WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
There are no bags coming off the conveyer belt, nobody in Hawaiian shirts lining up for a trip south and no belt buckles setting off the metal detector.It's been quiet at the Charlottetown airport during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the day when there are no flights coming and going. "It's really surreal, to be honest," said airport CEO Doug Newson. "If you come here during the day, typically the lights are out, there are very few people here. The few flights that we do have are in the evening, so you know, we're basically down to one flight a day."It all translates to about a 90 per cent decrease in traffic over last year, which is why Newson and other airport executives were watching the federal government's fiscal update closely on Monday night.Ottawa is offering around $1 billion for airports, airport infrastructure and regional airlines. A good start, Newson said, but more details are needed to see how helpful those programs will be in the long run. "The devil's always in the details with some of these programs and so we just want to see ... how are we eligible, what are the mechanics, what are the specifics of these sorts of the program so that we can capitalize on them."Newson said the industry is resilient and he is confident it will recover from the global pandemic, but for airports to be healthy, it needs healthy airlines. The sooner that can be resolved, the better, he said."The big uncertainty is, obviously, what does the airline industry look like coming out of this?" he said."We want to make sure they get the supports they require as well so that we have a viable airline industry for our passengers."More from CBC P.E.I.
OTTAWA — More than 100 years after a young soldier from Newfoundland was killed on a battlefield in Belgium, the Canadian military has officially confirmed his identity through genetic analysis of remains unearthed in 2016.When he enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment on Aug. 14, 1916, John Lambert of St. John's lied when he told recruiters he was 18. He was only 16 when he shipped out as a private to Scotland for training and later fought in Belgium with the regiment's 1st Battalion.He was reported missing in action north of Ypres on Aug. 16, 1917 during what became known as the Battle of Langemarck. A relative of Lambert's, St. John's resident Shirlene Murphy, said the family kept his memory alive through the years."The family dearly loved him," Murphy said in an interview Tuesday, noting that Lambert was her grandmother's brother. "He was always talked about. There's pictures of him in everybody's house."Everyone in the family referred to him as "Uncle Jack."Lambert's remains, along with those of three unidentified British soldiers, were discovered during an archeological dig in April 2016, near the town of Langemark.The archeologists knew one of the soldiers was a Newfoundlander because his uniform had a NFLD shoulder badge.Sarah Lockyer, a forensic anthropologist with the Department of National Defence, took a lead role in determining his identity.Using DNA samples from bones retrieved from the dig, Lockyer was able to determine his age and height, information that was later cross-referenced with historical data gleaned from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the provincial archive at The Rooms in St. John's."We thought we had a really good chance of identifying the Newfoundlander, because there were only 16 missing from that area, which is a very small list of candidates," Lockyer said.Provincial archivist Greg Walsh spent a year tracking down descendants for 13 of the 16 missing soldiers — a painstaking task complicated by the fact that the age on Lambert's official documentation was wrong.Murphy's mother, 90-year-old Patricia Eagan of Mount Pearl, N.L., submitted the DNA sample that proved to be a match with Lambert's profile.The entire process took more than three years, said Lockyer, who is casualty identification co-ordinator with the Defence Department's directorate of history and heritage."That is a very quick turnaround," she said, adding that she worked closely with her counterparts at the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre in the U.K.A padre and the commanding officer of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment officially delivered the news to Eagan on Friday that her uncle had been identified."She's just amazed," said Murphy, referring to her mother. "The first thing she thought about was her mother and how good it would have been if she was around to see this."The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed Tuesday that Lambert will be buried, likely next summer, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium."It's still emotional, to this day," said Murphy. "But it gives some closure. Everyone is feeling very good about it. His remains have been found, and he can be buried properly with a proper headstone."In Ottawa, the federal government's Casualty Identification Program is in the process of determining the identities for 45 sets of remains from the First World War.Lockyer said the Commonwealth War Graves Commission typically receives the remains of about 40 soldiers every year, most of them uncovered by construction crews digging in northern France.The commission commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth military members who died during the two world wars.About 20,000 Canadians were reported missing after the First World War, and another 7,000 to 8,000 after the Second World War."Private Lambert's service demonstrates the courage and sacrifice of this brave service member during the First World War," Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement. "Although more than a century has passed, we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice he made for Newfoundlanders and Canadians."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— By Michael MacDonald in HalifaxThe Canadian Press
Levi Simpson and his horse Stetson are about to trample the turf where the Los Angeles Dodgers hoisted the World Series trophy.Simpson, a team roper from Ponoka, Alta., admits it's unusual for the National Finals Rodeo to be staged in a ballpark.Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, served as Major League Baseball's "bubble" for the National League playoffs and October's World Series.The ball park is once again a COVID-19 sporting event stand-in just over a month after the Dodgers stormed the field in celebration.After 36 years at the Thomas and Mack Center on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, the NFR opens Thursday at Globe Life."It's going to be a whole new ball game for the team ropers," Simpson said. "Nobody's roped in a baseball diamond."Spectators were not allowed to attend an NFR in Las Vegas this year because of Nevada's public health rules around the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFR was shifted to Texas, which allows 50 per cent spectator capacity at professional and collegiate events. Simpson is among five Canadians competing in the 2020 world championship of rodeo Dec. 3-12.Two-time saddle bronc champion Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alta., steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy of Donald, Alta., team roper Kolton Schmidt of Barrhead, Alta., and bareback rider Orin Larsen of Inglis, Man., also qualified in a season severely contracted by the pandemic.The NFR offered US$10 million in prize money each of the last six years, but is expected to pay less in 2020. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association chief executive officer George Taylor has said the minimum payout will be $6 million, according to the organization's digital media channel.The top 15 in the world standings in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc, tie-down roping barrel racing and bull riding earn NFR invitations. Results at most Canadian professional rodeos count toward world rankings, but all were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.Canadian competitors were dependent on rodeos in the United States to earn a living. There have been just over 300 sanctioned rodeos in North America in 2020, compared to 732 in 2019.Fewer American rodeos meant more competitors vying for prize money at each one."Especially through July at some of the rodeos there were twice as many guys than they usually get," Cassidy said. "They were getting 160, 170 steer wrestlers in some places. "You can imagine how tough that makes the competition with that many guys competing. It was a lot harder to make money this year, a challenging year to say the least. "It's a good thing they're having the NFR so we actually have an NFR to go to. Qualifying at the end of the year was a sweet deal for those that made it."Thurston, 26, is the defending world champion in saddle bronc and also took the title in 2016. He claimed $170,064 at the NFR in 2019 en route to career-high season earnings of $347,000. Thurston ranks 10th with $50,523 so far this season heading into Thursday's opening go-around in Arlington."I would say it was probably the hardest year that I've been a part of," Thurston said. "It was hard to win."A lot less money to be won, a lot less rodeos and the ones they did cancel were the big rodeos, the big payouts that draw big crowds and for that reason, you're riding for less money."The three-time Calgary Stampede winner hopes Canadian rodeos resume in 2021."I don't have a crystal ball, but I imagine things have to get going again, open back up and get rolling again," Thurston said.Manitoba's Larsen, who lives in Gearing, Neb., ranks third in bareback in his sixth career NFR appearance.Cassidy, 42, qualified in steer wrestling a seventh time and sits fifth.Simpson and Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, Alta., became the first all-Canadian team to claim an NFR team-roping title in 2016.Simpson returns ranked 13th with Shay Carroll of La Junta, Colo., as his heeler. Schmidt is No. 11 with Hunter Koch of Vernon, Texas, as his heeler.Globe Life holds 40,300 people, compared to just under 19,000 at UNLV's Runnin' Rebels basketball venue."Thomas and Mack is a tiny little basketball arena. The first 25 rows in that arena, you could damn near reach out and touch anybody in the arena," Cassidy said."Comparing that to a baseball field that seats 42,00 people and you're only putting 15 (thousand) or 16 in it, it's going to have a different feel."Having it on the baseball diamond, it will still be good, but it might not have quite the electric feel that Las Vegas does."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.“The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote.The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States."The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule.The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations.“Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote.The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time."This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.”The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned.The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 cases rise, Delhi grapples with getting its residents to follow health guidelines and with concerns that worsening air pollution contributes to the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Windsor West MP Brian Masse, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce president Rakesh Naidu and members of Windsor's aviation community on Tuesday morning called on the federal government to intervene and have Navigation Canada (NAV Canada) remove Windsor International Airport from a list of six airports being studied for possible removal of air traffic controllers."The Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau, must provide a clear and definitive answer that the future of Windsor's Airport is secure and that air traffic control services will be maintained," said Masse.Masse said he will have a petition to the federal government online that reads, "Remove NAV Canada's decision to consider closure, or reduction of services of the air traffic control tower at the Windsor Airport or explicitly express opposition to any decision or recommendation of this nature.""The minister can simply intervene and he should do that," said Masse in a news conference in front of the airport terminal and control tower.Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmiercyzk recently told CBC News that Garneau did not have the power to tell NAV Canada what to do, and that he and anyone else opposed to losing air traffic controllers here will have their say when NAV Canada consults with stakeholders.But Masse said there should have been clear signals from the government to NAV Canada before this study, adding that he doesn't believe any of the other airports, including in Whitehorse and Regina, should lose air traffic control either."So even if he says [Garneau] technically can't take them off the list at this point in time, he can still go out and publicly say that he's actually against closing the towers and he's not going to approve them," said Masse. "In fact, if NAV Canada actually does eventually recommend closure or reduction of services, the minister then has to do another study and the study then actually comes back again. So we're into the cycle of study after study after study when it is completely unnecessary," he said.Dilkens also said Garneau can certainly have a conversation with NAV Canada officials.The airport has seen a 300 per cent increase in traffic since 2009 and was serving 383,000 passengers in 2019. Dilkens said losing the air traffic controllers jeopardizes future growth and threatens the continuation of commercial air traffic the airport has now."Moving bodies out of a control tower causes issues for the future prosperity of Windsor airport. It will cut this success story off at the knees," said Dilkens, adding he has not heard back from Garneau, to whom he sent a letter asking that the air traffic controllers remain.Commercial pilots also added their voices of concern for safety, considering the high volume of air traffic in and around Detroit.Corporate pilot Dante Albano likened air traffic control to traffic lights, and when they go out the intersection turns into a four-way stop."In a busy air space like this with Detroit so close it gets kinda of crazy up there sometimes," said Albano.Richard Bradwell, manager of the Windsor Flying Club, said loss of air traffic control is the "first step toward" to closing the airport entirely."Our business has been growing. We've been surviving through COVID. This is absolutely the last thing that we need is to see NAV Canada considering closing the tower and doing this sort of damage to our airport," said Bradwell.Essex MP Chris Lewis has also issued a statement calling on Garneau to remove Windsor airport from the study.Masse's petition is expected to go up on his Facebook page and website Wednesday afternoon.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Coronavirus cases shot up again Tuesday to 12,542, the highest in 11 days, and there were 125 deaths, Illinois public health officials reported.After a short-lived downturn which saw new cases fall as low as 6,190 on Monday, the uptick came even before a new wave of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, which officials predict is on its way, induced by a busy Thanksgiving week of cross-state travel and family gatherings.Gov. J.B. Pritker confirmed at his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday in Chicago that the newly discovered infections were contracted as many as three weeks ago, and a Thanksgiving spike, if coming, is days away.Deaths haven’t slowed in relative comparison, however, although the 125 recorded Tuesday accounted for just the second time in five days fatalities topped 100.Health officials nationally have worried that holiday interactions travel and contact among family members from different households will push illness even higher than during November, the bleakest of the nine-month pandemic. Pritzker urged those who left home last week to get a COVID-19 later this week, unless symptoms appear, at which point a test should be a priority.Statewide, 738,846 cases have been recorded along with 12,403 deaths.Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state public health director, again urged compliance with precautions against tranmission — wearing face coverings over nose and mouth, keeping 6 feet away from others and washing hands frequently. But despite the expected December deluge, she spiced her pep talk with hope that vaccines which are nearing regulatory approval could be available soon.“We're close, and so we need us all to hang in there for this final stretch,” Ezike said. “We will continue the fight, but it will take all of us.”While health workers critical to preventing and treating the virus could be vaccinated by month's end, it will still be months before enough people are vaccinated — experts say as much as 70% of the population — to halt the spread and allow more social interaction. Asked whether it was misleading to tell people who might still be wearing masks in the spring that “we're close,” Ezike said “close” is a relative term.“We are in the month where we might actually have that vaccine; that should be seen as a significant milestone, getting us closer to the end,” Ezike said. “Yes, it will take time to get the population of Illinois vaccinated. This is not a one- or two-month process, that’s true, but I am looking for something to hold on to, and give people hope.”Pritzker said the 116,081 test results in the previous 24 hours, nearly double what had been turned around for several days during the weekend, helped account for more cases.The number of hospitalizations has dipped slightly in recent days. There were 5,835 in hospital beds Tuesday, with 1,195 in intensive care. The most seriously ill — those needing ventilators to assist breathing — has remained steady at 721.Pritzker said majority Republicans in the U.S. Senate were moving on long-delayed pandemic-relief legislation to help the nation's battered economy before Congress adjourns. He urged lawmakers to include more aid for bars and restaurants.“Millions of Americans have lost their jobs because certain businesses, through no fault of their own, had to shut down or severely downsize because this virus can spread more easily in those settings than in others,” Pritzker said.COVID-19 restrictions barring indoor food and drink service have resulted in steep revenue losses and closures, and Illinois owners of eateries and taverns have blamed Pritzker for picking on them and their livelihoods.___Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnorJohn O'Connor, The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in a battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state's 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Evers until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit, an unusually tight deadline that speaks to how quickly the court is likely to decide the case.The state's highest court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, also is considering whether to hear two other lawsuits filed by conservatives seeking to invalidate ballots cast during the presidential election. Separately, two Wisconsin Republicans filed a new federal lawsuit Tuesday that mirrors some of Trump's claims and asks a judge to declare him the winner in Wisconsin.Trump's lawsuit repeats many claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties that large swaths of absentee votes were illegally cast. Local officials rejected his claims during the recount, and Trump is challenging procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won.Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans called the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground." Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was “without merit.”Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, noted that the lawsuit doesn't allege that anyone was ineligible to vote, but instead seeks to create a two-tiered election system where voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties are disenfranchised “under much stricter rules than citizens in the rest of the state.”Trump's Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, said in a statement that voters "deserve election processes with uniform enforcement of the law, plain and simple.”Similar Trump campaign lawsuits have failed in other battleground states.In Phoenix, a judge has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state. A judge is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office, which certified Arizona’s election results on Monday, said there was no factual basis for conducting such a review.Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6.Trump's Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to discard 170,140 absentee ballots where there was not a written application on file and all absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day.People who vote in person early fill out a certification envelope for their ballot that serves as the written record. But the vast majority of absentee requests these days are made online, with a voter’s name entered into an electronic log with no paper record.Trump wants to toss 5,517 ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted. The practice has been in place for at least the past 11 elections, and the state elections commission told clerks it was OK.Trump also challenges 28,395 absentee ballots where a voter declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined” under the law. Such a declaration exempts voters from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it is up to individual voters to determine whether they are indefinitely confined, a designation used by nearly four times as many voters this year than in 2016 due to the coronavirus pandemic.Trump also alleges that Madison opened illegal voting sites when the city held events at parks where election workers accepted 17,271 completed absentee ballots from voters looking to avoid crowds and mail delays. City officials said the poll workers at the 220 parks served the same purpose as ballot drop boxes.The federal lawsuit came from Bill Feehan, the La Crosse County Republican Party chairman, and Derrick Van Orden, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress this year in western Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a firebrand conservative attorney who was removed from Trump's legal team, is among the lawyers.Van Orden said after the lawsuit was filed that he had spoken with someone in Powell's office about the case but had not given permission to be named as a litigant. Van Orden said he tried calling Powell to ask that his name be removed but could not get through. Powell did not immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment.“Why they would want me on there, I'm not quite sure,” Van Orden said.The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit, not in Wisconsin.Also Tuesday, Republicans on the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the Democratic chairwoman to resign after she finalized election results on Monday. They argued the commission should have been involved with that process, while the chair, who refused to resign, said she was following state law and precedent.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Norfolk County’s answer to Cruella de Vil is believed to have stolen two puppies from a Delhi home on Friday. Norfolk OPP say the alleged dognappers came to the Tisdale Road property — just south of Delhi — between 6:40 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 and made off with two tan-coloured female pups, along with a trail camera. The five-month-old dogs are described as a mix of ridgeback, mastiff, Newfoundlander and shepherd. Police welcome tips from the public to solve this case and get the pups back home. Information about the theft can be left with the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers via 1-800-222-8477 or helpsolvecrime.com.J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Calgary is about to become a curling mecca.Weeks after CBC Sports first reported the Alberta city had been selected to host a number of important bonspiels, Curling Canada made it official on Tuesday that the Scotties, the Brier, the men's world championship and mixed doubles national championship will all be hosted at Canada Olympic Park.There is no timeline at this point for when the events will take place.There are also two Grand Slam of Curling events being planned for the Calgary curling bubble as well.Curling Canada officials said they continue to have dialogue with all levels of government and health officials to come up with the safest protocol, using many of the lessons learned from the NHL and NBA bubbles.WATCH | CBC Sports' Devin Heroux, Colleen Jones discuss Calgary curling hub:Six-time Scotties winner Colleen Jones says with COVID-19 cases in Calgary rising, there are still concerns about how the event will happen."For a lot of people this is great news," Jones said. "The other side of the coin, though, is with COVID cases rising across the country there's a lot of trepidation about how the provincial championships will go. "Provincial associations are all meeting right now as we speak. There's surveys going out asking curlers how this should look."In an email to CBC Sports, the Department of Canadian Heritage said it has received a request from Curling Canada to hold an international event in Canada — that would be the men's world curling championship."An authorization will only be granted if plans offer robust protocols to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada," the email said."An authorization would be conditional on ongoing support from provincial and local public health authorities and the provincial government, as well as a risk mitigation measures plan, developed and implemented by Curling Canada and assessed by the Public Health Agency of Canada."The curling extravaganza will most likely begin with the crown jewel of women's curling, the Scotties. All of the events will be played without fans at The Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park.While there are still many details to work through regarding player and coach safety, Alberta's Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Leela Sharon Aheer, said it's a positive thing for the province."This series of championship curling events is a fantastic opportunity for Alberta to once again show the world that our ability to host major hub city sporting events is second to none," she said."We look forward to delivering an exciting and memorable curling experience for all players, participants and fans."The Scotties was originally going to be held in Thunder Bay, Ont., but the pandemic quashed those plans. Pre-event tickets had been sold out. However, Thunder Bay has been awarded the 2022 Scotties.The Brier was going to be played in Kelowna but is now also set to take place in the Calgary bubble. It marks the first time the Scotties and the Brier are being played in the same city in the same season.'I trust Curling Canada'Defending Brier champion Brad Gushue is thrilled Curling Canada found a way to safely get curlers back to the pebbled ice."Every player I've talked to has wanted this to happen and [is] excited it's going to happen," Gushue said. "I've heard some players are a little hesitant but they are few and far between."I trust Curling Canada enough to do this in a safe manner. Our team is on board."Gushue says his team has had a number of conversations about what life in the Calgary bubble might look like, including potentially being away from family for nearly two months."That's a hard one to swallow. To be honest though, it's something we've discussed at length with our families," Gushue said."There might be some teams that don't do it. It's hard not to do when you love the sport and you want to compete."Gushue is hoping to defend his Brier title and earn a spot back to the men's world championship, having not been able to wear the maple leaf at last year's championship in Scotland because of the pandemic.WATCH | Gushue disappointed by cancellation of curling world championship:"Missing a world championship is not the end of the world but when you're a competitive curler it tears at you a little bit," he said."It weighed on me. There were moments throughout the summer when people would bring up the worlds and I thought this just sucks that I'm not going to get there."Gushue is also planning on playing in the mixed doubles national championship and two Grand Slam events that will also be housed in the Calgary bubble.Preparing for lack of fansThe grind of six to seven consecutive weeks of curling is something Gushue is already preparing for, including not having any fans inside the arena to motivate him."I feed off the crowd," he said. "To not have them around is going to be a challenge for me. I'm working with our sports psychologist on how to handle that. I don't know how it's going to affect me."Gushue says his Newfoundland and Labrador team have only played in two competitions this season — by far the least amount of time they've been on the ice during a season in their careers.And they haven't even been a complete team.Geoff Walker is in Alberta with his wife, Laura, and their newborn baby. Walker opted to stay in the province as he didn't want to leave and quarantine for two weeks before being able to play with Team Gushue."I still haven't seen Geoff in person since the night we won the Brier," Gushue said. "How do we get together to practise and play?"Provincial restrictions make playdowns a puzzleThat's a common question many of the top curling teams in the country are asking these days as most of the foursomes have at least one player living out of the province — restrictions in each jurisdiction of the country differ, making it increasingly challenging for curlers to get together on the ice.That brings up the issue of provincial playdowns.With many provinces imposing strict rules around gatherings, curling associations are trying to formulate plans that would allow them to safely and fairly select provincial and territorial representatives to attend both national championships.The announcement of this Calgary curling bubble comes a year out from the Roar of the Rings Olympic qualifiers scheduled for Saskatoon next November into December.This is a crucial quadrennial for Canadian curling after both the men's and women's teams failed to reach the podium for the first time at the 2018 Olympics.
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
Visitor parking is about to get tougher in Tiny Township. After a slew of parking-related complaints received this summer when visitors flocked to the area, staff sat down to come up with a parking strategy to be implemented next year. The result is an extended permit parking season and increased parking fines. "Currently, it's necessary to display one between May 15 and Sept. 15," said Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer. "But as council has seen over the last few years with nicer weather over the fall, this year, we extended the season to Oct. 5. Staff is suggesting the parking permit season be extended by a month at each end, April 15 to Oct. 15." As for parking fines, he said, currently, a no-parking ticket is $50 if paid on time and $60 with penalty. "These are costs equal to a full-day parking," Harvey said. "We're recommending increasing it $75 and $90." A third part of the strategy is around the township's parking boundaries, he said. "During this summer, we received a lot of communications from residents on the eastern shoreline that were affected by day trippers that were using the little parks and walkways to beaches," Harvey said talking about Corrie Hamelin Park on Champlain Road and Peek-a-boo Trail at Tee Pee Point Park. In his report, he outlined five options for council to consider. Staff is suggesting targeted permit parking program at a specific parking lot, converting targeted open parking to permit parking, converting open parking along the eastern shoreline to permit parking or converting open parking across the township to permit parking. Council could also choose to take no action and see how it goes in 2021, said Harvey, adding staff recommended the second option be adopted with a clause that staff report back on the feasibility. Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma and Coun. Tony Mintoff both supported the option recommended by staff and suggested removing the need for staff to report back on the parking boundaries option. "We can adapt and increase the plan if we find ourselves in a similar position next summer," said Walma. Tiny sells 175 'non-resident' permits on a first-come, first-serve basis with a non-resident being defined as a resident of the Town of Midland, the Town of Penetanguishene, the Township of Tay and the Township of Springwater. Permits cost $100.00 and are not transferable. The decision will be ratified at a future council meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
TORONTO — The Liberal government says it will take steps over the next year to tax foreign homeowners who live outside of Canada as part of a plan to lower housing prices.It's an idea that has been growing in popularity over the last few years in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, but some experts question how effective such a plan would be.In this week's fiscal update, the government says the plan will benefit first-time homebuyers and put more homes on the market by taxing homeowners who use Canada to passively store wealth in housing.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last year his government would introduce such a tax, praising a similar measure in British Columbia during his most recent election campaign.The B.C. government said last year its speculation and vacancy tax raised $115 million, paid mostly by owners based abroad, with Finance Minister Carole James crediting the tax as a factor behind the 5.6 per cent fall in home prices in the first part of 2019.Tsur Somerville, an associate professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, said that while prices did fall in the Vancouver area after the introduction of foreign buyers' taxes, the policy is not a silver bullet for affordability. "If you're looking to address affordability, that on its own is never going to get you to affordability. But it can certainly be part of the package of both demand- and supply-side policies," he said.In addition to the speculation and vacancy tax — on those who own local residences but do not pay provincial income taxes — B.C. has also tried a property transfer tax on home purchases made by foreign nationals in Vancouver, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants regulator of British Columbia. In 2017, Ontario passed a speculation and vacancy tax on homebuyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe who were neither citizens nor permanent residents. And in Prince Edward Island, non-residents must apply to a special commission to buy more than five acres of land.Renewed talk of taxing non-Canadian homebuyers comes as several housing markets across the country set sales records during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing up prices amid low interest rates and a rush on telecommuter-friendly houses with yards.While the housing market has been hot, the government is looking for ways to finance $25 billion in new spending to support those hit hard by the pandemic.In practice, some markets with lots of demand from foreign buyers could see house prices decline but remain "crazy unaffordable," even with the proposed tax, said Somerville. Other locales, such as tourist spots, could actually benefit from travellers owning vacation homes there, Somerville said, while still other cities may already have landlords who are struggling to find tenants as it is.For example, the supply of housing may be flexible enough in cities like Calgary or Edmonton where foreign-based buyers don't have that much impact on overall home prices, he said. Also, when it comes to building a giant apartment building, foreign investment from a European pension fund is unlikely to be an affordability problem, he noted."I can't understand why you would introduce it at a national level," Sommerville said. "That doesn't make any sense to me as a policy because it is not as if we are in a national crisis of foreigners buying up housing in every market and creating challenges on affordability. That's a stretch."Somerville also noted that the policy has raised objections for targeting Chinese people in Vancouver, although different populations would be affected in different areas of the country.Andrey Pavlov, professor of finance at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, said it was a "terrible" idea to nationalize British Columbia's policies, saying the tax would discourage foreign investments without improving affordability.Pavlov said that the share of first-time homebuyers has actually gone down since the tax was put in place in B.C. Other than Toronto and Vancouver, most Canadian cities can be built out to accommodate and even benefit from second homes for people like business travellers, said Pavlov. The problem with further taxing homeownership, Pavlov said, is that it could actually reduce the supply of housing by discouraging builders and investors. Pavlov also questioned whether the policy would help the government pay for its fiscal stimulus plans."Our chance to repay the debts we are incurring now is to grow our economy as fast as we can," Pavlov said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
MILLBROOK — Cavan Monaghan Township residents from Cavan Ward were able to voice their opinions about off-road vehicles during a virtual public meeting on Monday. A total of 16 individuals signed up to speak for a maximum of three minutes, some who were for and some who were against the concept of ORVs on township roads in the Cavan Ward. Robert Winslow, the founder of 4th Line Theatre, was among the speakers. “I live at 779 Zion Line in Cavan Ward; fifth generation of my family on this property. I was born and raised on our farm which I retrofitted into a live outdoor theatre in 1992, almost 30 years ago,” he said. Winslow said that added noise from ORVs during performances will reduce the appeal of their theatre. “In a movie theatre you can ask the person who is talking in the row ahead of you or behind you to shush so you can enjoy the film properly. Our theatre patrons won’t have that option as ATVs, side-by-sides, or dirt bikes pass by the farm during our plays,” he said. In addition to the hazards of the winding, narrow, steep and shoulder components of the road, along with high speeds of cars, trucks, motorcycles and commercial industrial vehicles along the road, Winslow said, ORV traffic on his road could also be an added danger for both patrons arriving and leaving the theatre and as well as ORV operators. However, Garry Otten, a realtor at Century 21, said many people he deals with move to the region because of the recreational opportunity. “More so today with the pandemic, our ORV interest has gained popularity beyond belief,” he said. The value of many properties in the area will increase if council chooses to allow ORVs on municipal roads, Otten said. “Our location allows us the good fortune of being able to access a trail that could take us all the way to Bancroft. We could certainly use that extra business in this township and our businesses could use that extra business. I would hope our councillors recognize the benefits instead of all the fear mongering that’s taking place,” he said. Comments will be received by the township until Dec. 4. Staff will then summarize the comments and bring forward a report in early 2021 for council to make a final decision. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
In a part of B.C. with a long history of gold mining, a revival of the industry is stirring up conflicting opinions. Dave Jorgenson and his wife Cheryl own two guesthouses and a gift shop in the central Interior community of Wells, B.C., where gold was king until the 1930s.Over the past two decades, the Jorgensons have been working hard to maintain the small town as a tourist destination, but they fear an underground gold mine a Montreal-based company proposes to build near Wells will put an end to that.Wells is seven kilometres from the National Historic Site of Barkerville which preserves the streetscapes of the gold-rush town that boomed in the 1860s making it one of North America's largest living museums.Technological changes later made underground mining the area's key industry.Now, Osisko Gold Royalties, which owns the Barkerville Gold Mines (BGM) based in Wells, plans to launch the Cariboo Gold Project which is still going through the provincial government's environmental assessment process.Part of the plan is to construct a 16-hectare ore-processing concentrator complex — with a 12-storey waste rock treatment tower — near a visitor information centre in western Wells.Big eyesore to townJorgenson says the building will be a big eyesore and will scare many travellers away along with noise from mineral carrying trucks."That [tower] will dominate the landscape as you drive into town," he told Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North.BGM has been doing mine exploration for the Cariboo Gold Project over the past four years. Jorgenson says the company and its contractors have already bought up 80 per cent of the hotel rooms in Wells and neighbouring Barkerville and turned them into staff housing, but workers don't stay in town long-term and accommodations are often left empty for most of the year."The result is that people [tourists] don't come to our stores to shop or eat … don't have the opportunity to extend their stay," he said. "All tourism dollars have stopped flowing in our community."COVID proves tourism unsustainable in WellsIan Douglas, a gold prospector who has lived in Wells for seven years, agrees that BGM shouldn't be under-using the hotel rooms it's purchased but says it doesn't really matter right now. The pandemic has already dealt a severe blow to local tourism, an industry he once worked in."Tourism isn't going to be able to sustain Wells as it used to," Douglas told Matt Allen, guest host of CBC's Daybreak North. "The [Cariboo Gold Project] mine in its current planning position will help subsidize our existence." Douglas says he is eagerly awaiting the job opportunities at BGM."I would love to use it as a foot in the door to the rest of the industry," he said. "[Training] at BGM and working there for a few years could get you a job anywhere else in the industry."Jorgenson has suggested BGM build the gold mine 600 metres away from Wells, but he says the company is resisting the idea."They've chosen the place that's the most economical for Osisko shareholders in other parts of the world, but I don't believe that they've chosen the best place for the stakeholders that are the people in our community," he said.Douglas says relocating the mine somewhere else may not be feasible."I … don't think that there is any other place to put such a complex, readily available nearby, that wouldn't take more time or energy to construct," he said.In a written statement to CBC News, Barkerville Gold Mines says it has been listening to Wells residents and has made adjustments to the Cariboo Gold Project.Tap the link below to listen to Dave Jorgenson's interview on Daybreak North:Tap the link below to listen to Ian Douglas' interview on Daybreak North:Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A man is in critical condition after a crash at BC Ferries' Tsawwassen Terminal on Tuesday.BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said it happened at about 12:30 p.m., as the Coastal Renaissance sailing from Duke Point was finishing its disembarking routine."The last vehicle to be unloaded off the upper car deck drove off the ship, accelerated rapidly and smashed through a concrete wall. The vehicle then fell approximately 30 feet (nine metres) to the lower holding compound of the terminal, landing on its roof," said Marshall.B.C. Emergency Health Services confirmed that one patient was taken to hospital in critical condition. Marshall, along with Delta police confirmed that no other people were in the pickup truck or in its path, as it plummeted to the ground below the loading ramp.The Coastal Renaissance is about an hour behind schedule, but no other BC Ferries sailings were affected, said Marshall.