrowers were still getting pay withheld despite the mortarium. The department blamed the error on its servicers. DeVos' Friday release says that any defaulted borrowers who continue to have wages withheld will receive refunds. Collin Binkley, The Associated Press
A West Coast MP wants the federal transport minister to ditch fines in the thousands of dollars and allow BC Ferries passengers to remain in their vehicles on enclosed car decks to protect themselves from COVID-19 despite regulations against the practice. Rachel Blaney, North Island-Powell River’s NDP MP, has written to Transport Minister Marc Garneau questioning the logic of potentially fining people up to $12,000 when they are heeding public health orders to keep their contact with other people to a minimum. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and case numbers are growing in B.C.,” Blaney said. “And obviously it’s a concern to the point that people are willing to be written up and risk fines on the ferries to prevent exposure to COVID-19.” In the initial wave of the pandemic, Transport Canada temporarily waived regulations requiring people in cars on closed decks to head up to passenger lounges. But the federal agency rescinded the exception granted to ferry operators at the end of September. Blaney said she has made her second appeal to Garneau after learning 1,000 people have defied the order and have been reported to Transport Canada. The risks of exposure to the virus are higher now than during the initial exemption, Blaney said, adding B.C. Premier John Horgan has also called on Ottawa to extend the exemption. “The minister previously paused that rule so that people could stay safe,” she said. “Now, when case numbers are growing, why won't he do it again?” Ferry workers have not been policing passengers who choose to remain in their cars, said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “We’re not an enforcement agency,” said Marshall. “We’re politely reminding customers of the Transport Canada regulations.” Staff has been handing out Transport Canada leaflets to passengers who don’t leave the decks that outline the regulations and potential penalties, she said. Those who elect to stay in their cars have their information forwarded to the transport ministry, she added. Marshall confirmed more than 1,000 incidents have been reported to Transport Canada, most often on the sailings between Horseshoe Bay on the mainland and Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. But the vast majority of passengers have been complying with the regulation, Marshall said. The rule is in effect again because Transport Canada believes that new distancing and cleaning protocols on the provincial ferry service mitigate the risk individuals face from COVID-19 exposure, she added. “We certainly understand people are concerned about COVID-19,” Marshall said, adding there a number of risks associated with staying on a car deck. Though it’s unlikely, a car fire could pose serious danger in an enclosed deck, she said. “A customer in their vehicle could be overcome by smoke inhalation or might not be able to find their way out of their vehicle or get through to a stairwell to get upstairs,” she said. Blaney feels the current risks from the virus are greater than those from remaining on closed decks. And she has asked for the risk assessment the transport ministry relied on to make its decision. Constituents in her riding, particularly those who are vulnerable to the virus but must travel to seek medical attention, are expressing grave concerns, Blaney said. “People are very scared,” she said. “They're already travelling to access the care that they need from bigger centres, asking them in their health conditions to risk exposure just adds to the tension.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
WHITEHORSE — Yukon recorded three new COVID-19 cases in Whitehorse as the territory prepared to introduce new rules for restaurants and bars. The territory says in a statement Friday that the new infections bring the total active case count to 12. There have been 54 people infected in Yukon over the course of the pandemic. Beginning Monday, the government says restaurants and bars will be required to collect information from their patrons to assist contact tracers. One patron from each party will be required to sign in, and the eating and drinking establishments must keep the daily lists for 30 days. The lists will only be shared with Yukon Communicable Disease Control if an exposure has been identified. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
Fort Smith RCMP are asking the public's help in finding a 14-year-old boy.Dylan Lafferty was last seen Thursday at approximately 10 p.m. on Poppy Crescent in Fort Smith, N.W.T., police said in a news release late Friday afternoon. They believe Lafferty could still be in Fort Smith.RCMP say Lafferty has dark brown hair and brown eyes, is between 5' and 5'2" and weighs 130 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black sweater, grey polo pants and Nike shoes.Fort Smith RCMP are anyone with information on the whereabouts of Lafferty to call them at 872-1111, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or text nwtnutips and a message to 274637.
Another North Island resident has confirmed they have COVID-19, and are isolating at home, this time in Port McNeill. Kelly Chadwick, mother of two, started feeling cold-like symptoms on Nov. 30. She stayed home from work the next day day and sent her kids to stay with their dad and began to isolate herself. On Dec. 3, Island Health called with the positive test confirmation. Chadwick was surprised; she thought it was just a regular sinus infection like she gets every winter. She works at the pharmacy but since Mondays are her regular day off, she hadn’t been at work during the contagious part of the disease, which Island Health says is 48-hours before the onset of symptoms. Still, the pharmacy took the situation seriously, double and triple checking it was safe to remain open. A couple of close friends who Chadwick saw over the weekend, as well as Chadwick’s two children, are now isolating for 14 days. The quarantine means Chadwick will miss her son’s 10th birthday on Dec. 10, but she’s glad she’ll still get to spend Christmas with them. She has no idea where she picked up the virus, saying it had been at least three weeks since she was last down Island. “At first I felt a little bombarded, like it was my fault,” she told the Gazette, but since sharing publicly on Facebook she feels supported by the community. READ MORE: First publicly confirmed COVID-19 case in Port Hardy has been isolated since before symptoms occurred Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom wrote a post on her official Facebook page, saying that while rumours of COVID have been going around, it’s a reminder to diligently follow the public health guidelines, and reminded people to stay kind. “We have always been a community that cares. Don’t let COVID steal that from us. Let’s be sure to remain caring by extending grace and kindness to all. Do not let fear consume you. We will get through this!” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.comZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
LONE TREE, Colo. — A 15-year-old Colorado high school student and young scientist who has used artificial intelligence and created apps to tackle contaminated drinking water, cyberbullying, opioid addiction and other social problems has been named Time Magazine's first-ever “Kid of the Year."Gitanjali Rao, a sophomore at STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver who lives in the city of Lone Tree, was selected from more than 5,000 nominees in a process that culminated with a finalists' committee of children, Time for Kids reporters and comedian Trevor Noah.Rao told The Associated Press in a Zoom interview from her home Friday that the prize is "nothing that I could have ever imagined. And I’m so grateful and just so excited that we’re really taking a look at the upcoming generation and our generation, since the future is in our hands.”Time said in a statement that, along with Nickelodeon, it wanted to recognize “the rising leaders of America's youngest generation” in making the award. For 92 years, Time has presented a “Person of the Year,” and the youngest ever was Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was 16 when she graced the magazine's cover last year.Time said Rao stood out for creating a global community of young innovators and inspiring them to pursue their goals. Rao insists that starting out small doesn't matter, as long as you're passionate about it.Rao's innovating started early. At age 12, she developed a portable device to detect lead in water.She's created a device called Epione that diagnoses prescription opioid addiction at an early stage. She's also devised an app called Kindly that uses artificial intelligence to help prevent cyberbullying. It allows teens to type in a word or phrase to find out if the words they’re using are bullying and lets them decide to edit what they’re sending or to proceed.“And currently, I’m looking back at water, looking at moving things like parasitic compounds in water and how we can detect for that,” Rao said after a day's remote schooling.She told actress, activist and Time contributing editor Angelina Jolie in a Zoom interview that her science pursuits started early as a way to improve social conditions. The drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, inspired her work to develop a way to detect contaminants and send those results to a mobile phone, she said.“I was like 10 when I told my parents that I wanted to research carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver Water quality research lab, and my mom was like, “A what?” Rao told Jolie. She said that work “is going to be in our generation's hands pretty soon. So if no one else is gonna do it, I'm gonna do it.”The sensor technology involves molecules of carbon atoms that can detect chemical changes, including chemicals in water.Rao has partnered with rural schools; museums; science, technology, engineering and mathematics organizations; and other institutions to run innovation workshops for thousands of other students.In a world where science is increasingly questioned or challenged, Rao insisted that its pursuit is an essential act of kindness, the best way that a younger generation can better the world. Science and technology are being employed as never before to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, global warming and a host of other issues, she noted.“We have science in everything we’re involved in, and I think that’s the biggest thing to put out there, that science is cool, innovating is cool, and anybody can be an innovator,” Rao said. “Anybody can do science.”Time was planning a Kid of the Year broadcast special at 7:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. MST) on Nickelodeon.The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has appointed two close allies of President Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, to a defence advisory board, continuing a post-election purge in the final weeks of the administration. The acting secretary of defence, Christopher Miller, who was installed by Trump on Nov. 9 after he fired then-Defence Secretary Mark Esper, said in a written statement Friday that nine members of the Defence Business Board had been replaced with the appointment of 11 new members. Lewandowski and Bossie are among Trump's most vocal supporters. The nine other appointees are Henry Dreifus, Robert McMahon, Cory Mills, Bill Bruner, Christopher Shank, Joseph Schmidt, Keary Miller, Alan Weh and Earl Matthews. “These individuals have a proven record of achievement within their respective fields and have demonstrated leadership that will serve our department and our nation well,” Miller said. The Miller statement initially said the nine individuals removed from the board had been serving in ”expired positions," implying they were overdue to leave. But later the Pentagon amended the statement to say some board members had been “terminated.” It gave no reason for the firings. The board's charter says members are appointed for terms ranging from one to four years, with annual renewals. The board's charter says members must possess “a proven track record of sound judgment and business acumen in leading or governing large, complex private sector corporations or organizations and a wealth of top-level, global business experience in the areas of executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources, economics, technology, or healthcare.” The role of the Defence Business Board, which was established in 2002, is to provide the secretary of defence and deputy secretary of defence with independent advice and recommendations on overall Defence Department management, business processes and governance from a private-sector perspective. Lewandowski was Trump’s first of three campaign managers in 2016, and both he and Bossie were regulars on the campaign trail with Trump this year. Bossie was brought on as part of a 2016 campaign team shakeup to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. He briefly fell out of favour with Trump aides over his involvement with political groups that sought to fundraise off Trump’s name but did not benefit his reelection campaign. He found his way back into Trump’s orbit earlier this year thanks to his vigorous advocacy of the president. — Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Gananoque kicks off its Christmas celebrations this weekend. The three-week event will start on Saturday with the Festival of Light and a stand-still parade on King Street, organized by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. "We lit up the whole visitor centre, Town Hall, the bandshell and 20 trees today, thanks to Hydro One; they showed up today with four bucket trucks and 20 guys and they did an amazing job," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the chamber. On Saturday the parade will be a little smaller than previous years but no less spectacular. So far there are 29 confirmed floats and Kirkland says she is expecting another eight to show up on the day, bringing the total to 37 floats. "Before the parade starts at 5:30, the Gananoque Curling Club will be handing out free hot chocolate and apple cider in Town Park between 2 and 4 p.m.," said Kari Lambe, the town's manager of recreation. The 1000 Islands History Museum will also be lighting up the museum and is offering a walk-by window exhibit, "Toys of Yesteryear," on Saturday. The town is billing this year's celebrations as "A Wonderful Life in Gananoque" with a variety of festivities planned for the holiday season. "Starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his grotto in Town Park, where proper social distance and safety measure have been put in place," said Lambe, adding that there will also be carolling on the front steps of Town Hall from 3 until 4 p.m. The Gananoque Fire Service will be setting up firepits in Town Park from 2 until 5 p.m. Every Wednesday just after 6 p.m., Santa will be reading children's stories on 99.9 MyFM, with the final reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas scheduled for Dec. 24, just before the man in red takes off on his big journey. The town is also hosting a Winter Lights competition, and residents are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Lambe said a group of judges will pick a winner from each ward, North, South and West, and one award will be given to the business with the best window and/or light display. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18 on the town's Facebook page. The Christmas celebrations are the work of several community groups, including those mentioned earlier as well as a committee of council, the Municipal Accommodation Tax Tourism Advisory Panel, 1000 Islands RV, the Thousand Islands Playhouse and several town volunteers. A full schedule of events is posted on the town’s website.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Opponents of a planned correctional facility in Kemptville are organizing a Zoom meeting on Tuesday. "The recent public engagement session hosted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General provided one view of the issue; we think it is important for people to hear from other voices on this matter," said Victor Lachance, a member of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) and the evening's moderator. The province plans to locate a 235-bed correctional facility on agricultural land in the community. The online meeting, dubbed an information session, will be held on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to a press release issued by CAPP, participants at the event will hear from experts in the field of incarceration, prison reform, and construction, as well as an Indigenous political leader. Eight speakers are on the schedule, including: Kim Beaudin, Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; Bryonie Baxter, former executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa; Paul Cormier, chairman of RANA Development Inc.; Marie-Therese Voutsinos, who will talk about the importance of preserving agricultural land; Aaron Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University; Justin Piche, associate professor at the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa; and Kirk Albert, spokesperson for the local Jail Opposition Group. "Our goal is to emphasize a positive vision for the future of Kempville and North Grenville," said Lachance. CAPP is made up of a group of residents opposed to the planned construction of the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex on 182 acres of farmland that was previously part of the Kemptville agricultural college. "It’s an important piece of the agriculture and farming heritage of the area," said Colleen Lynas, spokesperson for CAPP. According to the press release there will be a "robust" question-and-answer period following the presentations and anyone interested in participating is invited to register at firstname.lastname@example.org.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times