WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation.Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of colour, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female.President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods.Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favourite Fox News shows.In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.”He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.”Bedingfield and Psaki are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice-president, and Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department.Others joining the White House communications staff are:— Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs.— Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles:— Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director.— Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson.— Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice-president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director.After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president.The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press.___Taylor reported from Washington.Alexandra Jaffe And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer.When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.WHAT COMES NEXTThe FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.RATIONING INITIAL DOSESIf the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring.Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.ASTRAZENECA CONFUSIONAstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and BrazilThat vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.STILL IN THE PIPELINEJohnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.____The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
A piece of Marysville history will disappear when part of the old cotton mill is demolished in the coming weeks. The old mill, which is currently a government building known as Marysville Place, is the heart of the neighbourhood's rich heritage. Built in the mid-1880s by Alexander 'Boss' Gibson, the large brick building overlooks the Nashwaak River in the Fredericton suburb .A two-story annex attached to the rear of the building, formerly the dyehouse when the mill was operational, is currently fenced off.A demolition crew is already on site and they're ready to take it down the week of Dec. 7.That part of the building hasn't been used in recent years because it's no longer structurally safe. Terry Arnold, co-chair of the Marysville Heritage Committee, said it's always sad to see part of the old mill go. "It's hard to see it happen, but I can understand why it's happening — if it's unsafe and there's no resources available for fixing it up," Arnold said.He said he believes the annex hasn't been used since the late 1970s, when the mill shut down and the building was acquired by the provincial government.Arnold, who has lived in Marysville his whole life, said he never worked at the mill but remembers being inside it once as a teenager, and remembers its distinct smell. Years later, when Arnold and other members of the Marysville heritage committee, were given a tour of the Annex, Arnold said the building's unique aroma was still there. "It smelled exactly the same as it did to me back in the early 1960s," he recalled. "It still had that — I call it cotton mill smell," adding that it wasn't a bad smell — just distinct.The provincial government has renovated the main building over the years and currently uses it for offices.Jill Green, New Brunswick's minister of transportation and infrastructure, said the former dyehouse is in rough shape."The roof has collapsed, the beams inside are deteriorated to the point where the structure is not safe, so it's time to bring it down so that nobody gets hurt," Green said. Green said she worked at Marysville Place in the late 1980s and remembers the annex was sometimes used for storage.Green said there it still contains old drums that were used to store dye, and added that they will be removed and properly disposed of as part of the project. A small section that connects the mill with the annex will not be torn down, and crews are working to block that section off now. Green said that some of the bricks and the beams in the annex will be reused to build a bicycle storage for people who work at Marysville place.The contractor doing the demolition is also planning to reuse some of the materials in other projects around the province.And while there is no commitment on how the land will be used, the province is considering extending the community garden that's already on site. CNF Maillet is the company doing the demolition. The project will cost the government $426,000 — that includes the demolition and the work to support the remaining wall.The debris will be cleaned up by the end of the year.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia came under renewed pressure Monday to explain the nerve agent attack on opposition figure Alexei Navalny as the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog got underway amid measures aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus.Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later. His allies accused the Kremlin of poisoning its fiercest opponent. Tests carried out by labs in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.The organization's director-general, Fernando Arias, told Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, “the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon.”A group of 56 nations issued a statement as the start of the annual meeting of the OPCW's member states urging Moscow to disclose “in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.”Russia, which denies involvement in Navalny's poisoning, reacted bullishly in its written statement to the conference.“Instead of trying to look into what had happened, Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some ‘independent international investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW,” Moscow's statement said.In October, Moscow asked for OPCW experts to visit Russia to provide “technical assistance” in its investigations. Arias said talks are underway to define “all the legal, technical, operational and logistical parameters in order for this visit to take place.”The European Union has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning. Moscow responded earlier this month by announcing that it had adopted sanctions against a number of German and French officials.The OPCW's annual meeting has been broken into two parts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two days of talks this week will focus on approving the proposed 71.74 million euro ($86 million) annual budget for 2021. The second half of the meeting will take place next year.Mike Corder, The Associated Press
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused.The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable.The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112.The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy."When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.”Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then.But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial.Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies.The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014.Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.”“If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said.Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well.They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok.___Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report.Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway. They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene. Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted. No names or suspect information was immediately released. The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
THE LATEST: * On Monday, health officials announced the deaths of 46 people from over the weekend and 2,364 new cases of COVID-19. * There are 8,855 people with active cases of the disease across B.C. * 316 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, including 75 in intensive care. * 441 people have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * A total of 10,139 people are under active public health monitoring and in self-isolation because of exposure to known COVID-19 cases. * There have been 33,238 confirmed cases in the province to date.B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday an unprecedented 46 deaths from COVID-19 over the weekend.A total of 2,364 new cases were added to B.C.'s total, however 277 of them were historical cases previously missed due to an error in data reporting by the Fraser Health region.There are now 8,855 people with active COVID-19 cases in B.C., 316 of whom are in hospital, including 75 in intensive care.The Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions continue to see the greatest spread of the disease, accounting for 73 per cent of the new cases announced Monday. However, 212 of the new cases over the weekend were located in the Interior Health region.Monday's update includes five new outbreaks in the health-care system. Currently, there are 57 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and five in hospitals.Health officials have told British Columbians to pause all social interactions and be vigilant applying different layers of protection, including physical distancing, washing hands and using masks.Review of PHSA spendingA review into spending by the Provincial Health Services Authority has been ordered by B.C.'s Minister of Health Adrian Dix, following allegations of misspending.On Monday, CBC News reported how whistleblowers with intimate knowledge into PHSA operations have come forward with numerous concerns.They accuse B.C.'s central health authority of squandering $7 million on the purchase of unusable face masks from China; hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary renovations to executive offices; and tens of thousands of dollars on high-end catered meals for executives and their staff."I appreciate these allegations being raised to me," Dix said in a statement to CBC News. "I have directed the deputy minister of health to assess PHSA's decisions and conduct ... and provide advice and recommendations to me." COVID-19 finesSeveral fines were issued in Vancouver over the weekend as people continued to violate provincial COVID-19 health orders.The Vancouver Police Department says it issued fines following health order violations at a pair of house parties, a birthday party and inside a limousine.In all instances, there were too many people from different households gathering together.Violation tickets ranged from $230 - $2,300.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaThere have now been more than 370,278 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.On Monday, the federal Liberal government announced it's preparing to spend up to $100 billion to kick start the post-pandemic economy as it stares down a record-high deficit projection of more than $381 billion for this fiscal year.In a long-awaited economic statement, tabled today, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government's immediate priority is to do "whatever it takes" to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum."I think right now they could be doing a little better, but I'm satisfied with that," said Willie Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont. "They're not going to get my best wishes, you know what I mean?"Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, who by their own admission are not tech-savvy, told the CBC earlier this month that they don't really even use the internet on their phone.They said it was their understanding that their service would be cut off if their account balance reached $200 in any given month, so they were surprised when they received two bills, for approximately $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.Virgin Mobile said it had removed spending caps such as those after the pandemic began up until the beginning of July but it continued to charge for any costs for overages people incurred.Guerard and his wife said they contacted Virgin Mobile after receiving the large bill and were told they had to pay it. It was only after CBC made inquiries published in a web story earlier this month that the company took a second look at the massive bill."At least they're paying attention now. Before that I couldn't get nobody [to look into it], I just got the runaround," Guerard said.Significant reductionInitially, Virgin Mobile said that Guerard, who was an active data user, had twice requested to increase the amount of data on his account and consented to it. The company was unaware of Guerard's visual impairment and that it would be significantly reducing the outstanding balance in his account.Last week, they said they'd reduced the amount he owed to what his usual monthly bill would have been."We took another look at Willie's account and couldn't verify that he received the notice about removing spending caps during COVID," a written response from the company read.Guerard said after he called them, he found out the amount he now owes is $281, which he plans to pay. But he said he'll only be doing so once he gets it in writing.
TOKYO — Organizers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics have declined to confirm widely circulated reports in Japan that the costs of the one-year postponement will be about $3 billion.The estimates have been published in the last several days by some of Japan’s top-circulation newspapers, the national broadcaster NHK, and the Japanese news agency Kyodo. All are citing similar figures and unidentified sources close to the games.“We are in the process of assessing the additional costs associated with the postponement of the games due to COVID-19 and therefore are not able to comment on any details at this time,” Tokyo organizers said Monday in a statement.The statement did not challenge any of the reports.The Tokyo Games are becoming very expensive.The official cost of putting on the Tokyo Olympics is $12.6 billion. However, a government audit last year said it was probably twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.Tokyo said the games would cost $7.3 billion when it won the bid in 2013.The $3 billion for the delay only adds to the totals. A University of Oxford study published early this year — calculated before the postponement — said Tokyo was the most expensive Summer Olympics on record and the meter is still running.The Yomiuri newspaper and Kyodo on Sunday detailed added costs of 200 billion yen, about $2 billion, to renegotiate venues leases, pay staff salaries, and cover other operational expenditure.NHK and the Asahi newspaper on Monday said another 100 billion yen, about $1 billion, was needed for countermeasures against COVID-19. This could include the cost of vaccines, rapid testing, and countless precautions to guard against the coronavirus.The reported cost of the delay because of the pandemic is in line with repeated estimates of between $2 billion and $3 billion in Japan over the last several months.The organizers, the Tokyo metro government and the Japanese national government are expected to explain added costs in December and detail how they will be shared.Organizers in October said they had found cost-savings of about $280 million by simplifying and cutting some frills from next year’s postponed games. This was about 2% of the official costs.The International Olympic Committee has said it would chip in about $650 million to cover some of the costs of the delay, but has offered few public details.The Switzerland-based IOC is heavily dependent on revenue from selling broadcast rights, which account for almost three-quarters of its income.The unprecedented postponement has put financial pressure on the IOC, national Olympic committees, and international sports federations that heavily rely on the IOC for sustenance.The IOC and organizers have been campaigning over the last several months to convince sponsors and a skeptical Japanese public that the Olympics can be held safely in the middle of a pandemic.Domestic sponsors in Japan have paid a record of $3.3 billion to organizers, but there are reports of some balking at further payments during the pandemic-caused economic slide.The Olympics are to open on July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24. They involve 15,400 athletes and ten of thousands of officials, judges, staff, VIPs, sponsors as well as media and broadcasters.Kyodo reported last week that the Japanese government may require visitors from abroad to have private health insurance to cover costs from any COVID-19 complications.IOC President Thomas Bach, who was in Tokyo a few week ago, has said a vaccine and improved rapid testing would help pull off the Olympics. But he cautioned they are not “silver bullets.”Athletes are expected to be closely monitored, held in quarantine-like conditions, discouraged from sightseeing and encouraged to leave as soon as they finish competing.Some fans are expected at the events, but it is unclear if many fans from abroad will be allowed to attend.Japan has controlled COVID-19 relatively well, but has seen a spike over the last several weeks in Tokyo and elsewhere. Tokyo set a one-day record for new infections on Friday with 570. About 2,000 deaths in Japan have been attributed to COVID-19.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsStephen Wade, The Associated Press
Moderna Inc. says it will ask U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection. (Nov. 30)
A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country's residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead. The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as "La Niña," will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts. Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms. In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms. He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories. But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east. "It's going to be quite a winter," Scott said in a telephone interview. "A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you're talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you're probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
BAMAKO, Mali — The cities of Kidal, Gao and Menaka in northern Mali were hit by simultaneous attacks on Monday against military camps housing international forces, according to residents and a United Nations official.Kidal resident Souleymane Ag Mohamed Ali said he heard more than 10 explosions coming from the direction of the camp for U.N. peacekeepers and soldiers for the French Operation Barkhane.A U.N. official confirmed the attacks on three cities, saying rockets fell Monday morning on the camp in Kidal, and at the same time there were similar attacks in Gao and Menaka. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to press on the matter.There were not further details.No group has claimed responsibility for the simultaneous attacks, but they bear the mark of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida that carry out attacks in both northern and central Mali.Attacks on the camps of international forces are frequent, but this is the first time that towns several hundred kilometres apart have been attacked around the same time — a sign of the co-ordination capabilities of jihadist groups in Mali.Baba Ahmed, The Associated Press
Recently, Caroline Arsenault watched parcels being stolen in her own neighbourhood — and didn't even realize. "I happened to see a couple of people walking by the window where I sit for my work and then rapidly walk back toward the street and I didn't think anything of it really," said Arsenault. She later found her husband attempting to contact the police after observing the same people also pace up and down their driveway. He got suspicious. He was right. "He found Amazon packages in our green bin," she said.The thieves had taken two packages. One was emptied of its contents while the other was left torn open with the stuff still inside.Arsenault's North End Halifax neighbourhood had just been hit by a porch pirate. It's not just happening in Halifax."The porch pirate has been a little busier this year unfortunately and now a third of Canadians stated in 2020 that they have been victims of a package theft," FedEx spokesperson James Anderson told CBC News.FedEx has published a survey of 1,500 Canadians this holiday season and found that one in three online shoppers say they have experienced package theft in 2020, up from one in four in 2019. It also found that three in 10 are worried about their online purchases being stolen when delivered. Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said they haven't seen a noticeable increase in complaints about packages being stolen, but cautioned that doesn't mean it's not a threat. He also noted that many people are now working at home and are able to get their parcel as soon as it is delivered.In other parts of the country, such as Toronto, where lockdown restrictions are more prevalent, more people are able to stay at home to receive their deliveries. In Nova Scotia many businesses and schools remain open in the province so some people are frequently not home and cannot receive their packages.Arsenault posted about the porch bandit on social media and was surprised by the reaction."I had quite a few neighbours chime in and say that they too had found open and empty boxes in their driveway or thrown somewhere it didn't really belong." After Arsenault's neighbour reported the incident to the police, Arsenault herself received a follow up call. "The police confirmed this is something that they see quite a bit of. It's something that we should all be mindful of if we're expecting to receive packages when we might not be available to answer the door or pick them up quickly," she said.Halifax Regional Police have not yet responded to a request for an interview. FedEx, along with Canada Post, DHL courier service, UPS, Amazon Canada and Purolator all offer tracking information online, which FedEx's James Anderson said is one of the primary ways to keep your package safe."We give package recipients digital tools to use at your disposal," said Anderson. "If you got a tracking number you can get a notification sent to you when you expect those packages to arrive so you can stay on top of it."Bob Mann, acting chair of the neighbourhood watch in Wilmot, Annapolis County, N.S., said there are more low-tech ways to protect your deliveries. He said you can try asking a neighbour to pick it up or leave the radio on. Mann said one of his favourite home safety tools is photosensitive lights."If you don't have one yourself, take note," said Mann, who has been with his neighbourhood watch since its creation in 1995. "They light up probably half of my driveway ... at dusk the bulbs will come on and they'll go off in the morning." Cpl. Lisa Croteau of the RCMP said package theft doesn't appear to be a big issue at this time, but that could change, so she does have some advice. "Have a different method to pick it up. Instead of dropping it off on your front porch, if you could go to a different location to pick up the package that would be a little safer."Arsenault said she wanted to make people aware of the incident but she also understands the situation."We know there are probably more packages being delivered at this time of year. Holidays are coming up and times are hard for people so we know this is something that happens," said Arsenault.MORE TOP STORIES
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Trump told Mastriano that White House medical personnel would take care of him, his son and his son’s friend, who were also there for the Oval Office meeting and tested positive. The meeting continued after Mastriano and the others left, the person said. The person spoke to the AP on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session because the matter is politically sensitive. Positive coronavirus cases are surging across the United States and the nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. Everyone who will be in close proximity to the president must take a rapid test. Trump was himself hospitalized in October after he contracted the virus. Dozens of White House staffers and others close to the president have also tested positive, including the first lady and two of the president’s sons. All participants in Wednesday's meeting took COVID-19 tests, but the positive results were not announced until they were in the West Wing of the White House, the person said. “The president instantly called the White House doctor in and he took them back to, I guess, the medical place,” the person said. The meeting with Trump was to strategize about efforts regarding the election, the person said. After Mastriano and the others left, the discussion with Trump continued for about a half-hour. Mastriano did not return to the meeting. Mastriano sought the meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Policy Committee earlier Wednesday that drew Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a second Trump lawyer, several witnesses and a crowd of onlookers. Only a few of them were masked. The committee let Giuliani and others, for several hours, air their beliefs that there had been problems with how the Pennsylvania vote was conducted and counted. All claims were baseless; no evidence was presented to support any of the allegations they made. Trump even participated, calling from the White House while one of his lawyers held a phone up to a microphone. He reiterated the same unfounded claims of fraud he's been tweeting about for weeks. Those beliefs have persisted despite Trump losing repeatedly in state and federal courts, including a Philadelphia-based federal appeals court's decision Friday that said the Trump campaign’s "claims have no merit," and a state Supreme Court decision Saturday that threw out a legal challenge to the election and effort to stop certification of its results. Mastriano, a conservative from a rural district in central Pennsylvania and outspoken Trump supporter, did not return several messages left Sunday seeking comment. Republican state Sen. Dave Argall, who chairs the policy committee, declined Sunday in a text message to discuss Mastriano’s medical condition and the White House visit. “I’ve received some conflicting information that I’m trying to resolve,” Argall said in the text. “It’s my understanding a Senate statement later today will help us all to understand this better.” Argall said he would not talk publicly about the matter “until I know more.” Senate Republican spokeswoman Kate Flessner declined comment, describing it as a personnel matter. The person with knowledge of the White House visit said several people rode in a large van from Gettysburg, where the policy committee met in a hotel, to the White House. Mastriano, his son and his son’s friend drove in another vehicle. It's not clear why Mastriano's son and his friend accompanied the state senator to the meeting, which the person said was also attended by Trump and the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who tested positive in early November. Mastriano has aggressively opposed policies under the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and keep people safe. He has led rallies where he advocated to reopen businesses despite the risk of infection and he has repeatedly and sharply denounced Wolf’s orders. Mastriano also spoke to a few thousand Trump supporters who gathered outside the Capitol on Nov. 7, hours after Democrat Joe Biden’s national win became evident. ___ Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report. Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
It was during one of the early planning sessions for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that Chief Gibby Jacob heard a provincial government official talking about the Callahan Valley, which would eventually host cross-country skiing and ski jumping during the Games.Jacob, who participated in the bidding process for the Olympics and was a member of the Games organizing committee board, finally put up his hand."I asked who the hell is this Callahan and how the hell did he get his name on our lands," the Squamish Nation hereditary chief said with a chuckle. "They all looked at each other. I said find out and let us know."It turns out the Callahan Valley, located near Whistler, B.C., was named after one of the early surveyors in the region."That was the start of our big push to get our names back on places," said Jacob.Indigenous groups had a voice in organizing and hosting the 2010 Games. But Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has suggested any movement to bring another Games to the city should be headed by Indigenous leaders.In early November, Vancouver city council voted to postpone a decision on whether it wants to explore making a bid. City staff are expected to present a report to council in early 2021.Stewart has said one of his conditions for supporting a bid is that the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — the three Indigenous First Nations whose traditional territory includes Vancouver — head the Olympic bid committee."I have talked to the Nations about this and there's interest there," the Vancouver Sun reported Stewart saying in a state-of-the-city address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.Emails to Stewart's office asking to explain the mayor's proposal were not immediately answered.Khelsilem, a councillor with the Squamish Nation Council, isn't aware of any formal talks about leading a bid."We haven't had any formal discussion about it," he said. "We haven't made any formal decision about whether we want or don't want. And we haven't had any formal discussions with our neighbouring nations."Representatives of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh did not respond to interview requests.Khelsilem said before any decision is made, the pros and cons of hosting an Olympics must be weighed."The reality is that something like hosting an Olympics requires a significant amount of investment and support from both the federal and provincial governments," he said. "While there are a number of reported advantages, there's also a number of drawbacks."I think a lot of that workflow needs to be figured out, especially in the context of the challenges that we're going to face over the next decade and the challenges that we're facing on a number of fronts."Furthermore, Jacob said: "there's a lot to be gained by being involved [in a bid] for our people.""I don't think that our nations, given what we have as far as leadership resources and how fast they seem to change, would be able to take things right from scratch to completion," he said.Creating a common agendaWith 15 of the venues used for the 2010 Olympics built on First Nation traditional territories, Indigenous support was crucial for the Games success. The Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Lil'Wat nations formed The Four Host First Nations, a non-profit organization with the goals of uniting Canada's Indigenous people and encouraging inclusion across the country."I think it created a common agenda," said Jacob. "By doing that and achieving what we set out, it was totally outstanding."I think it showed leadership that the four separate First nations could work together for a common purpose and get benefits from it."WATCH | President of 2010 Games says Vancouver should bid for 2030:Involvement in the Games raised awareness of Indigenous issues across Canada, he said."When we first started out, we were pretty invisible in our own territories," said Jacob.Indigenous groups did "fairly well in compensation for the use of our lands," he said. The Olympics also led to traditional Indigenous names being returned to locations and landmarks plus recognition of First Nation arts and culture.John Furlong, who was head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is part of the group looking at the 2030 Games. He said any bid would be impossible without Indigenous participation."I see no scenario at all in which First Nations are not involved," he said. "They were a difference maker in 2010."First Nations are in multiple new business since 2010. My instincts tell me they will be keenly interested in being involved again."
TOKYO — A brightly burning meteor was seen plunging from the sky in wide areas of Japan, capturing attention on television and social media.The meteor glowed strongly as it rapidly descended through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday.Many people in western Japan reported on social media seeing the rare sight.NHK public television said its cameras in the central prefectures of Aichi, Mie and elsewhere captured the fireball in the southern sky.A camera at Nagoya port showed the meteor shining as brightly as a full moon as it neared the Earth, the Asahi newspaper reported.Some experts said small fragments of the meteorite might have reached the ground.The Associated Press
At least two people were injured Sunday night during three separate shootings in Montreal's Rivière-des-Prairies neighbourhood.Montreal police say it's still unclear whether the three incidents, which happened in the course of an hour, are related.Around 9:30 p.m., a 58-year-old man was shot at a home near the corner of 63e Avenue and Perras Boulevard. Police say the man had just gotten out of his car, which was parked in his driveway, when another car pulled up and someone started shooting.The victim was conscious on his way to the hospital. The suspects fled the scene.About 10 minutes later, someone walking through a residential parking lot opened fire on a man sitting in a parked car on Jean-Rainaud Avenue.The victim fled the scene in the car. Police have no information about the victim's status.And then at 10:20 p.m., another man was shot while standing on a second-floor balcony at a home on Armand-Bombardier Boulevard, near Jean-Vincent Avenue. Police say they believe the shooter was standing in the building's courtyard at the time.The victim was taken to hospital and is expected to survive. Police spokesperson Const. Raphaël Bergeron said in all three cases, there is no information about the suspects. A fourth shooting occurred earlier in the evening in Montréal-Nord. Around 5:30 p.m., police received a call about shots fired near the corner of Lapierre Avenue and Pascal Street.When they arrived, they found bullet casings but no suspects or victims.An hour later, a man showed up at an unspecified hospital with what appeared to be gunshot wounds, but it is unclear whether he was involved in the incident in Montréal-Nord.Police issued a statement Monday evening, saying they would increase their presence and visibility in the area over the next 24 hours.
Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
Canada's budget deficit is forecast to hit a historic C$381.6 billion ($293.9 billion) on COVID-19 emergency aid, with the federal government eyeing C$100 billion in stimulus to be rolled out once the virus is under control, the finance department said on Monday. The forecast deficit is 11.2% higher than projected in July, mostly due to C$25.1 billion in new COVID-19 and recovery spending, along with higher emergency support costs. "We are living through a very virulent second wave of the coronavirus and I think we all know winter will be difficult," Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters.
Encore très reconnaissant de la chance qu’il a eu de jouer Denis Lemieux, le fameux gardien de but des Chiefs de Charlestown dans le film culte Slap Shot, alors que l’œuvre a su résister à l’épreuve du temps. Vivant à Saint-Léandre depuis près de 47 ans, Yvon Barrette a conservé plusieurs liens avec ses fans et le monde du hockey. Et pour démontrer cela, Yvon Barrette décide de raconter la fois où il avait été invité à Toronto pour signer des autographes une journée de 2001. Il avait alors pris l’avion à Mont-Joli, lorsque cette option de transport était encore disponible à l’époque, ce qu’il faisait plutôt fréquemment. Avant de signer des autographes, il devait se rendre à une entrevue à une radio locale sportive. Moins de 10 minutes après son arrivée que l’animateur lui a déjà demandé subtilement de lui sortir une des répliques du film, encore iconique à ce jour (voir : « trade me right f***ing now »). « J’ai bien vu que le personnage était connu. Le monde trippait dessus depuis 1977, mais il y a eu un regain depuis le début des années 2000 », a relaté Yvon Barrette. Après son entrevue, il a pu assister à une partie de hockey de la ligue nationale. À sa sortie, un des joueurs de l’équipe américaine de hockey aux Olympiques s’est avancé vers lui pour le prendre dans ses bras. En effet, son personnage de Denis Lemieux aurait inspiré sa carrière au hockey. Yvon Barrette a été absolument foudroyé, mais selon ses dires, son personnage aurait marqué plusieurs joueurs de hockey ou, généralement, plusieurs athlètes. Slap Shot serait un des films les mieux aimés des sportifs à travers le monde. Tant et si bien que la folie a commencé à Toronto, mais s’est ensuite poursuivie avec des expositions de collection et d’autographe. Pourquoi est-ce que tout le monde aime autant Denis Lemieux? D’après Yvon Barrette, le personnage n’était heureusement pas l’interprétation d’un joueur professionnel déjà connu, tel Maurice Richard. Denis Lemieux était donc unique. « C’est à cause de ma façon de créer et d’interpréter ce personnage, il était attachant et a rejoint beaucoup de monde », a-t-il dit. Les fans du film se souviennent premièrement de Denis Lemieux. « C’est moi qui ouvre le film. Ça commence, il n’y a même pas de générique, c’est moi dans une entrevue télévisée qui explique “les finer points of hockey” et je dis des conneries », a lancé M. Barrette. « Il parle mal anglais, alors ça fait rire », en nommant en exemple la scène avec Paul Newman au bar. « On a été obligés de reprendre la scène 25 fois parce que Newman riait trop », a-t-il rigolé. L’idée du concept est venue entre autres de la scénariste Nancy Dowd. Son frère Ned, joueur de hockey pour les Jets de Johnstown en Pennsylvanie, l’a contactée afin qu’elle vienne voir d’elle-même les développements de l’équipe. Ayant une carrière prometteuse, Ned a finalement reçu un coup dans le dos qui l’a empêché de continuer à jouer, tellement le sport était violent. Nancy Dowd a donc placé des micros dans la chambre des joueurs pour bien cerner la dynamique de l’équipe. Elle s’est rapprochée du club sportif, au point où le film est finalement devenu un réel documentaire, tous les détails respectant la réalité. « C’est pourquoi, je crois, que le film a rejoint autant les gens », croit Barrette. « C’est la grande qualité du film. » Il amène un bon point, selon lequel l’histoire est axée sur une équipe, et non sur un seul joueur. « Les films de hockey ne décrivent jamais l’histoire d’une équipe de bons à rien qui doivent se serrer les coudes pour gagner la coupe », a-t-il dit. Étant une comédie, elle n’est pas nécessairement vue ainsi, car la violence est proéminente. « Mais ce n’est pas ça, ce film est beaucoup de choses. Un film féministe même, les femmes de joueurs sont très présentes. » Un père exigeant Né en septembre 1946 à Alma au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Yvon Barrette est né au sein d’une très large famille. « À Noël, juste avec les cousins, on devait être au moins 70 personnes », a-t-il affirmé. Son père était entrepreneur électricien, travaillant avec son propre père qui lui avait originellement lancé l’entreprise, appelée « Barrette et fils ». Sa mère, elle, était fleuriste et détenait une âme d’artiste. Elle a aussi traîné un problème d’alcool pendant plusieurs années. Son père espérait fortement que Yvon reprenne les rênes de son entreprise, mais ce dernier a toujours eu une forte aversion pour l’électricité depuis sa tendre jeunesse. Un diplômé de l’École nationale de théâtre, André Saint-Denis, est venu donner des cours de théâtre amateur à Alma, et M. Saint-Denis a rapidement vu son potentiel et l’a poussé à appliquer à l’École nationale. Yvon Barrette est donc parti sur le pouce d’Alma jusqu’à Québec un beau jour de 1968, accompagné d’un ami. Après une audition stressante et forte en émotions, il a été choisi sur plus de 500 candidats. Mais cela ne faisait pas l’affaire de son père, qui n’y voyait que l’insécurité financière. Mais Yvon savait que ce n’était pas une coïncidence : il n’avait pas le choix d’accepter une telle offre. La première fois qu’il a visité le Bas-Saint-Laurent fut lors d’une présentation de pièce de théâtre à Rimouski, nommée « Pas de TV ». Rapidement et pour la première fois, il est tombé amoureux de la région. Il n’a toutefois pas été surpris, car sa mère était originaire de Saint-Irénée dans Charlevoix, « donc j’avais ça dans le sang ». La deuxième fois, ce fut dans un contexte de vacances estivales. Habitant à Montréal, lui et deux amis sculpteurs, Serge Otis et Robert Émard, fréquentaient le même bar, la Taverne Cherrier, sur le boulevard Saint-Denis. « Serge nous a proposé, “cet été on devrait partir les trois et louer un chalet en Gaspésie pour l’été », a-t-il expliqué. Et c’est ce qu’ils ont fait. La troupe a décidé de visiter Saint-Léandre, parce que le neveu de Serge Otis y était propriétaire d’une maison au village. Tout d’abord, ils ont commencé leur séjour en passant la soirée au bar Le Vieux Loup de Matane pour ensuite se rendre à la demeure. Arrivant sur place, Yvon est monté sur une butte tout près de la maison, et c’est là qu’il y reçoit un « message céleste » – explique-il en se bidonnant – de rester à Saint-Léandre. Bref, il a eu le coup de foudre pour l’emplacement. En deux temps trois mouvements, il achète sa première petite maisonnée à Saint-Léandre pour le coût modeste de 900 $. Et aujourd’hui, cela fait 47 ans qu’il réside au sein de la municipalité, depuis 1973, et il n’a jamais regardé en arrière. Et même s’il continuait à jouer dans des productions télévisées ou cinématographiques, il faisait toujours le transport aller-retour de Saint-Léandre. Pendant les années 1970, ce fut l’époque du retour à la terre. « C’était l’amour libre. Nous étions bien accueillis par les gens du village, mais ostracisés par certains. » Quelques années plus tard, il a eu l’opportunité de racheter la propriété du neveu de Serge Otis, d’une superficie d’un lot de terre, où il y reste encore. Il loue la partie cultivable aux agriculteurs voisins, et le tiers de la parcelle de terre est boisé. M. Barrette s’est ouvert sur le problème d’alcool sévère qu’il a trimballé jusqu’en 1984 environ. Tout a commencé lorsque la mère d’Yvon est décédée des complications de son alcoolisme. À 16 ans seulement, il commence à boire pour mieux comprendre l’attrait de la boisson. Son problème se développe avec les années, l’alcool comblant un besoin. Quelques années après Slap Shot, quelqu’un lui a fait réaliser que la raison pour laquelle il possède une addiction à l’alcool est que son foie ne filtre plus l’alcool. Il va directement au cerveau. « Tu arrêtes alors de penser que t’es con. Quand tu fais cette réalisation-là, tu comprends qu’en arrêtant de boire, tu coupes le problème. Et automatiquement, c’est réglé », a-t-il analysé. Il est désormais sobre depuis plus de 35 ans. Pendant la poursuite de sa carrière de comédien, Yvon Barrette a longuement travaillé dans les théâtres d’été. Il a joué deux différentes pièces à Amqui avec Jean Cossette, ainsi qu’une autre à Trois-Pistoles. Également, pendant plus de 15 ans, Yvon a été responsable d’une troupe de théâtre de Saint-Léandre, leur permettant d’écrire des textes et de créer. Pour jouer, ils ont même dû transformer le sous-sol de l’église du village en théâtre. Le théâtre le plus intéressant qu’il n’a jamais fait était en région bas-laurentienne. Par exemple, il a participé à une pièce écrite par Gilles Rémond pour les Opérations Dignité prévue de jouer 30 fois au Bas-Saint-Laurent et en Gaspésie. Ils ont été emmenés à la présenter dans les petites municipalités pour encourager les gens à investir dans leur municipalité et créer de l’emploi. Finalement, la pièce a été victime de son succès, et ils l’ont joué 175 fois. Bien plus qu’un comédien Outre son jeu d’acteur et le théâtre, Yvon Barrette est également copropriétaire d’une entreprise travaillant le moulin à scie, la Scierie L’Ancèdre de Saint-Léandre. Il y travaille aux côtés de René Tremblay depuis 1994. Leur saison haute est estivale. « Je commence tôt. Déplacer quotidiennement quelques tonnes de bois à 74 ans, mon travail me tient en forme », a-t-il dit. La fille de René Tremblay, Camille Therrien-Tremblay, propriétaire de CAMM Construction d’Abris et de Micro-Maisons, s’est associée à la compagnie. Ils sont présentement en train d’agrandir le moulin et de bâtir un atelier pour permettre la construction des mini-maisons à l’intérieur. Le moulin a permis à des citoyens de travailler à Saint-Léandre, et ils ont eu jusqu’à 15 employés. L’opération est même devenue une coopérative à un moment donné. « Aux premières crises du bois-d’œuvre, ça a tout foiré, mais on a réussi à soutenir l’entreprise et régler les problèmes financiers », a-t-il ajouté. L’arrivée de Camille a donné une nouvelle vie à leur moulin. Avec la pandémie, l’année fut tranquille pour Yvon Barrette comme il ne pouvait voyager. Il passe beaucoup de temps avec sa douce moitié, Nicole Lacroix. Son fils unique, Blaise Barrette, qui soufflera prochainement ses 50 bougies, habite également à Saint-Léandre. Son fils a élevé ses deux enfants au village aussi, un des deux étant l’influenceuse Lysandre Nadeau, qui se retrouve donc à être la petite-fille de Yvon. Et au travers, il prend le temps de parler aux fans de Slap Shot, qui sont toujours aussi nombreux qu’il y a trente ans. « Contrairement aux joueurs professionnels, si je suis invité à un salon de hockey ou peu importe, je ne reste pas pendant 2-3 heures, mais toute la journée », a-t-il pointé. Il dit prendre le temps de revenir sur le film et de parler de tout et de rien avec eux. « Ce n’est pas mon rôle d’acteur qui a pris la place. C’est la possibilité que j’ai trouvée à travers de communiquer avec des gens », a-t-il conclu. Yvon Barrette privilégie l’expérience humaine qui s’est dégagée de son rôle au cinéma en tant que Denis Lemieux, gardien de but des Chiefs. Et il demeure très reconnaissant d’avoir pu participer à ce projet, qui a certainement changé sa vie.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane