Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
For more than 40 years, an important piece of Acadian art languished in the basement of Louis-J-Robichaud High School in Shediac.The theatre curtain, measuring three metres by 5½ metres, depicts a scene from the deportation of the Acadians in the mid-18th century.Commissioned in 1931, the canvas was painted by Acadian artist Edouard Gautreau.The curtain hung in the Shemogue parish theatre hall until the 1960s, when the hall fell into disrepair, but the work of art was spared.Over the years, the canvas became increasingly damaged until it was rescued by the late Father Maurice Léger in 1979 and put in the care of the Société Historique de la Mer Rouge.It sat in the high school basement for decades, before ownership was transferred to the Nation Prospère Acadie charity in May 2020, with the promise of restoration."When we first unveiled it here when it was brought here a lot of us thought "Oh my goodness, this is so damaged, what can we do with this?" said Daniel LeBlanc, the organization's executive director."But the work began and suddenly we started to see colours appear, very beautiful colours, and I think we got the sense that this could be restored to a very high-quality painting."A grant of $7,500 from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation helped get the restoration work started.Over the summer, the canvas got its first treatment, which removed dirt and consolidated some of the missing sections. It had been ripped in half in the 1970s.It was also put on display, at the Musée de Kent in Bouctouche, for the first time in a half a century."Throughout the painting we see sections which were lost unfortunately with deterioration over time," LeBlanc said. "There was a lot of filth and mould over it and so the work of the restoration expert was to prepare it so that it could be saved for future restoration work and also to expose it so that the public could see." It will soon be taken down and rested on a flat surface for the winter, stabilizing it so it doesn't have any stress on the threads of the painting. Then it will be ready for the next stage of restoration."Painstakingly all the sections of the painting which have more filth on it, even mould, need to be cleaned thoroughly and the sections finally need to be patched in with paint," LeBlanc said.A specialist will match colours and repaint some of the damaged sections so it can finally be completed. A canvas will be needed underneath to keep everything supported.The final stage will be to frame the piece and have it permanently displayed.LeBlanc said this was one of artist Edouard Gautreau's largest works of art.Born in Saint-Paul-de-Kent in 1906, Gautreau started painting at a young age, and he painted many large pieces in New Brunswick churches. LeBlanc said that unfortunately, many of those pieces were lost in fires.LeBlanc said this canvas is special."Gautreau was very skilled in copying paintings but also bringing his own intuition and colours on paintings, so this is quite a much improved version of the small picture that you find in the Evangeline book," he said.LeBlanc said the first phase of restoration cost about $15,000, but the next phase will be more costly, at more than $75,000.LeBlanc is still working on raising the funds, but hopes the restoration work can begin again next summer. He'd like to see it completed by late 2021 or in 2022.LeBlanc said the canvas has had a long journey, one he'll be happy to see completed."We went from discouragement to hope that we can actually complete this project and it can be a beautiful project for Acadia."
High stress, exhaustion, heartbreak: that is how some high school teachers describe working through the second wave of COVID-19. High school teacher Courtney Scratch worries that the current system isn't working for students or parents, and might be doing them a great disservice."To try to keep up with the expectations that were put both on students and on teachers has just been, honestly impossible," Scratch said. The new quadmester system used by the Greater Essex County District School Board splits the school year into four periods, to allow students to be split into two groups — or cohorts. It makes for longer classes and condensed curriculum. Courses that used to be taught over the course of five months are now being taught in eight weeks."It's virtually impossible in certain cases for the students to keep up," Scratch said. "And the feedback that we're getting from them is that they're just getting through it. They're just scraping by. They're not really retaining anything. It just feels like one hurdle after another."Scratch was assigned to teach mathematics completely online for her first quadmester. She was responsible for two classes and a total of 60 students.'Equity issues'A key challenge for teachers, Scratch explained, is lack of preparation time. She explained that the way the school year is split up, teachers get prep time for only two of the four quadmesters. She said, for her first quadmester, she got none. To make up for that, Scratch said she would wake up every morning at about 4 a.m. to prepare her lessons in time for the start of the school day. She would teach throughout the day, taking her lunch hour to meet with students and speak with parents. Once she got home, she would continue marking assignments and preparing lessons into the evening. "Eventually I would just work until I had to fall asleep and then I'd set an early alarm to get up and do it all again," she said. She said students were asking for more review, more assessments, one-on-one time, and so on, which she often wasn't able to accommodate because there simply wasn't enough time. "One of the things I think is not being discussed enough is the equity issues that arise because of this," Scratch said. "Imagine if these students had a teacher who was only working with 30 students and had prep time during the day. The experience of those students would be getting would be absolutely night and day. So it's really not fair to them that this is what they're getting because of the expectations that were piled up on their teachers."'Breaks my heart'Feeling like she's been unable to give her students everything they need has been "heartbreaking," Scratch said. "I just think about what could I have done differently had I had more time during the day to work with them in small groups, to work with them individually, how much more dynamic my lessons could have been had I been able to plan them," she said. "To think that in any way I have failed to equip them for the next steps of their mathematical journey — it breaks my heart in more ways than I can say."New challengesThat heartbreak and sadness is not unique. Erin Roy, the district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says she's heard hearing similar stories from many teachers. "We put our a survey to our members and some of the comments were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes," said Roy. In addition to the difficulties around the curriculum, Roy added that teachers are missing the connections and interactions that come during a typical school year, even though they understand the restrictions are to keep everyone safe. "Even our most seasoned teachers, they're somewhat broken because they're not able to do those things."Further to that, Roy explained that teachers are dealing with challenges like never before, "stress on top of stress," from struggles with technology, to dealing with parents who are angered by the challenges the school year has presented for their kids."It's typically the front line worker that's getting that frustration taken out on them. And I feel like that's happening with our teachers a lot," Roy said. Union asking for changesRoy said the union is working to make improvements moving forward. She's calling for better technology for teachers, more technical support for students and parents, more training for virtual delivery of curriculum, and additional attendance counsellors to assist with disengaged virtual learners. She said she's also advocating for the board to reconsider the quadmester teaching model, and to look at other models being used in other parts of the province that might be more successful.For Scratch's next quadmester, she's shifted to in-person teaching, and her schedule now includes preparation time. Having more time to plan "feels almost surreal to feel such euphoria over something that should be an expectation," she said. She's grateful for the time, but also worried for her colleagues who are now in her shoes, experiencing the burden of not having any prep time for the first time.Scratch said she feels the Ministry of Education put the school boards and staff in an impossible situation but said she's hopeful for a solution that can still keep schools safe, while creating a better learning environment. Neither the Greater Essex County District School Board or the Ministry of Education responded CBC's request for comment by deadline.
Ownership changes in New Brunswick apartment complexes that in some cases have been generating eviction notices for tenants in entire buildings is causing anxiety among those displaced.It has led to calls for the province to delay the practice, at least while COVID-19 is surging."We're in the orange zone now," said Tara Cripps, who was told last week by National Bank she, her partner and their five children were being put out of their Saint John home of seven years."We can't even say, 'Hey, can we stay at your house?' We're supposed to be all in one family bubble thing again."She said she's going to need friends to help her pack up."And I'm going to need their trucks and their cars and stuff to move. Is somebody going to call the police and be, like, 'There's multiple people going in and out of this house?'"National Bank recently foreclosed on the Saint John apartment building owned by Cripps's landlord and, on Nov. 12, sent a lawyer's letter to her and her partner ordering them and their children to get out two weeks after Christmas."National Bank requires immediate vacant possession of the above noted property," read the notice from its Fredericton lawyer, Paul White. "On behalf of our client we hereby demand vacant possession on or before Wednesday January 6, 2021."Should you not vacate … it will be necessary for us to make court application to have you evicted and we will be asking for costs on behalf of [National Bank].""I've been here seven years and I've never been late on my rent," said Cripps."I've come to the understanding I need to find a new home. OK. But wait until it's a safer time. Wait until we're not in the orange zone. Wait until it's a little bit warmer. I'm hoping someone at the bank has a heart."The eviction of tenants unable to pay rent was halted by the Higgs government in the early days of the pandemic in March but those restrictions were lifted June 1. Since then, a new type of eviction has emerged as large numbers of New Brunswick apartment buildings have changed hands with some of the new owners wanting current tenants out.Ron Blache-Fraser, a local property manager, said out-of-province investors have taken an interest in New Brunswick income properties as attractive real estate investment opportunities."There's a lot of interest from out-of-town buyers for all sorts of buildings in Saint John because the prices are lower, the returns are better," he said. "It's pretty straightforward."In October, two five-unit buildings on Sherbrooke Street in Saint John were purchased by a group of Vancouver-area investors who paid $470,000 for the properties — 35 per cent above their assessed value. The group then issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings so renovations can be done and rents increased.Blache-Fraser is managing those buildings and said they were in poor condition and needed significant work. He expects rents, which were between $475 and $650 per month prior to the purchase, will climb to $975 for a two-bedroom unit once renovations are complete."We issued notice that we would be doing major renovations and gave tenants three-months notice, which we did not have to do," said Blache-Fraser."They need to be out at the end of January. Some are already leaving and we're in the process of renovating because the buildings are in deteriorated condition." Across the city on Jack Street, an Ontario company bought a pair of 24-unit buildings. In September, it issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings to be out by Nov. 30.That deadline is next week. Although most tenants have gone elsewhere, at least one woman remains. Dave Cormier is her son.He said she has been in the building for 10 years. He said finding a two-bedroom unit for her for the $750 per month she currently pays has been difficult with vacancy rates falling and rents increasing all over Saint John."It's almost impossible unless you've got $1,400, or $1,600 or $2,000 [for rent]," he said."Even $1,100 for a two-bedroom apartment is a lot of money for low-income [people]."Cormier has been speaking with the province about public housing and is hopeful something is happening, but with the eviction deadline just a week away and COVID-19 suddenly spiking in the community, it has been a stressful experience."It's scary. You know, COVID-19 is not making this any easier at all. It might be a little bit easier if that wasn't going on, but it is. And because of that, things are difficult."Last week, a surge in COVID-19 infections across southern New Brunswick caused the province to downgrade communities from Sackville to St. Stephen, including Moncton and Saint John, from the yellow phase to the orange phase of pandemic recovery. That requires the public to limit contacts with people outside of their household bubble.Premier Blaine Higgs was asked Friday if there are any additional protections for tenants in orange-phase areas who are being put out of their buildings. His answer was no."No, not at all," said Higgs. "Not at this time."That causes worry for tenants like Cripps. Her landlord owns multiple buildings and she said the letter carrier who delivered her eviction notice told her he had several others to hand out.A spokesperson for National Bank said it was not involved in other evictions and has already contacted Cripps about allowing her family to stay where it is."Other cases were with other lenders," said Jean-Francois Cadieux. "Our legal external counsel has contacted the tenants. He presented them solutions and informed them that we will not be asking that they vacate their apartment."'Kids can't sleep in a car'But Cripps said the bank's solution involves her making an offer to buy the building. She said she doesn't have a down payment and doubts she could afford the building.She does not want to uproot her children before Christmas but is worried about what comes after, especially if large numbers of other evicted renters are suddenly in the market at the same time looking for a place to live."There are good tenants that are being penalized and now they're being put out," she said."All these families now need to find a home. We're all going to be fighting for an apartment. There are going to be people who are probably going to end up homeless. What are parents going to do? Kids can't sleep in a car."
Three more houses on May Street in north-end Halifax may soon be torn down.In 2016, 17 properties were demolished on Fern Lane, May, McCully and Robie streets to make way for an expansion of the Colonial Honda car dealership. That sparked a "Homes not Hondas" protest group.Dynamic Properties owns 5792, 5796 and 5800 May Street, which are three attached buildings. The director for the company is Rob Steele, who is also the CEO of the Steele Auto Group, which includes Colonial Honda.Initially Halifax Regional Municipality officials said there was an application for a demolition permit of one of the properties. They have since confirmed that the application is to tear down all three addresses, although the permit has not yet been issued. 'We could use that housing'The move dismayed Jim Graham, the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia."Could we use that housing? Yeah, we could use that housing," said Graham. "It is discouraging."Graham said landlords are telling him that they are getting 12 calls for even bed-sitting units."The vacancy rate [for affordable housing] is not one per cent, it's zero," said Graham.Lisa Roberts, the MLA who represents the May Street area, agreed that affordable housing units are not being replaced at the same rate they are disappearing."We don't need another lot in Halifax-Needham," said Roberts, "We have a whole lot of them."A spokesperson for Colonial Honda said the company has purchased a two-storey, three-unit residential condominium building on May Street."The condo units involved were housed in a single building on the south side of May Street, adjacent to the Colonial Honda parking lot," the spokesperson said."Colonial plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot, which fronts on the Robie Street commercial corridor. This part of Robie is home to several auto dealership, service and repair centres."City can't stop demolitionsAn HRM planner wrote a report in 2016 that said council "does not have the ability to prohibit demolition."HRM councillors are meeting Tuesday to discuss which affordable housing projects are eligible for the $8.7 million from Ottawa under the Rapid Housing Initiative.Lindell Smith, the councillor for the area, said the zoning is also a factor."A lot of the residential properties and areas in the north end are actually zoned commercial," said Smith. "So I wish there were ways to protect it, but they own it and unfortunately they're deciding to take houses and put them into parking lots." MORE TOP STORIES
Two health-care workers from the labour and delivery unit at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary are now in isolation after a visitor did not disclose their COVID-19 status during the on-site screening process, AHS has confirmed. Dr. Fiona Mattatall, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the hospital, says she now has colleagues in isolation. "I just hope to God, that out of this one case, that everything is OK, and that all of the PPE worked, and that we don't have to declare an outbreak on our unit," Mattatall said. "Because I really worry about the secondary anxiety to my patients, and them worrying about coming in and having their baby." Alberta Health Services recently has had to deal with several situations where designated family or support people of patients intentionally didn't disclose their COVID-19 symptom status, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. "While the vast majority of Albertans understand that doing this puts loved ones and the teams caring for their loved ones at even greater risk of illness, the few who choose to do this are impacting us all," Hinshaw said Friday during a media availability. "Please be honest. We are dealing with a multiplier effect in Alberta. We cannot afford that in our health-care facilities." WATCH | Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, tells Albertans to be honest about their COVID-19 symptoms when visiting health-care facilities: Hinshaw warned Albertans not to attend health-care facilities if they are feeling sick, unless they themselves need care. Visitors should also answer screening questions at health-care facilities honestly and fully, Hinshaw said, disclosing all symptoms and contacts to site screeners. Should providers or members of health-care teams get sick, it would mean they are unavailable to treat patients for at least two weeks — which would impact staffing levels. "Ultimately, if this behaviour continues, Alberta Health Services will have to consider limiting designated family and support and visitation even further," Hinshaw said. "That is not something we want AHS to have to do." Larger implications on health-care In an email, a spokesperson for AHS said that to protect confidentiality, no further information about the individual involved will be disclosed. "There are no known positive patients or health-care workers on the unit and it is not on outbreak or on watch at this time," the spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, the exposure is believed to be related to a confirmed positive case in a visitor who did not disclose their COVID-19 status during the on-site screening process." When someone is not upfront with their symptoms, Mattatall said the first feeling health-care professionals experience is that of frustration. "Then the reality of the snowballing implications from that one action goes from frustration to full-out anger," she said. "And it's tough, because we don't want to be angry at people. I mean, we're all in this together with the virus that we should be angry at. "But it's frustrating when someone just isn't thinking beyond their own self to realize, because this is a team, this is teamwork that is going to get us through this." Direct and indirect impacts The implications of visitors not being truthful about their COVID-19 status is larger than people realize, Mattatall said. The immediate impacts are more obvious — in delivering health-care, workers enter inside an unsafe two-metres with a patient, meaning those carrying the virus can put health-care workers at risk. Without contact tracing being as robust as it was, health-care workers may be unaware they have been exposed, and could proceed to spread it to their families or their patients. ... the actions of a few people might ruin it for everybody. - Dr. Fiona Mattatall, obstetrician-gynecologist at the Rockyview Hospital Mattatall said an indirect impact is that if a health-care worker is isolating, their team is down a member. "Coming into the pandemic, we didn't have wiggle room in terms of extra staffing. Health-care works pretty close to the line," she said. "We don't have extra bodies at Rockyview to be able to accommodate a number of people off on isolation." But further to that, Mattatall said the health-care system has worked hard to allow support people and partners into labour and delivery rooms during the pandemic, which she said is important for the experience and safety of having a baby. "When we see behaviour like support people not disclosing their risk of having COVID or having COVID, it could have the ripple effect of public health then saying it's not worth the risk to the health-care teams and other patients," Mattatall said. "I'm very grateful that we have been able to maintain support people in labour throughout the pandemic here, but the actions of a few people might ruin it for everybody."
Earlier this fall, Patty Hudson walked her dogs along one of her favourite stretches of the St. John River, just below Hartland, when she was appalled to see a gravel pit just metres away from the water. A passionate environmentalist, Hudson said she couldn't believe that a gravel pit could be so close to the walking trail that follows the river."There's a big quarry here all of a sudden, and it never used to be — it was at best a very small older quarry, and never this far, never," Hudson said.The area is about five kilometres south of the world's longest covered bridge, located in Hartland.Hudson, who lives in Upper Kent about 30 minutes north of the site, said she used to walk in the area often but only walks along that stretch of the river a handful of times a year now. "This is really meditative place for me, I come down here to feel better, especially since life has pretty much ended its normalcy right now," she said. "It's just a place of extreme beauty and history."Hudson said that besides the look of gravel pits, she's bothered by the potential disruption of wildlife in the area, and the effects it could have on the river. "We don't know how many nests we destroy when we just start digging, but for sure there are animals in those trees, they're hiding and they're running."One of the gravel pits that Hudson is worried about is below the banks of Route 105. "The berms along the riverbank that stabilize the river banks are being thrashed, being dug into willy nilly," she said. Hudson's concerns were sparked when she saw a truck in the pit recently, though she admits she didn't see anyone digging at the time. One of the pits that Hudson is referring to is owned in part by the Cook family. When reached by CBC News for a comment, a spokesperson for the family said the site isn't active but occasionally equipment is in there. According to the family, they have all the required legal documents to operate there, and when taking gravel from the site, they take it from the back of the pit, which is closer to the banks of the 105, and not the St. John River.The spokesperson said the site was built by Canadian Pacific Railway when the train track was being built along the river. The track bed is now the walking trail. Other gravel pitsHudson said it doesn't matter when the site was constructed, she thinks it's time to change where gravel pits are operated. The particular gravel pit is not the only one along that stretch of the river. Several contractors operate different pits in the area that are still active. "There are many active gravel pits, if that's the regulation, time to change those kinds of regulations," Hudson said. "Obviously, we live in a society we have a need for gravel, but do they have to be everywhere?" Hudson asked. "It's hideous. Why do we accept this?"According to a statement from the province, there are guidelines for sand and gravel pit owners and operators to minimize potential impacts to the environment.The Department of Environment and Local Government does not issue approval to operate gravel pits. If someone is looking to develop a new gravel pit within 30 metres of a watercourse or wetland, a permit is required. Applications are reviewed on a case by cases basis.
A Windsor family is facing the stark possibility of homelessness at the end of the month, as their search for a place to live becomes increasingly desperate. Jennifer and Daniel Adeogun have been looking for a place to live ever since their apartment building went up in flames on Halloween. An electrical wire failure on a third floor balcony caused $1.5 million in damage and displaced nearly 100 tenants, including the Adeoguns. Property management told them the building will reopen within six months to a year, and advised tenants to look for a month-to-month rental in the meantime, but the task has been proven difficult. "Everybody wants us to sign a one-year lease. So, that's a very big challenge," said Jennifer. In October, Windsor's housing market was the hottest in Canada, with home sale prices up 17 per cent in the third quarter. Rent has increased in turn, say relators. "Where we find the places, like just say for month-to-month, places are like $2,600 a month," said Jennifer. "We're practically days from being homeless by the end of this month," Daniel said. "Even if you tell them the story, they don't seem to be sympathetic to that. You know, they just want that one-year lease signed."The couple, who are both personal support workers, say of the places they have found that offer month-to-month rentals, the cost is either too high, or aren't suitable for their children, who are 14 and 12 and sometimes spend time alone at home. Help from colleaguesUntil now, the Adeoguns had been staying with relatives. That's no longer an option; before the apartment fire, the relative gave notice that they'd be moving out at the end of November. Now, they're looking at moving into a motel for a few days or weeks until a suitable short-term rental becomes available. Katie Dennison, Jennifer's direct supervisor at Oak Park LaSalle Retirement Residence, set up a GoFundMe page for the family to help pay for moving costs and storage of their belongings."We want to take care of all of our employees and we're all like a second family here," she said. "[Jennifer] is so great with her residents and she just gives them her all. And she comes to work every day and she's a hard worker. So I think just coming together to help out one of our own family is just so important."She's hoping to raise $5,000 and is nearly halfway there.Dennison says most of the donations are from staff from the couple's workplaces, but she is "pretty impressed" with how far it's gone."Just seeing everyone coming together and giving donations is pretty remarkable."The Adeoguns say they feel "beat down" and "overwhelmed" with the whole process, despite the help they've been getting from their workplaces.'We want to go back'They say they work full-time and try to hide their struggle searching for a place to live from their children; they are dealing with enough with school during a pandemic, said Daniel. "How do you tell kids that you're homeless?" Daniel said, adding that normally during this time, the family would be decorating and getting ready for Christmas, but are now left wondering where they're going to live next,"We want to go back to where we lived. That's where our whole life is," he said.
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said. O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election. Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said. O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam. In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines. “President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.” He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien. He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China. “They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said. He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty. In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
With many Quebecers cooped up at home, some are channeling their energy by getting into the festive spirit a little early.Interest in natural Christmas trees has been rising steadily in the last few years and the Quebec Association of Christmas Tree Producers is predicting a record season."People are ready to buy local, support their neighbours and buy green," said Charles Vaillancourt, president of the association.Last weekend, dozens of families showed up at Sapinière Saint-Jean for the first day of the U-pick season. "The big advantage of U-pick is freshness as well as choice," said co-owner Michel Gravel.Like the boom for Quebec apple producers in the fall, some Christmas tree producers are expecting an influx of people looking for a festive outdoor activity.While some farms are offering U-pick services, others are adapting to try and serve shoppers from afar.Les Sapins de Clericy in Rouyn-Noranda is offering to deliver farm fresh Christmas tree to local clients who order online or by phone.Co-owner Mary-Lou de Denus said that they cancelled their U-pick season because it's impossible to maintain distancing between clients.She said that normally the farm welcomes visitors not just to buy but to gather, have a snack or a drink, and chat. This year, that tradition can't happen, so the farm is closed to the public."Of course, we are going to reduce our service a little bit because it's more complex to deliver. But we will try to respect as much as possible the customers' choice of height and width," she said.When it comes to artificial trees and other holiday decorations, some stores reported crowds of shoppers buying up their stock earlier than normal."People are buying Christmas decorations at a never-before-seen rate," said François Gendron, manager at a Canac hardware store in Quebec City.Gendron said he's never seen such a craze for Christmas decorations at the beginning of November."We have a lot of inventory, but it is starting to decrease," he said. "So, eventually we will run out of stock."He suggested that one reason for the increased demand is that everyone is stuck at home this year, including snowbirds and others who travel around the holidays."They have to equip themselves from A to Z because they have no tree and no decorations," he said.
It's been said the COVID-19 pandemic has lifted the veil to reveal some of the horrors that have existed at many of Canada's long-term care facilities.Advocates for improved care and standards — and a shift away from institutional care for seniors — believe now is the time to demand change."This generation deserves way more than they're getting," said Leslie Peers, who says her mother, Marilyn Hindmarch, received substandard care during a five-week stay at a long-term care facility in Edmonton. The stay was brief but fraught with fear, anger and regret for the family.Peers has joined a new group calling itself FACE, which stands for Families Advocating for Compassionate Eldercare. The group is urging the provincial government to make a series of changes at privately run seniors homes that receive public funding, including improved staffing models with a set ratio of one health-care aide for every five residents.Peers believes the ratio at her mother's former care home was one health-care aide for every 15 residents.FACE is also calling for more accountability and enforcement for care-home operators who violate provincial standards and regulations that govern long-term care and supportive living facilities.Two days after her arrival at the publicly funded, privately run facility in March 2019, Hindmarch fell and broke three ribs. Less than two weeks later, another fall left her with a fractured pelvis. Hindmarch, who was 84, was dealing with several medical conditions including dementia when she moved into the facility and was separated from her husband of 67 years.Peers brought her mother's situation to the attention of Health Minister Tyler Shandro, who met with the family in September 2019.The matter was also raised in the legislature by the Official Opposition.The family filed a complaint with the Protection of Persons in Care, which found in a preliminary report that staff failed to properly document the injuries and notify senior staff about Hindmarch's injuries and symptoms.An X-ray was ordered for Hindmarch 26 hours after her first fall, when she suffered broken ribs, even though she said she had pain on the left side of her torso, that it hurt when she breathed. The report stated health-care aides did not report those symptoms to Hindmarch's physician and no one offered to call 911. The incident was not reported to Alberta Health as required.The preliminary investigation recommended the facility update its fall prevention strategies and post-fall policies.Twelve days later, Hindmarch fell again and fractured her pelvis. A preliminary investigation revealed staff didn't document the incident properly or relay Hindmarch's report of pain and evidence of bruising to a physician. A third investigation revealed several pressure sores on Hindmarch that were not documented, assessed or monitored.Peers says the family made the decision to move her mother out of the facility and she stayed with her mom for five days before the move to another centre was finalized because she felt her mother was not safe. They transferred her to a private facility where she was reunited with her husband. Their final stay together was brief as Hindmarch died three months later. 'I want it out there for everybody to see'Crystal McAteer says 2019 was also a year filled with anxiety, fear, anger and personal loss.As mayor of the Town of High Level, Alta., she led her community through a state of emergency when it was threatened by the Chuckegg Creek wildfire.The fire forced the evacuation of a number of areas, including a long-term care home in Manning, where her father, Henry Lawrence, was a resident. He was airlifted to an acute care facility in Fairview. McAteer says her father's condition rapidly deteriorated after he developed a bed sore that became infected. He was eventually returned to his care home in Manning, where a doctor told McAteer the infection may have been the result of lengthy exposure to soiled adult diapers, she says.Lawrence stayed in Fairview for about four weeks before he was transferred back to the long-term care home in Manning. He died five days later at the age of 88.She believes her father's death is the result of the poor care that he received. McAteer says the staff at the acute care hospital may have been overwhelmed following the arrival of seven high need patients who were transferred to the facility. An investigation by Protection of Persons in Care found in a preliminary report that Lawrence did not receive adequate nutrition or medical attention during his stay at the acute care facility, which resulted in "serious bodily injury."McAteer, as one of the founders of FACE, is imploring the government to improve seniors' care in Alberta."We want compassionate care and we want accountability," McAteer said from her home in High Level. McAteer says she has several questions, including how often her father was changed, how his bedsore was treated, how often he was bathed and how long did he have to sit in dirty adult diapers. "My dad must have laid in his Depends for over 12 hours at a time. That's just not humane," she said.Improved seniors' careIn addition to improved staffing at continuing care facilities, FACE wants to see "strengthened legislated penalties" for service providers who fail to meet care and accommodation standards. It would also like to see unannounced inspections of facilities and steep fines for operators who are found to be non-compliant, and it wants those inspection reports made public.It's also pushing for a shift away from institutional care and wants the government to fund personal care homes at the same per-resident level as long-term care facilities. It wants the government to "immediately implement innovative pilot projects through the province to move beyond the one-model system of institutional care for seniors."Personal care homesEdmonton-based ExquisiCare is an example of a privately run facility where residents receive no government funding. The company offers assisted living, long-term and palliative care in "purpose built" homes for up to 10 people in a residential setting.The company's president and CEO says the government should put the needs of seniors first by allowing continuing care subsidies to follow the person, not the facility. "Right now, unfortunately, we don't fit into the government-funded system," said Dawn Harsch."For people who want to live in a smaller, more home-like environment, they should still be supported by their government to live where they want to live," said Harsch.But at $8,000 per month, it's an expensive option.Lorie Grundy knows firsthand what it's like for her family to lose government funding for her mother, but it was a decision they took on their own after her 100-year-old mother suffered physical abuse at a publicly funded long-term care home in Edmonton. Dorothy Forbes's arms were bruised and cut from her wrists to her shoulders during an incident with a health-care aide in February. Grundy believes it happened at bed time when Forbes was being asked to get changed into her pyjamas."I wheeled mum up to the desk on the unit and asked the nurse, 'what happened?' "And she looked at them [her mother's arms] and she was quite taken aback and she said, 'I don't know,'" said Grundy.The family moved Forbes to a private facility operated by ExquisiCare nine days later. The $5,700 monthly government subsidy was discontinued and the family is now paying $7,900 per month. Grundy would like the government to make the subsidy available for everyone regardless of whether they choose publicly funded, privately run facilities or fully private personal care homes."The government subsidy should be provided to every Alberta citizen who needs long-term care," she said.FACE launched its website this month and is hoping people sign the petition that demands the government make changes to improve patient care. In an email to the CBC, a spokesperson for Alberta Health says the government is reviewing continuing care legislation "to ensure we have the framework in place to protect those in care."The spokesperson said other work includes a separate review "of the facility-based continuing care system" in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has "disproportionally impacted continuing care facilities."Leslie Peers knows her group faces a monumental challenge trying to convince the government to make changes. "I think we just said, 'we have to do this,'" she said."A lot of us are doing it in honour of our parents who have passed away.""They cared about their communities. They cared about others. And so, in my particular case, my father advocated all the time for people who needed support, needed a voice, for they didn't have it. So, in some ways, it's his legacy that I am following through on," said Peers.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
Compare JLo's 2020 AMA performance with Beyoncé's 2014 Grammy show and you're in for a mighty shock.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 ...What we are watching in Canada ...OTTAWA -- Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.\---Also this ... OTTAWA -- N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.\---ICYMI ...OTTAWA -- Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada's current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries. Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1 But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud. The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote. A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...LONDON -- AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine. “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.\---In entertainment ...LOS ANGELES -- Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night's American Music Awards. She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist. Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins. The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours" and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless. The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night's three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet "Monster."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020The Canadian Press
Chief Billy Morin stands just off the seventh hole tee box of what used to be the Indian Lakes Golf Course in Enoch Cree Nation, just west of Edmonton. He talks about his late father, who worked the golf course, and how golf was his medicine. In generations before, the sweetgrass, sage and muskeg tea that grew adjacent to nearby Yekau Lake were his ancestors' medicines.But in the 1940s, this land served a much different purpose: it was a practice bombing range for Allied forces during World War II.Morin estimates up to 100,000 munitions were dropped between 1942 and 1944. The land, he said, was taken by the government despite not holding a referendum for Enoch band members.On Nov. 13, the nation and the federal government reached an agreement for $91 million to cover trauma endured by people who lived nearby, future cleanup of the land, and lost income from the golf course, which closed in 2014 for safety reasons.For Morin, it's impossible to put a price on trauma endured. But as one of the lead negotiators on the claim for the past five years, he's happy to close this chapter for his nation."It is historic to settle a land claim that's just about 80 years old," Morin said."No amount of money can ever put this land back to what it was … but hopefully the nation decides some good things to happen with this land going forward."In a statement, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett said the federal government will be available to Enoch Cree Nation should they need any special help in continued cleanup of the land.Land felt unsafeMorin has heard stories from elders who lived near the range in the 1940s as young people. They'd feel their houses shake — old enough to understand there was a war raging on but too young to understand their place in it.The federal government leased the land from Enoch, but Morin said leadership donated that money right back to the war efforts, something he is proud of. "I think it goes back to what we inherently wanted when we signed a treaty," he said."It was working together for the common good. And at that time, the more common good was banding together and defending this country."After the area was decommissioned as a bombing range, the Canadian government had no other use for the land.But nation members had to deal with the fallout. There were no fish in the lake; they couldn't use the grounds for hunting anymore because it was unsafe. For the first few years after the Second World War ended, Yekau Lake was the only water source for the Cree who lived there. If they wanted to go elsewhere, they'd have to get permission from the federal government, as per the Indian Act."They felt a lot of hurt," Morin said."And it was still a wound that at this time [is] still open."Gary Morin lived near Yekau Lake in the 1950s, and he remembers people being scared to go there."Fear took a lot of their freedom away," he said. But at some point, hunger forced the hand of people on the reserve. The 71-year-old remembers hunting near Yekau Lake when he was seven years old — when he'd retrieve ducks that the older hunters shot over the lake.Occasionally, he said, he'd come across what looked like a "big lead bullet." Gary Morin later became a steward of sorts over the land, tending to cattle there. He saw first-hand the effects the bombs had — wild horses would fall into the craters left by the bombs, and the lake seemed like it was losing vegetation possibly due to pollution from the munitions.A lot of the wildlife he used to see — cougars, lynx, rabbits — haven't returned, he said.Despite the drastic change to the land, Gary Morin helped build powwow grounds near the lake to help return it to an important part of maskêkosihk, which means land of the medicines in nehiyawewin (Cree). He also was part of the leadership that built the Indian Lakes Golf Course.'Felt like betrayal'Chief Billy Morin said they began using the lands as they'd been told that only practice rounds — smoke and flash bombs — had been used, munitions that aren't as much of a threat as their more explosive counterparts.In a statement to CBC News, the Department of National Defence said its has "found no evidence that any other munitions were used at the site."It said extensive searches in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2014 found only three unexploded practice rounds which were removed. It deems the land safe for use, but wants the public to be aware of what happened on the land before using it.But an independent surveyor contracted by Enoch found evidence of live, heavy-action explosives in 2011, and deemed the whole area unsafe.It was this mixed messaging that hurt the nation's trust in the then-Conservative government."It felt like betrayal," Billy Morin said."It kind of felt like the government's always hiding something or there was another agenda or they're just not in it to do the right thing by us and this land to make it whole again, to have a good, prosperous future on it."In 2015, when the federal Liberals took office, Billy Morin went from councillor to chief. They wiped the slate clean on negotiations and came to an agreement five years later.'It's safe out here'Billy Morin is talking about the richness of the land and the medicine it had before the bombing range when he spots a deer near the lake. Some medicines have returned.He hopes to reopen the golf course his dad loved so much. He wants buffalo to roam the area again one day, and he wants to create a space for nation members to enjoy the outdoors, hunt and pick medicine. Gary Morin wants to see the buffalo roam again, too. He said he sees some "strange-looking birds" these days, a sign that the land is returning to its natural state.It's still not perfect. The Department of National Defence has said the site was assessed as having a low unexploded-device risk in 2011, but admitted the site can never be declared completely hazard-free.But Chief Billy Morin said the settlement is a good path forward. "At the end of the day, the federal government and the negotiators don't have to live here. We do. And we have to find an acceptable way forward for our nation members," he said."I believe it's safe out here for people. I believe we're taking all the right steps to make it safe, otherwise we would have never signed the deal."
A Halifax dance studio hopes that temporarily closing its doors might slow the city's recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and keep it alive in the long run.Some businesses outside the food industry are changing how they operate. This follows the lead of some restaurants and bars who have closed their doors temporarily, without being asked to do so by public health.Haliente Creative Studio on Barrington Street offers salsa, bachata and other styles of classes, as well as social nights for people to practise their moves.But owner Moses Diallo said that even while wearing a mask, physical closeness and the nature of touching hands while dancing increases their risk.On Saturday evening, the day 22 exposure notices were issued by authorities, Diallo announced Haliente would close for the next two weeks.He said even though staff and clients were following public health rules, it felt like a matter of time before someone contracted the coronavirus."It's not an easy decision, but it's one that makes sense and it's better we do this than have an exposure," Diallo said Sunday."Myself, along with many people, have vulnerable individuals in their families and … the risks are just too high at this point."As of Sunday, there were 44 known active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil has singled out young people as driving the recent exposures. He said there are 18- to 35-year-olds going out when they feel sick, and in large groups without distancing.New restrictions also start Monday, where residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality are limited to only five people gathering in a social group without physical distancing, down from 10.Closing down 'is a sacrifice,' says business ownerWhen asked whether the government should mandate that businesses close for a short time to get a handle on COVID-19, Diallo said he's "all for it," since short-term pain is bearable if it brings a long-term gain of keeping the economy open over the next few months.Diallo said they nearly didn't survive the last shutdown, when their studio was closed for nearly five months."The two weeks is a sacrifice that we made in order not to close down forever," Diallo said. "I can't afford to close down for more than a month."The Freedom Kitchen & Closet in Lower Sackville has decided to stop clothing donations for now due to the community spread, while the Fall River Animal Hospital has returned to curbside appointments.Many restaurants and cafés in the Halifax area have either closed entirely or announced over the weekend they are now only offering takeout and delivery. People are advised to check with restaurants before visiting.Paul MacKinnon, CEO of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said Sunday he's heard a broad mix of feedback from members about how to navigate the current spike in cases.He said his organization won't weigh in on whether certain sectors should shut down again. But, MacKinnon predicted many owners will close on their own to protect staff and patrons over the next few days, just like in the spring."It's a business decision that the owner has to make. And if they think they're not going to get a lot of business anyway, in some cases, it may actually save some money," MacKinnon said.Although it's a tough situation coming into the holiday season, MacKinnon said the timing actually puts businesses at an advantage because people will be stocking up on presents and gift cards no matter how high the case numbers climb.Also, MacKinnon said most shops and eateries have active online stores or delivery models that they put in place during the first shutdown earlier this year."Hopefully it won't be as big of an impact as it was before. But of course, it's unchartered territory," MacKinnon said.He said there's some "light at the end of the tunnel" with the recent news that vaccines are close to being ready.MORE TOP STORIES
Health officials in Alberta have begun hunting around for specialized freezers, one of the first steps in preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines which could begin arriving within the next few months. Earlier this month, the province began the procurement process for freezers able to meet COVID-19 vaccine storage requirements. Initially, the government proposed the sole-source purchase of five freezers from Fisher Scientific, according to procurement documents, although Alberta Health said there is now an open competition between potential suppliers. Alberta is looking to purchase four ultra-low units needed for the Pfizer vaccine and two laboratory freezer units for the Moderna vaccine. The six units will have about 23 cubic feet of capacity, which would be about the same size as a large refrigerator. The storage units will be held at the provincial vaccine depot located in Fort Saskatchewan. Ultracold temperature freezers are in high demand and typically cost about $15,000. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. The ultra-low temperature storage requirements have sent some health authorities and hospitals scrambling to find special freezers. "We don't know which vaccines we're going to get so the government is really preparing for every eventuality," said Shannon MacDonald, a registered nurse and a professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. MacDonald and her team are currently researching who should be prioritized to receive the vaccine, which is part of a COVID-19 rapid response research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is intended to guide public health officials in how they dole out the first rounds of immunizations when they become available in Canada. Alberta expects to receive 465,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 221,000 of the Moderna vaccine for a total of 686,000 doses, earlier in the new year. Being able to receive the doses and store them properly is just one part of the process to disburse the vaccines. "The process is not linear. [The government] has to do a whole bunch of things at once," said Dr. Margaret Russell, an associate professor and researcher at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine, who specializes in public health preventive medicine. WATCH | Why infectious disease experts are encouraged, cautious about Pfizer vaccine: Health officials will have to create a distribution plan and decide who will deliver the vaccine, where it will go in the province and how it will be stored, she said. At the same time, officials have to decide how many people will be needed to help at clinics where the vaccine will be administered. "They have to think about the human resources, the training and skills set. Of course, right now, during COVID, people have to self isolate, we're hearing a lot about health-care workers having to self isolate," Dr. Russell said. Vaccine recipients will need to be monitored for any adverse effects and to ensure they receive the second dose of the vaccination. Besides the logistical considerations, a communications plan will also be key, said MacDonald, with the University of Alberta. Health officials will have to preach patience, while also providing encouragement, she said. "We need to reassure people that all the usual processes have been followed [in developing the vaccines], but much more quickly through a massive injection of funds, so that people are reassured, so that when it's their turn and they are eligible for the vaccine, they're prepared to get the vaccine," said Macdonald. Pfizer has begun "rolling submissions" for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, the company said. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES
This column is an opinion from Adam Legge, the president of the Business Council of Alberta.The recent news of the Cenovus/Husky merger, the Tourmaline purchases of Modern and Jupiter Resources, and the relocation of Suncor's downstream office function to Calgary have generated mixed feelings.Mergers of Canadian oil and gas companies are a sign of the times, as they need scale to compete in an ever more challenging market.Consolidation brings with it the good news that the merged firms will have a new ability to compete in a low-cost, low-carbon world; over the long term, the consolidation leads to scale and financial resilience. Relocations generate the potential for new jobs to be created here in Calgary. More announcements are coming. But the net result of these trends overall will be to the downside for both near-term jobs and office vacancy rates in Calgary.These impacts are real. My heart goes out to those who will not find a place in the newly constituted firms. And it goes out to those whose businesses — like restaurants, dry cleaners, coffee shops, etc. — need a flow of customers in the downtown to survive.Reality is hitting homeCalgary is now fully realizing the impacts and consequences of decisions that created hiring and office space numbers that were unsustainable.We built up for an oil price environment in the $100/barrel range. With $40-50/barrel oil, a global pandemic and long-term trends toward decarbonization and an increased use of automation and technology, the reality is it's highly unlikely the jobs being shed now will come back. It's equally unlikely the empty office space will be filled any time soon.But neither of those facts need define us. In fact, we must make sure that they don't.We must do two things: We must build on all our strengths; and we must take care of each other. Our strengths are our people, our location and our vast landscape and resource base. We have natural strengths in energy, agriculture, tourism, transportation and logistics. We have a dynamic and growing technology sector, our financial services expertise is world class, and we have niche strengths in areas of manufacturing and medical sciences.In my role, I live at the intersection of all these strengths. I say that we don't have the luxury of chasing rainbows, but we also don't have the luxury of dividing our community by pitting one sector or strength against another.I am a firm believer in the "and," not the "either/or." As a city, we can do oil and gas, and agriculture, and technology, and renewables, and more. We build on our strengths and assets.What's hard for us all to manage is that these changes don't happen quickly. We have to put the right building blocks in place now, that will pay dividends as the economic environment continues to evolve.Calgary Economic Development's Calgary In the New Economy provides an excellent roadmap and plan for Calgary to build on its strengths.It will take time. The strength of the oil and gas sector took decades to develop in Alberta and Calgary. Like reputations, economic sectors take time to build, but can shift very quickly. As a result of these shifts, tens of thousands of Calgarians and Albertans over the past five years have lost their jobs. Thousands of our neighbours have found themselves without a future in the sector they have spent years being educated about, building skills for and working hard to succeed in.Thousands more have built businesses to serve our growing population and workforce, only to see their dreams fall apart. Our people are our strength, and we must take care of them.A callousness has set inI am sad to say I find that there has been a callousness in our public discussion toward the jobs and livelihoods lost. Many suggest that Calgary and Alberta stop crying over spilled milk and move on.For those whose jobs have been lost, and can't easily transition to something else, this is just plain inconsiderate. I worry some of the rhetoric has lost sight of the impacts to real people and families.The attitude of "serves you right, you had it good for a long time, and this is just the way the world is going" is divisive, unhelpful and wrong. I ask us all to stop, and to work at helping, rather than critiquing.We cannot afford to discount the impacts on people. We must continue to invest in and support our community institutions that help those in need, like food banks, mental health services and counselling centres, as well as the programs, like post-secondary education and career transitioning, that will enable people to adapt their skills for the future.Whether it is someone who moves from oil and gas to a geothermal or hydrogen opportunity, or turns their passion for something into an innovative business venture, these investments in people are the most important ones we can make. Too often we are talking about this issue but not doing enough.What we need are purposeful investments in our people for the future, particularly those whose jobs are unlikely to come back, or whose businesses have been destroyed due to shifting economic sands. This is not a response driven just by COVID-19. This is a fundamental change in our economy and the nature of work. What particularly frustrates me is the lack of federal government support to help those whose jobs will be lost as our nation pursues its Paris climate commitments.In Ottawa's efforts to reduce emissions in Canada — a goal that should not be debated and is highly necessary — policy is being shaped and investments made in things like electric vehicles and hydrogen. Those are essential, but they are not reflective of the people-side of the equation.With each policy decision and each investment come job and employment related consequences that I fear have not been truly calculated. Nor has there been sufficient study done to determine how we help those displaced either transition into this new opportunity or find something else.More transition programs neededDespite recently adding $1.5 billion for workforce development agreements, I believe that employment transition policy and programs need to take up a greater amount of time in Ottawa.Some great work is being done in the community, such as the EDGE UP program at Calgary Economic Development, which works to retrain people displaced from the oil and gas sector into high growth digital technology opportunities. Demand is strong for this program — 1,300 applications for 100 spots — which means many people are thinking of their next chapter and trying to make a transition.The new AltaML program Applied AI Lab saw 500-plus applications for its first cohort of eight participants, many of them retraining from other careers. And the SAIT Polytechnic Digital Hub downtown will create opportunities for more people to look at alternative skills and career paths. For those who are critiquing government support or investment in oil and gas, or encouraging government to accelerate activity in new or emerging sectors, I ask you to turn your focus to calls for government to work with industry and invest in people who find themselves without a job and limited prospects for the future — to help them build opportunity and security.We can do both. Let's build up, not tear down. We must take care of each other.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.
Island Nature Trust staff knew there was garbage in the Culloden forested natural area, but when they started to clean it up about a week ago, they were surprised with what they found.The site in eastern P.E.I. has a large pit in it that was once used as an illegal dump. Island Nature Trust took ownership of the land in 2003. Normally, the pit is covered in water, but this year it wasn't, providing staff the perfect opportunity to start cleaning it up."We knew that there would be quite a bit of garbage based on what we could see at the surface," said Amy Frost-Wicks, land stewardship program co-ordinator with Island Nature Trust. But once staff and volunteers started to clean it up, they realized there was a lot more garbage than expected."We were pulling out bags that were kind of buried under a foot or a foot and a half of soil," said Frost-Wicks."None of us realized how extensive it actually was."By the time the team's first effort at cleaning up the site was done, about 635 kilograms of garbage was removed, said Frost-Wicks. If staff continue to find garbage on the site, professional remediation might be needed."That would involve a lot more work. That could even involve having heavy machinery come in and just completely dig out the whole site," said Frost-Wicks. Island Nature Trust staff estimate the dump site is at least a couple of decades old."We were also finding some really old gas cans and old chewing tobacco containers and old gum containers, like the metal tins. So it could have been as old as the 60s," she said. Frost-Wicks said the garbage poses numerous problems."The plastics, as it ages in the sun, it can become brittle and it breaks apart. And then you get all these smaller pieces of plastic, which are even harder to clean up. Also, wildlife can mistake that plastic for food," she said. Finding sites of this scale on P.E.I. is uncommon, said Frost-Wicks. "At least on natural areas that Island Nature Trust owns, thankfully, we don't find them too often. I mean, there are inevitably some sites that you find that have kind of older piles of garbage, like at the back of fields and stuff like that, or you'll find an old car in the woods every once in a while," she said.More from CBC P.E.I.
A P.E.I. teen's concern for the Island's bat population has turned into a small online business building and selling bat houses, called Beddy Bye Bats. The idea started with a Grade 8 science project by Dominik Davis, 14, about the little brown bat."When we were at school, we did the science fair and I didn't get to move on to provincials because it got cancelled, because of COVID," Davis said."And when I brought it home, we got it out, and my mom thought it would be a great idea to start building bat houses." Davis said they found a pattern online and started building their bat houses, in a small barn next to the family home in Riverton, P.E.I.His mother posted the first bat houses on social media, and Davis quickly had his first 12 orders. 'Amazing creatures'Davis said he has been interested in bats as long as he can remember. "They're just amazing creatures, like when they fly around, and they're not blind, there's a lot of misconceptions about bats," Davis said."They eat a lot of insects and they're really cool mammals. When they are around your area, the amount of bugs will be reduced and for us, we live in the country, so it's a big help."Davis also gives customers an information sheet about bats with every purchase."You want to put the bat house up 12 to 20 feet in the air, and they're made so they have a spot on the bottom which the bats can land on," Davis said. "They use their claws to hook on, and then they crawl up through a half inch gap into the bat house, and they're at home."Davis said the houses provide a safe place, away from predators such as hawks and other large birds."It's quite a tiny little space, bats like very tiny spaces because they like to keep warmth in, and they like to be squished together," Davis said."And since they're not territorial, you could have 10 different bat species in your one bat house."Importance of batsDavis said he hopes what he's doing will help P.E.I.'s bat population, which has struggled for more than a decade because of white-nose syndrome. "The main thing I want to get people to know from this company is that bats are important," Davis said. "Every time I build a bat house, it's a bat sanctuary, because when you put it up bats are safe from almost all predators." Davis said he also hopes that his interest in bats will help change the minds of some people who don't like bats."I am hoping that too, because a lot of people may fear bats or may not like bats," Davis said. "Bats are not blind and they will stay away from you. They won't fly into your hair and they're the best thing to have around."Bringing back the batsJoe Rooney bought five of the bat houses for his home in Mount Mellick, P.E.I., and four of his friends have now ordered them as well."He's showing his entrepreneurial spirit, that he's making these bat houses, he's making himself a few dollars," Rooney said. "But he's also educating people about the bats and hopefully bring them back, because we had a place that we owned before, we had bats there and they ate lot of mosquitoes. I'd like to have the bats back."Clint Davis, Dominik's father, said he was surprised at how quickly the bat houses started to sell. "It's a great project for him to do and keep him busy and active," Davis said. "He's always in the nature and he's planning on being a marine biologist when he grows up."Dominik Davis has donated a couple of bat houses to the Native Council of P.E.I. for their bat project in Victoria West, as well as some fundraisers. Davis said Beddy Bye Bats has now sold more than 60 bat houses.He said a couple of businesses in the area are now selling the bat houses for him which, along with online sales, will keep the teenager busy for a while. "As long as it lasts," Davis said. "As long as there's people out there that want bat houses, I'm willing to make them."More from CBC P.E.I.